Article based on a Bible Study
8 February 2003

Introduction To The Book Of James

by Jon Bowles


Last week in the News Section I mentioned in particular Psalm 91, where it talks about a thousand will perish at your side and ten thousand at your right hand. I discussed the situation we read in the news, especially concerning the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the states that have them, and also the strong possibility of these weapons getting into the hands of terrorists, and how sophisticated they are. It is only a matter of time until we have at least dirty bombs, and perhaps even full nuclear weapons exploding in our own cities.

I pointed out that we within the Church have a problem at this present time, because people aren't being healed as they were back in the fifties and early sixties. I don't know what the reason is. I asked if you would please pray and set aside a day of fasting over the past week or over the past few days. I hope that we did do that because we really need to get back on track in this area, and try to understand where we are off track. Because it is us who are off track, God is the same Being that He always has been, He doesn't move, and He does not change. We humans, however, do.

It is only a couple of months to Passover and Passover has been attacked within the Church - it was one of the first things attacked by Worldwide. If healing can be removed, it destroys the faith of God's people and it destroys their personal relationship with God. Healing is an area that does allow us to see God's intervention and His hand at work in our lives physically. As I said, the problem is with us.

Between now and Passover, I would like to give a series of sermons and Bible Studies that concern this subject. I want to talk about discerning the body of Christ., and also the meaning of John 6 - the understanding that I was given in college in the late sixties, regarding John 6. I went back to certain notes that I had taken at that time, to check what in fact we had been taught, and it was quite interesting.

But the place that you find the instructions regarding healing and regarding anointing, is in James. Interestingly, this comes at the end of James and we will go into that a little bit today:

"Is any sick among you? 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 shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." (James 5:14-15)

It is absolutely categorical that is what will happen. That is what the promise is. Mr Armstrong brings out very clearly in ‘The Plain Truth About Healing’, which is a booklet written at the end of 1979. It reflects his teaching at the end of his life. You just have to look at ‘Mystery of the Ages’ and see what he said there regarding physical sin. He believed what he laid down in that booklet, and got very hot under the collar about people who tried to take away from the promise that is there within this particular section of scripture.

What I want to do today is begin a series of Bible Studies on the Book of James. Bible commentaries will tell you that it is a hodgepodge ... a miscellany with no general theme. I personally don't believe that. I don't think God just gives us a hodgepodge for the sake of it. There is more to the Book of James than that. What I want to do today specifically is to give an introduction to the Book of James, with these 5 points:

Who Wrote the Book of James? (PLAY FROM 06:06)

So, let's ask the question, who wrote the Book of James? Firstly, as long as I can remember it has been accepted in the Church that it was written by the James who was the half-brother of Christ. He was also the Chairman, or the Bishop or the Overseer at Jerusalem. The one you will find in the Book of Acts is that particular individual. As we look at a few scriptures, keep that in mind, so you don't lose that focus.

Let's have a look first of all at the original apostles. In Matthew 10:2 it talks about the original apostles, and there were two James' here. It says:

"Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter..." (Matthew 10:2)

Now it's interesting that it talks about him as the first. You will find in other places that the indication is that he was the one who was the leader of the apostles. The one who Christ left in charge of the apostles.

"...Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother [this is James the son of Zebedee, and notice also that John is his brother]; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus [so there's the second James], and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite [or the Zelotus, or the 'one with great zeal'] and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him." (Matthew 10:2-4)

So we see two James' here, but one is the son of Zebedee and the other one was the son of Alphaeus. Neither was the son of Joseph. Now there are reasons why they will actually accept James the son of Alphaeus, as the brother of Christ, and we are going to examine that, and it will become clear he was not the brother of Christ, not in a physical sense. He was the son of Alphaeus - not the son of Joseph! So this James, the half-brother of Christ, according to what it says here, was not part of the original apostles. Now if we look at Acts 9:22 we find here:

