Summary: An overview of the book of James, given as a launch to a sermon and cell series

An overview of the book of James 11/09/03

Speed read the whole book


- I don’t want to steal the thunder of the studies I’ve prepared, which covers possible authors (read it)

Suffice to say that my conclusion is, along with that of tradition, that this is written by Jesus’ younger brother, James

- half brother

Mt 13:54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked. 55 "Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor."

- If the order is anything to go by- he was the next down

o Imagine: this is the child… boy… man who sat opposite Jesus at breakfast every morning. Played with him. Synagogued with him

o But missed Him!

- Thought Jesus was out of hi mind

MK 3:20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."

o Why? How did they miss this… Him… when so well brought up by Mary & Joseph?

 Don’t know, really. Maybe Jn 7:2 gives a hint

John 7:2 But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

 Maybe they still saw it in worldly sense… pride, publicity etc got in the way?

 Maybe it was just ONE OF THOSE THINGS

• Like us!

• Fail to see Christ in the normal, everyday things?

• How often do we miss Him, with us… or in someone else?

- Anyway- come Acts 1:14- they are all there

14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

- What happened!?

1CO 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

This James became the pillar of the early church, and (tradition has it) first Bishop of Jerusalem.

- very early on you find him becoming its reference point

o It was to James that Peter sent the news of his escape from prison—Acts 12:17

o James presided over the Council of Jerusalem which agreed to the entry of the Gentiles into the Christian Church—Acts 15.

o It was with James and Peter that Paul met when he first went to Jerusalem; and it is with Peter, James and John—the pillars of the Church—that Paul settles what his sphere of work will be—Gal. 1:19; 2:9.

o It was to James that Paul came with his collection from the Gentile Churches on the visit to Jerusalem, which was destined to be his last and led to his imprisonment—Acts 21:18-25. This last episode is important, for it shows James very sympathetic to the Jews who will observe the Jewish law, and so eager that their scruples should not be offended, that he actually persuades Paul to demonstrate his loyalty to the law by assuming responsibility for the expenses of certain Jews who are fulfilling a Nazirite vow.

He was known as ‘James of Jerusalem’, ‘James the just’ (and, I think ‘camel knees’)…and was martyred in AD 61 or 62.


- must be before 62

- must be after Stephen’s death (Acts 7:58) and the scattering that followed.

- Before the Jerusalem council (nothing of dietary laws mentioned) of ~ AD 49/50

- Probably even before Paul’s first missionary journey (~ AD 46-48) - as it’s ALL to Jews.

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