The Book of James Bible Study

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James 1

The writer of James - James 1:1

Purpose of Trials and Temptations - James 1:2-4

Asking for Wisdom - James 1:5-8

The Christian's Attitude in the Midst of Trials - James 1:9-11

The Crown of Life in the Midst of Trials - James 1:12

The Birth of Temptation - James 1:13-14

Disobedience and Death  - James 1:15

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The Christian's Bible - James 1:16-26

The Crown of Life in the Midst of Trials

This verse is a beatitude, which is similar to the ones Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. The person who is blessed is the person who remains steadfast under testing. The rich man is tested by his wealth! Those who remain steadfast in faith through their trials are promised the crown of life. This crown represents eternal life. Calvinists who “believe once saved always saved” try to make this crown a reward for faithful serving, saying that “life” is one of the benefits provided with eternal life. Jesus did teach blessing for those who endured
persecution (Matthew 5:10-12).

However, it seems best to take James’ beatitude simply for what it says. Persevering a trial and standing the test indicate that a person has genuine faith and will receive the crown of life, which is eternal life, which is its meaning in Revelation 2:10. The figure of the crown (stephanos) was the prize that went to winner or the one who completed the race in Paul’s theology. The stephanos was a wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games.

The early manuscripts vary at this point, some saying “the Lord promised” (presumably Jesus), and other having “God promised,” and still others simply “he promised.” The latter is the shortest and simplest and probably the original. Don’t overlook the additional test for the crown of life: “that God has promised to those who love him.” Love is a test of genuine faith that perseveres. Jesus taught in John 15:9-11.

In the flow of James’ logic, love is defined as listening and doing (James 1:19-25). As he defines love in 2:5-8, James asks this question: “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” Here “he promised” links “he [God or the Lord} promised” in James 1:12. This is a technique that James employs throughout the book. So the crown of life in the midst of suffering is assurance of one’s inheritance in the kingdom that is eternal life, which is the blessing of persevering in trials (1:2-3). Hence, blessed is the man who perseveres in trials for he is much more than “happy” or “fortunate” since his faith guarantees his inheritance in the kingdom; its pure joy! Each new test endured adds to his pure joy; his state of being blessed.

James is not saying that one who successfully endures trials earns eternal life. Eternal life is not earned through human effort and achievement; it is received as a gift through faith in Christ Jesus in this life (John 1:12: Ephesians 2:8-10). However, if a person does not persevere in trials, his faith has been tested and found to be not genuine. The one who does not endure trials is not blessed and has no prospect of receiving a crown of life.

Next Section - The Birth of Temptation

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Decoding Daniel

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

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