A letter for general circulation among Jewish believers by James, the brother of Jude and half-brother of Jesus through Mary.
Likely written in Aramaic sometime before 66-CE.

Chapter 1

1 James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus the Anointed One, to the twelve tribes that are scattered about; Rejoice!

2 Consider it all a joyful experience, my brothers, when you have to endure various types of trials, 3 because you know that this proving of your faith helps you to endure. 4 So, may your endurance reach its goal of making you perfect and complete in every way, lacking in nothing.

5 If any of you are lacking in wisdom, continue to ask God and it will be given to you, because He provides it easily and without any scolding. 6 However, you must believe [that you'll receive it] and not have any doubts, for those who doubt are like waves of the sea that are driven and blown about by the wind. 7 Such a person shouldn't expect to receive anything at all from the Lord, 8 because of his unsureness and lack of faith.

9 Therefore, let the lowly brother boast of his high standing, 10 and the rich one boast his lowliness, because he too will pass away like a flower in a field. 11 For when the sun comes up and puts out all of its heat, the plant withers, the flower drops off, and its beauty fades… and this is how the rich man will fade away in his journey through life. 12 However, the man who endures his trials is blest, because after he's been approved, he'll receive the crown of life that the Lord promised to all those who love him.

13 May no one who is being tried ever say, 'I'm being tried by God,' for God doesn't send bad things to try us. In fact, He doesn't try anyone. 14 Rather, we are each being tried by our own desires, which bait us and lead us on. 15 Then when a desire becomes pregnant, it gives birth to sin. And once the sin is committed, it ends in death.

16 So, don't allow anyone to mislead you, my beloved brothers; 17 every good deed and every perfect gift comes to us from above. It comes down from the Father of the Lights, who doesn't change any more than a shadow when it turns. 18 And because it was His Will, He gave birth to us through the message of truth, so that we could be some of the first fruitage of His creation.

19 Recognize this, my beloved brothers: Every man must be eager to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 For a man's anger doesn't make him righteous with God. 21 So, once you've gotten rid of all the filth and badness, humbly allow the Word to grow within you… because it can save your lives.

22 Yes, become a person who does what the Word [directs him to do]. Don't [be someone who just] listens it, [for people like that] are just fooling themselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer but not a doer, he's like the man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with 24 and carefully considers himself, then leaves and immediately forgets what sort of man he is. 25 However, the one who gazes into the perfect Law that belongs to a free people – and then keeps on looking into it – isn't someone who listens and forgets, but someone who takes action! This man will be blest in whatever he does.

26 Now, if any of you think of yourselves as devout, but you're misleading your hearts by not putting a bridle on your tongues, your worship is worthless. 27 For what our God and Father views as clean, pure worship is this: [providing aid] to orphans and widows when they're in need and keeping ourselves free from the stains of this system of things.

Chapter 2

1 My brothers; Don't show favoritism when it comes to the glorious faith of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One. 2 For if a man who is wearing a gold ring and fine clothes should enter your synagogue, then someone whose clothes are filthy also enters, 3 do you favor the one that's wearing the fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good place to sit?' And do you say to the poor one, 'Stand [over there],' or, 'Sit here under my footstool?' 4 If so, aren't you showing favoritism among yourselves and judging from evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my beloved brothers! Didn't God choose the poor of this system of things to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom that He promised to those who love Him? 6 Yet, you're dishonoring the poor! Isn't it the rich who are oppressing you and dragging you into courts? 7 And aren't they the ones that speak badly of the good name by which you are called?

8 Now, if you're obeying the royal law of the Scriptures that says, 'You must love your neighbor as yourself,' you're doing well. 9 But if you're showing favoritism, you're sinning and the Law convicts you of being its violator! 10 For if someone who is trying to obey the Law fails in just one little part of it, he has broken the whole thing. 11 Because the One who said, 'You must not commit adultery,' also said, 'You must not murder.' So if you aren't committing adultery but you murder someone, you've broken the whole Law.

12 Therefore, speak and behave as though you're about to be judged by the law of a free people… 13 and [remember that] the merciless will be judged without mercy, since mercy is an important part of justice.

14 So, what good does it do, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but isn't moved to do anything about it. Can his faith save him? 15 [For example], if a brother or sister doesn't have clothing or enough food for each day, 16 and you tell him, 'Go in peace; be warm and well fed'… if you don't give him what he needs to survive, what good have you done? 17 So, faith without good deeds is dead!

18 Now, someone can say, 'Though you may do good deeds, I have [more] faith!' Well, you show me your faith without good deeds and I'll show you my faith by the good things that I do.

19 So, do you say that you believe there's just one God? That's good… but the demons believe that too! Yes, they believe and it frightens them!

20 I want you to know, O empty man, that faith apart from [good] deeds is dead! 21 For wasn't our father AbraHam called righteous because of the things that he did… such as when he offered up his son IsaAc on the altar? 22 Yes, you can see how his faith worked along with his deeds, and that it was his deeds that perfected his faith. 23 So the scripture was fulfilled that says, 'AbraHam believed in The God, and for this he was considered to be righteous and God's friend.' 24 So you see; a man is pronounced righteous by the things that he does, not just by the things that he believes.

25 The same was true of the prostitute, RaHab. For she was called righteous because she took the messengers in and then sent them out by another way. 26 So, just as a body that isn't breathing is dead, faith without good deeds is dead.

Chapter 3

1 Brothers, not many of you should become teachers, because you know that [teachers] will be held more accountable… 2 and we all make a lot of mistakes! So if there is any man that doesn't stumble in his words, he's perfect and he can lead his whole body as with a bridle. 3 For if we put a bridle in the mouth of a horse to make it obey us, we can control its whole body.