"But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ [the Messiah]." (Acts 9:22)

Now between verses 22 and 23, the indication is from Galatians, that he was taken by Christ to a desert place. And that is where he was instructed by Christ. Then in Acts 9:23 it says:

"And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple [because he had been there plotting against the Church previously]. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus." (Acts 9:23-27)

So we see the apostles being mentioned here in Acts 9:27. It was around about 38 AD, that this event was taking place. If we go over to Galatians 1:15 we will find who the apostles were that were being mentioned over in Acts, and we will find that one of them was this James, the Lord's brother:

"But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the [nations]; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus." (Galatians 1:15-17)

That's why I say between those two verses, Acts 9:22 and 23, you find this is when Paul went to Arabia. You need to put other things together with that, to see that Christ dealt with him personally.

"Then after three years [remember it says many days in Acts] I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter [there's an apostle], and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." (Galatians 1:18-19)

So here we see that there were two apostles that saw Paul in Jerusalem at that time, around 38 AD. One was Peter and one was James, but it was James, the Lord's brother. It wasn't either of the two apostles that were known as James, it was this other individual.

Now why do I say that James the son of Alphaeus was not this particular individual? Turn over to John, chapter 7. Remember, if James the son of Alphaeus, was indeed the Lord's brother, or cousin, as people try and masquerade, then how could this be true? Because in John 7:1 it says:

"After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren [His brothers] therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest [here was their brother and they had seen the miracles that He had done]. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world [and notice: verse 5]. For neither did his [brothers] believe in him." (John 7:1-5)

His brothers did not believe in Christ. So James, the son of Alphaeus, could not have been His brother. This individual, James, the Lord's brother, must have been another individual.

"Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret." (John 7:6-10)

So here was a discourse between His brothers. And His brothers did not believe in Him, and yet the apostle James, the son of Alphaeus, clearly did. Now we say, well what happened then? This James, the Lord's brother, if he didn't believe, and this was fairly well on in the ministry of Jesus Christ, what happened to him to suddenly to cause him to believe? Now we can only really surmise, but there is a scripture which gives us quite a little bit of information. Turn over to I Corinthians 15:1, I want you to notice what is being said here:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;" (I Corinthians 15:1-3)

By the way, just as a total aside, in the New International Version, it says 'of first importance', and that is not what it says in the original. It says, merely 'first,' ... "For I delivered unto you first that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins..." (I Corinthians 15:3) The indication is in time, more than anything else.

"And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Peter [notice it is giving a list of people that verified that He was resurrected], then of the twelve [so He saw first of all Peter by himself, then all twelve all together]: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles..." (I Corinthians 15:4-)

This was presumably talking about James, the Lord's brother, and indicates that James saw Christ after His resurrection. The other James would have been mentioned in verse 5, where it says 'of the twelve'. But this James, was 'James the Lord's brother', almost certainly, otherwise he wouldn't have been singled out in this way.

We can only surmise, but if you understand from John 7:5, the person who wrote the Book of James didn't believe originally. This the brother of Christ, who was his elder brother, and he did not believe in Him. As Christ pointed out: ... A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." (Mark 6:4) That is true of everybody.

People disrespected Mr Armstrong. They don't believe he was who he claimed to be. They tend to be, many of them, the people that were closest to him. Why? Because being close to him they saw him as a human being. But so was Moses, so was Daniel, so were all of the people God used. So was James. So was Christ. You can almost imagine within the family the "Mr Goody-Two-Shoes" and all the various comments His brothers would make of Him. He was the elder brother. I think of my elder brother and I had no respect whatsoever for him!

But then James was confronted by this individual, who he had seen crucified, or at least heard so from his mother. He knew He had died, and then he saw Him alive. Perhaps he conversed with Him. He knew very well that He was real ... He had been resurrected.

It appears, if you start to put these things together, it infers within the book of Acts that James became prominent very quickly. So the chances are he was converted at the time of the resurrection - at least this gives an indication of when that was the case.

