James 1:1 - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
This is a study that I embarked upon during my time (2015 - 2016) as the Adult Sunday School teacher at Rocky Mountain Baptist Church in Pueblo, Colorado. It is based upon the Bible, (KJV), other commentaries that I have studied over the years, outlines that I have picked up whose writers have not chosen to identify themselves so I could not give them the credit that they deserve. I will try to not plagiarize, and I will try to identify my sources where I can. I have been studying the Bible and writings related to the Bible for over 46 years, and most of what I write has been gleaned from those studies. However, it is hard to remember from where all of my thoughts and recollections derive. I am not very original in my thinking, and I wish my brain was able to recall all of my sources, but I am not able to do so. So if you recognize something that is yours, and I did not give you credit, please forgive me. I will be happy to ascribe credit where it is due.
These notes have been compiled and taught over a period of many years. This is not the first time that I have taught through the book of James, and every time that I do so I find more information and more insight into God's word. I sincerely pray and hope that you will be blessed by these notes as I was when writing and teaching them.
Dr. Robert E. Bliss
Taught to the
Adult Sunday School Class
From January 2016
All scriptures are from the KJV. Any deviations or changes are not intentional.
Table of Contents
- Who Wrote The Book of James?
- When Was James Written?
- To Whom Was James Written?
- Chapter 1 - Seven Characteristics of a Perfect (Mature) Faith.- James 1:1-1:22
- Chapter 2 - Seven Marks Of A Working Faith. James 1:22 - 2:26
- Be A Compassionate Faith
- Be A Clean Faith
- Respect People Equally
- Obey God
- Be A Giving Faith
- Be A Committed Faith
- Chapter 3 - A Biblical Faith Is A Controlled Faith - James 3:1-18
- The Wrong Use Of The Tongue
- The Proper Use Of The Tongue
- Chapter 4 - A Biblical Faith Is A Growing Faith - James 4:1-17
- Prayer Will Be The Mark Of A Growing Faith
- Humility And Submission Are Keys To A Growing Faith
- Chapter 5 - The Responsibilities Of A Perfect (Mature) Faith
- We Must Live Like A Christian Even In Fiery Trials
- We Must Be Truthful
- We Must Be A Member Of And Participate In A Good Local Church
- We Must Look To God In Prayer
- We Must Reach Out To Others
A Study Guide in The Book of James
Many years ago I picked up a study in the Book of James entitled, "James, The Most Practical Book in the Bible." I have no idea who the author was or is. He or she never identified himself/herself on any page in the entire study. It is a very practical and enlightening study which I will use as one part of our basis for our study in this most engaging book. I think that you will have to agree when we are done that James is a very useful and "practical" book in the word of God. It will help us in our walk with God and with the people that we come in contact with on a daily basis. In writing this lesson guide I will try to avoid plagiarism and will endeavor to identify the unidentified person's writings as often as I can when I type up these lessons.
Often when we are studying the Bible we will use the technique of asking the "W" questions. Who, What, When, Why, Where and then the "H" question, How. One of my source writers asks these questions and then proceeds to answer them in his study of the Book of James. I like that approach and will also use it in our study of this great little book.
Who wrote the Book of James?
Well, obviously someone by the name of James wrote it. However, there are at least 42 different references to men in the Bible who are named James. I am not saying that there are 42 different James, just that there are 42 references in 38 verses to men called James. So, which one wrote this letter to the "twelve tribes which are scattered abroad…"? Virtually any book or commentary that you pick up will spend several pages discussing the various men who might have been responsible for writing this book. After reading several of them I am convinced that this man was the physical or fleshly half-brother of Jesus born to Mary after she gave birth supernaturally to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, Mary had other children; she was not a "perpetual virgin" as the Roman Catholic Church erroneously teaches. Matthew 13:55 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
Several of the James mentioned in the Bible were very insignificant in their identification and probably should be ruled out as authors; James the Apostle could have been the author, but since he was martyred at the hands of Herod, he probably could not have written the book before his death, which leaves us with James the brother of Jesus. I believe this line of reasoning and accept it wholeheartedly.
