James greets the Jewish Christians outside of Palestine. He calls them to rejoice in their trials, to resist temptation, and to act on the Word. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are in the Dispersion: Greetings.
James. The human author of this epistle is not easily identified.
In those days, there at least four men in the apostolic community named James:
James the son of Zebedee:
Mark 1:19. Going on a little further from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.
The son of Alphaeus:
Mark 3:18. Andrew; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, the son of Alphaeus; Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot;
James the father of Judas:
Luke 6:16. Judas the son of James; and Judas Iscariot, who also became a traitor.
James the Lord’s brother:
Galatians 1:19.But of the other apostles I saw no one except James, the Lord’s brother.
The letter is traditionally attributed to James the Lord’s brother.
to the twelve tribes. After the invasion of the kingdom of Israel by Assyria in 721 BC, the historic twelve tribes had ceased to exist as tribal units.
For that reason, we believe James is writing to Jewish Christians. He sees them as “the new Israel.”
which are in the Dispersion. These are the Jewish Christians who were scattered outside of Palestine due to the persecution of Christians. Peter described them in such terms:
1 Peter 1:1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen ones who are living as foreigners in the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
Count it all joy. We are to consider it pure joy when we face any kind of suffering or temptation, difficulty or trial. This is not natural for most of us. Read more »
the testing of your faith produces endurance. We are to consider it pure joy when we face any kind of suffering or temptation, difficulty or trial. This is not natural for most of us. Read more »
VERSE 4. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
VERSE 5. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
if any of you lacks wisdom. There is no need for us to be ignorant. Ask God for wisdom. And seek it out.
who gives to all liberally. Our Father in heaven delights in giving good gifts to those who persist in prayer. The greatest gift of all is the Holy Spirit. Read more »
VERSE 6. But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed.
in faith, without any doubting. The Greek word for “doubt” is hdiakrinomenos. It suggests vacillating.
VERSE 7. For that man shouldn’t think that he will receive anything from the Lord.
VERSE 8. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
VERSE 9. But let the brother in humble circumstances glory in his high position;
VERSE 10. and the rich, in that he is made humble, because like the flower in the grass, he will pass away.
VERSE 11. For the sun arises with the scorching wind and withers the grass, and the flower in it falls, and the beauty of its appearance perishes. So the rich man will also fade away in his pursuits.
VERSE 12. Blessed is a person who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him.
VERSE 13. Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God can’t be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.
I am tempted by God. Some Christians say that God is “allowing” them to be tempted.
They are trying to rationalize why they are being tempted. It is an implicit way of blaming God their predicament.
drawn away by his own lust. James says that temptations are from our own desires.
VERSE 15. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin. The sin, when it is full grown, produces death.
VERSE 16. Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers.
VERSE 17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow.
Our Father in heaven delights in giving good gifts to those who persist in prayer. The greatest gift of all is the Holy Spirit. Read more »
VERSE 18. Of his own will he gave birth to us by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
VERSE 19. So, then, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;
slow to speak. A godly person is a listener more than a talker. If your tendency is to talk, how can you keep quiet and become a better listener?
slow to anger. Are you hot-headed? How can you overcome that?
Ecclesiastes 5:2. Don’t be rash with your mouth, and don’t let your heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and you on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Ecclesiastes 7:9. Don’t be hasty in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.
VERSE 20. for the anger of man doesn’t produce the righteousness of God.
VERSE 21. Therefore, putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
KJV translation. Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
be doers of the word. As we discover new aspects of the faith, we need to act on them. We need to put them into practice.
not only hearers. If we only listen to the Word, we deceive ourselves.
Many Christians say their faith is a matter of their heart. But the Bible calls us to put our faith into action. If we listen to the Word, but don’t act on it, we deceive ourselves. Read more »
VERSE 23. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror;
VERSE 24. for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
VERSE 25. But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.
VERSE 26. If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn’t bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
VERSE 27. Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.