The date of this epistle is approximately 45 AD. It is one of the earliest of the epistles and one of the most practical. The place of writing is Jerusalem, and already in Jerusalem there are those practicing legalism which could have hindered the grace ministries of Peter, Paul and the other apostles. Both Peter and Paul would eventually move out of Jerusalem and leave the leadership of the church in Jerusalem to James. The Book of James is a book of commands: there are fifty-four imperatives in the book of James. James’ epistle was written from the viewpoint of Christian application and production, two words that could summarize this book.
The great focal point of the earlier chapters has to do with faith and the principle of justification by works. James is not discussing salvation, as many think. He is discussing the Christian way of life. James talks about justification by works before people, not before God. Believers are justified by the application of Bible doctrine before people. Doctrine is on the inside and cannot be seen but its application can often be seen. Your faith in Jesus Christ is on the inside and can’t be seen, but the result of your faith can be seen by means of your ambassadorship. There are many overt manifestations of what goes on inside of you. Inside of you is faith in Jesus Christ. Inside of you is justification by faith. The fact that you are justified by faith is a reality, a principle of truth, but it is something in the soul that is unobservable just as the soul is unobservable.
James was dealing with the overt side of the Christian life for the most part and he was saying in effect that there are some norms and standards that if you are growing spiritually will be manifested your life. What is behind an overt action in the case of a mature believer is Bible doctrine. When you believe in Christ, that is justification by faith (before God). But when you have a lot of Bible doctrine in your soul and you are applying it, that is justification by works (before people).
People often have a habit of trying to set up certain norms and standards as to what a Christian should be. And, if you don’t happen to fit into those norms and standards they say you’re not a Christian. Some people believe that certain people they know are not Christians because they commit some particular sin; usually something that shocks them. But according to the Word of God a Christian is capable of committing any sin an unbeliever commits. A Christian still has a sin nature and you cannot say that a person is unsaved because of some sin they commit.
“James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad, greetings.”
James was the half-brother of Jesus. (Matthew 13:55) James was not a believer during the public ministry of Jesus Christ. (John 7:5) However, he did become a believer after the resurrection. (Acts 1:14;
I Corinthians 15:7; James 1:1) Neither James, his mother Mary nor his father Joseph, were saved on the basis of their family relationship with Jesus Christ, they were saved like everyone else, by faith in Christ. (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:2,9,12)
James called himself “a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek noun for servant is “doulos,” which means a slave. He belonged to God. Then he put in the Greek word “kai,” which is a word of equality and it is translated “and.” He placed God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as equal and he called himself a slave of both of them. James recognized, through the Bible doctrine in his soul, his true relationship with God. Relationship with God is always based on Bible doctrine.
The next interesting point in this verse is that this is addressed “to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad.” This tells us that he did not address it to only Jews in Jerusalem over whom he had authority as their pastor. He had already recognized their negative volition because of the legalism of the Mosaic Law he observed within the church. Believers who become negative toward doctrine and continue that way are in a state of hopelessness. The Church started in Jerusalem and had its first impact from Jerusalem, but the Jerusalem church was also the first to go down to apostasy. The Jewish church in Jerusalem was finished with regard to any further impact for Christ. Where there is negative volition toward Bible doctrine, legalism and emotional revolt of the soul eventually take over. So was the case with the church at Jerusalem. Therefore it was to the advantage of the believing Jews to be scattered into other regions where legalism was not so rampant.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
The Greek word for consider is the imperative “hegeomai,”which means to add up the facts and come to a conclusion. The facts that had to be added up were principles of Bible doctrine which they possessed in their souls. Therefore for someone to tell a person to consider it all joy when they are going through testing and that person has no doctrine in their soul is totally out of line. Add up the facts from the Word of God and then make your conclusion. No doctrine, no facts; no facts, no conclusion; no conclusion, no obeying the command to consider. This imperative command can be obeyed only when you have knowledge of Bible doctrine. The middle voice here says that you do this yourself, no one can do it for you.
