So, how did your reading of chapter one go? James certainly gets down to business quickly, doesn’t he? His style is dramatically different from Paul, who spends a long time laying a theological foundation before he talks about walking in the world. Here are my observations and notes after surveying James, chapter 1.
Major Topics Discussed
- Introduction (v. 1)
- Trials and Temptations (v. 2-4)
- Believe God for Wisdom (v. 5-8)
- Rich Man, Poor Man – Rejoice! (v. 9-11)
- How Temptation Works (v. 12-16)
- The Father’s Good Will Toward Us (v. 17-18)
- The Believer’s Good Works Toward God (v. 19-21)
- Doers of the Word (v. 22-25)
- Real Religion (v. 26-27)
(I think these are examples of doing the word.)
Words and Phrases to Look Up
- Is there a difference between temptations (v. 2) and trials (v.3)?
- What is filthiness (v. 21)?
- What is superfluity of naughtiness (v. 21)?
- What is the engrafted word (v. 21)?
1. Temptations and Trials
Here are Strong’s definitions for temptations (v. 2) and trying (v. 3) in chapter one:
Temptations (G3986) pi-ras-mos’
From G3985; a putting to proof (by experiment [of good], experience [of evil], solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication adversity: – temptation, X try.
Trying (G1383) dok-im’-ee-on
Neuter of a presumed derivative of G1382; a testing; by implication trustworthiness: – trial, trying.
Strong’s defines filthiness this way:
Filthiness (G4507) hroo-par-ee’-ah
From G4508; dirtiness (morally): – filthiness.
3. Superfluity of Naughtiness
Strong’s definitions for superfluity and naughtiness are:
Superfluity (G4050) per-is-si’-ah
From G4052; surplusage, that is, superabundance: – abundance (-ant, [-ly]), superfluity.
Naughtiness (G2549) kak-ee’-ah
From G2556; badness, that is, (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble: – evil, malice (-iousness), naughtiness, wickedness.
So you might paraphrase this as the abundance of wickedness.
4. The Engrafted Word
Strong defines engrafted as:
Engrafted (G1721) em’-foo-tos
From G1722 and a derivative of G5453; implanted (figuratively): – engrafted.
This is talking about God’s Word implanted in the believer’s heart.
It might be helpful to put these definitions in the margin of your Bible, so you won’t have to look them up the next time read this chapter.
Points of Interest / Research
- Who was James (v. 1)?
- Who were the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad (v. 1)?
- If God cannot be tempted with evil (v. 13), how could Jesus be tempted?
- Does Do not err… (v. 16) refer to what James just said, or to what he is about to say?
1. Who was James?
Several people in the New Testament were named James.
And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. (Act 1:13)
James, the brother of John was executed by Herod:
(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. (Act 12:1-2)
And James the lesser is referred to as the brother of Jesus:
(55) Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? (56) And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? (Mat 13:55-56)
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. (Gal 1:19)
The most significant thing, I think, is that this James was the pastor of the church at Jerusalem’s. That adds emotional impact to this letter. It is a loving pastor writing to his scattered flock.
2. Who were the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad?
There were two groups of Jewish people living in other nations at this time. The first group were “the Jews of the Dispersion” (Joh. 7:35). Those were Jews who never returned to Israel after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. The phrase refers instead to Jewish converts to Christianity who fled Jerusalem because of Saul’s persecution of the church (Act. 8:1).
Knowing the audience James wrote to is one of the keys to understanding this letter. James wrote to people whose homes, families and finances were thrown into chaos as they fled for their lives. They were starting over again and needed God’s wisdom to avoid the many potential pitfalls of their circumstances.
We’ll consider the last two questions as we come back to chapter one and study it verse by verse.
Read through James, chapter two, for tomorrow and make the same kinds of notes you did for today’s study. Be sure to check back tomorrow so we can compare notes.