Today we begin the Letter of James. It was written in approximately A.D. 60, most likely not by Apostle James but rather by James, a cousin of the Lord. James likely knew Jesus since childhood and he was present at the resurrection. He is mentioned elsewhere in scripture, particularly in Acts where he is identified as the head of the Church in Jerusalem. The letter is written to Jews that have been disbursed around Palestine, most likely b/c of persecutions.
The key thing about James is that he teaches you must have an active faith. His emphasis is that once you hear the word you can’t just change on the inside. You must do something with your faith and live it on the outside. Look at all the examples of this concept in the first chapter alone:
1 James, a servant of God and of the LORD Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion: Greeting. 2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. 12 Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.
19 Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, 20 for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.
This will be the constant theme of James throughout his letter. Faith must be active and by being active it “perfects and completes”.