Book of James

One of the main things that I like about James, is that he writes in a direct and concise and uncomplicated manner.

James was written ~62-67 AD

He is one of three apostles named James, but he was not one of the original ones

  • James and John the sons of Zebedee
  • James the son of Alphaeus

Paul identifies him as an apostle in:

Galatians 1:19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.

He was the ½ brother of Jesus. We say this because they both had Mary as their mother, but Joseph was the biological father of James and not Jesus.

He was the pastor of the Jerusalem church for approximately three decades. During his time there the Acts 15 “conference” was held and there was much dispute about the necessity of circumcision for salvation. It was James that stood up finally and gave a summary judgment ruling on circumcision not being necessary, but binding other laws that were impinged upon by idolatrous practices. The letter to the churches that came out of this highly contested discussion and was sent to Gentile believers was a pithy seven verses long.

Martin Luther called this the epistle of straw because he said that James did not talk enough about Christ (only in 1:1 and 2:1), His death and suffering – but I think the real reason was that James spoke of the necessity of faith with works. Luther applying his human reasoning said, “I think highly of the epistle of James, and regard it as valuable although it was rejected in early days. It does not expound human doctrines, but lays much emphasis on God’s law.… I do not hold it to be of apostolic authorship.” (we will get into that later).

Chapter 1

The Purpose of Tests/Trials James 1:1-12

Source of Temptation James 1:13-18

Tests of our Faith James 1:19-27

The Purpose of Tests/Trials

James 1:1-12

James 1:1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ… He does not emphasize that he is the half-brother of Jesus; but rather that he is this doulos to God/Christ (we are slaves to whom we obey)

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

twelve tribes…

Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.
Matthew 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Matthew 15:24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

This was the lost 10 tribes of Israel, so when James says 12 he is including all the sons of Jacob/Israel, in particular the Jews that still occupied the home land and points beyond.

Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
Acts 2:6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
Acts 2:7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?
Acts 2:8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?
Acts 2:9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Acts 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Acts 2:11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”

Also by context, it would have to be going out to those that are Christians and can understand the word of God in more depth – especially as he talks about subjects such as faith and works, wisdom from above, not being worldly, patience in suffering, resisting the devil, anointing, effective prayer and so on. These take God’s spirit to understand and act on properly.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

Here is what was going on in Jerusalem during James’ tenure there:

Acts 7:57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;
Acts 7:58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Acts 7:60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 8:1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Acts 8:2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

count it all joy … We often grieve during trials (1 Peter 1:6 ) As a Christian when you go through a trial you hate them, you despise the trials that you are going through and then you come to the point where it becomes okay. You begin to say, “I’m getting through them now I’m managing to make my way I know I have to do this.” It is almost begrudgingly that you go through it and then you go to the next stage where you you see the value of the trial you start to make this change from the negative to the positive. Next you get to the point where you start appreciating the changes that come about because of a trial and then the very final last thing is the joy that you know because God is working in you to bring about change for the positive and good.

Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
Romans 5:4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Do we see this progression in our life? Do you see now why we rejoice in tribulations – it is because of where it leads!

He does it for our good and often allows it even though He could intervene.

trials… not tempting hoping to fail, but:

James 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Testing... testing wanting us to succeed; He is building character by purifying us; the only other place that this word (dokimion) is found is in:

1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
1 Peter 1:7 that the genuineness [KJV: trial] of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

patience… cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy; builds it in a good way; steadfast in working towards a purpose;

Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

James 1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

perfect… complete teleios

lacking nothing… because we are deficient, we need to make the transformation from what we were to what we are supposed to be; the old man to the new man in the image and charakter of God and Christ

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

lacks wisdom… this is a by-product of the process of growth from a trial: knowledge → understanding → wisdom → right action → character

ask of God … Obviously God has the answer but it is incumbent upon us to beseech Him and we can do this in all confidence:

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

without reproach… We do not need to have a fear of reprisal – God is not going to defame and slander us, berate, chide or taunt us for making this request.

who gives to all liberally… is there an end to what and how much God can supply to us.

