Book of James

Introduction

“What would Jesus do” became a popular slogan among Christians during the 1990s, but the slogan can be traced back to Charles Sheldon, a nineteenth-century minister. He often posed real-life scenarios to his congregation and ended with the question, “What would Jesus do?” Eventually, Sheldon turned his sermons into a book titled In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?, published in 1896.

The idea of living out our faith in everyday life, however, didn’t originate with Sheldon. In fact, every book in the Bible addresses real-life faith in one way or another.

The book of James is devoted to everyday faith-in-action issues. Written by Jesus’s half-brother,* the epistle is addressed to “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (1:1). In other words, James is writing to first-century Jewish Christians who lived in pagan cultures among godless people who championed worldly values.

How were they supposed to live like Jesus in such an environment?

James tells them—and us—how to do so in language that’s both practical and, at times, painfully pointed. Often compared to Proverbs, James’s book is a series of pithy statements linked by common themes such as decision-making, charitable works, hypocrisy, partiality, speech, materialism, and prayer.

Join us as we learn how to live like Jesus in a culture that continually tempts us to live as though God doesn’t exist.

James 1:2-4       James 1:5-8

James 1:9-11      James 1:19-25

James 2:1-13     James 2:14-26

James 3:3-12     James 4:1-12

James 4:13-17   James 5:1-6

James 5:7-12

*Although four men named James are mentioned in the New Testament, the half-brother of Jesus (referenced in Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3) is the person most scholars identify as the author of this epistle. Jesus appeared to James after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7), and James became a leader of the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 12:17, 15:13–29, and 21:17–18).

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