Because it is sometimes difficult to follow the flow
of a letter like this, we have added a synopsis of each chapter
& passage to help clarify where Paul is going with his writing.]
Read James: If
you think you can live like you want as a Christian, James disabuses
us of this idea. This letter, written to the church wherever they
may be scattered, shows the reality of such a church in a pagan
world. First (ch.1), there are trials & temptations
to be overcome, recognising that such things develop maturity
in the believer. Second (ch.2), there is the
recognition that all believers are equal and so we should not
treat some more favourably than others. As a community of faith,
that faith should be seen by deeds, the good lives we lead. Third
(ch.3), there is the recognition that although
we are all imperfect we should be careful the way we speak as
God's representatives, with lives energized by heavenly wisdom
that develops humility in us that reveals our Christlike nature.
Fourth (ch.4), we should seek to be a peaceful
community, recognizing that conflicts arise because we sometimes
hold on to selfish attitudes; instead God's grace should develop
humility that accepts one another and is able to live contented
lives, trusting God. Finally (ch.5), he addresses
the affluent in the community of God's people who may ignore the
needs of their poorer brothers and sisters, or wrong treat their
workers. The call is to be patient in the face of such sufferings,
living lives of prayer. Although many of the topics that James
had in mind were applicable in the wider church of the first century,
they are nevertheless relevant for any period.
1 Synopsis: We may be scattered but there are various
commonalities. We may be going through tough times – trials –
but they only serve to build perseverance in us. And don't confuse
trials with temptation because the latter come from our rampant
desires. All these things work to transform (mature) us, to create
peaceable, pure lives which is seen in practical ways, for example
how we use our tongue]
Listening and Doing
(James to the
scattered people of God) James,
a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes
scattered among the nations:
Synopsis: as scattered believers in a fallen world, life
is often tough but it will develop perseverance and from that
spiritual maturity if you hang in there, not worrying about your
status, just your faithfulness.]
– be blessed because it produces perseverance) Consider
it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials
of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith
produces maturity) Let perseverance
finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking
(but if you
don't know how to handle it, ask God for His wisdom) If
any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously
to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
believing He'll give) But when
you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts
is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
(if you don't
you don't get) That person should
not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
(you say one
thing but believe another) Such
a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
(in a lowly
position? God has high regard for you) Believers
in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.
it goes so easily) But the rich
should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away
like a wild flower.
(just like plants
that die from lack of real resources) For
the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom
falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will
fade away even while they go about their business.
(but if you
hang on in through a trial God will bless you) Blessed
is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the
test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord
has promised to those who love him.
Synopsis: Rightly assess pressures – understand where
temptations come from, so have self control. God only brings good,
as your salvation proves]
God for temptations, it's your own selfish desires) When
tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot
be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person
is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire
(if you let
desire run amok it will cause havoc) Then,
after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when
it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
(be clear in
your understanding) Don't be
deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.
things come from God) Every
good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father
of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(and that includes
the eternal life he gave you to transform you) He
chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might
be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
Listening and Doing
Synopsis: This transformation comes by responding to
God's word with obedience, and see by the gracious way we live
and speak and care for one another]
(let that transformation
include your responses) My dear
brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick
to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human
anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
(so get rid
of evil and let God's word transform you) 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.
listen to God, obey Him) Do
not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what
acting is like forgetting what you saw in a mirror) Anyone
who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone
who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself,
goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
to God's will through Jesus and administered by His Spirit will
bring you freedom) But whoever
looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues
in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will
be blessed in what they do.
is to include the tongue) Those
who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight
rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is
good heart before God is revealed through the way we care for
the needy) Religion that God
our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after
orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from
being polluted by the world.
to CHAPTER 2