Christian Basic Training
James, The Book Of
Chapter 1

Verses from the book of James & the rest of the Bible are in " Maroon "
All words of Jesus Christ are in " Red "
Greek words are in " Purple "
All words in " Bright Blue " are weblinks
My highlighted text is in " Dark Blue "

Last modified:
December 5, 2021

( originally written in 2010 )

Bible Teacher Russ Pickett

Bible Teacher Russ Pickett

Break Line

Then when lust [ epithumias ] hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin:  and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

        The Greek word for " lust ", as noted in the last section, is epithumias { ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah } which means " a personalized self-longing ( espec. desire for what is forbidden ), desire, to lust after ".   James is, in this verse, basically comparing the act of sin with the birth of a child.   That is, once we give in to our selfish desires, it conceives sin.   Notice that one of the Greek meanings of the word " lust " is " a desire or a self-longing " to commit a particular sin ( and we each have at least one of those ).

        So starting in verse 14 James noted that we can be " drawn away " by our own lusts.   Now he notes that being " drawn away " by our own lusts can lead to actually committing the sin and/or conceiving the sin.   And he then reminds us that the result of sin is " death ", possibly both spiritual and physical.  Now we must remember that first, thinking about the sin is sin itself.   Jesus taught us this in Matthew:

Matthew 5:28

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust [ epithumias ] after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

        As Jesus tells us, we only have to " think " of committing sin and we have already done so.   A person may never actually do the act that they are thinking about, but they have still committed a sin because of their desire to do it.

I've actually heard some Christians say,

" Well since I've already committed the sin thinking about it ... I just might as well go ahead and do it. "

That is the wrong thought process.

   Thinking about the sin is " ONE SIN " ...

giving in or committing that sin is a " SECOND SIN ".

        Now I realize in the above verse from Matthew Jesus was talking about committing Adultery and many say to themselves " I'd never even "think" about committing adultery ".   However this thought can apply to any type of sin.   Let me give you an example from my own life:

        I've had two main jobs in my life.   The first as a Computer System Analyst, from which I retired after 35 years, and the second was being a CDL driver.   I know ... seems like a strange combination ... going from one to the other.   But I never really liked being inside, which I was for 35 years, so I went for a second job that would get me outside more.

        Anyway ... I took a job as a concrete truck driver.   Now every quarter we would get a bonus if we didn't have what they considered an " accident ".   Now to them an " accident " was considered hitting " anything " whether on the road or on the job.   On many construction sites they have what are known as corner markers.   They are put there by professional surveyors and if one of them is moved even slightly the surveyors need to come back in and redo their survey ( which costs buku bucks ).   So hitting one of them was considered an " accident " for which the bonus was lost.

        One day while driving this 38 ton concrete truck on a construction site ..... I backed into one of these corner markers and simple nudged it.   Now ..... " no one saw me nudge it " ..... there were other concrete trucks that had already been on the site ..... there were more trucks coming ..... the men on the construction site were down in a hole ..... so they didn't see me do it.

        " Hmmm " I quickly thought, " No one knows I hit it ..... and if I tell my boss I'll lose my bonus which I really could use. "   Driving back to our plant I continued wondering if I should report this " accident " or not.   Now ..... what was I doing ?   " Committing sin " ..... I was actually thinking about not reporting that I had hit the marker.   My thought was ..... " They will never know that I hit it anyway ! "

" Just thinking about being dishonest ..... I was committing a sin ..... "

If I didn't report it ..... " I'd be committing another sin ! "

        I quickly realized what I was doing and who my Father was ..... " I quickly prayed to God to forgive me for thinking such a thing ".   I went into the office and told the boss that even though no one saw me, I had hit one of the markers on the job site.   His mouth dropped open and he stared at me with a strange look for a second and then said, " I appreciate you being honest about this however you know that you will loss your bonus.   Are you sure you hit it ? "   I told him that I was sure .....

