Key Themes in James

1. God is seen as a gracious giver, the unchanging Creator, merciful and compassionate, a Judge, the one and only God, a jealous God, a gracious God, and a healing God. 1:5, 17–18; 2:5, 13, 19; 4:5–6; 5:1–3, 9, 15
2. Wisdom comes “from above” and enables one both to withstand trials and to bring peace rather than discord. 1:5; 3:13, 17
3. God allows tests and trials (1:2–4), but temptation comes not from God but from self and Satan. The required response is patient endurance. 1:3, 13–14; 4:7; 5:7–8
4. The primary trial is poverty and oppression from the rich. The poor are the special focus of God’s care and must be cared for by his people and not shown prejudice or ignored. The wealthy are condemned for presumptuous pride and for stealing from the poor. 1:9, 27; 2:1–5, 15–16; 4:13–17; 5:1–6
5. Apocalyptic themes are prevalent in terms of both future judgment and reward. 1:12; 2:5, 12–13; 3:1; 4:12; 5:1–7, 9, 20
6. The power of the tongue to destroy or to bring peace dominates the middle section. 3:1–4:12
7. The ethical mandate to go beyond hearing the word to living it out in daily conduct is made explicit early on and is implicit throughout the letter. 1:19–27; 2:14–26
8. Prayer is the proper response to trials, but it must not be self-seeking. It is to be central in life not only when afflicted or sick but also when cheerful. God has great power to heal, both physically and spiritually. 1:5–7; 4:2–3; 5:13–18
9. Faith, in its relationship to both works and justification, does not contradict but supplements Paul’s teaching. James and Paul are united in teaching that justification comes only by the grace of God through faith but will of necessity result in works. If there are no resultant works, there was no justification in the first place. 2:14–26

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