Steeping in James – 1:2-18

This week was spent steeping in James 1:2-18 and primarily the topic of steadfastness. Below are some notes I made by way of reflection and also a couple of application questions. What you see below was what Meg and I used to guide our discussion this week.

This week’s study followed pages 58-77 of the commentary. The way I approached the passage this week was as follows:

  1. Read through the passage once cleanly – I’ve been using the ESV (English Standard Version) as it is my translation of choice. My wife has been using an NCV (New Century Version). The ESV compliments Moo’s commentary nicely as Moo uses the RSV, of which the ESV is an ~updated version. The NCV is more of a paraphrase and makes for a good contrast to the ESV.
  2. Read through the passage taking notes, jotting questions and thoughts.
  3. Read through the passage with an eye specifically for application questions.
  4. Read through the commentary taking notes as I went (this usually happens in the book itself – thus my commentary is full of underlining and notes).
  5. Spent some time reflecting and going back through the passage again – writing out notes that would guide our discussion time and trying to gain the overall perspective of what James was trying to communicate to his original recipients and what God is trying to communicate to me.

Reflections:

  • Written to some of his flock whom have dispersed from Jerusalem, James writes to encourage these early Christians.
    • They are likely experiencing trials (most likely external afflictions such as illness, financial, social, economical persecution).
  • A major theme here is that of steadfastness.
    • Steadfastness is the “quality required by Christians as they face adversity, temptation, and persecution.”
    • Fortitude, staying power, and heroic endurance also capture the meaning.
    • Moo writes, “Steadfastness is not a meek or passive submission to circumstances, but a strong, active, challenging response in which the satisfying realities of Christianity are proven in practice.” (p 60).
    • I found Moo’s insights on steadfastness extremely helpful.
  • Mature Christians are the product of testing.
  • Perfection is what we are striving for and maturing towards, however, ultimately we are only made completely perfect at the end of the age by God himself.
  • In order to stand steadfast, we need wisdom. Moo defines wisdom as “a practically-oriented virtue that gives direction for the life of the Godly person.”
    • We are encouraged to come boldly with our requests to God.
  • Verse 6 – faith means more than a belief that God will give us what we ask for; it also includes confident, unwavering trust in God.
  • Doubting (contrasts with faith) in this context suggests not so much intellectual questioning, but a conflict in loyalties.
  • “Double-minded” – Believed to be the first use of this word in the Greek language.
    • Some think that James coined the term which carries the meaning of the direct opposite of faith.
  • Verses 9-11 form a practical aside to 2-8.
    • Both being rich and being poor creates difficulty for the practical application of verses 2-8.
    • A reminder that our sole basis for confidence is our identification with Christ Jesus.
  • Steadfastness comes up again near the end of the passage.
    • In verses 3-4, steadfastness is presented as the product of testing.
    • Here (v12), it is a blessing on those who endure the trial.
    • The Christian must practice “steadfastness” in order to achieve a settled, steadfast character.
  • The crown of life as a reward – the NT uses rewards and the glories of heaven as motivation and encouragement (see for example, Romans 8:18).
  • While God is sovereign, he does not create sin. Our own desires give birth instead – luring and enticing.
    • Moo used a helpful analogy of bait on a hook.
  • Everything good and perfect (gift) is from above including our salvation brought forth by the Gospel (word of truth). As such, we – as believers – are a kind of first fruits.

Application Questions:

  • God does not tempt us (v13-14), but he does test us/allow us to be tested (v2-4).
    • Why does he test us/allow us to be tested?
    • In what ways am I being tested and how am I dealing with that?
    • Verse 2 says to count it all joy. How is that possible? How do you do that?
  • Verses 5-8 indicate that if we lack wisdom, we are to seek and ask for it from God. Yet we are to do so in faith, without doubting. If we do so, he will give generously.
    • Do you seek wisdom primarily from God? Or do you seek wisdom primarily elsewhere (books, magazines, friends, TV shows, the Internet, etc)?
    • When you do seek wisdom from God, do you seek in faith without doubting?
    • What prevents you from doing so?
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~ by toddbumgarner on August 26, 2008 5:30 am.

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