1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the Twelve Tribes of the Dispersion: Greetings.
2 You must be deeply gratified when you are harassed by fiendish temptations. 3 You know that when ordeals test your faith, they build up your endurance. 4 Therefore let your endurance be fully developed. Then you will become perfect, unshakable, and unblemished.
5 If anyone of you is deficient in wisdom, he can obtain it from God. He gives it to all men liberally and ungrudgingly. 6 But the petitioner must ask it in faith, without wavering. The man who wavers is like the surge of the sea, which is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 Such a man cannot expect to obtain anything from the Lord. 8 For an irresolute man is unreliable in every respect.
THE HUMBLE AND THE RICH
9 The humble brother must be proud. For he will be exalted. 10 The rich man must be lowly. For he will be humbled. 11 One day the sun will rise and the scorching wind will blow. Then the grass will wither, its flower will fall, and its beauty will perish. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his vain pursuits.
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation. For if he can stand the test, he will obtain the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 Nobody who falls into temptation should say that he is tempted by God. For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. 14 A man falls into temptation when he is lured and enticed by his own passion. 15 Then passion conceives and gives birth to sin. When sin has reached its full growth, it causes death.
16 My dear brethren, do not be deceived about this question. 17 Every good gift and every perfect endowment comes from above, and is sent down by the Father of heavenly lights, who is not affected by any variation or shadow of change. 18 Of his own will he gave us a new birth through his Gospel. He wants us to become the sacred crown of all his creation.
19 Therefore, my dear brethren, every man must be alert in listening, deliberate in speaking, slow in getting angry. 20 For human anger does not produce divine righteousness. 21 Therefore turn away from every impurity and excess of wickedness, and humbly follow the divine message implanted in your hearts, and save your souls.
22 Practice the Gospel. Do not merely hear it and then forget it. 23 Whoever merely hears the Gospel, but does not practice it, is like a man who looks at the reflection of his own face in a mirror. 24 He sees himself, then he goes away and forgets what he looked like. 25 But the man who observes the divine law of liberation, who perseveres in it, who not merely hears and then forgets it, but who practices it, wi1l be blessed in all his works.
26 Whoever thinks that he is religious, but cannot control his tongue, deceives himself. His religion is worthless. 27 Pure and immaculate religion in the sight of God the Father consists in visiting orphans and widows in their distress, and in keeping ourselves uncontaminated by the sinful world.
1 Brethren, you must not degrade the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ through partiality toward persons. 2 Suppose, for instance, that a man wearing gold rings and handsome clothes enters your assembly room. At the same time, suppose that a poor man in shabby clothing comes in also. 3 You must not pay special attention to the well-dressed man and offer him a place of honor. On the other hand, you must not tell the poor man to stand where he is, or to sit on the floor at your feet.
4 If you behave in that fashion, you are making class distinctions among yourselves and you become wicked judges of our neighbors. 5 Listen, my dear brethren, God has chosen the poor of this world and promised to make them heirs of his Kingdom, because they love him and they are rich in faith.
THE RICH OPPRESSORS
6 Therefore you must not humiliate the poor man. You well know that the rich are constantly oppressing you. They drag you to the law-courts. 7 They revile the noble name of Christian by which you are known. 8 All is well if you act toward them according to the divine Law of the Scripture, which commands you to love your neighbor as yourself.
VIOLATION OF THE LAW
9 But if you show partiality toward persons, you are committing a grievous sin. You are breaking the Law of God. 10 The man who has observed the Law as a whole, but has failed in one point, is liable to all its penalties. 11 God, who forbids adultery, has forbidden murder as well. Now if you do not commit adultery, but commit murder, you have violated the Law.
12 Therefore you must speak and act as men who will be judged by the Law of liberation. 13 Condemnation will be merciless to those who do not practice mercy. Remember that only mercy can save us from condemnation.
FAITH AND WORKS
14 Brethren, there is no use for a man to claim that he has faith, if he has no corresponding works. Faith alone can not save him. 15 If a fellow man or woman has nothing to wear and nothing to eat, 16 you cannot help them with good wishes by telling them: “Good luck to you! Keep warm and eat well!” You can help them only by giving them something to meet their physical needs. 17 Likewise, faith alone, without corresponding works, is dead.
18 If we have only faith, someone may challenge us by saying: “You claim that you have only faith, and I have only good works. Well, you cannot show me your faith through your good works. But I can show you my faith through my good works.”
19 You believe that there is one God. Very well. So do all the demons and shudder in terror.
20 Listen, my dear thoughtless children. If you want to understand that faith without works is dead, 21 think of our forefather Abraham. He was justified by his action, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. 22 You see that his action corresponded to his faith, and vice-versa his faith was implemented by his action.
23 This is the meaning of the Scripture which says: “Abraham believed in God. Thus he was justified, and he was called the friend of God.” 24 Now you see that man is justified through works, and not through faith alone.
25 Again, Rahab the harlot was justified through her action. She welcomed the Jewish messengers and helped them off by another way. 26 For like a body without a soul, faith without works is dead.
