Regarding Scripture: James 1.2; 2.1, 2.14; 3.1, 3.10, 3.12; 5.10
This month we will examine the book of James and take our lessons from what has been termed, “the Proverbs of the New Testament”.1
One commentary said, “because of the many subjects in this epistle, it is difficult to outline”1 and another has said, “the last three chapters of James enumerates eight ways in which true faith is exhibited…”.2 Indeed the book of James is full of wisdom for Christian living; and rightfully so, it compels us to a careful reading and study of its contents.
Consequently, there are many ways to begin looking at this intense book of practical Christian application, but I have chosen to begin with what I will describe as familial. In this letter, eight times we find the phrase my brethren3 and three times the phrase my beloved brethren.4
Consider the author of James. The book of James has been traditionally ascribed to James, the physical half-brother of Jesus Christ; several passages of Scripture provide reasons for this possibility.5 Interestingly enough, if the writer of this book is the physical brother of Christ, this relationship itself adds to the familial feeling of this great book of Christian wisdom.
At this moment, one may begin thinking, “Okay, Ray, that’s a nice connection. But what does this appeal to family have to do with the book of James?”
Here is why I think the appeal to family is so applicable and wonderful. First, in Ephesians 3.14-15 the church is described as a family, owing itself to God the Father, and the church is named after Jesus, God’s Son.6
Secondly, and personally applicable to the writer of our book of study, Prior to Jesus resurrection, James did not believe that his own brother was the Messiah.7
Here is a man, of the closest of familial relations who refused to believe kin. This adds such great poignancy to the statement, “a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.”8
Thankfully, James did not remain an unbeliever.
When examining the verses that appeal to the brethren, it seems possible that James is beseeching Christians, his spiritual family, to not give in on challenges that he, himself, had to face and overcome.
Indeed, the book of James contains Christian wisdom, but the possibility of this book being a heartfelt personal letter (a letter that flowed from great personal belief and experience) seems as if it has been overlooked.
1 Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts; James, p. 455.
2 Dickson New Analytical Study Bible; King James Version; p. 1409.
3 e-Sword word search my brethen; James 1.2; 2.1, 2.14; 3.1, 3.10, 3.12; 5.10; 5.12
4 e-Sword word search my beloved brethren; James 1.16, 1.19; 2.5
5 Dickson New Analytical Study Bible; KJV; Acts 15.13; 21.18; Galatians 2.9; p. 1403.
6 Matthew 3.17
7 Dickson New Analytical Study Bible; King James Version; p. 1403.
8 Matthew 13.57