This first study in our exploration of the Epistle of James was given by pastor Barry Forder on 3rd May 2020.
Yakov – the Hebrew name of the author – was the earthly brother of Jesus (Matthew 12:46, 47; 13:55; Mark 3:31, 32; Luke 8:19, 20; 1 Cor 9:5), but James did not believe his brother was the Messiah until after the Resurrection when Jesus specifically appeared to him… “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles”. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
Following this encounter, James, who had shared an earthly home with 6 other siblings (see Matthew 13:55-56), became a follower of the One he had shared so much of his life with, and now would unreservedly commit the rest of his life to!
Maybe James had picked up his older brother’s direct and forthright manner because in these 108 verses he gives no less than 50 specific imperatives in the Greek – instructions, commands to us.
He knew and had seen too much to skirt around the issues. He gets straight to the point:
- How do you handle life’s trials? As a follower of Christ don’t you realise that they are part of your Heavenly Brother’s training programme for you? So you should count them as joy!
- How do you pray? Do you pray in faith? Or do you doubt that God would hear you? James know his Brother, and trusted Him implicitly! James tells us we can (and should) do the same.
- How do you treat others? Does your opinion of them depend on your estimate of their worth. James had made this mistake and for years had lived with someone but only seeing them through his own eyes and not through God’s!
- How do you deal with temptation? You cannot blame others, temptations come from within. James had lived with one who had never yielded to temptation, and now knew firsthand that Jesus is able to impart that same grace and strength in each one of us to enable us to be overcomers! – and there is a reward promised to all who overcome temptation!
James went on the become one of the most influential leaders of the early church…
- –When Peter was released from prison he instructed them to tell James (Acts 12:17)
- –Paul reported to him upon arrival in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17-26)
…yet never asserts his position or authority, rather opens his Epistle by stating that he is a servant of God and of Jesus – now His Lord!
This is a passionate Epistle that calls the believer to an uncompromising walk where our works are the natural overflow of our Faith in the One who walked with us, and now reigns over us!
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study.