This short letter is famous for its instructions on “the tongue,” as well as for its emphasis on practical religion, visiting widow and orphans. There are a number of practical instruction on showing no partiality between rich and poor, as well as a stern warning against envy. What many don’t realize is that these are all actually aspects of the same subject.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (Jas. 4:7–10Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).
Can’t Tell the Players Without a Scorecard:
The epistle of James is actually from a man identified in the original as Jacob. For some reason we Anglicize some names and transliterate others. This letter finally won general acceptance for its canonicity in the 4th century A.D. The writer claims to be from “James,” a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Part of the difficult was that the early church knew that James the apostle had likely died too early to write the letter.
James, the son of Zebedee, was the brother of the apostle John and was one of the sons of thunder (Mark 3:17Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). He was one of the twelve, and was mentioned apart from the other disciples at the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)), and on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). He was one of those rebuked by Jesus for impetuous zeal when he wanted fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan town (Luke 9:54Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). His mother wanted special places of honor for him and for John, which distressed the other disciples. He was told that he would drink the same cup that his Lord would drink (Mark 10:39Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)), a prophecy that came to pass around 44 A.D. when he was killed with the sword at the command of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). It is possible that he wrote this letter.