Summary: In today’s world we are surrounded by counterfeits, and the James starts his epistle by proofing his genuiness and encouraging his readers.
The Man and His Message
Counterfeiting is a major problem in our society. Forged credit cards, jewelry, works of art, and virtually everything else of value is passed off as a genuine to deceive the unwary. Consequently, valuable commodities must be carefully examined to determine their genuineness.
Like wise in the world is covered with counterfeit teachers and preachers. Before James even begins his epistle, he makes sure to prove his genuiness and the genuineness of his message.
I. His Biography
• The first verse of the epistle introduces us to the human author, as a bond servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
o James who wrote this epistle was the half brother of Jesus.
• Surprisingly, although that James grew up with Jesus and observed first hand His sinless, perfect life, Jesus’ brothers and sisters did not at first believe in Him
o John 7:2-5, records the unbelief that is shown to Jesus.
“Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world. For not even His brothers were believing in Him.”
• Their unbelief bore sad testimony to the truth of Jesus’ declaration that “a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household” (Mark 6:4).
• According to Mark 3:21; Jesus brothers’ unbelief in Jesus, was so strong that they even thought Jesus had taken leave of His senses (Gone Crazy).
• But by the time those who believed in Jesus gathered in Jerusalem after His resurrection, something remarkable had happened.
• Acts 1:13 tells us that the apostles were there, and verse 14 adds: “These all [the apostles] with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
• What happened to change his skeptical, unbelieving brothers into devoted followers?
• Paul gives the answer in 1 Cor. 15:7, noting that after Jesus’ resurrection, “He appeared to James.”
• Doubtless as a result of that personal, post-resurrection appearance, James came to a saving faith in Jesus.
• The church was born on the Day of Pentecost and James although not an apostle, soon became one of its key leaders.
• Paul noted that when he visited Jerusalem, he discovered that James, as well as Peter and John, were pillars of the church (Gal 2:9-12).
• Because the apostles were frequently away preaching the gospel, James eventually became the preeminent leader (Senior Pastor) of the Jerusalem church.
• This is support by the fact that when Peter was miraculously released from Herod’s jail, that he ordered the astounded believers to “report these things to James and the brethren” (Acts 12:17), clearly indicating that James had become the one to whom important news was to be first reported.
II. His Character
• In spite of his prominence, what stands out in the first verse of his epistle is James humility.
o He does not describe himself as Mary’s son or the Lord’s brother or to his position as the head of the Jerusalem church, or mention that the resurrected Christ personally appeared to him.
o Instead, he describes himself simply as a bond servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
o The whole idea of the bond servant, carries the picture of a slave, a person deprived of all personal freedom and totally under the control of his master.
o Absolute obedience and loyalty to his master.
o As a slave, one depended upon their master to provide food, clothing, and housing.
o James was became a bond-servant, when he was born again through his faith in Jesus.
• To be a bond-servant of God was considered a great honor in Jewish culture.
o How many of us today, would be willing to title ourselves that way.
o Hi, my name is _______________, a bond-servant of Christ.
III. His Ministry
• In addition to his vital leadership role in the Jerusalem church, James also had a wider ministry?
o The term twelve tribes was a title commonly used in the New Testament to refer to the nation of Israel.
o Although the twelve tribes split into two nations (Israel the northern kingdom and Judah, the southern kingdom), God’s chosen people always consisted of the Jews of the twelve tribes.
• James therefore was addressing all Jews who were dispersed abroad, regardless of their tribal origins.
o Over the previous several years the Jewish homeland had been conquered by the Babylonians, Medo-Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.