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3.1.1 James 1

Chapter one contains practical instructions for Christian Living.

  1. The Address

1:1 — James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

  • a. James the Just, The Brother of Jude and Half-Brother of our Lord is first mentioned in Matthew 13:55.

Matthew 13:55 — Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

  • b. This Epistle is addressed to the "12 Tribes which are the "Diaspora" [dispersion].

1:1 — "To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad."

  • John 7:35 — You will seek me (Jesus) and not find me ... to where? ... Unto the diaspora among the gentiles [Hellens, non-jews]?
  • 1 Peter 1:1 — to the strangers/pilgrims of the diaspora.

The "diaspora" or the "dispersion" was originally to be understood as Jews scattered from Israel among the Gentile countries, but in the epistles is used to reference specifically Christian Jews scattered or dispersed among the Gentile nations.

  • The Diaspora of the Jews began with the Assyrian/Babylonian Captivity and perhaps is not over to this day. This diaspora was a correction or judgment on Israel for her disobedience. [Compare to the Tower of the Bible in Genesis 11:8] Throughout the Old Testament God conditionally promised to gather them from the nations where God had scattered them if they turned back (repented) to God.

Deuteronomy 30:3 — That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.

Zechariah 2:8 — For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.

  • The Diaspora of the Jewish Christians begins soon after Pentecost as the early Believers are persecuted and rejected by their Jewish families and in some cases even excommunicated. This second kind of diaspora was a part of God's plan to spread the Gospel.

Acts 1:8 — But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The Great Commission given by Jesus outlines God's will that the Gospel be spread broadly and like a sower scattering his seeds, God allowed the persecution of the first century church to scatter these believers beyond Jerusalem and to the nations.

Mark 16:15 — And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Matthew 5:16 — Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Even though it was and is God's plan for the Gospel to be spread to the world, God did not couple this commission with a gaurantee that it would be easy. As a matter of fact, God has caused his will to be accomplished through great difficulties of the saints.

John 15:18 — If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

Acts 5:41 — And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Revelation 1:9 — I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

  • Even Jesus was rejected by his brethren in Matthew 13:53-58. And in John 7:35, those present suggested Jesus might even go minister among the gentiles where He could not be found by them.
  • Paul and Barnabas were rejected largely by their brethren as well in Acts 13:46.

Acts 13:46 — Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

The Hellenization of the Jews (in which the Greeks attempted to replace their distinct national character) was a factor in early tensions between Mosaic Jews and Christian Jews.

Stephen was the first Christian convert martyr (Acts 8:2) and James the Son of Zebedee was the first Apostle martyred (Acts 12:2).

Acts 12:1 — Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) 4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

  • c. This Epistle is also addressed throughout to the "brethren". 1:2; 1:16 (my beloved brethren); 2:1,5,14; 3:1; 4:11; 5:7,9,10,19

Adelphos [brethren] can be found 319 times in the New Testament and derived from the word for "womb".

Matthew 12:49 — And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

The kinship James expresses by calling them brethren is healing and unifying in the face of how difficult it was to be Christian. He is emphasizing their common bond by calling them brethren and reminding them that regardles of to where they are scattered they are not alone. They shared as brethren:

- Being Jews by birth.
- Being Born Again.
- Being scattered from their homes.
- Being persecuted for the name of Jesus.
- Having a love for Christ and for the brethren.

1 Peter 3:8 — Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

  • d. "Greeting"

greeting: calmly happy; rejoice; a salutation on meeting or parting; farewell; Godspeed;

Luke 1:28 — And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

  1. The Fruit and Work of Patience

1:2-4 — My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

  1. The Gift of Wisdom

1:5-8 — If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

  1. A Crown for those that Rejoice in Temptation

1:9-12 — Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. 12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

  1. Judge God Right

1:13-18 — Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

  1. The Advantage of Meekness

19 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

  1. The Blessing of both Hearing and Doing the Word

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

  1. The Contrast of a Pure and a Vain Religion

26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Formalism consists in washings and outward ceremonies. Whereas, James reminds us that true religion consists in active love and purity.