James 4-5: Notes from the Infamous VERY Early Men’s Bible Study

Posted: March 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

As promised, here are the notes from my powerpoint this morning. 

Remember that next week we start a 2-week series on “heresy.”

*4:1-4a, James points them back to the cause of sin, the passion for things from below (3:14-15).

   V.3, “you ask wrongly” what does that mean? John 14:13.

   V.4, He calls them “adulterous”, which refers back to the Israelites of the OT (Jer. 2:20; 3:6-10; Hos. 1:2). 

   “the world” often means “fallen creation.”

  V.5, recalls Exodus 20:5.  What does he mean here?

  V.6a can be translated, “Yet, he gives a greater gift”, which contrasts with our desire to have and/or take.

  V.6, pride is simply another form of idolatry.

  4:7, notice the order.  Religious people attempt to do the latter without first doing the former.

  4:8, how does one draw near? By controlling one’s tongue (1:19, 26; 3:2), caring for the poor (1:27; 2:16-17), growing in wisdom and peace (1:5; 3:16-18), and communing with Him in prayer (4:2-3, 15; 5:13-18).

  “The more we seek to live according to God’s wisdom, the closer we will grow to his purity and holiness.  As we cultivate his heart in ourselves, we will automatically begin to see the world through God’s eyes and be humble.”  Craig Blomberg.

  4:8, there is the “double minded” snap again (1:8).  In other words, James is calling of complete allegiance to God.

  4:9, a continued call to repentance.  Note Paul Washer’s teaching re: sin.

  4:10, the community/army of Christ is contrasts clearly with the world, see Matt. 23:12; 1 Peter 5:6, etc.

  4:11-12,this is a continued exhortation to remember your place and who is the king and who is the servant.

  4:13-17, obviously this is aimed at merchants or the wealthy.  His point is that they need to recognize the sovereignty of God and the true point of life.

  V.16, there is no room for arrogance when you live in the shadow of the cross.

  Again, how do you define yourself?

  Five practices to avoid: “envisaging retirement as a time merely to enjoy the fruit of our labor, seeing work as just a way to make the money we need to buy what we want, viewing material prosperity as a symbol of our independence, imagining God as aloof from mundane cares of money matters and making financial decisions without consulting Christ for detailed guidance.” Bruce Barton.

  5:1-6, the ways of the rich continued and parallel  1:9-11.

  See Luke 6:20-26.

  5:1, evokes prophetic language re: the Day of Judgment (Isa. 13:6; 15:3; Hos. 7:14; and Amos 8:3).

  5:3, “corroded” can also be translated as “poison”

  5:4, “lord of hosts” = king of the armies of heaven, why does he use this term? See Rev. 19:11-16.

  People often view wealth as a way to avoid pain and suffering, living lives of ease and comfort, but James declares that their wealth will not save them from the only time that will truly matter.

  5:6, he is referring to the persecution of the poor person who does not strike back.

  Why such violent language? Do our economic practices do violence to others?

  Again, James is trying to disorient and then re-orient the churches

  5:7, James now applauds the poor but urges them to be patient. Why this shift? Were there no wealthy Christians? Does he assume they would not act this way?

  He returns to the issue of judgment and urges the oppressed to remember that they will be vindicated.

  5:7b, “early and late rains” were critical to the harvest in Israel.

  5:9, did the early Christians believe Jesus would return in the 1st century?

  5:11, harkens back to 1:2-4, 12.

  5:12, where does this come from? Oaths were often invoked by the poor to gain credit.

  5:13-18, notice that James is calling people together to focus on God and faith rather than the world.

  V.14, the elders represented the congregation while the oil represented the presence of God.

  Yet, we are to accept God’s will in all things and should be known as people who “die well.”

  V.15, the “faith of the person praying” (see 2 Cor. 12:8-10) and note that it parallels 1:5-8 (and see 4:15).

  How would confession of sins effect a community torn apart by money?  What sins would have been confessed? See Miroslav Volf “Exclusion & Embrace.”

  He exhorts them that true power comes from “right standing” with God.  How does that happen? 3:13-17.

  5:19-20, heroism and greatness again is redefined.

  “If James’s brand of piety is taken seriously and at face value…a substantial portion of the North American church would become quite uncomfortable with the ease by which it has accommodated the upward economic mobility of liberal democracy while trying to follow after its downwardly mobile Lord.” Robert Wall.



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