WEEK 48: James 1:22 But be ye doers of the Word. And not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
The Author – Three persons called James are mentioned in the New Testament. One of these is James, the Lord’s brother (Matthew. 13:55) who did not believe on Jesus until after His resurrection. Josephus tells us that he was stoned to death about 62 A. D. on a charge of departing from the Jewish law. James, the Lord’s brother, is thought to be the author of this epistle.
This letter was written to the Jews scattered everywhere.
James1:1 James a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
The chief characteristic of style is abruptness. Change is made from one subject to another with no effort to connect them. There is, therefore, no general subject, and a lack of close connection between the points of analysis. It is eloquent, stern and sincere, and has a distinct Jewish tone. It lacks the doctrinal emphasis found in Paul’s writings and states the Christian faith in terms of moral excellence and instructs them in the subject of Christian morals. It is notable for two omissions. (1) It does not have the resurrection or ascension. (2) It only mentions Christ’s name twice.
James wrote this epistle in Jerusalem where he was a Pastor, but the date of his penning it is disputed. Some put it as early as A. D. 40. Others say it was written not later than A. D. 50. Still others put it about A. D. 61 or 62, just before the martyrdom of James. It is probably safe to say that it was one of the very earliest of the New Testament books.
“Be ye doers of the word”. The “doer” here is not the same as in Romans 2:13 who satisfied the law of God and fulfilled it in every part, but the doer is he who from the heart embraces God’s word and testifies by his life that he really believes, according to the saying of Christ
Romans 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Luke 11:28 Blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.
James is very conscious of the danger of hearing and not doing. He had previously been like this himself.
John 7:3-5 3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judea that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. 4 For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. 5 For neither did his brethren believe in Him.
James had seen among the Jews how easy it was to be a hearer in the synagogues every Sabbath and yet not be a doer. He had seen it also among the Pharisees. He does not want this repeated among the new Israel. So he calls on them not only to be hearers of the Word which is proclaimed to them, as those who have received the truth, but also to be doers of it. They must be like the wise man who built his house on a rock, who heard and did the Word of Jesus, and not the foolish man who built his house on sand and heard but did not do (Matthew 7:24-27). They must recognise that if they hear but do not do they are deluding themselves about being a Christian.
The message is a very important one. The New Testament as a whole has no place for those who hear but do not do. As Jesus Himself said:
Luke 6:46 Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things which I say”?