Peter Barnes | Bible Study | Download : Bible Studies – James
The epistle of James is not dated. Some date it fairly late, and see it as a
correction of those who misunderstood Paul’s emphasis on free grace to be a
denial of the need for works. But Paul raises this issue in a number of places
e.g. in Galatians 5-6 (probably his earliest epistle) and in Romans 6. Others date
the epistle quite early. Any date given is only a guess.
The author is surely not James, one of the Twelve and the brother of
John. This James was executed in Acts 12:1-2. Nor is it likely to have been
James, the son of Alphaeus, who was also one of the Twelve – although both
Calvin and Thomas Manton favoured this view. It is more likely to have been
James, the Lord’s brother, mentioned in Matthew 13:55; 1 Corinthians 15:7,
Galatians 1:19, and Acts 15. He became a key figure in the early Church – hence
Jude 1. Yet before Jesus’ death and resurrection, this James was not a believer
(see John 7:5).
Martin Luther saw no structure in the epistle, and regarded it as chaotic. It
is true that there is not the tight doctrine and application pattern that we find in
Paul’s epistles, and that it is somewhat like the book of Proverbs. But there is a
rough structure present. The epistle echoes the Sermon on the Mount in many
places, and there are over fifty imperatives in the 108 verses of the work.
In a rash moment, Martin Luther saw James as contradicting Paul, and
wanted to light his fire with this ‘right strawy epistle’, as he called it. But we
shall see that Scripture interprets Scripture.