Summary: Part one of James Study this is mainly an Intro sermon for the series

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James is a little letter tucked in the back of our New Testament. It isn’t discussed often; some of us have only read it when we were looking for something short!

The book of James was a controversial addition to the Bible canon for the first 300 years of the church. Some felt that it should be left out because it seemed to contradict Paul’s teachings on salvation grace, because, as was said, James taught salvation by works. It was finally adopted by the early Church Fathers, and allowed to take its place among the other portions of God’s great masterpiece, the Bible.

James is such a practical book. It takes on the maturing of the believer and presents sound advice on how a Christian should grow in his spiritual walk with the Lord. James pulls no punches, so his words hit hard, provoking thought and instigating to good and pure religion.

General Information/Background

There are four James in the New Testament

1. James the father of Judas – Luke 6:16 & Acts 1:13

2. James the son of Alphaeus – Matthew 10:3

3. James, the son of Zebedee/brother of John; Died as a martyr under Herod Agrippa – Acts 12:2

4. James, the bother of Jesus


The brother of Jesus, James, wrote the book of James.

Facts about James the Lord’s Brother, I have listed just a few.

Ø He was a brother of the Lord (Matthew 13:55 & Mark 6:3)

Ø He was an eyewitness of the risen Lord. In fact, the Lord appeared to him in a private conversation (I Cor. 15:7)

Ø He was among those waiting for the coming of the Spirit in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14)

Ø He became the pastor of the Jerusalem Church. He probably assumed his duties when Peter left on his missionary journeys.

Ø He was the first one told about Peter’s release from prison (Acts 12:17)

Ø He was the presiding officer over the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15)

Ø He was called a pillar of the church along with Peter and John.

Ø He was the one who received the offerings brought by Paul from the Gentile churches to help the Jerusalem saints (Acts 21: 18-25)

Ø He was very familiar with Jesus’ teachings. The epistle has around 20 quotes from the Sermon on the Mount alone

The book of James was written in probably A.D. 45-50

To Whom Did James Write?

“James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. (James 1:1 (NASB))

a. “Twelve tribes” can only mean the people of Israel.

b. Like Peter who addressed a huge Jewish congregation of 15 different countries on Pentecost, James writes the Jews outside Palestine.

c. These Jews are Christians, for at least 19 times, he called them “brethren.” ”Scattered” means “in the scattering” and refers to the rebellious Jews whom God dispersed throughout the known world, because of their idolatry. But in this context, the idea is one of “scattering seeds,” the spreading abroad of the gospel through the planted seeds of believers. These people would need James’ encouragement, for they were not only Jews, living in a world that hated them, but they were Christian Jews, rejected by their own countrymen.

Why Did James Write?

“knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (v. 3).

As in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, James addressed the problems of the Jewish Christians. They were experiencing temptations and testings.

Among the problems addressed by James, was the matter of some using their tongues in unchristian manner. Others were physically sick because they were disobeying God’s Word.

A review of the problems encountered and answered by James, the book of James is quite practical for use today. The exact same problems are rampant in Christianity today—suffering, wrong use of the tongue, worldliness, etc.

James gets to the heart of the matter. Only one thing causes all the problems faced by the church—spiritual immaturity. The word “perfect” is used several times, and means to be “mature, grown-up, well-balanced.”

Too many Christians are still babes in Christ and still eating baby food.

Notice that James’ audience seemed to have the characteristics of little children: Impatience in difficulty, not walking the talk, not having the tongue under control, fighting and wanting, and collecting play things. Each of the five chapters of James addresses the marks of spiritual maturity.

Did James Contradict Paul?

Comparison of the two writers’ statements

James—“24You see that a man is justified by faith alone” James 2:24 (NASB)

Paul—“8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. ” Ephesians 2:8 - 9 (NASB)

Explanation of the seeming contradiction

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