This post is part of a series on a commentary I am reading on the book of James. For a brief introduction, please read the first post in the series.
It would seem the academic type (e.g. scholars, theologians) aren’t super impressed with the book of James. Martin Luther called it the “epistle of straw.” Others don’t think it represents “the essence” of the Christian faith.
More on this in a later post.
Despite those negative remarks, it turns out James is uber-popular among the general population and one of the most quoted New Testament books.
Do any of these verses ring a bell?
James 1:5 (NIV)
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:22 (NIV)
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Here are the 3 big reasons why James is so popular.
1. James is practical
No other book in the NT has a higher percentage of direct commands, orders or instructions. Sometimes you can read a book in the Bible and scratch your head wondering what you’re supposed to be getting out of it (e.g. Leviticus).
Not so with James. He pretty much spells out exactly what you should be doing. The two verses above are great examples of that.
2. James is concise.
Less is more. That’s the way James rolls. One sentence, one point, move on (kind of like the book of Proverbs).
3. James uses lots of metaphors and illustrations
That makes his teaching easy to understand and remember. Stuff like a man in a mirror (James 1:23) or a spark setting off a forest fire (James 3:5) help give a visual parallel to the teaching.
Easy to read, easy to understand. I can appreciate that. ;)