In this first chapter of the biblical text we have found the thrust of James's entire letter: calling upon Christians to live with moral urgency, serious holiness and unconditional obedience to the word of God. By putting the two halves of the chapter together we also establish the context for the moral earnestness of the entire letter: complete confidence in and reliance upon the grace of God. James is so earnest for moral purity in 1:19-27 because of the theology he has taught in 1:1-18. It is the thorough purity of God (never tempted, never tempting, never changing) that calls us to holiness; it is the generous giving of God (giving wisdom without finding fault, giving the crown of life, giving every good and perfect gift, giving us birth) that moves us to holiness. Furthermore, going back to the very beginning of James's message, this pursuit of holiness is not an oppressive burden but a task of joy, because of the great worth of the goal that God's grace has made possible. God has called Christians to become mature and complete, as firstfruits of all he created. This is so high a calling and so valuable an attainment that we may consider even trials along the way pure joy!
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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