Daily Bible Study Tips –

Comments on James and Jude

James 1
Random Walk in a Religious Art Gallery, Step 14: James 2:14-26, The Sacrifice of Isaac
James 3:1-12
Jude 1:1-10, Dear Fellow-Christians
Jude 1:11-25, I’m writing to remind you of correct doctrine.

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James 1

Some commentators have suggested that James is just a string of pearls, with no outline.  It is true that James is a string of pearls, each more beautiful and useful than the last; however, the pearls are strung on a well-defined outline:  "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (1:19).  James talks about quickness of hearing in 1:21-2:26; slowness of speech in Chapter 3, and slowness to anger in 4:1-5:6.  The introduction and the summary talk about trials.  I love the book of James.

Random Walk in a Religious Art Gallery, Step 14: James 2:14-26, The Sacrifice of Isaac (3/19/15)

Ok, I have to admit that my favorite part of this picture is the goat. The angel looks stern; Abraham looks confused; Isaac looks decidedly downcast. The goat, in contrast, has a happy little goat smile on his face.

James uses Abraham’s action as proof of his faith. “Prove to me that have faith if you have performed no faithful actions!” he demands rhetorically. “You can’t; however, I can prove Abraham’s faith to you by his actions!” Pay special attention to vs. 26. James is saying that if you take the spirit away from the body, the body dies. In exactly the same way, if you take works away from the faith, the faith dies. Good works won’t save you, but doing them will keep your faith lively.

Previous Step. Next Step.
Sacrifice of Isaac. Click to enlarge.
"The Sacrifice of Isaac" from the Binns family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter.

James 3:1-12

I love the book of James.  I can't read it without being convicted of my sins, and it gives good practical advice on how to stop committing them (not that I'm successful in following the advice).  James has a number of scary statements, and we see today one of them in vs. 3:1.  Did your mom ever say to you, "Why did you do that?  You should have known better!"  You got a spanking, and your younger sibling, who didn't know any better, got off scott free.  Probably you got an extra whack for getting your sibling into trouble.  Preachers and Bible teachers are supposed to know better – and we are supposed to keep anyone who listens to us out of trouble, as well.  That's why I keep telling you, "Don't listen to me!  Read the Bible for yourself!"

Jude 1:1-10, Dear Fellow-Christians (6/17/2010)

The book of Jude is one of the "general epistles," that is, unlike Philemon or Galatians, it is not directed to a specific person or church. Instead, it is a letter to all Christians. One of the crises faced by the early Church was that some believers decided that (1) all Christians are saved, and (2) all flesh is bad. Therefore, what you do with your body really doesn't matter. Party on!

Jude was apparently planning to write a letter on the topic of "our common salvation" when he heard about this new teaching, which is called "libertinism." Alarmed, he decided to write instead about the dangers of sexual immorality, gluttony, and similar sins of the flesh.

Jude did not cite his own authority. He claims only to be the brother of James (brother of the Lord) and the servant of Jesus Christ. He cites several Old Testament examples and a couple of extra-Biblical examples to support the position that, saved or not, your behavior matters.

Jude 1:11-25, I’m writing to remind you of correct doctrine. <(6/18/2010)

One reason that Jude's letter is so little read is that, except for the first couple of verses and the last two verses, it doesn't seem to have much to say to modern Christians.

First, there are all those OT references, and who reads that old stuff, anyway? Where were Sodom and Gomorrah and Egypt? Who were Cain and Balaam and Korah and Enoch? Wasn't Korah's rebellion part of the Civil War? Jude was speaking primarily to Jewish Christians and "believers," who were non-Jewish-converts who worshipped with the Jews who became Christian converts. They all knew this stuff, and we should, too. In the absence of actually knowing it, you should be reading a Bible with cross-references, so that you can easily look it up. What Jude is saying is very simple, however: look what happened to all these people who went up against God's laws. They got into big trouble! You should stop ignoring God's Law and stay out of trouble.

Second, Jude himself is relatively unknown, and he doesn't present any new points of theology or doctrine. In fact, in vss. 17-18 he seems to disclaim apostleship for himself, and in 1:3, he talked about the "the faith that was passed down to the saints once and for all." He's not trying to break any new ground here, so why bother? Well, exactly because he is trying to keep us from falling away from the true faith into lawlessness, that's why. His bottom line is extremely important and relevant today. Keep yourselves in the love of God, and try to snatch back anyone who falls away.

The only reasonable candidate as the author is Jude, the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).

More Comments on the General Epistles

Overview of the General Epistles
Comments on Hebrews
Comments on 1 Peter
Comments on 2 Peter
Comments on 1 John 1 and 2
Comments on 1 John 3 - 5

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Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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