Living in the 21st century as a Christian is hard. So was it for the Jewish believers some 2000 years ago. That’s why James, the half brother of Jesus, wrote a letter to encourage the believers then to press on in their trials, as well as provide practical wisdom for their everyday living. The beautiful thing about it is this: the very same lessons still apply today.

Here is a 30-day study on the book of James covering themes like true religion, true faith and true wisdom. Written by your peers from all over the world, we pray and hope that their devotions would  inspire you to grow in spiritual maturity and live your life wholly for Jesus.

Historical context of James

Introduction to James

Historical Context

The book of James is known as one of the seven General Letters in the New Testament (addressed to Christians in general and not to a particular church). It has a distinctively Jewish nature—as can be seen from its many references to Old Testament characters such as Abraham, Rahab, Job, and Elijah and also through its references to nature, which was characteristic of the Jewish rabbis’ teaching in James’ day. This suggests that it was composed when the church was still predominantly Jewish.

Period Written

The book of James was written around the period of A.D.45-49, with many scholars estimating it to be before A.D. 50.

Author

The writer identifies himself as James, and he was probably the half-brother of Jesus and the leader of the Jerusalem church/council. As leader of the Jerusalem church, James wrote in his capacity as a pastor to encourage and exhort his people who were dispersed in the face of their difficulties.

Recipients

The recipients of the letter are Jewish Christians of the Diaspora who fled Jerusalem during the persecution of Stephen.

Key Theme

The primary theme of the letter is on living out one’s faith, being a doer and not just a hearer of the word. There is a greater emphasis on the practice of the Christian faith than on its truths. Its main concern is to provide practical wisdom for everyday living.

The letter discusses true religion, true faith and true wisdom.

Outline

  1. Greeting (1:1)
  2. The Testing of Faith (1:2–18)
  3. Hearing and Doing the Word (1:19–27)
  4. The Sin of Partiality (2:1–13)
  5. Faith Without Works Is Dead (2:14–26)
  6. The Sin of Dissension in the Community (3:1–4:12)
  7. The Sins of the Wealthy (4:13–5:12)
  8. The Prayer of Faith (5:13–18)
  9. Concluding Admonition (5:19–20)

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Praise the Lord my dear brothers and sisters!  I am learning many new things through you all! Today’s message is really inspiring and I am applying these truths in my life  this very second.

Lokesh Matta

Sure enough, wisdom is the last think I ask of when facing a trial, simply because I never want to be in a trying situation, so I keep looking for a way out. Thanks YMI, this is so encouraging.

Amari

Hard truth right here! But oh so amazing!

Denise Thomas
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