The “longer” method of a book analysis is aimed to present a clear and concise outline of a book’s major themes and ideas as they appear in each verse and extend through each paragraph and chapter. While I never prefer the long-winded sentence over the short, this method emphasizes the big picture.
In this “longer” method, I have chosen to outline the book of James. This outline is broken into the common sections of a letter – opening, body, and conclusion – along with a handful of sub-sections within the second section – the body.
Hope you enjoy!
A Book Analysis Using the “Longer” Method
The Book of James
Theme: Count it joy that you suffer trials for your faith, for through trials your faith will be perfected and you will lack nothing – remembering to respect both the rich and the poor, aiding the oppressed, praying for wisdom so that your faith may be lived through your works, and controlling your tongue so to not cause division among believers.
I. James greets his readers (1:1): James greets the saints of the twelve tribes who are dispersed.
1) 1:1 – James, a bond-servant of God and Christ, writes to the twelve tribes who are dispersed.
II. Body (1:2-5:6): Be joyful when your faith is tested because it will produce endurance and endurance will produce perfected faith, remember to avoid the wisdom of the world because through it comes all forms of evil and disorder, instead be doers and not hearers only of the word, taming your tongue, treating everyone fairly, and living out your faith through works by helping those in need.
A. Be joyful during trails of your faith (1:2-18): Consider it all joy that tested faith produces endurance, and endurance produces a perfected faith, but if you lack anything ask of God without doubt, remembering that the glory of the humble will be his high position, the glory of the rich will be his humiliation, and that blessed is the man that endures.
1) 1:2-4 – Count it joy when you encounter trials, knowing that tested faith produces endurance, and through endurance, allowing faith to be perfected, will allow you to lack nothing.
2) 1:5-8 – If you lack wisdom, ask of it from God who gives it generously, but do not ask for it out of doubt, which tosses one about like one on the surf of the sea, for such a man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.
3) 1:9-11 – But the brother of humble circumstances, he will glory in his high position, while the rich man will glory in his humiliation because, just as the scorching sun and wind withers the grass or the flowers fall or beauty is destroyed, the rich man will fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
4) 1:12-18 – Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial, for he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised those who love Him, but let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God” because God cannot be tempted and does not tempt, for every good and perfect gift is from above for the first fruits among His creatures, while each man is tempted and is carried away and enticed by his own lust, bringing forth sin and, therefore, bringing forth death.
B. Remember what you have been told (1:19-27): As you already know to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, remember to be doers of the law, not merely hearers, and to bridle your tongue, being pure and undefiled before God.
1) 1:19-25 – As you already know to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger because it does not achieve God’s righteousness, put away all wickedness and in humility receive the word which can save souls, becoming not merely hearers but also doers of the word.
2) 1:26-27 – If a man thinks he’s religious but cannot control his tongue, his religion is worthless, but a pure and undefiled religion for God is to visit the orphans and widows in distress and keeping oneself unstained by the world.
C. Do not show partiality (2:1-13): Do not hold faith in Christ with favoritism with those among your congregation, remembering to fulfill the law, that breaking the law in part results in breaking the law in full, and that judgment awaits those who show no mercy because mercy triumphs judgement.
1) 2:1-7 – Do not hold faith in Christ with favoritism, especially for the rich and against the poor, becoming a judge of the motives of men, for did not God choose the poor, whom you dishonored, of the world to be rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom He promised to those who love him and are not the rich the ones that oppress you, drag you into court, and blaspheme the fair name which you have been called?
2) 2:8-13 – If you are fulfilling the royal law – you shall love your neighbor as yourself – you do well, but if you show partiality and breaking the law in part, you are also breaking the entire law because the one who forbade adultery also forbade murder, so practice mercy to escape judgement.
D. Faith and works must be held together (2:14-26): There is no use for faith without works – faith that hears the needs of those who come to them and unable to aid them – for faith must be perfect alongside works or you’re your faith is dead.
1) 2:14-17 – What is the use of faith with no works, for if one comes to you in need of clothing and food but you do not provide what is necessary for their body, then your faith is dead.
2) 2:18-26 – It is not enough to have faith but to have faith alongside your works, so as a result of works your faith may be perfected, for just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
E. Who can tame the tongue? (3:1-12): Though a perfect man is a man who can tame his tongue, and therefore tame his whole body, the tongue is restless with evil and full of poison, blessing God and cursing man, who is created in His likeness.
1) 3:1-5 – Though we all stumble in many ways, the man that does not stumble in what he says is a perfect man, able to, by bridling the tongue, bridle the whole body.
2) 3:6-12 – Though everything has been tamed by the human race, no one can tame the tongue – restless with evil and full of deadly poison – for out of it comes both blessings for the Lord our Father and curses against men, who have been made in God’s likeness.
F. Be aware of wisdom from above and wisdom from below (3:13-4:12): Whoever is wise should demonstrate his wisdom through his actions – being peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, and good fruits unwavering and without hypocrisy – remembering that the source of your conflict is earthy wisdom, the pursuit of self-pleasure, and speaking against each other, coming against God as the one Lawgiver and Judge.
1) 3:13-18 – Whoever is wise, let them show with their actions by the wisdom from above and be peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy, and good fruits unwavering and without hypocrisy, but if you have bitter jealously and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and lie against the truth, acting in accordance with earthly wisdom, causing disorder and every kind of evil.
2) 4:1-10 – The source of your conflict is the source of your pleasures, for you ask and do not receive because you ask for the wrong motives, being friends of the world and hostile towards God, who opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble; instead, draw near to God and He will draw near to you, submitting to God and resisting the devil.
3) 4:11-12 – Do not speak against each other, becoming instead a doer of the law and not a judge of the law, for there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, able to both save and destroy.
G. Woe to those who misuse riches (5:1-6): The misuses of riches ripen you for coming miseries.
1) 5:1-6 – You rich should weep and howl for your coming miseries, for your riches have rotted you, you have withheld from the poor, lived in wanton pleasure, and have condemned and put to death the righteous man.
III. James concludes and exhorts his readers (5:7-18): Be patient for the coming of the Lord, remember the prophets’ endurance and Job’s blessing, continue to pray for each other for healing and forgiveness, remembering that the prayers of the righteous can affect much.
1) 5:7-11 – Be patient for the coming of the Lord, do not complain against each other because the Judge stands at the door, instead use the prophets as examples and remember the blessing of perseverance god gave upon Job and remember to let your yes be yes and no be no, unless you fall into judgement.
2) 5:13-18 – Prayer offered in faith will restore the sick and their sins will be forgiven, so confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so you may be healed, as the prayer of the righteous can affect much.
3) 5:19-20 – If one strays from the truth but is corrected from his sin, he who turns a sinner away from error will save the sinner’s soul from death and a multitude of sins.