Bible Book Summary
by Jay Smith
The book of James is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). James the half-brother of Jesus wrote it approximately 48-49 A.D. It was likely the first New Testament book (letter) to be written. The key personalities of this book are James and Persecuted Christians. James wrote this book to Jewish believers to encourage them to endure and live bold Christian lives. James is a book about practical Christian living that reflects a genuine faith that transforms lives. In many ways, it is similar to the OT book of Proverbs.
• In chapter 1, James teaches believers to test their faith and “prove yourselves doers of the word” (1:22). James encourages believers to put their faith into action, and to be servants of Jesus Christ.
• Chapters 2-3, James describes the relationship between faith and works. He teaches that a person of faith without works demonstrates useless faith. What good is a person’s faith if they don’t present it to the world? A believer’s good works are evidence of their faith in Jesus Christ. He also teaches that everyone is a sinner and that if one of the 10 Commandments are broken, than that person is guilty of breaking every one of them, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (2:10).
• In Chapters 4-5, James gives wise instruction to believers. He said, “Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” (4:7). A faithful believer will desire to follow hard after God in service, obedience, and prayer. In the last chapter James stresses the weight and magnitude of prayer for every believer. He uses the word “Prayer” 7 times, signifying its importance. In the final verse of his book James expresses the magnitude of living faith in action saying:
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (5:19-20).