Summary of James 1:1-18:
James is speaking to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations. He tells them to consider it pure joy when they are faced with trials because it tests their faith and develops perseverance, which we need in order to finish the work God wants to do in us. If we lack wisdom, ask God and believe the Lord will answer and He will. The humble brother should be prideful in his position, but the rich should take pride if he becomes low; otherwise, he will fade away like the flower if he puts his trust in material things of this world.
Blessed are those who persevere under trial for he will receive the crown of life from God. God does not tempt anyone. Temptation comes from our own evil desire, which leads to sin and then to death. Every good and perfect gift is from God who never changes.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 2: James 1:1-18
3a) You will develop perseverance as you face trials. You could consider it pure joy. You will be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
b) Personal Question. My answer: God does not tempt. Man chooses evil when he is tempted if it becomes sin.
4) Personal Question. My answer: We do not choose temptation; but, we do choose the sin.
5) Personal Question. My answer: Trials and temptations cause us to rely on Him more. During this time of uncertainty with coronavirus, it has caused me to turn to Him more, to pray more, to put it all in His hands. We will get through this in God’s timing, not our own, when His people have learned all they can from it.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 2: James 1:1-18
James finds joy in the results of the trials, not in the trials themselves. This should give us courage that there is another side to coronavirus, and we will persevere through it. We will grow from it and develop as well. There is a reason for it; we just can’t see it, but God can.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 2: James 1:1-18
There are several men named James mentioned in the New Testament, but reliable tradition assigns this book to the one called James the Just, the half-brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55) and the brother of Jude (Jude 1), who led the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13). Yet the writer of this letter is the same James who received a special resurrection appearance of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:7).
Note how James does not taut his relation to Jesus. This is humility if you were in doubt.
Bondservant is an important word. It translates the ancient Greek word doulos, and is probably better simply translated as slave. “A slave, a bondservant, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another… Among the Greeks, with their strong sense of personal freedom, the term carried a degrading connotation.” (Hiebert)
Lord is also an important word. It translates the ancient Greek word kurios. It simply meant the master of a doulos, and in the context it means that James considered Jesus God.
The rich are apparently exploiting the poor and dragging them into court (2:6-7) and are being favored. And 1:2 tells us they face “trials of many kinds”. Living in the first century AD was a struggle just to survive for many people.
What Did James Mean by the 12 Tribes?
The question is whether James wrote a letter to only Christians from a Jewish background or to all Christians. Certainly this letter applies to all Christians; yet James probably wrote his letter before Gentiles were brought into the church, or at least before Gentile Christians appeared in any significant number.
The twelve tribes is a Jewish figure of speech that sometimes referred to the Jewish people as a whole (Matthew 19:28). Paul referred to our twelve tribes in his speech before King Agrippa (Acts 26:7). The concept of the “twelve tribes” among the Jewish people was still strong, even though they had not lived in their tribal allotments for centuries.
At this time, the Jewish people were scattered all over the world.
The salutation Greetings was the customary Greek way of opening a letter.
Patience is the ancient Greek word hupomone. This word does not describe a passive waiting but an active endurance. The ancient Greek word hupomone comes from hupo (under) and meno (to stay, abide, remain). At its root, it means to remain under. It has the picture of someone under a heavy load and choosing to stay there instead of trying to escape.
Faith is tested through trials, not produced by trials. Trials reveal what faith we do have; not because God doesn’t know how much faith we have, but so that our faith will be evident to ourselves and to those around us.
James did not want anyone to think that God sends trials to break down or destroy our faith; therefore, he will come back to this point in James 1:13-18. Trials can prove a wonderful work of God in us.
Trials bring a necessary season to seek wisdom from God. We often don’t know we need wisdom until our time of difficulty.
Knowledge is the ability to take things apart, but wisdom is the ability to put things together.
When we want wisdom, the place to begin and end is the Bible. True wisdom will always be consistent with God’s word.
Our request for wisdom must be made like any other request – in faith, without doubting God’s ability or desire to give us His wisdom.
We notice that not only must one come in faith, but one must also ask in faith; and this is where the prayers of many people fail.
The one who doubts and lacks faith should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Though we can understand the relative poverty and riches as trials or tests of a living faith that a Christian may deal with, it nonetheless seems that James has made a sudden shift in his subject, from trials and wisdom to riches and humility. In some ways, the Book of James is like the Book of Proverbs or other Old Testament wisdom literature, and it can jump from topic to topic and back again to a previous topic.
Trials serve to remind the rich and the high that though they are comfortable in this life, it is still only this life, which fades as the grass grows brown and the flowers fade away.
In the land of Israel there are many kinds of beautiful flowers that spring to life when the rains come, but they last for only a short time before withering away. On the scale of eternity, this is how quickly the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
The riches of this world will certainly fade away – but James says that the rich man also will fade away. If we put our life and our identity into things that fade away, we will fade away also. How much better to put our life and our identity into things that will never fade! If a man is only rich in this world, when he dies, he leaves his riches. But if a man is rich before God, when he dies, he goesto his riches.
This sounds like one of Jesus’ Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In those great statements of blessing, Jesus did not tell us the only ways we can be blessed. Here we learn we can be blessed as we endure temptation.
When you say “no” to temptation, you “yes” to God.
Temptation is one of the various trials (James 1:2) we face. As we persevere through temptation, we are approved, and will be rewarded as the work of God in us is evident through our resistance of temptation.
The best motive for resisting temptation is to love Him; to love Him with greater power and greater passion than your love for the sin.
God sometimes allows great tests to come to His people, even some who might be thought of as His favorites. We think of the hard command He gave to Abraham (Genesis 22:1), and the affliction He allowed to come to Job (Job 1-2). Other times He may send tests as a form of judgment upon those who have rejected Him, such as sending a spirit to bring deception (1 Kings 22:19-23) or departing from a man and refusing to answer him (1 Samuel 28:15-16). Yet in no case does God entice a person to evil.
Satan certainly tempts us, but the only reason temptation has a hook in us is because of our own fallen nature, which corrupts our God-given desires. We often give Satan too much credit for his tempting powers and fail to recognize that we are drawn away by our own desires.
God is never responsible for man’s sin.
The ancient Greek is actually “the Father of the lights.” The specific lights are the celestial bodies that light up the sky, both day and night. The sun and stars never stop giving light, even when we can’t see them. Even so, there is never a shadow with God. When night comes, the darkness isn’t the fault of the sun; it shines as brightly as before. Instead, the earth has turned from the sun and darkness comes.
James understood that the gift of salvation was given by God, and not earned by the work or obedience of man
James may refer to his own generation of believers when he calls them firstfruits, especially as being mainly written to Christians from a Jewish background. The fact that these Christians from a Jewish background are firstfruits (Deuteronomy 26:1-4) shows that James expected a subsequent and greater harvest of Christians from a Gentile background.