Letter of James

10 Minute Bible Study

Ticking Clock

For this reading plan of James, you need: a Bible, a notebook and a pen.

o   Each day, for five days, you will read the same group of verses.

o   Then you will have a couple questions to answer.

o   The first answers will come out of the verses you read.

o   Other questions will give you something to think about for the day.


Let’s study.

WEEK 1 – To Catch Our Attention

A bit of background.

Who was James?

James was one of the younger brothers of Jesus. He was, technically, a half-brother – the son of Joseph and Mary, while Jesus was the Son of God with Mary his mother. James and his other three brothers did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, and they even tried to get him killed. However, the Bible tells us specifically that Jesus appeared to James after Jesus’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). By the time the apostle Paul became a believer, James was one of the leaders in the new church in Jerusalem. It is likely that the Letter of James was the first New Testament book written, even before any of the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus were written.

Who received James’ letter?

James addressed his letter “to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad.” These twelve tribes were Jewish Christians. They had fled persecution as Christians in Jerusalem, and were living mostly in Asia Minor, present-day Turkey. The letter was probably copied many times and carried to believers all over the area.

DAY 1 – Read the whole book of James. It’s only 5 chapters and will take you about 8 minutes.

In your notebook, write down your first impressions and what you think you might take away from studying this book.

DAY 2 – Read the whole book of James again. This time, as you read, notice all the contrasts and opposites that James uses.

Choose one of those contrasts and write why you’d like to learn more about it.

DAY 3 – Read James chapter 1, verses 1-11 (James 1:1-11).

According to these verses, what is happening to a believer’s faith when bad things happen? How does that change how you perceive difficulties?

DAY 4 – Read James 1:1-11.

What does this paragraph say about why you need wisdom and how you can get it?

What would God like to see from us if He is going to help us and give us wisdom?

DAY 5 – Read James 1:1-11.

How do these verses describe God’s view of the life and accomplishments of the very rich?

WEEK 2 – Know That the LORD is Good

Goodness of God

DAY 1 – Read James 1:12-18.

Write down all that you learn about the character of God in these eight verses.

Which one do you especially like and why?

DAY 2 – Read James 1:12-18.

What does James write is the ultimate benefit of not giving in or giving up in the face of trials and temptations?

Who receives this? Why?

DAY 3 – Read James 1:12-18.

According to these verses, why is it wrong to blame God for our temptations?

Where do people often lay the blame?

DAY 4 – Read James 1:12-18.

What particular character trait of God’s guarantees that He will never tempt you? Which verse says that?

DAY 5 – Read James 1:12-18. Before you read: First Fruits were offered to God at the beginning of the harvest. By making this sacrifice, the people were demonstrating faith in God that the harvest would continue, and that there would be plenty.

Trace the path from temptation to its ultimate end in verses 14-15.

From these verses, what did God do for these Jewish believers?

WEEK 3 – Reflecting Jesus

 DAY 1 – Read James 1:19-27.

In verse 19, James wants three things to be true in everyone’s life. What are they?

What would be the advantages of having each of them become a part of your character?

DAY 2 – Read James 1:19-27.

According to these verses, what does belief in God’s word do for a believer? How?

DAY 3 – Read James 1:19-27.

What does James write about the kind of person you will become if you don’t use your spiritual mirror properly

What kind of person will you become if you do use your spiritual mirror properly?

DAY 4 – Read James 1:19-27.

In your own words, describe James’ three-part definition of a truly religious person.

DAY 5 – Skim over chapter 1.

Before the days of psychiatrists and anti-depressants, what principles did James give that could help us to cope during long, drawn-out times of stress? List them and make notes about how these could give more stability in your own life.

WEEK 4 – The Law that Frees Us

The Law That Gives Freedom

DAY 1 – Read James 2:1-13.

Name some of the ways James writes that favoritism toward the wealthy shows wrong-headed thinking.

What does this favoritism look like in your church or workplace?

DAY 2 – Read James 2:1-13.

From these verses, what advantage does a poor person have over a wealthy one? Are all poor people “rich in faith?”

Why do you think that?

DAY 3 – Read James 2:1-13.

What does James say is God’s view of favoritism? What sins are committed by people who show partiality?

DAY 4 – Read James 2:1-13.

According to these verses, why should people who claim to be rightly related to Jesus Christ not be guilty of showing partiality?

How can you avoid this sin?

DAY 5 – Read James 2:1-13.

In verses 8-12, “law” is mentioned five times. There seem to be two different types of Law. What are the differences between “law” in 9-11 and “law” as it is described in verses 8 and 12?

WEEK 5 – “You Can’t Have One Without the Other”

DAY 1 – Read James 2:14-26.

Describe the conundrum that James is presenting in this passage.

DAY 2 – Read Ephesians 2:8-10. (Oohh! Surprised you!)

According to these verses, what does not save us?

What do we need to save us from our sins?

Where do good works come from?

DAY 3 – Read James 2:14-26.

What reasons does James give for why an authentic Christian needs faith and good works?

DAY 4 – Read James 2:14-26.

Read Isaiah 41:8. It’s in the Old Testament. How does James summarize the life of Abraham?

DAY 5 – Read James 2:14-26.

If the spirit of a person leaves that person, what do we normally say about that person?

So, what does the spirit do for the body?

According to James, what do good deeds do for our faith?

WEEK 6 – Wildfire!


DAY 1 – Read James 3:1-12.

According to these verses, what is the danger when a Bible teacher teaches about a desired behavior?

How can teacher avoid this judgment?

DAY 2 – Read James 3:1-12.

