Morning Bible Study
Summer Thursdays – “Summer with Jesus”
We’re going to have a blend of movie nights, prayer/worship nights,
outreach nights, and fellowship/Connect 8 nights.
Here’s the movie we’ll be showing this Thursday:
The book of James is possibly one of the earliest things written in the New
It’s thought to have been written around AD 40-50
It was written by James, the half-brother of Jesus.
James’ father was Joseph, while Jesus’ father was God.
Though James didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the
resurrection, James would eventually be recognized as the leader of the church
James was known in the early church as “James the Just” because of his
great devotion to God and purity of life.
Ancient historian Eusebius describes James’ prayer life, that he…
was frequently found upon his knees begging
forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a
camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and
asking forgiveness for the people
The book has a distinct flavor.
While the apostle Paul wrote mainly to Gentiles, James is writing to the
His teachings are going to be very practical (hence our “tools” pic) and
will draw much from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, as well as the book of
There is a structure to the book.
The first chapter is filled with short little statements that will be
discussed in greater length in chapters 2-5
1:22-27 Practical Faith
:22 But be doers of the
word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
be – ginomai – to become, i.e. to come into
existence, begin to be, receive being
Parsing? Present middle imperative
How does the “aspect” impact
Continuous action, “keep on
doers – poietes – a maker, a
producer, author; a doer, performer; a poet
from poieo – to make, to do
hearers – akroates – a hearer
from akouo – to hear
deceiving – paralogizomai – to reckon
wrong, miscount; to cheat by false reckoning; to deceive, delude, circumvent
Parsing? Present middle
Middle – along with “heautos”, the only one being deceived is the one who is
only listening and not doing.
Has the concept of being
“deceived” already been in our book of James?
Yes, but with a different Greek
(James 1:16 NKJV) Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
deceived – planao – to cause to stray, to lead astray,
lead aside from the right way; to lead away from the truth, to lead into error,
present passive imperative
:22 be doers of the word
Salvation by faith
I’m sure Caleb and I will be repeating this more than once through this
little letter because this is one of the things that has been misunderstood
about the book of James.
Some people think that James preaches that salvation comes from doing good
works. Not so.
The whole of the Bible teaches that salvation comes through faith.
NKJV) —8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of
works, lest anyone should boast.
When I say “salvation”, I’m talking about salvation from hell,
from the judgment on our sins.
Salvation isn’t based upon what you do, because what you do will never be
good enough to meet God’s requirements.
(Isaiah 64:6 NKJV) But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags
(Romans 3:23 NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Some folks think they’re pretty good, but the price
required to cover your sins is far greater than you think.
Imagine if your salvation was dependent upon you
long-jumping from the beach at Newport to Catalina. Some people can jump farther than others, but
nobody comes close.
Instead, our salvation is based on what Jesus did for us – He died to pay
the penalty for our sins, and He gives us His own righteousness.
Corinthians 5:21 NLT) For God made Christ, who never
sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God
All a person needs to do to have their sins forgiven and to find eternal
life is to come to God and trust Him.
The Old Testament prophet wrote,
2:4 NKJV) …But the just shall live by his faith.
Habakkuk is saying that the “just” will find eternal life
through his faith in God.
The New Testament quotes this verse over
and over again as it talks about eternal life. (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11;
(Romans 1:17 NKJV) For in it the righteousness of God
is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by
(Galatians 3:11 NKJV) But that no one is justified by the
law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by
(Hebrews 10:38 NKJV) Now the just
shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no
pleasure in him.”
Paul said it a different way,
(Romans 10:9 NKJV) that if you confess with your mouth
the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.
So what will James be talking about when he talks
Faith that works
The word “be” in the Greek (“be doers”) is a present imperative – meaning
that this is a command, and it’s a command that we must be continually doing.
Greek scholar A.T. Robertson translates this as “keep on becoming doers of the word”.
This is not something that you
arrive at and check off of your to-do list.
something you and I will continue to do for the rest of our lives.
James isn’t going to contradict the idea of salvation by faith, instead
what he is doing throughout the letter is clarifying what true faith looks
True faith results in action.
True faith will produce a change in your life.
True faith will spur you on to do good works, not because you’re trying to
earn your salvation, but because you’re trying to follow the One who has saved
James has already warned us about being “deceived”
(James 1:16 NKJV) Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Here James is warning us about the deception of a false faith in God.
