Summary: Holiness in Church (2:1-7) Holiness of the Heart (2:8-13) Holiness in Actions (2:14-18)

Background Material

James Biographical Info:

• The author was James, Jesus’ half-brother; James and Christ had different Fathers (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3).

• James, also called James the Just, (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3).

• James was not a believer (John 7:3-5) until after the resurrection (Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19).

• James was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem and was Jewish and this book reflects his Jewish up bring; he is mentioned first as a pillar of the church (Galatians 2:9).

• According to the historian Josephus, James was martyred in approximately A.D. 62, prior to the first council of Jerusalem in A.D. 50.


• This book was written to Hebrew Christians outside of Palestine. It was written around A.D. 46-49. Approximately fifteen years after the resurrection of Christ.

• Even before Paul went on his first missionary Journey.

• It possible that this was the first letter written in the New Testament.

James 1:1 says "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings." These who James was writing to were Jewish Christians who were under a lot of persecution which started right after the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:54-60; 8:1-3, which describes the scattering of the Christian.

• They had no Bible to speak of except the Old Testament. The only thing they had to hang on too was their faith in Christ. Then after ten years of suffering persecution you receive this letter that says.

The Stoning of Stephen

The death of Stephen and the scattering of the believer happen around 35 to 37 A.D. Have been scattered for about ten or twelve years.

(Acts 7:54-60)

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. 8 1On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

The Living Dead

James 2:1-26

Key Center:

26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Holiness in Church (2:1-7)

21 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here’s a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

Exegesis: This is practical religion in the mist of persecution. This illustrates the bare essential issues of Christian living. As Christians they were not to show favoritism to the poor. Apparently those Jewish Christian were oppressing the poor among them and thus not fulfilling the law of love. There one basic lesson for us here and now from then and there. That is we cannot discriminate against anyone rich or poor. The natural tendencies of society is to want something out of another man wealth or want the rich person to be our friend for selfish gain, thence, we judge with evil thoughts. In this context evil thoughts appear to be malicious intent or pre-planned selfish deception. This certainly indicated that the poor were being exploited by the rich. Also a very strong indicator that the church had a diverse financial status among the believers. As a result James is address how the church is dealing with this diversity. The issue here clear faith and favoritism? “The way we behave toward people indicates what we really believe about God!” This is not less than pure condensation and an elevation of others to make themselves look good. The Greek word for poor in this context is "ptosso" which means: a beggar or someone stricken with little or no material goods. Also can be in a qualified or relative sense. To be in a fallen state of knowledge or circumstances whether it is social or spiritually. Their sense of identity should not be based on outward appearances but rather their common belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. “The term brothers is a reminder of the high position they already have on the basis of faith. If they were to show partiality toward certain people because they are rich, these Christians would be acting as if high position came by wealth instead of faith. In that sense, favoritism is a clear contradiction of faith.” James calls this kind of favoritism “evil” (4) because it stems from an attitude of assumed superiority. In God’s economy no one is superior over anyone. Favoritism contradicts faith and holiness; this principle could be applied to many levels of our culture, education levels, race, nationalities, just about anything else that separates someone else as lower or lesser than ourselves. It applies to. . .

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