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James Chapter 1

James chapter 1

Introduction to Chapter 1

The letter of James is very practical. It is about living the Christian life, not in theory, but in wise and godly living. Luke T. Johnson (1999. p 510), explains that James’ teaching is to be compared with Paul’s letters, not with the theological arguments about salvation by grace, but with the practical sections on relationships and life in community: Rom 12-13, Eph 4-6, Gal 5-6. Our response to God’s grace is seen in how we live. We are not ‘saved by our works’ but demonstrate our love for him in thankful ways and determined living. *

The most important question to ask of ourselves as we embark on this study is how willing we are to see this through, the ‘So What? What difference will this make to my life?’ We could spend 5 weeks preaching and studying, and then go back to our regular ways habits. Or, we could, together, go on an adventure, be brave, and with Jesus actively seek to become more like Him.


Share positive stories of a teacher or mentor who has impacted your life.


James is teaching in short sound bites in Chapter 1. Topics are expanded in Chapters 2 – 5. Read through Chapter 1 in different versions. In pairs identify the following themes, and share with your group the things you notice.

  1. Testing (suffering/trials)
  2. Wisdom
  3. Rich vs Poor (ethics/oppression)
  4. Use of the tongue
  5. God’s character
  6. Faith and doing (walk the talk)
  7. Prayer

Word - Questions to think about

Lectio Divina is an ancient method of Bible study that allows God to speak to us. It is not analytical, but reflective. We read the passage, and notice what jumps off the page, and focus just on that. You may like to try this by reading in silence, and jotting down your own thoughts.

Chapter 1 is an overview of being a disciple of Jesus, being resilient, enduring trials, choosing God’s wisdom over that of the surrounding culture. How does it compare to the teaching of Jesus? Use the summary introduction page of Whitewater notes, or your marginal cross references in the Bible to seek gospel parallels. What strikes you?

So What? What difference will this make to my life?


This is the key question: is God asking me to change anything about the way I think, live or behave? If so, what might be my first step to making such changes with his help?


Are there any words for our congregations in Whitewater?


Do we want to be brave? the theme of following Jesus is a challenge as we read the letter. Try listening to one song promoted by the Spring Harvest team: on You Tube called ‘Brave’ by Nichole Nordeman:


Alternatively, choose to read/sing ‘He who would true valour see’ by John Bunyan (1628-1688) [Ancient & Modern 823; Common Praise 621], which encourages us to set our minds, wills and hearts to be a pilgrim.


Pray for each other.



We have heard the good news of Jesus. Which part of this study will be good news for someone you know? Be brave, and share it with them.


*Some theologians have been critical, expressing the view that James is all about ‘salvation by works’ rather than ‘by grace’, arguing that James is opposing the teaching of Paul. Martin Luther was rather rude: ‘an epistle full of straw’ (W. Barclay p.7).


Luke T. Johnson. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Vol XII. James © 1998. Abingdon Press.
Luke T. Johnson. The Writings of the New Testament © 1999. SCM Press.
William Barclay. The New Daily Study Bible. The letters of James and Peter © 1976, 2003. Saint Andrew Press.
Martin Young. Brave: Faith and Works. Spring Harvest Bible Study on James © 2018. Essential Christian.
New International Study Bible. © 1973, 1978, 1984. International Bible Society. 1985. Zondervan Corporation
Ancient & Modern Hymns Ltd. Hymns and Songs for refreshing worship © 2013
Common Praise © 2000. Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd.

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