Lesson 1

The Epistle of James

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are in the Dispersion: Greetings.

1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations, 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 1:4 Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Today's Lesson 

James introduces himself as a servant of God and of Jesus. He writes to those of the twelve tribes, the Jews, which have been dispersed. James, the brother of Christ needed no introduction to the early Jewish Christians. James was well known throughout Jerusalem as a man of piety and justice. Jewish texts of the time that were normally caustic about the development of the Christian sect refer to James respectfully as James the Just. Far outside of Jerusalem, James was known as the foremost leader of the Jewish Christians.


James immediately launches into one of the common themes of this letter, the testing of the faith. The Christian response to trials and testing is a prevalent subject of scripture. James places his own unique perspective on the issue. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various temptations." James does not counsel his brethren to merely endure trials or to tolerate testing, he tells them to count their various temptations as, "joy."


Joy is not simply the feeling of happiness; it is an overwhelming emotion of well being. In order to experience this well being in the midst of trials and temptations, one must have a deep sense of faith. Only if you believe that everything can work out right will you feel okay during a trying circumstance. If the Christian is to experience joy in the midst of temptations, they must do so from the belief that God will prevail for them.


The testing of the faith, the perseverance through the various temptations, produces, "patience." The patience that comes from the testing flows directly from our faith. When we believe in God and His purpose, we can endure whatever life brings to us. In this way we can be, "complete, lacking in nothing."


Temptations, testing our faith, leading to patience. When we face our trials with joy and with faith, we show the world godly living. Godly living, the way of living a righteous life, is the theme of this letter. As James continues this letter, he will return time and again to this common theme.


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