What character quality is displayed by a person who never stumbles in what she says?

If a person can control her tongue, what else can she control?

DAY 3 – Read James 3:1-12.

From the examples of the horse & bit and the boat & rudder, write down a couple observations concerning the size and weight:

o   Of the person doing the controlling –

o   Of the controlling device –

o   Of the object being controlled –

DAY 4 – Read James 3:1-12.

Look through all these verses and list the things James writes is wrong with our tongues.

DAY 5 – Read James 3:1-12.

What is the answer to James’ question at the end of these verses? What is his point?

WEEK 7 – She Opens Her Mouth with Wisdom

DAY 1 – Read James 3:13-18.

How do we want people to see us? See Verse 13.

What do these verses say about how this is possible?

DAY 2 – Read James 3:1-12.

According to these verses, the beginning of the cure for the sinful inclinations of our hearts is:

(Choose one.)

a.     Bury them

b.     Vent them

c.     Admit them

How does admitting the truth help us?

DAY 3 – Read James 3:1-12.

How does James describe God’s wisdom?

How do you respond to that description?

DAY 4 – Read James 3:1-12.

Consider especially verse 18. Develop the idea of planting a seed to suggest a solution for controlling our uncontrollable tongues.

Look back at James 1: 19-20. What help do these verse offer?

DAY 5 – Read James 3:1-12.

What results from using God’s righteous wisdom?

WEEK 8 – Overcoming Pettiness


DAY 1 – Read James 4:1-10.

Many churches are, unfortunately, places of strife and bickering. From these verses, list the causes.

DAY 2 – Read James 4:1-10. Then read Psalm 37:3-4 in the Old Testament.

According to these verses, what sort of people can ask God for anything they want and get them?

What sort of things do they ask for? Obviously, believers can’t just randomly ask for just anything.

How can they know what to ask for? Look at the Psalm verses again.

DAY 3 – Read James 4:1-10.

Why are people who don’t read the Bible and who don’t know Jesus sometimes angry at us? 

When we won’t join them in their sin, what do these verses tell us about how God helps us?

Why do we have no reason for being prideful?

DAY 4 – Read James 4:1-10.

According to these verses, how do we draw near to God? (Hint: You are doing it now.)

DAY 5 – Read James 4:1-10.

Restate (paraphrase) James 4:7-10 in your own words, putting yourself into the verses. For example: I really need to give in to what God wants in my life.

WEEK 9 – Can I Really Live My Life All by Myself?

DAY 1 – God is our Father, and He must laugh sometimes at our declarations of independence from Him. Before you read today, write down some things in your life that illustrate how dependent we are on God. How about starting with heartbeat and sunshine?

Now read James 4:11-17.

DAY 2 – Read James 4:11-17. Also read Hebrews 4:12. (Hebrews is the book before James.)

From these verses, what does the word of God judge?

Are we able to judge those things in the lives of others? Why?

DAY 3 – Read James 4:11-17.

According to these verse, what sorts of things do people say about their future plans?

What is the problem with saying these sorts of things?

DAY 4 – Read James 4:11-17.

How does James suggest we should talk about our future plans? Why?

Try describing your plans for the rest of the day in that way.

DAY 5 – Read James 4:7-17. (It’s longer today.)

Compare verses 7-10 with verses 13 and 16. What is the connection between these verses?

What should be our connection to God?

WEEK 10 – He’s Standing at the Door


DAY 1 – Read James 5:1-11.

What is James’ recommendation to those who are rich?

Why should they do this; that is: what have they done or not done to deserve such misery?

(Extra Credit!) Read Matthew 1: 16-26. What was the rich man’s difficulty? What does Jesus say about the wealthy?

DAY 2 – Read James 5:1-11.

Describe how a farmer is patient. How does that relate to those who are oppressed and down-trodden?

DAY 3 – Read James 5:1-11.

Name the things God wants His children to do when they are treated badly.

When can we stop?

DAY 4 – Read Hebrews 11:32-38.

The prophets were God’s messengers in the Old Testament. What did they do?

What happened to most of them?

DAY 5 – Read James 5:1-11.

List what we learn about God from these verses.

How does that effect you?

WEEK 11 – Soul-Weary or Singing

DAY 1 – Read James 5:12-20.

What does Jesus write about prayer in these verses? How does that strike you?

DAY 2 – Read James 5:12-20.

From these verses, what does James tell us about extravagant promises?

What should characterize our words to others?

DAY 3 – Read James 5:12-20.

How can we avoid the sins of chapter 4 and yet do what James tells us in James 5:16, and 19-20?

DAY 4 – Read James 5:12-20.

Elijah was a great Old Testament saint and man of God. (You can read his whole story in the Old Testament: First Kings, chapters 17, 18 & 19 and Second Kings, chapters 1 & 2.)

What does James write about Elijah?

How did Elijah pray? What did he pray? What happened?

DAY 5 – Read James 5:12-20.

Illness and healing are not always physical. Many of the ills that James has described in his letter are spiritual ills.

According to these verses, how can we help fellow believers as they struggle with sins and failures, with discouragement and frustrations, with hard times and with sorrow?

(Extra Credit!): Skim over the whole book of James once more and remind yourself of all the things you have learned. Look back at your notes from the beginning of the first week. Have you answered questions and understood more?

If you have found this Bible study helpful or if you still have questions, please drop me a comment.

* This study is an excerpt from my complete Bible study, Time for Authenticity: Faith That is Honest and Winsome, published by Keybobby Books, 2012. It is available in our publications, listed here: Time for Authenticity.

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