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

doubting… an enemy of faith;

Matthew 21:21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.

James 1:7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;

let not that man… refers to the doubting man of the previous verse (James 1:6)

James 1:8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

double-minded… dipsuchos From G1364 (dis: twice) and G5590 (psuchē: soul/life); two spirited, that is, vacillating (in opinion or purpose): – double minded.

Like the waves of the sea that are going up and down and back and forth so is a man that vacillates between his ways and God’s, between faith and doubt.

The solution to this:

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Psalms 119:113 I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law.

James 1:9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,

James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

James 1:10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.
James 1:11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

Materialism is temporary as is this world; being rich is not important in the scheme of things; character is what will remain.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

endures temptation… Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

approved… accepted

crown of life… this is what comes with trials and character that we build

Luke 22:28 “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials.
Luke 22:29 And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me,
Luke 22:30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

We will be glorified on a throne in His kingdom with the commensurate power and immortality

Source of Temptation

James 1:13-18

James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

tempted… peirazō From G3984; to test in a good sense, tempt in a bad sense

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

God does not do this to us, but we do it to ourselves.

James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
James 4:2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

James 1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

The progression here is conception, birth and maturation, this is how we get into trouble. We first lust or desire and then after too much consideration the sin manifests physically and then the ultimate penalty for it is death (Romans 6:23).

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
2 Corinthians 10:4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
2 Corinthians 10:5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

James 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

The pithy summation that I like about James as he winds up this section with a final admonition

deceived… err or go astray

beloved brethren… agapētos; endearing terminology; identifies the audience he is speaking to

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Luke 11:9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Luke 11:11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?
Luke 11:12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
Luke 11:13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

God is not going to the source of temptation; He is not going to try and harm you and make you fail – He will never do this:

no variation or shadow of turning… God does not change

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change….

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

James 1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

God does not want to tear us down and see us fail – just the opposite:

He brought us forth by the word of truth… this is the way that we learn and understand and grow, it is by the will of God.

Firstfruits…

Romans 8:23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

1 Corinthians 15:23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.

Ephesians 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
Ephesians 1:12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

Hebrews 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,

creatures… we are the product of His creation

Colossians 3:8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

Tests of our Faith

James 1:19-27 Ways to measure if we truly believe the word of God

James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;

beloved brethren… agapētos

swift to hear…

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

slow to speak…

Matthew 12:36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

idle… Lazy, shunning the labor which one ought to perform. In other words you did not put the effort into weighing the words that you said.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.

Choose your words and the timing of them well; give them all due consideration; When a bell is rung, it is difficult to unring it.

slow to wrath… there is a time for righteous indignation:

Ephesians 4:26 “BE ANGRY, AND DO NOT SIN”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

but mostly there is not a time for it:

Proverbs 14:17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated.

Proverbs 15:18 A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

Proverbs 16:32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 17:14 The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.

Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.

Proverbs 19:19 A man of great wrath will suffer punishment; For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

Proverbs 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh
Galatians 5:20 contentions, outbursts of wrath, dissensions,

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness
Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control.

James 1:20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

There is often little self-control (Galatians 5:23) in the wrathfulness of man

James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Therefore lay aside… put away

souls… lives (psuchē)

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

doers of the word … Test of Obedience

We show our faith by action

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

Romans 2:13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;

James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
James 1:24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

1 John 2:3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
1 John 2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

perfect law of liberty… not some other unknown law, but in context it is the word of truth (James 1:18) that James was previously writing about. It is the word of God.

law of liberty (freedom)… so many think it is restrictive

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

We are free from the penalties of sin. We are free from fines, jail, injury, etc

a doer of the work… obedience to the law of God

1 John 3:22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

The tongue or the words that we use and how we use them is one of the main themes of this book and a thread that binds all of the subjects together.

bridle his tongue… goes hand in hand with slow to speak in James 1:19

deceives his own heart…

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

visit orphans and widows in their trouble… this is what real religion is about – doing, not just offering lip service.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

and…unspotted…

Ephesians 5:27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

1Timothy 6:14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing,

Hebrews 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

1 Peter 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

from the world… do not take on the sinful ways of the world

John 17:14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore “COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE SEPARATE, SAYS THE LORD. DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN, AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU.”

