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The Book of James: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

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Written by Patti Greene

Today, in our summary of the Book of James, we will be looking at it from the viewpoint of the “five W’s.” Researchers, journalists, and other investigators use the “five W’s” to find out the full story of a person or subject. They include using these essential words: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. So, let’s get started.

Who Wrote The Book of James? And Who was Its Audience?

Most scholars believe James, the oldest half-brother of Jesus, wrote this five-chapter book. It is thought that James did not initially believe in Jesus, but that he became a believer after Jesus’ resurrection when the risen Lord visited him. James eventually became a prominent leader in the Jerusalem church. He wrote this letter to the scattered Jewish believers as their pastor, telling them to make changes in their lives and relationships with others. James never called himself an apostle, but in James 1:1, he calls himself “a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is the most likely candidate for authorship.

However, some consider two other Jameses in the Bible to be possibilities for authorship. A few scholars credit James, son of Zebedee and one of the apostles and brother of John, as the author. This theory is usually discredited because this James was martyred in 44 A.D. by Herod Agrippa. 

Others consider that James, son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve apostles, is the author. On the contrary, this James was somewhat obscure, so most Biblical scholars choose the author of the Book of James as Jesus’ half-brother—the man who is known to have knees like a camel because of the amount of time on his knees before God.

James writes from Jerusalem to the audience of the twelve tribes scattered among the nations, mainly in Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. These were Jewish Christians who spread from the early Jewish Church in Jerusalem because of the spiritual decline in Jerusalem and the testing and trials they were encountering, primarily from Jewish unbelievers.

What Themes are Covered in The Book of James?

The main themes of The Book of James revolve around practical and ethical Christian living. Biblegateway.com lists ten themes in the book.¹

  1. God is the source of all wisdom
  2. Testing and trials
  3. Wealth and oppression
  4. Material things will not last
  5. The unjust rich
  6. Everything belongs to God
  7. Favoritism
  8. Godly Speech
  9. Faith and Good Deeds
  10. The Law

While this list is not exhaustive, it gives evidence of the vast topics many people are interested in and are desirous of studying.

Where is the Book of James Located in the Bible?

James is in the New Testament between the Book of Hebrews, which discusses perfection, and 1 Peter, which deliberates about the importance of knowing Jesus.

When was The Book of James Written?

The Book of James is believed to be one of the first New Testament books written. Most scholars date this book after the death of Jesus Christ—around 48 A.D.

Why Read The Book of James?

The biggest reason to read The Book of James is for its practical instructions for our life. By including multiple references to Jesus’ teaching, believers can learn to follow Christ and His principles more precisely. And who doesn’t need to know how to have patience during trials and temptations, how not to be hypocritical, how not to express favoritism, and more? Pastor Chuck Swindoll says, “More than any other book in the New Testament, James places the spotlight on the necessity for believers to act in accordance with our faith.”²

The challenge awaits to read, study, and apply James’ principles so as believers, we can talk and walk humbly before our heavenly Father and others.

Contained above are only small snippets into The Book of James, but hopefully, you have gained some insight that encourages you to dig deeper into God’s word. And as a plus, remember that the “five W’s” can be used to pursue your Bible studies, and for that matter, any other studies.

Great Verses in the Book of James (NASB)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, James 1:2

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14

But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; James 1:19

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1

You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. James 3:14

BIBLE VERSES:

See above.

PRAYER:

Oh, my heavenly Father, create in me a desire to delve more into Your word—The Bible. Give me Your insights into living my Christian life to its fullest potential. Would you please give me the grace to follow the Holy Spirit? Use me. Please enlighten me. Lead me closer to You every day. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

God Bless,

¹ Biblegateway. Accessed 23 Nov 2021. biblegateway.com.

² Swindoll, Chuck. Accessed 23 Nov 2021. insightforliving.com.

Edited by E. Johnson.

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About the author

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Patti Greene

Patti Greene is the author of three outstanding devotional prayer journals, Answer Me, Anchor Me, and Awaken Me and a book titled "Christian Caregiving: Practical Advice for a Happy Ending." Patti earned a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and pursued graduate studies in religious education and library science spending two years as a second-grade teacher. After spending 12 years as a stay-at-home mom, Greene spent 18 more years as a school librarian in St. Louis, Missouri and Houston, Texas. When not writing books or blogs, Greene spends her time caregiving, reading, researching, and hanging out with her family and friends. Patti and her husband have three adult children and five grandchildren. Visit her blog at GreenePastures.org.

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