Introduction – James
The Author. Three persons called James are mentioned in the New Testament. One of these is James, the Lord’s brother (Matt. 13:55), who did not believe on Jesus until after the resurrection, Jno. 7:2-9; Mar. 3:21, 31; Acts 1:13-14. This James occupies and important place as pastor at Jerusalem, and made an important speech at the council of the Apostles, Acts 15: 13-21. He is mentioned elsewhere, in Acts, 12:17; Gal. 1:19; 2:9-12. Josephus tells us that he was stoned to death about 62 A. D. on a charge of departing from the Jewish law. This James, the Lord’s brother, is supposed to be the author of this epistle.
To Whom Written. This letter was written to the Jews scattered everywhere, 1:1, and evidently to Christian Jews, 2:1. Some of them were rich, some poor, 2:1-10. They were lustful, greedy, and proud, 4:1-12, and were omitting to do the Lord’s work as they should. 1:22- 27.
The Epistle. The chief characteristic of style is abruptness. Change is made from one subject to another with no effort to connect them. There is, therefore, no general subject, and a lack of close connection between the points of analysis. “Faith without works is dead” flashes in every section as a sort of bond of unity. It is eloquent, stern and sincere, and has a distinct Jewish tone. It lacks the doctrinal emphasis found in Paul and states the Christian faith in terms of moral excellence and instructs them in the subject of Christian morals. It is notable for its omissions. It does not have the resurrection or ascension and only mentions Christ’s name twice. Date and Place of Writing. It was no doubt written from Jerusalem where he was pastor, but the date is much disputed. Some put it as early as A. D. 40. Others among whom is Dr. Robertson say it was written not later than A. D. 50. Still others put it about A. D. 61 or 62, just before the martyrdom of James. It is probably safe to say that it was one of the very earliest of the New Testament books.
- I. Proper Attitude Toward Trials. 1:2-18.
- II. Proper Altitude Toward God’s Word, 1:19-27 end.
- III. Various Warnings. 2:1-4:12.
- 1. Against respect of persons, 2:1-13.
- 2. Against barren professions of faith, 2:14-26.
- 3. Against the dangers of the tongue, 3:1-12.
- 4. Against false wisdom, 3:13-18.
- 5. Against quarrels, greed and pride. 4:1-12.
- IV. Various Denunciations, 4:13-5:6.
- V. Various Exhortations, 5:7-20 end.
For Study and Discussion. (1) From the following scriptures make a list of all the things James advises us not to do: 1;6, 13, 16, 22; 2:1, 14; 3:1. 10; 4:1, 11, 13; 5:9, 12. (2) From the following scriptures make a list of all the things James advises us to do; 1:2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 22, 26; 2:8, 12; 3:13; 4:8. 5:7, 10, 12, 13, 16, 19. (3) Make a sketch of heavenly wisdom, showing the different things said about it, studying especially, 1:5-8 and 3:13-18. (4) Study the ethics of speech and of the tongue, 1:19-21 and 3:1-12. (5) Life’s trial and temptations, 1:2-4, 12-15. (6) Make a list of ail the figures of speech, especially similes and metaphors as “a doubter is like a surge of the sea,” 1:6. (7) James’ rebuke of selfishness, 5:1- 6. (8) The utility and power of prayer, 5:13-18.