This book was written by James the half brother of our Lord Jesus. It is written in form of teaching to the believers with a striking resemblance to our lord; a comparison to the Sermon on the Mount reveals at least a dozen clear parallelisms. He was chosen as the moderator of the Jerusalem Church after the Pentecost.
He gave to this epistle a note of unassuming authority. It is devoid of all apology but full of commands. Writing much in the style of the Old Testament wisdom literature though with evident Christian presupposition the theme of this Epistle is ‘PURE RELIGION’ (Chapter 1:27) the religion of heart-experienced divine love. He showed pure religion as being tested by trial, itself testing the carnal and the selfish. These positive and negative tests of pure religion reveal contrasting spiritual and fleshy qualities. For example, there are recurring accounts of helpful and harmful temptation (testing), true and false wisdom, true and false faith, a fleshy and a spiritual self,true and false confidence.
These contrasts are suggested parenthetically where they occur in the outline to early, Christian in its acknowledgement of the claims of Christ (Chapter 1:1, 2:1-7) and in its reference to the second coming (chapter 1:12, 5:7-8) and to personal regeneration through faith (chapter 1:18,21). The Epistle is reminiscent of the teaching in the so-called “Wisdom literature” of the Old Testament as seen inJob, in some of the Psalms, in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. It places the good and the evil in juxtaposition, and speaks basically on the theme of 1PURE RELIGION” and false one.
James had in view the faithful believers who are examples of ‘PURE RELIGION” under test and trial. These he encourages; he also had in view the more fleshy and self seeking, whose conduct showed them as failing the test of ‘PURE RELIGION.” These he rebuked. But throughout the epistle, true heart-religion whether as tested in the lives of the faithful or as testing and judging the lives of the carnal, is the theme of
Thus James tells of two kinds of temptation, two kinds of confidence, and two kinds of self. These will be noted as they occur in the development of the theme. James is practical and non-theological in emphasis. His first chapter, which speaks of God1s program of actual sanctification inthe believer, introduces and sets forth in miniature the topics to be treated more fully inthe remaining chapters.
OUTLINE Of THE EPISTLE OF JAMES:
GOD’S PURPOSE FOR THE BELIEVER’S ADVANCEMENT IN PURE RELIGION· CHAPTER 1:1-27.
Temptation that build helpful and harmful testing – Faith in action – Chapter 1:l-12
The Apostolic Greeting-Faith inaction-Chapter 1:1
Testing to be receivedwith joy-Faith in action-Chapter 1:2
Its use by God towards Holiness of Character – Faith in action -Chapter 1:3
Its requirement of obedience of spiritual- Faith in action Chapter 1:4
Itsendurance implies a God-given wisdom of spirit: true and false faith
- Faith inaction-Chapter 1:6-8
Lack of such faith reveals a duality of life:the fleshly andthe spiritual self
- Faith inaction-Chapter 1:8
The lowly in circumstance to be congratulated in this testing: true and false confidence- Faith in action-Chapter 1:9-11
Key importance of personal Attitude under Test – Faith in action – Chapter 1:12
Temptation that Destroys: helpful and Harmful Testing- Chapter 1:12
Temptation that Destroys: helpful and Harmful Testing- Chapter 1:13-16
God does not solicit for evil-Chapter 1:13
Self centered Desire the seductive force of Temptation Chapter 1:14-16
God Himself the Believer’s chief good: True and false confidence – Chapter 1: 17-18
Originator of every blessing-chapter 1:17
His redemption work the evidence of His Love-Chapter 1:18
Consequent Exhortation to personal Holiness-Chapter 1:19-27
Probity of heart enjoined: True and false wisdom-Chapter 1;19-21
Heart probity results in practical Righteousness : True and false faith Chapter 1:22-27
TESTS OF THE PURE RELIGION-CHAPTER 2:5
Test of self-seeking partiality: True and false confidence: Fleshy and spiritual self-Chapter2:1-13
Test of faith Operative through love:True and false faith Chapter 2:14-26
Test of Love as an approach of life: True and false wisdom Chapter 3:1-18
Test of self faction:fleshly and spiritual self-Chapter 4:1-12.
Test self-willed life direction:True and false confidence Chapter4:13-17
True and false confidence-Chapter 5:1-6
Test of charity in the acquisition and stewardship of wealth: True and falseconfidence-Chapter5:1-6
Test of Patience under Oppression: Helpful and Harmful Testing – Chapter5:7-11
Test of Restraint incommitments: true and false confidence Chapter 5:12
Test of prevailing Prayer:True and false confidence-Chapter 5:13-20.