4 {Look!} Even large boats that are driven by strong winds are steered wherever the pilot wishes by very small rudders… 5 and that's how the tongue is! Though it's just a little body part, it can boast about big things… and just a little flame can set a whole forest on fire! 6 That's how the tongue is… it's a flame in a world of unrighteousness. It sits among our body members as the corrupter of the whole body, which sets our very origins on fire… and what sets them ablaze is the garbage dump!

7 Though every sort of wild animal, flying creature, slithering thing, and sea creature can be tamed and has been tamed by men, 8 no man can tame the tongue… for it won't stop saying bad things and it's full of deadly poison. 9 With it we can praise our Lord and Father, or curse men who came into existence in God's image… 10 so out of the same mouth comes both blessings and curses.

There's no need for things like this to keep happening, my brothers! 11 Are there any fountains that bubble up both sweet and bitter [water]? 12 Fig trees can't produce olives, grapevines can't produce figs, and you can't get sweet water from salt water, can you my brothers!

13 So, who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show that he has the inner strength that comes from wisdom by the ways that he acts and the things that he does. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous, and in your hearts you just want to argue; don't be too proud of this and don't lie about the facts. 15 This isn't wisdom that comes from above; it's earthly, animalistic, and demonic. 16 For where you find jealousy and arguing, you'll also find disorder and everything that's foul. 17 But the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, and full of mercy and good fruitage. It isn't hypocritical or prejudiced, 18 because the seeds of the fruit of righteousness are planted in peace by the peacemakers!

Chapter 4

1 So, where are all these fights and wars among you coming from? Aren't they the result of battles that are being fought in your body parts over [sensual] pleasures? 2 You want, but you can't have. You're jealous and murderous, but that doesn't get you anything. You're fighting and waging war, but you haven't received because you haven't asked. 3 Then when you do ask, you don't receive because you're asking for the wrong reasons, since all you're really interested in is pleasure!

4 Adulteresses, don't you know that if you're a friend of the world you're an enemy of God? So, whoever wants to be a friend of the world is putting himself down as God's enemy. 5 For what do you think the scripture means that says, 'The spirit within us yearns with envy?'

6 Now, the loving care that He sends to us is greater than of all that, for we were told: 'God shows loving-care for the lowly, but He opposes the haughty.' 7 So, let's do what God says… resist the Opposer and he'll run from you! 8 Yes, draw closer to God and He'll draw closer to you!

So wash your hands, you sinners, and those of you who are undecided should purify your hearts! 9 Otherwise you'll be crying, moaning, and miserable… your laughter will be turned into moaning and your joy will be turned into sadness! 10 Yes, humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah and He will lift you higher!

11 Brothers, stop complaining about each other, because those who speak against or judge their brothers are speaking against and judging the Law. And if you're judging the Law, you aren't someone who's under it, you're its judge… 12 and there's just one Lawgiver and Judge who can either save or destroy. So, who are you to be judging your neighbors?

13 And those of you who say, 'Today or tomorrow I'm going to travel to this city or that, and I'll spend a year there doing business and making profits'… 14 you don't even know what's going to happen in your life tomorrow, because you're just a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears! 15 Shouldn't you rather be saying, 'If it's Jehovah's will, I will live and do this or that.' 16 But now you're taking pride in things that you just assume to be true, and being proud over such things is wickedness. 17 Because, whenever you know what's right and you don't do it, that's a sin to you!

Chapter 5

1 So go on, you who are rich; cry and bawl over the miseries that you'll have to endure! 2 For your wealth will rot away, your clothes will be moth-eaten, 3 your gold and silver will corrode, and whatever remains will testify against you and eat your flesh like the fire that you've treasured away for yourselves in the last days.

4 Look! The wages that you refused to pay the workers who harvested your fields are crying out, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of Jehovah of Armies. 5 For you've lived on the earth just to satisfy yourselves… yes, you're nourishing your hearts on self-indulgence for the day of slaughter! 6 And since you even condemned and murdered the Righteous One, won't He stand and oppose you?

7 Brothers, let's be patient until the Lord arrives. {Look!} For as the farmer harvests the precious fruitage of the ground after patiently waiting for both the early and late rains, 8 we must also be patient… but with determined hearts, because the appearance of the Lord is drawing near.

9 Brothers, stop moaning about each other, so you won't be judged. For look… the judge is now standing at the door!

10 Brothers, you should learn from the examples of the Prophets who spoke in the Name of the Lord about how to suffer bad things and how to be patient, 11 for we call those who endured, blest! You've all heard of the endurance of Job and you saw how the Lord ended it… and this proves that Jehovah is very kind and merciful.

12 But above all, my brothers; Stop swearing oaths by heaven, or by the earth, or by anything else. Just let your yes mean yes and your no mean no, so you don't fail when you're being judged!

13 Are there any among you who are being persecuted? Let them keep praying! Are there any among you who are cheerful? Let them sing psalms! 14 Are there any among you who are ill? Let them call the elders and ask them to pray over them, as they rub them with oil in the name of the Lord! 15 Then their faithful prayers will rescue the ill and the Lord will lift them and forgive any sins that they've committed.

16 So, admit your sins to each other and pray that each one of you will be healed, because prayer has a lot of power when it's working through a righteous people. 17 Remember that EliJah was just a man with passions like ours; but when he prayed and asked for it not to rain, it didn't rain in the land for three and a half years. 18 Then when he prayed again, the skies poured with rain, causing the ground to produce its fruitage.

19 My brothers, whenever someone is led astray from the truth and someone else leads him back; 20 recognize that the one who turns the sinner from the error of his ways will save his own life from death… and it will cover many of his own sins as well.

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