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Introduction to the Book of James

The man who wrote the epistle of James has been assumed to be various historical figures, yet modern researchers have come to agreement that the author of this book is likely the same James who became the first Bishop of Jerusalem. He is said by some to have been the brother of Jesus. Interestingly enough, James was thought to have been an unbeliever before the crucifixion. Later in 1 Corinthians 15:7 as well as in some references in documents still extant from the early church we find that Christ (after he had risen) appeared to James and there was a conversion. Soon James became a force in the Jewish branch of the church. He was notable for supporting Paul in his efforts to convert the Gentiles. It is known that James was martyred sometime between 62 and 66 A.D. It is likely he was stoned to death much in the manner of Stephen because of the political machinations of some local authorities and because he vigorously preached the law of Christ.

The text in the Book of James comes down to us in a bullet format as if it were the distillation of a lifetime of thoughtful sermons. The subject matter is universal and timely for it is made up of some of the highest concerns of the earliest Christians. However, the book seldom mentions Christ and does not refer to the resurrection. In fact, Martin Luther said that the book was "full of straw" because it contained little or nothing that was evangelical. Nevertheless, the book is loaded with good advice about how to live a good and Christian life.

A person who closely follows James's imperatives cannot go wrong. Although James does not teach us how to come nearer the lord through salvation, he does tell us how a just man orders his daily existence. James, throughout his life, was known as James the Just, because of the correctness of his actions, the uprightness of his demeanor and the strength of his character. His book will help us to be like him...Just.

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