James:Tests of a Living Faith
By Steve Budd
The New Testament Book of James may well be viewed as a practical commentary on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Like Jesus, James presents a series of tests by which the genuiness of one’s salvation can be determined. While James nowhere says that he is quoting Jesus, his parallels seem to represent the Lord’s teachings as they were remembered in the early days of the church, before they were recorded in the written record. The implication is that Jesus’ teachings were so widely known and accepted that they didn’t have to be quoted.
We will study the Book of James in a series of twelve lessons under the theme “Faith Tested By…”
- …Perseverance Through Trials (1:1-12)
- …Blame In Temptation (1:13-18)
- …Response to the Word (1:19-27)
- …Reaction to Partiality (2:1-13)
- …Production of Works (2:14-26)
- …Production of Self Control (3:1-18)
- …Reaction to Selfish Strife (4:1-12)
- …Response to the Will of God (4:13-17)
- …Reaction to Injustice (5:1-11)
- …Reaction to Self-Serving Oaths (5:12)
- …Resort to Prayer (5:13-18)
- …Restoration (5:19-20)
- Most likely the half brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3, Galatians 1:19)
- Along with his brothers, did acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah before the crucifixion (John 7:3-5)
- Not likely one of the twelve disciples or brother of John (1 Corinthians 15:7)
- A significant leader in the early Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13-29, Galatians 2:9)
- Strong verbal parallels between the Book of James and the letter from James in Acts 15 (e.g. “Greetings” used only by James) point to his authorship.
- According to Josephus, martyred in 62 A.D.
- Other references: Acts 1:14, 12:17, 15:13, 21:18, Jude 1.
- To professing Jewish Christians (1:18, 2:1-2, 7, 5:7, 14).
- “Twelve tribes” (1b) expresses the unity of the ideal covenant nation.
- “Dispersion” (1b) refers to Jews living outside of Palestine. “The faults against which the epistle is directed…are typically Pharisaic, and peculiarly Gentile faults like idolatry and impurity, which are so prominent in such an epistle as 1 Corinthians, are conspicuous by their absence”. D. Edmond Hiebert
- Probably written from Jerusalem, James’ home town.
- References to natural climatic conditions (1:6, 11, 3:4, 3:11-12, 5:7) point to a Palestinian location.
- Most likely written prior to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 (46-49 A.D.), and not a later date.
- Considering this evidence, James is the earliest recorded New Testament writing, penned when the church was still very young and very Jewish.
- While not explicitly stated, implied. To confront those in the assembly of believers who possessed false, dead faith, and to exhort his readers to realize that a saving faith is a living, active faith.
Next Lesson: Jams 1:1-12 Faith Tested by Perseverance Through Trials