Mary had other sons after Jesus, including James, the writer
of this letter. After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus
appeared to his followers, who by then included his own brothers
(Acts 1:14). James later became the "shepherd" of
the flock of believers in the Jerusalem area (Acts 15:13).
The letter of James is addressed to Jewish believers in various
parts of the Roman Empire. Jews who did not live in Judea,
but were dispersed (scattered) among the nations, were called
"The Dispersion". Among them were some who, like
James, had become Christians.
The letter was written to provide practical help and encouragement
in the face of persecution and oppression (1:12, 5:7), but
it also teaches the need to put our faith into practice. It
is a very practical letter and applicable to believers everywhere,
in all ages.
From the 1st Century AD onwards there has been debate about
which is more important - faith or works. In this letter,
James explains that faith (beliefs) should result in
works (deeds); while works give evidence of faith.
James gives examples of believers who showed both faith and
Abraham (2:21-23) ... believed and obeyed God
Rahab (2:25) ............. showed her belief by helping
Job (5:11) .................. suffered patiently
Elijah (5:17) ............... believed, so prayed earnestly
There is sound practical advice about the curbing of our
tongues (Ch. 3), on the need for humility (Ch. 4) and on the
importance of prayer (Ch. 5).