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Lecture 25: James

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The book of James emphasizes that people demonstrate that they have true faith in Christ by their good works.


General Letters


I. James – Faith Without Works is Dead

A. The Setting of James

1. Author is Jesus' half-brother and key early church leader

2. Probably the earliest New Testament document, not consciously using Paul's language

3. Addressed to largely poor, Jewish-Christian congregations in Syria or Palestine, ironically discriminating in favor of the rich

4. Oppressed by rich absentee landlords, causing internal squabbling

B. Catchwords in James 1:2-7

1. Trials/testing (vv. 2, 3)

2. Perseverance (vv. 3, 4)

3. Not lacking/lacking (vv. 4, 5)

4. Ask (vv. 5, 6)

5. Doubt (vv. 6, 7)

C. A Chiastic Outline of James

1. Intro (1:1)

2. 3 Key themes: statement 1

a. Trials (1:2-4)

b. Wisdom (1:5-8)

c. Riches/poverty (1:9-11)

3. 3 Key themes: statement 2

a. Temptation (1:12-18)

b. Speech (1:19-26)

c. The dispossessed (1:27)

4. Expansion of theme (a)

5. Expansion of theme (1)

6. Expansion of theme i)

7. Conclusion (5:19-20)

D. Key Exegetical Issues in James 1-2

1. 1:2: How can I be joyful in trials?

2. 1:5-6: Is this a blank check, if I have enough faith?

3. 1:9-11, 2:1-4, 4:13-17, 5:1-6: Are any of the rich Christian?

4. 1:13: Christ's temptation, the Lord's Prayer, and the devil's role

5. 1:25: The perfect law of liberty

6. 1:27: Social ethics and holy separation in balance

7. 2:5: What is God's preferential option for the poor?

E. James on Faith and Works (2:14-26)

1. Faith

a. James – Jewish

b. Paul – Christian

2. Works

a. James – Christian

b. Paul – Jewish

F. Key Exegetical Issues in James 3-4

1. 3:1: Not condemnation, but accountability

2. 3:13: Competence, content and character!

3. 4:4: As the thesis of the letter

4. 4:13-17: planning and the Lord's will

G. James on Prayer

1. God's will

a. Unconditional

i. We pray [+]

ii. We don't pray [+]

b. Conditional

i. We pray [+]

ii. We don't pray [–]

2. Not God's will

a. We pray [–]

b. We don't pray [–]

H. James' "Militant Patience" (5:10-11)

1. Militance: Zealots – revolutionary violence

2. Militant Patience

a. Old Testament prophets – Prophetic option

b. Jesus – Denunciatory rhetoric

c. James – Prayer as "rebelling against the status quo"

3. Patience: Essenes – Passivist, Monasticism


Name Description
1 Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation - Quiz 12

Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation - Quiz 12

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