Lesson 1 – Introduction to JAMES –The Pillar of Working Faithful (Part 1)

The General Epistle of James is the “Proverbs” of the New Testament. It is a commentary on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and incorporates many ideas and phrases from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). The theme of a Christian “working faith” is the focus of James, and it is the focus of this Bible Study.

The author of this epistle is only identified as “James” and there are four men with that name in the New Testament.

“And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,” (Mark 3:18 AV)

“There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;” (Mark 15:40 AV)

1. James, the son of Alphaeus is one of the four candidates that might have written JAMES, however, it is unlikely. He is referred to as the “less”, which indicates that another James was known “more” for his stature of dignity. James, the son of Alphaeus, was insignificant in early church history.

“And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.” (Luke 6:16 AV)

2. Another candidate for authorship is James, the brother of Judas who was the apostle that was surnamed Lebbaeus or Thaddaeus and probably wrote the Epistle of Jude. This James is virtually unknown, and also very insignificant in early church history.

“1 ¶ Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)” (Acts 12:1-3 AV)

3. James, the brother of John, was martyred at the very early date of A.D. 44, when King Herod killed him to bring evil to bear on the church established on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Although this James is better known, he did not have prominence in the early church because of his early death, and it is unlikely that he is the author of the book of JAMES.

“18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” (Galatians 1:18-19 AV)

4. James, the half brother of Christ, is considered by most Christians to be the author of the book of JAMES, because he possesses all of the qualities of the author.

5. He was the one and only James in the New Testament that was referred to by his name alone, and was obviously well known to the scattered believers.

“9 And 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. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. 11 ¶ But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,” (Galatians 2:9-15 AV)

6. James, Cephas (Peter) and John had the stature of “pillars” to Paul, and gave the appearance of being able to stand in the presence of any body or any force, and the ability to maintain and sustain the Word and Works of Jesus Christ.

7. This confident authority, that James and the others displayed, was so apparent to Paul and Barnabas that they were able to recognize each other as fellow brothers and workers in Christ. This knowledge of each others authority and honor were represented and acknowledged in their handshake of right hands.

8. James, and the other men of God with Him, had the ability to perceive the grace of the LORD GOD that is given to His people. To be able to perceive requires that the LORD GOD has first given the Christian the ability to see and understand. To have the knowledge of grace requires the Christian to know the loving kindness of the LORD GOD and the gift of divine influence to the heart of the faithful believers.

9. Because of their equal authority and knowledge of the things of Jesus Christ, they decided to divide their ministry into two groups. Paul and Barnabas would go among the heathen people and James, Cephas (Peter) and John would go among the people of circumcision to teach of the foundation of Jesus Christ.

10. Thus, Paul and Barnabas focused their ministry on teaching the common Gentiles who did not know the LORD GOD, and practiced the worship of false pagan gods as a matter of tradition and belief.

11. James, Peter and John focused their ministry on teaching the things of Jesus Christ to the Jewish Tribes of Israel, who knew of the LORD GOD, and worshipped Him exclusively.

12. The men not only shared equal authority and knowledge in the things of Jesus Christ, they also had a common desire to focus on the poor people within their designated ministries, to feed them the living Word of Jesus Christ and his salvation.

So the five men established their ministries in the manner they had divided among themselves. James, Peter and John would go to the Jewish People and bring them the good news that Jesus Christ was the Messiah they had been promised by their LORD God through the great Prophets of old. Paul and Barnabas would go to the Gentile people, and teach them the doctrines of repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, all based on the Foundation of Jesus Christ.

Each of these powerful men of the LORD God committed to each other to confess and proclaim the name of Jesus Christ and spread His message to all who were given the ability to hear in faith. Each man knew each other to be upright, focused, committed, knowledgeable and powerful, and each man trusted that each would do the Works that the LORD God willed them to do.

Then Peter, the one who Jesus Christ chose to establish His foundation into a church, made a very bad mistake. His mistake was so terrible, that the five men’s ministries were placed in jeopardy. This mistake of Peter’s and the five men’s recovery from it, gives credence to the belief that it was James, the brother of Jesus Christ, who was the author of The Epistle of James, as he places a tremendous spiritual focus on the expectations of the LORD God in the working faith of a Christian, and the precautions needed to be taken to go out into the world to accomplish His Works in faith.

Footnotes:

less – 3398. mikrov mikros mik-ros’; including the comparative mikroterov mikroteros mik-rot’-er-os; apparently a primary word; small (in size, quantity, number or (figuratively) dignity):— least, less, little, small. (Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

John 14:22 – “Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?”

