James is writing to Jewish Christians; Jews who converted to Christianity, who recognized Jesus as the Messiah. Today we might call them Messianic Jews. Likely, they continued to practice most all of their Jewish traditions. They probably secretly considered themselves to be better Christians than Gentile converts.
Probably some of these were scattered immediately after Stephen's martyrdom.
James lists various sins later in the letter...
I guess it would be true that the larger the group of people, the more kinds of sin can be listed. Perhaps there are only a few in each of these categories, but as I learned from teaching middle school and high school, it only takes one bad apple to spoil it for everybody.
We are to be happy when tempted because then we have the opportunity to build our faith by exercising it.
James refers to them as brothers. Presumably, he is referring to their Jewish heritage. Likely, this is the same use of the word brother when used of the brothers of Jesus; they are not blood brothers.
When our faith is tested it leads to perseverance. The more we practice resisting temptation, the better we get at it.
The outcome of perseverence is that we become perfect, mature in the faith, not blown about by our desires and lusts as children who obey every thought to recklessness. We will have all our needs met. James doesn't explain how this works but likely it is a result of our not destroying those things and people around us that we depend on. An immature faith results in reckless behavior which damages our environment — physical and social — leaving gaps in our provisioning.
Based on the previous verse, we see that it is wisdom which is needed most in order that we will have our needs met. Giving in to temptations is the opposite of wisdom. Those who require more wisdom are to seek it from God who blesses us with all blessings. Even in the early Church, the apostles had to remind people that God doesn't find fault with us for being spiritually weak as long as we of good heart seek his blessing. God will give us wisdom if we ask. Of course, we may have to ask repeatedly over many years.
(James 1:11) For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
In this world, we must be tested before receiving eternal life. Not all will pass the test.
Here is the sequence...
Notice the importance of works. All Christians agree that we are to live lives pleasing to God. Even salvation is based on our repentance,on our turning from sin, on our doing the word of God. We must stop sinning to be saved; that is what repentance means, to stop committing sins. Those who think they can read the Bible then go off to sin are fooling themselves. Apparently, the Christians James was writing to had this very problem.
(James 2:3) And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay [fine] clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool [at my feet]:
Many churches segregate by socioeconomic status but James condemns this. Some churches by their very doctrine can't obey; in the word-faith, health-wealth churches people below middle-class must hide it because this indicates weak faith and disqualifies them from church ministry.
This verse is typically used to prove the doctrine of total depravity; that even the smallest sin such as a little white lie is the same to God as murder or adultery. But this verse doesn't say this at all. The law, the 10 commandments,addresses mortal sins,major sins keeping us from redemption.
This is a horrifying verse, and there are many like it. It seems to imply that murder and adultery were very common in that day, even among Christians. I can't imagine a preacher today saying what James says here; they would, rather, refer to our materialism or self-centeredness or to what we do on the internet.
God's law is a package deal, it's all about pleasing God. If you displease him on one point, then you have displeased him, period. However, God does honor our repentance, as the story of king David illustrates. God refers to him as a man after God's own heart even though he murdered someone to take his wife away. What was special about David was he came before God with a repentant heart and in devotion and love of God.
The purpose of the Mosaic Law was to delineate what pleases and displeases God. Of course, some of it, such as rules allowing for divorce, was added by Moses and was not of God.Now the law is written in our hearts, but it is still the law.
We are not saved by works only. People often claim that those who reject salvation by faith only believe in salvation by works only, but this is not the case; we are saved by a combination of faith and works. Here are the key ingredients...
There is no reason to think Rahab stopped being a harlot after protecting the spies; in fact, making such a drastic lifestyle change would have aroused suspicion. But certainly she would have given it up once rescued by the Israelites in the conquest of Jericho.
I have heard many Bible teachers insist Rahab was not really a harlot at all; this fact seems to contradict their doctrines, so they deny it. It seems odd to me that people who claim to use the Bible as their basis for truth are so quick to abandon it when presented with uncomfortable verses such as this. But apparently God sticks with people through the sometimes long process of redemption. Of course there is a point at which a person needs to stop the sinning; the excuses will one day run out and the person becomes guilty of mortal sin, of sin leading to eternal damnation.
James strongly emphasizes Rahab was justified by her works. He does not say she was justified by works onlynor does he say she was justified by faith only. Those who insist in salvation by faith onlytypically misrepresent those who don't as if we believe in salvation by works only; this is very rude to the extreme. James clearly teaches that saving faith requires works; those without works do not have saving faith.
(James 3:6) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
There are 2 kinds of wisdom: (1) from God, (2) from the wicked spiritual powers. Normally we think of the word wisdom as being of the first kind; certainly that wisdom spoken of in the book of Proverbs is of this type.
