Endurance in God’s Strength

Key Verse: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
—James 1:2,3

Lesson Scripture:
James 1:1-18

THE APOSTLE JAMES, known as James the Less, to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee, wrote the epistle bearing his name. The other James was put to death by Herod early in the Christian church’s experiences. (Acts 12:1,2) James the Less, along with his brother, Judas, sons of Alpheus (also known as Cleopas), were selected by Jesus to be apostles. After Jesus died, James became prominent among the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, serving as a chairman over their proceedings.

His letter was addressed to Jewish Christians scattered in the world. Exclusive favor was granted to Israel who had the opportunity to accept Jesus as the Messiah. (John 1:11,12) That exclusive favor ended in A.D. 36 with the conversion of Cornelius. (Acts 10) Those who were of the early gathering of Jews in Jerusalem suffered much persecution. In order to survive, they pooled their resources and used a communal arrangement. Some left Jerusalem to return to their own country to escape the persecution.—Acts 11:19

As the Gospel went to the Gentiles, some brethren in the Early Church thought that the new Gentile converts should observe the Law and be circumcised. Paul and Barnabas disagreed and, after a conference was held in Jerusalem (about A.D. 50) with James presiding, they agreed that the Gentiles should only have to observe four items of the Law. (Acts 15:20) Later, Paul wrote that an agreement was reached, that Paul and Barnabas should continue to serve the Gentiles and James, Cephas (Peter), and John would be apostles to the Jewish brethren. We do not know when James wrote his letter, but it is most likely after these events, because he addressed his letter to the twelve tribes scattered among the Gentiles.

Persecution continued for the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, as well as those in other parts of the world. The Gentile brethren, too, were persecuted. These words addressed by James to his Jewish brethren were equally applicable to the Gentile Christians. In the words of our Key Verse, James said, ‘count it all joy’ when these trials of faith come upon you of all kind. These trials develop cheerful endurance or patience. The development of the Christian character takes a long time and is best achieved through trouble. This is why Apostle Paul told the brethren that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”—Acts 14:22

James assures us that we will receive much help from God in these trials. We should seek wisdom from him. Our seeking should be accompanied by much faith, for, as Paul reminds us, “without faith it is impossible to please him [God].” (Heb. 11:6) Also, the many trials that come our way should not be confused with temptations that could lead us astray, such as arising from lusts of the flesh. These are used by the Adversary to lead us towards death, and are not those coming from God.

If we succeed in overcoming these temptations we shall receive a “crown of life,” and be a part of the “firstfruits” of creation.—James 1:12,18

Dawn Bible Students Association
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