James – “Be Ye Doers of the Word, and Not Hearers Only”
James teaches what the practices of a true disciple of Christ ought to be. Disciples will exemplify pure religion through their works. Care for the poor and needy, bridling one’s tongue, and seeking wisdom are but a few of the requirements of those who would become perfect like Christ.
"Discipleship and the Epistle of James," David M. Whitchurch, Go Ye into All the World: Messages of the New Testament Apostles
Dr. Whitchurch examines the authorship, reception, and content of the epistle of James. Themes of the Epistle are giving one’s all to Christ and seeking perfection: "Discipleship looms large in the mind of anyone committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ…. Actions reveal our true belief of Christ." James condemns the practices of the wealthy who cause the poor to be miserable.
"'If Any of You Lack Wisdom': James's Imperative to Israel," Craig K. Manscill, Go Ye into All the World: Messages of the New Testament Apostles
Dr. Manscill writes about the background of the Epistle of James and the themes of wisdom, fear of the Lord, and perfection. "There is no avoiding the awkward, even frightening challenge of this word perfect in the New Testament. It is by no means only in James that we hear it. Indeed the reason we meet it here is likely because James had heard the doctrine taught by his half-brother Jesus Christ."
Chart 13-10: "The Jameses," Charting the New Testament
"In the Judeo-Christian world of the first century, surnames were seldom used except by Romans. In keeping with the customs of the time, reference to individuals in the New Testament is usually made using only their given name or occasionally some other identifying factor such as filiation or provenance." Such language can cause confusion about the identity of different individuals in scripture. Chart 13-10 differentiates between the three men named James in the New Testament.
“The Sermon on the Mount and the Epistle of James,” Chart 13-12, from Charting the New Testament
More than twenty parallels between the phraseology of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and the vocabulary of the Epistle of James can be identified. This consistency shows that James and his broad, early Christian audience knew and revered Jesus’ words, especially the directives found in the Sermon on the Mount.
“Agency and Self-Deception in the Writings of James and 1 John,” Terrance D. Olson, in Go Ye into All the World: Messages of the New Testament Apostles
James offers ways for us to avoid deceiving ourselves and find truth and light. When we are swift to hear, doers of the word, caring for the needy, and act in faith, we act honestly and true to ourselves.