Archive for the ‘Introductory Comments’ Category
CHAPTER ONE – The Believer and Temptation
Outline of the Chapter
Greetings and Salutations 1:1
The Joy and Wisdom found in Trials and Testings 1:2 – 1:11
Overcoming Temptation 1:12 – 1:27
SUMMARY – The believer will experience trials and testing. Know that through the working of God’s wisdom that patience will refine godly character in the believer’s life. The product of faith and works is pure religion before God.
CHAPTER TWO – The Believer and Faith and Works
Outline of Chapter
The Dangers of Partiality 2:1 – 13
Faith and Works in the Christian Life 2:14 –2:26
SUMMARY – All are equal in Christ; the rich and the poor and we must treat people as such. Faith without works is dead. The lifestyle of the believer must combine the two, in order for a lifestyle of godly example to emerge. Old Testament examples show that the Christian faith is justified by its works.
CHAPTER THREE – The Believer and the Tongue and Wisdom
Outline of Chapter
The Untamable Tongue 3:1 – 3:12
Two Types of Wisdom 1:13 – 18
SUMMARY – The tongue is a powerful entity within the believer’s bodies. It controls the whole body and produces fruit of the body. Heavenly wisdom should guide actions, producing understanding and representing the fruit of the Spirit of God.
CHAPTER FOUR – The Believer and Pride and Humility
Outline of Chapter
Pride 4:1 – 4:6
True Humility 4:7 – 4:10
Brotherly Love 4:11 – 4:12
Boasting 4:13 – 4:17
SUMMARY – Pride and humility are the two opposing forces of human nature. When our pride is submitted to Christ, then true humility will occur (James 4:6). There is a call to separate ourselves from the world so as to be wholly devoted to Christ and His calling.
CHAPTER FIVE – The Believer and Patience and Prayer
Outline of Chapter
Rich Oppressors will be Judged 5:1-6
Patience and Persevering 5:7-12
Ministering to the Body of Christ 5:13 –20
SUMMARY – The activity of the materialist is to gain as much as they can, but the Bible clearly warns us about the unworthiness of treasures on earth. Those who held back and did not care for the less fortunate will be judged. Christians are to wait patiently for Christ’s return, to ‘establish our hearts’ and care for the Body of Christ until he returns for His spotless Bride.
Don’t forget to check out the downloads page for a copy of the above for your own records.
Next time we meet, we will begin to look at the first verse of Chapter One. Why not over the weekend refamiliarise yourself with James 1 and get ready for our verse-by-verse blog of James.
D. The Background to The Epistle of James
A careful study of the New Testament show that there are four men named James.
1. James – the son of Zebedee and brother of John (Matt 4:21) and a disciple and apostle of Jesus Christ.
2. James – the son of Alphaeus (Matt 10:3) called “the Less” or “the Younger”; also one of the apostles.
3. James – the father of the apostle named Judas (not Iscariot) (Luke 6:16)
4. James – the half-brother of Jesus (Matt 13:55)
Our interest in particular turns to the last James mentioned. This James was the the leader of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:3, Gal 2:9) and he is considered the most probable author of this Epistle, due to the similar language contained in the speech of Acts 15 and the references to the thoughts and words contained in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Most believe that if James, the brother of Jesus wrote this book then the date of writing ranges from A.D. 44 (when he replaced Peter as the leader of the church at Jerusalem) through to A.D. 62, the time of his death. An early date of around 46 BC is a reasonable conclusion. There are three reasons why people take this view;
There is no mention of the Gentile believers or their relationship to the Jewish-Christians
The allusion to the teachings of Christ bear little verbal agreement with the Gospels that James probably preceded the composition of the Gospels. (The earliest Gospel most probably written around AD 50).
James does not mention the issues involved in the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. In fact the book of James contains no specific references to times or dates, however if James the brother of Jesus wrote this letter, we know that he had strong ties to church in Jerusalem. It is highly probable that this letter was written in the vicinity of his ministry in Jerusalem as the leader of the church.
E. The Recipients of the Epistle.
We find in verse one of Chapter One that it was to the 12 tribes scattered abroad. These were most likely Jewish-Christian congregations who were living all over the Palestinian region. It is believed that this letter was not intended for one particular church, but to be passed around the local churches of the area – hence the reference to being scattered. James deals with many things that seemed to be characteristic of the time. He addressed the need for unity, for the proper treatment of the members of the body of Christ and he clarified doctrinal issues such as salvation by faith and works.
So far we have covered a simple background to the times, the author and the intent of the Epistle. Our next post will give serve as a lamp post and show us an outline of where we are traveling in our study. How are you going with your reading of James?
Before we begin to explore proper the text of James, it is always a good idea to allow for some introduction and background to the book. This gives the student a much broader picture of the context and the themes that the book explores. Ultimately it also gives us God’s picture and perspective on what He is trying to communicate through His divine plan. To help give us this point of view there are a number of things that we will look at to assist us in our understanding today. Will will look at the central purpose, themes and definition of the book.
A. James by Definition
The book of James is really a practical explanation of the Christian life based on the application of Christian doctrine. The major theological topics dealt with in this book are the issues of ‘faith’ and ‘works’. Despite some thinking to the contrary, James’ teaching on these subjects complement highly, rather than contradict the teaching of Paul in Romans. The apostle Paul deals with justification by faith, apart from works, before salvation (Rom 3:37, 28) whereas James deals with justification by works after salvation. (James 2:20-24)
B. The Purpose of James
James has one major purpose, which is simply to provide encouragement and comfort to the Hebrew Christians who were going through trials and temptations. Other purposes that present include the correction of some disorders and misconceptions among the assemblies and also to join faith and works.
C. The Themes in James
The central theme James communicates is to join faith and good works into the life of the Christian, to show that good works are not a means to salvation, but rather a product of salvation. He also shows that a man is not justified by the law of works, but that he is justified by the law of faith-works.
In our next post we will consider the background to the book and the recipients to whom James was writing. Why don’t you spend this week reading James all the way through to familiarise yourself with the book.