I I. Historical Background OF EPISTLE OF JAMES
[Keep the Time-table chart]
In order to understand the epistle of James we should understand the historical background. In another word why did James write the letter? To begin with historical understanding it is necessary to start with the birth of Jesus. We as Christian should memorize all these relevant years in the early time. On the years of the birth of Jesus, there are three theories on the year of the birth of Jesus according to theologians.
Then you may ask me why not zero? It should be zero because zero divides the year. BC/AD before Christ and Anno Domini. Anno means a year it is a Latin word. Domini means that the Lord capital ‘L’ BC is English. Before Christ. So Anno Domini means the year of the Lord. Annual is year it all come from Latin. Latin is an Old Italian language. Latin and Greek about the same. Very similar to Italian protégées Spanish Greek all came out of Greek origin so about 70-80% are same.
Why not zero? It is because about 5th century the calendar maker, the Roman calendar maker made a mistake in making the Roman calendar. Because of their mistake they had to redefine the year of Jesus. They could not stick to zero, they could not established zero the year has to be few years back. Some says 6-4-2 it depend on how do they understand the calendar.
So your teacher I decided 4 BC. 4 BC is well accepted year for the birth year of Jesus. In your teaching people will ask you why BC 4? Now you explain them what I said to you.
St. Paul was born around 9years after Jesus. AD26 Jesus public ministry at the age of thirty. AD 30 was the year he was crucified his resurrection and ascension (all these events took place in AD thirty and also the first church in the Christian history) Jerusalem church was established in AD 30. Therefore AD30 is the historical year in the Christian history.
When the disciples started the Jerusalem church, majority church members were Diasporas Jews. Diasporas mean those Jewish people living overseas called Diasporas. 120 Christians in the upper room + 600 Christians that was the early Christians member. Out of Peter preaching 3000 men mainly Diasporas came to join them. 3000 men only bible counted men. Their wives and children all together would be 10,000 and later another group of 5000 diasporas join the church that makes another 10,000.or 15000.
Jerusalem church total membership was about 20,000 members in a church. It was big church. They had a bible study, prayer meeting, praise and worship within themselves. Church was growing very rapidly, but their leaders 12 disciples had forgotten the Acts 1:8 that require; do not stay in Jerusalem alone and celebrating the church growth and enjoying the church growth but you have to expand your church growth to Judea province and Samaria and all to the end of the world. Now do not enjoy your vertical church growth, but you better enjoy your horizontal church growth. That was Acts 1:8 that was mended
The actual church growth should be horizontal church growth not in vertical; these 12 disciples should have sent their Diasporas brothers and sisters back to their respective home land. 12 disciples should have sent their church members. Both of them are Diasporas instead of keeping them in Jerusalem they should send them to their country with the gospel as a missionary. But they felt in that mission. Those leaders kept them in Jerusalem for their church growth. Jesus was not happy with them. Because those disciples have forgotten the great commission. It has 3 years passed. Now it came to AD 33 Stephen one of the seven deacons was killed. Because of the message that he delivered. It was God’s divine plan for shedding the blood of one of the leader. After the Stephen martyrdom, God allowed Jewish leaders to persecute the Jerusalem church. The persecution was very sever all 20 thousands members were scattered all over the regions. Only those 12 disciples had left in the church and they lost all their church members over night. So they become member less church empty church leaders. Those scattering people many of them went to Damascus. They were under the street evangelism in the city of Damascus sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. And non Christian Jewish people who had been living in the city for long time, they really hated to see their fellow Christian coming to the city and preaching the gospel. So those Jewish people in the city reported to Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and request them, would you send some top people to the city and please stop these scattering Christian sharing the gospel. One famous man called Saul later he became St. Paul heard about this and he said let me go. So Paul was on the horse to kill who are in Damascus. He arrived outside of Damascus he meet Jesus and became Christian. That was AD 35. At that time he was 30 years old. Acts 9.
[Keep the map of Tarsus]
After the Paul’s conversion, he spends 3 years in Arabia. Today most of the theologian considered that Arabia was Mt. Sinai, which is the same place Moses received the 10 commandments on that mountain. Paul after he meets Jesus in Damascus he went all the way to Mt. Sinai for 3 years meditating the word of God and fellowship with Lord Jesus. After that he went back to Damascus and to Jerusalem and only 15 days in Jerusalem he went back to his home town Tarsus for 7 years. So all together 10 years passed from his conversion. At the end of his 10 years from his conversion he joined in Antioch church. It was AD45 he joined in Antioch church as an assistance Pastor when he was 40 years old. When he was officially appointed as fulltime assistance pastor, from that time on until he was beheaded which was AD68 he had served the Lord Jesus. It is very interesting here: – it was 33 years since his conversion until AD68 he died 68 – 35= 33, so Paul actually served the Lord Jesus from his conversion until he died = 33 years like Jesus. Jesus was crucified at 33 years old. is it not interesting? And also Jerusalem church was scattered in AD33 not only that first Christian martyrdom in the name of Jesus happened in AD 33. Important Date.
