A Devotional Journey
led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
While James does not give us much to go on in his introduction, he was probably the brother of Jesus
as well as the leader of the Jerusalem Church. Only four individuals in the New Testament have this name and only two had the prominence to write such a letter. James the apostle died too early (about A.D. 44) to be the author, and therefore the brother of Christ is the most likely candidate. Only someone well-known and important in the church could write a general letter with such little introduction.
The people to whom this letter is written included the 12 tribes scattered
(according to James 1:1). The reference most likely is to Jewish Christians. The Jewish nature of the book is found in such things as its title for God: Lord Almighty – a typically Jewish designation. The emphasis is on a Christian faith grounded and validated by good works and active participation in expressing God’s grace in the world. Several of Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount are included in this letter (comparisons may be made between James 2:5 and Matthew 5:3; James 3:10-12 and Matthew 7:15-20; James 3:18 and Matthew 5:9).
Chapter 1, after short greetings, acknowledges the trials and temptations of the Christian life
but encourages believers to seek God’s wisdom, believe in God’s goodness and grace, and put into practice the teaching they have received from Christ and His apostles.
Chapter 2 begins by forbidding favoritism
and goes on to point out that such conduct violates the spirit of Jesus’ teaching to love your neighbor as yourself – His teaching is general and does not allow for special treatment to certain groups or individuals. In any case, James insists, faith must always be active rather than contemplative. James summary clarifies the point: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
In what ways does your relationship with God (a relationship based on faith) make a difference in your life?
What evidence might some objective observer find that Christ really does make a difference for you? Does knowing Him make your conduct towards others better? Are you more sensitive or more interested in other people’s needs?
The big question is simple: what are you doing about what God has done?
Make a plan today to live your faith more continuously and consistently. Consider how you can, in a positive way, be a more visible follower of Jesus Christ.
8 A. Eugene Pearson 2010