One person lists several reasons for believing that James, the brother of Jesus, wrote the book. I think that the most interesting and compelling reason is his comparison between the style of the book and the words of James in Acts 15. He spoke and then presumably wrote a letter to the Gentile believers which included the word, "greeting" which he also used in the opening sentence of the book which bears his name. Acts 15:13-21 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
Acts 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
Another interesting fact which I noticed in my research is that Mark mentions James more than any other writer in the NT - 13 times. Mark is the most practical and down-to-earth Gospel writer and James is a very practical book. I probably could not prove the connection, but it sure seems reasonable.
There are other reasons which have been mentioned:
Although, I can't prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt, I really believe that James, the physical, half-brother of Jesus Christ the Lord, is the human pen of James. We, of course, know that the Holy Spirit is the True Author of the book. So, we have 5 chapters and 108 verses to cover. Since our time is limited, we will travel fast, hitting only the highlights. However, I believe that our time in James will be very beneficial for each of us.
- The authority used by James in his book is similar to the authority found in Acts 15:19. James uses the imperative in the language of his book many times.
- The familiarity of James with the teachings of Jesus. Certainly living and growing up in the same household as Jesus would give one great insight into the teachings and philosophy of our Lord. While not compelling it is one more piece of evidence that seems to lead one to the authorship by the Lord's brother.
One writer says the following, "Just think, we have in the book of James, the Gospel according to Jesus as James saw and heard the Lord live with his earthly family." I agree with that perspective.Table of Contents
When was The Book of James Written?
As usual there are some various thoughts on the date of the writing of this book. Several writers place the date early in the 1st century, probably in the late forties of the 1st century. I agree with that assumption. James does not reference the conflict spoken of in Acts 15 in which he played a leading role. It is hard to believe that he would not have mentioned something about that Jewish-Gentile controversy if he had written it after the events recorded in Acts 15.
Acts 15:13-21 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
In Chapter 2 verse 2 James uses the Greek word "", (synagogue) translated "assembly", which indicates an early date since the word "church", "", (ekklesia) became more widespread in use later in the 1st century.
James 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
A couple of other notes, — "Only elders of the church are mentioned (5:14)," and "many masters" in chapter 3:1 suggesting that the churches were not as well organized as later in the life of the New Testament church.
I agree that an early date, around 45 AD, is very probable.Table of Contents
To Whom is The Book of James Written?
Well, the very first verse certainly makes that clear. It was written to, "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad". This clearly gives this book a distinctive 'Jewish' flavor. I believe that James was writing to his Jewish brethren who had accepted Jesus as their Christ; their Messiah; their Saviour. If you remember, in the early church most of the converted were Jews. They needed this man's wisdom and experiences in order to help them transition to this new life in Christ. They were used to the Old Testament order of living, but this freedom of the new life in Christ was something that they were having a problem with. Therefore, James writes to help them learn some very practical lessons. James was highly qualified to do this as he had learned many practical lessons in Jesus' household in which he had been reared.
Legend has it that James was a praying man. Some said that he was called, "Old Camel Knees" because he spent so much time on his knees praying. I cannot find these references in my research. It may just be a fable with no substance. However, it makes for "good preaching." I have found over the years that many items that make for "good preaching" are not verifiable at all and probably are just "old wives' tales." It would be better for all of us if we would just stick to the truths of the word of God and leave the "good preaching" out in the bleachers.
Not that I have anything against truly good preaching. Jesus was a Master Preacher. He came to preach. However, I have found that what passes for preaching in many of our churches today is nothing more than good storytelling. We need to get back to real substantive exposition of God's word and less of the storytelling. There is a time and place for topical preaching, but the expository teaching and preaching of the Bible is vitally needed in our Christian world. I think that has been one of the failures of the modern church. We have wasted too much time telling jokes and entertaining the 'brethren.'