We are beginning a new sermon series today through the book of James. (Click for the video or audio of the overview sermon.) It is one of the most practical books in the entire Bible. As one commentator put it, James has a “hard-hitting punch” of real-life instruction. If you like sermon takeaways and to-do lists, then James is the book for you.
James has been misunderstood for many years – especially since the time of Martin Luther. The German theologian didn’t care for this book. He even called it “an epistle of straw” lacking “the wheat of the gospel.” He was largely unenthusiastic about the book. In one sense, the Reformer was right about James, and yet in another sense, he was wrong. I will explain why today.
In today’s message, I will be giving a basic overview of the whole book. If you did not read ahead this week, let me encourage you to follow the schedule a read along in the weeks to come. This will help us get the most out of our series together.
In studying this week, I have discovered plenty of interesting tidbits that I’d love to share but, for one reason or another, will not make their way into the sermon. I thought I would gather these random facts from off the cutting room floor and share them together.
Whether you are a kid who likes interesting facts, or a seminary professor who studies Greek and Hebrew – here is a list of details about James that might be new.
Did you know…
- The name “James” in 1:1 is actually “Jacob.”
- The Greek writing of James is among the best quality in the NT.
- There are 13 Greek words in James not found in the rest of the NT.
- It is likely the earliest written New Testament book. (ca. AD 45-50)
- It includes 30 references to nature and animals.
- It is often called the “Proverbs of the NT” because of its wisdom.
- Along with Hebrews, it is one of the most Jewish books in the NT.
- James includes no reference to Gentiles being in the church yet.
- The book of James heavily borrows from Leviticus 19:11-18.
- Every major topic in James is also in the Sermon on the Mount.
- 5:13-15 are the only specific NT command to pray for the sick.
- It is the only New Testament book to mention Job. (5:11)
- The book of James and his sermon (Acts 15) use similar vocabulary.
- James also helped write the Jerusalem Council letter of Acts 15:23.
- 5:14 assumes that each “church” (singular) has “elders” (plural).
- James was one of the last books to be affirmed as part of the NT.
- According to Josephus, James was martyred in AD62.