Our fifty-ninth flight over the Bible from 30,000 Feet will take us over the distinctive book of James. Although grace through faith in the cross was vital for Jewish believer to understand, James addresses the issue of faith without a consistent lifestyle. This epistle adamantly declares that, "Just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead, also." (James 2:26) The key chapters to review are James 1-5.
This letter is distinctive from some of the other epistles because of its unmistakably Jewish nature. It emphasizes vital Christianity, characterized by good deeds and a faith that works (genuine faith must and will be accompanied by a consistent lifestyle). Its organization is simple, and it shows a familiarity with Jesus’ teachings preserved in the Sermon on the Mount. It also exhibits a similarity to Old Testament wisdom writings such as Proverbs.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS:
c. 47-62 A.D.
Writing of the epistle of James
c. 62 A.D.
James is martyred
Some scholars have seen an apparent contradiction between James' emphasis on works (2:24) and Paul’s emphasis on faith (Romans 3:28, Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet, their purposes were different: Paul was addressing legalists, and James was attacking those who said that a Christian’s conduct is irrelevant to salvation.
PLACES OF INTEREST:
No geographical locations are mentioned in the book of James.
PEOPLE OF INTEREST:
James – One of several brothers of Jesus, probably he oldest. At first he did not believe in Jesus and even challenged him and misunderstood his mission, but later he became very prominent in the church.
The Twelve Tribes – The recipients of this letter are called "the twelve tribes scattered among the nations." This might mean Christians in general, but the term is more naturally applied to Jewish Christians.
The Jewish nature of the letter and some of its wording lead some scholars to date it before 50 A.D. If this is correct, James is the earliest of all the New Testament writings—with the possible exception of Galatians.