Lesson 1 For
Octuber 4th 2014.
JAMES, THE LORD'S BROTHER.
Download the Sabbath School Lesson in Audio MP3.
Sabbath School Lessons in Audio.
Sabbath School Lessons in PowerPoint
Third Quarter 2014
Lesson 1 in PowerPoint.
Central Study Hour
Doug Batchelor and the Sacramento Central SDA Church discuss the current
Sabbath School lesson.
Sabbath School University Video
Jennings on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Collegedale, TN
Sabbath School Lesson 1 Text in PDF.
View Sabbath School Lesson Teacher's Guide.
Sabbath School Lesson online
Third Quatter 2014
September 27-October 3
James, the Lord's Brother
Read for This Week's Study:
1 Cor. 15:5-7;
1 Pet. 2:9-10;
You are My friends if you do whatever I command you
We, today, are a long way from the early days of
the Christian church, both time wise and culturally. Thus, we have
little idea of what it was like to belong to the fledgling Christian
movement at a time when many congregations met in homes, and most
believers were Jews persecuted by their fellow Israelites. The letter of
James gives us one of the earliest glimpses of Jewish Christianity
before it disappeared in the fog of Jewish-Christian controversies and
before the marginalization of the Jews by the predominantly Gentile
church of the second century and beyond.
Unlike many of the epistles, it does not seem that some crisis or
urgent need in a local church impelled James to write this epistle.
Rather, it is written to the broader Christian community
Before we dive into his letter, however, this week we want to try to
learn what we can about the author himself. Some of the questions we'll
address are: who was James? What was his background? What had been his
relationship to Jesus? And what position did he hold in the church?
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 4.
James, the Brother of Jesus
The author of this letter must have been well known in the church
because there is no more specific information in this letter as to who
he is other than what we find in
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
Thus, we can narrow down the options of his identity pretty quickly.
Four people in the New Testament are named James: there are two of the
twelve disciples (Mark
3:17-18); there is the father of Judas (another of the twelve
but not Judas Iscariot,
Luke 6:16, NKJV) and one of Jesus' brothers
6:3). Of these four, only the brother of Jesus lived long
enough and was prominent enough in the church to have penned such a
letter. Thus, we believe that it was James, the brother of Jesus, who
authored this New Testament book.
As a carpenter's son (Matt.
13:55), James would have had more educational opportunities
than would a common peasant. His letter is among the best examples of
literary Greek in the New Testament. Its rich vocabulary, rhetorical
flair, and command of the Old Testament are surpassed only by Hebrews.
Because his name appears first in the list of Jesus' brothers, James was
probably the oldest son. However, the fact that Jesus entrusted the care
of His mother to John, the beloved disciple (John
19:26-27), suggests that His brothers were not Mary's own
children but the sons of Joseph by a previous marriage.
In the context of
Jesus' ministry read this verse:
When his family heard about this,
they went to take charge of him, for they said, He is out of his mind
3:21, NIV; see also
John 7:2-5). What do these texts tell us about how Jesus had
been perceived by His own family? What lessons can we draw from them for
ourselves, if indeed at times we find ourselves misunderstood by those
whom we love?
It was a false conception of the Messiah's work, and a lack of
faith in the divine character of Jesus, that had led His brothers to
urge Him to present Himself publicly to the people at the Feast of
Tabernacles.-Ellen G. White,
Desire of Ages,
pp. 485, 486.
James, the Believer
1 Corinthians 15:5-7 and
Acts 1:14. What do they tell us about the changes that happened to
Jesus appeared to many after His resurrection, including Peter and
the Twelve (minus Judas Iscariot). Then he appeared to over five
hundred people at one time. James, apparently, wasn't at this meeting
with the five hundred; Jesus appeared to him separately, and that
appearance must have been special, because it is specifically noted.
Whatever happened at that meeting, the Bible doesn't say. It must have
made a big impact on him, though, for James did become a faithful
follower of Jesus and an influential leader in the church.
What else do we
know about James?
James quickly became a leading figure in the Jerusalem church. After
his rescue from prison by the angel (A.D. 44), Peter wanted James to
know what had happened to him (Acts
12:17). Five years later, James presided at, and announced
the decision of, the Jerusalem Council. Paul mentions him first, before
Peter and John, in his listing of the
pillars in Jerusalem
2:9). Several years after this event (A.D. 58), when Paul
brought the collection for the poor in Jerusalem from the various
churches, the delegates from each church in turn laid the offerings at
the feet of James (see Ellen G. White,
Sketches From the Life of Paul,
pp. 208, 209).
