A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Letter of James - Session #2 Highlights

My Thursday morning bible study had our 2nd study on the Letter of James today and we focused on chapter one.

Here are some highlights from our study:
  • Scholars aren't sure if the letter was written by James, the brother of Jesus or by another author who used the named James (a common practice in the ancient world.) The reason for thinking it wasn't written by James, the brother of Jesus - the Greek used is very sophisticated. The reason for thinking it was written by James, the brother of Jesus is because of tradition and because of James' focus on caring for the poor and lowly, a theme that Mary, the mother of James and Jesus emphasized in her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55.)

  • The letter begins in typical letter writing fashion but the rest of the letter doesn't come across as a letter. Instead, if feels more like wisdom literature compiled together in no particular order.

  • We discussed how James says we aren't to be double-minded (James 1:8) and to have faith. This is often hard to do. How can we know with full assurance that we are doing what God wants us to do? Part of the answer, according to James is to know the Word inside and outside and simply do what it says.

  • Even though we are to live out our faith through action, James reminds us that God is the one who enables us to do what is right when he writes, "Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." - James 1:17 We'll discuss the whole faith vs. works debate next week, but here it would seem that James would agree with Paul that faith is critically important. Everything we do that is good is only because of God's graciousness.

Next week, we'll focus on chapter 2.

No comments: