(system) #1

After the inscription and salutation Christians are taught how to conduct themselves when under the cross. Several graces and duties are recommended; and those who endure their trials and afflictions as the apostle here directs are pronounced blessed and are assured of a glorious reward. But those sins which bring sufferings, or the weakness and faults men are chargeable with under them, are by no means to be imputed to God, who cannot be the author of sin, but is the author of all good. All passion, and rash anger, and vile affections, ought to be suppressed. The word of God should be made our chief study: and what we hear and know of it we must take care to practise, otherwise our religion will prove but a vain thing. To this is added an account wherein pure religion consists.

Verse 1We have here the inscription of this epistle, which consists of three principal parts.

I. The character by which our author desires to be known: James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was a prime-minister in Christ’s kingdom, yet he styles himself only a servant. Note hence, Those who are highest in office or attainments in the church of Christ are but servants. They should not therefore act as masters, but as ministers. Further, Though James is called by the evangelist the brother of our Lord, yet it was his glory to serve Christ in the spirit, rather than to boast of his being akin according to the flesh. Hence let us learn to prize this title above all others in the world—the servants of God and of Christ. Again, it is to be observed that James professes himself a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ; to teach us that in all services we should have an eye to the Son as well as the Father. We cannot acceptably serve the Father, unless we are also servants of the Son. God will have all men to honour the Son as they honour the Father (Jn. 5:23), looking for acceptance in Christ and assistance from him, and yielding all obedience to him, thus confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

II. The apostle here mentions the condition of those to whom he writes: The twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. Some understand this of the dispersion upon the persecution of Stephen, Acts. 8. But that only reached to Judea and Samaria. Others by the Jews of the dispersion understand those who were in Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, and other kingdoms into which their wars had driven them. The greatest part indeed of ten of the twelve tribes were lost in captivity; but yet some of every tribe were preserved and they are still honoured with the ancient style of twelve tribes. These however were scattered and dispersed.

1. They were dispersed in mercy. Having the scriptures of the Old Testament, the providence of God so ordered it that they were scattered in several countries for the diffusing of the light of divine revelation.

2. They began now to be scattered in wrath. The Jewish nation was crumbling into parties and factions, and many were forced to leave their own country, as having now grown too hot for them. Even good people among them shared in the common calamity. 3. These Jews of the dispersion were those who had embraced the Christian faith. They were persecuted and forced to seek for shelter in other countries, the Gentiles being kinder to Christians than the Jews were. Note here, It is often the lot even of God’s own tribes to be scattered abroad. The gathering day is reserved for the end of time; when all the dispersed children of God shall be gathered together to Christ their head. In the meantime, while God’s tribes are scattered abroad, he will send to look after them. Here is an apostle writing to the scattered; an epistle from God to them, when driven away from his temple, and seemingly neglected by him. Apply here that of the prophet Ezekiel, Thus saith the Lord God, Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come, Eze. 11:16 . God has a particular care of his outcasts. Let my outcasts dwell with thee, Moab, Isa. 16:3, Isa. 16:4 . God’s tribes may be scattered; therefore we should not value ourselves too much on outward privileges. And, on the other hand, we should not despond and think ourselves rejected, under outward calamities, because God remembers and sends comfort to his scattered people.

III. James here shows the respect he had even for the dispersed: greeting, saluting them, wishing peace and salvation to them. True Christians should not be the less valued for their hardships. It was the desire of this apostle’s heart that those who were scattered might be comforted—that they might do well and fare well, and be enabled to rejoice even in their distresses. God’s people have reason to rejoice in all places, and at all times; as will abundantly appear from what follows.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6294

(Stewart) #2

I have much respect for Matthew Henry’s comments. Good “old school” in many respects. Passion is spoken of today as a virtue, but I believe that Mr. Henry speaks well when he says – “All passion, and rash anger, and vile affections, ought to be repressed”. Just as Mrs. White also writes, when speaking of Jesus : “His zeal never led Him to become passionate”… His “zeal never degenerated into passion.” Jesus always had control of His tongue… He had tamed it.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

the just shall walk by faith, James recommends that walk. our gratitude is expressed in our generosity… Tom Z

(Gerhard Dr Svrcek Seiler) #4

Nooo ! David was a passionate servant of the Lord; Or Luike 24 : 33 - did not our hert burn iwth us - - or Acts24 : 24, 25 - - -

Or do you think any of our great, cheriushed music pieces of poraise , the “halleluia” and counteless oters did n ot express passion ?

ANd the other lemenets ? Please do not name suppression as a goal. Since onehundred years we know and experience denial and disavoval. The OT already has the solution : Psalm 51 : 10 ff . "Create in me a clean heart, o God and renew a right spirit within me - -

Such a heart an spirit dedcated to God, guided by his Grace and giftet
d with the Holy Spirit does not need to “repress” - which always includes a possible explosion of the kettle.under pressure.

(le vieux) #5

You’ve misunderstood Ellen White’s use of the word “passionate.” She is using it in the sense of “irascible; quick-tempered.”