The prayers of these ungodly and carnal Christians are not answered because their motives are wrong. When desiring things from God based on our own appetites and desires instead of giving glory to God or helping others, God will not answer. This doesn't mean anytime we ask for something and God doesn't grant it, that our motives are wrong. All it says is that for these carnal Christians James is addressing, their wrong motives interfere with their relationship with God.There are other reasons God doesn't answer our prayers even when our asking is out of godly motives; such reasons as not being in God's will to do the thing asked for.
In the story in Numbers, some men began prophesying in the Spirit and the young Joshua wanted them to stopthinking, presumably, only Moses should prophesy, to jealously guard Moses' role as spiritual leader of the nation.
We must resist the devil for a while, then he will leave us alone. James doesn't state how long this process will take. I suppose we can tell — if we are being tempted to sin, the process is still underway. We must choose the good over the bad, God over Satan, virtueover vice. I have a hard time understanding how Christians can watch most TV or read most novels or watch most movies or listen to most secular music or play violent video games; God is not in these things.
How do we submit to God. The answer is that we form our lives to pease him. He hates sin and so should we. But he is aware of our weakness and helps us when we ask.
In the face of our sinful nature, we are to humble ourselves by becoming penitents who have truly repented from our sins and called out to God for mercy. This is a most humble attitude. With this, God can elevate us by forgiving our sins and redeeming us. He can restore the lost fellowship caused by sin,
(James 4:11) Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
(James 5:4) Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
(James 5:7) Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman [farmer] waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
The farmer must wait until the rainy season before the crops begin to grow in earnest. Just so, we are in a spiritually dry season until the coming of the Lord.
From another passagewe learn that the phrase "coming of the Lord" refers to the second coming of Christ at the end of the world. Since we know that this was in the far future for those James was writing to, it seems he considers our after death experiences in the spiritual realm to be as important as our life while in this body. This fits the flow of ideas since he was just talking about judgment for the wicked and that their sufferings of judgment would begin immediately after death.
The time of coming of the Lord is getting closer. We are to be at peace admidst the turbulence of life knowing that this is a temporary condition.
From another passagewe learn that the phrase "coming of the Lord" refers to the second coming of Christ at the end of the world.When the redeemed die they will enter either purgatory or heaven; in either case they have achieved salvation. All that remains is for the second coming of Christ and the resurrection. Perhaps life in purgatory and heaven will not be so agonizingly slow as life on earth is so we only need to be patient until death — after that being in the presence of the Lord will provide much needed comfort.
(James 5:11) Behold, we count them happy [blessed] which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end [outcome] of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful [compassionate], and of tender mercy.
In the previous verse James referred to the prophets who persecuted and endured hardship. James here states that those who endure such treatment for the faith are to be counted as blessed. Suffering for Christ is a way to express love for him. Of course, we are not to seek out suffering for its own sake, but if we find ourselves persecuted for Christ's sake, we are to happily endure it. Sometimes it is not easy to know that we are suffering for the Lord. Job, for example, had no evidence whatsoever that he was performing an experiment in faith to refute Satan's claims that he was only faithful to God because of his prosperity.
In all circumstances the Lord is compassionate and merciful. He seeks our best. It is not always easy to remember this or to see how it is working out, but it is nonetheless true. As long as Job remained true to his faith in God, he was winning the battle. The same goes for us. We must remain faithful and true to God. In many cases, this requires patience.
(James 5:12) But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.
Notice that the prayer prayed in faith by the elders of the Church saves the person prayed over so that they end up in heaven. What could this verse possibly be referring to if not the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick?
The phrase "raise him up" does not refer to physical healing but, rather, to being resurrected at the second coming of Christ — in other words, the person is redeemed. If they had unconfessed and unforgiven mortal sin on their soul preventing them from entering heaven, these are forgiven.
The healing referred to is physical healing. The healing of Luke 5:18-26involved both the forgiveness of sin and miraculous physical healing. In that incident it was the faith of those who let the infirmed man down to Jesus that triggered Jesus to forgive the man's sins and heal him. They asked for healing, and Jesus both forgave sins and healed.
Perhaps this verse is a continuation of the preceeding verses but referring instead to someone who is sick but not bedridden. This person can go to where the elders are to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness.
This verse is a continuation from verse 19 and refers to a Christian who strayed from the truth. Notice that the person who strayed lost their salvation. There are many verses such as this that clearly state that Christians can lose their salvation.
Notice the key ingredient of why this person is saved: because their sins are hidden. They are not hidden by being merely covered over,rather, they are hidden because the person quit sinning; they became converted and repented of their sins. You can't repent from your sins if you keep doing the sins; repentance implies changing.
King James Version