The study of the book of James in the New Testament.
Written by James, the half-brother of Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary. James did not become a believer until he saw Jesus after the resurrection. He later became overseer of the church of Jerusalem.
In the days of the early church, the majority of which were Jewish believers. Christians were scattered throughout the world because of persecution.
Date of writing:
Believed to be written before the famous council of Jerusalem in 49 A.D., which means it's probably the oldest book of the New Testament.
Purpose for writing:
The dominant theme of the book of James is faith that is real works practically in a person's life. James confronts his readers with the fact that Christianity must not only be believed; it must be lived.
1. [Jas 1:1-4 NKJV] 1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
2. There are several men named James who are mentioned in the New Testament. However, it is commonly believed that the writer of this letter is James, the half-brother of Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph.
The brethren (Jewish believers in the New Testament) were scattered because in 45 A.D. Claudius was emperor in Rome. Under his rule Jews were driven out of Rome and their homeland, Palestine. Jewish children were mocked and thrown out of schools.
What do we learn about the writer, James, from the following Scripture references?
a. [Jhn 7:1-5 NKJV] 1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 "For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
James did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. He asked him to prove it. (only after His resurrection did James believe)
b. [1Co 15:1-7 NKJV] 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
Jesus specifically showed Himself only to James to show he was the Messiah.
c: [Act 1:14 NKJV] 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
James, along with his mother (Mary) and brothers, pray that Jesus will return.
3. James became a prominent leader in the early church. He was the pastor of the church of Jerusalem and played an important role in the development of the church. What more do we learn about James from these references.
a. [Act 12:16-17 NKJV] 16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened [the door] and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren." And he departed and went to another place.
James was looked up to by Peter.
b. [Act 15:1-30 NKJV] 1 And certain [men] came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses." 6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up [and] said to them: "Men [and] brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 "So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as [He did] to us, 9 "and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." 12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, "Men [and] brethren, listen to me: 14 "Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 "And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: 16 'After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD who does all these things.' 18 "Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 "but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, [from] sexual immorality, [from] things strangled, and [from] blood. 21 "For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath." 22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, [namely], Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. 23 They wrote this [letter] by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "[You must] be circumcised and keep the law"--to whom we gave no [such] commandment-- 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. 30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter.
c. [Act 21:17-19 NKJV] 17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following [day] Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.
Paul went to James to give good news what God has done among the Gentiles on his mission.
d. [Gal 1:15-19 NKJV] 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called [me] through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those [who were] apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.
Specifically mentions James as Jesus' brother.
e: [Gal 2:7-10 NKJV] 7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as [the gospel] for the circumcised [was] to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we [should go] to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 [They desired] only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
Paul perceives James as seemingly a church pillar. James, et al minister to the circumcised (Jews)
4. To whom was this letter written?
To the twelve tribes of Israel.
b. Why were they scattered abroad?
[Act 8:1 NKJV] 1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles
Due to the persecution of the church at Jerusalem.
c. What was the results of their being forced out of Jerusalem?
[Act 11:19-21 NKJV] 19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
d. Pagan worship was the norm throughout the Roman Empire in the first century. Can you imagine yourself as a believer who was scattered abroad in these unfamiliar countries?
5. How does the Bible describe the life of the believer in this world?
a. [1Ch 29:15 NKJV] 15 For we [are] aliens and pilgrims before You, As [were] all our fathers; Our days on earth [are] as a shadow, And without hope.
Aliens and pilgrims without hope.
b. [Psa 119:19, 54 NKJV] 19 I [am] a stranger in the earth; Do not hide Your commandments from me. ... 54 Your statutes have been my songs In the house of my pilgrimage.
c. [Heb 11:13-16 NKJV] 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced [them] and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that [country] from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly [country]. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Though the believers were scattered on earth, God has prepared a place for them in heaven.
d. [1Pe 2:11-12 NKJV] 11 Beloved, I beg [you] as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by [your] good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Your Christian conduct should show through regardless of where you are.
1. James introduces himself as a servant. In his culture, and ours, it would not be uncommon for a man of his qualifications to boast in his lineage and accomplishments. James was content to be known as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Use a dictionary of New Testament Words, a Strong's Concordance, or an dictionary to give you deeper meaning of the word servant.
A person devoted to a cause.
2. The word servant (doulos = Greek) denotes one who is deprived of his personal freedom and so becomes fully an instrument in the hands of his master. He is the one who can never say "no" master. It implies a willing commitment to be bound together for life. What do we learn about this bond-slave commitment from the following Scriptures?
a. [Mat 16:24-25 NKJV] 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Leave worldly thoughts and possessions and take up the Word of God.
b. [Jhn 15:18-21 NKJV] 18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before [it hated] you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
With God as your master, being devoted to Him means taking all the good and bad that comes with it.
c. [1Co 6:19-20 NKJV] 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [who is] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
d. [Col 3:1-4 NKJV] 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ [who is] our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
If you serve God well, you will be with Him.
