*These notes comes from a four week bible study at First Presbyterian Church San Angelo, Texas. Link to the wrest of the study here
2 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes,
The world is always assessing people. We are either putting them down or raising them up. God sees and loves all people alike. He wants the church (all followers of Jesus) to reflect his generous love.
and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? Class division remains a problem in the church today – we are picky with who we greet and we are defensive of our pew.
The good news of Jesus did not always sound like good news for the rich because they were at the top of Roman society and liked their comfortable life. Jesus upset their status.
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you
Jesus taught to love God, love people, and share the truth (Jesus)
are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
The letter of James was written to a Jewish audience, which is why he focuses on Old Testament themes, such as the 10 Commandments. Here, the 10 Commandments are referenced with the suggestion that the “royal law” of Jesus take precedence. (Romans 13:9)
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
Cannot separate because they are in and of each other. Works happen naturally
by active faith. Following Jesus does change you. It’s just going to show in what
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and
Jesus added “love your neighbor as yourself” to the Jewish daily prayer (Shema) that
is found in Deuteronomy 6.
shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father *Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even *Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
*Abraham – God promised to make him the father of many nations and he tested Abraham by asking him to kill Isaac (the promise) because Abraham had not acted in faith in trying to force the promise through Hagar. However, God saved Issac because God does keep his promise.
*Rahab – Demonstrates that God uses all people to accomplish his plan/promise. Though a prostitute, Rahab was the great grandmother of King David and therefore in the lineage of Jesus. Rahab acted in faith that Moses and his people would keep their promise and her acting in faith led to Jesus who affected the whole world.
What is the most challenging part of putting your faith into action? – Wanting to remain in your comfort zone? Wanting to blend in with the world and not be singled out as hyper religious?
– James is challenging the church (all followers of Jesus) to live their faith and to be seen living it. His message is clear: it is time to put your faith to work and it is time to find a faith that works.