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.

Chapter 2

Judgment without Partiality

James 2:1-13

James 2:1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.
James 2:2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes,
James 2:3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,”

Application of the law and judgment has to be meted out evenly without being a respecter of persons.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

Matthew 22:16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.

Leviticus 19:15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.

Human nature has not changed – this is important to understand (this means that the Word of God will always be relevant).

Romans 2:11 For there is no partiality with God.

James 2:4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

It is evil in thought to be partial.

James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

Has God not chosen the poor of this world…

1 Corinthians 1:26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
1 Corinthians 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
1 Corinthians 1:28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
1 Corinthians 1:29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.

rich in faith…

James 1:10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

heirs of the kingdom…

Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Do we see the theme here that is consistent throughout the Bible?

James 2:6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?

You give honor to whom it is not due and in their case they honored the ones that were actually more likely to not honor them. If the rich do not have godly character they will dishonor you, because you are the poor man in their eyes – see how this works? So do not do to the poor man that which you do not want done to you by the rich.

James 2:7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

blaspheme… to vilify; specifically to speak impiously

noble name… the church of the one and only true God

In other words they do not respect you or what you believe – why would you give them deference to them over the ones that God looks upon favorably?

Isaiah 66:2 For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you do well;

fulfill… keep, accomplish;

royal law … made by a King and fit for those that are planning to be kings.

Here is the crux of the matter, if you do not want to be treated in that way by those richer than you, you should not treat those that are poorer than you in that manner – to do so commits the sin of partiality:

James 2:9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

stumble in one point, he is guilty of all… you do not have to sin in every point of the law to break the law, it only takes one time and in one way to the be guilty of the law as a whole. The law and scripture does not stand if we take one part of it out. The bible has a golden thread woven through it. If it is cut then parts of it unravel, become disconnected and fall apart. It’s a package deal, we do not get to keep only 50%, 75%, 90-95% – we do not even get to keep 99% and think that is good enough – it all stands together and is in complete and perfect agreement with the rest of the law.

Now James illustrates that point:

James 2:11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

James is obviously pulling this from the 10 Commandments – the 7th and 6th ones.

James 2:12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

This is verse is the bookend to this section starting in James 1:25 and ending here in James 2:12

So speak and so do… James is telling them that they will be judged on how they live in accordance with the law of God.

Romans 2:1 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
Romans 2:2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.
Romans 2:3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?
Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Romans 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
Romans 2:6 who “WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS”:

judged…

John 12:48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

Now notice how James describes the law, which is the basis and foundation for his decision making:

James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you do well;
James 2:9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
James 2:11 For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (Ten commandments)
James 2:12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

James in no way believes that the law is done away. Here he is 30+ years after the death of Christ; the pastor of the church at Jerusalem; a respected apostle and he is still enjoining the law on the members of the body of Christ and the church of God.

James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

His admonition to his audience is that if they are not merciful (especially in this context of showing partiality) in the final judgment by God, He will not show mercy to you.

Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy triumphs over judgment….

For our sins, God has the option of extending mercy and forgiving us or passing judgment and executing the sentence. What He did was send His Son while were in the midst our transgressions and thereby showed us mercy. Now He is giving us the opportunity to do the same and treat others the way that we want to be treated – with mercy!

Faith Requires Works

James 2:14-26

James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

Introduction to the rest of the chapter.

James is talking to believers that have faith, that is a given here. The subject is then, whether or not faith has to have works.

Can faith save him?… Not without works is the implication here which James will go on to show is necessary.

Faith that leads to action. We cannot just know and feel, but we must do! We cannot say that we believe but have no action to back it up. Examples 1. Standing before God saying “I knew all of your word” vs “I lived by every word of God” 2. Gravity – if we believe, we do (believe pisteuō comes from the word for faith pistis).

