We have been through 19 books/letters of the New Testament so far and the last 14 of those 19 have been penned by Paul (if you agree that Paul wrote Hebrews; if not, that's ok; then 13 of the last 19). Now we are moving on to James (which is written by James) and we are going to spend a little more time on this chapter than what we've been doing with the "chapter a day" plan.
As we move through James you will see that in addition to being a "mini instruction manual for Christians", it is also in complete harmony with all of Paul's writings. James uses to words, works and religion quite a bit, which seems contradictory to Paul; however, I think you will see how James is complimentary to Paul, not contradictory. After all, it is all God's Word and He never contradicts Himself.
Today I am only going to look at the first verse:
James 1:1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
It may seem strange to spend an entire post on one verse, but the significance of this verse is huge. Take a look:
John 7:1-4 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.
Why are these 5 verses significant to the first verse in James? Because James is Jesus' brother! Isn't that amazing!! Can you hear the mocking in the voice of His brothers in verse 4; how they said IF YOU DO THESE THINGS. Not only did they not believe Him, they went so far as to mock Him, much like the thieves on the cross.
What happened that James, now, not only believed, but considered himself a bondservant of Jesus? The Resurrection! James knew Jesus had risen, he was convicted by the Holy Spirit that Jesus is Lord and he preached The Gospel until they finally killed him for it.
Here's another interesting thought. Look at Matthew 13:55, which is a verse where the people are trying to figure out what is going on, and who is Jesus:
Matthew 13:55 Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
There are three other brothers; were they ever mentioned again? I am not saying they didn't come to believe if they weren't mentioned again, but it just made me curious. Either way it is interesting that like all of Jesus' brothers, many people today hear the same Gospel they heard, and some believe and some don't. If you are in the "I don't believe" camp; please consider the conversion of James. He went from being Jesus' half brother, to His mocker, to His bondservant, to His martyr. There is probably no one closer to Jesus that went from sceptic to follower than James.