The book of James

The letter of James consists of five chapters. The writer of James identifies himself simply as ‘a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (verse 1). Bible scholars have identified this James as the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19).

The letter of James is not addressed to anyone in particular (1:2). Unlike the letters of Paul that teach us about spiritual issues such as Jesus’ death, the resurrection, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, James deals with more mundane topics such as controlling the tongue, temptations and resisting the lure of riches.

A superficial reading of James may give the impression that the author jumps abruptly from one theme to another. Read chapter one and you will observe what I mean. For example, in 1:5-8 he starts talking about wisdom and then shifts into riches in 1:9-11 before coming back to wisdom in 3:13-18. In short, James writes in a circular manner mentioning several different themes that are addressed again later on in his letter.

In order to do justice to the letter of James in our Bible study we are going to pick out certain themes in the letter rather than take it chapter by chapter.

Another interesting aspect about James is that even though he only mentions Jesus twice (1:1; 2:1) he employs phrases and words that are very close to those of Jesus. For example

James 1:4 compare with Matthew 5:48
James 3:12 compare with Matthew 7:16
James 5:12 compare with Matthew 5:34-37
James 5:19-20 compare with Matthew 18:15

James was a man so saturated in the words of Jesus that his teachings were a close resemblance of what the Lord taught.

It is important that we engage with the writings of James in order to bring balance to our Christian walk. It is so easy to get carried away with so-called ‘spiritual things’ that we can forget the mundane things of life that are equally important to our Christian walk. James deals with these.

Please begin by making sure you have read all five chapters of the letter of James before starting this study.

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