The Book of James is one of the earliest authored books in the New Testament. Its authorship is attributed to James, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, who was martyred about 62-63 A.D. It is dated at approximately 45 A.D. The general theme seems to be about trials and temptations, and practical Christianity. It speaks of the faith of the Christian during the time of trials which will come into the life of every Christian. Its early dating is basically confirmed by the fact that nothing is mentioned concerning the organized church, such as Pastors, Deacons, or Elders. The organizing of the church came later under the Apostleship of Paul. The name James is the Greek rendition of the name “Jacob.”

Chapter 1
James 1:1 (KJV)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
As we begin the book of James we see that although James was the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, he still considered himself a servant of Jesus. We must never court the mindset that just because Jesus calls us friends, that we are somehow absolved of reverencing Him. We see that James is writing to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. (Acts 11:19 KJV) Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. “Scattered Abroad” is the word “diaspora” which comes from two words “dia” through and “speirein” to sow. Literally the word means “through sowing”
We see the same principle in the following verses:
(Mat 13:3 KJV) And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
(Mat 13:24-25 KJV) Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: {25} But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
(1 Pet 1:1 KJV) Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
We are seeing a principle emerge as to who James was writing this epistle too. He would not have been writing to the unsaved Jews since they were not of the Kingdom of God. James is specifically dealing with saved people. Within that group were saved Jews along with saved people of surrounding areas. Obviously these people were facing persecution because they were Christians. The fact that the Bible uses the terms like “scattered abroad” with the Greek words for sowing, meant that these Christians were planted in certain areas and were spreading the Gospel and as a result, they were facing persecution. These people may have been the ones which were forced to leave Jerusalem. (Acts 8:1 KJV) And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. The letter of James may have been written from Jerusalem to give encouragement to those who were forced to leave Jerusalem under persecution.
James 1:2 (KJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
When ye fall - “Encounter” - word carries with it the source of the trial as an outside source coming upon the person, ex. Luke 10:30 “fell among thieves”
Diverse temptations - Various trials
James wastes no time into getting at the heart of his message. Every Christian is going to encounter trials in their life. These trials are going to come at unexpected times and this is why we are counseled throughout Scripture to be ready when they come. One of the most surprising things to many Christians is that Satan is not the one who engineers these trials of our faith.
(Psa 7:9 KJV) Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
(Psa 11:5 KJV) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
(Jer 20:12 KJV) But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.
God is the one who engineers the tests and circumstances which surround the believer. He may use Satan in those temptations but ultimately it is God who tests His children. Now you ask why would He do that?
(Deu 13:3 KJV) Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
God tests us to see if we will continue to remain faithful to Him or if we will abandon Him to the ways of the world. This is why we count it all joy when we encounter these temptations because if we come through them victoriously, then God gets the glory, the powers of Hell who are watching us will know that God’s salvation is real and that they can’t touch us, and that the believer can rejoice in their salvation. This is why so many martyrs went to their death singing while the flames of the fagot raged around them. The Christians’ faithfulness to God is what defines the Christian, not how much knowledge they possess.
James 1:3 (KJV)
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Trying - proving - Word is a noun which means your faith is facing a trial. It is the action or process of putting something to the test
Worketh - “achieves or accomplishes”
Patience - Endurance
The Christian can count it all joy knowing that God is in control of every trial that the believer faces. We also count it joy because the trying of our faith, will accomplish endurance. (Mat 10:22 KJV) And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Endurance is an evidence of salvation. As the believer builds endurance, they will begin to face the trials of life with more confidence each time a trial comes their way. (Rom 2:7 KJV) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: By building patience, they will be able to continue in the Lord’s work on a continuous basis, seeing each trial as a building block in their Christian walk rather than a barrier.
James 1:4 (KJV)
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Patience - “Endurance”
Perfect - “mature” Galatians 3:3
Entire - Sound and complete
Wanting Nothing - In need of nothing or lacking nothing
Question - What does God mean lacking nothing? In the midst of trials, we have received full spiritual endowment to endure any trial which comes our way. We lack nothing because we have received “all spiritual blessings.” (Eph 1:3 KJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: Trials in a believer’s life does not represent their spiritual level rather it represents the opportunity to reveal the level and then exercise spiritual authority over the situation. Endurance is work which matures us. Impatience is the mark of immaturity as we can see it visibly in the life of children, hence the question, “Are we there yet?” This is why God builds us accordingly with trials that can build and repair us where we have breaches in our spiritual life. Part of working out our salvation is the enduring of trials which can mature us if we approach them with the proper attitude. Since God has given us every spiritual blessing, there is no reason for any Christian to succumb to temptation or not be victors in our trials. The perfecting work of the trial is the spiritual growth of the Christian.
