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James Resources


        Because of the internal evidence contained in NT writing, most scholars identify the writer of the Book of James as a son of Mary and Joseph and therefore the half-brother to Jesus and brother to Joseph, Simon, Judas, and their sisters (Matt. 13:55).  In the Gospels, James is mentioned a couple of times, but, but before Jesus' death and resurrection, he misunderstood Jesus' ministry and was not a believer (John 7:2-5).  James became one of the earliest witnesses of Jesus' resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7), after which He remained in Jerusalem and formed part of the group of believers who prayed in the upper room (Acts 1:14).  From that time forward, James' status within the Jerusalem church began to expand.

James was still in Jerusalem when the recently converted Saul arrived to meet with him and Peter (Gal. 1:19). Several years later, when Peter escapes from prison, he reports to James about the miraculous manner of the escape (Acts 12:17).  When the Jerusalem Council convenes, James was the apparent chairman (Acts 15:13, 19).  He was also named as an elder of the church, called a "pillar" in Gal. 2:9.  Later, James again presided over a meeting in Jerusalem, this time after Paul's third missionary journey (Acts 21:17-26). It is believed that James was martyred about A.D. 62, although there is no biblical record of his death.

James was the author of the epistle of James, which he wrote sometime between A.D. 50 and A.D. 60.  James identified himself by name but simply described himself as "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (James 1:1).  His letter deals more with Christian ethics than Christian theology.  Its theme is the outworking of faith-the external evidence of internal conversion.

A study of James' life provides some important lessons for us. His conversion gives testimony to the overwhelming power that came from being a witness of Jesus' resurrection: James turned from being a skeptic to a leader in the church based on his meeting the resurrected Christ.  James' speech at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:14-21 revealed his reliance on Scripture, his desire for peace within the church, his emphasis of grace over the law, and his care for Gentile believers, although he himself ministered almost exclusively to Jewish Christians.  Also worthy of note is James' humility-he never used his position as Jesus' blood relative as a basis for authority.  Rather, James portrayed himself as a "servant" of Jesus, nothing more. In a word, James was a gracious leader through whom the church was richly blessed.