What are some of the key themes in James?

What are some of the key themes in James?

James 1:2-4 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Weighing in at 1,742 words (depending upon which English translation you prefer), you can read the book of James in under half an hour. As you read it, three things will stand out about James:

  1. Practical – Just like his Big Brother who came down from Heaven to earth, James is the book that pulls lofty theology down to practical daily life lived for God in everything from our pots and pans to dishes and discussions.
  2. Pithy – As the Wisdom Literature of the New Testament, James reads a bit like Proverbs in the Old Testament with big thoughts condensed down to memorable statements.
  3. Poetic – James is filled with illustrations and analogies that serve as windows to allow the light of God’s Word to flood into every corner of your life.

Throughout James, there are also some major themes which serve to weave the book together.

Jesus is presented as:

  • Lord Jesus Christ (1:1)
  • Object of faith (2:1)
  • Lord of glory (2:1)
  • Almighty/Lord of hosts (5:4)
  • Coming King (5:7-8)
  • Healer (5:14-15)

Echoing his brother, on many occasions James gives commentary on the prior teaching of Jesus Christ:

  • Blessings on the poor (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20; James 1:9, 2:5)
  • Mercy (Matthew 5:7; James 2:13)
  • The tongue (Matthew 12:34-37; 3:2, 5-6,8)
  • Gehenna (Matt 5:22, 29–30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6)
  • A tree and its fruit (Mathew 7:15-20; James 3:10-12)
  • Peacemakers (Matthew 5:9; James 3:18)
  • Warnings to the rich (Luke 6:24, 12:13-21; James 1:10-11, 5:1)
  • Warnings against worldliness (Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:33-34; James 5:2-3)
  • Letting your yes be yes, and your no be no (Matthew 5:34-37; James 5:12)

Thank you for the honor of helping you learn about living all of life with Jesus Christ from His little brother who did just that. My prayer is that your relationship with Jesus would grow deeper so that you are as close to Him as James was.

Which of the major themes of the book of James are the most interesting to you?

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Mark Driscoll
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