(1) From James, a servant (minister) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes (Jewish Christians) scattered (in diaspora) among the nations. Greetings!
(James was the younger brother of Jesus. Since the letter was probably written around AD 44-AD 48, all the Twelve Apostles had likely departed on mission journeys, and so James became the primary leader of the Jerusalem church, along with a group of elders. The letter was written to the Jewish Christians that fled the land of Israel following the martyrdom of Stephen and the organized persecution of Paul; see Acts Acts 8:1-4, 11:19-21, 12:17).
The Testing of Our Faith
(2) My brothers and sisters, consider it all joy whenever you experience various kinds of trials in your life, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) And let perseverance finish its work (have its full effect) so that you will become mature and complete, not lacking anything.
(5) If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (6) But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. (7) That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, (8) because such a person is double-minded (two-faced) and unstable in all they do.
(9) Believers who are poor (in lowly circumstances of life) should rejoice in their exaltation (high position). (10) But the rich should rejoice in their humiliation (low position), because they will pass away like a wild flower. (11) For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its flowers fall and its beauty disappears. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business pursuits.
(12) Blessed are those who persevere under trial because, having stood strong during the test, they will receive the victor’s crown (wreath) of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (13) When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. (14) But each person is tempted when he is enticed (attracted) and seduced (drawn away) by his own sinful passion. (15) Then, after sinful passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.
(16) My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be deceived! (17) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like moving shadows. (18) He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, so that we might be a kind of firstfruits (the first agricultural produce of a season) of all he created.
Doing the Word of God
(19) My dear brothers and sisters, you must make sure you know this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, (20) because human anger does not produce the righteous life that God desires. (21) Therefore, remove from your life all moral filth and the evil that is rampant everywhere and humbly receive the word of God planted in you—which has the power to save you!
(22) Do not deceive yourselves by merely listening to God’s word, but also do what it says! (23) For anyone who listens to God’s word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks intently at his face in a mirror, (24) and then goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (25) But whoever looks intently into the perfect law (the word of God) that gives freedom and continues to live in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing what it says—they will be blessed (productive) in all that they do in life.
(26) The people who think they are religious but do not control what they say deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless! (27) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and true is to look after orphans and widows in their troubles and to keep oneself from being morally polluted by this world’s values.