(001 James) Living Faith

James 1:1 ESV
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

1. Who was James?

(1)A. Four men in the New Testament who carried the name.

I. James, the son of Zebedee and Brother of John.

Fishermen called to follow Jesus as disciples.
Known as the Son’s of Thunder because of their impulsive character.
Killed by Herod in Acts 12.

II. James, the son of Alphaeus.

Another apostle.
Little is known about him
There is no indication that he was the author.

III. James, the father of Judas.

There is less known about him.
He is mentioned in Luke 6:16.
He is an unlikely candidate.

IV. James, the brother of Jesus.

We learn of James in...
Matthew 13:55 ESV
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
He did not become a believer until later in life.
John 7:5 ESV
5 For not even his brothers believed in him.
His life was miraculously changed by the gospel.
It is believed that he didn’t believe until after the resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:7 ESV
7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
Acts 1:14 ESV
14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
He became a leader in the church.
Galatians 2:9 ESV
9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
There are other passages that identify James as a key person in the early church.
Acts 15:13 ESV
13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me.
There is little debate among scholars as to what James is the author of this book.

James the brother of Jesus is the author.

(1)B. James’ own identification tells us a lot about someone we know little about.

The brother of Jesus identifies himself as a doulos or slave of Christ.
Christ does the most work through those who have come to the end of themselves.
James clearly had come to the end of himself.
He identifies himself as a slave, not as an expert on the things of Christ because he grew up with Him.

2. Who was the letter written to?

(2)A. The twelve tribes in the Dispersion.

Some would say that was written to those who never came back to Jerusalem after exile.
Context seems to better say the author is writing to those who left Jerusalem.
Acts 8:1 ESV
1 And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
The Jews were scattered around the Roman Empire.
The book of James is most likely the oldest book in the NT.
If James was writing to Jews, how should we apply this book?
At least 19 times he refers to them as brothers.
Not just brothers in the flesh, but brothers in the Lord.
Therefore, it applies to us as well.

(2)B. These were people under oppression.

If they were scattered let’s think about the world they lived in.
They were living outside the comfort of their culture and customs.
They were away from family.
Hundreds of miles away from homes they would never see again.
Living with the reality that life would never be the same.
Nostalgia is the result of a desire for simpler times.
When things change we often want to go back to what we remember as a better time.
We can even feel disoriented.
We long for things to be the way they once were.
Example: enjoying looking at toys from the 80’s.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 ESV
10 Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.
It isn’t wise because it wasn’t as we remember it.
It isn’t wise because struggles, trails, and change is good for us.
Jewish Christians were on an island.
They were hated by the government.
They were hated by other Jews.
They were driven out of Jerusalem because of persecution from other Jews.
It would have been hard for them make a good living.
The letter itself indicates the recipients are poor and oppressed by the rich.
James 2:6–7 ESV
6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
They were living in the persecution and pagan cultures we learned about in Acts.

3. Why did James write this letter?

The audience was suffering persecution and living in poverty. The Jews scattered around were in social and spiritual conflict. Many believers were wearing down, giving up and living in a worldly manner. James writes to correct and encourage them.
As we’ve already established: James was most likely writing from the church in Jerusalem to those who had been scattered due to persecution.

4. What kind of literature is James?

(4)A. A general epistle.

Not written to a specific church
intended to be shared among the churches.

(4)B. A wisdom book.

It is full of wisdom for living out our faith in this world.
It is considered the “Proverbs” of the New Testament.
The Book of James is a highly practical book that meets us in the natural rhythms of life.

5. Key verse.

James 2:26 ESV
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
If your faith doesn’t go past your words it is dead.

6. Helpful things to know about James.

(6)A. James is believed to be the oldest book in the New Testament.

Scholars agree it was written as early as 45 and before 50 (the Jerusalem Counsel.
The Synagogue is referred to as the gathering place rather than the church.
This is for two reasons...
First the church was still getting started

(6)B. There is no mention of Gentile Christians or the Jewish Christian’s relationship to them.

This is the most Jewish book in the New Testament.
One theologian claimed that if a few passages about Christ were removed, it would as easily fit within the canon of the Old T as it does the New.

(6)C. James makes 15 indirect references to the Sermon on the Mount.

James writing is as counter cultural and backwards thinking as the Sermon on the Mount.

(6)D. Other than James himself, every other name mentioned is from the Old Testament.

I. Abraham - His offering of Isaac is used to illustrate faith with works.

II. Rahab - Also used to illustrate genuine faith produces works.

III. Job - Used to illustrate the importance of patience.

IV. Elijah - Used to illustrate the importance of earnest prayer.

7. An outline of James.

I. Living faith endures through trials and temptation. (1:2-18)
II. Living faith is demonstrated by how we treat scripture. (1:19-2:26)
III. Living faith exercises wisdom. (3:1-18)
IV. Living faith displays our relationship with God. (4:1-17)
V. Living faith gains blessing through patience, prayer, and love for others. (5:1-20)

8. How do we get the most out of this study?

(8)A. Look at our lives through the mirror of God’s Word.

James tells us the Bible is like a mirror.
We look in the mirror of the Bible. (1 vs 23)
James 1:23–24 ESV
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
Not compare ourselves with others or what we think is right.
Compare yourself to what you see in scripture.

(8)B. Do what God’s Word tells us to do.

James 1:22 ESV
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
This is the most important thing… what are you going to do with what you hear?

(8)C. Prepare yourself for a test.

James 1:3 ESV
3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
James 1:12 ESV
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
As the Holy Spirit convicts us through the Word, we can expect God to test us.
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