James

Overview

“MIRACULOUS!” . . . “Revolutionary!” . . . “Greatest ever!” We are inundated by a flood of extravagant claims as we channel surf the television or flip magazine pages. The messages leap out at us. The products assure that they are new, improved, fantastic, and capable of changing our life. For only a few dollars, we can have “cleaner clothes,” “whiter teeth,” “glamorous hair,” and “tastier food.” Automobiles, perfume, diet drinks, and mouthwash are guaranteed to bring happiness, friends, and the good life. And just before an election, no one can match the politicians’ promises. But talk is cheap, and too often we soon realize that the boasts were hollow, quite far from the truth. Jesus is the answer!” . . . “Believe in God!” . . . “Follow me to church!” Christians also make great claims but are often guilty of belying them with their actions. Professing to trust God and to be his people, they cling tightly to the world and its values. Possessing all the right answers, they contradict the gospel with their lives. With energetic style and crisp, well-chosen words, James confronts this conflict head-on. It is not enough to talk the Christian faith, he says; we must live it. “Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can’t save anyone” (2:14). The proof of the reality of our faith is a changed life. Genuine faith will inevitably produce good deeds. This is the central theme of James’s letter, around which he supplies practical advice on living the Christian life. James begins his letter by outlining some general characteristics of the Christian life (1:1-27). Next, he exhorts Christians to act justly in society (2:1-13). He follows this practical advice with a theological discourse on the relationship between faith and action (2:14-26). Then James shows the importance of controlling one’s speech (3:1-12). In 3:13-18, James distinguishes two kinds of wisdom—earthly and heavenly. Then he encourages his readers to turn from evil desires and obey God (4:1-12). James reproves those who trust in their own plans and possessions (4:13–5:6). Finally, he exhorts his readers to be patient with each other (5:7-11), to be straightforward in their promises (5:12), to pray for each other (5:13-18), and to help each other remain faithful to God (5:19-20). This letter could be considered a how-to book on Christian living. Confrontation, challenges, and a call to commitment await you in its pages. Read James and become a doer of the Word (1:22-25).

Purpose
To expose hypocritical practices and to teach right Christian behaviour.
Author
James, Jesus brother a leader in the Jerusalem church.
Date Written
Probably A.D 49 prior to the Jerusalem council held in A.D 50.
Key Verse
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. James 2:18

 

James Bible Study Download