James # 1 Intro
Today we're going to start a series on the book of James. Before we get too much into the book we need to go back and look at the author, the theme of the book, and the reason why James wrote the book.
I) There is actually a lot of controversy over the book of James. Some have questioned the authorship, others have questioned the date it was written, and others have questioned whom the letter was sent to.
A) The book of James is a book to teach Christians how to walk in maturity, or how to become a mature Christian.
1) It is not filled with a bunch of spiritual things, such as new revelation to the Word of God, but it is filled with practical truth and application of the Word of God.
a) This book will bring mostly conviction to the lukewarm Christian but even more so to the worldly Christian.
2) This book was designed to exhort, encourage, to challenge, to revive, to bring us into holiness, and to bring us into faith that will actually work.
a) But even for the most mature Christian the book of James will still bring some conviction.
B) This book of James is considered one of the General Epistles. All the Epistles that are not found in the Gospels, ACTS, Paul's Epistles, or the book of Revelations is considered one of the General Epistles: like John, James, JUDE, and Peter.
1) The teaching in the General Epistles complements the teachings found in Paul's letters.
a) Paul emphasized quite a bit on FAITH. Peter emphasizes his Epistles on hope, John a love, JUDE on purity, and JAMES STRESSED CONDUCT.
II) To figure out the author of the book of James is not in an easy task, but we have some reasonable assumptions that give us a good indication of who the author is.
A) In James 1:1 it says write off that James is the author, but which James?
1) The New Testament refers to at least four men named James.
a) 1st we have the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, 2nd we have the son of Alphaeus, 3rd we have the Father of Judas (not Iscariot), and 4th we have James, the Lord's brother, actually half brother.
b) Which one wrote the book?
2) James, the son of Zebedee could not have written the book because he was killed as a martyr under King Herod.
a) Very little is known of the son of Alphaeus, which makes him unlikely to be the author of this book.
(i) But much of the Catholic Church tries to credit the son of Alphaeus with the authorship of this book, but their reason for doing that is so that they can hold on to the doctrine that Mary stayed a virgin her whole life even after the birth of Jesus.
(ii) The Catholic Church claims that James, the son of Alphaeus and the one who we call James, the Lord's brother, are one and the same.
(iii) Again the reason why they hold on to this doctrine is so that they can say that Mary stayed a virgin and never had any other children.
3) But this idea violates the literal interpretation of the Bible.
a) It seems clear from the Word of God that children were born to Mary and Joseph after Jesus virgin birth.
b) In (Luke 2:7) it says that Jesus was Mary's "1ST BORN," that statement implies that there were other children born to Mary after Jesus.
c) And in (Matthew 13:55) those in the synagogue said in reference to Jesus, "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brother, James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?
(i) From that scripture we can see that Jesus had at least three half brothers and at least two half sisters, maybe more.
d) The 3rd James that we have in the Word of God is James the Father of Judas (not Iscariot). This Judas did not play in important part in the Bible or in the early church so is very a likely that he is the author of the book of James.
(i) It seems pretty clear that James the Lord's half brother is the author of the book of James. He was recognized as the leader in the Jerusalem church.
4) Even though James was brought up in the same household with the Lord Jesus Christ he apparently did not become a believer until about the time of the Lord resurrection.
a) The disciples John wrote in (JOHN 7:5), "For neither did his brethren believe in him."
(i) In (1 Corinthians 15:7) says that James saw the Lord after his resurrection. We're not sure in that is James the disciples or James the Lord's brother, but since the disciples are mentioned in that same verse we are reasonably certain that this is referring to James the Lord's brother.
b) Later on in (Galatians 2:9) Paul refers to James, the Lord brother, as a pillar of the church.
B) The strongest evidence for authorship of the book of James is James the Lord's brother.
III) Flavius Josephus, a 1st century historian, says that James the Lord brother was killed in 62 AD so this book had to be written before that.
A) Most historians feel that this book was written somewhere between 45 and 48 A. D.
1) According to what Paul said in the book of Galatians we can see that Paul held James in high respect.
B) In James 1:1 we can see that this letter was addressed to 12 tribes scattered among the nations. Obviously this book was written to the Jews and has a Jewish flavor to it, but most of all it is written to the church Jew or Gentile.