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Matthew 7:22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
Matthew 7:23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

It is a necessity for salvation!

James 2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
James 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?

In a situation like this quoting scriptures is of little help.

John echoes this in:

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:19 And by this we know that we are of the truth [or in the faith], and shall assure our hearts before Him.

James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Here is the crucial point of the matter. If you have the true genuine faith of God but do not have the commensurate works to go along with it, your faith is impotent and not serving its purpose.

James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

I have works… works without faith leads in the wrong direction (not towards true faith).

Show me your faith without your works… the platitudes and sympathy, does little or no good when your brother is cold and hungry.

4 possible combinations with faith and works:

no faith with no works: no religion, so there are no requirements.

works with no faith: dead works; working in the wrong direction

Acts 26:20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

We show that we have changed from our previous carnal ways

Our works show that we have turned around

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God

faith with no works: a dead, purposeless and aimless faith;

This was really the big problem that Martin Luther had with the Apostle James that we alluded to in chapter 1.

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
Romans 3:28 So halten wir nun dafür, daß der Mensch gerecht werde ohne des Gesetzes Werke, allein [alone] durch den Glauben.

faith with works: we act on our beliefs; this is a LIVING faith

James was very clear, thankfully (because it makes the debate surrounding this subject very clear), that works MUST accompany faith.

James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

If we believe there is one God, that is not enough because the fallen spirit realm truly believes that as well – but they do not have the proper works to go along with it, then it is a dead faith – which it is.

James 2:20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

James is in effect saying, “Do you want proof, you foolish person that what I have been saying is true?” So, for the next five verses he gives a quick and to the point proof text.

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

Genesis 22:2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

THE WORKS: Abraham got all the things for the sacrifice (knife, fire, wood, donkey, servants and Isaac) and then traveled three days. When he got there, Abraham proceeded with the sacrifice of Isaac, all the way up to the point that he raised the knife to kill him.

Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”

Here we see Abraham’s faith exemplified.

James 2:22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
Hebrews 11:18 of whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED,”
Hebrews 11:19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

made perfect… made complete, teleioō; by faith and works implemented together.

James 2:23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” And he was called the friend of God.

the Scripture was fulfilled… This scripture in this verse is found in Genesis 15:6, “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” It was not until Genesis 22 that God tested him by asking Abraham to do works that this scripture was made full.

he was called the friend of God…

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
John 15:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
John 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

James 2:24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Romans 2:13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;

To be justified by faith we must have the accompanying works that reflect the righteousness of God in us.

James 2:25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

Because she believed she acted! She had faith in the God of the Israelites and because of what she did, she was saved. Her physical salvation would not have come about had she acted contrary to that faith.

Joshua 2:19 So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him.
Joshua 2:20 And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.”
Joshua 2:21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

The spirit imparts the mind and intellect to man that differentiates him from the animal kingdom. But here in Job there is a distinction made that it takes both the spirit and breath to be removed from a person for death to be certain.

Job 34:14 If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath,
Job 34:15 All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.

I believe what James is saying here then, is that if you remove the spirit you are dead in the same way that faith is dead without works, you can have one without the other but it will be ineffectual and figuratively dead!

Chapter 3

The Tongue

James 3:1-12

Necessity for Control

James 3:1-8

James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

a stricter judgment… As a teacher we have a greater responsibility. We all do this in many ways – we need to be careful of our words.

Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.
Matthew 12:34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Matthew 12:35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.
Matthew 12:36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
Matthew 12:37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Teachers must focus on truth at all costs as well as use of God’s spirit and not let pride, speculation and lack of study derail us.

James 3:2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

So now he makes a few analogies, showing that this small member can affect the whole body:

James 3:3 Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

It is the bit that controls the horse, it is very difficult to control one without it.

James 3:4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers have a length of 1,092 ft (333 m) overall and a beam of 252 ft (77 m) overall. They were initially designed with a full-load displacement of 97,000 to 116,605 tons. The two rudders are 29 feet high that steer this massive floating city.