The one thing that you do notice within the Book of James is that it talks with authority. There is absolutely no question about it. You go through and it is authority from start to finish. It just lays it out the way it is. This is how it is folks, take it or leave it.

If you turn over to Acts 12:1, you find that James was prominent fairly early on. This is about 44 AD, so you are looking at about ten years after Christ was crucified:

"Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John [that was the son of Zebedee,] with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison..." (Acts 12:1-4)

They were going to go ahead and execute Peter also. Then what happened was the angel then appeared to Peter, and he marched him straight out of the jail. Then in Acts 12:12 it says:

"And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark [that is John Mark, another totally different individual]; where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place." (Acts 12:12-17)

He didn't want to be left there. James was already prominent at that time. This James was obviously not James, the son of Zebedee. If you look at the way in which Paul was also brought before James, the Lord's brother, within Jerusalem with Peter you can see this - check Galatians 1:18-19 ) {1} That was before this time.

You are looking therefore at a prominence that James had. He certainly was fully qualified to talk with authority. He had been amongst the disciples from the start of the Church, and was prominent within the apostles. In fact, it is very clear that he was an apostle, although not one of the twelve.

In Acts 15:7 we find the case where a decision had to be made and we see here his function as Chairman of the meeting:

"And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." (Acts 15:7)

He goes and reiterates that to them, and then in Acts 15:12:

"Then all the multitude kept silence..." (Acts 15:12)

When Peter got up there and really made the decision, the rest of the people were quiet. Just before that in verse seven, it says there had been much disputing, and a great deal of arguing, up to that point:

"...and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:" (Acts 15:12-13)

Here he was, acting as the Chairman, putting the seal on the proceedings and as it says in Acts 15:19:

"Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols..." (Acts 15:19-20)

He puts into effect what Peter had actually decreed. So Peter was the principle apostle, but James was the Chairman in Jerusalem. It is translated as Bishop or Overseer. Literally, the Overseer in Jerusalem.

Why then is there such confusion over who he was? It is quite clear that we read that the brothers of Christ had no regard for Him, and didn't believe in Him, and yet here it is talking very plainly about the brother of Christ, the brother of our Lord, being this Bishop in Jerusalem; being this one that is principle in Jerusalem, this Chairman in Jerusalem. Why then is there this confusion? If you turn back to Matthew 12:46 we find right towards the end there:

"While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:46-50)

Presumably He then went out to His mother and His brothers and sisters. But it is quite clear that His mother and brothers and sisters were outside, and wanted to get in and wanted to speak to Him. Anyone reading that would think, well, it's pretty obvious - it's His brothers and sisters. You'll find it becomes even more obvious into the next chapter, in Matthew 13:55:

"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses [or Joseph], and Simon, and Judas [or Jude]? [there are four brothers there, so there is Christ and four brothers] And his sisters..." (Matthew 13:55-56)

Sisters, plural. So there are at least two sisters. So we are looking at four brothers, plus Christ, that's five plus two sisters, that's seven. The very minimum of the size of James' family, and also Christ's family, was seven children. So He was from what we would term, a large family.

It gives an indication as to how God placed Christ into what was a normal family at that time, a large family. It was a family of seven plus mother and father. Or at least mother when he was in teenage, because whatever happened to Joseph we aren't quite sure. It seems to be that Christ takes the principal lead within the family later on. So we see that family of seven children and we look over in Jude 1:1, and it says:

"Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:" (Jude 1:1)

So he then ties himself across to James. Remember, we just read that one of the brother's names was in fact Jude or Judas. So this Jude is presumably also the brother of the one who wrote the Book of James. Both of them were brothers of Christ. If you turn over to I Corinthians 9:1 you find how they did play a prominent role. It might not even have been just these two brothers. It says:

"Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and [Peter]? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?" (I Corinthians 9:1-6)

Now it's talking about actually taking tithes, or offerings of the people, however it was at that time. In verse five, he mentions the brothers of the Lord, in addition to the other apostles. Presumably that would be James and also Jude. And perhaps the others as well were all within the Church at that time. Whether they were or not, I'm not sure. But isn't it interesting that James was quite prominent. He was as I say, this Bishop, or Overseer in Jerusalem. He was someone with the authority to write the Book of James.

