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The Letter of James: A Call to Holistic Christianity

An Exegetical Examination of the Book of James

Curated by Doug Moo
In partnership with The Master's Seminary
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Course Introduction

About the Course

At the end of this course, each student should be able to:

  1. Reproduce in some detail (3–5 points per chapter) the contents of the letter of James.
  2. Discuss the issues surrounding the writing of the letter: its author, its destination, its date, its genre, its purpose.
  3. Outline the argument of the letter and demonstrate its relevance to the contemporary church.
  4. Discuss important options in the interpretation of key passages and defend a particular view.
  5. Transfer skills gained in studying and interpreting James to the interpretation of other New Testament books
  6. Identify areas in which the teaching of James has changed their thinking, their practice of the faith, and/or their ministry.
About Dr. Doug Moo

On a plaque mounted in Dr. Douglas’ office are the words of the great pietist theologian Johann Albrecht Bengel: “Apply yourself wholly to the text; apply the text wholly to yourself.” In his academic career, he has applied himself to the text by teaching New Testament and writing commentaries on the text-on James, 2 Peter and Jude, and Romans.  The text he deals with is no less than God’s word to his people, he must grapple not only with original meaning but with application to himself and to the contemporary church. Toward that end, he has also been active in his local church, serving as elder most years, in teaching and preaching to the church, and in conducting home Bible studies. Also very rewarding has been his service on the Committee on Bible Translation, the group of scholars charged with revising the text of the NIV and with producing the TNIV.

For over twenty years his ministry was based at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in Deerfield, IL. Now that he is at Wheaton Graduate School, he is enjoying the challenge of adapting to a new institution, discovering the delights of new colleagues, and meeting the challenges posed by a different type of student. His academic interests revolve around the interface of exegesis and theology. He seeks to model to students a rigorous approach to the Greek text that always asks the “so what” questions of ultimate significance and application. The Pauline and general letters have been his special focus within the NT canon. In the next few years, he will be writing commentaries on Galatians and Hebrews, a Pauline theology, and a theological/practical book on creation care. His wife Jenny and he have five grown children.

Topics and Passages in James

1:1–21

  • Introduction to the letter
  • Trials and Temptations: Becoming Holistic Christians
  • Wealth and Poverty in Christian Perspective

1:22–2:13

  • Responding Holistically to the Word of God
  • Fulfilling the Royal Law

2:14–26

  • Holistic Christian Response to God: Faith and Works

3:1–18

  • Holistic Christianity Revealed in Consistency in Speech
  • Wisdom as the Key to Holistic Christianity

4:1–17

  • A Call to Holistic Christianity
  • Maintaining a Holistic Christian Worldview

5:1–20

  • A Holistic Christian Worldview (cont.): The Seduction of Wealth and the Eschatological Perspective
  • Becoming Whole in Body and Mind: Final Concerns
Course Textbooks
Research Resources

The following books will help the discerning reader work through detailed questions on the Greek text of the book of James.


Resources curated for The Gospel Coalition by Phil Thompson and Nathan Wells

Lesson 1: Introduction, James 1:1

This lecture covers:

  • Authorship of James
  • Original Audience
  • Date of the Letter
  • The Occasion of James
  • “Holism” in James
  • Theological Focal Points

Lesson 2: James 1:2–18

This lecture covers:

  • Becoming Holistic Christians by Responding Rightly to Trials
  • Wealth and Poverty in Christian Perspective

Lesson 3: James 1:19–25

This lecture covers:

  • Review and Clarification
  • Becoming Holistic Christians by Rightly Responding to the Word of God

Lesson 4: James 1:19–2:13

This lecture covers:

  • The Mirror
  • The Word of God in its “Wholeness”
  • Don’t Show Favoritism
  • Love Summarizes our Christian Duty
  • Holistic Christian Response to God: Faith and Works

Lesson 5: James 2:1–18

This lecture covers:

  • James and the Law
  • The Christian and the Law
  • Faith Without Works

Lesson 6: James 2:14–26

This lecture covers:

  • Faith Without Works (cont.)
  • Justification in James and Paul

Lesson 7: James 3:1–6

This lecture covers:

  • Becoming Holistic Christians by Right Speaking
  • The Teacher and the Tongue
  • The Tongue and “Completeness”

Lesson 8: James 3:7–4:5

This lecture covers:

  • Becoming Holistic Christians by Right Speaking (cont.)
  • Words in Proverbs
  • Quarrels and Peace
  • A Notorious Crux

Lesson 9: James 4:5–12

This lecture covers:

  • A Notorious Crux (cont.)
  • Responding to our Jealous but Gracious God
  • James and Joel

Lesson 10: James 4:13–5:6

This lecture covers:

  • Movement of Thought
  • A Christian Perspective on Wealth

Lesson 11: James 5:7–20

This lecture covers:

  • A Christian Perspective on Wealth (cont.)
  • The Seduction of Wealth and the Eschatological Perspective
  • Anointing in James