1 Brethren, you must not have too many preachers. Remember that we preachers will be judged with greater strictness.
2 We all make mistakes of all kinds. But the man who never makes a mistake in what he says, can claim to be a perfect man and to control his whole system also.
3 For instance, we control the movements of horses and make them obey us by putting bridles into their mouths.
4 Look at the ships. Though they are huge, and are tossed by rough winds, they are steered with a very small rudder wherever the captain directs.
THE HUMAN TONGUE
5 Likewise, the human tongue is a small organ. Yet it can boast of a tremendous power. It is like a tiny spark that sets fire to a vast forest. 6 Indeed, the human tongue is as destructive as fire with infinite potentialities for evil. It occupies a key position among our organs. It contaminates our whole system. It sets on fire the entire cycle of our life. It turns our existence into an infernal torture.
7 Every species of wild animals, birds, reptiles, and sea-creatures can be tamed, and in fact has been tamed by man. 8 But no man can tame the human tongue, this unruly fiend, full of deadly poison.
9 We use the tongue to bless our God and Father. We use it also to curse our fellow men who have been created in the image of God. 10 Both blessing and cursing proceed out of the same mouth. My brethren, you must not allow such profanities to happen among you.
11 No fountain can gush out sweet and bitter water from the same outlet. 12 You well know, my brethren, that a fig-tree cannot produce olives, nor a vine figs. Likewise, it is impossible for a spring to produce fresh and brackish water at the same time.
13 Every wise and intelligent man among you must show by his noble life that his actions are inspired by humility and wisdom. 14 But if your hearts are full of bitter jealousy and rivalry, you must not boast by distorting the truth. 15 Such wisdom is not divine. It is earthly, sensual, and diabolical. 16 For wherever jealousy and rivalry prevail, there the door is open to disorder and every foul practice.
17 But divine wisdom is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, docile, merciful, fruitful, impartial, and unfeigned. 18 A harvest of righteousness can be produced only by peace-makers, who cultivate peace among men.
WARS AND FEUDS
1 Your wars and feuds arise from conflicting passions within yourselves. 2 You crave things. You cannot get them. So you kill. You covet. You cannot possess. So you fight and wage war. But you have not, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives. You only want to satisfy your passions.
4 Adulterers and adulteresses, you well know that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Therefore everyone who wants to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
5 For this reason the Scripture says: “God loves jealously the spirit which dwells in us, and he will not endure a rival. 6 Therefore he gives us a greater grace.” The Scripture tells us also: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
7 Brethren, obey God. Oppose the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubters. 9 Repent, mourn, and weep. Turn your mirth into grief and your joy into gloom. 10 Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
11 Do not disparage one another, my brethren. For if you disparage and condemn your brother, you disparage and condemn the Law of God. If you condemn the Law of God, you are not an observer, but a critic of the Law of God. 12 You well know that God is the only law-giver and judge, who has the power to save and condemn. But who are you to condemn your neighbor?
13 Come now, you who say: “Today or tomorrow we are going to such a city. We shall stay there a year, go into business, and make money.” 14 Well, you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is only a flash which shines for a little while and then vanishes away.
15 You should say instead: “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But you are rather boasting arrogantly. All such boasting is wicked. 17 For if you know what is right and fail to do it, you are committing sin.
WOE TO THE RICH
1 Come now, you rich! Weep and wail over your impending miseries. 2 Your treasures are rotten. Your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are rusted. Their very rust will testify against you and will consume your flesh like fire. For you have stored up treasures for these last days.
4 Listen! The laborers who have reaped your fields and whose wages you have withheld by fraud are crying out to heaven. Indeed, the outcries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived in luxury and in profligacy on the earth. You have fattened yourselves like vultures in a field of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and you have murdered righteous and unresisting martyrs.
7 Brethren, be patient until the manifestation of the Lord. Look! The farmer looks forward to the precious fruit of the earth, and waits patiently over it, until it receives the early and the late rain. 8 So you also must be patient and fortify your hearts. For the manifestation of the Lord is drawing near. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, and do not fall under condemnation. Look! The judge is standing at the doors!
10 Brethren, take the Prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed, we consider them blessed for having endured. You have heard of the patience of Job, and you know how the Lord finally rewarded him. For the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
12 Above all, my brethren, do not swear either by heaven or by earth, or by any other oath. But let your Yes mean Yes, and your No mean No. Thus you will not fall under condemnation.
HOLY UNCTION, CONFESSION
13 If anyone of you is in distress, let him pray. If anyone of you is cheerful, let him sing praises to God. 14 If anyone of you is sick, let him call the priests of the Church, let them pray for him, and let them anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of the believer will heal the sick man. The Lord will raise him up and will forgive all the sins he may have committed.
16 Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another. Then you will be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has tremendous power.
17 Elijah was a man like ourselves. Yet he prayed earnestly that it should not rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, rain fell from heaven, and the earth yielded its harvest.
19 Brethren, if anyone of you brings back a sinner who has fallen away from the true religion, 20 he can be sure that he will save a soul from death and cover up a multitude of sins.