30 Oct. James 1:1-21

30 October. James' letter - the oldest document in the New Testament

"From James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To all of God's people who are scattered everywhere in the world:
Greetings."

"My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need."

"But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to all people, so he will give you wisdom. But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind... They should not think they will receive anything from the Lord."

"Believers who are poor should be proud, because God has made them spiritually rich. Those who are rich should be proud, because God has helped them to see that they are spiritually poor..."

"When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy. After they have proved their faith, God will reward them with life for ever. God promised this to all those who love him..."

"My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. So put out of your life every evil thing and every kind of wrong. Then in gentleness accept God's teaching that is planted in your hearts, which can save you."

          (James 1:1-21)

 

 

The Letter of James is a letter written by James, the brother of Jesus, and leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem. It’s the oldest 'book' in the New Testament, written to Jewish believers who were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria during the persecution following the stoning of Stephen in 35AD.

The letter was written by James (in Hebrew, ‘Jacob’), the brother of Jesus (see Matthew 13:55), who initially misunderstood the nature of Jesus’s mission (see John 7:2-5), but became the leader of the Jerusalem church shortly after Jesus’s death and resurrection in 30AD (see Acts 1:14 & 12:17). He was one of the few people to whom Jesus appeared on his own after the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15:7).

Paul, on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, visited James and his wife in 38AD (see Galatians 1:19 & 1 Corinthians 9:5), and he did the same on his last visit to Jerusalem in 57AD (see Acts 21:18). James was known to the early Christians as ‘James the Righteous’, and Paul refers to him as one of the ‘pillars’ of the church (see Galatians 2:9).

It was James who chaired the Council of Jerusalem in 49/50AD, and sent the letter to the believers in Antioch in Syria explaining the leaders’ decision that Gentile believers need not be circumcised (see Acts 15:12-21).

The Letter of James was written shortly after the persecution of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem, and following their dispersal throughout Judaea and Samaria, to Phoenicia, Cyprus and to Antioch in Syria following Stephen’s death in 35AD (see Acts 8:1, 11:19, & James 1:1). This makes it the earliest of all the New Testament writings, including the gospels - written just five years after Jesus's death and resurrection.

The many references to Jewish scriptures and traditions suggest that it was written when the early Christian church was still predominantly Jewish. It makes no reference to the later controversy over circumcision, discussed at the Council of Jerusalem in 49/50AD (see Acts 15:1-34 & Galatians 2:1-10), and uses the word ‘synagogue’ (Greek ‘synagoge’) (often translated wrongly as 'church') to describe the meeting or meeting-place of the early Christian believers (see James 2:2).

As the letter was written by someone skilled in Greek, it’s quite possible that James (like Peter – see 1 Peter 5:12) asked one of his Greek-speaking fellow believers to express his thoughts for him in a formal letter.

The letter was written to all Jewish Christians who, under persecution, had been scattered ‘among the nations’ (see James 1:1). It provides guidance for everyday living in accordance with Christian attitudes and beliefs, and stresses the need for practical actions to accompany faith in Jesus Christ.

James begins by sending greetings to all the Jewish Christians (literally, ‘members of the twelve tribes of Israel’) who have been “scattered everywhere in the world” (James 1:1).

He urges them to stand firm under persecution and to endure all kinds of troubles. He tells them to pray for wisdom, and encourages them not to doubt that the Lord will answer their prayers.

James warns against relying on riches for security – because riches can easily fall away, like flowers wilt and fall off a beautiful plant. But anyone who remains faithful under persecution will receive a ‘crown of life’ from God (see James 1:9-12).

James died by being unlawfully stoned to death by Jewish followers of the High Priest Ananus – a Sadducee – in c.62AD, during the interregnum between the death of the Roman governor Festus and the arrival of his successor Albinus.

The photo shows the southeast corner of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, from where James wrote to "God's people who are scattered everywhere in the world."

You can read more from the Letter of James @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/the-letter-of-james-to-t…/


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