JAMES

An Overview Of The Book Of James – These factors suggest that the date of writing could have been possibly around A.D. 45 – Such a date makes the Letter of James the first book and letter of the New Testament to have been written

It appears that the letter was written during the early period of the Jewish Christian Church. The letter was written to Jewish Christians who had been scattered among the nations. They were most likely scattered by the persecution of Jewish Christians that erupted in Jerusalem in connection with the stoning of Stephen in the early A.D. 30's (cf. Acts 7:58-8:2). Since the letter was written to Jewish Christians, and it does not include statements directed to Gentile Christians, it was probably written before the influx of Gentiles began, such as began to occur during Paul's first missionary journey, which has been dated as A.D. 46-48. With the influx of Gentile Christians into the church the Judaistic Controversy arose, which was settled by the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem in A.D. 49-50. The letter makes no reference to the troubles and strife that arose with the influx of the Gentiles. Nor does it state that the Jewish Christians should not trouble the Gentile Christians over observing the laws of Moses and especially the rite of circumcision. These factors suggest that the date of writing could have been possibly around A.D. 45. Such a date makes the Letter of James the first book and letter of the New Testament to have been written. ... Already in A.D. 44 James the brother of the Lord was the recognized leader of the church in Jerusalem. Shortly after the apostle John's brother James was put to death by King Herod Agrippa, and immediately after an angel released Peter from prison to save him from the same martyrdom, Peter instructed those in the house of Mary to report his release to "James and the brothers", meaning the members of the church of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 12:17). In A.D. 49-50 James was clearly the leader of the church of Jerusalem and a recognized authority within the Apostolic Council. He voiced the final decision of the council that the Gentiles should not be troubled about having to follow the laws of Moses, especially with regard to circumcision, in order to be saved (cf. Acts 15:3-21). As a result of James' decree the apostles, elders, and church of Jerusalem then sent a letter to the churches to uphold that they were saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (cf. Acts 15:11,22-29). In his Letter to the Galatians, written about A.D. 52, Paul put James on a level of importance equal with that of the apostles (cf. Galatians 1:19), and stated that James together with Peter and John were the "reputed pillars" of the church in Jerusalem (cf. Galatians 2:9). James was such an influential person within the church of Jerusalem that Paul referred to Jewish Christians from Jerusalem as "certain men (who) came from James" (cf. Galatians 2:12). At the end of his third missionary journey when Paul brought the collection from the churches for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, he reported to James with the collection (cf. Acts 21:17,18). James was so widely recognized in the early apostolic church that Jesus' brother Judas (cf. Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3) introduced himself in his Letter of Jude as "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James" (Jude 1). [link]

Bible Study Notes James Introduction Part I by Dr. Richard J. Krejcir – James is a book about the application of our faith and the importance to learn and grow in Christ – That way, we can grow in faith and maturity so we can apply our Christian character and conduct in how we (relate) to others!

During the time of James, the church was at a crossroads of ending its "honeymoon" period of being ignored by the religious leaders, so they were growing and feeling comfortable and good. They were still a part of Judaism and had not split off from their roots. Now, they are being singled out and picked on. The persecutions were just starting; the two other Jameses in the New Testament had been martyred, Steven had been stoned to death, and many were leaving the faith because of fear. The Church was also starting to deal with the human, sinful nature of gossip, strife, carnality, slander, doctrinal arguments and power plays, so their faith was becoming useless and unproductive-the themes we still have with us today. The self-filled life and the focus on the will of ourselves was overtaking fulfillment in Him and seeking God's Will (John 1:16; 3:30; Eph. 1:23; 3:19; 4:13; Col. 1:19; Col. 1:25). James seeks to write an extolment of Christ and an encouragement to the saints to look to Christ in faith and not to their circumstances. Thus, we will then be able to live a righteous life and be a meaningful Christian. [link]

Background of James – whose epistle (letter) is said to be the first of the epistles called Catholic (Universal) – The book of James was not widely circulated and accepted by the early church – The church applied the rule that unless a book was apostolic it could not be canonical [placed in the Bible]

The book of James was not widely circulated and accepted by the early church. The church applied the rule that unless a book was apostolic it could not be canonical. The Muratorian Canon, which dates from 175 A.D. fails to list the epistle of James. The church fathers rarely make reference to it. After describing the martyrdom of James, Eusebius says 'such is the story of James, whose epistle is said to be the first of the epistles called Catholic. It is to be observed that its authenticity is denied, since few of the ancients quote it, as is also the case with the epistle called Jude's...nevertheless we know that these letters have been used publicly with the rest in most churches.' The Council of Carthage recognized the epistle of James as part of scripture in 397 A.D. It is interesting that the east recognized the epistle sooner than the west. During the Reformation Erasmus doubted whether James the brother of Jesus wrote the letter. Martin Luther was slow to accept it because it taught little about Christ, was not apostolic, stresses law instead of gospel, and opposes Paul on the doctrine of faith and works. Luther said 'I cannot put the letter among the chief books, though I would not thereby prevent anyone from putting him where he pleases and estimating him as he pleases; for there are many good sayings in it.' He placed it without a number at the end of his New Testament. William Tyndale also placed it as the last book in his translation. However subsequent English translations have placed it in its present spot. [link]

