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The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah, telling him that his wife Elizabeth, formerly barren, is pregnant. Mary and Joseph travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem to partake in a census, and there, in a manger, Jesus is born. When Jesus is presented at the temple, where all firstborn males are brought, two Jewish prophets, Simeon and Anna, recognize the sanctity of the child. As yet, however, nobody realizes his true significance.

Bible History Daily articles by Robin Gallaher Branch:

Jesus grows to maturity and is baptized in the desert of Judea by John the Baptist, who has begun his advocacy of baptismal repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and prophesies the advent of Jesus. John, however, is soon imprisoned by Herod Antipas, the ruler of the northern Galilee region. We are told of Satan unsuccessfully testing Jesus for forty days in the wilderness. Returning from the wilderness, Jesus begins his ministry. He is rejected in his hometown of Nazareth and takes to wandering throughout Galilee, where he works many miracles, including the exorcism of a demoniac and many other cures.

He works a miracle enabling Simon Peter, a fisherman, to catch many fish, and thereby attracts Simon Peter, as well as James and John, the sons of Zebedee, as his first apostles. Later, these three apostles are joined by nine others. In this first stage of his ministry, Jesus also begins to encounter opposition from the Pharisees, who question his adherence to traditional Jewish laws governing Sabbath observance, fasting, and consorting with sinners.

Jesus goes to Capernaum, where he cures the servant of a Roman centurion and restores the son of a widow to life.

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When John the Baptist, imprisoned, sends messengers to ask Jesus who he is, Jesus responds only by pointing out the many miracles he has worked. Accepting the ministrations of a wicked woman, Jesus shows that he forgives even the most wretched of sinners.

References in Apocryphal Literature. James figures in one of the miraculous events recorded in the Gnostic "Gospel of the Infancy, by Thomas the Israelite philosopher," being cured of a snake-bite by the infant Jesus compare Hennecke, Handbuch zu den neutestamentlichen Apokryphen, According to the Gospel of the Hebrews compare ib, , James had also partaken of the cup of the Lord, and refused to eat till he had seen the risen Lord. Christ acknowledged this tribute by appearing to James first. This is confirmed by the evidence of Clement of Alexandria Euseb.

Ananus therefore inflamed the Jews against James, and they hurled him down from off the pinnacle of the temple. It is thus probable that James was martyred about 62 or 63 A. Jewish 2. Authoritative 3. Practical II. Plainness 2. Good Greek 3. Vividness 4. Duadiplosis 5. Figures of Speech 6.


Unlikeness to Paul 7. Likeness to Jesus IV. To the Pietist 2. To the Sociologist 3. Characteristics of the Epistle. The Gospel according to Matthew was written for the Jews. The Epistle to the Hebrews is addressed explicitly to them. The Apocalypse is full of the spirit of the Old Testament. The Epistle of Jude is Jewish too.

Larger Work

Yet all of these books have more of the distinctively Christian element in them than we can find in the Epistle of James. If we eliminate two or three passages containing references to Christ, the whole epistle might find its place iust as properly in the Canon of the Old Testament as in that of the New Testament, as far as its substance of doctrine and contents is concerned. That could not be said Of any other book in the New Testament.

There is no mention of the incarnation or of the resurrection. The word "gospel" does not occur in the epistle There is no suggestion that the Messiah has appeared and no presentation of the possibility of redemption through Him.

SparkNotes: Bible: The New Testament: The Gospel According to Luke (Luke)

The teaching throughout is that of a lofty morality which aims at the fulfillment of the requirements of the Mosaic law. It is not strange therefore that Spitta and others have thought that we have in the Epistle of James a treatise written by an unconverted Jew which has been adapted to Christian use by the interpolation of the two phrases containing the name of Christ in and Spitta thinks that this can be the only explanation of the fact that we have here an epistle practically ignoring the life and work of Jesus and every distinctively Christian doctrine, and without a trace of any of the great controversies in the early Christian church or any of the specific features of its propaganda.

This judgment is a superficial one, and rests upon superficial indications rather than any appreciation of the underlying spirit and principles of the book. The spirit of Christ is here, and there is no need to label it. The principles of this epistle are the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. There are more parallels to that Sermon in this epistle than can be found anywhere else in the New Testament in the same space. The epistle represents the idealization of Jewish legalism under the transforming influence of the Christian motive and life.

It is not a theological discussion. It is an ethical appeal. It has to do with the outward life for the most part, and the life it pictures is that of a Jew informed with the spirit of Christ.

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The spirit is invisible in the epistle as in the individual man. It is the body which appears and the outward life with which that body has to do. The body of the epistle is Jewish, and the outward life to which it exhorts is that of a profoundly pious Jew.

The Jews familiar with the Old Testament would read this epistle and find its language and tone that to which they were accustomed in their sacred books. James is evidently written by a Jew for Jews. It is Jewish in character throughout. This is apparent in the following particulars: 1 The epistle is addressed to the 12 tribes which are of the Dispersion The Jews were scattered abroad through the ancient world. From Babylon to Rome, wherever any community of them might be gathered for commercial or social purposes, these exhortations could be carried and read.

Probably the epistle was circulated most widely in Syria and Asia Minor, but it may have gone out to the ends of the earth. Here and there in the ghettos of the Roman Empire, groups of the Jewish exiles would gather and listen while one of their number read this letter from home. All of its terms and its allusions would recall familiar home scenes. It is a royal law to which every loyal Jew will be subject. It is a law of liberty, to be freely obeyed ; The whole atmosphere of the epistle is Jewish. Authoritative: The writer of this epistle speaks as one having authority.

He is not on his defense, as Paul so often is. There is no trace of apology in his presentation of the truth. His official position must have been recognized and unquestioned. He is as sure of his standing with his readers as he is of the absoluteness of his message. No Old Testament lawgiver or prophet was more certain that he spoke the word of the Lord.

He has the vehemence of Elijah and the assured meekness of Moses.

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  • He has been called "the Amos of the New Testament," and there are paragraphs which recall the very expressions used by Amos and which are full of the same fiery eloquence and prophetic fervor. Both fill their writings with metaphors drawn from the sky and the sea, from natural objects and domestic experiences.

    Both seem to be countrybred and to be in sympathy with simplicity and poverty.

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    Both inveigh against the luxury and the cruelty of the idle rich, and both abhor the ceremonial and the ritual which are substituted for individual righteousness. Malachi was not the last of the prophets. John the Baptist was not the last prophet of the Old Dispensation.