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The New Testament | The General Letters


Things to know

Where does the book begin?

James is a book for people who may suffer for Jesus. It is a book that helped those people find joy.

Places to go

Find joy when your faith* is tested
James 1:2-8

God gives good gifts
James 1:16-18

Care about everyone
James 2:1-5

Be careful with your tongue
James 3:1-8

Be patient when you suffer
James 5:7-11

Where does the book end?

James ended his book by asking people to help each other when they lost their way.

People to know


The Story of James

The man who wrote this letter was one of the brothers of Jesus. It is a letter, much like the letters of Paul. But James is also different. In some ways, James is like the wisdom books in the Old Testament*. James fills his book with wise sayings. In that way, his letter is much like the books of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes.

James told people how to live as they followed Jesus. He talked about many things. But James talked most about two things. He talked about [1] suffering. And he spoke about how to obey the Scriptures*. [2] The book of Hebrews ends with those two lessons. James wrote his whole letter about them.

James said many things about how to become wise. A person who wants to be wise must begin by asking God to make them wise. God gives wisdom. He helps people know how to pass the test when they suffer. The tests make people stronger [3] when they trust* God to help them. God makes our faith* stronger when we trust* him and do not doubt.

God’s people may suffer. Problems may test God’s people. But God uses the tests. He can use the things that test us to make us strong. God uses tests as a tool to make us wise. But God’s wisdom is not the same as man’s wisdom. God’s wisdom does not make people proud. God’s wisdom brings peace*.

God’s wisdom teaches us how to live. God’s wisdom helps us to be humble. It shows us that we must not care about rich people more than we care about poor people. James wants people to remember the words of Jesus,

‘love your neighbour as yourself’. [4]

God’s wisdom also helps people do good work. Wise people listen to God’s words. And they do not forget what God said. They obey the things that God tells them to do. They serve God and serve other people too. The wise person says ‘yes’ to God’s words.

James also says that the tongue is a part of the body that is hard to control. But God helps his people tame their tongues. Wise people use wise words. Wise people speak words that bless* God. They do not curse* people. They do not fight and argue with each other. They want to have only the things that God wants them to have.

James wrote to people who would suffer because they believed in Jesus. So he wrote to give them hope*. He told them to be patient. The Lord* is coming. The rich and the proud may succeed now. But God will judge the rich and the proud when he returns. And he will give his people good things. So he told them to be patient – just like Job was patient. And they must believe God and pray – just like Elijah did.

Wise people help each other. When people follow the wrong way, wise people bring them back to the right way.

If you want to live well and be wise, James is full of words that will help you.


[1] James 1:2-18

[2] James 1:19-27

[3] James 1:4; See Hebrews 12:5-6

[4] James 2:8

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