James

by Douglas Estes
Overview

The book of James is a book about wisdom. Providing instructions for its readers to help them to make wise decisions, it stands in a long tradition of Jewish writing that we call “wisdom literature”. With His use of parables and pithy sayings, Jesus is part of the same tradition as well.

In the history of the church, the book of James has often played second fiddle to the theological powerhouses of Paul and John. James is shorter, and perhaps a bit more subtle and thoughtful. It is not as memorable for many Christians, because the very thing that it wants to convey—thoughtful wisdom development—occurs only when patiently applied to our lives. Nevertheless, James plays a vital role in rounding out the New Testament.

The writer of the letter is James, the brother of Jesus and pastor of the church of Jerusalem. James’ place among the first generation of Christians was unique: he was not only the brother of Jesus, but also a Jewish Christian descended from David; witness to the public ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus; pastor of the “mother church” of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem; and martyr for the cause of Christ.

The Structure of James

Chapter 1
Trials, blessings, temptation, religion, and wisdom

Chapter 2
How faith integrates with action

Chapter 3
How speech and wise living determine the course of our lives

Chapter 4
A call to be obedient to God, and to turn away from the world

Chapter 5
Dangers of greed and importance of patience and prayer

Key Verse
″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.″ —James 1:5

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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