Here’s a video that offers a simple summary of the Book of James:
The Epistle (letter) of James may be one of the first books written in the New Testament. It is attributed to James, the half-brother of Jesus, an important leader of the early church not to be confused with either of the apostles named James. This letter is addressed to “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion,” meaning the Jewish Christians living outside of Judea. Significantly, James only mentions Jesus twice, almost in passing: James 1:1 and 2:1. The rest of the letter sounds like it could have been written by a non-Christian Jew, except that it so often seems to quote Jesus’ teachings directly (for example, see James 5:12 and Matthew 6:33-37).
Why do you think this early letter focuses more on behavior than on theology?
Chapter 1 of this letter reads like a table of contents for the rest of the book. Did you notice where these themes appeared again later in the letter?
James’ instructions in chapter 2 are particularly memorable and powerful. “Mercy triumphs over judgement.” “Faith without works is dead.” “Even demons believe … and shudder.” What is James trying to communicate in this passage? What distinction does he make between belief and faith?
The letter concludes with a powerful exhortation to prayer (5:13-18) and evangelism (5:19-20). Do you see prayer as James does? What does your prayer life look like on a daily basis? Are you in prayer for those who don’t know Christ?
There are three letters attributed to John the apostle in the New Testament. 1 John, of course, is the longest and the only one with no names for the sender or the addressee. 2 and 3 John are written by “the elder” to a church and an individual respectively.
What about these letters, especially 1 John, reminds you of the Gospel of John?
How does 1 John define love? What does it mean when John says, “God is love”?
Keep with it! We are in the home stretch!