The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as THE WAY. The Way became the final interpretation on the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah, and later became the transitional teaching into the early church. Many of these principles are contained within modern religious thought, many are not.
James (Ya’akov) has always been considered the eldest of the brothers of Jesus, after Jewish tradition he is mentioned first in Matthew 13.55. James’ position as chief rabbi of the Messianic Jewish Synagogue (Jerusalem) defines his authority and accredits his status as a Torah teacher. He spoke for Nazarene adherents, and was known as a Tzaddik, or wise man, even among those who were non-messianic Jews. The family of Jesus was well educated in traditional teachings, as was Jesus himself.
As is indicated in John 7.2-5, James’ conversion did not appear immediately. It seems clear that even in the Galilee (Jn. 7.9) Jesus’ family and others feared the influence of “the Jews,” Jn. 7.13; that is, no one would speak openly on behalf of Jesus for fear of retaliation, such as being kicked out of the synagogue, or worse. It is not known when James converted to his brother’s ascendancy. However, in I Corinthians, v.15.7, he most definitely would have, for after appearing to the disciples and the five hundred, Jesus gives appearance to James.
The Book of James is presented as Torah based, but with conversion to Jesus as Messiah. His address is intended to instruct from the viewpoint of familiarity, as all of his audience remained Jewish at the root. Therefore, his writing contains basic teachings found in the five books of Moses. Since his congregation is relatively new, his speaking is instructional, but underneath carries with it mild inspiration– cautious, but with fulness.
Faith is an emphasis of this written work, but not as we might at first think. No mention is made of Jesus as Savior, which will later become the predominant faith theme of the later Christian church. James speaks of perseverance (Jm. 1.3, also patience), having a faith which treats all men equally (Jm. 2.1.5), Jm. 1.18 infers faith as the “Word that can be relied upon,” and faith extended to make us as first fruits. Right actions are considered a part of faithfulness, and thus his teaching does not conflict with the Pauline preachment, who also encourages right action, or faithful actions.
[[[how does this connect to Jesus teaching and James’ grasp of it?]]]
That James’ speaking moves from the root of Jewish law, at first presents a perplexity for many Christian readers. James seems to speak from what was and not from what now is, at least as the true believer would observe it. However, this misses the point of James’ importance. James must have been highly trusted by Jesus, and would be the most knowledgable in Torah interpretation and teaching. It will be James who will make the final decision concerning Paul’s ministry unto the Gentiles, as opposed to Peter who is sent out to the Jews. It is James who is the first high priest of the transitional church. James will determine what Jewish laws do not have to be followed by Gentiles, thus creating the structure of the formative church no longer Jewish. James is seldom mentioned as the pivotal logos of the early church. James becomes potent within the Jewish community, and is thus martyred in AD 62.
For those who walk in the enlightenment pathway, perseverance cannot be emphasized enough. Perseverance reflects the core of faith, continuing on even while not-knowing. “Testing of your trust produces perseverance” (Jm. 1.3), encompasses relationship. Faith concerning deeds, more correctly interpreted as ‘actions’,* would be taken in the context of relationship with God, as opposed to faith not acted upon, and which cannot produce relationship.
*The Complete Jewish Study Bible (highly recommended).
The attribute of faith relies upon relationship with God and the witnessing of His spirit within. Less than that becomes nothing more than that something good should happen, and degrades into vain hope. It is vanity that one should expect good outcomes with having done nothing (sins of omission), including some measure of faithfulness. Of its nature faith extends itself into circumstance, and becomes revealed as one building-block of creation itself.
Trust, and do not doubt, “for the doubter is like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind” (1.6). Doubt is similar to a sin of omission, for without faith another attribute must fill the vacuum, and doubt will eventually become a man’s companion. All endeavors in life should be undertaken with a measure of faith. Else the person become “double-minded, unstable in all his ways,” (v.9). Continuity and perseverance have much in common. Perseverance is thought of as continuing while under stress, continuity is considered day to day spiritual expression and doing. Both attributes rely upon faith to offer substance, power and eventually the new creation within the individual.
In v. 14 James refers to perseverance related to temptation, and “each person is tempted whenever he is dragged off and enticed by the bait of his own desire.” Desire is denoted as bait, and the word of caution lies underneath. In modern Christianity desire is usually taught as simply not to do it. James, however, defines desire as ‘bait’. He defines it as the person having ownership, that it comes from the individual, and although James does not say so, thus represents duality.
Longstanding questions concerning Cain and Abel interject themselves here, as well as in the whole history of the Bible. Whether we observe desire in the physical or see it in the spiritual, James makes it clear that unrighteous desire comes from within, and remains at hand. “Sin crouches beside you,” God warns Cain. So it is that by continued faith, desire (sin) becomes removed and perseverance abides. Once the desire is conceived, birth to sin is given (v.15), and when fully grown “gives birth to death.” “Don’t delude yourselves, my dear brother,” James concludes.