The Epistle of James

The Epistle of James cover art
Instructor: Multiple Instructors
Lessons: 2
Discipline: New Testament
Course Group: General Epistles

The Epistle of James is an intensely practical book for readers in every age. James' original audience had professed faith in Christ, but many were not living lives that reflected their beliefs. To address this disparity, James dealt with real-world issues that still speak to us today. This series looks at the background, structure and content of the book of James and explores the wisdom and practical instruction in James that remain relevant for modern readers.

Course Goals:

  • Introduce the background, structure and content of the book of James.
  • Orient viewers to the theme of wisdom in the book of James and its relationship to practical living.

65 min.

Lesson 1: Introduction to James

Introduces the epistle of James as the New Testament book of wisdom, and examines the author, audience, occasion of writing, and the letter's structure and content.
78 min.

Forum 1: Introduction to James

A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • How significant is it that James introduces himself in his letter as "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," rather than as Jesus' brother?
  • What kind of weight would James' brotherly relationship with Jesus carry in the apostolic church?
  • Why is it important to know something about the Jewish background of James' audience when interpreting this letter?
  • If we pray and ask God for wisdom, how can we be sure that the decisions we make will come from God's wisdom and not from ourselves?
  • What is wisdom literature?
  • What kind of influence did the wisdom literature of Second Temple Judaism have on the epistle of James?
  • What is the relationship between wisdom and understanding?
  • How does James tie together the themes of "true religion" and the "royal law"?
  • What relevance do James' instructions concerning the rich and the poor have in today's global economy?
  • Why did James place such a high value on "the tongue" as an indicator of a person's spiritual state?
  • How should we best understand what James calls the "prayer of faith" in James 5:15?
78 min.

Forum 1: Introduction to James

A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • How significant is it that James introduces himself in his letter as "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," rather than as Jesus' brother?
  • What kind of weight would James' brotherly relationship with Jesus carry in the apostolic church?
  • Why is it important to know something about the Jewish background of James' audience when interpreting this letter?
  • If we pray and ask God for wisdom, how can we be sure that the decisions we make will come from God's wisdom and not from ourselves?
  • What is wisdom literature?
  • What kind of influence did the wisdom literature of Second Temple Judaism have on the epistle of James?
  • What is the relationship between wisdom and understanding?
  • How does James tie together the themes of "true religion" and the "royal law"?
  • What relevance do James' instructions concerning the rich and the poor have in today's global economy?
  • Why did James place such a high value on "the tongue" as an indicator of a person's spiritual state?
  • How should we best understand what James calls the "prayer of faith" in James 5:15?
69 min.

Lesson 2: Two Paths of Wisdom

Explores both reflective and practical wisdom found in the book of James and discusses what this meant for the original audience and what it means for Christians today.
75 min.

Forum 2: Two Paths of Wisdom

A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • What is wisdom?
  • Why does James give so much emphasis to the challenges facing poor believers?
  • What can we learn from James about the need to grow in Christian maturity?
  • Why does James need to remind his audience to put what they've been taught into practice?
  • Why does James differentiate between two types of wisdom?
  • What is the relationship between wisdom and righteousness?
  • What is James' understanding of the uses and function of the law in the life of the believer?
  • What is the relationship between faith and works in the Christian life?
  • What are some common ways that contemporary interpreters misunderstand the relationship between faith and justification in the epistle of James?
  • In what ways did James and Paul complement each other when they discussed faith and justification in their letters?
75 min.

Forum 2: Two Paths of Wisdom

A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • What is wisdom?
  • Why does James give so much emphasis to the challenges facing poor believers?
  • What can we learn from James about the need to grow in Christian maturity?
  • Why does James need to remind his audience to put what they've been taught into practice?
  • Why does James differentiate between two types of wisdom?
  • What is the relationship between wisdom and righteousness?
  • What is James' understanding of the uses and function of the law in the life of the believer?
  • What is the relationship between faith and works in the Christian life?
  • What are some common ways that contemporary interpreters misunderstand the relationship between faith and justification in the epistle of James?
  • In what ways did James and Paul complement each other when they discussed faith and justification in their letters?