Text: James 3:1-18
Key Verse: “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere” (James 3:17).
- Read through the text and mark down your initial thoughts.
- Your Thoughts:
- My Thoughts: I wondered how verse one fits with the rest of the passage; so, I checked out the Life Application Study Bible1 notes. Here is what it reads: “Teaching was a highly valued and respected profession in Jewish culture, and many Jews who embraced Christianity wanted to become teachers. James warned that although it is good to aspire to teach, teachers’ responsibility is great because their words and example affect others’ spiritual lives. If you are in a teaching or leadership role, how are you affecting those you lead?”
- Read your Bible’s (or favorite commentary2/website) introduction to the book of James. Jot down anything that stands out to you.
- Did you discover anything about the background, setting or authorship of James that helped you understand our text better? If so, what in particular stood out to you?
- My Thoughts: The author of the book was Jesus’ brother. Although I don’t know if it adds meaning to our text, I love this fact! John 7:5 tells us that “even [Jesus’] brothers didn’t believe in him.” Yet, here he now is, a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, proclaiming the truth. James is evidence of the reality of the resurrection and proof of God’s transforming power in someone’s life! Another term that jumps out at me as I read my Bible’s introduction is “Christian character.”3 I believe James is addressing just this issue in chapter 3 when he talks about our speech and conduct in midst of conflict.
- Read the key verse again and watch this video on verse mapping.
- Here is the link: https://vimeo.com/121206941 (Although this isn’t our key verse, it just so happens that it is another great one for study!)
- Try your own verse mapping this week!
- Read through the text one more time. As you do, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are You, Lord?
- What do You want from me?*
- Hint: I first learned this Bible study technique while working through Jennie Allen’s study Restless.4 Jennie puts these two questions side by side and answers them in the columns below. I think this is a great way to study any scripture—looking for what it says about WHO God is (His character) and how it directly applies to our lives. Certain texts may give us more of one answer than the other, and for some texts, you will have to dig a little deeper before you can really come up with an answer. But I think, asking these questions, will force you (us) to look at scripture as more than just words on a page.
Come back next week as we take one more look at James 3! We’ll be focusing more on the key verse as well as looking at cross references, key words or phrases and the meaning of metaphors. Happy Studying!
1 The Life Application Study Bible notes copyright © 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, IL.
2 FreeDictionary.com defines a commentary as a “critical explanation or analysis, especially of a text.”
3 NLT Parallel Study Bible © 2011 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL 60188.
4 Restless Study by Jennie Allen © 2013 by W Publishing Group, Nashville, TN.