The author of James is Jesus's brother, James. It was written about the year 49 (Jesus died at about age 33). This is not the apostle James who died about 44 AD. James wrote this letter (epistle) to Jewish Christians that had been scattered because of persecution. This is the earliest of all New Testament writings, Galatians being next. James was martyred in 62 AD.
James in the Bible
Matthew 13:55 James is probably the oldest brother of Jesus as he begins the list
1 Corinthians 15:7 Christ appeared to him after the resurrection.
Galatians 2:9 Paul called him a "pillar" of the church
Galatians 1:19 & Acts 21:18 Paul saw James on his first & last post-conversion visit to Jerusalem
Acts 12:17 Peter told his friends to tell James that he was rescued from prison
Acts 15:13 James was a leader in the important council of Jerusalem
Jude 1:1 Jude identified himself simply as "a brother of James."
The Book of James is a how-to book on Christian living; Genuine faith transforms lives.
1:1-27 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE | TESTING OF YOUR FAITH
1:1 This epistle (letter) is written to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations which refers to Jewish Christians. Even though Jesus is his brother, he references only as a servant of His Lord Jesus Christ in this letter salutation.
1:2-3 James writes personally here addressing the readers as "brothers." Although James lived long ago, I still read this letter with love as a "brother and sister in Christ."
In the NIV version, the word "pure" is used in this verse instead of the word "all." A quick search of the Bible for the word "pure" gives many results of "pure gold" and "pure frankincense" and "pure heart." Pure in the dictionary refers to "clear; free from mixture." The word "all" would mean "100%." What mixes with joy that can keep it from being pure? Thoughts of sadness, doubt, and fear. I might chase those thoughts from my mind so that I can focus on pure joy. This is a case of getting rid of the negative thoughts and focusing on the positive. Therefore, when troubles come, I should keep a mind clear of negative thoughts to leave it with pure positive joyful thoughts. This does not mean that I am to fake it and just wash away any sadness off my face. It is okay to weep. Jesus did. The kind of joy that is in this verse is not the earthly joy, but is the same joy as is the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Joy and trials can co-exist!
James does not say "if you face trials," but rather "when you face trials." One positive that can come from troubles is perseverance. Everyone has trials and troubles. No one is immune from them. They are inevitable. Suffering is everywhere. It is sometimes comforting to know that we are not alone in this world and that everyone is going through some sort of troubles in their own time. We are to hold each other up and help each other through the troubling times.
The NIV and KJV use the word "count" instead of "consider." This makes me think of the crafty activities or the journaling activities of documenting the things one is thankful for every day. Papers pile up in jars and lists are built counting the number of ways we are thankful. Being thankful is a means of considering our joys. When faced with a trial, it is not the natural reaction to think of joy, but rather I feel the pressure of the stress. It is a true test of faith to trust in God and focus on the true joy that can only come from Him. I am blessed to see my faith succeed when faced with trials. The Greek root word here for trials is the same as the word for "tempted." It is through my trials that I am tempted to go against my faith.
The testing of faith through trials brings forth and produces steadfastness (ESV), perseverance (NIV), patience (KJV). I find it interesting that these three words have similar meaning in this context. My true colors come out under pressure. Is my faith strong or weak? When I use muscles I have not used in a long time, the cliché phrase comes out "I feel muscles I didn't know I had!" Testing is recognizing that muscle of faith that I always knew was there, but didn't feel until it was overwhelmingly needed. Each of these words require endurance as we run toward the finish line of heaven. Keep steady in the faith.
1:4 What would I lack if steadfastness or perseverance or patience is not finished? How would I be incomplete and imperfect? What am I immature in that I need to mature in entirety? Wisdom. Character. Character is good and right qualities, such as generosity and patience and kindness. Perseverance could be seen as pressure. It is easy to have good character when everything is going well, but when things are under pressure, our character sometimes changes. For instance, anger shows its ugly head. Hateful attitudes replace kind attitudes. It is in the troubling times when we learn to discipline our sinful self into being the character of person we have a desire to be. I have always tried to teach one important thing to my children and that is when we can be the same kind of person no matter the situation or who we are with, then we know our character is firm. This is how we can test our own character. This is also how we can test our faith. P.S. The idea of immature wisdom is a lead in to verse 5.
So how long does it take me to read the Book of James? 17 minutes, 20.95 seconds. Wow! He was right on! I read it right between 15 and 20 minutes! How about that!
I quite enjoyed it too. There's a lot of good stuff in there.