The Letter of James

1:1James, slave of God and Master Jesus the Anointed,

To the scattered twelve tribes:

1:2Be overjoyed! Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various tests,1:3knowing that the proofing of your faith results in endurance.1:4So let endurance perfect its work, so you may be complete and unimpaired, lacking nothing.

1:5Now if anyone among you lacks wisdom, let them ask for it from God, who gives to all freely without scolding, and it will be given to them.1:6But they must ask in faith without indecisiveness, for the one who is indecisive is like the waves of the sea being driven and tossed by the wind.1:7They should not think that they will get anything from the Master,1:8because such people are wavering and unstable in all their ways.

1:9The lowly should celebrate their greatness,1:10yet the rich should celebrate their lowliness, being no more than garden flowers that quickly wilt.1:11For the sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up the plant, so that its flower drops off and its beauty is ruined. This is what will become of the careers of the rich.

1:12Happy are those who endure trials, because it earns them the award of life promised to those who profess to love God.1:13But no one can say that these tests are from God, because God is not to be tested and does not test anyone.1:14Instead, each one is tested by their own desire, lured and dragged away.1:15Desire conceives Failures, and Failures grow up to be Death.1:16Do not be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters!

1:17All good and complete gifts are from above, descending from the Father of Lights, in whom there is no hint of variation or turning around.1:18It was his intention to produce us as a bountiful first crop of his creation by means of his Word. You should all understand this, my brothers and sisters.

1:19Each person should be quick to listen, but slow to speak or become enraged,1:20because a person’s rage does not produce the justice of God.1:21Therefore, put off all filthiness and malicious indulgence; gently receive the Word implanted in you, that is able to save your souls.1:22Become those who do what it says, and not just hear it and only fool yourselves.1:23For whoever hears the word and does not do it is like one who sees their face in a mirror1:24and then immediately forgets what they looked like.1:25But the one who looks intently into the law of freedom and remains in it, who remembers what they heard and does it, will be happy.

1:26If someone appears religious but does not control their tongue, they are fooling themselves and their religion is a waste of time.1:27Religion that is clean and pure before God the Father means visiting the grieving and the widows in their distress, and keeping yourself from being soiled by the world.

2:1My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism; honor the faith of our Master Jesus the Anointed!2:2If someone comes to your meeting wearing fine jewelry and fancy clothes, and another in filthy rags,2:3you tell the rich one to take the seat of honor and the poor one to stand in the back like a slave!2:4Did you not discriminate among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?2:5Listen! Doesn’t God choose the poor of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom promised to those who love him?2:6Yet you insult the poor! Aren’t the rich the ones who harass you and drag you into court?2:7Are they not the ones who speak disrespectfully against the ideal Name you bear?2:8The best thing to do is to fulfill the royal law according to the Writing, “Love others as yourself.”

2:9But if you play favorites you are failing and are exposed by the law as criminals,2:10because anyone who keeps the whole law but trips over just one thing is guilty of lawbreaking nonetheless.2:11The One who said “Do not commit adultery” also said “Do not murder,” so if you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder, you have still broken the law.2:12So speak and act as those who are about to be judged by the law of freedom,2:13for the Judge will show no mercy to those who don’t show mercy. Mercy trumps judgment!

2:14My brothers and sisters, what do you gain when you say you have faith but never act on it? That is not a faith that saves.2:15Suppose a brother or sister is lacking food and clothing,2:16and you just send them away with “Well, I hope you get some food and clothes”; what good is that?2:17In the same way, faith that is never put into action is dead because it is alone.2:18Now someone may say, “You have faith and I have actions.” But without actions, how will anyone know you have faith?2:19So you believe in one God— fine, but so do the demons, who not only believe but shake with fear!

2:20Are you demanding, empty-headed one, to know why this invisible faith is useless?2:21Look at our ancestor Abraham; wasn’t he shown to be just when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?2:22You can see that his faith and actions worked together, and the actions completed the faith.2:23And that fulfilled the Writing, “Abraham believed God, so he was credited with righteousness,” and he was called the Friend of God.2:24So you can see that a person is shown to be righteous from works and not only from faith.2:25Likewise with the prostitute Rahab; was she not shown to be righteous by her actions when she sheltered the army scouts and then sent them out by another route?2:26Just as the body is dead when separated from the spirit, so also faith is dead when separated from actions.