James appears to have been held in high esteem for many decades after
the death of the apostles. In fact, so many legends developed about his
piety that he is remembered as
James the Just. Thus, despite
starting out in great doubt about Jesus, James ended up being a
spiritual giant in the early church.
James and the Gospel
Unfortunately, perhaps because of Luther's influence, many Christians
have been unable to see the important message James's epistle contains.
Without diminishing the contribution Luther made for the church of his
day, we must remember that
the Reformation did not . . . end with
Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this world's history,
grave errors were perpetuated by the Reformers and many
important truths were still to be revealed.-Ellen G. White,
The Story of Redemption, p. 353.
Thus, the need for the Great Awakening with Jonathan Edwards, George
Whitefield-and the Wesley brothers who gave birth to the Methodist
movement and its emphasis on the vital role of holiness in the Christian
life. The work of reform continued with the Second Awakening, through
which God raised up Seventh-day Adventists to proclaim the
angel's message. This worldwide proclamation culminates with the
Spirit-filled witness of a people who
keep the commandments of God,
and the faith of Jesus (Rev.
5:15. How does faith function in these passages? What do they tell
us about what it means to live by faith? How do they show us that faith
is more than just an intellectual assent to various propositional
It may come as a surprise to some that James refers to believing and
faith 19 times in this short letter, more than his references to works
and justification combined! In fact, the importance of faith is stressed
right at the beginning of the first chapter in connection with trials
and asking for wisdom (vss.
3, 6). This shows that James was
not only writing to believers but that he expects them to have a certain
quality of faith. As we will see, the act of believing, in itself, is of
little avail; true faith carries certain recognizable credentials. That
is, true faith will be revealed in the life and character of the
What things do you do on a daily basis that
reveal the quality and reality of your faith? How can you show the
reality of your faith even in the
To the Twelve Tribes Scattered Abroad
Acts 11:19-21; and
1 Peter 2:9-10. Who are these
twelve tribes, and how did they
become so widely scattered?
As we have seen, James wrote to believers. At first, the gospel work
was focused in Jerusalem (Luke
24:47); but, as a result of persecution, which intensified
after the stoning of Stephen, these believers were scattered, and the
seed of the gospel was planted throughout the cities and surrounding
regions of the Roman Empire.
Acts 11, the gospel spread to the Gentiles quite early,
beginning in Antioch; so,
the twelve tribes probably refers to
Christians as a whole. There do not seem to have been different
congregations based on ethnicity, which is why the Jerusalem Council
soon had to decide whether believing Gentiles should first become Jews
by being circumcised (Acts
15:1-6) in order to become Christians.
Acts 15:13-21. How does James address the problem the early church
A scriptural solution preserved a unified church: James cites Amos's
prophecy that Israel's restoration and ultimate expansion would include
15:16-17), a decree that is based on Mosaic laws for foreign
residents (Leviticus 18-20). James addresses
his readers as
the twelve tribes to remind them of their identity
as fellow heirs of the promise made to Abraham. Peter has a similar idea
in mind when he describes Christians as a
Pet. 2:9, compare
Exod. 19:5-6), addressing also those
Pet. 1:1). The Greek word in both passages is diaspora,
which normally referred to Jews living outside the geographical
boundaries of Israel proper (see
A church scattered abroad? Sounds like us,
as Seventh-day Adventists. Despite the vast cultural, ethnic, and social
differences among us, what unites Seventh-day Adventists in Christ as a
distinctive Protestant movement?
James and Jesus
James had the opportunity to observe Jesus when Jesus was a child, a
youth, and an adult. Then, at some point James not only believed in
Jesus as the Messiah but became a leader of the Christians in Jerusalem.
And yet, James calls himself not a brother but a
1:1, NKJV) of Jesus. Clearly, James learned humility and true
wisdom. Not surprisingly, these are also important themes of this letter
following passages and summarize what they have in common:
James 1:22 with
James 3:12 with
James 4:12 with
The affinity the letter of James has with the teachings of Jesus and
particularly the Sermon on the Mount has been widely recognized.
Jesus' pervasive influence underlies the whole of James's teaching-Peter
H. Davids, The Epistle of James (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans
Publishing Co., 1982), p. 50.
From a close comparison of James with the Gospels, it appears that
this letter is not dependent on any of them. Rather, James writes from
an intimate and personal acquaintance with the teachings of Jesus, who
always inspired His listeners to faith and challenged them to exercise
As we study the book of James this quarter, we will find a very
similar approach. James is not content with a weak, fruitless, or
vacillating faith. As we will see next week, faith dominates the early
part of the book, and James shows how this crucial quality undergirds a
vital relationship with Christ.