        The next day the boss said, " Oh ... by the way.   I let them know that you hit that marker and they said that they were done using that marker anyway so it wasn't a big deal. "   And then he said with a smile, " So I guess you don't lose your bonus now. "   I went away with a smile and said to myself, " God Is Good ! "

        Now in the second part of James 1:15, James reminds us that once sin is conceived, it gives birth to " death ".   Death, as I already noted, can be both physical or spiritual.   When Adam and Eve sinned, they died in their spirits and began to die progressively in their bodies ( Gen. 2:17 ).   The apostle Paul teaches the same thing in Romans:

Romans 5:12

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;  and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

        So we all, " Christians and unbelievers ", experience a physical death because of our sin nature.   The result of sin on " unbelievers " is they will experience " physical and spiritual death " along with God's judgment:

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death;  but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

        Now the good news is that " everyone's sins can be forgiven ", and we don't have to experience spiritual death ( i.e., separation from God's presence for eternity in the lake of fire, not annihilation of the soul ), if we simply follow the Scripture:

Romans 10:9-13

[ 9 ] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.   [ 10 ] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;   and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.   [ 11 ] For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.   [ 12 ] For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:   for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.   [ 13 ] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Do not err [ planasthe ], my beloved brethren.

        In verse 16 James is telling us to look closely at what we do and to stop deceiving ourselves.   We are deceived by our own lusts as noted in verse 14 and 15.   The Greek word used here for " err " is planasthe { plan-ah'-o } which means " to roam from safety, go astray, deceive, seduce, wander, to be led into error, to go astray ".

        " Do not err " is also in what is called the imperative mood with a present tense, which literally means, " STOP ERRING NOW ! "   We are not to miss the point of all this discussion;   " Trials are for helping us to grow spiritually, and remember that God is not the source of our problems and sins ... it is from within ourselves, our own lusts that cause us to err ".

        It seems the Christians in James' day, as all so many in our day, " misunderstand " this principle.   This is a good lesson for all Christians to learn.   Over the years I have seen so many Christians who believe or hold to something that has no biblical foundation whatsoever !   And when confronted with the truth of the Scripture, they still deny the truth.   We " ERR " when we do this, " and roam from the safety of God's Word ".

Break Line

Every good [ agathos ] gift and every perfect [ teleios ] gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness [ parallage ], neither shadow of turning.

        Now that James has told us where those negative things in our lives come from ..... he proceeds here to tell us where the good and perfect things in our lives come from.   The Greek word " Every " used here denotes not just some of the good and perfect gifts but " ALL " of the good and perfect gifts we receive are from God.

        Sometimes as Christians we don't always realize that " every good thing that we have " in this life is by the grace of God.   And all to often our prayer life is centered around " what we want " instead of being thankful for " what we have ".

        The Greek word used here for " good " is agathos { ag-ath-os' } which means " beneficial, useful, practical, good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy ".   The Greek word used here for " perfect " is teleios { tel'-i-os } which means " perfect, nothing lacking in them; i.e., it is perfectly matched to the person or the situation ".

        We also see in this verse God the Father's " immutability ".   That is, " God never alters His purposes or changes His nature ".   We also see this in Malachi 3:6 as well as in Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Isaiah 46:9-11; and Ezekiel 24:14 .....

Malachi 3:6

I the Lord do not change.

        This is shown to us by James' use of the Greek word for " variableness " which is parallage { par-al-lag-ay' } which means " to interchange, a shifting, mutation, change, fickleness ".   God never alters His purposes or changes His nature.   Scripture tells us that God never changes His being ( or essence ), or His character and nature.   Since God gives us every good and necessary gift, we do not need to " give in " to satan when he tempts us.

Of his own will begat [ apekuesen ] he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits [ aparchen ] of his creatures.

        The Greek word used here for " begat " is apekuesen { ap-ok-oo-eh'o } which means " to generate by spiritual birth, beget, bring forth ".   Here we, of course, see our salvation portrayed by James' statement " the word of truth ".   That is, God " begat us " by spiritual birth through His sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ.   This sacrifice by God of His Son for our salvation is the " GREATEST GOOD GIFT " He has ever given us.

" If you have not already accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior please read : "

        We also see here in this verse that God deliberately chose the method in which He would save us.  Kenneth Wuest brings this out in his translation of verse 18:

     " In accordance with His deliberate purpose He brought us into being by means of the word of truth, resulting in our being a kind of first fruits of His creatures. "

     Matthew Henry states:

     " The original of this good work is here declared:  it is of God's own will;  not by our skill or power;  nor from any good foreseen in us, or done by us, but purely from the good-will and grace of God. "

        It's good to know that God " Never Changes " and in eternity past He deliberately set forth a plan to save those who would accept His Son, Jesus as their Savior.

