Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the New Testament epistle written by James unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad. More specifically today’s passage is found in the fourth and fifth chapters of this New Testament book. “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously? But He gives move grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let you laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:1-10).
“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:11-17).
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Saboath. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you” (James 5:1-6).
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. She how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your Yes be Yes and your No, No, lest you fall into judgment” (James 5:7-12).
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit” (James 5:13-18).
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
When you come to the fourth and fifth chapters of the epistle written by James unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad you will find this epistle drawing to a close. Within these chapters is incredibly powerful language that must be clearly understood and discerned as they provide us with a tremendous reality concerning our own hearts and lives. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words found in these chapters as they call and draw our attention to some of the dangers which we as the saints of God face within our lives. As you read the words presented within these chapters you will find that even Christians—those who profess the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and claim to be His disciples and followers—can struggle and wrestle with internal conflicts in themselves. The more you read the words found in these passages the more you will be brought face to face with the truth surrounding the house of the Lord and some of the dangers which must not only be recognized and discerned within the house but also carefully guarded against and uprooted. I am convinced there is a great need for us to pay attention to the words written in these chapters for they weren’t written to heathen or those who did not know the truth. The words which are found in this epistle were written unto those who would have undoubtedly known the truth—and not only the truth but also the Law of Moses. The second chapter of this epistle highlights and underscores the truth that the audience to whom James wrote this epistle would have been incredibly familiar with the Law and the prophets. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you can and will encounter the tremendous truth that James was indeed writing unto those who would have known the Scripture and were in need of being reminded of the truth that was contained therein.
I am convinced that in order to truly understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it is necessary to begin with the opening chapter of this epistle. If you begin reading this epistle from the beginning and opening chapter you can and will encounter the tremendous reality that James was seeking to not only exhort and admonish but also rebuke and correct these to whom he was writing. It is absolutely impossible to read the words presented in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth surrounding James’ seeking to correct and challenge the twelve tribes of Israel. In the beginning of this epistle you will find the audience to whom James wrote the epistle and how he was writing unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad. James does not reveal where exactly these twelve tribes were scattered, however, if you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find that during the apostolic and missionary journeys of the apostle Paul he would teach and preach the gospel of Jesus the Christ in the synagogues of the Jews. In every place the apostle Paul journeyed during this missionary journeys he would first enter into the synagogues and preach the gospel unto the Jews. Of course we know and understand that the Gentiles would hear and listen to the words which the apostle Paul preached and would themselves be converted unto Christianity as they would believe upon the name of the Lord Jesus and would be baptized. With this being said, however, it’s important to know and recognize that even when the apostle Paul emphatically declared in the epistle written unto the saints in Rome that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ he wrote how it was the power of God unto salvation TO THE JEW FIRST and then to the Gentiles.
If you take the time to read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts you will find account after account of the apostle Paul entering into the Jewish synagogues wherever he went and teaching and preaching the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know from Scripture that Judaism had spread throughout Asia and Europe and the surrounding regions. Judaism was not only present within Judaea and Galilee but it had also spread throughout Asia and Europe as is evidenced in the New Testament book of Acts you will find that wherever the apostle Paul journeyed he would preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Jews first. Of course we know and understand that in various places there were stiffnecked, unbelieving, envious Jews who were hard of heart and slow of hearing. We know that in the various places the apostle Paul journeyed and traveled there were unbelieving Jews who would not only despise but would also reject the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is important for us to understand for in the different places the apostle Paul journeyed and traveled there would be a division among the Jews—not only concerning the gospel he preached but also concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact if you read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find that the Jews in Judaea and in Jerusalem were divided concerning Jesus the Christ. There were indeed those Jews who believed thatJesus was indeed the Christ and the Messiah while there were other jews who believed that Jesus was the Prophet or perhaps even one of the ancient Hebrew prophets come back to life from the dead. There were others who did not believe the claims which Jesus made concerning Himself and would therefore despise and reject Him.
