Author

James, the brother of our Lord according to the flesh, Mt 13:55.  He remained an unbeliever during the earthly life of our Lord, Jn 1: 7:5.  He was converted soon after Christ’s resurrection, 1 Cor 15:7.  He became a leader of the church in Jerusalem, Acts 15:13; Gal 1:19.  Traditions remembers him as an exceptionally holy and prayerful man.  He was killed by the Jews in the earl 60s AD.

Background

Believed to have been written in the early 40s AD; making it one of the earliest of the NT writings.  It is addressed to scattered Jewish Christians, James 1:1.

Canonicity

The status of this epistle as Scripture has been doubted by some, who consider it lacking in gospel truth.  Luther referred to it as ‘a right strawy epistle’.  Calvin’s opinion is sounder: ‘I am fully content to accept this epistle, when I find it contains nothing unworthy of an apostle of Christ.’

Characteristics

With regard to style, we find close parallels with Proverbs and with the teaching of Jesus (especially the Sermon on the Mount).  It is marked by pithy sayings couched in picture-language.  Examples from chapter 1 – wave, v6, flower, v10, mirror, v23, bridle, v26.

Echoes of the Sermon on the Mount

James 1:2. Joy in the midst of trials (cf. Mt. 5:10–12).James 3:18. Blessings of peacemakers (cf. Mt. 5:9).
James 1:4. Exhortation to perfection (cf. Mt. 5:48).James 4:4. Friendship of the world as enmity against God (cf. Mt. 6:24).
James 1:5. Asking for good gifts (cf. Mt. 7:7 ff.).James 4:10. Blessing of the humble (cf. Mt. 5:5).
James 1:20. Against anger (cf. Mt. 5:22).James 4:11–12. Against judging others (cf. Mt. 7:1–5).
James 1:22. Hearers and doors of the Word (cf. Mt. 7:24 ff.).James 5:2 ff. Moth and rust spoiling riches (cf. Mt. 6:19).
James 2:10. The whole law to be kept (cf. Mt. 5:19).James 5:10. The prophets as examples (cf. Mt. 5:12).
James 2:13. Blessings of mercifulness (cf. Mt. 5:7).James 5:12. Against oaths (cf. Mt. 5:33–37).
Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction.
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