3:1Don’t be eager to be teachers, my sisters and brothers, because we who teach will be judged according to a higher standard.3:2We all trip up a lot, but if you don’t trip up in your words you are mature and self-controlled.3:3Now we put bridles on horses to make them go where we lead,3:4and we control huge ships with a tiny rudder operated according to the will of the one at the helm.3:5In the same way, the tongue is small and proud, but look at what a huge fire it can start! And a fire it is, a world of injustice.3:6The tongue is situated to lead the whole body and ignite it all, and is itself ignited by the eternal fire.

3:7But though people have tamed everything in nature— the wild animals and birds and reptiles, and even sea creatures—3:8no one can tame the tongue. It is an evil, poisonous fang.3:9We use it to bless the Master and Father, yet also to curse people who were made in the likeness of God.3:10Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. Things don’t have to be this way, sisters and brothers.3:11Can both sweet and bitter water come from the same well?3:12My sisters and brothers, fig trees cannot produce olives, vines cannot produce figs, and salt water cannot produce fresh water.

3:13Is anyone among you wise and knowledgeable? Then they should demonstrate it with good behavior and gentle wisdom.3:14But if you have bitter jealousy and factions and bragging, you deny the truth.3:15That sort of “wisdom” comes not from above but from the earth, the soul, the demonic.3:16For wherever there is jealousy and factions, there is also upheaval and every foul practice.3:17But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, moderate, reasonable, full of compassion and good results, unbiased, and does not use a double standard.3:18Those who plant peace will pick the fruit of justice.

4:1Where do battles and fights among you come from, if not from the cravings clashing among you?4:2You want but cannot have; you murder and are jealous but it doesn’t get you anywhere; you fight and battle but gain nothing because you do not ask.4:3And even when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the bad intention of squandering it all on self-gratification.4:4You unfaithful spouses! Don’t you realize that to be friends with the world is to be enemies of God? Whoever wants to be a friend of the world is considered an enemy of God.4:5Or do you think the Writing says this for nothing: “The Spirit that lives within us wants us for itself”?4:6Yet he grants favor all the more, which is why he says, “God sets up for battle against the proud but is favorable to the humble.”

4:7So align with God. Stand against the Accuser and he will run from you;4:8come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you errant ones, and make up your minds, you who can’t decide!4:9Be miserable and mourn and cry; change your laughter into mourning and your joy into sorrow.4:10Humble yourselves before the Master, and he will lift you up.4:11Don’t cut each other down, brothers and sisters, because those who do that despise the law and judge it. And if you judge the law you are putting yourself in the place of a judge,4:12but there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who can either save or destroy you. Who are you to judge others?

4:13Now see here, you who say “Today or tomorrow we will go to the city for a year and conduct a profitable business,”4:14you have no idea what will happen tomorrow. Your life is a vapor that vanishes as soon as it appears,4:15so instead you should say, “If the Master approves, we will live and do this or that.”4:16But right now you are boasting and showing off, and that is wicked.4:17So, if you know what’s best but don’t do it, you fail.

5:1As for you rich people, cry and howl because of the misery coming upon you!5:2Your wealth has rotted and your clothes are moth-eaten;5:3your money has corroded, and it will testify against you and eat away your flesh, because you hoarded wealth in the last days.5:4Listen! The wages you withheld from your employees are shouting out, and the distress calls of the workers have reached the ears of the Master of Armies.5:5You live in decadent luxury on the earth, fattening your hearts for slaughter.5:6You convict the innocent and murder those who aren’t even opposing you.

5:7So be patient, sisters and brothers, until the Master is here. Observe: The farmer waits for the priceless produce of the land, patiently waiting for the early and late rains.5:8So you be patient too, and be ready, because the Master is almost here!5:9Do not mutter against each other, so that you will not be judged. Look! The Judge stands at the door.5:10My brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Name of the Master as examples of suffering evil and enduring it.5:11Happy are those who endure! You heard about the endurance of Job, and you understood how it ended, because the Master is filled with great compassion.

5:12Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not take oaths; not by heaven, nor by earth, nor by anything else. Just say “yes” or “no” and mean it, so you won’t come under judgment.

5:13If anyone among you is suffering, they should pray; if anyone is happy, they should play music;5:14if anyone is weak, they should call on the elders of the Congregation and have them pray over them, putting olive oil on them in the name of the Master.5:15The claim made in faith will save the weak and the Master will raise them up, and if they have failed they will be forgiven.5:16Admit your failures to each other and stand up for each other, so that you may be healed. The persistent request of the just is very effective.5:17Elijah was a person just like us, and when he prayed for it not to rain, it didn’t rain for three and a half years!5:18He prayed again, and the rains came over the land to make things grow.

5:19My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you is led astray from the truth, and someone turns them back,5:20understand that the one who turns them away from deception will save their soul from death and cover up innumerable failures.