How to study the books of James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude

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How to study the books of James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude

You probably already know that the books of James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude are some of the most read—and mis-read—books of the New Testament. They include passages on dealing with temptation, the holiness of God, and the famous doxology at the end of Jude.

But they also include passages on slaves and masters, wives and husbands, and faith and works—passages that don’t line up with many modern norms, or even other parts of the canon.

What can we learn from these books?

A great deal, it turns out.

The challenge, however, is knowing where to start—or even…

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Who wrote Jude?

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Who wrote Jude

The book of Jude itself tells us that it was written by “Jude, slave of Jesus the Anointed One, and brother of James.”

There is a consensus that the “brother of James” identifies the author as the brother of that James who led the community of Jesus-followers in Jerusalem from at least 40 CE until his execution in 62 CE—in other words the same person who wrote the book of James.

That would make Jude the younger brother of Jesus. In lists of Jesus’ brothers James is always listed first and Jude is listed last (Matthew 13:55) or next to last (Mark 6:3).

But note that neither Jude nor James mentions a family relationship…

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Who wrote the book of James?

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Who wrote the book of James?

According to James 1:1, the letter is written by James himself. He was the son of Joseph, a construction worker who originally lived in Nazareth in Galilee.

He is always named next after Jesus in lists of Jesus’ brothers, so he was presumably considered to be Jesus’ next younger brother.

It’s also possible that James was the oldest of Jesus’ cousins if one follows Jerome’s interpretation that adelphos means “cousin,” the children of Mary wife of Clopas, also identified as “the mother of James and Joses.”

James was a prominent figure among the communities of the followers of Jesus living in Palestine in the first century. Paul names him, along with Cephas (Peter) and John, an acknowledged “pillar” of the Jerusalem community (Galatians 2:9);…

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What James means by “Faith without works is dead”

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What James means by faith without works is dead

This post is adapted from material found in A Theology of Peter, James, and Jude, an online course taught by Peter H. Davids. Sign up for the course.

Paul famously writes that “a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

But James writes that “a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” and that “faith without works is dead.”

Which is correct? How are we to read Paul and James together?

Does James really mean that our works save us?

Before we talk about how to read Paul and James together, let’s take a close look at what James really says.

James tells us that if someone claims to have a commitment—faith—and assumes that on this basis they will be saved or delivered in the final judgment,…

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What it means to read the General Epistles theologically

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what-it-means-to-read-the-general-epistles-theologically

We recently sat down with Peter H. Davids to discuss what it a biblical theology of the General Epistles looks like. See his answer below.

His online course on the theology of James, Peter, and Jude is now open. Sign up today.

In James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude, we have a group of letters very heavily dependent on Jesus—especially First Peter and James. And they are showing how the teaching of Jesus was used by the first century church.

A theological study tends to draw the ideas together—what are the implications of this for the building of the whole of Christian theology?

I think a major issue in these works is that they’ve been so neglected. How does this Sermon on the Mount work in everyday life? How does the God that Jesus talked about function…

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