I am convinced it is necessary to understand the division among the Jews as it was recorded in the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John as well as the division between the Jews as mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts. Within each of these books we find this division in the hearts and minds of the Jews to Jesus Christ in the flesh as He had taken upon Himself the seed of Abraham as well as the division in the hearts and minds of the Jews to the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both during the days in which Jesus walked upon the earth in the flesh and during the days of the apostles and early church when they would preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ the Jews were incredibly divided in their belief concerning this Jesus of Nazareth. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of—not only when reading the epistle written by James but also concerning the epistle written unto the Hebrews. The more you read each of these epistles the more you will encounter the incredible truth that despite the presence of unbelieving, envious and hard-hearted Jews there were those Jews who would indeed believe the truth of the gospel and would be baptized. Despite the rejection of many of the Jews during the days in which the Lord Jesus walked in the flesh there would be three thousand who would believe and would be baptized on the Day of Pentecost. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many Jews who believed and were baptized on the Day of Pentecost might have been some of those Jews who initially and originally rejected the person of Jesus Christ when He walked among them in the flesh and perhaps were even some of those who turned back and walked no more with Him as mentioned in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. Scripture isn’t unclear as to how the three thousand who believed and were baptized on the Day of Pentecost came to believe, however, we must needs recognize and understand that on that day three thousand Jews in the midst of the city of Jerusalem would believe on the name of the Lord Jesus and would be baptized.
The more I read the words which are found in the epistle written unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad the more I can’t help but think that it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand the division which was present among the Jews—both during the days in which Jesus walked among them in the flesh as well as the days of the apostles and early church. From the time Jesus was publicly manifested unto and among the Jews there would be a division among them as well as among their religious leaders—the scribes, the chief priests, the elders, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the teachers of the Law and the like. The New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is replete with example after example of this division which was present within the hearts and minds of many of the Jews as many of the religious Jews would themselves despise and reject the claims of Jesus of Nazareth. What’s more is they would even oppose and reject the works of the Lord Jesus Christ and would even persecute Him as a direct result of those works. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John for within this gospel we are brought face to face with this division which existed between the Jews concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are countless examples of many of the Jews despising, rejecting and even opposing the words, the works and the claims which the Lord Jesus Christ made during those days. You cannot read the gospel narrative written by the apostle John without coming face to face with this incredible truth as the apostle presents us with this division and schism between the Jews as many of them could not truly tell who Jesus truly was. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John beginning with the first and opening chapter:
“IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through Him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him” (John 1:1-18).
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When he had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, Take these things away! Do not make my Father’s house a house of merchandise! Then His disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for your house has eaten me up. So the jews answered and said to Him, What sign do you show us, since you do these things? Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then the Jews said, It has taken forty-six years to build this temple and will you raise it up in three days? But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John 2:13-25).
“And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to Him who was cured, it is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed. He answered them, He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk. Then they asked him, Who is the Man who said to you, Take up your bed and walk? But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, See, you have been made will. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you. The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, My Father has been working until now, and I have been working. Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:9-18).
“The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he says, I have come down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said to them, Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, how can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples when they heard this said, This is a hard saying; who can understand it. When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life: the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to me unless it has been granted to him by my Father. From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:41-66).
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him” (John 7:1).
“But when his brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, Where is He? And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, He is good; others said, No, on the contrary, He deceives the people. However, no one spoken openly for fear of the Jews” (John 7:10-13).
“The people answered and said, You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill you?” (John 7:20).
“Now some of them from Jerusalem said, is this not He whom they seek to kill? But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ? However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from” (John 7:25-27).
“Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. And many of the people believed in Him, and said, When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this man has done” (John 7:30-31).
“The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him. Then Jesus said to them, I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent me. You will seek me and not find me, and where I am you cannot come. Then the jews said among themselves, Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What is this thing that He said, You will seek me and not find me, and where I am you cannot come” (John 7:32-36).
“Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, Truly this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of Him. Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him” (John 7:40-44).
“Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, Why have you not brought Him? The officers answered, No man ever spoke like this man! Then the Pharisees answered them, Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in HIM/ But this crowd that does not. Know the law is accursed. Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing? They answered and said to him, Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee. And everyone went to his own house” (John 7:45-53).
“Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59).
“But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been byline and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know. Or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself. His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, He is of age ask him” (John 9:18-23).
“Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. And many of them said, He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him? Others said, These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (John 10:19-21).
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, Many good works I have shown you from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me? The jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:31-33).
“Then from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples” (John 11:53-54).
“Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him” (john 11:57).
“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which He spoke: Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them. These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (John 12:37-41).