James 1 – James a servant (bond slave) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ – Jude also uses the introduction of ‘bond slave’ – James and Jude were full brothers and half-brothers to Jesus Christ – Both James and Jude became believers after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ their half-brother – While Peter was the first leader of the Church James being a half-brother of Jesus became the de facto first leader of the Church in Jerusalem and as leader James dealt with the many and divers problems and relationships of the early Church – ‘James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God [Jesus] and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction [need], and to keep himself unspotted [pure] from the world’

The book of James is probably the first Christian New Testament document written even before the Gospel of Matthew: The book of James is considered by most historians to be the first Christian document written or to be among the first Christian documents written. Written prior to the council in Jerusalem in 49 A.D. an impromptu council of early Church leaders and Apostles that was headed up by James after the Apostle Paul and Barnabas returned from their first missionary trip having converted and brought Gentile believers into the primarily Jewish Christian Church. The 49 A.D. council in Jerusalem was needed to determine the relationship between Jewish and Gentile believers and particularly whether or not the Gentiles would have to be circumcised and follow Jewish customs in order to become Christians. The council determined that faith alone in Jesus would be sufficient to have Gentiles enter into full fellowship in the Christian Church. The book of James is a simple book focusing primarily on relationships between individual persons and among groups of people while a relationship with God is then expressed out of relationships with each other. The book of James seems simple in language [though very advanced in application] because the relationships in that time were more simple not because Christianity was simple or started out simple. Christianity did not grow, change, evolve or even mature. Christianity is completely embodied in the one person of Jesus Christ; all of His doctrines, teachings, prophecies and applications were delivered at one time in one life by the one person Jesus Christ. Though communion, baptism, End Times, Second Coming and other doctrines will be discussed in more depth in other Church writings it does not mean that they didn't exist or weren't practiced from the start at the Christian Church in Jerusalem. -- 'James 1:2 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty [grace], and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.'

Experts Say Burial Box for ‘Brother of Jesus’ is a Forgery – The 20-inch long ossuary, which was common in Jewish burial ceremonies in the first centuries B.C. and A.D., has an inscription in the Aramaic language that reads, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus” – But after a lengthy investigation, the Antiquities Authority of Israel said it found overwhelming evidence that the [Aramaic] inscription was a fake produced in modern times – “The bottom line is that every single scholar who examined this came to the conclusion that the inscription was not authentic; it was done recently by a very skillful artist” {Any use of the Aramaic language on an ancient Jewish artifact is almost a sure indication that the item was tampered with or is an outright forgery. The Biblical languages are Hebrew and Greek with the early commentaries being written in the Roman Latin language. Introducing Aramaic into the Biblical languages is a direct attempt to introduce forged documents and objects into Church history in order to rewrite and manipulate Church history.}

JERUSALEM, June 19 - Israel's archaeological experts declared today that an ancient limestone burial box, which bears an inscription suggesting it held the remains of Jesus' brother James, is a modern forgery. When the existence of the burial box, or ossuary, was announced last October, it stirred great excitement as potentially the earliest historical artifact linked to Jesus. But after a lengthy investigation, the Antiquities Authority of Israel said it found overwhelming evidence that the inscription was a fake produced in modern times. "The bottom line is that every single scholar who examined this came to the conclusion that the inscription was not authentic; it was done recently by a very skillful artist," said Dr. Gideon Avni, director of excavations and surveys for the Antiquities Authority and one of 14 experts who took part in the investigation. ... The 20-inch long ossuary, which was common in Jewish burial ceremonies in the first centuries B.C. and A.D., has an inscription in the Aramaic language that reads, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." The New Testament on several occasions says that Jesus had a brother named James, who became a leader of a Christian community in Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus. James was executed by stoning in A.D. 63, according to the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. At the time, it was a common Jewish practice to place the body in a burial cave for about a year. When only the bones remained, they were then placed in a small ossuary. Only a small number of the burial boxes were inscribed, and they usually belonged to prominent people. It is not clear whether the early Christians followed the same burial ceremonies as the Jews. The most convincing evidence of fraud was the lack of the stone's patina, the natural fossilized sheen, in the indentations where the inscription was made, the Antiquities Authority said. The scholars concluded that the ossuary itself was an original dating back some 2,000 years, while the writing is of a much more recent vintage, though they could not pinpoint the date. The inscription had been partially filled in with modern materials including dirt, carbon and small flecks of gold in an attempt to make it look ancient, the officials said. "The lab reports found that these specific materials don't exist in the Jerusalem area," Mr. Dorfman said. Also, the latter part of the inscription, which refers to Jesus, is in a separate style of writing, the Antiquities Authority said. Scholars have been debating the authenticity since the ossuary became public last October, and some leading experts said they believed it was genuine. ... But some Israeli authorities expressed suspicions from the beginning based on the shadowy ways in which the ossuary and the tablet came to public notice. Mr. Golan, who is in his early 50's, initially attempted to conceal his identity and connection to the artifacts. When he was eventually questioned by authorities, he said he bought the ossuary from an antiquities dealer in Jerusalem's Old City in the mid-1970's, but did not know the name of the seller or the place where it was excavated. Israel's antiquities laws say that any item excavated since 1978 belongs to the state. Despite efforts to regulate antiquities, the legal, gray and black markets all do brisk business, according to officials. [link]

James 2 – James continues to provide his godly wisdom and council to the early Church – James instruct Christians to honor everyone equally regardless of status or class in society – ‘James 2:1-4 My brethren (Christians), have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect [veneration] of persons. … Are ye not then partial [societal segmentation] in yourselves, and are become judges of evil [class superiority] thoughts?’

