An Introduction to the Epistle of James

Open your Bible to the Book of James.
Open your Bible to the Book of James. | Source

About the Epistle of James:

When you think of the Book of James in the New Testament, who comes to mind? One of the two Apostles named James, or James the half brother of Jesus? If you said the half brother of Jesus, you hit the mark! James, the son of Mary, half brother of Jesus is whom this epistle (letter) is commonly attributed to1. Many contemporary scholars believe that James wrote his epistle some time between A.D. 37-682, most likely during the Roman Emperor Nero's persecution of the Christian Church2. With this in mind, it is immediately obvious why he began his epistle with a call to persevere during times of hardship and persecution.

Who is this letter written to?

Chapter one is written to Christians whom were scattered due to the persecution that was taking place throughout the Roman Empire. It may have been specifically written with Christians of Jewish origin in mind. Although the content of this epistle applies to the entirety of the Christian Church, I believe that the statement in verse one, generally refers to the 12 tribes of Israel. "To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion3", likely means that he intended the Hebrew Christians to be the primary audience. James likely knew that his letter would be circulated among all Christians regardless of their ethnic background. Having been inspired by the Holy Spirit, James was aware that the Jewish Christians were receiving a double dose of persecution. James himself would have known first hand of the trials that come with being a Jewish believer, and being the brother of the messiah would have made life even more difficult. Not only were they being persecuted by the gentiles (IE: Romans) for their Christianity, but they would have also been shunned and persecuted by the Jewish population for leaving the Jewish faith. It would have been very challenging to avoid backsliding. Can you imagine not only being hunted down by the government for your beliefs, but also being disowned by your family and friends? It would have been very discouraging.

Don't you wish all of life's temptations were as harmless as a box of chocolates?
Don't you wish all of life's temptations were as harmless as a box of chocolates? | Source

Your in the fight.

As we dive into the letter of James, I think that there is something that we need to be aware of in our everyday lives. As James will later elaborate on, and we will discuss in more detail, trials and temptations are to be considered a blessing. A blessing? Trials lead to a stronger more robust faith. It's easy to see God at work in our everyday lives when things are going well. What about when things are not going so smoothly? Your health deteriorates, you lose your job, your significant other dumps you, there are a ton of things that can go wrong in life. That's one of the consequences of living in a fallen creation. Think though, what if your back is against the wall, but somehow you manage to come through life's trials just a little worse for wear? Stop for a moment. Dig deep. We have all faced circumstances that at the time seemed insurmountable. A show stopper. You know what I'm talking about. We have all been there. Remember that time in your life, now where are you today? You came out on the other side of the situation. How did it work itself out? God had his hand in it, and without being able to have experienced it, you would have never had the opportunity to witness God at work in your life.

Your on the spiritual radar. Do you ever feel tempted? Be honest, everyone battles temptation of some type. You may run the gauntlet of the flesh with everything from greed, selfishness, laziness, dishonesty, lust and the list goes on. We should expect to feel tempted, it's part of being a sinner. Have you noticed though, that some days are more difficult then others, constantly battling sinful thoughts and desires? I will not tell you that it is a good thing, because temptation is not of God, it's of the DEVIL. When your under spiritual attack, at least Satan feels threatened by you, so you must be doing something right. The true danger is when you no longer feel tempted. You have become complacent to your temptation, or have given into it. Then Satan has you right where he wants you.

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Just the introduction..

This is just the introduction to my thoughts on the book of James. Please keep an eye out for my continuing articles on this fascinating (albeit short) book of the New Testament.

End Notes:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistle_of_James

  2. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible Companion. Indianapolis, Kirkbride Bible Co. Inc., 1989. Print.

  3. The Epistle of James: “Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Further reading: Messianic Jews, Jewish Christians.

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Comments 14 comments

Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 5 years ago from Canada

well done and interesting keep up teh good work, I think this is a good start-- it's a great start!


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A. Author

Rebecca, Thank you very much! I hopefully I will have another installment prepared in the next week or so.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This is indeed a great start. The book of John is amazing and a follower of Christ needs to know the information in this book. I must state though that I believe a seasoned and mature Christian will be tempted less and less because he/she is aligning with the Holy Spirit. Then Satan will try another avenue of course. I know this because the sins that used to draw me now repulse me and I am never tempted to want that again.

Just my two cents:)


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A. Author

Hyphen, I agree.. The more we mature the less of the "obvious" temptations of the flesh we endure. But, I almost think that Satan waits for us to be lulled into a false sense of security. Then the more "sneaky" sins creep in, pride etc.. A lack of prayer in regards to protection generally accompanies this, since sin is no longer at the front of our list of concerns. Thanks for the great comment.


manthy profile image

manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

I agree 100% thanks for the amazing hub

God-Bless


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

Yes, he never gives up although I don't understand. After losing all those keys to his own kingdom he should have his tail between his legs. I suppose he just wants to cause all the damage he can before being locked away forever. I think he attacks us in areas of our fruit. For example he will pick at one's weak spot like patience or the like.


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A. Author

Manthy, Thanks for the encouragement!


Naomi's Banner profile image

Naomi's Banner 5 years ago from United States

Very informative Hub and thought provoking. Thanks!


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A. Author

Naomi, thanks for the comment. I have gotten a bit off course recently, but I hope to publish a series about the book of James here on Hub pages. Please check back periodically.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

I agree with you and am glad you emphasized that the early Christians WERE Jews. I also agree with you about the character-strengthening attributes of trials and tribulations. If we hadn't gone through and came out the other side, we would not be the mature adults we are today. We would be children in our hearts and minds, who have always got their own way.

Did that last part make any sense?

Also, I do believe, God shows us mercy. God shows us compensations for our trials.


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A. Author

Paradise, thanks for the well thought out response.. I've grown unaccustomed to such insights and appreciation since having involved myself with Mr. Sage.. He is ruining, well anyway..


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

You're welcome!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for this fine Hub. I especially liked this line: "When your under spiritual attack, at least Satan feels threatened by you, so you must be doing something right."

Amen! This is a great point that is often overlooked.

I love the Book of James.


biblicaliving profile image

biblicaliving 5 years ago from U.S.A. Author

James, thanks for your words of encouragement! I believe that the principles found in James are often overlooked and under taught. Contemporary Christianity approaches Scripture from a "warm and fuzzy" feel good approach. Often times the "put your money where your mouth is" principles are glossed over.. I believe that is part of what's wrong with the Church today. Thank you, and God Bless!

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