Cephas – 2786. Khfav Kephas kay-fas’; of Aramaic origin [compare 03710]; the Rock; Cephas (i.e. Kepha), a surname of Peter:— Cephas. (Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

pillar – 2476. isthmi histemi his’-tay-mee; a prolonged form of a primary staw stao stah’-o (of the same meaning, and used for it in certain tenses); to stand (transitively or intransitively), used in various applications (literally or figuratively):— abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up) (Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

right hand -1188. dexiov dexios dex-ee-os’; from 1209; the right side or (feminine) hand (as that which usually takes):— right (hand, side). 1) the right, the right hand 2)) metaph. 2a) a place of honor or authority. (Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

grace – 5485. cariv charis khar’-ece; from 5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude):— acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy). (Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

Heathen – 1484. eynov ethnos eth’-nos; probably from 1486; a race (as of the same habit), i.e. a tribe; specially, a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication, pagan):— Gentile, heathen, nation, people. (Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

Genesis 17:7-11 – “7 ¶ And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.” (Genesis 17:7-11 AV)

Matthew 16:18 – “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 AV)

Worksheet for Lesson 1

1. What type of document is JAMES classified as? (Title)
A. Gospel
B. Book
C. Epistle
D. All of the above

2. What “Old Testament” book is James sometimes compared to? (Intro notes)
A. Psalms
B. Proverbs
C. Daniel
D. Exodus

3. What does the Epistle of JAMES discuss? (Intro notes)
A. The teachings of Jesus Christ
B. The laws of the LORD GOD
C. The crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
D. The prophesies concerning the Day of Judgment

4. Where do many of the ideas and phrases contained in JAMES originate from? (Intro notes)
A. The Song of Solomon
B. The hypocrite speech spoken to the Pharisees by Jesus Christ
C. The Sermon on the Mount spoken by Jesus Christ to his disciples
D. Paul’s many epistles contained within the Word of God

5. What themes are present in the Epistle of JAMES? (Intro notes)
A. Faith
B. Works
C. Salvation
D. Judgment
E. A & B
F. C & D
G. All of the above

6. How is the author of JAMES identified? (Intro)
A. James
B. James, the son of Alphaeus
C. James, the brother of Judas
D. James, the brother of John
E. James, the brother of Jesus

7. How many candidates are eligible to be the author of JAMES?
A. One B. Two
C. Three D. Four

8. Why is it unlikely that James, the son of Alphaeus authored the Epistle of JAMES? Mark 3:19; 15:40 (1)
(May be more than one answer)
A. He is referred to as the “Less”
B. He was known for his stature of dignity
C. He was insignificant in early church history
D. He is virtually unknown.
E. He was martyred at an early time in church history
F. He was well known
G. He was prominent in church affairs
H. He possesses all of the qualities of the author of JAMES
I. The writings in JAMES are consistent with the struggles he faced
K. He was the brother if Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus
L. He was the one and only James referred by his name alone

9. Why is it unlikely that James, the brother of Judas, authored the Epistle of JAMES? Luke 6:16 (2)
(May be more than one answer)
A. He is referred to as the “Less”
B. He was known for his stature of dignity
C. He was insignificant in early church history
D. He is virtually unknown.
E. He was martyred at an early time in church history
F. He was well known
G. He was prominent in church affairs
H. He possesses all of the qualities of the author of JAMES
I. The writings in JAMES are consistent with the struggles he faced
K. He was the brother of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus
L. He was the one and only James referred by his name alone

10. Why is it unlikely that James, the brother of John, authored the Epistle of JAMES? Acts 12:1-3 (3)
(May be more than one answer)
A. He is referred to as the “Less”
B. He was known for his stature of dignity
C. He was insignificant in early church history
D. He is virtually unknown.
E. He was martyred at an early time in church history
F. He was well known
G. He was prominent in church affairs
H. He possesses all of the qualities of the author of JAMES
I. The writings in JAMES are consistent with the struggles he faced
K. He was the brother of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus
L. He was the one and only James referred by his name alone

11. Why is it likely that James, the half brother of Jesus Christ, authored the Epistle of JAMES? Acts 12:1-3 (3)
(May be more than one answer)
A. He is referred to as the “Less”
B. He was known for his stature of dignity
C. He was insignificant in early church history
D. He is virtually unknown.
E. He was martyred at an early time in church history
F. He was well known
G. He was prominent in church affairs
H. He possesses all of the qualities of the author of JAMES
I. The writings in JAMES are consistent with the spiritual struggles he faced
K. He was the brother of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus
L. He was the one and only James referred by his name alone

12. Who had the stature of a “pillar” to Paul? Galatians 2:9-15 (6)
(May be more than one answer)
A. James
B. Peter
C. John
D. Barnabas

13. (Essay) What characteristics does a “pillar” represent in a Christian? Galatians 2:9-15 (6)

14. What is the other name that Peter is known by in the Word of God? Galatians 2:9-15 (6)
A. Paul B. Cephas
C. Pope D. Jude

15. Who was with Paul when they met the three workers of Christ? Galatians 2:9-15 (6)
A. Barnabas
B. Barabbas
C. Barney
D. Barbie

16. What did Paul think about this confident authority that James and the others displayed to him? Galatians 2:9-15 (7)
(May be more than one answer)
A. It caused him some concern that his brothers in Christ were acting superior to him
B. It caused him some worry that they were trying to take over his ministry territory
C. It gave him the ability to recognize his fellow brothers and workers in Christ
D. It allowed him to know that they were superior in ranking, and in authority over him

