42. "Pure Religion" | BYU Studies

42. "Pure Religion"

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.

Be Doers of the Word

"Discipleship and the Epistle of James," by David M. Whitchurch, from 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," by Craig K. Manscill, from 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," from 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.

"They Pray and They Go," by Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 2002

In his epistle, James teaches us what it means to truly live your religion: "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only". In this article, President Thomas S. Monson echoes James' sentiment by encouraging the brethren of the church to take action: "Whatever our calling, regardless of our fears and anxieties, let us pray and then go and do."