Dwell on the quality and reality of your own
faith. How real is it? How deep does it go? How does it enable you to
live the Christian life? What things could you do, and what choices
could you make, that could help improve the quality and depth of your
"His brothers often brought forward the philosophy of the Pharisees,
which was threadbare and hoary with age, and presumed to think that they
could teach Him who understood all truth, and comprehended all
mysteries. They freely condemned that which they could not understand.
Their reproaches probed Him to the quick, and His soul was wearied and
distressed. They avowed faith in God, and thought they were vindicating
God, when God was with them in the flesh, and they knew Him not.
These things made His path a thorny one to travel. So pained was
Christ by the misapprehension in His own home that it was a relief to
Him to go where it did not exist.-Ellen G. White,
The Desire of Ages, p. 326.
- The letter of James is essentially a handbook on practical
Christian living. It may even have been the first New Testament
book written (sometime between A.D. 44 and 49). That is, besides
it being a book on theology, it also tells us how to live out
the Christian life. Why is living out what we believe just as,
if not more, important than what we believe? Or is what
we believe more important than how we live out that
belief? For instance, what's better: a sincere Sunday keeper who
truly and seriously keeps the first day of the week holy or an
insincere Sabbath keeper who
keeps the seventh-day
Sabbath but doesn't really take it all that seriously? Give
reasons for your answer.
- As we have seen in Sunday's study, James was the brother of
Jesus. In other words, though Jesus was God Himself, the Creator
of all that was made, He was also human, one of us, even to the
point that He had siblings. How does this amazing concept help
us to understand how the vast gap between heaven and a fallen
world was bridged? What does it say to us, too, about the
lengths that God goes to in order to save fallen humanity? How
does the humanity of Christ help us understand how we can have
victory over sin? How does the humanity of Christ assure us that
God understands the reality of our toils and struggles?
- This week's lesson mentioned that humility was a theme in
James's letter. Why is humility so important in the Christian
life? That is, in light of the Cross and what happened there,
how dare any of us ever assume an attitude of arrogance or
self-importance, especially when it comes to spiritual matters?
God's Guiding Voice
As teens my friends and I enjoyed the pleasures of the world. We
partied and drank, but I was not satisfied. I was searching for
something meaningful, but didn't know what it was or where to find it.
Often when we were away from the crowd, our conversation drifted
toward religious topics. Frequently we talked about the existence of
God. One boy, Felix, seemed to know a lot about God. I didn't know it,
but his family was Adventist. Although Felix was not active in the
church, his childhood training was having a positive influence on us.
Felix sometimes told us stories that he said were from the Bible. I
had never heard these stories and thought they were fairy tales. So
Felix brought me a Bible so I could read the stories that he had marked;
then I found some prophecies. I didn't understand them, and asked Felix
what they meant. He said that I wouldn't understand unless I prayed
before reading. I laughed, but he insisted. I tried it, and it worked.
As I continued reading, I learned that our bodies are the temple of
God, and that we should not defile them with unclean foods or impure
habits. I told Felix that I had decided to stop going to dances and
parties, and to stop smoking, drinking, and even eating unclean foods. I
thought he would be surprised, but he agreed! He told me that I should
go to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He even offered to go with me.
On Saturday morning, the phone rang. Felix had decided to go to work
instead of church, but he had been injured in a motorcycle accident. I
hurried to the hospital, but learned that Felix had been transferred to
another hospital. It was almost 9:00. I prayed, Lord, what should I do?
Should I go to the other hospital? Or should I go to church? I felt
impressed to go to church, and I'm glad that I did.
I began attending church regularly. When Felix was released from the
hospital, he came to church with me once, but never returned. He is
still using drugs, smoking, and disregarding God's laws.
My younger brother saw the difference God was making in my life, and
he began attending church with me. Then my other brothers and a sister
began attending church. Eventually we all were baptized. But my parents
The pastor asked me to lead a small group seminar. I had no place, so
I prayed and was impressed to ask my parents if I could hold the
meetings in their home. To my surprise, they agreed to let me use their
front porch. When the small group began singing, I noticed that my
mother stepped closer to the window. Soon she came out and sat down. The
next evening my father joined us.
When evangelistic meetings began, my parents attended all the
meetings, and decided to be baptized. Knowing how they felt when I began
attending church, I found it hard to realize that within four years my
entire family had become united in the Adventist Church. We are all
actively involved in church ministries today, and I enjoy working as a
Jacques Cesaire is a house painter by trade, and
serves his church as a lay pastor and first elder in Morne-Pitault,