A false faith will say all the right things, but there’s no change of life
to match the faith.
And even though a person with “false faith” might fool those around them,
the truth is that the one they’re deceiving the most is themselves.
It may be that one or two of you this morning have fooled everyone else
around you – you’ve said all the right things, you sing the songs, put money in
the offering … but your life has not been affected at all by your supposed
faith in Jesus.
(Luke 6:46–49 NKJV)
—46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I
say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will
show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house,
who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the
stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was
founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is
like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which
the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house
This little story isn’t really about building
houses or forts, it’s about building lives.
It’s important that you build on a good foundation.
What is good foundation?
Hearing God’s Word, and doing it.
:23 For if anyone is a
hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face
in a mirror;
for – hoti – that, because, since
is like – eiko – to be like
parsing – perfect active
How does the perfect tense
affect the translation?
It is something that happens in
the past and the results continue on into the present.
observing – katanoeo – to perceive,
remark, observe, understand; to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind
parsing – present active
what kind of participle is this?
Adjectival – describing “man”
face – prosopon
– the face
natural – genesis – source,
origin; used of birth, nativity; of that which follows origin, viz. existence,
NAS footnote: “face of his
(James 3:6 NKJV) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is
so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and
sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
mirror – esoptron – a mirror; the
mirrors of the ancients were made, not of glass, but polished metal
from eis (into) and optanomai (to
:24 for he observes
himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
observes – katanoeo – to perceive,
remark, observe, understand; to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind
parse – aorist active indicative
The thing happens in the past –
aorist is “undefined” – it just happens
goes away – aperchomai – to go away,
parse – perfect active
The action happens in the past but the results continue on into the present (he stays
forgets – epilanthanomai – to forget; neglecting, no longer
aorist middle indicative
The action just happened in the past (undefined)
what kind – hopoios – of what sort or quality, what manner
he was – eimi – to be, to exist, to happen, to be
parse – imperfect active indicative
This is an ongoing thing in the past – what he used to be all the time…
:24 he observes himself, goes away
James is describing the man who has heard the word, but
doesn’t put it into action in his life.
He’s like a guy who looks at himself in the mirror.
He might look closely at himself and say, “Hmmm, I need to shave…”
But as soon as he walks away from the mirror, he forgets what he saw and
One Drunken Night
A fellow decides to take off early from work and go drinking. He stays
until the bar closes at 2am at which time he is extremely drunk. When he enters
his house, he doesn’t want to wake anyone up so he
takes off his shoes and starts to tip toe up the stairs. Halfway up the stairs,
he falls over backwards and lands flat on his rear end. That wouldn’t have been
so bad except that he had a couple of empty pint bottles in his back pockets
that broke and the broken glass carved up his rear end
terribly. But he was so drunk that he didn’t know he was hurt. A few minutes
later as he was undressing, he noticed blood, so he checked himself out in the
mirror and sure enough, his behind was cut up something terrible. He repaired
the damage as best he could under the circumstances and went to bed. The next
morning, his head was hurting, his rear was hurting
and he was hunkering under the covers, trying to think of a good story, when
his wife came into the bedroom. “Well, you really tied one on last night,” she
said, “where did you go?” “I worked late,” he said, “and I stopped off for a
couple of beers.” “A couple of beers? That’s a laugh. You were plastered last
night, so where did you go?” she inquired. “What makes you so sure that I got
drunk last night anyway?” “Well, she replied, “My first big clue was when I got
up this morning and found a bunch of band aids stuck to the mirror!”
Forgive me for that story – it’s so wrong on so many levels, but it makes
Mirrors, and what you do with them can tell a lot about you.
God’s word is a mirror.
When we study it, we see ourselves as we ought to see.
When I have real faith, I don’t just read the Bible, I respond and change.
:25 But he who looks into
the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but
a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
he who looks – parakupto – to stoop to a
thing in order to look at it; to look at with head bowed forward; metaph. to
look carefully into, inspect curiously
aorist active participle
Aorist, it just happens – no continuous action implied
Substantival – it becomes the noun acting as the
subject of the sentence.
Are there other places in
Scripture where this word is used, things that give it some flavor?
