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Questioning James: A Study on the First Chapter of James

Introduction

If we ask questions of the book of James we can learn a great deal. What follows is a list of questions. From these, perhaps together we can seek answers from God’s Word and gain wisdom from it. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I began this study seeking to be trained in righteousness so that I would be better equipped to do whatever good works God has prepared for me (Eph 2:10). I make every effort to be as complete and thorough as possible in this study, which is why a book that takes up only 5 brief chapters is herein stretched out so much. There’s truly a lot to learn from James.

To aid in this study I consult primarily three English translations. The Authorized Version, better known as the King James Version (KJV), is a word for word translation. This and its poetic style to the modern ear are its primary virtues. The archaic word usages and syntax are the primary drawbacks.

The second English translation I use is the New International Version (NIV). The primary advantages it offers include being easy to read and very commonly used by lay people. The disadvantage is that it is a thought for thought translation rather than a literal translation. By its nature anything other than a literal word for word translation is tainted to some degree by the translator. Still, being a very common version it is almost mandatory we explore its unique qualities to gain the most broad understanding possible.

A relatively new English word for word translation is the English Standard Version (ESV). This version is highly accurate, like KJV, but with updated syntax and sentence structure it is far easier to read and in that respect is much more like NIV. While it is my personal preference, its prime disadvantage is that it is still relatively new and therefore uncommon. In spite of that minor problem, I will use ESV for all scripture quotes not otherwise specified. Note that scripture references are embedded in the text in italics

For the sake of breaking this study into bite sized portions, our study is divided into chapters based on verses of James. At the start of the study of each verse I include the whole paragraph containing the verse for the sake of context. There may be several paragraphs in a broad theme, but each paragraph tends to have a more precise theme. At the end of each paragraph we study there is a brief summary, which is an attempt to tie together some study concepts which may seem at a tangent to the theme of the paragraph under our microscope at the time.

Editor’s Note: This series here on Bible.org only includes the first chapter of James

Information on James

The book of James is a letter in the New Testament of the Bible. People think that the writer was James the brother of Jesus. He became a leader of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians1:19).

James tells his readers about different things:

We may suffer because we follow Jesus. But we must be patient (James 5:7-11). This will make us better people (James 1:2-4)

He speaks against rich people who do wrong things to poor people (James 2:1-4, James 5:1-7).

God will say that they are wrong. If poor people trust God, this is better than wealth (James 2:5-7)

God will give wisdom to those who ask for it (James 1:5). This is because true wisdom comes from God (James 1:16-18). God's wisdom teaches us the right behaviour (James 3:13-16).

If we trust in God, we will show it in our actions (James 2:14-26).

James warns us to be careful about our words (James 3:1-12).

He tells us that we should pray sincerely (James 5:13-16).

James is a favourite book for many people.

James Facts

Author - James, the brother of Jesus.

Audience - Followers of Jesus; orginally written to early Jewish Christians scattered because of persecution.

Date - About A.D. 49.

Setting - James encouraged the former members of the Jerusalem church now dispersed throughtout the holy land.

Key Verse - Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merly listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (1:21-22 NIV)

Central theme - Our faith determines our actions and attitudes.

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods, Bibliology (The Written Word)