The Greek word for joy is “chara,” meaning inner happiness. This verse is saying that the only possible way for believers to have happiness in a pressure situation is by utilizing of the doctrinal facts stored in their souls. When they do, inner happiness will be the conclusion. This is a command to come to the conclusion that all is joy, based on the doctrine in your soul. You cannot conclude what you do not have.
The Greek word for encounter is“peripipto,” which means to fall into. In other words, this says that there are going to be certain times in your Christian life when you are going to encounter testing, often of your own making. And the Greek word for various is “poikilos,” which simply means variegated, many types, or many categories of testing. The Greek word for trials is “peirasmos,” which means testing to determine the quality of something. Testing always concludes with either a positive or a negative attitude. There is no testing for the believer that cannot be handled with proper application of Bible doctrine using the Problem-Solving Devices. (I Corinthians 10:13)
The Greek word for knowing is “ginosko,” which means to learn from experience. In this case, we are to be learning from the experience of studying Bible doctrine consistently. The Greek word for testing is “dokimion,” which means testing for the purpose of approval. In other words, every pressure in life is a test but it is designed for approval and for advancment. The Greek word for faith is “pistis,” which is a technical word and in its technical use it refers to the whole body of Bible doctrine stored in your soul. So “of your faith” is literally, “of your doctrine.”
The Greek word for endurance is “hupomone,” which means to abide under. It refers to patience from a stabilized faith; the stabilized use of doctrine in the life. Therefore it comes to mean the ability to trust without wavering under the most adverse of circumstances, and even for prolonged periods of time. (Isaiah 30:18; 40:31; Psalm 37:7, 34; 65:2; Acts 1:4) Patience is what happens to faith when the believer develops the edification complex of the soul and uses it. Patience is simply anything an edification complex will do for you while you are under pressure. Endurance means to stay under your edification complex, like staying under an umbrella when it is raining. The edification complex functions in adversity, constantly producing everything from Grace Orientation to Sharing the Happiness of God.
“And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The Greek word for perfect is “teleios,” which refers to that which is completed, fully grown, fully developed. It refers to the rapid construction of the edification complex in the soul, under pressure. It doesn’t mean witnessing or praying, or anything of that sort, it means having grace orientation and happiness under pressure as a result of the construction of the edification complex. Remember that this is potential only, depending on whether you have erected the complex or not. The Greek word for complete is “holokleros” and is the idea of the whole having all of its parts, completed in every part, intact and undamaged. It means, therefore, that you can go through any storm in life and it can’t damage your edification complex. The Greek word for lacking is “leipo” meaning to be deficient. So it should be translated “being deficient in nothing.”
There are three Greek words for edification. The first word is “oikodome,”which means the erection of a structure or the building of a building. It is the act of construction. By analogy it is the concept of the intake and application of doctrine by which the edification complex is constructed in the soul. The second word is “oikodomia,” which means the result of construction: the great blessings, the happiness, and so on. The third word is “oikodomos,” which means the constructor, the contractor, or the builder. Studying and applying Bible doctrine under the filling of the Holy Spirit builds a believer’s structure. (Ephesians 4:12-13)
There are two spirits in edification, the Holy Spirit and the human spirit. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is teaching a believer’s human spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit is the key to building your edification complex. (Romans 8:16; 1 Corinthians 2:12-13; Job 32:8) The human spirit is acquired at the point of salvation, along with the Holy Spirit. These two together make it possible for an edification complex to be constructed in your lifetime. The Holy Spirit eliminates the human IQ factor and the human spirit is the storage spot in which construction material is found to erect the complex. (Ephesians 4:23,24; Colossians 1:9,10; 1 John 2:3) The humanity of Christ possessed an edification complex. (Luke 2:40, 52; John 1:14) There at least eight biblical synonyms for the complex: 1) light, Psalm 43:3; 119;130; Ephesians 5:8,9, 13; 2) the glory of God, Jeremiah 13:16; 1 Corinthians 11:7; 3) the fullness of God, Ephesians 3:19; 4) imitators of God, Ephesians 5:1 5) Christ at home in your hearts, Ephesians 3:17; 6) Christ formed in you, Galatians 4:19; 7) the new man, Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; 8) the perfect work, James 1:4.