James ~ Bible Study Questions

James Studies 1-13

James Study 1

Read James 1:1 and 2:1

1. How does James identify himself in his letter? Is this a title of humility or authority?

Read Matthew 13:53-57, John 7:2-5 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

2. What was James’ relationship with Jesus?

Read Acts 15:13-21; 21:17-18, Galatians 1:18-19 and 2:8-10

3. What was James’ position in the early church? What were his concerns?

4. What do James 1:1 and 2:1 tell us about the intended audience for this letter?

Read Acts 7:59-8:4

5. Why were they scattered?

Read James 2:1-3; 4:10; Matthew 5:5 and Luke 18:14

6. What similarities can you see between James’ letter and the recorded teachings of Jesus?

7. How can this letter be relevant to us now?

James Study 2

Read James 1:2-4 and 2:6-7

1. What kind of trials were the people of the early church suffering?

2. How can a trial be an opportunity for joy?

3. What risks would there be to our faith in a life without suffering?

4. How would this affect our prayers for ourselves and others?

5. What ways does the world promote to deal with or escape from suffering?

6. Have you experienced a time when your faith has been strengthened through a trial, or seen it in the life of someone else?

7. What are we tempted to value more than maturity in Christ?

James Study 3

Read James 1:5-8

1. What is wisdom in the Bible and how can a person become wise?

2. Why is wisdom important in times of trial?

3. According to James, what is the alternative to being wise and what are the consequences?

4. Think of a person who is wise in the way James described. How is wisdom evident in their lives?

Read James 1:9-12 and Matthew 5:1-11

5. What value does James place on material wealth? What are the rewards of perseverance?

6. What disadvantages are there to “living for the moment”?

7. How does an eternal perspective change the way a Christian lives and what they value? Is Christianity just “pie in the sky when you die?”

James Study 4

Read James 1:13-15

1. Is it sinful to have desires or to be tempted? What are some examples of desires which can lead to a temptation to sin?

2. How can we keep our desires in check to prevent them from “conceiving” sin?

3. Do we tend to be too harsh on ourselves and others for being tempted or too soft on ourselves for giving in to sin? How can we keep each other accountable?

Read James 1:16-18 and John 3:1-18

4. What gift from God can deliver us from the path of sin and death?

5. Some have accused James of preaching salvation by good works. On what basis does this passage from James suggest our salvation rests?

6. What comfort would the early church have found in these verses about God and about themselves?

7. How would you explain God’s “grace” to someone who had never heard the term?

James Study 5

Read James 1:19-25 and Luke 11:28

1. What connection does James draw between hearing God’s word and the righteous life God desires?

2. What examples of righteous living does James give here? What others has he mentioned so far?

3. What does a Christian see in the mirror of God’s word?

Read Galatians 6:2, Romans 8:1-3 and 18-21, and James 2:8

4. What is the perfect law to which James refers and how does it bring freedom?

Read James 1:26-27

6. What does James mean by “religion”? What does he regard as pure and faultless religion?

7. Who are the “widows and orphans” in our midst today? How can we help to look after them?

James Study 6

Read James 2:1-7

1. How does Jesus’ glory help give perspective to differences between the rich and the poor?

Read Luke 20:46

2. What kind of person might get preferential treatment in a church today?

3. What kind of person might be discriminated against?

4. How do the rich and famous of our day exploit the common folk or slander the name of Christ?

5. What might be James’ advice to us today about how we respond to celebrities?

6. What kind of jobs and status did some of the early Christians have? Where are people of great faith found today?

Read James 2:8-11, Mark 12:28-33, Romans 13:10 and Galatians 5:6 and 14

7. What importance does James place on loving one’s neighbour? How is it consistent with the teaching of Jesus and Paul? When do we fall short of this “Royal Law”?

James Study 7

Read James 2:12-13, Matthew 5:7 and Luke 10:33-37

1. How does James’ letter build on Jesus’ teaching about mercy?

2. What modern examples of mercy can you think of?

Read James 2:14-19

3. What is James’ opinion of a faith in God which does not produce mercy and deeds of compassion?

4. What is easy or difficult about acts of charity? What could you give up to better provide for the poor?

Read James 2:20-26, Galatians 2:8-10 and 5:1-6

5. Some claim that Paul and James preached differing roads to salvation. What message do they share in common? How did their differing audiences change the context and emphasis of the message?

