Survey of the Bible - James
Text: James 1:19-27
I. James contains practical information the Christian’s life
A. The author is debated as there are several James in the Bible
1. The name James derived from the Greek form of the name Jacob.
a. Though the name is common, the author’s greeting is of one well known to his audience
2. “Bond-servant” is often how the apostles referred to themselves.
3. If we consider that Jude’s reference to being the brother of James (Jude 1) is the same James who wrote the book of James it narrows down the field a bit.
4. James the son of Zebedee
a. Was the brother of John
b. Was killed in AD 44 - Acts 12:2
c. Usually it is argued that this is too soon for the Book of James to be written because the scattering that started in Acts 8:4 barely began.
d. Yet he can’t be completely ruled out.
5. James, the son of Alphaeus - Matthew 10:3
a. Had a brother names Joses - Mark 15:40
b. Also called James the Less, likely because he was younger than the other apostle James, the son of Zebedee, who was the brother of John. James the son of Zebedee was killed in AD 44 (Acts 12:2), which is why he isn’t considered to be the author.
c. There are two passages that mention a Judas who is related to James - Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13
(1) How they are related is not stated though most assume it is Judas the son of James.
(2) Brother could be a possibility as well
6. James, the brother of Jesus is another possibility - Matthew 13:55
a. He did have a brother names Judas
b. He was a leader in the church - Galatians 1:19
c. It is noted that the letter from the church in Jerusalem and the book of James contain similar wording - Acts 15:23-29
B. The audience appears to be Jewish Christians
1. The twelve tribes scattered abroad - James 1:1
2. Refers to the assembly as a synagogue - James 2:2
3. Uses Old Testament characters to illustrate points - James 2:23,25
a. Refers to Abraham as “our father.”
4. Uses a Hebrew term for God - James 5:4
5. Alludes to the climate in Judea - James 5:7
C. James is considered one of the earliest letters
1. Mostly because its strong Jewish character and the lack of mentioning Gentile Christians.
2. It is noted that there are numerous parallels between James and Romans, leading some to conclude that Paul was familiar with James.
a. The reference to “some from James” in Galatians 2:12 could be taken as some misusing James’ letter
3. Often a date from A.D. 45 to 49 is given, but this would mean a date of A.D. 43 to 44 can’t be completely ruled out either.
A. Develops the idea of what pure religion or true faith is to be for the Christian.
B. It focuses on the practical aspects of Christian life
C. It is the basic knowledge new Christians need to live a life pleasing to God
D. There are strong similarities between the themes of the Sermon on the Mount and the topics discussed by James
III. James has an interesting flow
A. Topics are introduced and then returned to. Example, in James 1:2-11 is mentioned:
1. Trials - James 1:12-16
2. Endurance - James 5:7-11
3. Faith - James 2:1-26
4. Lacking - James 1:5-8
5. Wisdom - James 3:13-18
6. Giving - James 1:17-18
7. Poor - James 2:1-7
8. Rich - James 5:1-6
B. This bubbling up of themes causes a diversity of views on how James is organized.
A. Greetings - James 1:1
B. Endurance (Faith tested by trials) - James 1:2-18
1. Joy in trials - James 1:2-4
2. Confident in asking for wisdom - James 1:5-8
3. Glory in a proper view of circumstances - James 1:9-11
4. Blessed in enduring temptation - James 1:12-18
C. Action (Faith shown by works) - James 1:19-2:26
1. Put aside wickedness and listen to the word - James 1:19-21
2. Must do and not just listen - James 1:22-25
3. Pure religion is bridling the tongue (slow to speak) - James 1:26
4. Pure religion is helping the weak and staying unspotted - James 1:27
5. Faith is not being partial - James 2:1-13
6. Faith is show in works - James 2:14-26
D. Wisdom (Faith shown by words) - James 3:1-18
1. Teachers face stricter judgment - James 3:1
2. The need to control the tongue - James 3:2-12
3. Wisdom, or the lack thereof, is shown in behavior - James 3:13-18
E. Humility (Faith shown by attitude) - James 4:1-17
1. The source of conflict is wrong motives - James 4:1-3
2. Humility before God - James 4:4-10
3. Humility with brethren - James 4:11-12
4. Humility in personal plans - James 4:13-17
F. Suffering (Faith overcomes) - James 5:1-20
1. The dangers of wealth - James 5:1-6
2. Patience in suffering - James 5:7-11
3. Careful in promises - James 5:12
4. Pray - James 5:13-18
5. Restoring the lost - James 5:19-20