Pietist Reading of the Epistle of James


Pietist Reading of the Epistle of James: Mike Sperou, Senior Pastor of ncBc, made this presentation to Pastor’s Breakfast, September 17, 2008.

Contextual assumptions: Written by James, the Lord’s brother and leader of the Jerusalem church, to the Jewish-Christian churches spread throughout Judea sometime prior to A.D. 50.

  • Salutation, 1.1
    A figurative use of “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad”
  • Faith in Private, 1.2-25
    The testing of our faith in our everyday personal life
    1. Growing in character, 1.2-4
      Rejoice, knowing that the various testings of your faith are used by God to fill out your Christian character.
    2. Searching for wisdom, 1.5-11
      Ask for wisdom from God in a single-minded way, and recognize it when it begins to change your perspective—with regard to eternal values.
    3. Battling with sin, 1.12-18
      Be faithful in your devotion to God, who is good, and has chosen us for a special purpose, “a kind of firstfruits among His creatures.”
    4. Applying the word, 1.19-25
      Open your heart to the word in humility, and prove to be truly doers of it.
  • Faith in Public, 1.26–5.12
    The testing of our faith in our everyday public life
    1. Transition: Governing theme, 1.26-27
      The distinction between worthless religious works and pure ones
    2. The church gathered, 2.1–3.18
      It is all about treating people with love.
      • Greeting newcomers, 2.1-13
        Show mercy without partiality—if anything, show a preference for the unimpressive.
      • Supporting the brethren, 2.14-17
        Be sure to meet pressing needs.
      • Parenthesis: on faith and works, 2.18-26
        Works are explained as spontaneous actions toward others out of a love for God.
      • Speaking and teaching with wisdom, 3.1-18
        Let the community conversation be about blessing, not cursing.
    3. The church scattered, 4.1–5.12
      It is all about patience without complaining.
      • Attitude: Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, 4.1-12
        Avoid worldly attitudes when dealing with others.
      • Activities: Seeking the Lord’s will, 4.13–5.6
        Avoid worldly aims of seeking monetary advantage at the expense of others.
      • Demeanor: Fixing your hopes on the coming of the Lord, 5.7-12
        Be patient—those who endure will be blessed.
  • Conclusion, 5.13-20
    The power of prayer

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