The Book of James

Hey, Ya’ll,

Yesterday I finished the Bible study “James: Mercy Triumphs,” written by Beth Moore and her daughter, Melissa Fitzpatrick. (No, I am not telling you that you have to do this study or that you have to like Beth Moore). As soon as I completed the final lesson, I broke down in sobs. This is not my usual reaction to finishing a Bible study.

I tried to pray, but couldn’t even find the words. It was one of those “Holy Spirit groaning” kind of moments, you know what I mean? I sensed God saying to me, “It’s okay.” And then I realized what touched me so deeply about this Bible study: James got it. I mean, he GOT IT. l’m not saying that the other authors of Scripture didn’t understand, but there’s something different about James. He saw the intimate connection between faith and works. He had no patience for all talk and no walk.

Protestants are pretty uncomfortable with James, but this, by far, has been my favorite Bible study. I want to do this thing, live this life of faith. Really LIVE it, you know? Words are hollow and meaningless when they aren’t shored up by the hands of active love.

I’d love to hear what you all think about the Book of James, or about other books of Scripture that move you, especially as we move closer to Holy Week and Easter.

You may be familiar with St. Francis of Assisi and his words: “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” I think this captures James in a nutshell. You are so right. Unless we put flesh on the words of the Gospel, they are just words.

I’m finishing a study of Acts right now. Our next study is James and I can’t wait.

God bless.

Luther called the Epistle of James, ‘the epistle of straw’. Blasphemy!

What a joy to have such an experience!

James demonstrates the life of a Christian. Indeed we are to walk the walk. By the Grace of God and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, we are able to actively serve God and our fellow man.

Peace and blessings,

Not the full quote. He said it was an epistle of straw when compared to the others of Paul. Why? Because it speaks very little of christ or grace. He also said it is a wonderful book concerning the law, specifically speaking about the law the the regenerate.
And this is very important and should not be considered trivial. A faith that does not have works is a dead faith, not a saving faith. Of what value is a love of God, if we lack love for our fellow man?


Jon, you may find this as interesting as I did.

In the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible (NT), Scott Hahn says …

"Several times in the Letter of James we hear the voice of Jesus. The Lord’s words are never quoted verbatim, but many instructions read like paraphrases of the teaching of Jesus, especially those preserved in the Gospel of Matthew. The majority echo sayings from the Sermon on the Mount in Mt 5-7.

He goes on to list several. This can be found on page 444.

Yes, I agree. And I think it is similar to my intent. That being, James speaks to our responsibilities as the regenerate. He speaks to the commands of Christ, what we are expected to do. But the grace that brings us to regeneration is not, speifically, the topic of the epistle in the way Paul’s are.


James is a GREAT book. I taught a Sunday School class covering the entire book, it took about three months. Several times while reading and preparing for class when I felt like you did, my most frequent thought was how poor a job I’ve done living for Christ and how deep God’s grace is that He can still love and forgive me.
One thing I tried to emphasize in my lessons is that we don’t become checklist Christians. Went to Sunday School - check. Took Communion - check. Put money in the offering (not quite 10 percent but pretty good) - check. Volunteered at the homeless shelter - check. Manned a booth at the church rummage sale - check. OK, I did my part, I’m saved for the week. In other words, don’t think your works are saving you or obligating God to forgive you. If we truly want to live like Christ we will do our good works in secret and out of compassion for others.

Why do you suppose he wanted it reomved from the Bible? Do you agree with him that it should be removed?

Paul got it, too. But James brings in balance in case anyone got the idea that faith alone was the answer, which, unfortunately, many do believe in spite of James’ sound instruction.

Good topic!

It’s one of (many) Luther’s errors. IMHO.

James is one of my favorite NT books.

Splagchnizomai, thanks for the reference to Hahn. Great short summary. Loved his Sermon on the Mount “echo”.:thumbsup:


Ironically, those who claim salvation by faith alone also believe in Sola Scriptura. The phrase faith alone appears only once in the N.T.:

James 2: 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Of course this must be understood in context, as James is not advocating a “works salvation.”


In your study were you made aware that James is writing to a Jewish audience?

**1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. **

Did your study catch that? Did you see that James compliments Paul and the method of writing is not necessarily to a Gentile Christian audience. If you did not get this from your study then you should study more.:slight_smile:

I think James could be summed up by saying, ‘We’re saved by what we do with what we’re given, what we do with the grace we’re given, which begins with having faith but isn’t limited to faith, since that faith must be expressed: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”, as Galatians 5:6 puts it. Love must be expressed. The Parable of the Talents does a great job of explaining the dynamics or outworkings of this necessity.