5. What difference would it make in our lifestyle if we truly considered ourselves as bond-slaves of our Lord?
Do you think a bond-servant of a righteous master is concerned about what they will do, where they will live, or what they are to eat, drink, and wear? These are concerns of the master. How much more rest ought we, who are the servants of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to experience. Read and meditate on the following passages of Scripture. What do they say to you?
a. [Mat 6:19-21 NKJV] 19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If you treasure heaven your heart will be there. If you treasure the earth that is where your heart lies.
b. [Mat 6:25-34 NKJV] 25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 "and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 "Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, [will He] not much more [clothe] you, O you of little faith? 31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.
6. Is there an area of your life that the Lord is specifically speaking to you about today? Is there something you need to allow Him to change? Will you surrender it to Him in prayer today? Record your prayer here or in a personal journal.
3. Use a dictionary of New Testament words to find the more accurate meaning of the following KJV words:
c. Divers. various. An abomination of the word diverse.
4. James lovingly instructs us about how we ought to - and need to - face the trying of our faith that is sure to come. As believers, we are not to divide our lives into pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad. We are to face the trying of our faith and count (hegeomai = consider; deem; account; think) it good because it is the tool by which we will grow in spiritual maturity. What more do we learn about these tests of our faith?
a. [Deu 8:1-3 NKJV] 1 "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. 2 "And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you [and] test you, to know what [was] in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every [word] that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
b. [Rom 5:3-5 NKJV] 3 And not only [that], but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
c. [1Pe 1:6-7 NKJV] 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, [being] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
d. [1Pe 4:12-13 NKJV] 12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
5. Take notice that this verse says "when you fall into temptation". There is no question of if, it will happen daily. This verse is speaking of temptations or tests that come from the outside (in verse 14 James will discuss the internal temptations). There are temptations from the world, those which we have no control over, that we are thrown into by virtue of our daily experience. These temptations the enemy uses hoping to cause us to fall. However, God uses them as tools to strengthen our faith. What is to be our reaction when we face these trials that come in many different forms, from every different direction?
a. [2Ch 33:11-13 NKJV] 11 Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze [fetters], and carried him off to Babylon. 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD [was] God.
b. [Mat 4:3-11 NKJV] 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' " 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In [their] hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " 7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' " 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' " 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
c. [Eph 6:11-13 NKJV] 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
d. [Jas 4:7-8 NKJV] 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse [your] hands, [you] sinners; and purify [your] hearts, [you] double-minded.
[Jas 1:3 NKJV] 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
3. Use a dictionary of New Testament words to find a better grasp of the their meaning:
ginosko = recognize; understand; learn; perceive
4. Define faith as described in Heb 11:1-3
[Heb 11:1-3 NKJV] 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a [good] testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
What things were wrought (shaped) by faith in Heb 11:33-34?
[Heb 11:30-34 NKJV] 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also [of] David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
5. James gives us the reason that we can "count it all joy". We need to have an external outlook seeing the purpose that God has in store for us. Knowing that the "trying of your faith produces patience". Record the truths that you discover about patience.
a. [Rom 2:6-7 NKJV] 6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds": 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
b. [Rom 15:4-6 NKJV] 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
c. [Heb 10:35-37 NKJV] 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 "For yet a little while, [And] He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
d. [Heb 12:1-2 NKJV] 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares [us], and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
6. Is there an area of your life that the Lord is specifically speaking to you about today?
1. [Jas 1:4 NKJV] 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
3. According to this verse, what is the end result of our enduring under the trials in our lives?
What word in this verse indicates that we have a choice about facing trials?
How does that choice affect the outcome?
4. James teaches us that when we stand steadfast under trials with our eyes on the Lord, knowing that He has a perfect plan for us, we will become mature in faith and strong in character. In order to trust Him with our lives, we must be confident about who He is, how much He loves us, and what He plans for us. Record and meditate on the following passages of Scripture asking the Lord to increase your faith in Him.
a. [Deu 7:7-9 NKJV] 7 "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 "but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He [is] God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
b. [Jer 29:11-13 NKJV] 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find [Me], when you search for Me with all your heart.
c. [Rom 8:28-31 NKJV] 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [can be] against us?
d. [Rom 8:35-39 NKJV] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
5. Record Job's perspective on the end product of the trial of his faith from Job 23:10
[Job 23:10 NKJV] 10 But He knows the way that I take; [When] He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
Can you testify with the same confidence about your life? It is a matter of choice. Will you persevere in trials or fight against them?
6. Is there an area of your life that the Lord is specifically speaking to you about today?
[Jas 1:1-4 NKJV] 1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
2. What one or two things do you understand differently about these verses as they apply in your life?
3. Can you share a specific situation where trials have made you more patient and more mature?