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II. Cultivation of Personal Religious Experience (1:2–27)

Although the paraenetic nature of this document allows sentences and paragraphs to be loosely connected, at places only by catchwords, a sequence is still observable in ch. 1 in this manner. Occasions of testing should be used as instruments for developing strong Christian character. To make them serve in this way requires extraordinary wisdom that is accessible through prayer. One difficult area of testing surfaces when one's socioeconomic status changes upwards as well as downwards. But blessing awaits its successful management.

Conversely, a person may invite testing to flaunt his spiritual maturity. The motivation for this is evil, and the end is death. One must never forget that the new birth is a gift from God and is sustained by him. The implanted word, therefore, requires cultivation, both in ridding the surrounding area of objectionable growth—to pursue the metaphor—and in producing deeds that express the meaning of faith. This section of the letter opens with a call to develop inner fortitude and closes with a summons to a vigorous demonstration of faith. At the center stands the birthing act of God through the word of truth (v. 18).