James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

James 3:3-5 are about choosing the words we speak carefully because of the wide ranging impact that it can have.

A bell cannot be unrung.

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, And his mouth calls for blows.
Proverbs 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, And his lips are the snare of his soul.

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.

Examples of the good use of words: Prayer, praise, encouragement, counsel, inspiring, comfort, communication, truth (preaching/teaching).

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

Spreads and turns into wild fire that eventually leads to gehenna fire

Wrong ways to use our words that James mentions: blasphemy/heresy (James 1:13-14;), unbridled (James 1:26, partiality (James 2:1-4), insensitive (James 2:15-16), prideful (James 3:5), cursing (James 3:9), lying (James 3:14), slander (James 4:11), murmur (James 5:9) swearing (James 5:12)

And this is by no means all of them.

James 3:7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.
James 3:8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

We must be vigilant and recognize that the tongue is the first stop out of our heart and mind. The filters that we put in between them are not sufficient in and of themselves, we must realize that we need God to intervene and bolster us.

Two Ways to Use It

James 3:1-12

James 3:9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

We are practicing to be like God except that we do not always have the prerogative of our Heavenly Father.

Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

Psalms 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit.
Psalms 34:14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.

Words not fitly spoken are an enemy of peace and reveal who we are

Psalms 39:1 To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. I said, “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.”

James 3:11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?
James 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.

A tree is known by its fruit, the tree of life, which is representative of the holy spirit, will only bear right and good fruit.

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
Ephesians 5:4 neither filthiness [shameful or obscene], nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting [vulgar witticisms or repartee], which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Ephesians 5:5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
If we are a saint, this is known by the language we use, corrupt words should not come out of us.

Seek Godly Wisdom

James 3:13-18

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.

As a saint our actions should follow our beliefs. In chapter 1 we see that our thoughts lead to words AND action. So we need to be careful of all three. 1. What we think 2. What we say 3. What we do.

All of these should reflect God and His righteousness in us.

James 3:14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

bitter envy… acute jealousy

self-seeking in your hearts… factious and contentious heart

These do not come from God!

James 3:15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.

earthly… worldly

sensual… psuchikos from psuche (life; soul)

demonic… devilish

To sum it up in an alliteration: Self – Satan – Society

James 3:16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

confusion… 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

But… now James is contrasting the worldly ways with God’s

pure… comes from root word for holy

willing to yield… compliant; easily persuaded by the word of God

good fruits…

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

James 3:18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Peace… is a part of the “wisdom from above” (previous verse James 3:17)

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

Chapter 4

Worldliness

James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?

It is unlikely that James is speaking about the Christians being involved in wars, but rather he is referring to the subject he was addressing earlier:

James 1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

It is the wrong thoughts that can grow into wrong actions. James is saying that our hedonistic pursuits lead us off the narrow path that we are to be walking. If we do not bring these thoughts into submission, they will continue grow until they lead to ungodly actions.

James 4:2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.

1 John 3:15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

you do not have because you do not ask….

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matthew 7:9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Matthew 7:10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
Matthew 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

James is telling them that they are going about it all wrong. 1. You want the wrong things – the ungodly things that do not last, is not important and does not bring true happiness. 2. Also, they are going about it the wrong way. They are breaking the law of God to try and get what they want.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

ask amiss… literally: badly; in the wrong way

Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

How are We to Ask?

1. According to His will

One of the purposes for prayer, knowing that God knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.) is so that when we do or do not get what we ask for, we thereby learn the will of God.

2. In faith

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

3. In obedience

John 9:31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Acts 5:32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit which God has given to those who obey Him.”

His spirit is the mind of God that we are to be putting on so that we more closely align with who oand what He is.

4. Boldly

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

5. In line with His law

This the point that James is making in James 4:1-2 that you are not going to get by lusting, murdering and coveting.

