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.
Be Patient …
“Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9 Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door! 10 Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord. The Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
Achieving patience in the midst of adversity can be accomplished by keeping your focus on a certain future - “Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming.
The word, “patience” comes from the Greek word “macrothumesia” which means to persist, be longsuffering, the ideal of not giving in and giving up.
The “Lord’s coming” may be eschatological or a practical encouragement referring to the Lord’s deliverance.
Adversity/troublesome times are often unexpected and therefore uncertain; uncertainty, when we focus on the problem, can create anxiety/worry. The solution, then, is to focus/think on what is certain: the return of Jesus, Who will ultimately rescue us from the pains/problems of this life.
“I can get through a rough journey if I KNOW the final destination. AMEN!”
“See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient.” – Realize, like the farmer, you cannot always control what happens in your life (just like the farmer cannot produce rain and sunshine).
An uncertain present requires attention to the future - “You also must be patient.”
“Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near” - Hold fast, the Lord will come to your aid
“Brothers, do not complain about one another, so that you will not be judged. Look, the judge stands at the door!” – The audience is believers … “brothers.” Hardships, apart from faith in God, often produce critical spirits which tend to blame others for their problems. Put away a judgmental attitude remembering God will judge the complainers.
James pointed back to Old Testament saints reminding his readers: (1) Living in faith does not exempt one from hardships (2) faith in God will prevent one from grumbling and complaining about one’s circumstances. He uses Job as an example of one’s endurance/patience and the ultimate outcome.
The unasked scenario: what would have happened if Job was a complainer blaming others for his troubles?
God’s Promise – because He loves you, He will give mercy and grace for and in your situation … “The Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
Be Reverent …
“Now above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your “yes” must be “yes,” and your “no” must be “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.”
In an effort to escape hardship do not resort to making oaths before the Lord, or attempting to bargain with God.
“Yes be yes … no be no” is just a way of saying “It is what it is and I can’t change the situation unless God CHOOSE to intervene.”
Swearing an oath, which you are utterly incapable of keeping, or attempting to bargain with God will result, not in deliverance, but judgment.
Be Prayerful …
“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit. 19 My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Prayer and praise are synonymous with faith in God. “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises.”
The appropriate response to hardships is ongoing prayer and praise. This is not one time shopping. Be consistent in your prayers for yourself and others
“Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord.” – “Sick” may reference either physical, emotional or even spiritual sickness.
Those who are suffering should seek prayer intervention by the church elders (pastors/leaders)
There is no healing power in the anointing with oil, but is symbolic of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. It is described by some as a “faith contact.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ANOINTING THE SICK WITH OIL?
“The name of the Lord” is not just the ending of a prayer, but references something done under the direction of God’s authority and according to His will, for His glory.
God responds to the prayer of faith … praying according to God’s directive will produce God’s intervening power (Important to note that it is not always the will of the Lord to produce healing).
“if he has committed sin, he will be forgiven” indicates that some sickness occurs as the result of sin and therefore requires confession and repentance in order to effect healing… healing then becomes a manifestation of a greater work – forgiveness.
Verse 16 reminds believers of the necessity of spiritual cleansing before seeking God’s intervention.
See Psalm 66:18 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord WILL NOT hear me.”
James reminds those who may have suffered with an inferiority complex that Elijah was no different from them; he struggle with human weaknesses, yet he prayed with faith, consistently, and God answered his prayers.
“My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
The believer’s prayers for one another extends from physical sickness to spiritual sickness “strays from the truth.” … a backslider in doctrine or practice
The reward of such a prayer is knowing you had a part in bringing back a wayward believer (this is not about a lost person).