Introduction to James

Faith in action

Walk the talk: Live like you believe it!

How to read James

Tired of spin? Want someone to tell it to you straight? James is the one to do it! He cuts straight to the quick. He’s not trying to please anyone but the Lord in this plainspoken letter to believers everywhere. His message clearly exposes wrong motives and wrong actions. Packing this brief letter with 54 commands, he instructs us how to live a life of faith that is “Pure ... and undefiled” (Jam 1:27). Many of James’s statements echo the proverbs of the Old Testament and Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5-7). He urges us to respond with love, humility, and patience, no matter what the circumstances of our day-to-day life. This is true faith.

This letter takes a no-nonsense approach to combat hypocrisy and religiosity. James describes the evil of a tongue out of control, of playing favorites with the rich, or of prideful boasting about self-made plans. Don’t look for pious platitudes here. Expect a string of hard-hitting, specific, practical instructions to help you live an authentic Christian life.

Who wrote this book?

Most probably James, Jesus’ half-brother (Gal 1:19) and leading elder of the church in Jerusalem (Act 15:13-21). This letter may have been one of the first New Testament books to be written— between AD 40 and 50.

Why was it written?

To teach believers that faith and good deeds go hand-in-hand in the Christian walk (Jam 2:14-20)—one without the other is lifeless. His message is simple but challenging: If you believe in Jesus, do as Jesus did!

SourceView Insights

Reading James’s letter is like listening to one side of a telephone conversation. Because of that, all the SourceView text is in black. To help us relive the experience of reading these divinely-inspired letters, the letter is displayed with a cursive script to give it a handwritten feel.

World English Bible (WEB)
a Public Domain Modern English translation
of the Holy Bible.

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