(Yoyo7th) #6

1.What attitude do SDA’s have for the letter of James?
2.Do pastors usually avoid verses from James in their sermons?
3.If a survey was held in the SDA denomination…, do you think more or less than half have ever read the whole letter of James?
4. Is James considered a legalist?
5. What is the major theme or purpose of the letter of James?
6.The 1957 copyright SDA commentary spends almost 3 pages discussing who or which James wrote the letter. Does it matter to you?
7. Is James at odds with Paul’s theology?

(Stewart) #7

Perhaps we understand the word differently, Gerhard.
A clean heart and a right spirit ! Having these things, and maintaining them, is a worthy goal for any Christian. (By the grace of God we may attain it.)

But in my view, “passion” is emotive and impulsive, yet passion is also unreasonable, and for this reason it has power to corrupt the heart. We do need a fervent spirit, I certainly believe that, but passion? No. To me passion is a different thing altogether – it says to me that emotion is the leading, controlling, element. I believe that as Christians, we should move from principle, not impulse or feeling.

“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool” (Prov 28:26).

(Stewart) #8

You may be right, Birder. But at this point I don’t think so. Mrs. White’s general use of “passion”/“passionate” doesn’t seem to relate to anger or temper, it appears to apply to situations when emotions/feelings are allowed to be in control. (This can include anger, yes, but it is used in a much broader sense.)

For example, “the intense passion for money getting…”. (Adventist Home p.135.) Also the “passion for display”, the “passion for reading”, the “passion for amusement”, the “passion for debating”, etc, etc.

(le vieux) #9

Point well taken. That is also my understanding of what she meant. Context is critical, as it usually is. The key element is as you have stated: “situations when emotions/feelings are allowed to be in control.” We are to be in control of our emotions and passions, just as Jesus was.

Thanks for clarifying this.

(Yoyo7th) #10

James has been compared to the sermon on the mount

Jesus’ sermon is 111 verses long. (Can be read in 10 minutes)
Did Jesus overfeed his audience with all of the points in His sermon?

James’s letter is 108 verses long. I can see it as a sermon letter.

Did James overfeed his audience?

The SS quarterly will spend 11 weeks… (#1 is author related, #13 is on gospel) providing analysis of the sermon letter…topic by topic…
Is there anyway that topic by topic analysis is disadvantageous?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #11

I have just reread James in Philips Paraphrase. James writes a guide to Christian ethics and ethos. . A good recent national example would be how we related to each other after 9/12. A behavior upon hearing the Gospel and accepting it personally and thus sharing its fruits. Tom Z.

(Elaine Nelson) #12

Connotations of words change over the years. It may have been that when EGW use “passionate” it likely had a different connotation than today. New words are constantly being added to our English vocabulary and the meanings can change, even drastically. Think of the word temper and how it may have many meanings.

That is why reading authors of more than 100 year ago, and particularly the Bible (unless it is a recent translation) must be interpreted in modern usage. Reciting verses in the KJV as children often do, mean nothing to them as they seldom use many of the words.

(Elaine Nelson) #13

Jesus demonstrated “passion” when he drove the money changers from the temple. There are times that passion SHOULD be used.

(Gerhard Dr Svrcek Seiler) #14

Maybe. Passion has a negative connotation in Adventist circles. But take the Psalms : Passion for God - -

And i is my experience : N o good Sabbath School teacher without passion for the Sacred Word (One dear old Brother - after a lesson out of Galatians said to me, exhausted, sweating after class :You are burning; beware of burning down ! - No, that is the price I gladly pay …

And I tell you : I have tought Greek - successfully -with passion; I have tought Latin -with passion - successfully. And I have tought Psychiatry, Neurology and Psychosomatcs with passion , and bedside teaching - - that is “education”, the personal encounter - - -and not sending out textbooks and then requiring questionairies na te get a title like M:Sc. .

Do you really think that Blomstdt can successfully conduct “Ein deutsches Requiem” or “Missa solemnis” without passion ?

Besides -htis is a caloriea - consumpting task !

(Stewart) #15

I agree with you Elaine – connotations of words do change over time. Perhaps “passion” is one of them…

And yes, it is important that the Bible is presented in the language of the people. (In that respect we do well to echo the sentiment of the old Reformers.) Of course the language of the KJV is no longer the language of the common people. For many “English” speakers, the KJV might just as well be written in Latin. All its advantages mean nothing, if people are struggling to understand its language and sentence structure.

(Stewart) #16

Hello Elaine. :smiley:
I still think the words are reliable –

Jesus’ “zeal never degenerated into passion”. (Heavenly Places p.54)

Never, not even when He was in the Temple courtyard.

When Jesus returns in glory, and divinity flashes from His face, the ungodly would much rather die under the rocks, than face Him. I believe that divinity flashed from Jesus’ face those days in the Temple courtyard, and that it was for that reason that the people fled in panic.

I still cannot accept that His zeal became anything like a passionate rant…

(Gerhard Dr Svrcek Seiler) #17

My lifelong experience with SDA - also the Calvinistic or Pietistic influenced churches - through he times let me shaped my impression that quite a number of people find it closer to “holiness” when whispering, walking sloly, sitting stifly - - a little pale, dull, boring. Not a trace of joy, of vitality , - -

and avoid anything that could induce some emotion, some feeling : NO candlelight dinner !
(And best you get your spouse by mailorder youth department)