Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Count It All Joy (A Study in James) Lesson 1

 Introduction
• The writer of this letter identifies himself as James. There are at least five men named James listed in the New Testament. Two were Jesus’ disciples and one was His brother. The book of James is thought to be written by Jesus’ brother.

• The letter was written prior to A.D. 62.

• The letter was addressed "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad". He is talking to the Jews scattered throughout Gentile lands, or "Jewish Christians."

Theme--Faith That Works.

Purpose/Content

The book of James is practical and ethical and places an emphasis on duty rather than doctrine. His main concern is that believers demonstrate their experience with Christ, rather than just act "religious". In other words, this is a "walk the talk" book.

James is directing us toward godly living. There are 108 verses and out of those, 54 clear commands are given. The mood of this letter is often described as "imperative" which means absolutely necessary or required. It’s a statement of Christian ethics.

Practical Application

This book is relevant to us because it is describes ethical living based on the gospel. James emphasizes personal growth in the spiritual life and sensitivity in social relationships.

"The message of James speaks especially to those who are inclined to talk their way to heaven instead of walk there." (New Spirit Filled Life Bible)

Christ is Revealed

James recognizes the Lordship of Jesus from the beginning of the letter where he calls himself a "bondservant" (NKJV) or "slave" (NLT) of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a close parallel between the content of the letter and the specific teachings of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. James doesn’t quote Jesus directly, but the instruction is reminiscent of Jesus’ teachings. This indicates a close relationship between James and Jesus and shows the strong influence of Jesus on James’ life.

Read James 1:1-3

Study Questions:

Who is this letter written to?

How does James identify himself?

What are some examples of trials as mentioned in verse 2?

What does James mean when he says "count it all joy" (NKJV) or "consider it an opportunity for great joy" (NLT)?

Think about a time of trial, or testing, you recently experienced. Were you able to be joyful?

How does "testing of your faith" produce patience?

Further Study

Read Chapter 1 several times, looking for the themes.

Meditate on and memorize James 1:2-3