It is absolutely necessary to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them we encounter and come face to face with the division of the Jews concerning Jesus. If there is one thing we must needs recognize concerning Jesus it’s that not only did His words and works divide the Jews themselves but they also divided the religious system and community during those days. There were many Jews who believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and the Christ and there were a number of those who were part of the religious system and establishment during those days who believed in Jesus. You cannot read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not come face to face with this division among the Jews together with their religious leaders. What’s more is that within these passages you will find the chief priests and the religious leaders speaking of the Diaspora which in and of itself speaks of the dispersement and scattering of the Jews. The chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees and the religious leaders knew that there were Jews throughout the known world at that time. In fact when it came to the pilgrimage feasts there would be Jews who would come from all over the known world to celebrate them. A perfect example of this reality is found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning the Day of Pentecost. On the Day of Pentecost—after those in the upper room were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance—there would be those from the various tongues, nations and lands round about Judaea, Jerusalem and Galilee who were present in Jerusalem. It would be on that day when all those who were from different nations, tongues and lands heard the wonderful works of God spoken in their own tongue by those who were unlearned and who did not and would not have known how to speak their native language.
I read the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that there were Jews who were scattered and dispersed throughout the known world at that time. Even the eighth chapter of the book of Acts demonstrates this truth even further when an Ethiopian eunuch was journeying from Jerusalem back to his native home and country. Undoubtedly this Ethiopian eunuch was himself a Jews and would have come for the feast that was celebrated in the city of Jerusalem. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for the New Testament book of Acts demonstrates that throughout the known world—in Europe, in Asia and even in Africa there were in fact Jews who were scattered and dispersed among and throughout the nations. The New Testament book of Acts clearly demonstrates the tremendous truth surrounding the Jews being scattered throughout the known world during those days. What’s more is the New Testament book of Acts would also demonstrate that there was a division among the Jews in many of those places as there were Jews who believed the preaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus while there were other Jews who despised and rejected this preaching and reality concerning Jesus of Nazareth. This is something that is absolutely necessary to recognize and understand when reading the words found in the New Testament epistle written by James for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that although there was undoubtedly a division among the Jews concerning the Christ and the Messiah there were a number of Jews who did in fact believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you take the time to read the epistle written by James you will find him writing unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad. James does not describe nor does he give any details concerning where these Jews were scattered and where they were located. This is actually quite interesting when you take the time to think about it for I can’t help but wonder how many copies of this epistle were circulated during those days. This was one epistle written unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad and I can’t help but wonder how far this epistle would indeed be circulated. What’s more is this epistle was not written unto those who did not know the Law or the prophets but was indeed written unto those who knew Moses and the prophets. This epistle would have been written to those those who like the audience of the epistle written unto the Hebrews would have understood the Law, would have understood the Tabernacle and Temple, would have understood the covenant, would have understood the promises and the like. This epistle was indeed written unto those who would have also known the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is incredibly important for us to recognize and pay attention to for it brings us face to face with the audience James was addressing and writing within this epistle. James was writing unto those who would have known both the Law and the prophets as well the gospel. What a powerful reality is manifested within this epistle for James was writing to those who would have known what God commanded their fathers through Moses and the prophets but they would have also known what Jesus commanded in His teaching(s) and preaching. They would have known and been aware of the greatest commandment which was indeed to love the LORD their God with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength and with all their mind. They would have known the second commandment was likened unto the first which was to love their neighbor as themselves. In fact James appeals to these commandments in the second chapter of this epistle.
Upon coming to the second chapter of this epistle you will find James writing unto these Jews—those who would have known the Law, the prophets and the teaching(s) of Jesus—and speaking to them concerning holding the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ with partiality. James would write unto them concerning their showing favoritism and partiality in the house of the Lord by favoring the rich who entered in among them and despising the poor. James isn’t at all clear if he received report(s) of this taking place and if he was addressing something such as the apostle Paul did when writing the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. When writing the first epistle unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul received report concerning the saints and brethren which served as the foundation and underlying reason for the writing of the epistle. The apostle Paul would write this first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation—a congregation which I would classify and describe as the carnal congregation—after hearing of the various things which were taking place among them. The apostle Paul would hear of the schisms and divisions which were present among the Corinthian saints and sought to correct, exhort and admonish them concerning it. What’s more is the apostle Paul also sought to write unto this gifted but carnal church after hearing of them permitting sexual immorality and fornication among themselves. The apostle Paul was well aware of the issues which were present in the Corinthian church despite the fact that they came behind in no spiritual gift and possessed understanding and spiritual wisdom according to the Spirit.
