The General Epistles
James & 1 Peter
The New Covenant Explained

The Letter of James


“Just Do It”

James in the NT

James the son of Zebedee - Mt.10:2-4
James the son of Alphaeus - Luke 6:14-16
Father of Judas (not Iscariot) aka: Thaddaeus  - Acts 1:13        
James the half-brother of Jesus

Author: 

James the half-brother
Matt 13:55 & Mark 6:3 - …& His (Jesus’) brothers, James & Joseph & Simon & Judas
I Cor. 15:7 - then He appeared to James…
Acts 1:14 - …along with the women, & Mary the other of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Gal. 1:19 – But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Gal. 2:9 – …James & Cephas & John, who were reported to be pillars…
Acts 15:13-21 – After they had stopped speaking, James answered,…
Acts 21:18-25 – And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders
                         were present….

James the Author in History

Quoted in writings by Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Didache,         Hermas, Barnabas.
Eusebius quotes it as scripture.
He was identified as a Nazarite and a man of prayer
AKA: “James the Just”
Luther was not a fan of James but he eventually reconciled himself to its authority.
Galatians 1:19 was key in having it admitted to the canon of scripture

James OT background

5 quotes        - 2:8 (Lev.19:18)
- 2:11 (Ex.20:14 & Dt.5:17)
- 2:23 (Gen.15:16)
- 4:5 (???)
- 4:6 (Prov.3:34)

Many allusions

1:15 = Solomon
2:21 = Abraham & Isaac
2:25 = Rahab
5:17-18 = Elijah

Origin

Date: between 45 and 48AD
From Jerusalem
Temple still standing
After the persecution in connection with Stephen 44AD - Acts 11:19
Before Jerusalem council 49AD -         Acts 15:1

Destination

Jewish Christians - 1:1

Spread by persecution - Acts 11:19

- Phoenicia
- Cyprus
- Antioch

Hellenistic Jews

Internal evidence

Greeting 1:1
Jewish-ness of style, structure and subject
Presumed knowledge of the OT
Tie to Matthew’s sermon on the Mount
Author’s knowledge of  Jesus’ oral teaching
Parallels to Sermon on the Mount - see Chart in Nelson’s Map – 426
More allusions to Jesus’ teaching than all other epistles combined

Occasion

Need for exhortation

Dislocation from the church
Rejection by the synagogue
To help them face trials

Ethical demands of Christianity

No less than with Judaism
Reasoning needs reinforcement

Purpose

Practical and ethical
True faith is genuine, living and fruitful.
If you are going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.
Just do it!

Key Verse

James 1:22 - But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Style

Strong tone of pastoral exhortation

- Authoritative
- 54 imperatives

A lack of personal notes
Little mention is made of Christ
Absence of a mention of Gentiles in the Church
Christianity is not presented in contrast with Judaism

Theology

        We should not overlook the specific theological teaching found in James. His letter makes an important contribution to our understanding of faith & works, prayer, the nature of God, the origin of sin and wisdom. True, these are all given a “practical” context, but it will be a sad day for the church when such “practical divinity” is not considered “theology”.

Need

        Whenever faith does not issue in love, and dogma, however orthodox, is unrelated to life; whenever Christians are tempted to settle down to a self-centered religion, and become oblivious of the social and material needs of others; or whenever they deny by their manner of living the creed they profess, and seem more anxious to be friends of the world than friends of God, then the Epistle of James has something to say to them which they reject at their peril.

Content

Salutation 1:1

The Nature of True Religion 1:2-27

In trials vs. 2-18
In works vs. 19-27

The Nature of True Faith 2:1-3:12

Ethical relations with the poor 2:1-26
Integrity of speech 3:1-12

The Nature of True Wisdom 3:13-5:18

In temper 3:13-18
In conflict 4:1-12
In planning 4:13-17
In future judgment 5:1-12
In intercession 5:13-18

James: The Testing of Your Faith

By trials and temptations 1:2-18
By your attitude to the Word 1:19 -27
By social distinction 2:1-13
By production of good works 2:14 -29
By self-control 3:1-18
By reaction to the world 4:1-5:12
By your resort to prayer 5:13-18

Highlights

1:2-4 – Joy & Endurance in Trials

1:5 – Wisdom for the asking

1:17 – God’s generous nature

1:22 – Doers not just hearers

3:1 – Stricter judgment for teachers

4:6-10 – Grace to the humble

5:16-18 – Encouragement to prayer

The First Letter of Peter

Godly living in the midst of suffering
Submissive Suffering

Author, Peter

In Scripture

1 Peter 1:1
2 Peter 1:1; 3:1
Gospels
Acts  - last mentioned in 15:6-11

Peter referred to 160x in NT

Traveled

I Cor. 1:12 – in Corinth
Gal. 2:11 – in Antioch
Possibly to Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia m & Bithynia - (Acts 16:7)
Certainly to Rome in late 63 to minister and was martyred in 67

Origin

Date: Late 63-65AD

From: Rome - “Babylon” 5:13

To: Dispersed Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia m & Bithynia

Dating, evidence

Clear and early
Eusebius said that Papias quoted it
Polycarp and Clement of Rome
Few personal references
32 allusions to Jesus’ teachings
Shepherd the flock 5:2 & Jn. 21:15

Readers

Believers - 2:10
Organized but weak 5:1, 2
Mostly away from Pauline churches
Nero’s persecution about to begin
Sporadic, local persecution for readers 4:4

Occasion

Opposition because of faith - 1:6; 3:13-17; 4:12-19
General distrust by populace
Tempted to return to heathen ways - 2:11,12,16
Even elders tempted 5:2-3

Intent

Perspective in the midst of suffering

“elect” 1:1-2
“heirs” 1:4
“new race” 2:9
“baptism” 3:21; 5:14

Fulfill his commission as shepherd - Jn. 21:15-17

Purpose

To encourage Christians in their suffering

Key verse

1 Peter 4:1213 - Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

CHARACTERISTICS

Vivid, energetic Greek, better than 2nd Peter
Dictated to or delivered by         Silvanus (Silas) - 5:12
Frequent imperatives
Objective and practical
Earnest and intense
Elaborates on suffering

James had testing as external
James had tempting as internal
Peter looks at it as a felt pain
He wants to direct their response

Contents

SAVED THROUGH SUFFERING

Introduction 1:1-2

Character of Salvation - 1:3-12

Beautiful doxology of salvation

Unique gift of salvation

Claims of Salvation - 1:13-2:10

Introduces hope 1:13-21

Love 1:22

Faith 1:22; 2:6

Conduct of the Saved - 2:11-3:12

If we are holy…

Freedom in suffering results in right conduct - 2:16

Good works in the world and submission to authority and at home,
these win in times of suffering - 2:12 & Matt. 5:14-17

Confidence of the Saved - 3:13-4:11

Suffer as Jesus did and defend the faith - 3:15, 18

Suffering in the flesh has value - 4:1-2

Counsel for the Saved - 4:12-5:11

Judgment on the house of God is good - 4:17

Our conduct of the ministry is our only defense against the devil - 5:9

Conclusion 5:12-14

Highlights

1:1-5 – Blessed be…

1:7-9 – The proof of your faith

1:22-2:3 – Long for the pure milk

2:21-23 – Follow in His steps

3:15 – Ready to make a defense

5:5-7 – Grace for the humble

5:8-11 – Be on the alert