The Book of James: an Encouragement to Young Christians

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
— James 1:22

James is often misunderstood as a hodge-podge of collected wisdom sayings that accidentally refutes basic biblical doctrine. Martin Luther, the great reformer, wanted the book of James thrown out of the New Testament because he thought it conflicted with "grace through faith alone." The reality is that James is an organized work of basic encouragements to immature Christians.


1/3/15: James 1:1-18 - Trusting the Process of Trials
1/10/15: James 1:22-27; 2:14-27 - The Sin of Passivity – “be doers of word”
1/17/15: James 2:1-9; 3:1-12 - The Sin of Partiality and the Power of the Tongue
1/24/15: James 4:1-12; 5:13-20 - Selfish Immaturity is Tearing You Apart
1/31/15: James 4:13-5:11 - Worldliness and Injustice: Respond in Patience


James is like a field guide for helping immature believers through a crisis. The church receiving this letter church is likely poor, persecuted, immature, and not responding well to trials. As you read James, you will walk through many basic acts of Christianity: responding to trials, taming the tongue, worldliness, etc.


Also, you might notice that James feels choppy as you read through it, leading most to believe it has no coherency. One way I have found some rhythm to James is to read it in chunks of summaries and specifics. So, James goes from summaries to specifics, allowing the specifics to exound on the summary statements. It might look something like this:

  1. ENDURING TRIALS (1:2-18)
    A. Summary (1:2-6)
    Faith in God’s Sovereignty (1:2)
    Faith and Perseverance (1:3-4)
    Faith and God’s Gifts (1:5)
    Faith Vs. Doubt (1:6)
    B. Specifics (1:9-18)
    Faith Vs. Doubt (1:7-8)
    Faith and Finances (1:9-11)
    Faith and Perseverance (1:12)
    Faith and Fatalism (1:13-18)
  2. APPLYING THE WORD (1:19–3:18)
    A. Summary (1:19-27)
    Anger Vs. Obedience (1:19-21)
    Passivity Vs. Obedience (1:22-25)
    Speech and Obedience (1:26)
    The Impartiality of Obedience (1:27)
    B. Specifics (2:1–3:18)
    Partiality Vs. Obedience (2:1-13)
    Passivity Vs. Obedience (2:14-26)
    Speech and Obedience (3:1-12)
  3. SOLVING PROBLEMS (4:1–5:20)
    A. Summary (4:1-5)
    Selfish Immaturity within the community (4:1-3)
    Worldliness is a Danger (4:4-5)
    B. Specifics (4:6-5:11)
    Repent of your Immaturity (4:6-12)
    Consideration for the community (5:13-20)
    Worldliness examples (4:13-5:6)
    Waiting for God is the cure for worldliness (5:7-11)

This outline developed from the work of Daniel B. Wallace and others.