James 1:5 (KJV)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Lack - “In need of” - Proverbs 2:2-7
Liberally - “Generously, simply, sincerely”
Upbraideth - “Scold or Revile” -
In this verse we see that James is telling the brethren that if they are in need of wisdom, then they are to ask God for wisdom. If you notice the wording, the wisdom is only available to the believers, “any of you.” The wisdom God gives is never given to the unbeliever for specific things. The Christian has the right, by means of Calvary, to approach the throne of God and request wisdom in a certain situation. Unsaved man has a certain amount of wisdom, but special wisdom in a special situation is given only to His children. God will not withhold His wisdom from his children. All one has to do is read the first eight chapters of Proverbs which speaks about wisdom. We also have the confidence to know that if we approach God and ask Him for wisdom, we need not wonder if we will be reviled for asking. God wants us to come to Him when we have those special needs and when we need wisdom to work out a special situation.
There may be another aspect in the area of asking for wisdom and it is in the realm of salvation. (Prov 9:10 KJV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Wisdom may also be a synonym for salvation. If God is drawing one of His Elect, there may be a fear of the Lord and that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The Bible also speaks of the children of God as being wise. (Dan 12:10 KJV) Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. So the spiritual context may be that when God is calling one of His Elect, they will come to Him and need not be fearful of being reviled for the sins of their past life. God will give them salvation generously and will withhold nothing.
James 1:6 (KJV)
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Wavering - Doubting
Whenever we come to God, we must come in firm faith. (Heb 11:6 KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. We must never come to God in wavering faith. The word “wavering” carries with it the meaning of doubting. Coming to God and doubting He can help us is extremely contradictory. It is like jumping in a pool and believing you are not going to get wet. In fact, God even makes that type of analogy. If you have “doubting faith” (an oxymoron) then you are no better than a single wave in the ocean. The surface of the ocean is tossed about by wind and storm, but if you go under the water, even in the midst of a mighty storm, there is tranquillity. This is what God wants us to see. If we stay in the shallowness of unbelief, then we too, will be tossed around with the storm but if we root our faith deeply in God, then we will face the tranquillity of the peace of God, instead of the storm.
James 1:7
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
The key to expecting something from God is to have the unwavering faith. If a person is doubting, they do not have faith. If they have faith, then there is no doubt. Doubting displaces faith and faith displaces doubting. They cannot occupy the same space. (Mark 9:24 KJV) And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. Sometimes we may be bewildered by a situation momentarily and we believe yet we do not believe. It is like we believe that the situation is taking place, yet, if something like this has never happened in our life before we may be in momentary unbelief. That is the key to this verse, it is momentary unbelief in the confines of belief. Let me give an example of this. A man who has no money and is about to lose his house suddenly inherits $1 million dollars from a rich uncle he didn’t know he had. He sees the check for the million dollars, but since nothing like this ever happened to him before, he believes because he has the check with his name on it, but disbelieves because nothing like this ever happened to him before. This is the only kind of momentary unbelief the Christian should ever suffer from. Either your life is ordered by faith or by doubt, it can’t go both ways simultaneously.
James 1:8 (KJV)
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Double minded - “two souls” = definite maybe
Unstable - “restless or inconsistent”
Here is the result of living with “doubting faith.” The word “double minded” (diyucos) actually carries with it the meaning of “two souls.” That is interesting since man has only one soul. What is in view here is that when we are believing God with strong faith, we are exercising the saved soul. When we are doubting God, we are as those who have unsaved souls. Then the verse goes on to teach us that there is an instability or inconsistency in the way a person of this vacillating character lives. The faith based Christian goes from faith to faith to faith to faith. The vacillating person goes from faith to doubt to faith to maybe to doubt to faith. There is no consistent pattern except inconsistency. If you notice, this indecisiveness affects every part of their life, which means their decision-making ability, their family lives, their vocations, etc. A person of indecision is a very dangerous person to have a business or marriage relationship with. (James 4:8 KJV) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
James 1:9 (KJV)
Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
Low Degree - “Humble circumstances”
In the early church, people of all social strata were becoming saved. This included the wealthy as well as the slaves. It is the same in the modern church where each congregation is made up of people of different social rank. There are those who are wealthy and those who have nothing. James is pointing out that that the social ladder means nothing. God views those with no worldly goods equally with those who have much. There is total equality at the foot of the cross. Neither the rich man nor the poor man have any claims of doing anything for salvation. The poor man is focused on because the poor are thought to be the lowest class of society. (Eccl 9:16 KJV) Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard. Even when a poor man shows much wisdom, his words are set aside for the one who has much power or wealth. It is interesting in our day that the dumbest person who hits the lottery seems to be sought after for their opinions on world events. If a person is dumb before they win the lottery, they will be dumb afterwards too, but because they have money, it is thought they have something to contribute. Money does not equate to wisdom.
James 1:10 (KJV)
But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
Those with riches are brought low in that their trust is in Christ and not in their riches. When a person becomes saved and has much wealth, they will gain an understanding from Scripture that their wealth is but fleeting and that they are just stewards of it and not owners. The word low carries with it the meaning of “humiliation.” All people that God saves are humbled before Him and those that are not, will be humbled shortly. The flower of the grass looks pretty when it is in full bloom but soon its season is gone. It is the same with the rich man, he looks good in his season, but soon he will go the way of all the earth.
