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The Book of: James

According to some commentaries this is one of the first books of the New Testament as far as the order of their writing is concerned. A few commentaries establish the date for this book as late as A.D. .60, while others place it about A.D.45. The earlier date would place it at about the start of Paul's ministry.

Before we get into a discussion of the content of James, we should look at the door labeled faith once again. We had suggested that the appropriate definition of faith would be a positive response to the Word of God. We will be touching on the subject of faith as it relates to Christian work a little later in our study.

The writer of this book is considered to be James the half brother of Jesus who was the head of the church at Jerusalem for many years. Some commentaries feel that there were major doctoral differences between James and Paul. Admittedly there were some differences that were straightened out later in meetings between Paul and James and other apostles, the careful study of this book and comparison with Paul's writings will indicate there wasn't that much difference.

After opening with a short greeting James tells us that we should take joy in the trials and tribulations God sends our way because this will train us in the patience that we will need to serve him in the future.

(chpt:  1 Vs: 001)  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 002)  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 003)  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 004)  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 005)  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 006)  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 007)  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 008)  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 009)  Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 010)  But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 011)  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. 

Starting with verse 12 James speaks more about temptations and or trials. He tells us that God is not the author of temptations, but that we are tempted by our very nature. When we let sin go too far it brings us the penalty of death, but when we resist we receive the crown of life.

(chpt:  1 Vs: 012)  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 013)  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 014)  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 015)  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 016)  Do not err, my beloved brethren. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 017)  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 018)  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 

Verse 19 tells us that we should be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. Many of us would do well to take this verse to heart. James goes on to tell us that anger does us no good,and that we should avoid certain bad characteristics and observe the good , obeying and the Word of God.

(chpt:  1 Vs: 019)  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 020)  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 021)  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 

Verses 22 through 27 in this chapter and verses 14 through 26 in chapter 2 relate to a comparison of faith and works. I would like to try to place this in order using today's English. We would like to start with the faith that brings salvation, which goes like this; the Word says all have sinned, including ourselves. We acknowledge this part of the Word of God to be true since it applies to us. The Word of God says that because we have sinned , we need a savior and that God provided him in Christ Jesus( the only acceptable way). Again we agree and ask for forgiveness on the basis of his sacrifice and his right to rule our lives as Lord of all.

That brings us through to a relationship with God that is eternal. The Word of God tells us that there will be a change in us that causes us to live differently, that all of our old habits will fade away and we will have a new way of doing things.

It seems the what James is pointing out here is the same as it is in many church groups or in society where many people claim to be Christian and believers but their lives do not indicate this as a fact. James says in verse 14 of the next chapter, "you can brag all you want about how much you believe, and what strong faith you have, but if I see no change or works as a result of what God has done in your heart then I don't believe you have saving faith". He continues by saying "look around you. Do you see someone in need? Do you say to them go home everything will be all right, or do you use what God has blessed you with to help them. Your reaction in this situation will identify you before a watching world."

The condensed version of what James is saying goes like this "don't tell me you are a Christian and how much faith you have, but show me you are a Christian by the way you live"

(chpt:  1 Vs: 022)  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 023)  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 024)  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 025)  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 026)  If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 

(chpt:  1 Vs: 027)  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 

The first part of this chapter deals with the equality of people in the eyes of God and instructs us to have a similar attitude.

(chpt:  2 Vs: 001)  My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 002)  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 003)  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 004)  Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 005)  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 006)  But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 007)  Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 008)  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 009)  But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 010)  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 011)  For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 012)  So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 013)  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 014)  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 015)  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 016)  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 017)  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 018)  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 019)  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 020)  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 021)  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 022)  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 

(chpt:  2 Vs: 023)  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 

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