Some of the scattered Jerusalem went to Damascus and Antioch the leaders who carried/ lead those Christians was Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus Christ. Simon the Cyrene or in Greek Curene: which is today called Libya in old testament it called Put. Simon who carried the cross was diasporas a Jewish man live in today Libya came to celebrate the Passover feast. He went to Jerusalem but on that day Jesus was about to crucified. So he was among the crowed were passing there and Jesus fell down on the ground as he carried the cross. Roman shoulders just grabbed the Simon gave the cross upon him so he became a very blessed man. So he carried the cross right on the crucifixion spot. So he was the very man who was under the cross, while his disciples run away. So he was the first with Mary sujana and others ladies but he was the very man who really right under the feet of Jesus Christ on the cross. This man Simon witnessed the resurrection of Jesus became the Christian and joined the 12 disciples. He was one of the 120 upper room participants. So he was the key to Jerusalem church builders and God sent him to Antioch. this man planted Antioch church. So he was the first senior pastor of Antioch church and 10 years had passed he and Barnabas joined the church and he send Barnabas to invite Paul to Tarsus. So, Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch church under Simon leadership. And Simon was the man who sent Barnabas and Paul for mission field work. Simon always sent his wife and second son Lufo he had 2 sons. His wife and second sons to follow Paul’s mission work so first, second and third missionary journey of Paul his wife and son were one of the companies to help Paul’s ministry. Later Paul said Simon’s wife is my mother (Rom 16: 13) at that time, when Paul wrote the Roman in Corinth. Roman was written when Paul was in Corinth and Simon wife we do not know her name but we know Lufu’s mother. Lufo was second son of Simon so Paul said Lufo’s mother is my mother. Paul sent them to Rome before his arrival in advanced. So they arrived Rome before Paul even arrival. That much Simon’s wife and family committed to the God mission working with St. Paul. This is a Antioch story.
There are many Jerusalem people went to Antioch and from there many people went to Turkey area, Galatia and many of them went to Pontus and Cappadocia, even in Finia all those are Jerusalem Christian scatter all over. Now 12 disciples remain in Jerusalem not having enough church members to serve. But all their former faithful Christian under them now are in those areas, and they planted house churches all over worshipping themselves as a diasporas. That was starting AD33. Now Peter, other disciples and James, they had travelled those areas to minister their former members. Beginning at AD 33. So those 12 disciples and James were vaitanary kind of Pastor## but travelling was not that easy like today. No buses no airplane no train travelling on a horse or walking like that. Because this Christian in their small house churches had all kind of internal problem among themselves:- fighting each other some well established rich church members keep their money not using for poor Christian and because of the overseas life, foreign life could not find good job there, and many husband die at early age, many widows, many orphans. But some few wealthy Christians, who had money in the foreign town, do not want to use their money for their poor fellow Christian and so on. And some theological issues that they need to be resolved, all kinds of problems had occurred in those Diasporas churches. So James who was the top leader over them had to travel as soon as possible to give them comfort encouragement teaching guidance. But that was not enough for James. Because it was too hard for him frequent travelling and giving them endless advices and teaching for those troubled people. So he decided I am going to send you formal letter to handle all these issues that you have encounter. In AD 48, 15 years after from 33ad travelling back and forth back and forth and finally he decided he decided I am going to write letter officially ## so in AD48 he wrote the letter to those scattered former Jerusalem church members. He wrote 5 chapters. This is a historical background.
You open James; James is later part of the New Testament before I Peter. James 1:1 you will see recipients here. James he said a bond servant of God Lord Jesus Christ ……………. 12 tribes dispersed, scatter (v: 1)
So you underline disperse twelve tribes. So now verse 1 tells us who are the recipient and also verse 1 tells us who the writer is. Who is the writer? James. Interestingly James did not say that he was a younger brother of Jesus. NIV and other version said not just servant but bond servant. Do you know the ear pierced servant? I told you before. Bond servant means ear pierced servant is a special servant, who committed his life for the lord Jesus. Where the story of ear is pierced servant? Deuteronomy. Will you please open your bible Deuteronomy chapter 15:12- 18 (keep it). Actually verse 18 in Jewish slavery system two kinds of slaves. He said on the seventh year of his service. The first servant is seven years slaves, who served the sixth years and seventh years the slave will be free. Verse 12 say so after sixth years serving on the seventh years the slave will be free. Would you circle your bible six and also circle the seven are you circling now? Make your bible dirty I was telling you. But the second type of servant. Slave’s verse 16 and 17 this servant says my master I love you and you house hold therefore I will not go out. You see condition. I love circle it I love you. He loves the master I want to stay with you = different slave. Than verse 17 if you do so I will take and pierced in his ear at the door. So he will take the ear of the slave and nail it down and make it hole in the ear. So ear pierced slave is a special slave. A master will say you will stay with me forever. Two kinds of slaves. This kind of slaves in a new testament a bond slave= ear pierced servant called a bond slave. What would be condition? Love. The regular slaves love this world, money and freedom. So let them go let them go after what they love. But the other bond: ear pierced slave love master and master house hold (bond servant) James said this, I am the bond slave of my lord he said so he recognized Jesus not as his brother but his lord his master his God. What a different? This man James called Jesus as his God.
Likewise here Peter next book is first Peter. Peter was the same, he wrote first Peter and second peter to the same recipients. Look at first Peter 1: 1 Peter the Apostle of Jesus Christ to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. NIV. Can you see these entire region here Peter was the same he was travelling like James. Later he wrote the letter to those scattered former Jerusalem church members. Now in order to understand this letter clearly I have spent two hours first introduction part the second part historical part. Now starting tomorrow we will start to begin to inside what’s inside.