A. Brother of Jesus (Mt 13:58; Mk 6:3)
B. James initially rejected Jesus as Messiah (Mt 12:46-50; Mk 3:21,31-35; Jn 7:3-9, especially Jn 7:5). However, in Acts, James had a sudden change of heart toward Jesus.
· Explanation of change in James the man – the resurrection (1 Co 15:7)
C. James became the leader of the Jerusalem church (not Peter).
1. Peter sends news of his escape from prison to James (Ac 12:17)
2. James presides over the Council at Jerusalem (Ac 15:13-21)
3. Paul met with Peter and James when he first went to Jerusalem after becoming a Christian (Ga 1:19; 2:9).
4. Paul brought collection to James (Ac 21:18-25), Paul obviously held James in high regard.
D. Jude calls James the brother of the Lord (Ju 1).
E. James means “Jacob.”
II. RECIPIENTS — Christians of the 12 tribes of Israel (Christian Jews) scattered throughout the Roman Empire (1:1).
· This dispersion may have been due to the persecution of Acts 12.
III. PURPOSE: to expose the fallacy of dead orthodoxy (profession of faith without producing results).
· Action must match profession
· Right acting must match right thinking and right believing
· Christians should not separate doctrine from practice
IV. THEME: Faith works
· The activity of a living faith verses a theoretical belief
· Faith produces a life governed by the Word of God (1:22)
· Life divergent from God’s Word denies faith
· Antinomianism is contrary to God’s Word
· Morality is a by-product of Christianity
· Obedience is the watchword of faith
V. DATE: A.D. 45-49
VI. KEY VERSE: 2:17
VII. BACKGROUND AND DESTINATION
A. Israel went into captivity by the Assyrians, 721 B.C.
B. Judah went into captivity by the Neo-Babylonians, 588 B.C.
C. Alexander the Great transplanted a great number of Jews to Egypt, especially in Alexandria Egypt.
D. Pursuit of commerce caused many Jews to disperse to other countries (James 1:1).
F. Note the diversity of people in who came from the dispersion in Acts (Acts 2:9-11; 6:9).
VIII. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK
A. No New Testament book is more Jewish.
B. James is an interpretation of the Law of the Old Testament and the Sermon on the Mount.
C. James obviously depends on the Sermon on the Mount.
D. Imagery drawn from nature (1:6,10,11; 3:4,5,7,12; 4:14; 5:2,3,7,18)
E. There are 54 imperatives (commands) in 108 verses.
F. James is the first New Testament book written.
G. 5 chapters; 108 verses; 2,309 words in KJV
H. Christ’s name occurs but twice (1:1; 2:1).
I. No mention of incarnation or resurrection.
J. Martin Luther called James that “strawy epistle” because he thought that it taught justification by works.
K. James is a General Epistle (along with Hebrews, Peter, John’s epistles, Jude) addressed to a believers in many locations.
L. The book of James was to pass cyclically from one group to another.
M. James omitted from some early lists of New Testament books that belong in the Bible.
N. Style: exhortation in the structure of a letter.
O. James calls his readers “brethren” 15 times.
P. More than any other book, James deals with our outside life.
Q. The Word of God is our mirror to show our character and conduct.
R. The only true hearer is the doer of work; all inner grace produces fruit.
IX. OCCASION FOR WRITING THE EPISTLE
Christians in the first century dispersion suffered persecution and lived under Pharisaical self-righteousness. James defines the nature of sin, that sin is more than an act. Therefore, he appeals to the Sermon on the Mount to show sin is an attitude controlled by a motive.
X. CONTRASTS OF PAUL’S & JAMES JUSTIFICATION:
· Paul = Justification before God
· James = Justification before man
· Faith is the root of justification
· Works are the fruit of justification
· Faith is the cause of justification
· Works are the result of justification
XI. COMPARISON BETWEEN THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT AND JAMES
1:2 – Matthew 5:10-12
1:4 — Mt 5:48
1:5 – Mt 7:7f
1:9 – Mt 5:3
1:12 – Mt 7:14
1:20 – Mt 5:22
1:22 – Mt 7:24f
2:5 – Mt 5:3
2:10 – Mt 5:19
2:13 – Mt 5:7
3:10-12 – Mt 7:15f
3:6 – Mt 5:22
3:18 – Mt 5:9
4:4 – Mt 6:24
4:10 – Mt 5:5
4:11,12 – Mt 7:1-5
5:2f – Mt 6:19
5:10 – Mt 5:12
5:12 – Mt 5:33-37
XII. TRANSITION NATURE OF JAMES
James wrote during the time of transition in the early apostolic church. The book does not have the full-orbed doctrinal scope that later New Testament authors develop since he stands at the beginning of the New Testament chronologically.
I. Faith’s Test, 1:2-27
A. Faith’s Stability, 1:2-11
B. Faith’s Endurance, 1:12-18
C. Faith’s Action, 1:19-27
II. Faith’s Nature, 2:1-3:12
A. Faith does not discriminate, 2:1-13
B. Faith Works, 2:14-26
C. Faith tames the tongue, 3:1-12
III. Faith’s Wisdom, 3:13-5:18
A. Wisdom Defined, 3:13-18
B. Wisdom about source of sin, 4:1-10
IV. Faith’s Application, 4:11-20
A. Faith applied in judgments, 4:11-12
B. Faith applied in commercial ventures, 4:13-17
C. Faith applied in labor problems, 5:1-6
D. Faith applied in victory over sin, 5:7-20
1. Patience for imminent coming, 5:7-11
2. Prayer, 5:12-20