6. In sync with the plan of God

  • Personally
  • Universally

7. In Jesus name

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Adulterers and adulteresses… figuratively here though it does not do away with the literal. After we are in a marriage covenant with God, we cannot have a relationship like this with the world.

world… This refers to the system of the world – the way that it is and works. There are two systems: God’s and the Worldly one. A system is a purposeful structure that is a collection of elements or components that are organized for a common purpose. The god of this world right now, Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4) is anti-God and has implemented a counterfeit system to try to thwart the plan of God. This is the one that James says is an enemy of God and we should not befriend it – or we will become an enemy of God as well.

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.

[Identifying Babylon]

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

We can love the people

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 Timothy 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Matthew 5:45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Matthew 5:47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

James 4:5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who [which???] dwells in us yearns jealously”?

James is not quoting a verse specifically, but appears to be pulling parts of them together. Paul in his very good understanding of the Old Testament did this as well, so James in good company and it is an example that the experienced in God’s word can do carefully.

Spirit who … this word is translated which in the KJV. In reality it could be either who or which depending on context James meant. The main understanding that we need to grasp is that it is not referring to a personage of the the trinity, but rather the power of God that imparts holy understanding or God Himself that dwells in us by that spirit.

yearns jealously… desires greatly toward the direction of envy

God, as the bridegroom in the new covenant to the church, very much wants a close and intimate relationship with His bride to be – of course He is jealous when she begins to commit adultery with the world.

Unadulterated means pure, clean and unmixed. It has the connotation of being whole or one in that sense. To commit spiritual adultery (see previous verse James 4:4) is then to take the relationship that we are supposed to have with God and mix it with the world, making us impure and unclean whereby we are no longer capable of being one with God because we have introduced a third partner into the affair.

Exodus 20:5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,

We see in the previous verse (James 4:4) that God does not want us to be with another.

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

He says…

Proverbs 3:34 Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly [with confidence; obviously not arrogantly or pridefully] to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Therefore… Because God gives grace to the humble we should THEN submit to God

submitting to God… This means to live by every word of God. Also, we should want to do this, because it is what is best for us.

Resist the devil… 1. His original sin was pride, we must especially be aware of this agency of attack

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

Isaiah 14:12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
Isaiah 14:13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;
Isaiah 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
Isaiah 14:15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

2. This appears to be a conditional mechanism that God has set in place: IF you resist THEN he will flee. Satan is not compelled by us. He was the epitome of God’s creation and perfect until he sinned. He had the power, intelligence and ability to convince one-third of spirit realm to follow him. He easily has the ability to destroy us, but God has put limits on what he is allowed to do (see the first two chapters of Job). That being said God wants us to do our part and resist the pulls of the flesh – if we do what He asks then Satan has to leave.

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Draw near to God… as Satan leaves, do not remain standing where you are, but move closer to God.

Cleanse your hands, you sinners… It is action that is carried out by your hands; stop doing what is wrong.

purify your hearts, you double-minded… (see notes on James 1:8) we cannot have a heart of stone and one of flesh. We must purify it by eliminating our ways and only have the word of God written on it.

James 4:9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

Ecclesiastes 7:2 Better to go to the house of mourning Than to go to the house of feasting, For that is the end of all men; And the living will take it to heart.
Ecclesiastes 7:3 Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;

Titus 1:8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled,

Titus 2:6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded,

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Not only does He give grace to the humble (James 4:6) but He will be the one that will raise you up and exalt you in due time.

Matthew 23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Matthew 23:12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Control of Others, Ourselves and the Tongue

James 4:11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Back to an admonishment about the tongue again.

speak evil… slander; A false tale or report that defames and injures someone or their reputation.

brethren… speaking to church people.

speaks evil of the law… Leviticus 19:16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people….

judges the law… if you do these things you are judging that you better than the law.

you are not a doer of the law but a judge…. in effect you have set yourself up as a judge of the law rather than the doer of the law that you should be.

James 4:12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

one Lawgiver… Isaiah 33:22 (For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us);

who is able to save and to destroy… we do not have the control of life and death or discernment or wisdom necessary to be presume to be in this position.

Who are you to judge another?… In other words now, with all due consideration, who do you think that you are to judge another – obviously you are not that person – DONT DO IT.

