Summary: This series of teachings covers the book of James, and is adaptable to adult of teen groups. It has been used with succes for both the adult Home Fellowships of Hosanna Church and the Grades 9 & 10 Bible class of Oxford Hills Christian Academy.
THE BOOK OF JAMES
A BIBLE STUDY IN 11 LESSONS
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
77 Oxford Street
South Paris, ME
207 890-5979 evenings
207 539-2295 daytimes
THE BOOKOF JAMES
A HOME FELLOWSHIP STUDY
Lesson 1: Introduction
By Eric J. Hanson
(Please look up each scripture reference and read it as you come to it in this piece.)
Who was James: There is more than one James in the New Testament. The first one most people think of is John’s Brother James, the son of Zebedee. That particular James, one of the inner circle of John, James, and Peter, was murdered by Herod Agrippa I in or about 44 AD. (Acts 12:1-2) He is not the author of this book. There was also another James in the Gospels. He is the son of Alphaeus. Little is mentioned about him beyond his being a follower of Jesus. He is also not the author of this book.
That leaves James, the half-brother of Jesus. In the Gospels, we can see that James, as well as Jesus’ other half brothers did not believe in him during his earthly ministry. See Matthew 13:54-58, Mark 6:1-6, John 7:2-5, and Mark 3:31-35. These clearly show that Jesus had younger half-brothers who were with Mary, his mother. These were sons of Joseph, not of God. This James, probably the oldest of Jesus’ younger brothers, is the author of the epistle of James.
After Jesus rose from the dead, his brothers became true believers in Him. James went on to become one of the elders of the Church in Jerusalem. He also became an apostle, as clearly stated in Galatians 1:19. Further insight into James can be gained by now reading Acts 15:13-22, in which James concurs, with Paul and with Peter, that Gentile converts should not be asked to keep the ceremonial and dietary Old Testament Law.
James’s epistle was written right around the year 50A.D. At that time, there were heresies within the Church to guard against, and persecution coming against the Church from outside. Some were saying that you can live any old way you please after becoming a believer. In some circles, this heresy persists even today. James brought forth the dynamic nature of true faith in Jesus Christ. It changes people! Some thought that trials meant God had abandoned them. This is not true. Some in the churches were tearing fellow believers down with their negative talk. There were other problems too.
James addressed a wide variety of concerns in this relatively short book. It is clear and very directive!
Special Note: Some have thought that Romans and James contradict each other. Martin Luther did not like the book of James at all. This is sad, because in reality, Romans and James are like two sides of the same coin. To some extent they are as follows: Romans lays out much theory and James instructs in practice. That oversimplifies things a little.
I believe that these two books should be taught together at the Bible College level in order to give balance and perspective to future preachers.
Closing thought for this week:
James was humble. He did not brag about being the Lord’s brother. He opened his epistle with a salutation identifying himself as the bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.