(Luke 24:12 NKJV) But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the
linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what
perfect – teleios – brought to its
end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect
This is a key word in James –
where else is it used in James?
(James 1:4 NKJV) But let patience have its perfect work, that you may
be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
(James 1:17 NKJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and
comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow
(James 1:25 NKJV) But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and
continues in it, and
is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in
what he does.
(James 3:2 NKJV) For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in
word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.
What are the implications of
If we want to be “mature”, perhaps we ought to be sure to be looking into
God’s perfect/mature Word.
liberty – eleutheria – liberty to do
or to omit things having no relationship to salvation; license, the liberty to
do as one pleases; true liberty is living as we should not as we please
continues – parameno – to remain beside,
continue always near; to survive, remain alive
aorist active participle, nominative masculine singular
It describes the one who is “looking into” (both masc. nom. sing.)
is – ginomai – to become, i.e. to come into
existence, begin to be, receive being
aorist middle participle
Again, describing that same person who is “looking into…”
Connect the dots…
Look at the three participles that all describe the same person.
All three are important components to being “blessed”
forgetful – epilesmone – forgetfulness
from – epilanthanomai – to forget (used in vs.24)
blessed – makarios – blessed, happy
will be – eimi – to be, to exist, to happen, to be
future, middle, indicative
This is a statement of truth about the future – this WILL happen
he does – poiesis – a making; a doing or performing
How does this word impact the
The promise of blessing/happiness
isn’t just in being blessed, but blessed in “doing”.
:25 this one will be blessed
The implication in the Greek
text is that if you do the three things he says, you will absolutely find
The path to blessing
Do you want to have a blessed
life? Do you want God’s hand on your life? Do you want to know what true
happiness is? James gives us three things (all participles) that result in true
The word translated “looks”
carries the idea of stooping down to examine something.
intently at something to learn about it.
We don’t want to casually read
God’s Word, but to take time to understand it.
2:15 NKJV) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
A form of this word is
translated “abide” when Jesus said,
(John 15:7 NKJV) If you abide in Me, and My words
abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
We don’t just study God’s Word,
but we continue to learn, continue to go deeper.
Soak yourself in God’s Word.
David said the blessed man was
(Psalm 1:2 NKJV) …his delight is in the law of
the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
It’s being a “doer” not just a
forgetful hearer that leads to blessing.
It’s not enough to just hear the
Word, we need to put it into action in our lives.
Here’s an example. So you’re reading
your Bible and you come across this…
Thessalonians 4:3–4 NLT) —3 God’s will is
for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. 4 Then each of
you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor—
So what do you do
is not about abstaining from sex altogether, it’s about recognizing that sex is
to be a part of a marriage – the unconditional commitment that two people make
to each other.
Any kind of sex
outside of marriage is considered “immorality”.
from immorality isn’t a subtle suggestion by God, it is literally God’s will
affect what you view on TV, movies, or the internet?
affect your relationship to your boyfriend/girlfriend? Either wait until you’re married,
or get married.
That’s the path
:26 If anyone among you
thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue
but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
thinks – dokeo –
to be of opinion, think, suppose
present active indicative
religious – threskos – fearing or worshipping God; to
From “Little Kittel”
might be from throeo – to cry aloud, make a noise by outcry; in the NT, to trouble,
might also be from therapeuo – to serve, do service
The word is very common in secular
Greek, but rare in the N.T. and LXX.
It and its forms are not
intrinsically good nor bad.
How is this and its related root
forms translated/used in NT?
(Acts 26:5 NKJV) They knew me
from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the
strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
(Colossians 2:18 NKJV) Let no one
cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship
of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up
by his fleshly mind,
(Colossians 2:23 NKJV) These things
indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false
humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the
indulgence of the flesh.
(James 1:26–27 NKJV) —26 If anyone
among you thinks he is religious, and does not
bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is
useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God
and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and
to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
he is – eimi – to be, to exist, to happen, to be present
parse – present infinitive
How does this impact the meaning?
“If anyone among you thinks to be
bridle – chalinagogeo (“bridle” + “to lead”) – to lead by a bridle, to guide; to bridle,
hold in check, restrain
present active participle
Modifies “anyone” (both nominative singular
tongue – glossa – the tongue, a member of the
body, an organ of speech; a tongue (language)
deceives – apatao – to cheat, beguile, deceive
parse – present active participle,
nominative singular masculine
How does this impact the meaning?