When reading the epistle written by James unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad you get the sense that there were certain areas that he personally felt needed to be addressed. You cannot read this epistle without encountering and coming face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding that which James felt he needed to personally address among these who believed. If you read the words present within this passage of Scripture you can and will encounter the undeniable reality concerning those things which these Jews who believed struggled with. From showing partiality and favoritism among them in their midst, to faith without works, to perhaps even being unable to bridle and control their tongue James sought to write and address certain things which needed to understood among them. Within the second chapter of this epistle alone we find James addressing issues which I am absolutely convinced must also be addressed within many of our churches within this generation. There is a great need for us as the saints of God to recognize and understand the words which are found and written within this epistle for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth surrounding what we must needs be aware of among us in our midst. I firmly believe that we as the saints of God and we as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs be those who truly understand the need to not only love God but also love people. If we truly love God and love people then not only will we refuse to show partiality and favoritism in the house of the living God but there will also be action, demonstration and manifestation to our faith. We as the saints of God must not only be those who refuse to show partiality and favoritism among us in the house of God but there must also be substance and evidence to our faith. There must needs be genuine and authentic proof of our faith as we as the saints of God truly demonstrate that we not only walk by faith but are also justified by faith alone according to the free gift of God in Christ Jesus. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by James:
“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, You sit here in a good place, and say to the poor man, You stand there, or, Sit here at my footstool, have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts. Listen my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the Royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:1-13).
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead. But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble. Bud do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).
If you come to the fourth chapter of this epistle you will find James asking a very pointed and powerful question of those to whom he wrote this epistle. Upon reading from the first and opening verse you will find James writing unto his audience and asking them where wars and fights came from among them. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous truth that is found within this question for you almost get the sense that James was indeed addressing the issue of wars and fights being present among them. When writing this epistle James asked them where fights and wars came from among them and I can’t help but get the strong sense that the fights and wars which were taking place among them needed to be addressed. Much like the Corinthian congregation that struggled with division, schism, bitterness and offense so also the audience to whom James wrote this epistle might have struggled, wrestled and contended with the same thing. There is a great need to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture—and not only the words found here but also the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints—for they reveal some of the greatest dangers which are found within many of our churches today. IN fact I would dare say that if you want to truly understand the words which are found in the epistle written by James you must needs consider the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints provides us with a powerful picture of what James was writing about in this epistle. James indeed wrote about wars and fights being present among the twelve tribes which were scattered—and not only wars and fights but also of the desires for pleasure which warred in their members. Moreover James would also write how they lusted and did not have and murdered and coveted and did not obtain. James wrote how they fought and warred and did not have because they did not ask.
In all reality I would dare say that in order to truly understand the words and language found within this epistle there is a great need to consider the words which Jesus Himself spoke in His famous Sermon on the Mount. Before considering the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints I am convinced that there is a tremendous amount of truth that is found in the words which Jesus spoke in His Sermon on the Mount that serve as the foundation and catalyst for that which James wrote in this epistle. The question I can’t help but ask myself is whether or not there was actually physical murder which took place among the twelve tribes or if the murder he spoke of was in direct connection with the words which Jesus spoke. It was Jesus Himself who declared that murder is not a physical issue at all but is a heart issue and those who are guilty of hatred in their hearts are just as guilty of murder. What’s more is the fact that Jesus declared that adultery and fornication began within the heart and that lusting after a woman within one’s heart is the same as committing adultery with that other person. You don’t need to commit the actual act of adultery as the woman in John’s gospel did nor even as David and Bathsheba did to be guilty of adultery in the sight of the living God. Jesus declared that lusting after a woman within your heart is the same as committing adultery with them. Oh it is with this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the Sermon on the Mount as the words presented here bring us face to face with the truths which we find here in the epistle written by James:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Rafa, shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, You fool! Shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave you fight there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer you gift. Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on thee way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:21-26).
Concerning adultery Jesus spoke the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s gospel beginning with the twenty-seventh verse:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if you right hand causes you to sin, cut if off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:27-30).