17. How did the five Christian workers greet each other? Galatians 2:9-15 (7)
A. With kisses and hugs
B. With the handshake of right hands
C. With the drawing of fishes with their feet in the sand
D. All of the above

18. What were the men able to recognize about each other when they met? Galatians 2:9-15 (7-8)
(May be more than one answer)
A. Human frailty
B. Sins of their nature
C. Authority and honor in Christ’s Kingdom
D. Leader of churches and religious institutions
E. Had the ability to perceive and understand things spiritual

19. What word best describes the ability for a Christian to see and gain understanding? Galatians 2:9-15 (8 )
A. Knowledge
B. Wisdom
C. Perception
D. All of the above

20. What must a Christian have to obtain the “knowledge” of the LORD GOD’s Grace? Gal 2:9-15 (8 )
(May be more than one answer)
A. The LORD GOD must first give the Christian the ability to see and understand
B. The Christian must know the loving kindness of the LORD GOD
C. The Christian must be able recognize the gift of the LORD GOD’s Grace
D. All of the above

21. What is the definition of the LORD GOD’s Grace? Galatians 2:9-15 (Footnote)
A. The salvation and redemption of a sinner
B. The forgiveness of sins through a contrite heart
C. The cleansing and rebirth of a sinner into the Kingdom of God
D. An undeserved gift of the LORD GOD to a person that places divine influence upon his heart

22. (Let’s Talk)
Why is it important for each of us to strive to walk as “pillars” among our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?

What characteristics of a Worker for Christ do you possess that contributes to this appearance?

Is the appearance of a stature of a pillar “self-made” through the self improvement efforts of a Christian, or is it a position given by the LORD GOD or fellow Christians?

How much study and knowledge of the Word of God is necessary to be a “pillar” among your faithful congregation of believers?

How important is it that a Christian “pillar” maintains that appearance when he goes into the world?

How does a Christian “pillar” avoid the accusations of “holier than thou” and hypocrite?

How does the Christian “pillar” avoid the temptations of the world?

How does the Christian pillar avoid becoming a lover of self and boastful in nature?

Where is the line between a pillar and a braggart in the community of Christians and in the community of non-believers?

23. What did the five men discuss in their meeting? Galatians 2:9-15 (9)
A. The sins of the world
B. The anger and violence that they were facing among the heathen population
C. The problems with the Pharisees and the Jewish leaders
D. The division of their ministry

24. Who was the partner of Paul in his ministry? Galatians 2:9-15 (9)
A. Barnabas
B. James
C. Peter
D. John

25. What ministry did Paul accept at the division between the men? Galatians 2:9-15 (9)
A. Ministry of Gentiles
B. Ministry of the Jewish Tribes of Israel
C. Ministry of the Christian Churches
D. All of the above

26. What ministry did James, Peter and John assume? Galatians 2:9-15 (9)
A. Ministry of Gentiles
B. Ministry of the Jewish Tribes of Israel
C. Ministry of the Christian Churches
D. All of the above

27. What is another term used to describe the people that James, Peter and John would teach? Gal 2:9-15 (9)
A. People of grace
B. People of the Roman Catholic Church
C. People of circumcision
D. People of Peter’s Church

28. What specific doctrine were all five men teaching? Galatians 2:9-15 (9)
A. The Foundation of Jesus Christ
B. The Doctrine of Christ’s Church
C. The Doctrine of Man
D. The Doctrine of Law and Obedience to the LORD GOD

29. What is a common term that is associated with Gentiles? Galatians 2:9-15 (10)
(May be more than one answer)
A. Heathen
B. Common
C. Worldly
D. Relatives of Christians
E. Relatives of Jews
F. All of the above

30. What type of tradition and belief did the Gentiles hold? Galatians 2:9-15 (10)
A. None
B. Worship of false pagan gods
C. Worship of the LORD GOD exclusively through the obeying of His Laws
D. Sunday morning church, Wednesday night Bible Studies

31. What type of tradition and belief did the Jewish Tribes of Israel practice? Galatians 2:9-15 (11)

A. None
B. Worship of false pagan gods
C. Worship of the LORD GOD exclusively through the obeying of His Laws
D. The Catholic Faith of Roman oppressors

32. What focus did all five men hold in common concerning their ministries? Galatians 2:9-15 (12)

A. Feeding the poor people the Living Word of Jesus Christ
B. Feeding the rich people the Living Word of Jesus Christ
C. Feeding the religious people the Living Word of Jesus Christ
D. Feed the leaders of the people the Living Word of Jesus Christ

33. Why are we studying Galatians to learn about James? Galatians 2:9-15 (12)
(May be more than one answer)
A. The Teacher got the wrong chapter
B. A serious mistake that Peter made during this time, might well have contributed to development of the Epistle written by James
C. The Epistle of James places a tremendous spiritual focus on the expectations of the LORD GOD in the working faith of a Christian, and the precautions needed to be taken to go out into the world, things these five men should have considered before assuming their works in faith
D. The Epistle of Galatians comes right before James in our Bibles