        James also notes in this verse that we, i.e. Christians, should be the " first fruits of His creatures. "  The Greek word used here for " first fruits " is aparchen { ap-ar-khay' } which means " the first act of a sacrifice, first portion, first-fruits ".

        The Jewish feast of first fruits is found and described in Leviticus in chapter 23.   God commanded the Jews to observe this feast and it was to be a feast of celebration that also carried the idea of the resurrection of the land.

Day of Firstfruits

Nisan 17

       JEWISH PURPOSE:  The first of the barley harvest was brought as an offering to the priest in the Tabernacle/Temple.   The priest would present the first of the harvest unto the Lord by waving them back and forth.   This reminded the Hebrews that God gave them the land, and the harvest belonged to Him.

MESSIANIC SIGNIFICANCE:  Jesus is the Firstfruits ( 1 Cor. 15:20-23 ).   Jesus' resurrection marked the beginning of the harvest of souls.   John 12:23-24,32 shows Jesus was likened to a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying to produce a great harvest.   " JESUS AROSE FROM THE DEAD ON FIRSTFRUITS ".

        It was to always be observed on the first " Sabbath " after the " Passover " ( Passover, which is also a Sabbath, was the same day that the Lord Jesus arose from the grave to become God the Father's " First Fruit " ).

        " That's right " ..... Jesus rose on the Sabbath ( the first day of the Jewish week ) and not the first day of the week, Sunday, as we celebrate today !   The Catholic church, when they created the Julian Calendar " changed " the first day of the week to be " Sunday " but to those of the Jewish faith, starting at 6:00 p.m., the Sabbath was the first day of the week.

Note This :

The Roman Catholic Church publicly admits it is responsible for changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. An authoritative catechism for priests states: “But the Church of God [that is, the apostate church] has in her wisdom ordained that the celebration of the Sabbath day should be transferred to ‘the Lord’s day’” (Catechism of the Council of Trent, Donovan translation, 1829 ed., p. 358). This catechism was written by order of this great council, and published under the auspices of Pope Pius V.

        Sunday, by the way, was named by the Catholic Church in honor of " Apollo the Sun God ".   Go figure .... why would the Catholic Church name all " 7 " of the days of the week after the " pagan gods " of the Roman Empire ?

        We now, of course, use the Gregorian Calendar ( still with the days of the week named after pagan gods ).   Now you might think ... " Wait a minute.   Isn't the Sabbath on the day we call Saturday ?   I thought Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday ? "

        Well actually, with all the changes over the years to our current calendar, " it's impossible " to try to match up what day of the week Jesus was crucified and what day he rose from the grave to our current calendar.   But, using our current calendar, I've tried to explain when Jesus rose and you can find that article here:

Break Line

Wherefore [ agapetos ], my beloved [ agapetos ] brethren [ adelphoi ], let every man be swift to hear [ akouo ], slow to speak, slow to wrath [ orgen ].

        In the previous verses James told us about the trials and temptations that we have as Christians.   He gave us the source of them and also told us that we are God's " first fruits " though the gospel.   " Now starting in this section of his letter he proceeds to tell us how we are to live for Christ ".

        James starts here with " Wherefore ".   Whenever we see a " Wherefore " or " Therefore " starting a verse of scripture we immediately know that the writer is basically saying " Based on what I just said ".   Always keep that in mind as you read scriptures.   If you start reading the bible at a " Wherefore " or " Therefore " it is always a good idea to back up a little and learn why the writer is using that word.   The best interpretation of this particular " Wherefore " would be " Because of what I just said you know... ".

        Now James starts this verse out by letting us know that we are his " beloved brethren ".   The Greek for " beloved " is agapetos { ag-ap-ay-tos' }, which is derived from the Greek word "agape" which basically means " loved, dear, worthy of love, willing to die for love, indicating a very close relationship ".