Why Confusion Over the Author? (PLAY FROM 29:28)

So why the confusion? Well the confusion comes from the people who write commentaries, The way they get their information largely is from other commentaries. Now the original commentaries that you find on scripture would be Catholic. You have got to understand a little bit of the Catholic doctrine of the immaculate conception, to understand why James being the brother of the Lord is impossible in their minds.

In fact, it is not just the immaculate conception. My wife and I were a little horrified at one time, when it was clear from something that our children said, that they didn't realise that regarding the birth of Christ, there were shepherds keeping their flocks at night, and that there were wisemen from the East, not necessarily three, and they came later. There are certain parts of the situation that don't add up, but they didn't realise that many of these things were actually true. They thought they were all part of the Christmas myth. There are certain bits of it that they mix up. It's a syncretism. It's interesting that in Matthew 1:24 where it's talking about Joseph:

"Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife [Mary]: And knew her not [in other words, did not sleep with her, did not have sex with her] till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." (Matthew 1:24-25)

Now the word 'till' is 'heos' (Strong's 2193) in Greek and means 'as long as'. Therefore the implication by the very word is that she did not remain a virgin.

We need to understand that within Catholicism the immaculate conception and the virgin birth are different! Immaculate conception does not mean only a virgin birth. It goes beyond that, because the conception of Christ is supposed to be immaculate. In other words, completely and utterly pure. His mother was not to be tainted with sex in any way, shape or form. So, the doctrine of the immaculate conception preaches that Mary was conceived from a virgin without sex, and notice ... in addition to that she never had sex herself. And therefore never had any other children. So that's the immaculate conception.

Virgin birth says that she was a virgin when she gave birth, meaning that what was in her was from the Holy Spirit. That is absolutely true. But it says clearly in Matthew 1:25, and the Greek clearly implies it, that after Christ was born she had sex just the same as any other woman and she went ahead and had a family. That family included James and Jude and the others that were mentioned there. There were four boys and at least two sisters and perhaps even more as well.

We were listening recently to a sermon from Mr Armstrong in which he pointed out that the way of God involves the use of the senses, and that the way we use them is important. God gave us our senses to be used and to be enjoyed. Sex is given to us to be enjoyed. It is not something that is looked down on in any way, shape or form within scripture. It is just that it has got to be enjoyed in the way God prescribes, that is, within marriage, within a loving family relationship. That is what it's for. The actual enjoyment of the senses, and sensual enjoyment is good and right. Go back to Genesis, and read what He says about the creation. How; "...behold, it was very good..." (Genesis 1:31)

Yet, the Catholic view - and this is what taints all the commentaries - is that it is not very good. That it was the original sin. That is utterly wrong. The Catholic version of Gnosticism - of knowing and receiving this higher level of understanding - is through Asceticism largely. There are two forms of Gnosticism. One was the Epicurean, which whereby you go out and eat and drink and have all the heightened sensual pleasure. The other was through Asceticism where you subdue the senses. You put yourself under great strict restrictions in order to get increased godliness. That is the Catholic view. That is what the Catholic ideas came from, and this immaculate conception concept came from that.

It is interesting, Mother Teresa didn't go through the streets of Calcutta doing what she did for the benefit of the people within Calcutta. That is not what it's all about. People don't understand this. She did it because she is an Ascetic, and the Ascetic doctrine was, that if she put herself as a slave to the lowest of the low, she would then increase her godliness. She did not try to raise them out of the gutter. She merely tried to serve them in the gutter, and it was part of the Ascetic doctrine. It is an abomination in the sight of God.

