Authorship … While the Book itself offers no evidence of authorship, the early church fathers accepted James, the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3) and leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; Galatians 2:9), as the author of the book that bears his name.
James did not initially believe in Jesus as the Messiah (John 7:2-10). He became a believer after witnessing the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:7). He was present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14).
Date … Most believe the Book of James to be among, if not the earliest, of the Epistles (45-55 A.D.)
Recipients … probably Jewish believers who had fled their homeland because of religious and government persecution.
Josephus, a Jewish historian, mentioned the martyrdom of James around 62 A.D.
9 12 13 16 17
“James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion. Greetings” (1:1).
Makes no mention of His family relationship with Jesus, only referring to himself as a servant of the Lord. It could be said of James that he understood it was not about himself, but the Lord Jesus.
He wrote to a persecuted people words of encouragement.
What does it mean to be a servant of Jesus Christ?
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (1:2-4).
Christians should approach their troubles with an attitude of joy understanding that God will use their problems to increase their faith in Him; to produce spiritual stamina. Spiritual growth/Christian maturity and ministry ability results from acceptance of and persistence in the trials of life.
What is your perspective of trials? How do you respond to difficult situations?
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him” (1:5).
The context of the request is wisdom to understand and endure affliction. In times of trouble seek understanding, strength and the solution from God. God will never respond by criticizing you but will provide the answer.
I didn’t say you would like the answer!
How has God answered your prayers?
“But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways” (1:6-8).
Every request must be couched in faith. Don’t ask something from God that you don’t believe. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Apart from faith one’s life moves back and forth without any real stability; wishy washy. A lack of faith in God impacts every area of one’s life.
What is the measure of your faith? Could it be that prayers often go unanswered because of a lack of faith?
“The brother of humble circumstances should boast in his exaltation, 10 but the one who is rich should boast in his humiliation because he will pass away like a flower of the field. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the grass; its flower falls off, and its beautiful appearance is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will wither away while pursuing his activities” (1:10-11).
Simply put … Poverty should lead to one to dependence on God while those who have much often trust in what they have rather than the Lord. This passage is not an encouragement to be poor or to avoid riches but to put one’s faith in every set of circumstance in God.
One day all we have, materially/monetarily speaking, will be gone. All that will be left is what we have in Christ Jesus.
“A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (1:12).
The word “blessed” means joyful. The “crown of life” is not a diadem (king’s crown) but a victor’s wreath given to the winner of the games.
Enduring trails is joyful because it prepares us for victory/success.
“love Him” refers to those who demonstrate their love through obedience.
Would you describe your life as victorious/successful? What are your expectation when you stand before the Lord in judgment?
“No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (1:13-15).
Don’t blame God for what you are going through; your failure to stand in faith. God is not to blame.
Please understand: God uses what you are going through for your good (See: Romans 8:28).
Temptation originates in your sinful flesh. Everyone is tempted about something. Temptation is not a sin, but succumbing to temptation is sin.
When you give in to the temptation you sin, and if you allow the temptation to envelope you, continue, it will destroy you.
Think of a time when you struggled with temptation? How did you respond?
“Don’t be deceived, my dearly loved brothers” (1:16).
Don’t allow wrong thinking to direct your life.
Can you think of something that might be considered bad advice or false teaching?
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. 18 By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures” (1:17-18).
God is the source of all things good.
God can be trusted because He never changes. His truth is not hidden.
He demonstrated His goodness and how far He will go to bless by giving His Son as a sacrifice for sin so that we might be in a forever relationship with Him.
“firstfruits” refers to an offering from the harvest. God expects what He has done, does for us to result in His praise and glory.
How is your life bringing glory to God?