And Paul could be summed up by saying, ‘Don’t think you’ll impress God-don’t think you’re saved- by cutting a little piece of skin off your thingy or because you put on a good show of obeying the Law, a good pretense or act of being holy (as he, himself, did as a Pharisee). God’s interested in your heart, and that’s what He judges by according to scripture, and Matt 25:31-46 makes it clear just where our hearts should be, what holiness really “looks” like. IOW, he agrees with James that love must be the impetus for our holiness; love is our holiness. Which is why he could say in 1 Cor 13:2: **“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” **

The notion of cutting a little thing was akin to embarking on the Old Covenant. Paul made the point that the Old Covenant is dead likening it to a spouse. Read Romans 7, so that a bride whose spouse is dead is free to marry another and that other is the New Covenant. The notion of impressing was not the issue it was by engaging in the Old Covenant via cutting the thing off as that was entrance into that Covenant and in Romans 6 Paul points out that by Baptism you enter into the New. The Old Covenant with “works of the law” will not save you but the New Covenant through Baptism and grace and Faith will save you. Faith is obedient as Paul points out and Faith is action.

It isn’t that he wanted it removed. If he had wanted it removed, he could have removed it from his own translation.
He’s quite clear regarding St. James; the big question is authorship, and the historic
dispute regarding the book, even back to the early Church.

“Though this epistle of St. James was rejected by the ancients, I praise it and consider it a good book, because it sets up no doctrines of men but vigorously promulgates the law of God. However, to state my own opinion about it, though without prejudice to anyone, I do not regard it as the writing of an apostle;

And the second is that, unlike the other epistles- Paul’s, John’s, Peter’s - it is more about law, with little mention of grace. He says:

“In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ. He names Christ several times; however he teaches nothing about him, but only speaks of general faith in God. Now it is the office of a true apostle to preach of the Passion and resurrection and office of Christ, and to lay the foundation for faith in him, as Christ himself says in John 15:27], “You shall bear witness to me.” All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach and inculcate [treiben] Christ. And that is the true test by which to judge all books, when we see whether or not they inculcate Christ. For all the Scriptures show us Christ, Romans 3:21]; and St. Paul will know nothing but Christ, I Corinthians 2:2].

Do I agree with Luther about James? Not entirely with the things he says in this preface that everyone quotes, a preface that, btw, he never publishes again after using it initially.
And I certainly don’t agree with the caricature of what he says about James (or the D-C’s for that matter) often presented by some who simply use it for polemical purposes.

I believe that we the regenerate need a book that admonishes us to do good works, to do as He commanded. While faith alone justifies, that faith must be an active, living faith, a faith that works through love, or it is not a saving faith.

So James serves an important role in scripture. We the regenerate need to be reminded that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and James does this.


200 Roman Catholic priests may not like the book of James, 200 Augustinian monks may not like the book of James, 200 Dominicans may not like the book of James…so what!

Who cares what any one Catholic thinks of the book of James. The Church put it in the canon for a reason. If it is God breathed then God wants us to read it. I rest in Christ as all Protestants say. In many and various ways God has spoken to us through His prophets. In these last days He has spoken to us through His Son…if ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ then James regardless of opinion, in particular one Augustinian monk that may be a dung heap has no opinion in the matter and should be silent. Are we to relish in the opinion of one misled soul that no longer breathes and deny that Scripture is God breathed?:slight_smile:

No contest. I go with God.:slight_smile:

Well, at least you recognize that there have been over the centuries many Catholics who disputed or questioned these books. Some seem to think Luther made this up all by himself, or worse, simply blame Luther because it is convenient or fits their apologetics.

If you rest in Trent regarding the canon of scripture, that’s fine. It seems to me that the long expanse of the Church chooses to accept James, dispite the early Church’s concerns about it. I do, too. In fact, I think it is appropriate to accept the D-C’s, too, though be mindful that these, too, were disputed up until and including Trent.


EDIT: I just want to make one other comment. By saying you go with God, there is an implication that those who throughout the history of the Church have questioned these books were not “going with God”. I, personally, cannot bring myself to accept that of men like Eusebius or St. Jerome, Luther or Cajetan. In fact, up until Trent, these debates and questions were quite allowed by the Church. No one here, asfar as I can see, is going against God.

So, let me ask you this. Who is not “going with God”; Orthodoxy with their various canons greater than that of the west, or Rome with their smaller version of the canon?


Fifth Sunday of Lent
Lectionary: 35

Reading 2

Heb 5:7-9

In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him


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