LESSON FOURTEEN: JAMES AND 1PETER

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one G-d. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! 
James 2:17-19

Hear, O Israel: HaShem is our G-d, HaShem the One and Only.
Deuteronomy 6:4

Introduction

  • The Epistle to the Hebrews clearly showed us what we have seen throughout our overview of the TaNaKh and the Apostolic Scriptures: It is not about a “new” redemptive message – it is about the same redemptive message. The Apostolic Scriptures are not teaching a “new” way – they teach the “same” way back to fellowship with HaShem.

James: Author, recipients, purpose

  • The Epistle called “James” is misnamed. There is no person named “James” in the Bible. The English name for Ya’akov is “Jacob.” Even the Greek name for this book reflects its true name: Iakobos.
  • Tradition holds that this was written by Ya’akov, the brother of Yeshua and leader of the congregation in Jerusalem. This same Ya’akov is mentioned in Josephus and Hegesippus’ accounts. Hegesippus records that Ya’akov was scrupulous in his Torah observance and hence was called “Ya’akov haTzadik” [Jacob the Righteous]. This fits the Ya’akov of the Book of Acts (ref Acts 21:17-24)
  • James 1:1: It is written to the “Twelve Tribes” in the Diaspora. This is consistent with the Ya’akov of Acts.
  • Purpose: To combat “spiritualization” of the redemption message. Faith has present, and material evidence. Hellenization and its Platonic model was prevalent in Jews of the Diaspora – it is an encouragement to remember that true life is not something anticipated in the future only – but that we must live today as faithful servants of HaShem.

The Law of Liberty, the Life of Faith

  • The Epistle of James is far too practical for some. It deals with complex theological subjects, but its “rubber meets the road” practicality makes many uncomfortable.
  • 2:1-12: “Royal Law” = “Law of Liberty” – not contrast, by synonymic
  • 2:13-26: “Faith” without “deeds” as evidence is not really faith. The Hebraic model of “faith” [emunah] is found in the principles of its root: emet [truth]. “Emunah” is a noun that reflects steadfastness to the truth. Thus Hab 2:4 speaks of the “righteous one” experiencing life by remaining steadfast to HaShem’s truth (John 17:17; Deut 6:24-25).

1Peter: Author, recipients, purpose

  • The First Epistle of Peter was written by Shimon Kefa [Simon Peter], one of the Twelve.  5:13 implies it is written from Rome.
  • 1:1-2; 2:10-12: it appears to be written to believing Gentiles.
  • Its purpose is to encourage holy living. It uses language and themes from the Torah to encourage holiness.

Be Holy – A Royal Priesthood

  • 1Peter 1:2-5: A reminder of how they were grafted into the Household of G-d. By the work of Messiah on their behalf.
  • The practical challenge – obedient children
  • 1:14-19: Lev 11:44; Lev 19:2; Lev 20:7: The context: what you eat, honor parents, Sabbath, idolatry, immorality, etc.
  • 2:9; Ex 19:5-6: Straight from the Torah – not replacement, but context: you too are in My family.
  • 2:10; Eph 2:11-13: Not a people, now by grace His own people.
  • 2:11-12; Deut 4:4-8: Good deeds bring praise to HaShem. It is our duty.
  • 5:6-11: Place yourselves humbly in the care of Your King.

Summary

  • The Epistle of James and 1Peter are extremely Hebraic in purpose and message. They echo the same redemptive themes we have seen throughout the TaNaKh and the Apostolic Scriptures.