Posted by: The Simple Guy | January 6, 2011

What Kind Of Joy Is This?

Sunday I will be preaching an introduction to the book of James.  I have been meditating on the book, and for some reason this song keeps running through my mind.

So far, in my study, I have learned that James was one of the earliest books of the New Testament to be written.  Probably written some time between 45 and 50 AD.  This would place it some time after the stoning of Steven, and Paul’s Damascus road conversion; but before Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey.

The book was written by James, but which James?  There are at least three fellows with that name in the New Testament.  James the brother of John is the most often mentioned in the Gospels (on of the “three musketeers” of the Gospels, Peter, James, and John), but He was martyred before the book was written.  Another disciple was named James, and he is known as James the son of Alphaeus (Matt 10:3).  An interesting side note is that Matthew (also known as Levi) was also the son of a man named Alphaeus. (Mark 2:14)  Could they have been brothers?  Never noticed this before.

Finally, there was a James who was Jesus’ half brother. He would have been Mary and Joseph’s son.  (Matt 13:55; Gal 1:19)

Seems like James was a good name for a brother.


Anyhow, we don’t know for sure if it was James the son of Joseph, or the son of Alphaeus who authored the book of James.  We are relatively sure that the author of the book was the same James who came to prominence in the church in Jerusalem.  (seen in Acts 15:13, and 21:18)  Tradition says that he was known as “James the Just” and that his knees were like those of camel’s because of how much time he spent in prayer at the Temple.  I find it interesting that we don’t know which James it is, but we do know his character.  To me this tells us something about him, as either way his brother would have been a controversial figure.  Either the crucified leader of the new sect, or the former tax collector.  Quite a challenge to become known as something other than “the brother of . . . .  ”

We find how he overcame this obstacle in verse 1.  He introduces himself as the servant of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The book was written primarily to Jews, those who had been driven from Jerusalem in Paul’s persecution.

He opens by discussing welcoming trials as dear friends.  This flew in the face of what Jews had been taught.  We see something about this perspective in the disciples question to Jesus about the man born blind from birth, and from their awe at Jesus  statement that it is hard for a rich man to enter Heaven.  You see, they thought that if you were rich, God must be blessing you, so you must be doing something right.  If you were poor or infirmed, you must be in sin and under judgment.

James offers a different view.

We will probably get into that later, as we look at the book.

But as I said, the song has been going through my head,

“what kind of joy is this?  That counts it a blessing to suffer, that gives the prisoner his song?”

Jas 1:2 ESV

(2) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

Looking forward to our journey together.




  1. Craig,

    The Christian’s calling is so radically differant from what much of “organized religion” proclaims today! But, on the other hand it would be pretty hard to fill up stadiums and arenas with the message of……”Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”…….or, “It has been given unto you, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
    For a message like that, to be responded to in a positive way, it takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit!!

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