Outline of Book of James

1.     Our faith in the midst of Trials and Temptations (1:1-18)

 Outward adversities (that which arise from factors in life)

–  Inward enticements (that which arise from our sinful nature)

Key word:  “Persevere” – Mature (perfected) and complete (whole) towards our relationship with God.

 

2.     Our faith as it pertains to God’s Words (1:19-27)

–  Hear the word – Our wisdom is to listen carefully, speak after much thought, and resist the human tendency to act out of anger.

–  Receive the Word – Our reception of “the planted word, which is able to save your souls.”

–  Obey the Word – Our obedience to the Word demonstrates that we have truly “heard.”

Key word: “Practice” – Learn to apply the Word of God, rather than adapt it to your circumstances.

 

3.     Our faith as it pertains to Human relationships (2:1-26)

Underlining the tone of his letter, James is exhorting believers to show respect to all people and living out our faith by serving and demonstrating care and compassion for others – this is the cry of James’ heart.  The passion and purpose of the entire letter are found here:  “Faith by itself; if it does not have works, is dead.”

–  Negative partiality (2:1-13) – The forbidding of partiality or favoritism towards the rich or influential is well  known to Judaism. 

–  Positive compassion (2:14-26) – Widows, orphans, poor, oppressed.  Faith acts!  People of faith serve others.    If faith does not act, then it is not true faith.

*   Illustration of “neighbor” from the Parable of the Good Samaritan – one who is before us in need.

*   Be careful to live in right relationship with others.

Key word: “Peace” – Concept of Shalom: the community as a whole to flourish

 

4.     Our faith as it is expressed in our Speech (3:1-12)

–  Tongue is like a “bit,” “rudder,” and a “fire.”

–  Our words have power to bless or curse, to heal or destroy, to comfort or hurt.

*   Can out of “the same mouth come praise and curing”?

Key word: “Power” – to bless and encourage others with our words.

 

5.     Our faith as it pertains to Wisdom (3:13-18)

Our motivation for wisdom in serving and our service

–  Wisdom of the World – “Bitter envy and selfish ambition”

*   Worldly Motives – Competitiveness, boasting, and arrogance

–  Wisdom from God – “Pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

*   Heart of “other-centeredness” – attitudinal difference between “I am here for you” versus “you are here for me.”

*   Heart of compassionate response – “It’s not what they’ve done that matters, it is what you do that matters.”  I.e. Good Samaritan

Key word: “Purity” – motivation for godly wisdom in serving

 

6.     Our faith in light of Worldliness (4:1-12)

–  Cause of strive and quarrels

*  “Have not because you ask not”

*  Don’t have because ask with the wrong motives

–  Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil (and his temptations), and he will flee from you.  “Now Listen”

*  Pride – Boasting about tomorrow

*  Riches – Warning against oppression

–  Come near to God and he will come near to you.

–  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will life you up.

 Key word: “Pride” – keeps us from everything God desires for us.

 

7.     Final Words (5:7-20)

–  Patience – in all circumstances

*  Persecution and suffering

–  Pure speech – towards one another

*  Grumbling against each other

–  Prayer – in times of need

*  Healing for the sick and afflicted

*  Restoration of the sinner

–  Praise – in times of joy

*  Sing and worship with gladness