*Key Points Lessons and Teachings from James*
*By Brother Michel Lankford*
A Personal Note:
Hello and God bless you.
What follows is a devotional Bible study of the book of James.
Late last year, the Lord was impressing upon me that I should start reading certain books of Scripture, and keeping a "running list of Key Points, Lessons, Guiding principles and Teachings from His word as I read.
So, in obedience to the Lord, I began reading books of Scripture, one section at a time, all the while keeping a running list of God's instructions as he gives me grace to do so.
Although I always believed it, I have become increasingly more aware and solidified in the idea that God's word is incredibly practical.
The Lord really does want us to succeed in understanding and obeying Him!
Initially I had not intended on distributing these studies.
They were primarily meant for my own personal devotion, instruction and edification.
In late December 2005, I was in the middle of studying the book of Malachi when God impressed upon me that I should share these products of my quiet time with others.
So I started sharing them with the members of the small home groups that God allows me the privilege to lead.
Word started getting around from there.
This is really the product of my life's two all consuming passions.
My first passion is to grow in loving, trusting, understanding and obeying my Heavenly Father and my Savior by His Spirit.
My second lifetime all consuming passion, is loving and nurturing my brethren and fellow believers, and hoping them to succeed in doing the same.
Please understand, that this study is not meant to be either exhaustive or exhausting.
Think of it as a leisurely jog, not as a quick sprint through the word.
Don't feel like you need to read this right away.
Keep it on your hard drive, or print it and keep it in a handy location.
If you're already doing your own devotions, then stay on the track that God has you.
If you're between devotional readings or you feel lead to go to the book of James though, consider using this.
Don't feel like you have to read it all in one sitting.
Take one portion a day.
That's what I did.
One chapter at a time, one section at a time and one concept at a time.
Meanwhile, it is my sincere hope that in whatever space you find yourself in your journey of faith, that this study will help you to walk with our Lord and succeed in obeying him.
God bless you.
Brother Michel Lankford
*An Overview & Vital Statistics in the Book of James *
*The Author: *While there is some disagreement between Roman Catholic and Protestant points of view, it is largely regarded and most biblically accurate that the James who wrote this epistle was most likely the half-brother of Jesus the Messiah.
Some Roman Catholics generally dispute this, because they teach as doctrine the idea that the mother of Jesus was eternally a virgin.
However, such a point of view directly flies in the face of two gospels in canonical Scripture, (see Matthew 1:24-25 , Matthew 13:47-58; Mark 6:3).
This certainly indicates that Jesus the Christ was speaking and that the people of Nazareth knew who he was in relation to his brothers and sisters.
It should be pointed out that there are at least four men recorded with the name of James in the New Testament.
1) James, the father of Judas (not Iscariot), is mentioned twice (Luke 6:16 ; Acts 1:13) as the father of one of the twelve disciples, but is otherwise completely unknown.
2) James, the son of Alphaeus (Matt.
10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), elsewhere called James the Less (Mark 15:40), was one of the twelve disciples.
Apart from being listed with the other disciples, this James is completely obscure, and it is doubtful that he is the authoritative figure behind the epistle.
Some attempts have been made to identify this James with the Lord’s brother (Gal.
1:19), but this view is difficult to reconcile with the gospel accounts.
(3) James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John (Matt.
4:21; 10:2; 17:1; Mark 3:17; 10:35; 13:3; Luke 9:54; Acts 1:13), was one of Jesus’ intimate disciples, but his martyrdom by a.d.
44 (Acts 12:2) makes it very unlikely that he wrote this epistle.
(4) James, the Lord’s brother (Matt.
13:55; Mark 6:3; Gal.
1:19), was one of the "pillars" in the church in Jerusalem (The Open Bible - introduction to the book of James "the author" Thomas Nelson publishers, Nashville, Tennessee 1997)
The fact that there are four James listed in the New Testament certainly attests to the idea that it was a very popular name in the first century.
the name James was a first century derivative of Jacob.
(Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names)
*Date of Writing:* Only 16 years after the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, James is considered one of the earliest apostolic letters.
It was written around 49A.D. Significantly, it predates the Jerusalem Council by at least a year.
(50 A.D.) We know this because most of the apostolic letters written after 50 A.D. cover some of the topics discussed at that council.
James obviously does not.
*The Audience*: One of the things that helps us to date the timing of James' epistle is that he addresses this letter "to the 12 tribes scattered abroad.
This obviously refers to the 12 tribes of God's chosen people the Jews who are scattered around the world.
Specifically though, James is choosing to address this letter to those Jews who have already believed in accepted that Jesus is the Messiah.
The reason that this first line helps us to place the letter in the context of church history, is that James' address to the 12 tribes, demonstrates that he is writing this at a time when Christianity is still viewed by many as an offshoot or a denomination of Judaism.
This is further illustrated by the fact that there is absolutely no mention a Gentile Christians, demonstrating that the message of the gospel had not yet widespread to Gentile communities.
In a larger sense the teachings in James of course apply to every believer who lives to please God. - RML.
*The Key Message*: We are all familiar with the song, "If you're happy and you know it... then your face will surely show it."
If there is one resounding message in the book of James it is, "If you have the faith of Christ and know it... then your life and works will show it."
The book of James is all about putting muscles and actions behind what we believe.
Clearly James is making the point that to have a faith which does not motivate you to action is "dead faith."
In some ways, that can be worse than no faith at all. - RML.
*Literary Feature(s):* The book of James has some very interesting literary features.
This is not only because of what the book contains but also because of what it lacks.
I will give just a short list.
This letter does not contain any doctrinal positions or statements.
In other words it makes no attempt to explain or defend the basic tenets of the Christian faith.
It's almost as though James assumes that anyone reading the letter would already know and be squared away in their beliefs about Christ, so he jumps right into a greeting and a teaching.
That's a little surprising considering that this letter was written so early in Christian history.
Who knows, maybe that was one of the things discussed at the Jerusalem Council.
(See Acts 15). - RML
This letter is almost a New Testament version of Deuteronomy (meaning second law or second statement).
One of the key elements of Hebrew literature and teaching is to repeat or restate the important points.
So, in the first five books of the Old Testament, the laws of God are stated twice sometimes three times.
Its found in Exodus, Leviticus, and restated again in Deuteronomy.
James demonstrates his strong affections for the Jewish literary tradition by keeping the practice alive.
I say that the book of James is almost the New Testament Deuteronomy in that James painstakingly reiterates the sentiments of Christ's Sermon on the Mount.
The Open Bible's introduction to the book of James, provides an interesting list of parallels between the Sermon on the Mount, and this epistle.
While the open Bible only lists five, the introduction claims that there are at least fifteen indirect parallels to the Sermon on the Mount.
Here is that list of parallels according to the open Bible:
James 1:2 and Matt.
James 1:4 and Matt.
James 2:13 and Matt.
James 4:11 and Matt.
James 5:2 and Matt.
(The Open Bible - introduction to the book of James Thomas Nelson publishers, Nashville, Tennessee 1997)
Wouldn't it be an interesting exercise to see how many we could find?
But alas, I digress.
It contains no doxology.
There is no statement of praise to God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
*Themes in James*
Some early theologians believe that there was a lack of rhyme or rhythm to the epistle because it covers so many themes.
For some, it seemed to interrupt the flow of the letter.