An Introduction of James
What separates an epistle from a letter is the fact that an epistle is written to the church in general, while letters are written to specific people or congregations. James is one of these epistles. It is a practical book that is written to the church in general. One of the reasons this seems to be so is because James does not seem to speak about any local issues. In verse 1 he speaks of the 12 tribes scattered throughout all the nations, but this is most likely speaking of the spiritual Israel (Christians).
The first verse tells the reader that the Author is James. It also tells the reader that the author is a servant of Jesus. When asking which “James” this might be, Carson and Moo in An Introduction of the New Testament say this concerning the authorship, “The lack of elaboration points to a well-known James, and it is natural to think first to those men by this name who mentioned in the New Testament” (pg. 621). Of these men, there is only one that is both alive during the time of this letter and not obscure. The James that is left is the brother of Jesus. James was highly involved with the work of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12,15,21), so it is not a surprise that he would take the leadership role of writing a general epistle to the churches of Christ.
The epistle speaks first of enduring trials. Trials produce stronger and more faithful Christians if they are handled the right way. The letter speaks of wisdom and how to live in wisdom. A large percentage of Biblical scholars show how James is reminiscent of the wisdom literature in its nature. The majority of this book revolves around the concept of Christian liberty and the wisdom therein. However, the major focus of the book is pointing the Christian to where said wisdom comes. Wisdom is evident and strengthened by works and kindness, but its source is from above. The source of wisdom is in the faith, trust, and reverence one has in his creator. No matter what physical, emotional, or social trials a Christian goes through, true wisdom comes through depending on the truth and greatness of the will of God. A trusting prayer gives the Christian the wisdom he lacks in order for him to be a strengthened, blessed, and peaceful child of the Lord. Although chapter 5 of James is a section of closing remarks, the aforementioned is still the context of this chapter. – Jesse
Suggested Reading Before This Article: Prayer and James 5:13-18 Part 1
Suggested Reading After This Article: Prayer and James 5:13-18 Part 3