James 1:11
For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
As soon as the rich man seems to be settled or comfortable in his riches, the sun rises and withers the grass and the flowers on the stalks fall off, which means their beauty is gone. It is the same with the rich man that glories in his wealth. He may believe he is on top of the world but when death approaches, he begins to fade with his riches. A few years are just a vapour in the scheme of eternity. (Prov 13:7 KJV) There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. This verse is an interesting one in that it contrasts the rich man who has much wealth as having nothing, while the poor man, having no worldly goods is rich. The verse is speaking of salvation in contrast to having wealth and being unsaved. A person who has Christ has all the spiritual blessings of Heaven for eternity but the unsaved rich man only has what he can hold on to in this temporal world.
(Exo 30:15 KJV) The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. This verse shows us that God was teaching equality way back in time. Both the rich man and the poor man were to give equally. The rich man was not allowed to give extra to get a better seat or to buy favor from the rulers. (1 Sam 2:7 KJV) The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. God is the one who doles out earthly wealth to whomever He sees fit. God makes people rich or poor, and He humbles and exalts them to positions in society. This is why the rich man has nothing to boast about. In light of Scripture, there is no such thing as a self-made man. Both poor and rich, it is God who made them both. (Prov 22:2 KJV) The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all.
James 1:12 (KJV)
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Blessed - makarios (happy)
Endureth Temptation - Wait, undergo, abide the trial
He is tried - Having been proven
Here is a crowning effect of the Christian when they have successfully endured the trials or temptations which came into their life. A happiness effuses from them knowing that they were obedient during those trials. Endurance of a trial in obedience to God is an indicator that the person is saved. (Mat 10:22 KJV) And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. One of the great things a person can rejoice in is that they have been proven that he was one of God’s children and that God will under gird His children during the rough times. When you look at life in the aggregate, it seems to be one long trial or temptation and maybe that is what God has in view for He is speaking of when the trial is over, then the person receives their crown of life.
When we speak of crowns, it is not a physical crown which we receive as those in the dispensational movement believe. It is the spiritual crown of a king. Christians are called kings in Scripture. (Rev 1:6 KJV) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
A king normally wears a crown. The crown of life that the Christian receives is the crown of eternal life. Let us look at the other four crowns in Scripture.
(1 Cor 9:25 KJV) And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
(2 Tim 4:8 KJV) Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
(1 Pet 5:4 KJV) And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
(Rev 2:10 KJV) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
If you notice that all four of these crowns are connected to eternal life. The crown is symbolic in that we will reign with Christ eternally. I have heard some preachers teach that there are special crowns for special accomplishments. This is error because we just saw that there is equality in Christ and that there is no special recognitions. It is interesting to note that pastors in the “Rewards for Work Dispensational program” claim that there is a special crown for Pastors. This is untrue as God sees all His children as equal, since it is God who does the empowering to give that person the ministry. A person doesn’t choose a ministry, God chooses the person for that ministry. To believe that you are going to receive a special reward, is the height of arrogance. (Luke 17:10 KJV) So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
James 1:13 (KJV)
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Dovetailing the thought from verse twelve concerning the testing of the believer, the Bible now goes on to give some insight about the evils which come into our life. There may have been some very young Christians, who had fallen into sin and maybe they had thought that God was the one who placed that evil temptation before them. God never entices any of His children to sin. Some believers might use a temptation as an excuse to fall to that temptation which they may enjoy. God cannot be tempted with evil and He will never place evil before any of His children to tempt them to see if they will fall. For example, a person who was delivered from a life of pornography would not find God placing pornographic material in their way, hoping to see if they will either fall or stand.
God does not use evil to test His children. Satan will place evil before the children of God and God will allow that testing program to see whether the Child of God is still fully committed to Him. Is it that God does not know what the Christian will do? Of course He does! The testing is for the purpose of building the believer in the faith. A person who has been delivered from smoking may be tempted by a friend who still smokes. That test is for the purpose of seeing whether that believer still has a desire for cigarettes or if he has given that weakness to the Lord. (1 Cor 10:13 KJV) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. There is no temptation that the believer faces which will be beyond the strength that God gives them to avoid it.
James 1:14 (KJV)
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Drawn Away - “Drag or draw out”
Enticed - Allured, deluded, or entrapped
Here is the essence of the reason people, both Christians and unbelievers fall into sin. It is the lust of man that causes them to be drawn away. They do not want to give up their sin or either even after becoming saved, they still have a propensity for sinning being in the flesh. The words “drawn away” only occurs here in the NT which carries with it the idea of the effects that a person’s lusts can have on them. If a person does not control their lust, then their lust will control them. They will find themselves in all kinds of predicaments by yielding to the sins they refuse to leave. Depending on how intense a person’s lust is will determine how easily they are enticed to sin. If a person has no desire to partake in a sin which they freely partook of when unsaved, they will not be easily enticed. If a person’s lust level is high then sinful enticement can bring out the sinful tendencies in full force. (Mat 15:18-19 KJV) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. {19} For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: