Summary: James is a “Do this! Do that!” book which, taken to heart, will dynamically affect our lives on every level. We will not be the same at the end of this study if we prayerfully ask the Spirit to apply what we learn.
1. James verse 1
James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad, greetings.
a. Half Brother of Christ
James a half-brother, of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospels mention this fact in Matthew 13:55 "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? He was at first an unbeliever. In John 7:5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
During the forty-day period between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension, Jesus “appeared to James, then to all the apostles” — and James believed 1 Cor. 15:7. James is mentioned as being in the upper room in Jerusalem, praying with his mother and the rest of the disciples Acts 1:13 and was presumably present when the Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost.
He could have begun his letter, “James the Just, from the sacred womb of Mary, congenital sibling of Christ his brother, confidant of the Messiah.” But James did not even allude to this status, being content with “servant” In Mark 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
The word servant “doulos” in the Greek means far more than just a servant. Aans a slave totally possessed by the master. A bond-servant bound by law to a master. The slave existed for his master and he had no other reason for existence. He had no personal rights whatsoever. James existed only for Christ. His rights were the rights of Christ only. He was at the master’s disposal any hour of the day. So it was with James: he lived only to serve Christ—hour by hour and day by day. He had
become the leader of the Jerusalem church when Peter was released from prison Acts 12:17. If you observed the beginning of Paul’s epistle, he introduces himself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ.
James writes pastorally to “the twelve tribes scattered all over Mesopotamia, around the Mediterranean, and into Asia Minor and Europe. He was writing to beat up Christians who were being persecuted, cheated, suffering trials because of their faith. R.K. Hughes describes these Jewish Christians as “Homeless and disenfranchised, they were robbed of what possessions they had, hauled into court, and subjected to the Gentile elite. They had less standing than slaves.”
2. A Joyful Attitude verse 2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
After rereading this passage James must have lost his senses? He is writing to beat-up brothers and sisters and he says, “Consider it pure joy,” or as the NEB says, “count yourselves supremely happy.” A letter of encouragement from Pastor Whacko! “Don’t worry be happy!”
We are not just to act joyful, but to be genuinely joyful. It is a matter of will, not of feelings, and should be the conscious, determined commitment of every faithful believer. And because God commands it, it is within the ability, the Spirit’s provides, every true Christian. When we have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, James assures us, even the worst of troubles can and should be cause for thanksgiving and rejoicing.