Main point summary
Suffering fellow Christians, live lives that are whole: lives that fully trust God in trial and temptation, lives that think holistically when faced with difficulties, and lives that completely receive--both hearing and obeying--the Word of God.
a James, a servant 1 of God and b of the Lord Jesus Christ, To c the twelve tribes in d the Dispersion: Greetings.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, is writing to dispersed Jewish Christians, URGING THEM TO LIVE "WHOLLY" (COMPLETELY, INTEGRALLY), ESPECIALLY IN TRIAL:
TRUST GOD WHOLLY.
e Count it all joy, my brothers, 1 when you meet trials f of various kinds, for you know that g the testing of your faith h produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be i perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Rejoice: trials work steadfastness. Stay put: allow steadfastness to work in you a maturity that doesn't lack in any way. VALUE GOD'S TESTING THAT WORKS WHOLENESS.
j If any of you lacks wisdom, k let him ask God, l who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But m let him ask in faith, n with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like o a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; p he is a double-minded man, q unstable in all his ways.
If someone finds he is lacking in wisdom, he should ask for it! The one who asks in faith will receive. The double-minded doubter has no guarantee he will receive. WHOLE-HEARTEDLY ASK GOD TO FURTHER SUPPLY ANY LACK OF WHOLENESS.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and r the rich in his humiliation, because s like a flower of the grass 1 he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and t withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Christians should rejoice in the reality of their position as exalted "brothers"; the unconverted rich [oppressors], however, should take seriously the reality of their own humiliation and the transience of their supposed exaltation and beauty. THINK PROPERLY ABOUT YOUR OPPRESSED STATUS.
u Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive v the crown of life, w which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire x when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and y sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Endure trial! God tells you why (life awaits for those who endure) and how (thinking correctly in temptation: not blaming God because of your understanding of God's nature and your understanding of the nature and process of temptation). THINK REALISTICALLY ABOUT TRIAL AND TEMPTATION.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. z Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from a the Father of lights b with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 1 c Of his own will he d brought us forth by the word of truth, e that we should be a kind of f firstfruits of his creatures.
Be confident in your relationship with God, since He is both lavish and unchanging and since on His own initiative (and by His Word) He birthed us for a glorious purpose. THINK ACCURATELY ABOUT GOD'S CHARACTER.
g Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person h be quick to hear, i slow to speak, j slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore k put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with l meekness the implanted word, m which is able to save your souls.
Be ready to learn, especially from the Bible, because this humble teachableness promotes God's saving, sanctifying work in you. RECEIVE THE WORD "WHOLLY."
But be n doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, o the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, p he will be blessed in his doing.
As you receive the Word, make sure you obey it, since doing so brings a blessing, whereas mere hearing is surprising self-deception. IN ORDER TO INTEGRALLY (COMPLETELY) RECEIVE THE WORD, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU BE A DOER OF THE WORD.
If anyone thinks he is religious q and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s r religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: s to visit t orphans and widows in their affliction, and u to keep oneself v unstained from the world.
Regardless of one's assessment, uncontrolled speech marks worthless religion; whereas mercy and edifying holiness mark the religion God assesses to be real. FOR EXAMPLE, INTEGRAL (COMPLETE) "RELIGION" MUST DEMONSTRATE COMPASSION AND HOLINESS.
James writes to scattered Jewish Christians experiencing (at best) the challenges and (at worst) the painful and discouraging oppression of life. He wants them to live whole lives. This idea of wholeness, completeness, integrity, or maturity seems to be a major unifying element in the letter, if not the over-arching theme. Chapter one, specifically, includes many data that support this conclusion: not being "double-souled," not merely hearing but doing, asking God when we find we lack, allowing trials to work God's designed completeness, and living a religion that doesn't lack the essential. Though I'm not entirely satisfied with my work on this chapter (and, admittedly, I'm doing this as an assignment from which I hope to receive clarifying feedback), I'm suggesting the following summary and breakdown of the chapter, illustrated in the accompanying arc: "Suffering fellow Christians, live lives that are whole: lives that fully trust God in trial and temptation (vv. 2-8), lives that think holistically when faced with difficulties (vv. 9-18), and lives that completely receive (both hearing and obeying) the Word (vv. 19-27)."