GENRE: Religious Text
SUMMARY: The book of James is a General Epistle. The key personalities of this book are James and Persecuted Christians. James wrote this book to Jewish believers to encourage them to endure and live bold Christian lives. It is a book about practical Christian living that reflects a genuine faith that transforms lives. In many ways, it is similar to the book of Proverbs.
In chapter 1, James teaches believers to test their faith, put it into action, and to be servants of Jesus Christ. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (1:22).
In chapters 2-3, James describes the relationship between faith and works. He teaches that a person of faith without works demonstrates useless faith. What good is a person’s faith if they don’t present it to the world? A believer’s good works are evidence of their faith in Jesus Christ. He also teaches that everyone is a sinner and that if one of the 10 Commandments are broken, then that person is guilty of breaking every one of them. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (2:10).
In chapters 4-5, James gives wise instruction to believers. He said, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (4:7). A faithful believer will desire to follow hard after God in service, obedience, and prayer. In the last chapter, James stresses the weight and magnitude of prayer for every believer. He uses the word “Prayer” seven times, signifying its importance. In the final verse of his book, James expresses the magnitude of living faith in action saying:
“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20, NIV