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Epistle of James

General Information

The Epistle of James, the first of the general letters (Catholic epistles) of the New Testament of the Bible, is an exhortation to Christian patience and obedience. The book, more a sermon than a letter, uses 54 imperatives in 108 verses to call its readers to responsible living that accords with what they profess. Traditionally, James, "the Lord's brother," has been accepted as the author, which would date the book between AD 45 and 50 and would account for its primitive Christology. Some scholars, however, claim that it comes much later from the hand of another and date the book from late 1st century to early 2d century.

Although accepted by the church from the 2d century, James was reluctantly admitted into the Protestant New Testament canon. Martin Luther rejected the book as "a right strawy epistle," because he thought that James contradicted Saint Paul's view of justification by faith alone. Paul, however, was emphasizing the inappropriateness of works for salvation whereas James spoke of works that issue from faith. For both, the essentials are the same, and both were probably dealing independently with a traditional topic of Jewish belief.

Douglas Ezell

Epistle of James

Brief Outline

  1. Comfort (1)
  2. Warnings against specific sins of which they are guilty, such as pride, favoring the rich, misuse of the tongue, believing in Faith without Works (2-4)
  3. Exhortation to patience in suffering and prayer. (5)


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