6. How do Abraham and Rahab help illustrate the way faith is made complete in deeds?

7. In what practical ways could you practise loving your neighbour?

James Study 8

Read James 3:1, 2 Timothy 2:2 and Jude 3

1. What special responsibilities did teachers of the gospel have in the early church?

Read Matthew 23:13-15; Luke 12:41-48 and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

2. Why must teachers be especially careful to guard their speech?

Read James 2:8-11, Mark 12:28-33, Romans 13:10 and Galatians 5:6,14

3. What warnings about one’s speech do James and Jesus give?

Read James 3:9-12

4. What does it mean to praise God and curse men?

5. What is the Christian motivation for speaking to people lovingly and with respect?

6. What examples of poisonous speech can you think of?

7. What tests could you apply to your words before you say them to make sure they are pleasing to God?

James Study 9

Read James 3:13-18

1. How is heavenly wisdom revealed?

Read Galatians 6:7-10

2. How does the agricultural metaphor James uses help us to understand the relationship between wisdom and good works?

3. What is the opposite of each characteristic of wisdom and from where does this unspiritual “wisdom” come?

Read Matthew 5:9

4. How are peacemakers blessed? How can we promote peace in our community?

Read James 4:1-6, Matthew 5:21-22 and 6:24, 1 John 3:15-18

5. Why is James’ language so strong – calling his readers murderers, adulterers and enemies of God? By what have they been seduced?

6. What is God’s response to his unfaithful people? (v6)

7. In what areas do you need to humble yourself and pursue heavenly wisdom?

James Study 10

Read James 4:7-10 and Luke 18:9-14

1. What is needed when God’s people become his enemies? (v4)

2. What does true repentance involve?

Read James 4:11-12

3. Why is it inappropriate for one Christian to condemn or speak ill of another?

Read Matthew 7:15-20 and Romans 16:17-19

4. What is the difference between judging one’s brother and having discerning judgement?

Matthew 7:1-6

5. What similarities are there between Jesus’ teaching on judging and that of James’ letter?

6. What light does Matthew 7:5-6 shed on the difference between being wisely discerning and unfairly judgemental?

7. When are you tempted to be judgemental? How is this breaking the law to love your neighbour as yourself?

James Study 11

Read James 4:13-17

1. To what kind of people is this passage addressed?

2. What risks are involved in making ambitious plans without considering God’s will?

3. What advice does James give about making plans for the future? How might it be done?

Read James 5:1-6

4. To whom is this passage addressed?

Read Ezekiel 29:1-4 and Luke 10:13-15

5. The style of language James uses her is sometimes known as “Prophetic Lament”. How is it similar to the laments of Ezekiel and Jesus? Who were the words meant to comfort in each case?

6. When is the message of God’s judgement and the fleeting nature of life also a message of comfort and hope?

7. What kinds of oppression and injustice most move you? How can we seek to address injustice?

James Study 12

Read James 5:7-11

1. How is waiting for Jesus to return like a farmer waiting for rain?

2. What does James encourage Christians to do as we await Jesus’ return?

3. What quality of God’s character should encourage us to persevere?

4. How might we live differently if we truly believed in Jesus’ imminent return?

Read James 5:12 and Matthew 34-37

5. At the end of a Greek letter in James’ day it was customary to finish with a summary, an oath, a health wish and purpose statement. What is James’ opinion of the casual use of oaths and the importance of the truth?

6. When are oaths used today and why are they necessary?

7. Why is integrity so hard to find? How can we be known as people of the truth?

James Study 13

Read James 5:13

1. How does the world encourage us to deal with suffering and pain? Or with joy?

2. What is different about James’ advice?

3. What kind of prayers would be appropriate for those in trouble?

Read Matthew 26:27-30 and Colossians 3:16

4. When do you find it easiest to pray or to sing praises? When is it hardest?

Read James 5:14-18 and 1 Kings 18:1, 18:36-39 and 18:44-45

5. What should characterise the Christian community?

6. In light of his previous teaching, what does James mean by a prayer offered “in faith”? How is Elijah an example of prayer “in faith”?

Read James 5:19-20, 1 Peter 4:8 and Matthew 7:3-5

7. What is the Christian’s responsibility for an errant brother or sister? With what motivation or goal?

8. Why is it often easier to correct someone’s theology than challenge their lifestyle or behaviour? When is it loving to do so?