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On The Book of James
to the Book of James
I will do the James
Commentary similar to my other Commentaries . . . in that
I will bring the verse or verses in the KJV, followed by what
it is saying to me. What I write will be a personal comment,
it is NOT Scripture.
This epistle is called "general" because it was not written to any particular person, as was the letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon are. Neither was it written to any particular church as were the epistles (letters) to the Romans, Corinthians, etc.; but to the believing Jews in general, wherever they were. I believe that it was also written to us in today's world. The little Book of James has always stomped all over me, whenever I read it.
The author of it is James. Since there were two men by this name, who were the apostles of Christ; some think it was written by one of them or the other. Some think it was written by James the son of Zebedee, and brother of John, grounded by these words: Mark 9:2 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. (KJV)
My personal belief is that James was not the one called the son of Zebedee (Mat.4:21) neither the son of Alphaeus Luke 24:10). I think this James was the actual half-brother of Christ Jesus (Mat.13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal.1:19). Mary DID have other children (Luke 8:19), after Jesus was born.
None of Christ's brethren believed in Him until AFTER the resurrection (John 7:5), but the other two men named James did. This James experienced a special appearance of Christ but he is not classed as an apostle (1 Cor.15:7). The Bible does mention there were three (3) James's, for the other two were apostles (Mat.10:2-3). It is always clear in Scripture when the other two are meant.
Mary, the sister of the virgin Mary, had just two sons and one daughter (Mat.27:56; 15:40; 16:1; Luke 24:10). The fact that her sons had the same names as two sons of the virgin Mary proves nothing. The brethren of Jesus are always set apart from the two apostles called James (Acts 1:13-14). The virgin Mary had more sons and daughters than did her sister Mary (Mat.13:55; Mark 6:3). Jude was the brother of James of the little Book of Jude (Jude 1:1).
To me, it is simply common sense to conclude that when James is referred to without any designation as "brother of John," "son of Zebedee," or "son of Alphaeus," that James . . . the brother of our Lord is meant (Acts 12:2,17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Cor.15:7; Gal.1:19; 2:9; Jam.1:1; Jude 1:1).
The James who was present at the transfiguration of Christ, was James the son of Zebedee . . . but neither the time, occasion, or matter of this letter, seem agreeable with him, for he was put to death by Herod, about the year 44 (Acts 12:1-2). It seems that this letter was written, as many think, about the year 60 AD, or as others, 63 AD.
It seems very clear that it must be written AFTER the Gospel had been spread to the Gentile world, and was received by the Jews, who were scattered abroad in it . . . and AFTER many hypocrites and false teachers had crept into the churches . . . and many vain boasters and wicked men had risen up in the church.
Written to: First century Christians scattered throughout the world, and future Bible readers.
Why it was written: to give practical advice for Christians everywhere, but especially for believers feeling pressure from society's influences.
Themes in this letter:
- #1. Faith: that is alive and well is demonstrated by a believer's conduct.
- #2. Trials: will test every Christian. We become mature in our faith by facing temptations head-on and getting victory over them with God's help.
- #3. Love one another: This is Jesus' command to us! (Mat.5:44; 7:12; 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; John 13:35; 15:12,17).
- #4. Control our speech: Our tongue can be used to build OR destroy. We shall be held responsible for our words. We must choose them wisely. God will help us, for we cannot do it alone.
- #5. Wealth: Our wealth, however much or little, should be used to advance the Kingdom of God. We should NEVER favor the wealthy or mistreat the poor. James tells us to take the advice of our Lord Jesus: Mat. 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (KJV)
The book of James is not a historical story detailing the acts of specific people, but a classical letter of advice to Christians and early churches and to us today! God's Word is timeless! It never changes nor does it go out of style to TRUE Christians!
Brief Summary: James states the faith walk for TRUE Christians (1:1-27), tells us of TRUE and sincere faith (2:1-3:12) and TRUE and genuine wisdom (3:13-5:20). The Book of James contains an incredible parallel to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. In chapter 1, James describes the traits of the Christian's faith walk. In chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3, James discusses social justice and discusses faith in action. He then compares and contrasts the vast difference between worldly and godly wisdom and warns us to turn away from evil and draw close to God. James gives a particularly severe rebuke to the greedy rich who hoard and those who think they are self-reliant. James ends his Book with encouragement to believers to be patient in suffering, praying and caring for one another and supporting our faith through fellowship with one another.
The Book of James is the ultimate description of the relationship between faith and works. So ingrained in the Mosaic Law and its system of works were the Jewish Christians to whom James wrote that he spent considerable time explaining the difficult truth that NO one is justified by the works of the law (Gal.2:16). He states that even doing their very best to keep all the various laws and rituals, doing so is impossible, and transgressing even the tiniest part of the law made them guilty of all of it (Jam.2:10), because the law is one unit (like a chain), and breaking one part of it is breaking all of it.
The Book of James is a challenge to faithful followers of Jesus Christ to NOT just “talk the talk,” but to “walk the walk.” While our faith walk, to be certain, requires a growth of knowledge of the Word of God, James warns us to not stop there. Many Christians will find this letter very challenging since James presents so many obligations to TRUE Christians in only 108 verses. James focuses on the Truths of Jesus’ Words in the Sermon on the Mount and prompts us to act upon what Jesus taught.
The Book of James also puts to rest the idea that one can become a Christian and yet still to continue living in sin, showing NO fruit of righteousness. That kind of “faith,” is shared by the demons who “believe and tremble” (Jam.2:19). That kind of “faith” will NEVER save because it is not verified by the good works that always accompany true saving faith (Eph.2:10). Good works are NOT the cause of salvation, but they are the result of it, and without good works, it is extremely doubtful a person is saved.
James is a little letter in the back of the New Testament. It isn’t discussed often; some of us have only read it when we were looking for something short! Some don't like it. Some others avoid it.
The book of James was a controversial addition to the Bible for the first 300 years of the church. Some felt that it should be left out because it SEEMED to contradict Paul’s teachings on salvation by grace, because, as was said, James SEEMED to teach salvation by works. It was finally allowed to take its place among the other greats of God’s Holy Word, the Bible.
James is such a practical book. It takes on the maturing of the believer and presents good, sound advice on how a Christian should grow in his spiritual walk with the Lord. James words hit hard, provoking our thoughts and encouraging us to live a Godly, righteous lifestyle.
Book of James
Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3 . Ch.4 . Ch.5
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