James Chapter Summary James Chapter Summary James Chapter Summary James Chapter Summary

The following is taken from the Book of New Testament Summaries.

  1. (A.D.50?) [A letter written by James (brother to Jesus?), pastor of the Church in Jerusalem, to Jewish Christians in the twelve tribes of the Diaspora.]
    James writes to:

    (1)  exhort to holy living,
    (2)  correct some misconceptions of Christian conduct,
    (3)  rebuke those in error,
    (4)  encourage endurance in their faith during times of trial and temptations,
    (5)  challenge their lifeless faith to good works,
    (6)  correct the error of intellectual assent to Christ as the Messiah while continuing to live in the tradition and practices of their fathers, and
    (7)  define true religion as seen by God.

    (If a portrait could be painted of James' writing, what would be seen in its final form would be that of a "holy man," standing perfect and upright before God and His Throne, robed in Christ's righteousness, whose testimony has preceded him! It is a New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament Just One seen in Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, now made just through the imputed righteousness of Christ. See Job 1:1,8; 31:1-40; Ps.1; 15; 37; Prov.3; Ecc.12:13-14 for starters. Each book of the entire Bible is replete with this teaching and corresponding types! Christ is the pinnacle of all others, standing upon their shoulders as the brightest and fulfillment of our shining examples! As the light of the earliest catches one's eye, as it is meant ( Jn.1:6-9; Mat.5:14-16), it transfers one's attention to the next in order, collectively brighter from accumulative revelation, until finally one's eyes come to rest solely satisfied at the top upon the One that outshines them all: Moses aglow, the Baptist decreasing, Stephen kneeling (Christ standing), Paul's planting, Apollos' watering, etc., all conduits to THE SOURCE of ALL LIGHT, and HE ALONE gives the increase! See the picture? He is the phos (Greek), phosphorus, radiance, glow, "Father of Lights," and in Him is no "variableness" or parallage, ghost, shadow, wavering, illusion -- perfectly focused, clear and distinct, brilliant and concentrate; His Truth is Pure. Ez.1:26-28; I Jn.1:5; Jn.8:12; 1:4,9) Man should, therefore, consider his ways, for he and his paltry works would surely melt at the sheer blast of His illuminous breath. But this God of Lights, who could consume man in just one kilowatt of his Holiness, has chosen to be merciful, giving good gifts to all men. Why then should we not discover and use these gifts for the goodwill of all men everywhere, letting each imparted light shine as instructed? (This is the essence of Chapter 1!)
  2. Now, some twenty-plus years since the establishment of the Church, it is obvious that its earlier days of equality were giving way to individuality and preferred social standings, placing at grave risk spiritual unity and brotherly love. Apparently the synagogue was still a focal point of Jewish Christian usage ( 2:2). What could be observed within its walls reflected well on their behavior patterns in life in general. The poor, once cared for ( Acts 4:34), now went wanting. Even our writer, at an earlier time, placed this condition alone upon the Gentile when coming into the faith ( Gal.2:10). Again he writes to correct what now is a widespread neglect. Respect of persons is clearly the result of a value judgment determined in the mind of the practitioner. Every soul, whether rich or poor, is purchased by equal quantity and identical price of Christ's blood, and therefore carries the same value before God! Who then is man, any man, to make such a distinction between men! The law of the heart, the commandment of Christ, loving one another as He loved us, is the fulfillment of all Law and sets man at total liberty from having to determine himself how he is to live among many; all are to be treated equally. When one knows and practices this principle, nay, commandment, all guess work is eliminated in one's behavior toward another, and every jot and tittle of His commandments are discharged in their fullness ( Gal.5:13-14). When love is observed, the Law is fulfilled and none will go lacking. Beneficial faith -- faith that is viable -- is visible; operative faith -- lived out in the life of the believer. Abraham was a classic forerunner of our examples, living out His faith long before the Mosaic Law was ever given; and through his visible viable operative faith man has been richly blessed indeed!
  3. Since we all have but one Master, we should be masters of none. One should therefore be careful, doing what he teaches, and teaching only that wisdom which comes from above. All else is injurious to the individual and the body at large. Human wisdom and Heavenly wisdom are contrasted, with the characteristics given of each. God has created all men alike, and that in His own image; therefore, to speak unseemly to or about another flies in the very face of his loving and caring creator. No greater instrument can reveal a man's soul than his own tongue. It can be an instrument of peace or destruction. The choice lies with its owner.
  4. James now gives the characteristics of a carnal life. It is filled with envies, division, selfishness, greed, unsettledness, character assassinations, self-pride, arrogance, judgment of others, waywardness from God, lacking in grace, ceremonial in religion, and prime targets, instruments, and victims of Satan. Of such flee! For they are cancerous both to body and soul.
    He offers a simple remedy for such a life, sound advice in any day:

    (1)  Submit yourself to God,
    (2)  Resist Satan,
    (3)  Draw close to God (through avenues taught in His word),
    (4)  Turn from sin, confessing it to God,
    (5)  Immerse heart, mind, soul, and spirit in His word ("purify your hearts," Ps.119:9,11),
    (6)  Genuinely repent,
    (7)  Humble yourself before Him,
    (8)  Cease speaking evil of another,
    (9)  Cease from judging others,
    (10)  Adopt an attitude toward life saying: "Thy will be done and not mine," and finally,
    (11)  Do good unto others.

    Was not this the life and example of Christ, relieving the oppressed of Satan? ( Acts 10:38)
  5. Apparently, James had in mind dissecting for discovery and rebuke rich influential members who were using their position in the community as leverage within the Church, and their liberty in Christ as license for unjust lordship over others. (1:9-10,19-21; 2:2-3,6,15-16; 3:1; 4:4,13) Now, having fully exposed them, he addresses them directly with stinging rebuke. They can no longer hide; their accumulated injustices have brought class-action suit against them before God, the righteous Judge! The unjustly withheld wages due their workers still lying within their bulging coffers cry out against them in condemnation. They are to know that their pleasures of greed will be short-lived. All this injustice and tribulation must be endured by the believer that the fruit of the Spirit be produced for reaping in His final harvest of souls. The good grows along side the bad, the thorns with the rose, the tares with the wheat, the goats with the sheep (Mat.13:24-30). The Vinedresser and Good Shepherd will separate them in His harvest season, and then it will all be worth the wait. So, those evil aggravations that come upon the life of every believer are to be endured amidst the final days of the worldly elements and influence of Satan. Seeing that the sickle is poised for thrusting, not knowing the precise moment when Christ will appear (I Thes.5:1-23), all believers are encouraged to live holy and harmoniously, unified in spirit, bound strongly in His bond, giving no room for Satan's penetration who goes about as a roaring lion to devour the weakest and defeat the strongest (II Peter 5). Prayer without ceasing is the prescription for a power-filled life, even in the most passionate of persons, as Elijah was an example. Rescue the perishing, as the tide of Satan's onslaught increases, as the day of the Lord draws near!
- Author: Ken Livingston
Read more summaries and studies in our Studies Area.
Previous Page