Monday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

James 1:1

Who Was James?

James the Just, the brother of our Lord, figures in Acts 15 at what is called the “Jerusalem Council.”  He emerges there as a leading figure, indeed, providing the counsel that led to the wording of the letter sent to the Gentile churches, wording that would bring healing and refreshment to them (15:31).  Eusebius, writing in his Church History in the fourth century, tells us that James had risen to Bishop in the Jerusalem church and writes of his martyrdom upon the man’s public declaration of faith “that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, our Savior and Lord.”  Eusebius goes on: “Unable to bear any longer his testimony, who, on account of his elevated virtue and piety, was deemed the most just of men, they seized the opportunity of licentiousness afforded by the prevailing anarchy and slew him…He was thrown from a wing of the temple and beaten to death with a club.”  Eusebius further cites an early Christian witness, Hegesippus, who testifies that James was in such a habit for prayer for the forgiveness of the people “that his knees became as hard as a camel’s” (2:23). Such was the godliness of the first bishop of Jerusalem—James the Just, brother of the Lord.

When James came to saving faith, we do not know, for we are told in John 7:5 that “not even his brothers believed in him.”  And as they would not even stand with their mother in her greatest agony at the foot of the cross we might wonder about some hostility.  But whatever the case was before our Lord’s resurrection, matters were completely reversed shortly thereafter as James appears not only in both biblical and extra-biblical records as a believer, but as a leader approaching the same status as the original members of the apostolic band.  And his status was not given him on account of his being half-brother of our Lord but his being a righteous, holy, and just man. And this epistle he wrote manifests those very concerns.  What is James’ overriding subject throughout his letter to the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion” but righteous deeds that prove one’s faith, being a doer of the word, dealing justly by showing no partiality to rich or poor, taming the tongue, despising worldliness, exalting humility, and always manifesting patience in suffering.  His is a practical letter but a practicality grounded in the grace of God as believers live and persevere in the “perfect law of liberty” (1:25).  There’s no contradiction in James’ letter with Paul or anyone else in the entire New Testament; this is pure gospel—the gospel that frees one from sin and liberates him to purity and justice.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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