Concerning retaliation the Lord Jesus spoke the following words which are found in this same chapter beginning with the thirty-eighth verse:
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Matthew 5:38-42).
Jesus spoke the following words concerning love—and not only love but loving our enemies, blessing those who cursed us, doing good to those hate us and pray those who spitefully use and persecute us. Consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the forty-third verse:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
Consider the following words which Jesus spoke concerning judging and how they serve as the backdrop and foundation for the words James wrote in the second chapter of his epistle:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:1-6).
Consider the following words which Jesus spoke—not only concerning asking, but also concerning what has become known as “The Golden Rule.” I am absolutely convinced these words help us to understand in greater detail the words which James wrote unto the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being, evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:7-11).
“Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets” (Matthew 7;12).
When you come to the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James you will find him asking his readers and audience where wars and fights came from among them. James then goes on to describe how the fights and wars which were present among them came from desires for pleasure which warred in their members. Moreover James goes on to write and declare how they murdered and coveted and could not obtain and fought and warred with and against each other. What makes this truly intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider how divided our nation and country is right now. There is not a doubt in my mind that our nation is and has never been more divided than it has been and is right now. The division present within this nation has been increased and heightened over the past two and a half years across political, gender, sexual orientation, medical and even religious lines. Never in the history of this nation have Americans been divided as much as they are right now. From the election of Trump, to the COVID-19 vaccine, to the ESG movement, to the climate change movement, to the BLM movement, to the events of January 6th, to Twitter and Elon Musk and various other hot topics our nation and country is and has been divided. All you need to do is log on to whatever social media platform you have and you will see this division more than in any other place. What’s more is on these so-called “free speech” platforms such as Twitter and Truth Social you see this division more clearly than anywhere else. On Twitter—perhaps more than any other social media platform including Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok—you will see this divisive nature as the vitriol and poison that is found within the heart and upon the tongue of many is clearly evident.
There is not a doubt in my mind that if we truly want to see change that is lasting and impacts our culture and society we must needs be those who not only refuse to judge others but also those who refuse to show partiality and favoritism. If we want to see authentic and genuine change among us within our culture and society there must be evidence, substance, demonstration and manifestation of our faith in the midst of our streets, cities, towns, neighborhoods. I am absolutely convinced that we as the saints of God and we as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs be those who live our lives absent judgment, absent criticism, absent condemnation, absent accusation and absent spreading vitriol and poison using our tongues and our words. What’s more is that we as the saints of God must needs guard our hearts and our minds against contradicting the royal law of the living God which is indeed to love our neighbor as ourselves. We as the saints of God and we as the disciples of God have indeed been called to be peacemakers and must recognize that Jesus used the words “peace” and “maker” rather than “peace” and “keepers.” As such we have indeed been called to be those who strive to leave at peace with all men and to bring peace into every situation we face—regardless of whether it’s in our personal or professional lives. We as the disciples of Christ must needs be those who refuse and reject pride, arrogance and boasting and walk in humility in the sight and presence of the living God. We as the saints of God must needs submit ourselves and in the process of submitting ourselves to God we also must resist the devil knowing that he will flee from us.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the words which James wrote in these final chapters for they bring us face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding how we ought to live our lives in the midst of this generation. We as the saints of God must needs submit ourselves to God and as we submit ourselves to God we must resist the devil knowing that he will flee from us. We must needs draw near to God knowing that when we draw near to God he will draw near to us. We must needs cleanse our hands and purify our hearts that we might walk in true holiness and purity in the sight and presence of the living God. We must needs humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord knowing that He will indeed lift us up. We must not speak evil one of another knowing that he who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. We must needs be those who truly recognize that we have indeed been called to live in the present and ought not to boast of tomorrow nor even worry about tomorrow. If we are truly honest with ourselves and with the living God we must needs recognize that we ought not to boast about tomorrow nor worry about tomorrow and instead seek first the kingdom of God. We as the saints of God must needs be patient until the coming of the Lord knowing that we have indeed been called to endure until the end. We must needs be those who bring back those who have fallen and walked away and those who need to be restored and reconciled once more. We must needs be those who commit ourselves to prayer knowing that the effective and fervent prayer of the righteous man (or woman) avails much. Oh that we would indeed be those who walk in purity and holiness in the sight and presence of the living God as those who walk in a manner that pleases Him.