November 14th James 1 A. Prologue Greeting from James
1: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
B. The Believers Experience Faith and Joy in temptation
2: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4: But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6: But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7: For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8: A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. 9: Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11: For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
Blessing & rewards of temptation
12: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13: Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15: Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16: Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18: Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Repentance and Faithfulness
19: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21: Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23: For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25: But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26: If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27: Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James picks up his pen to write an open letter to the twelve tribes of Israel. Now in his day the twelve tribes did not exist. The Jews were the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, The other ten tribes were scattered by the Assyrian invasion. So there is a very real sense in which this letter is addressed to the twelve tribes that will be gathered again into the land in the day of the LORD. Therefore we can expect James’s message to have a legal tone and many references to Israel’s unique relationship to the LORD under the old covenant. This is a letter not to Christians or to a church but to James’ brethren the Israelites. It has the same focus as the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ and the Disciples up until the teaching of Paul when he reveals the truthes of the Church the body of Christ. James writes to encourage his brethren to have the joy of the LORD when they come into persecution, because they are to know that this persecution is going to bring to them patience. James encourages his brethren to bring their prayers to the Lord with faith not wavering in unbelief. The LORD is in control and he will redress the balance in terms of poverty and wealth. As ever the Issues he addresses are not church issues but Judaism in the world and he begins with injustice. James reminds the brethren that the Lord has a crown of life which he will give to those who love him. The theological points from James brings are brief and punchy and they flow quickly and with fluency. He moves rapidly from one thought to another. This is typical of a Jewish teacher. He describes temptation and sin and tells his listeners not to think that it is God that is tempting us. He then goes into a sort of hymn of praise to the Lord the giver of all good things. He then cautions his brethren to live righteous lives before God (under the old law) and to build up their lives on the Word of God and that God expects of us holiness and righteousness. The blessing of God is on those who obey and not just on those who ‘talk about obeying’. Real religion is seen in a controlled tongue and especially in acts of righteousness like visiting the fatherless and widows in their suffering and in personal purity.