James: Introduction

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WE INCLINE TO think that the Epistle of James is read less than any other of the Epistles. This is a pity, because it deals with matters of a very practical sort. There is in it hardly anything which could be called the unfolding of Christian doctrine, but a great deal which inculcates Christian practice. We might almost call it the Epistle of works, of everyday Christian behavior. Its difficulty lies in the fact that the standpoint from which it is written differs from that of all the other Epistles. But we must not neglect it on that account.
The James who wrote it was not the brother of John. He was slain by Herod in very early years, as recorded in Acts 12:22And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. (Acts 12:2). The author of the Epistle was the James spoken of in Acts 15:1313And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: (Acts 15:13), and 21:18. Paul calls him, “James, the Lord’s brother,” (Gal. 1:1919But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:19)) in Galatians 1:1919But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:19), and he acknowledges him, as one of the “pillars” of the Church in Jerusalem in Gal. 2:99And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. (Galatians 2:9). He does not appear to have gone forth to Judea or Samaria or to the uttermost parts of the earth, but to have remained in Jerusalem and there attained to a position of great authority.