        Here it is best interpreted as " Loved Ones ".   He also uses the same Greek word here that he used in verse 1:2 for " brethren " which is adelphoi { ad-el-fos' }.   He is letting us know here that we are part of the same family and his " Dearly loved brothers and sisters in Christ ".   He wants us to know that we are loved and that he has something " Very Important " to tell us !

        The first thing he tells us is this, " be swift to hear "!   The kind of " hearing " that James is talking about here is " listening, " and not just " hearing ".   In fact the Greek word here he uses for " hear " is akouo { ak-oo'-o } which means " to attend to, consider what is or has been said, to listen with understanding ".

        James is saying that we need to be " good listeners ".   Whether we are listening to a pastor, preacher, teacher, a brother or sister in Christ, our spouse, our children, our friends, to the lost that seek advice, etc.   We need to be " good listeners " !

        Recently one of my daughters was talking with an old friend of hers that she had lost contact with.   This friend told my daughter, " I really need us to be friends again ".   My daughter said, " I think we are still friends ".   The other girl said, " Yes I know we are still friends but I really need you as a good friend again.   ALL MY OTHER FRIENDS talk to me about their lives however when I start to tell them how I'm feeling and thinking they basically don't listen or change the subject.   You, however, ALWAYS LISTEN to what I have to say.   I need a friend that listens to me ! "

Everyone knows that
finding a friend that is a " good listener "
is like finding gold!

As Christians we need to learn to listen
" with understanding ".

        " Listening " is probably one of the hardest things for us to do.   In this day and age it is very hard to find someone that is a good listener !   This is one thing that " we need to do as Christians ", learn to listen with understanding !

        The second thing James tells us is that we must be " slow to speak ".   If we are busy talking, then we are not listening or learning.   Before we speak we need to pause for a second and make sure we are saying what we really want to say.   In Proverbs we are told:

Proverbs 29:20

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words ?   there is more hope of a fool than of him.

        It seems that the Christians that James was writing to had a problem with their mouths  ( James 3:1-17;  4:6-12;  5:9 ).   We must be constantly willing to listen to God's Word and voice, and not to be so quick to give our own opinions.   Pastor Tommy Higle once said:

     " When eagerness to hear the Word of God is replaced by speaking one's own ideas the result will often be heated and bitter arguments. "

        This is why James gives us this third gem.   He says we are to be " slow of wrath ".   The Greek word used here for " wrath " is orgen { or-gay' } which means " violent passion, anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath ".   We definately shouldn't be losing our temper over " discussing " God's Word.   We also should never be losing our temper when discussing anything with someone, whether it be the word of God or any other subject.   J. Vernon McGee put it this way:

        " It is good to be a fundamentalist, but don't start fighting about every little jot and tittle of theology with everybody in sight who disagrees with you.  After all, you don't have all the truth. "

        And I think this is what James is trying to tell us.  If we are to grow and mature as Christians, then " we need to stop telling everyone how much we know and start listening ".

for the wrath [ orgen ] of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

        James again uses the same greek word for " wrath " here that he did in verse 19.   He tells us that having " wrath " or "anger" does not produce the type of righteousness that God wants in our lives.   God wants to help us grow spiritually, and cannot accomplish His work in us " if we are busy arguing and fighting. "

J. Vernon McGee put it this way:

        " You may feel that you are angry because you are a defender of the faith, but, my friend, the wrath of man simply does not work the righteousness of God.   Don't kid yourself that you are angry for His sake, because He's not angry - He's in the saving business. "

        We need to stop kidding ourselves, close our mouths, and open our ears so that God can complete the work which He started in us.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness [ ruparia ] and superfluity [ perisseia ] of naughtiness [ kakias ], and receive with meekness the engrafted [ emfuton ] word, which is able to save your souls [ psuchas ].

        If we are going to grow and mature in our walk with Christ we need to change our way of walking or " lay apart " things that were once part of our life.   James tells us that to grow spiritually, we must first " lay apart all filthiness ".

        The Greek word used here for " filthiness " is ruparia { hroo-par-ee'-ah } which means " filth, pollution, defilement, moral dirtiness ".   We need to get the sin ( moral filthiness ) out of our hearts and mind, our actions and attitudes.   This is the " Only Place " that this Greek word is used in the bible.

