Extracts from the Letter of James


Let the brother who is lowly boast in being raised up and the rich man in being brought down because he will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls and its beauty perishes. So also the rich man, in the midst of a busy life, will fade away.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming to you!
Your riches have rotted and your clothes have become moth-eaten.
Your gold and silver have corroded and their corrosion will testify against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire.
You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you withheld, cry out and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.
You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts for a day of slaughter.
You condemned, you killed the Righteous Man. He did not resist you.

Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you?

You do well if you indeed fulfil the Royal Law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you show partiality, you commit a sin and are exposed by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails on a single point has become accountable for all of it.
For the one who said, ‘Do not commit adultery’ also said, ‘Do not murder’. Now, if you do not commit adultery but you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

What good is it, my brothers, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Faith cannot save you. If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and eat’, but does not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that! So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
But someone will say, you have faith and I have works’. Show me your faith apart from your works and I by my works will show you my faith.
You believe that there is one God, and you do well. But even the demons believe and shudder. Are you willing to understand, O Empty Man, that faith without works is barren?
Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was working together with his works, and from his works his faith was made complete. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God and was reckoned to him as righteousness’. And he was called a Friend of God.
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

… Whoever wishes to be a Friend of the World becomes an Enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says, ‘God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives all the more grace! Thus it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. …. Strengthen your hearts for the coming of the Lord is near. … See, the Judge is standing at the doors!

(The above extracts are from a pseudepigraph by the hand of a later follower of James. The sentiments exressed  are resonant of radical Jewish groups in the first and second centuries. )