A Practical Book for Practical Faith – James Lesson 1




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

The Book of James is part of a group of epistles called the General Epistles or the Catholic Epistles. The General Epistles are James, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, and 1-3 John. The word “catholic” means universal. Both expressions – general and catholic – speak of the fact that this set of epistles is addressed to believers in general. So, for example, the Epistle to the Ephesians was written specifically to the believers in Ephesus. But the Book of James is not addressed to any specific group of believers, but rather to the twelve tribes scattered abroad (which would include all Christian believers, since the Church was almost exclusively Jewish at this time).  You might have noticed that these epistles are grouped together in your copy of the New Testament.

The general epistles were written by James, Peter, Jude, and John. Two writers (James and Jude) were half-brothers of Jesus, according to the flesh. Two writers (Peter and John) were part of the inner circle of three and members of the original twelve disciples of Jesus. Peter and John of course are considered apostles. James and Jude are generally recognized as apostles also, yet not part of the original twelve.

Even though the writer of James is none other than the half-brother of Jesus by Joseph and Mary, he never claims divine authority by birth. He prefers to call himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). He considered his relationship to Jesus by faith to be more important than his relationship according to the flesh.

The theme of this General Epistle is that of practical religion. James does not share with us great sweeping doctrines of the faith that cause our minds to expand and our theology to swell. James shares with us very practical things that should be a part of every believer’s everyday life. The theme of this epistle is practical Christian living. The theme of this epistle is not doctrinal but practical. James discusses the ethics of true religion, or how the worship of God should be expressed in daily life. The key verse of James is found in chapter two, verse 17 – “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17

The epistle is Jewish in nature and is addressed to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1). This epistle is probably the earliest of all the New Testament cannon. It was written at Jerusalem before the first Christian council, around the time that Stephen was stoned, or about 45 AD. James is the 59th book of the Bible, contains 5 chapters, 108 verses, 24 questions, 100 verses of history, and 8 verses of fulfilled prophecy.[1]

[1] Dakes’ Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Dake

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