What about this understanding as far as James, son of Alphaeus? Again, we understand that His brothers initially rejected Christ. They try and say because of this concept of the immaculate conception and what has been written about it, that James, the son of Alphaeus was His cousin, and therefore he was just referred to as His brother.

To give you an example as to why they say certain things like this. Barnes notes on the subject of James says: "The circumstance of some importance in showing that there was but one James besides James the brother of John, and that this was the Apostle, the son of Alphaeus. After the death of the elder James, (Acts 12:1) no mention is made of more than one of that name. If there had been, it is hardly possible, says Hugh, that there should not have been some allusion to him. This however, is not conclusive, for there is also no mention of Simon or Bartholomew or Thomas or Andrew after that time."

You go back and read it. You can't find mention of these apostles. They disappear. They seem to disappear off the face of the earth. They say: "This is very strange. I don't understand it." It says;

"There is one serious objection, perhaps to this theory which is, that it is said of John 7:5, that His brethren didn't believe on Him. It is possible however that the word brethren in that place might not have included all His kinsmen, but may have had particular reference to the larger portion of them, in John 7:3 who were not believers, though it might have been that some of them were believers." In other words they are trying to go round and round in circles to try and show that James, son of Alphaeus was in fact, James, the Lord's brother.

Who was James Written to and from Where? (PLAY FROM 38:01)

There is one other thing they don't understand, and is something that we need to get to grips with if we are trying to understand who was it written to. Let us go on to the next point; who was it written to and from where was it written? Let's go to James 1:1, because that tells us:

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting." (James 1:1)

Now we read that within the Church, and we understand what it means. The people outside the Church haven't a clue what it means. They read it and they think it is talking to Jews that have gone here, there and everywhere. Yet, it is before the Diaspora and I will show why this is so, because of when it was written.

This particular verse, James 1:1, really shows that it is written to the twelve tribes. We understand that the twelve tribes are talking about the ten lost tribes as well. Matthew 10:5 says very clearly when he gives all the names of all these apostles, it says:

"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:5-6)

So the apostles were sent to Israel. That is where James, son of Alphaeus, would presumably have gone - to the lost tribes of the house of Israel. Turn over to Matthew 19:27 and notice:

"Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." (Matthew 19:27-29)

So these apostles were sent to the twelve tribes of Israel, and those twelve tribes included the lost ten tribes. And they had to go to the lost ten tribes and talk to them. When we are looking therefore, as to who James is being written to, it is being written to the twelve tribes.

If you go to Acts chapter 21, again you find the authority that James had within Jerusalem; when many of these apostles had actually left, including probably James, son of Alphaeus, to go to these other areas. Andrew, certainly had gone to Bithynia, and those areas there. If you notice in Acts 21:12:

"And when we heard these things [remember the one who is writing this, is Luke], both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem [so here is Luke with Paul]. There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge. And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present." (Acts 21:12-18)

So again we can see the prominence of this man which helps us appreciate the authority with which the Book of James has been written, and understand just who wrote it. Also, we can see that, here at this later time - I'm not sure what year this would be - James was also there and he was the Overseer within Jerusalem. So he stretched right from the time when the Holy Spirit was first given, right the way through to this time certainly.

When was the Book of James Written? (PLAY FROM 43:38)

Now the question is, when was it written? Tradition has it that it was written about 60 AD. Now the reason for that dating concerns an entry within Josephus that talks about this individual - a person with authority and prominence in the early church. There is no reason to doubt what Josephus has to say, and it is talking about the death of James, the brother of Christ in 62 AD. So just two years after the Book of James was written he was put to death.

In Josephus, the Antiquities, Book 20, chapter 9. The title is: "Concerning Albinus Under Whose Procuratorship James Was Slain; And Also What Edifices Were Built By Agrippa". In that section it says;

"Now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator; but the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes, that this elder Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons, who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests: but this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees."

