For some time now I have been thinking about teaching another book of the Bible in verse by verse order as I did previously using First John as my subject. I normally teach specific subjects, but at this point I will change my ministry style again in order to explore the Epistle of James. Let us look forward to an examination of this ultimately important love letter from the Lord. As with all of God’s messages to us, His love for mankind is on display as He tells us how to qualify to join Him in His earthly kingdom. He is not willing that any man be lost, but wants all men to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9). James’ epistle tells us much about how to qualify for eternal life. Let us begin this labor of joy.
Verse one: James identifies himself a servant of both God the Father and God the Son. Note that he did not identify himself as the servant of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is not a third member of the Godhead. There is no trinity. The angel Michael identifies the Holy Spirit as the “power of God” in Mark 1:35. The Spirit is identified as both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus. See The Trinity. Next, the apostle tell us to whom he is writing the letter–the “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel–as Jesus commanded in Matthew 10:5,6. These were (are) the children of Israel whom the Lord had scattered throughout the world, many of them eventually ending their wanderings in the New World which came to be called America. Notice that these people had been “scattered abroad.” In the Book of Acts Peter refers to them as “those who are afar off” (2:39) to whom the Lord first sent the apostles. Three verses earlier Peter had identified both those to whom he was speaking and those who were afar off as Israelites whose Lord and Christ was Jesus of Nazareth.
Verse two: James identifies these Israelites as Christians by referring to them as his “brethren.” In 2:1 he notes that they are his spiritual brethren by stating that both he and they had “faith in OUR Lord Jesus Christ.” We know by his reference to “divers temptations” (various trials and temptations) that James was intimately familiar with the temptations and trials Christians were experiencing throughout the known world. His admonishment to count it ALL JOY when they were undergoing trying times reveals the attitude we are to develop when Satan throws stumbling blocks in our spiritual, social, mental and physical paths. We are to thank God for the opportunity to be overcomers, without which one cannot join Jesus Christ in His Father’s kingdom (Rev. 3:21). Patience is the outcome of trials overcome. Patience does not deliver us from the trial, rather is preserves our spiritual integrity until the trial is finally finished in victory. One can only imagine what the apostles suffered before their deaths. We know from the gospels how the Jews treated Jesus. Even His own mother, brothers and sisters rejected Him (Mat. 12:46-50). Recall His warning to those that obeyed Him that people would treat them as badly as they treated Him(Lk. 6:22), and that their enemies would be those of their own family (Mat. 10:36). See Persecution. Nowhere does the Lord promise that with the passage of time religious people would come to accept His people. To the contrary, as the time of the end nears, their hatred and rejection will become progressively worse. Patience, the Lord noted through James, is to produce a perfect outcome–that we will be perfect, complete and in need of nothing. To be continued. L.J.