Monday, January 6, 2014

James. .Week 1. .Assignment

The first week of January already. .
I don’t know about your feelings. .
but I think the last 3 months have gone by quickly as I look back. .
I hope that you were able to take a minute a couple weeks ago. .
as we approached the New Year. .
to reflect yourself. .
and ask those you love. .
if they are witnessing changes in your life!
If you haven't done that. .
maybe it would be good to reflect on it this week. .
I do want you to remember. .
that God is making those changes happen. .
not you. .and not me!!
And those changes HAVE to start. .on the inside. .
but they also should be reflected at some point. .on the outside!!
We need to all continue asking God to make the changes in our lives that will make our stories. .
and the way we live our life. .glorifying to HIM!!
So. .Here we go. .into the book of James. .
Our last book of study together!
I think this book will just continue to make all these concepts come together. .
and I am looking forward to studying it. .
I did a Beth Moore study on the book of James a couple years ago. .it was REALLY good. .
and I hope to find some time this month to pull some of her thoughts into the study too.

I NEED to make this point up front. .
If you do any amount of reading from outside sources, you will find reference to the author of James. .being the half-brother of Jesus. .
Now. .I spent several hours last week researching. .
not because I don’t believe that James is the brother of Jesus. .
but because I wanted to see the other angle. .
The source that will follow my introduction from John Macarthur will also note James to be the half-brother of Jesus. .
My point is this. .
Whether you believe that James was the brother of Jesus. .or not. .
these words were INSPIRED by the BREATH OF GOD HIMSELF. .
we MUSN’T get so hung up on what James’ relationship was or wasn’t in regard to Jesus. .
or we WILL miss the content of the book.  I encourage you, if you have time and choose. .
to do some of your own research if that is an issue in your mind. .
When Scriptures are cited from either view. .
please, please. .look up the scripture in your own bible. .
and read the verses before and after the verses cited. .
asking God to give you wisdom. .I would also ask. .
that we direct our comments and conversations. .on the words within the book of James. .
and steer clear of taking our eyes off the Holy Trinity and our focus on that. .
and turning the discussion into something it should not be. .Thanks!!
So remember. .the focus of our reading this week. .
What speaks to my heart through the book of James this week??  
Another bonus I think. .
it should be EASY to put some of James’ advice into motion as we move out of this season of Christmas spirit and the generosity that generally goes with it!!
Be a DOER of the Word. .try not to smile when you read that verse this week!!
It’s one of my favorites. .as if you hadn’t noticed!! 
Find next. .
the excerpt from the introduction to the book of James, as written by John MacArthur. .Enjoy!

James, like all of the general epistles except Hebrews,
is named after its author (v. 1).

Author and Date
Of the 4 men named James in the NT, only two are candidates for authorship of this epistle. No one has seriously considered James the Less, the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:3; Acts 1:13), or James the father of Judas, not Iscariot (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). Some have suggested James the son of Zebedee and brother of John (Matt. 4:21), but he was martyred too early to have written it (Acts 12:2). That leaves only James, the oldest half-brother of Christ (Mark 6:3) and brother of Jude (Matt. 13:55), who also wrote the epistle that bears his name (Jude 1). James had at first rejected Jesus as Messiah (John 7:5), but later believed (1 Cor. 15:7). He became the key leader in the Jerusalem church (cf. Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Gal. 2:12), being called one of the “pillars” of that church, along with Peter and John (Gal. 2:9). Also known as James the Just because of his devotion to righteousness, he was martyred ca. A.D. 62, according to the first century Jewish historian Josephus. Comparing James’ vocabulary in the letter he wrote which is recorded in Acts 15 with that in the epistle of James further corroborates his authorship.
James wrote with the authority of one who had personally seen the resurrected Christ (1 Cor. 15:7), who was recognized as an associate of the apostles (Gal. 1:19), and who was the leader of the Jerusalem church.

James most likely wrote this epistle to believers scattered (1:1) as a result of the unrest recorded in Acts 12 (ca. A.D. 44). There is no mention of the Council of Jerusalem described in Acts 15 (ca. A.D. 49), which would be expected if that Council had already taken place. Therefore, James can be reliably dated ca. A.D. 44–49, making it the earliest written book of the NT canon.

Background and Setting

The recipients of this book were Jewish believers who had been dispersed (1:1), possibly as a result of Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 7, A.D. 31–34), but more likely due to the persecution under Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12, ca. A.D. 44). The author refers to his audience as “brethren” 15 times (1:2,16,19; 2:1,5,14; 3:1,10,12; 4:11; 5:7,9,10,12,19), which was a common epithet among the first century Jews. Not surprisingly, then, James is Jewish in its content. For example, the Greek word translated “assembly” (2:2) is the word for “synagogue.” Further, James contains more than 40 allusions to the OT (and more than 20 to the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 5–7).

Historical and Theological Themes

James, with its devotion to direct, pungent statements on wise living, is reminiscent of the book of Proverbs. It has a practical emphasis, stressing not theoretical knowledge, but godly behavior. James wrote with a passionate desire for his readers to be uncompromisingly obedient to the Word of God. He used at least 30 references to nature (e.g., “wave of the sea” [1:6]; “reptile” [3:7]; and “heaven gave rain” [5:18]), as befits one who spent a great deal of time outdoors. He complements Paul’s emphasis on justification by faith with his own emphasis on spiritual fruitfulness demonstrating true faith.

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