1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the Twelve tribes which are in the Dispersion: Greetings.
Enduring trials and temptations
2Consider it as all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4Let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and whole, lacking in nothing. 5Yet, if any of you lacks wisdom, let such one ask of God who gives to all abundantly and without finding fault; and it will be given to him. 6But ask in faith, without any doubting, for whoever doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. 7Such a person should not think that anything will be received from the Lord. 8This is being double- minded, unstable in every way.
9Let the brethren of humble circumstances glory in their high position. 10But the rich should rejoice in being made humble, because like the flower in the grass, they will pass away. 11Indeed, the sun arises with the scorching wind and withers the grass, its flower falls and the beauty of its appearance perishes. Likewise, the rich shall fade away in their pursuits.
12Blessed is the one who endures temptation because after being approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord promised to those who love him. 13When temptations come, let no one say, “I am tempted by God” because God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14But a person is tempted when drawn away and enticed by his own lust. 15Then the lust, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, results in death. 16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there can be no variation or shifting shadow. 18He brought us forth of his own will by the word of truth, so that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Doers of the word
19Know this, my beloved brethren: be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. 20Anger does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore, putting away all impurity and remains of wickedness, receive with humility the implanted word which is able to save your souls. 22Be ‘doers of the word;’ not only hearers who delude themselves. 23Certainly, if anyone is a ‘hearer of the word’ and not a doer, such a person is like someone looking at his natural face in a mirror. 24Seeing himself and going away, he immediately forgets what kind of person he was. 25But whoever looks into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer of the work, will be blessed in doing so.
26If anyone among you considers himself to be religious but does not bridle his tongue, such a one deceives his heart and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Partiality and judgement
1My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord of glory Jesus Christ with partiality. 2Yet, if someone with a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in, 3you pay special attention to the one who wears the fine clothing. To the rich you say, “Sit here in a good place” but you tell the poor man, “Stand over there” or “Sit by my footstool.” 4Have you not shown partiality among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him? 6Yet, you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you before the courts? 7Do they not blaspheme the honourable Name by which you are called? 8However, if you fulfil the royal law found in the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18) you do well. 9But if you discriminate, you commit sin and you are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10Truly, whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point has become guilty of everything. 11For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery’ also said ‘Do not commit murder.’ (Exodus 20:13-14; Deuteronomy 5:17-18) Now, if you do not commit adultery but murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12And so, speak and act as people who are going to be judged by a law of freedom. 13Indeed, judgement is without mercy to those who have shown no mercy, but mercy triumphs over judgement.
Faith and works
14What good is it, my brethren, if someone claims to have faith but has no works? Can faith save such a person? 15If a brother or sister is in rags and lacking daily food, 16and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled” and does not give them what the body needs, what good is that? 17Likewise faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. 18Yes, someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and by my works, I will show you my faith.
19You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and they shudder. 20Fool. Will you not recognise that apart from works, faith is dead? 21Was not our father Abraham justified by works, by offering up his son Isaac on the altar? 22You can see that faith was working with his actions, and that by works, faith was perfected. 23Thus, the Scripture which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness’ (Genesis 15:6) was fulfilled, and he was called the friend of God. 24You see, then, that one is justified by works, and not only by faith. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, by receiving the messengers and sending them out another way? 26For just as the body is dead apart from the spirit, so is faith dead apart from works.
The tongue as fire
1Not many of you should be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgement. 2In many things, we all stumble. Anyone who does not stumble in word is perfect, even able to bridle the whole body. 3Indeed, we put bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, and this way, we guide their whole body. 4Or considerer the ships: although they are very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder as the pilot desires. 5Likewise, the tongue is a little member but it boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest. 6The tongue is also a fire. Among all our members, the tongue is a world of wrongdoing which defiles the whole body. It sets on fire the course of nature and it is set on fire by the fires of hell. 7Every kind of animal, bird, reptile and sea creature is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8But nobody can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the image of God. 10From the same mouth comes forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, this should not be. 11Does a spring pour forth fresh and salty water from the same opening? 12My brethren, can a fig tree produce olives, or a vine figs? Likewise, salt water cannot produce fresh water.
Heavenly vs. demonic wisdom
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let such a person show by a good conduct that his deeds are done in the gentleness of wisdom. 14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast and do not lie against the truth. 15This ‘wisdom’ is not the one that comes down from above. It is earthly, sensual, and demonic. 16Where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is confusion and every evil deed. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy. 18Now, the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Cause of conflicts
1These wars and conflicts among you, where do they come from? Is it not from your desires that wage war in your members? 2You lust, and do not have. You kill, covet, and cannot obtain. You fight and make war. You do not have because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, in order to spend it for your pleasures. 4Adulterers and adulteresses. Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility with God? Whoever wants to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The spirit which dwells in us longs to envy’? 6But he has given a greater, as the Scripture says,
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34)
7Therefore, submit yourselves to God, but resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you who are double-minded. 9Lament, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.
11Do not speak against one another, brethren. Whoever speaks against one of the brethren and judges speaks against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12Only one is the lawgiver, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge another?
Warning against presumption
13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we will go into this city, spend a year there, do business and make a profit.” 14Yet, you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. Truly, what is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16Nevertheless, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17If someone knows how to do what is good and yet does not do it, it is a sin.
Warning to the wealthy
1Listen, you who are rich: weep and howl for the miseries that are coming on you. 2Your riches are corrupted and your garments are eaten by moths. 3Your gold and silver are rusted; their rust will be a testimony against you and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up your treasure in the last days. 4Behold, the wages of the labourers who worked in your fields and which you have kept back by fraud cry out. The cries of those who reaped have reached the ears of the Lord Sabbaoth. 5On earth, you have lived in luxury and taken your pleasure. You have eaten your hearts’ content as in a day of slaughter. 6You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous one who does not resist you.
Exhortation to patience – Anointing with oil
7Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain. 8You also should be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9Brethren, do not grumble against one another, so that you will not be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door. 10Brethren, consider as an example of suffering and patience the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord. 11Behold, we call those who endured blessed. You have heard of the patience of Job and you have seen the Lord in the outcome, how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
12But above everything, my brethren, do not swear, neither by heaven or earth, nor by any other oath. Instead, let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’, ‘no’; so that you may not fall into hypocrisy.
13Are any among you suffering? Let them pray. Are any cheerful? Let them sing praises. 14Are any among you ill? Let them call for the presbyters of the Church: they should pray over them and anoint them with oil in the Name of the Lord. 15The prayer of faith will heal those who are ill and the Lord will raise them up. If they have committed sins, they will be forgiven. 16Confess your offences to one another and pray for one another in order to be healed. The insistent prayer of a righteous person is powerfully effective. 17Elijah was a man in every way like us, and when he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18When he prayed later on, the sky gave rain and the earth brought forth its fruit.
19Brethren, if someone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, 20know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.