James 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;
James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

We do not even have absolute control of our own life, much less know the ins and outs of someone else’s life. We are so temporary and vain like a vapor or a breath or smoke that comes and goes OR a flower in the field that fades OR a fleeting shadow that runs away.

James 4:15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”

Instead… here is the approach that your should be taking.

If the Lord wills… We talked about this in James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss…” and the first point that we made was we have to ask in accordance with God’s will. The same is true here. If and only if God wants something to happen, will it be so – there is nothing that we are able to do to the contrary.

Remember that this is still in the context of what we can and cannot control. We cannot assert our will over ourselves much less others – so at this point what we can do is control our tongues as James mentioned extensively in chapter 3.

James 4:16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

So when you say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit” and you are bragging about it, this is evil because you are cutting God’s part in this out of the picture and virtually saying that you are going to make this happen.

Luke 12:47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
Luke 12:48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

This the sin of omission – meaning to fail, or neglect to do something required. A sin of omission is failing to do something good when you know you should.

This is what James was talking about in chapter 2

James 2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
James 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
James 2:19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
James 2:20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Examples

The Good Samaritan Luke 10:30-37

both the priest and the Levite passed by the injured man without helping him, leaving him half-dead.

Luke 10:30-37 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
Luke 10:31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
Luke 10:32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.
Luke 10:34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
Luke 10:35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’
Luke 10:36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” [it was the one that followed scripture].
Luke 10:37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Parable of Minas Luke 19:11-27

The one that hid his mina:

Luke 19:11 Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.
Luke 19:12 Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.
Luke 19:13 So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’
Luke 19:14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’
Luke 19:15 “And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
Luke 19:16 Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’
Luke 19:17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’
Luke 19:18 And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’
Luke 19:19 Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’
Luke 19:20 “Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.
Luke 19:21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’
Luke 19:22 And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.
Luke 19:23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’
Luke 19:24 “And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’
Luke 19:25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’)
Luke 19:26 ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
Luke 19:27 But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’ “

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
James 1:24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
Hebrews 2:2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward [or recompense],

Hebrews 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

Not doing something can be as bad as doing something wrong – both are sin

[What is Sin?]

Chapter 5

The Rich :1-6

James 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!

Wealth may buy a certain amount of comfort and pleasure, but they are not immune to misery. If this is what you truly value, you will not find true joy but rather the negative side of life. It is only by following God’s way of life that you will get to experience life in the best way possible, both now and later (Matthew 6:25-33).

James 5:2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.
James 5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.

Everything that is physical and material will not last and will come to nothing. There is no value in it in the long term when everything will be spiritual.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

James 5:4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

you kept back by fraud… the rich have kept things that were not theirs to begin with. They have added to their sins and problems by doing this.

cry out…reached the ears of the Lord… the rich cause and bring about their own condemnation

Lord of Sabaoth… Lord of Hosts

James 5:5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

Fattened your hearts… the extra feeding right before they are killed and butchered like animals are.

James 5:6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.

The actions of the rich will bring its own judgment on them.

These are some of the reasons that God does not bless everyone with great wealth (like He did with David Job Solomon Abraham) – it is because it can and often will take them away from the truth, which is so much more important. This is why God often calls the weak and abased (1 Corinthian 1:26).

Psalms 62:10 Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them.

Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Luke 12:21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Patience

James 5:7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
James 5:8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

brethren… again we see the audience he is speaking to

coming… same word is used in Jesus’ longest prophecy: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39

patient…wait… James is saying this in light of the previous verses on richness. Do not be focused on what the rich have and what they are doing, but rather hold fast to the truth and keep acting like a Christian.

Psalms 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

Establish your hearts… God can strengthen you and He will do this if you let Him.

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!

James 5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!

Do not grumble against one another … This hearkens back to:

James 4:11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
James 4:12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

lest you be condemned… judge vs condemn; krino vs katakrino; if they judge one another in this way, then condemnation will follow by the one true Judge.

the Judge is standing at the door…

Isaiah 33:22 (For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us);

Matthew 24:33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!