Which makes you smile, because obviously Josephus was a Pharisee. He was actually a Zealot and was taken captive by Vespasian. He issued a prophecy that Vespasian would go ahead and become an emperor - which he did. Josephus was therefore was made a kind of recorder of the Roman Legions. He went round recording the sacking of Jerusalem and by 90 AD he wrote 'The Antiquities and the Wars of the Jews'. Josephus continues:

"He was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity to exercise his authority. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was on the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, or some of his companions, and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned; but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; and they also sent to the king Agrippa, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified."

So it was very clear that the sentence was carried out, that James, the brother of Christ was stoned around 62 AD. So that really gives the dating of the book. We can see quite clearly how this then places it ten years or so before the temple was destroyed.

It also indicates that it was to be preserved. It obviously was written just before his death and it wasn't just something to be written and forgotten about. It wasn't just written to the people at that particular time, but it was to be preserved, right down to our time.

Another thing which dates the book, which people bring out, but whether it means an awful lot, I'm not sure, but if you look over in James 4:1 (you can always remember what's in James 4 because it rhymes - James 4, causes of war):

"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (James 4:1)

Now it's not conclusive by any means, but there were only two areas at that time - around the 60 AD mark - where war was being waged; one - against the Parthian Empire and the other one was Britain, Now, the book was written to the 12 tribes, scattered abroad, so it also points us to where they migrated to, to a large degree.

The Parthian Empire is that area is around the Caspian Sea, but not quite as far as the Black Sea. It's the area that used to be the Persian Kingdom. The Parthians or Scythians were probably mainly Israelites, and they were still in that area, and apparently there were problems. The Israelites settled all around this area, up to the southern shores of the Black Sea.

These were probably the areas where not only the Book of James was addressed to, but also where the other apostles were as well. They were in that area and they presumably travelled up and across to Britain as well and to other areas of northern Europe at that time. So it was being written from Jerusalem. It was written to Israelites and it was written certainly to those areas as mentioned.

Overview of Why it was Written (PLAY FROM 50:29)

Now the commentaries will say something similar to these two I will read here. This one is from 'The Wycliffe Bible Commentary'. It says:

"The Epistle of James is a plea for vital Christianity. A herder caught the tenor of this Book when he wrote 'what a noble man speaks in this epistle, deep on broken patience and suffering, greatness in poverty, joy in sorrow, simplicity...'" And on it goes. It says; "In the true spirit of the wisdom literature, James handles many different subjects with short abrupt paragraphs being likened to a string of pearls. Each is a separate entity in itself." It almost sounds like one of these musical critics doesn't it? "There are some logical transitions, but for the most part transitions are abrupt or missing entirely. This phenomenon makes an outline in the usual sense impossible. There follows however a listing of the subjects dealt with in the order of their occurrence in the epistle."

So we are looking at 'Wycliffe Bible Commentary' talking about how disjointed everything is within this book. If we look at Adam Clarke's Commentary, it says;

"The letter itself is entirely different from its complexion from all those in the sacred cannon. The style and manner are more that of a Jewish prophet, than a Christian Apostle. It scarcely touches on any subject purely Christian. Our Blessed Lord is only mentioned twice in it, but it has nothing of His miracles or His teachings or His death or His resurrection or any redemption by Him. It begins without any apostolic salutation and ends without any apostolic benediction. In short, if it had not been for the two slight notices of our Blessed Lord, we wouldn't even have known it was the work of a Christian writer. It may be considered a sort of connecting link between Judaism and Christianity, as the ministry of John the Baptist was between the Old and New Covenant. There is neither plan nor arrangement in it, but it contains many invaluable lessons which no serious person can read without profit."