Are the three participles three separate
ideas, or things that flow from each other?
Is the deception of the heart
because he does not bridle his tongue, or are they two separate ideas that both
belong to the man who think he’s religious?
I think the basic premise is that
the man “thinks” he’s religious.
But his uncontrolled tongue shows
he’s deceiving his heart, and that makes his “religion” useless.
useless – mataios – devoid of force, truth, success,
result; useless, of no purpose
religion – threskeia – religious worship
Related word to “religious” earlier
in the verse
– not in the text. It is added to help the meaning.
:27 Pure and undefiled
religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in
their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious
The meaning of the Greek word for “religious” is not clear in its origin.
Some think it comes from the idea of “fear”, and others think it has
something to do with “serving”.
The word is used a lot in ancient Greek, but not very much in the New
In evangelical circles, we tend to look down on the word “religion”.
We will tell people, “It’s not about religion, it’s about relationship”.
We say this to people who look at us going to church and who tell us, “You
must be religious”.
We have come to find out that going to church may make you look
“religious”, but the thing that really counts is not what you know about God,
or how many times you go to church, it’s actually knowing God that counts.
Yet we need to reclaim the word “religion” – James would tell us that there
is a good kind of “religion”.
pure – katharos –
clean, pure; in NT always ethical “purity”
undefiled – amiantos – not defiled, unsoiled; far removed
from every kind of contamination
to visit – episkeptomai (“upon” + “to look”) – to look upon or
after, to inspect, examine with the eyes; to see how someone is; to look upon
parse – present middle infinitive
Completes the verb “is” – pure
religion is to visit…
(Matthew 25:36 NKJV) I was
naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited
Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
(Luke 7:16 NKJV) Then fear
came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up
among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”
(Acts 15:36 NKJV) Then after
some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our
brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”
trouble – thlipsis – a pressing, pressing together,
pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits
unspotted – aspilos – spotless; free from vice, unsullied
to keep – tereo – to attend to carefully, take care of;
present active infinitive
Same as “to visit” – complements
“pure religion is … to keep”
world – kosmos – world … the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches,
advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and
frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause
:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God
If we look at vs. 26&27 together, we get three elements of what James
would call “good” religion.
Learning to “bridle the tongue” is about learning to control what comes out
of your mouth.
We’ll see much more on the tongue in upcoming chapters.
Sometimes the issue is about “what” comes out of our mouths.
(Proverbs 12:18 NKJV) There is one who speaks like the
piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health.
We want helpful things to come out of our mouths, not
things that destroy.
Sometimes the issue is about how much comes out of our mouths.
17:27–28 NKJV) —27 He who has knowledge spares his
words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. 28 Even a fool
is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
This too is learning to “bridle” the tongue.
Caring for the widows and orphans
Caring for those who need caring for like the handicapped
or the poor.
This is about reflecting God’s heart. We read last week in the Psalms:
(Psalm 68:6 NLT) God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live
in a sun-scorched land.
God wants us to have the same compassion He has on those around us.
Jesus said we are to even love our enemies…
5:45 NKJV) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun
rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on
the just and on the unjust.
Here’s an example of someone with “good religion”.
Video: On The
Road – Texas School Bus Driver
It’s important to God that we learn to cultivate lives of purity, different
from the world around us.
(1 John 2:16 NLT) For the world offers only a craving
for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our
achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father,
but are from this world.
Purity is not an issue of “staying saved” but staying useful.
Soap and Water
A pastor was asked to dinner by one of his
parishioners who he knew was a bad housekeeper. When he sat down at the table,
he noticed that the dishes were the dirtiest that he had ever seen in his life.
“Were these dishes ever washed?” he asked his hostess, running his fingers over
the grit and grime. She replied, “They’re as clean as soap and water could get
them”. He felt a bit apprehensive but blessed the food anyway and started
eating. It was really
delicious, and he said so, despite
the dirty dishes. When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and
yelled, “Here Soap! Here Water!”
Paul told Timothy that purity was an important key to
being useful to God.
Timothy 2:21–22 NKJV) —21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself
from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the
Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also
youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who
call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
It’s not that doing these things “saves” you, but they make you more useful.
If you have a real faith, these are the kinds of things that others will
see in your life.