Beginning James

We finished up our David series this past weekend. It has been a joy to explore the life of David with you. We now move on to the next study. For the next seven weeks, we will explore the book of James. We jump in this week with the first chapter. As we prepare to study this book together, allow me to give you a bit of background on James.

While there is some debate about the author, most believe that the author of James is the brother of Jesus. You might remember that Jesus’ family thought he was crazy before his death and resurrection. We read in Mark,

(Mark 3:21 NIV) When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

John puts it this way.

(John 7:5 NIV) For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

But after Jesus’ resurrection, James believes. Paul recalls,

(1 Corinthians 15:7 NIV) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

James became a leader and serves as one of the most important figures in the first century church. Even Peter and Paul look to James in major decisions. The five chapters of James are perhaps the earliest book in the NT. It was written somewhere around 45-48 A.D.

James is writing to a very young church that is trying to figure out what it means to live in the Spirit, following Jesus within the confines of the Roman empire. He begins his discussion with the topic of tests or trials. Those in the early church were living in hostile conditions. They were oppressed, persecuted and marginalized. It is in this context that James encourages them to

(James 1:2 NIV) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . .

We will explore these challenging instructions on Sunday. I hope you will read ahead and prepare to engage the text together. I am looking forward to studying James with you. Homework for this week: Read James 1:1-18 and reflect on the stunning view of trials that come our way.