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James 3:1-12 Connect Blog

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.

Pastor’s Notes:

The most dangerous weapon of mass destruction is the tongue. Believers and non-believers struggle to contain this unruly evil. This section of Scripture stands as a warning to believers to understand the power of the tongue and to seek Divine intervention to utilize the tongue as a positive influence.

Remember, as you study this passage, James’s earlier admonition, to “be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19).

Can you remember a situation where someone used their tongue as a weapon against a brother or sister?

“Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, 2 for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body” (3:1-2).

James warns against those who assume the role of a teacher for the sake of teaching. Those who teach will be held to a higher standard of accountability. James is alluding to someone who likes to hear themselves talk (not necessarily someone who has been called by God to teach).

The ability to control the tongue (though we all fail sometimes) is an indication of spiritual maturity, and in control of his life.

“Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal.4 And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell” (3:3-6).

James uses three illustrations to show the power of the tongue:

  1. The horse’s bit (shows control/influence)

  2. The ship’s rudder (show control/influence)

The tongue, though small in comparison to the body, has powerful potential to achieve great things, good or bad.

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