The letter of James is only a letter by name. It is really more of a sermon. In this sermon, James calls for joy in suffering, persevering faith, the pursuit of wisdom, reception of the Word, pure religion, submission to the law of Christ, faith that works, taming of the tongue, intimacy with God, repentance of sins, patience, and prayers of faith. With such an eclectic mix of themes, it is hard to follow James thoughts at times, but through careful study and prayer we can find our way through this important letter, and reach the end of the means, the salvation of our souls which is the result of receiving the Word. Let's follow James' advice and ask God for wisdom so that we may rightly discern what the Spirit says to the churches.I. Authorship
A. Which James?II. Date
1. The father of Judas Acts 1:13 and Luke 6:16B. Early Life
2. The son of Alphaeus Acts 1:13 and Luke 6:15
3. The son of Zebedee and brother of John martyred around a. d. 44
4. The half-brother of Jesus, leader of the Jerusalem church
Matthew 13:55, John 7:1-5, I Corinthians 15:1-9
Acts 12:17, 15:13-21, Galatians 1:19, 2:9, 12
A. James martyred around A. D. 62III. Recipients
B. Before Jerusalem Council Around A. D. 49-50 Acts 15
C. After Stephen's Martyrdom around A. D. 35 Acts 6, 7
D. Paul's preaching around A. D. 36
1. James and Paul agreed on justificationE. 44-48 a. d.
2. James probably interacts with a distortion of Paul's preaching, not recognizing it's origin
3. James' position is complimentary to what Paul taught
A. Eschatological Nature Of The Term, 'The Twelve Tribes'IV. Jesus and James
1. The Assyrian captivity and remnant of the ten northern tribesB. The 'Diaspora'
2. The restoration of Israel
3. Two fulfillments
a. A literal fulfillment Romans 11:25-27
b. A fulfillment in the Church represented by the twelve Apostles and the 144,000 in Revelation 7:3-8 and 14:1-5
C. Unbelieving Jews?
A. A servant of the Lord Jesus ChristConclusion:
B. Jesus is King
C. Jesus the new lawgiver
D. Parallels between James and the Sermon on the Mount
The author of the letter is James, the brother of Jesus and 'Pastor' or the Jerusalem church. The letter is probably the earliest Christian writing included in the canon. As it's early date suggests, the main audience are believing Jews who had come to faith in Christ in Jerusalem, and then had both returned home after Pentecost, and had been scattered out away from Palestine because of persecution. These early Jewish Christians probably continued to attend their synagogues where they would come into contact with unbelievers. This letter would have been read among those assemblies. James' letter then served two purposes. First, to exhort believing Jews to persevere in their faith and obedience to the 'perfect law of liberty', and second, to call unbelieving Jews to faith in Christ, the new lawgiver, and repentance of their sins.