Hello: James 1.1-11
James simply identifies himself as the author and clarifies to whom he is writing. The recipients in his estimation form the True Israel.[ref]For more insight on this idea you might read A Theology of the New Testament: Revised Edition, pp. 583-585, by George Eldon Ladd.[/ref]
I believe that James provides us with his own outline. It is the one I suggested at the beginning of this short study. He tells us in James 1.2-11 what he is going to share in his letter. Then beginning in what we call chapter 2, he shares the problem and how to treat it. In the following material, we have stated the problem and then a summary of his teaching in the treatment sections.
Attacks Will Come, Welcome Them: James 1.2
The Problem: Believers were not able to handle attacks and were blaming God for what was happening.
The second verse of James is a slap in the face in some contemporary Christian circles, which teach and believe that a believer never suffers. James confirms that Jesus followers of all timeframes will suffer and tells us clearly that we should “consider it pure joy when we are faced with these “trials.” The word “trials” could be translated by the word “attacks.” It appears that Jesus followers in the days of James (as well as now) were not able to handle any kind of an attack in their lives and thus were blaming God for these attacks. It should be noted that James does not specify the kinds of attacks; he only generally says that there are many kinds (James 1.2).
The Treatment: James 1.12-27
A person who perseveres in an attack will receive a reward. When attacked, one should not blame God because he is incapable of an evil attack on anyone. Attacks, however, do come by a person’s own evil desire and can lead to death (James 1.12-15). The origin of an attack is not necessarily needful information. That we are attacked is sufficient. We need to know how to respond in the attack. If we respond wrongly to the attack, i.e., blame God, it can often lead to sin, which ultimately leads to death.
God, who is incapable of an evil attack, only provides us with good things. Those “good things,” which he gives us are found in the new birth, which comes to us by a word of truth so that we become God’s property (James 1.16-18).
- James 1.17 shares that God is the creator of the lights, which make the heavens. But unlike what we observe about the sun and the moon, i.e., they change from day to night, God remains constant. In the middle of an attack by the enemy, God will be the same though everything about us seems to change.
- James1.18a tells us that of all the gifts that God could give, the new birth is the greatest and most important. You should note that it is God’s choice to give this to us.
- The “word of truth” in James 1.18b can be understood as the gospel of the kingdom of God.
- Finally, in James 1.18c, the sacrifices called firstfruits became God’s property.
Hearing and doing the word will help you when you are attacked. James’ suggestion of hearing and doing places you in a position to depollute your life of those things which can bring attacks into your life (James 1.19-27). Again James provides a proverb for his readers. This proverb gives the hearers some specific directions to hear and do. They should …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. Now having told his readers what to do, James exhorts them that only listening to the word and not doing it is fruitless. John Calvin once said that doctrine must be transfused into the breast and pass into conduct, and so transform us, as not to prove unfruitful. [ref]Calvin, John, Institutes of Christian Religion. Book 3. Chapter 6. the Life of a Christian Man. Scriptural Arguments Exhorting To It. https://www.biblestudytools.com/history/calvin-institutes-christianity/book3/chapter-6.html[/ref]
James finally tells his readers that their tongues and their actions are bound together. Religious duties may be good in themselves, but their value is often lost because the religious person fails to control his speech in the ordinary relationships of life.
Two examples of true religion would be to take care of orphans and widows.
First, when attacked, you should have some focus on the outside of oneself as well as on the inside.
Second, you should take care of your holiness before God. Holiness is not a new subject in the ecclesia; it has always been God’s heart. Holiness is being set apart for the work of God and is a call for every believer.