Godly faith will bring forth godly intentions and actions in the individual first and then to the group as a whole: 'James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble [but do nothing about their knowledge of God in a godly manner].' - The book of James is a letter of encouragement to Christians for individual Christians to gain in Christian growth and maturity. Christian growth is about personal; individual, meaningful, spiritual growth. Meaningful mature Christian growth is developed in the individual human soul and it is a maturity that can only take place on an individual level. The Christian maturity has to be individual because the circumstances, locations and timing needed in order for God to accomplish the growth and maturity are somewhat unique to each individual. The Christian growth process has to be individual for the individual to grow but it also has to be individual in order to accomplish the ultimate growth in an individual meaningful relationship with God. - In accomplishing individual growth and maturity then group growth and maturity can take place but if there are no mature individuals in the group then the group cannot necessarily function on a mature level however with a few or even only one mature individual in a group the group can function in a mature way. James in seeking to create a greater group maturity is giving general guidelines to individuals for individual godly Christian growth and not a strict pattern of events for groups to follow. It is then through the individual growth and godliness, in the individual first, that ultimately the Christian Church group as a whole will grow and mature.

James 3 – We are urged to take control of our tongue when we speak to others – and when we do speak to speak words of blessing and words of edification not words of accusations — ‘James 3:8-10 But the tongue can no man tame [you have to first tame your soul in order to tame your tongue]; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith [with our mouth] bless we God, even the Father; and therewith [our same mouth] curse we men, which are made after the similitude [image] of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.’

God's wisdom brings peace to our soul: 'James 3:13-18 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth [God is alive and in our midst]. This [bitter] wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. *But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated [accepted], full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.' - The wisdom that comes from God leads us to peace. We have been at war with God in our lifestyle but God is offering to us His Peace. The peace we receive from God that allows us to be at peace with God and ourselves also allows us to live at peace with one another.

James 4 – James continues to exhort Christians to adhere to the higher calling in Christianity by separating themselves from the conduct of the world — ‘James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh [close] to God, and He will draw nigh [close] to you.’

'James 4:8-8 Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded [be single minded towards God]. Be afflicted [cautious], and mourn [critical self-examination], and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning [an inward perspective], and your joy to heaviness [reality]. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.' - James makes certain the Biblical precept that the contrived ways of the world are not the ways of God. This precept was true in the Old Covenant, it has been true since creation and it remains true today during the New Covenant Christian Church era that God is concerned with the treatment and wellbeing of all humans. To get lost in our own pleasures and in our own wellbeing is not what God has intended for Christianity. God has it in mind that Christians will seek after the desires and intentions of God and in doing so Christians can make a small difference here and there in the world. A small difference that in the mind of the world is minimal but possibly a difference that in the eyes of God is eternal.

James 5 – James concludes his remarks and exhortations to the Christian Church with an emphases on the need for individuals to pray with and for one another – and really just to encourage, assist and to cooperate with one another – to keep focused on the return of Jesus all the while remaining diligent in godly pursuits – and to be patient in all things particularly in illnesses, persecutions and any type sufferings — ‘James 5:7-8 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish [establish] your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.’

'James 5:15-20 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up [God always hears our spiritual prayers no matter what our physical condition is]; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him [all who ask God for forgiveness at any time will receive it]. Confess your faults [be real] one to another, and pray [intercede] one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias (Elijah) was a man [just like us] subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed [1 Kings 17:1] earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again [1 Kings 18:45], and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Brethren (Christian), if any of you do err from the truth [Jesus is God], and one convert [redirection, remind] him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.' - Note: James is making some final statements and generalizations. He repeatedly makes the point that the social, financial and physical status of an individual does not represent the spiritual status of an individual. If or when someone is ill for any kind of reason that God will still hear their prayer and forgive their sins and "the Lord shall raise him up" make them well or bring them into heaven according to their appointed time regardless of their social standing, finances or physical condition. - James goes on to point put the need to assist one another in keeping each other on the path to God. The Christian walk when done properly is a walk of mutual support. Christianity is not a go it alone hope for the best situation. We know who God is and we do know most of what God requires from us. [Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang [support] all the law and the prophets.] When a person can remind, redirect [convert] a fellow Christian and orientate them again to the cross and living resurrection of Jesus Christ then there is a multitude of sin being covered. Covered in the sense that sins are forgiven and removed by the blood of Jesus and covered in the sense that sins that were potentially going to be committed are now not going to be committed because of the change in direction and the renewed commitment and conformity to the ways of God.

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