The Book of James
"The Six Tests of Faith"
based on an outline by D. Edmond Hiebert, found in "The Unifying Theme of the Epistle of James," Bibliotheca Sacra Vol 135, #539

J. Deering,

1.  List of Book of James Chapter Studies

2.  Book of James Outline

3.  Addendum Study on Judging Others
4 Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Introduction and Summary Outline on The Book of James
5.  Dr. Clarence E. Mason, An Expository Analysis of The Book of James

The Epistle of James (Iakobos - Jacob)

Most probably James the physical brother of Jesus Christ. He would probably have been the oldest of the younger brothers of Jesus.

Written to Jews of the returned captivity (Assyrian and Babylonian) dispersion who had become believers in Jesus Christ. The book is addressed primarily to believers, but also secondarily to unbelieving Jews. James wrote his epistle in Hellenistic Greek and is a clear sign that his interest was with the Greek educated Hellenistic Jews and not with the Hebrew educated Jews of the Jerusalem area (and thus those who were dispersed from there as well). James resented Humility, Patience and Prayer to believers, and awful warnings to the unbeliever. He also warned of the then coming destruction of Jerusalem, and he was martyred on Passover (AD 69), one year before his warning became reality for Jerusalem.

Peter regarded James so much that he quotes from the book of James ten times. James is a devout Jew who has not ceased to be a Jew while becoming a Christian. It is important that he makes no mention of Jewish rituals or sacrifice.

The book is clearly related to Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5). Both see the fulfillment of the Law of Moses in Love. Both also see the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the complete fulfillment of the Law.

The Book of James is Probably the First epistle written in the New Testament.

James sees the problems in the early church as:
        Superficial goodness
        Indolent Foolishness
        Untamed Thoughtlessness

James and the Law:

James is remembered as a man of great wisdom and a teacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ without disparaging the Law.  He had a zealousness toward the Law – rightly understood. If any could win the Jews to the Gospel it would be James. He presented the pattern of Old Testament righteousness combined with evangelical faith.

James taught that the Law was to be put in its proper place: The Law is enforced in its everlasting "Spirit" but not in the "Letter," for which the Jews were so zealous. It is James, the leader of the Judaic Church of Christ, who continues to observe the Mosaic Law – not as a means of salvation, but as a way of life. Now that he has become a Christian Jew, he labels the Law of Moses, "The Law of Liberty." He is now free from the penalty of the law, and free to live as the law teaches in full liberty – because he wants to.

James is not in conflict with Paul's teachings of grace, in fact James was a big supporter of Paul in both his teachings and leadership of the Gentile Church.

James would say that "Practice, not profession, is the test of obedience", or better, "Love is Tested by Obedience." (Matthew/James verses to consider - Jas 2:17; 4:17; Mt. 76:21-23; Mt. 5:22; Jas 2:8; Mt. 5:44-48).

The whole epistle is concerned with one simple truth: It is not enough to 'be' a Christian, if this fact does not show in one's conduct." The unifying thread of the epistle is "the obvious but important truth that a man's faith, his attitude toward God, is unreal and worthless if it is not effective, if it does not work practically in life. This entire epistle deals with Christian faith, and shows how this faith should be genuine, true, active, living, and fruitful.

The Epistle of James has much to say about faith. The noun "faith" occurs sixteen times and the verb "believe" three times. But a glance at the contents of the epistle makes it obvious that James is not concerned with developing a theological exposition of the nature of Christian faith. He holds that a saving faith accepts Jesus Christ as the all-sufficient Savior (1:1; 2:1).

The purpose of James is to encourage his readers to recognize and accept their need for a living, active faith and to challenge them to test their own faith by the basic criterion that "faith without works is useless" (2:20). He insists that a saving faith is a living faith, proving its genuineness by what it does. But it is a misconception to assume that his purpose is simply to stress the importance of good works.  James is not advocating works apart from faith, but he is vitally concerned to show that a living faith must demonstrate its dynamic character by its deeds.

The, contents of the epistle, further, make it clear that James is not content simply to establish the abstract truth that a saving faith is a dynamic, productive faith. His purpose is practical, to present a series of tests whereby his readers can determine the genuineness of their own faith. "The testing of your faith" (1:3) seems to be the key which James left hanging at the front door, intended to unlock the contents of the book. This writer proposes that "the testing of a living faith" is indeed the unifying theme of the epistle and that it provides ready access to its contents.

This understanding of the Epistle of James heightens its practical and timely message. The author's stern insistence on Christian practice consistent with Christian profession, his open contempt for all sham, and his stinging rebukes of worldliness in its varied forms are notes that are urgently needed in Christianity today. As long as there are professed Christians who are prone to separate profession and practice, the message of this epistle will continue to be relevant.

Outline Used in this Study:

The Six Tests of Faith

I.    Test Number One: James 1:19-27
       Faith Tested by its Response to The Word of God

II.    Test Number Two: James 2:1-13
         Faith Tested by its Reaction to Partiality

III.    Test Number Three: James 2:14-26
          Faith Tested by its Production of Works

IV.    Test Number Four: James 3:1-18
          Faith Tested by its Production of Self Control

V.    Test Number Five: James 4:1-5:12
        Faith Tested by its Reaction to Worldliness

VI.    Test Number Six: James 5:13-18
          Faith Tested by its Resort to Prayer

Brief Outline (J. Deering,

Having a New Relationship to God (through Faith) Does Not Give Excuse

I.  Living God's Word Produces Perfection, Chapter 1
    A.    From: James, To: Israel's Christians, 1:1
    B.    Testing Produces Endurance, Endurance Produces Perfection, 1:2-4
    C.    If You Need Wisdom To Bear Testing, Ask God without Doubting, 1:5-8
    D.    Boast In Your Testing, You've Been Counted Worthy, 1:9-11
    E.    Good Testing Is From God, 1:12-18
    F.    The Secret of Success is in the Doing, Not the Hearing, 1:19-27
II. Respond to God's Mercy with Works, Chapter 2 
    A.    Appreciate What Christ Has Fred You From - Judgment, 2:1-13
    B.    Be Certain Your Faith Produces Works - Or You Don't Have "Saving Faith," 2:14-26

III. Christ-likeness is a Way of Life , Chapter 3
    A.    While the Members of the Body can defile themselves, the Tongue is able to defile the Whole Body, 3:1-12
    B.    True Wisdom - Christ-likeness Is A Way Of Life, Not A Title, 3:13-18

IV. Don't Place Yourself Above Others, Chapter 4 
    A.    Don't Practice Idolatry - Even Unawares, 4:1-10
    B.    Don't Set Yourself Up as a little god, 4:11-12
    C.    (A. + B.) For That Is Sin, 4:13-17

V. Don't Try to be God, Chapter 5 
    A.    Don't Put Your Faith In Things, 5:1-6
    B.    Be Patient and Don't Try to be gods, 5:7-11
    C.    Don't Try To Be God, 5:12
    D.    Instead, Rely On Him, 5:13-18
    E.    Keep Others From Doing These Very Same Things, 5:19-20