I thought for the next few weeks we’d do a deep dive into the book of James. What say you?Let’s take a look together! I’ll be using the Moody Bible Commentary’s analysis by John F. Hart to guide us.
Background & fun facts
- Probably the first New Testament book written
- Probably written by Jesus’ half brother who didn’t believe Jesus Christ (JC) was the Messiah until AFTER JC was resurrected
- “James” is our anglicized version of the author’s name, which in Hebrew is Jacob or Iakabos in Greek
- Has several parallels to JC’s Sermon on the Mount
- Wasn’t accepted as scripture until late 300s AD since the early church focused mainly on the Gospels and Paul’s writings
- Might be *the most* relevant book of the New Testament for modern, Western readers due to its themes about wealth and worldliness (according to John F. Hart’s commentary on James)
Let’s jump into the first section of chapter 1:
James, Chapter 1
This is the greeting section and from it we learn several things:
- It’s a letter
- It’s from James
- James believes JC is Lord and has dedicated his life to JC’s service. This is especially noteworthy if it is in fact written by Jesus’ half brother since we know that James only came to faith after Jesus’ resurrection (Mark 6:3, Acts 1:14)
- It’s to Jew-to-Christian converts who have been scattered away from Israel
This is a section of encouragement. Think about this group of people – diaspora Jews turned Christians living in the first century AD. This is maybe the pinnacle of persecution for the early church. They’ve lost their homeland and all the social acceptance that goes along with being part of the Jewish community. They are outcasts and strangers in a strange land, quite literally.
James tells these people to be joyful. Man, what a tough situation to be joyful in. And why be joyful? Because this testing of their faith produces perseverance. They are developing their Christian character through their trials.
We learn that perseverance creates maturity and completeness. We also see that wisdom is available to us – we just have to ask God for it! BUT, and this is a big but, they have to believe without doubting that God will give it. So lesson #1 can be summed up in this: persevere and don’t doubt.
Our position (rich or poor) doesn’t prevent us from experiencing these trials and temptations. Everyone experiences them, and riches can’t protect us. The prize for enduring is life.
God doesn’t tempt us – temptation is a result of our sin. No, instead God gives good gifts to his children. He chose us and created us through the word of truth. And we are a kind of offering/example for the rest of the world.
Chill out! Don’t let anger get the best of you. Human anger isn’t effective in producing righteousness. We have to accept God’s word for ourselves, not just listen to it. We have to live it! We should know it like we know our own reflection.
True religion is not about talking the talk, it’s about walking the walk. We should help the helpless (widows and orphans) and stand apart from the pattern of the world.
Next week we’ll look at Chapter 2! I’m looking forward to studying this and hope you’ll come along. What do you think of James 1? What stands out to you most? Leave your comments below!