What is the Book of James?
THE EPISTLE OF JAMES
Epistle of James, "a servant (not an apostle) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," the same who is also called "the brother of the Lord." It is one of the catholic or general Epistles, and consists of five chapters. The design of the Epistle is, (1) To correct errors into which the Jewish Christians had fallen, especially relating to justification by faith; (2) To animate their hope, and strengthen their faith, in view of afflictions felt and feared; and (3) To excite the unbelieving Jews to repentance toward God and faith in the rejected Messiah. It is remarkable that the name of our blessed Lord occurs but twice in this Epistle, but with great reverence as the divine Master, Jas 1:1, and as "the Lord of glory." Ruth 2:1. The gospel is described as the perfect law of freedom. The Epistle strongly resembles the preaching of John the Baptist and the Sermon on the Mount. The main stress is laid on works rather than faith. It enforces an eminently practical Christianity which manifests itself in good fruits. Its doctrine of justification, ch. Jas 2, apparently conflicts with that of Paul, Rom 3-4, but in reality the two apostles supplement each other, and guard each other against abuse and excess. James opposes a dead orthodoxy, an unfruitful theoretical belief, and insists on practical demonstration of faith, while Paul, in opposition to Pharisaical legalism and self-righteousness, exhibits a living faith in Christ as the principle and root of all good works. The one judges the tree by its fruit, the other proceeds from the root. The Epistle of James was written before a.d. 62, perhaps much earlier, probably from Jerusalem, the scene of his labors, and is addressed to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, Jas 1:1 -that is, either to all the Jews of the Dispersion, or only to the Jewish Christians, as to the true spiritual Israel. The style is lively, vigorous, and impressive. What kindling words on patience in suffering, joy in sorrow, heavenly wisdom, the power of prayer as the most certain unfailing thing, from deep personal experience! There is a resemblance between the Epistle and the pastoral letter of the Council of Jerusalem, which was no doubt written by the same James as the presiding officer; both have the Greek form of "greeting," Acts 15:23; Jas 1:1, which otherwise does not occur in the N.T. or is changed into "grace and peace." This is an incidental proof of the genuineness of the Epistle. The theory recently advocated by Bassett (Commentary on fhe Catholic Epistle of St. James, London, 1876), that it was written by the elder James, the son of Zebedee, before a.d. 44, has little to support it. He assumes that the Epistle was addressed to all the Jews of the dispersion with the view to convert them by a moral rather than doctrinal exhibition of Christianity.
Bibliography Information Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'book of james' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". bible-history.com - Schaff's