The book of James could accurately be called “the New Testament book of Proverbs” because of the wisdom it exhibits. It does not have one theme, but a variety of subjects, and may be compared to a string of beads with moral truths strung on it. It is the most Jewish book of the New Testament, yet James makes twenty-three allusions to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Yet it is the most practical book in the New Testament; emphasis is on action rather than talking.
The book refers only to “James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1). In the New Testament there was James the son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve (Matthew 10:3). Nothing is known of this James, and there is no connection with the book of James. There is also James the brother of John, the son of Zebedee, also one of the twelve. He was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I in 44 A.D.. thus he was not the author of this book. This leaves James, the Lord’s brother, as the author (Mark 6:3). He was not in sympathy with the Lord’s work during His lifetime (Matthew 12:46-50; John 7:5), but he was changed by the resurrection appearance of the Savior (I Corinthians 15:7). He was with the apostles and Mary at Pentecost (Acts 1:14), and later became a leader in the church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15). He was a “pillar in the church” (Galatians 1:19; 2:9). He was the author of this grand book.
When we see that James wanted his reader to become the perfect man, then we see a plan in his book. With this in mind, look at the topics he pursues:
- In his attitude toward trials and temptations (James 1:2-4, 12).
- In his reception of the Word (James 1:21-25).
- In his impartiality toward others (James 2:1-13).
- In his credentials of faith (James 2:14-26).
- In his use of the tongue (James 3:1-12).
- In his attitude toward true wisdom (James 3:13-18).
- In his amiableness and humility (James 4:6-10).
- In his consideration of his fellow man (James 5:1-3).
- In his patience and enduring of affliction (James 5:7).
- In his effort on behalf of the erring brother (James 5:19-20).
From Gospel Advocate, April 19, 1973