He is talking about signs in the Olivet prophecy – they show that His coming is soon. So, if the Judge is standing at the door, ready to come in, what kind person should we be if we do not want to be condemned.

James 5:10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.

prophets… those who say that they want to be a prophet – I do not think that they fully realize what they are asking for.

1 Thessalonians 2:14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,
1 Thessalonians 2:15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men,

as an example of suffering and patience….

Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

1 Peter 2:19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.
1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

James 5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

blessed who endure … Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

perseverance of Job… great book to read if you are going through a severe trial and need encouragement.

seen the end intended by the Lord… end: telos (the goal or aim);

What was God’s purpose with putting Job through a trial of this magnitude? God is Changing Who We Are and He knows that We HAVE to Suffer. That is why Trials are a Time for Self-evaluation and for us to Learn Everything Possible from it that we can. It is For the Perfecting of our Character. God is Intimately Involved in our Lives and With Us to the End – the goal or aim that He has in mind.

the Lord is very compassionate and merciful….

Hebrews 12:6 FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”

Because we have two choices in the end: the Kingdom of God and there is a Lake of Fire.

Notice the use of the Tongue again

James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.

do not swear….

Matthew 5:33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’
Matthew 5:34 But I say to you, do not swear [same word as above] at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
Matthew 5:35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Matthew 5:36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.
Matthew 5:37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

In an oath there is an invoking of God’s wrath if what the person avows is untrue. James says this is unnecessary in our common speech.

What often happens is that people begin to use it as a by-word and demean the power of it. There are oaths and vows that we are to take that God has put in place when we make a covenant with Him. Outside of that they should be rarely used. We should not be telling God that He has to intervene wrathfully in our lives if swear by His name – especially for something petty.

Of course the other problem is that God does not come down and strike you, so you think it’s okay to do it again. It makes a mockery of oaths and swearing and God – and God may eventually not put up with it. This is why James says simply, just let your yes mean yes and no mean no or you will be judged for what you did wrong.

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.

Let him pray…. another proper use of the tongue – prayer for healing.

Let him sing psalms… Psalms 95:2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

The elements of an anointing:

  • ministers of the true Church (James 5:14; Mark 16:14, 18)
  • anoint with oil (James 5:14; Mark 6:13)
  • laying on of hands (Luke 4:40, 13:11-13; Mark 16:18)
  • pray to God asking for healing (James 5:14)
  • in Jesus’ name (James 5:14; Isaiah 53:5)

oil… symbol of the holy spirit

[Laying on of Hands]

James 5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

save the sick… a physical salvation

if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven … Matthew 9:2-6; our being healed physically is an allusion to and foreshadowing of our spiritual healing at the return of Christ and the first resurrection.

James 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Confess… not to the priest like Catholicism

pray for one another, that you may be healed… the confession to our brethren is for healing through their beseeching God on our behalf.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much… we are being told plainly here that this is the best way to accomplish what we set out to do in this fashion.

James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
James 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

The power of fervent prayer

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.”

1 Kings 18:41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
1 Kings 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
1 Kings 18:43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”
1 Kings 18:44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ “

James 5:19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

he who turns a sinner from the error of his way… judgment has to take place, but notice the intent and manner in which it is done – unlike the judging that was going on before:

James 4:11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother….

When it is done this way it is self serving and evil and harms the object of intent. Here James is saying if you have unselfish intentions (ie helping someone return from the error of his ways back to the truth; implies brethren here since they once had the truth – so it is not our job to convert someone to the truth), then this is the righteous judgments that we are to make.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins…. If we do this correctly then we will help our brother to repent of sins, obtain forgiveness and be in the Kingdom of God and not the Lake of Fire. (James 5:11)

Outline of a Prayer

 

Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

This is an outline not a prayer that is to be recited, especially over and over. This is the exact opposite of the way that Jesus introduces the model prayer.

Read moreOutline of a Prayer

Book of Philippians Commentary

Verse by verse insights to unlock scripture!

Read moreBook of Philippians Commentary