        The Greek word used here for " superfluity " is perisseia { per-is-si'-ah } which means " immoderate and especially luxurious living, habits, or desires ".   The Greek word used here for " naughtiness " is kakias { kak-ee'-ah } which means " malignity, malice, ill-will, desire to injure ".   We need to stop our strong habits and desires of ill-will toward others and souly concentrate on the things and ways of God.

        Then James says a very important and beautiful thing ... He says that we are to " receive with meekness " ( humility ) the "engrafted word".   The Greek word for " engrafted " is emphutos { em'-foo-tos } which means " implant, divinely given ".   The term engrafted puts a picture in my mind of " one grafting a branch from one tree into another ", such as grafting a Macintosh apple tree limb into a Rome apple tree.

        However the term " implant " gives me the picture of something being implanted inside of something else such as when a person receives a hip replacement.   The artifical hip in implanted into the persons body.   So here James is saying the the " word " is " implanted " in us ... that is, God has " implanted " the word within our hearts, our very being !

        The expression, " able to save your souls, " is deep in Judaism ( your soul is the essence of you ).   The Greek word used here for " souls " is psuchas { psoo-khay' } which means " spirit, the rational and immortal soul, life ( which is implied here ) ".   James isn't talking about losing your salvation, but the destruction of your soul in life experiences.   " When Christians fight and argue, and fail to grow, they can lose heart, or back slide. "   These worldly experiences take their toll on a babe in Christ.

Break Line

But be ye doers [ poietai ] of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

        The Greek word here for " doers " is poietai { poy-ay-tace' } which means " a performer, doer, one who obeys or fulfils the law, practicers ".   Literally he is saying, " Be continually practicers or performers of God's Word. "

        This is not an " OPTION " for the believer, but a " COMMAND " !   Not to obey makes a person a " hearer only ", who is deceiving themselves ( they betray themselves ).   " Notice that they do it to themselves ".   Many Christians drop out of church each year and blame their spiritual condition on someone else.   James says that this type of person has no one to blame but themselves for their spiritual condition.

[ 23 ]  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.    [ 24 ]  For he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."    [ 25 ]  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Pastor David Buffaloe explained these verses very well when he said:

        In verses 23 through 25, James says that the person who doesn't obey God's Word is like a man who looks in a mirror, sees his natural face and doesn't like what he sees, so he turns away forgetting what he saw.

        They don't see themselves as they really are, and are fooling themselves.   But the doer of the Word is the one who stoops down to look intently into the mirror and sees what needs to be corrected in light of God's Word.   They are the ones who put into practice what they have heard.

        They see themselves as God sees them and they don't forget.   The believer that obeys God's Word finds liberty and will be blessed in what he does.

[ 26 ]  If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.   [ 27 ]  Pure religion and undefiled before God and Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

        James closes this chapter in verses 26 and 27 by talking about true religion.   First he tells us that if anyone " seems " to be religious but his or her tongue, their speech, is anything but religious ... " they are deceiving themselves ".   There is an old saying that goes something like this:

" If you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk ! "

        Now the above saying is the opposite of what James is saying, however, the meaning is clearly there.   Another old saying is " practice what you preach ".   When we proclaim ourselves to the world as Christians ... We must not only " talk the talk " but also " walk the walk ".   It is " our duty " to " practice what we preach " which shows the world " that we belong to Jesus Christ " and not to the world itself.

True religion is the outward expression of belief through worship and service,
and not some kind of religious ceremonies or rituals."

        A religious person whose behavior is inconsistent ( in word or deed ) with the Christian faith is " worthless and self-deceiving ".   James tells us that real faith is consistent in both word and deed.

        Its amazing that most Christians think that it's the Pastor's job to visit people, but this verse says it's " everyone's job " whose faith is genuine.   William MacDonald tells us that we need to ask the following questions to put our faith on trial to see if it's real or not:

   Do I read the Bible with a humble desire to have God rebuke me, teach me, and change me ?

   Am I anxious to have my tongue bridled ?

   Do I justify my temper or do I want victory over it ?

   How do I react when someone starts to tell an off-color joke ?

   Does my faith manifest itself in deeds of kindness to those who cannot repay me ?


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Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2020

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