Route 66 / Stop 58: JAMES

Audio File: 
Dr. Rich McCarrell
Sunday, November 4, 2018


James, called by the apostle Paul “the Lord’s brother” (Gal. 1:19). This James was a son of Joseph and Mary and, according to the flesh, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Half-brother, because though He (Jesus Christ) had the same mother, He did not have the same father! This James is one of four James’s mentioned in the N.T. Two of them played very prominent roles in their relationships with Jesus Christ.

James, the brother of John, the son of Zebedee, was a member of Jesus Christ’s inner circle and was present with Him, as well as his brother, and Peter, on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17). As well as with the Lord in prayer in The Garden (Matt. 26:36-38). He was the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred (44 AD).

James, the author of this book, is mentioned first in the list of the four brothers of Christ and apparently was the oldest (Matt. 13:55, Mark 6:3). James apparently was not a believer before the death of Christ. In fact, the Bible seems to indicate that he was not a believer until after the resurrection (John 7:5, Acts 1:14). After seeing the death and resurrection of Christ, James and the other brothers became firm believers, participating in the prayer meeting between the ascension and the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:12-14). He also soon rose to a place of prominence and became the recognized leader of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18). Paul speaks of him as a “pillar of the church” (Gal. 2:9). He gave a great speech at the conclusion of the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) and similarities in the Greek grammar between that speech and this book, reiterate his authorship.

From all Biblical accounts, he was a committed, faithful man of impeccable Christian character who truly lived out the doctrine he preached.



The book of James has been generally considered to be the earliest of all New Testament epistles. Many scholars believe it is the first of all New Testament writings. Written from Jerusalem before James’ death (AD 62), this book shows the life of the church in its earliest days. It was probably written around AD 45-AD 50. James, along with I and II Peter, John’s 3 letters and Jude, have been called General Epistles because they were directed to a broad audience.



This book is addressed to Jewish Christians scattered around the Mediterranean Sea (1:1). Of course as part of Holy Scripture, this was also recorded for Christians of all times.



The purpose of James is to show how “the faith” is to be lived out. James is not showing, as some have argued, a works salvation. He is not showing works in contrast to faith, but is showing that real faith should produce certain results in the life of those who are believers. Here in these pages are the practical aspects of a believers walk. It answers the question – What should faith look like in everyday life? When understood properly, we see no conflict between what James presents here and what Paul presents in the book of Romans. If we wanted to “title” these books, we could say that Paul deals with positional justification before God and James deals with practical justification before men. These themes do not contrast one another but rather complement one another. It’s interesting to note that James uses the word “faith” 16 times and the word “works” 15 times. Many references are made to the Sermon on the Mount as well as a wide variety of subjects. This makes it difficult to crisply outline as it is a series of brief sayings instructing believers to not just be hearers of the Word but doers! Three key sections deal with; the relationship between faith and works, a believers speech, and church Elders praying for the sick.




Let me share with you a paragraph from G. Campbell Morgan: “The theme of James is preeminently that of faith producing works. James does not argue against faith. He argues for faith. The central teaching of James has a positive and negative emphasis. The positive may be summarized thus: faith in God produces life according to the will of God; while the negative is that life contrary to the will of God denies faith in God.”




1. The outworking of faith in regard to self 1:1-27

*  This has to do with testings, temptations and our resulting actions


2. The outworking of faith in regard to others 2:1-26

*  This has to do with respect of persons


3. The outworking of faith in regard to things 3:1-4:17

*  This has to do with the tongue, true wisdom, the world, judging, the will of God


4. The outworking of faith in regard to our philosophy of life 5:1-20

*  Fruitful, truthful, prayerful, helpful