So, looking at what people write in the commentaries, you will find that they haven't a clue about the book. They don't understand, they don't see within it any consistent arrangement. Now I believe firmly that there is consistent arrangement within the book. It is something that we, within the Church, need to grasp. Particularly as it is related to trials, and the Church has got to understand trials. We are going to go through the greatest time of trial the world has ever seen. We are going to go into the prelude before that greatest time of trial and the book has an enormous amount to say to us. It has really been written and preserved specifically for our day.

This is why we need to look at healing. We need to have a greater understanding of healing because as we go into the days ahead, we are looking at a time where reality itself is going to have to be changed in certain ways. It is going to have to be changed for God's people. God's people are going to have to be physically preserved. If we don't believe God, and understand a little bit about that subject, then however are we going to survive through that time?

So I do believe there is a plan and arrangement within it. I personally believe the entire book focuses on the latter part of James, where it is talking about; "Is any sick among you?..." (James 5:14). And it goes into other sections of those verses. The other part that all the commentators find so disjointed, are aspects that we need to understand in order to then be properly anointed, properly healed, and to have God intervene in our life physically - to allow that to take place.

There is a great deal in this book and I hope that in the succeeding Bible Studies we will be able to see that, and that will actually come out as we deal with each chapter in turn. If I can just take an overview, chapter by chapter, and just comment on what it's talking about.

Chapter one is really an overview about our attitude of mind towards handling trials properly. As we go through that chapter we will see how that fits together.

Chapter two really gives the key ingredient to having a right approach in time of trial. That key ingredient is regarding faith. Faith is not just what it appears to be by the word, because faith the word, simply means belief. That's fine, it does mean belief, but there is more to it than that, and Mr Armstrong highlighted this in an article which was; 'What Kind of Faith Is Required for Salvation?'

Now salvation isn't just salvation spiritually. The word salvation means to be rescued. If you are rescued from any kind of trial, we are going to be rescued regardless, whether it is physically, spiritually or however. The type of faith that James is talking about, and the type of faith that we need within trials, are one and the same. It is the same kind of faith that we need for salvation. There has got to be works there as well, the two go hand in glove. So chapter two deals with that very subject. It is something that we need to get to grips with, if we are to understand more about healing, more about going through times of trial, and God intervening for us physically, and standing up for us in that regard.

Chapter three is very interesting to me personally, because it is talking to the ministry. It is talking to the ministry about the things ministers need to remember. Remember that when we look into chapter five, it talks about calling for the elders, and they pray over him, and it is the prayer of faith that actually heals the sick. So in chapter three you are looking at the one that gives that prayer.

There is more to it than that, because also in chapter five, you find that; "...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). It is talking about praying for one another that you might be healed, so it is not just the minister's prayer. There is more than that. It is to pray for one another within the membership. So, chapter three deals primarily with the ministry, it is talking about not being many masters or teachers. It is also talking to us as we pray for one another. What needs to be in our mouth on a regular daily basis. These things are crucial.

Chapter four really gives certain other keys regarding answered prayer. Because if we are fighting with one another, we cannot have our prayers answered. Various things within chapter four deal with the keys to answered prayer. Again this is all making sense. It all fits together. It is not just a disjointed mess.

Yes, there are different points being brought out continually, but it is pointing down towards chapter five which is again more of an overview regarding the subject before it finally goes into the section at the end of chapter five which deals with the sick among you and how the Church actually handles the subject. The elders praying over the sick, and the prayer of faith healing the sick and how we should be praying for one another, and how Elijah was somebody that really had all the same problems that we have, and yet he was able to pray and get answers.

Now I'm not saying I've got all the answers within the Book of James, and that over the next few weeks I can give you all the answers on the subject of healing. I don't think I can. In fact, I know that I don't have all the answers at the moment. I just feel that in this book, is part of the answer. It might even be all of the answer to our problems. I do feel that we do need to look at it. It is something that we need to study.


{1} Mr Bowles mentions Act 9 instead of Galatians 1:18-19.