James was a common name for men during the life of Christ and in the early years of the church’s existence. Two of the twelve apostles of Jesus were James, son of Zebedee and James, son of Alphaeus. He had a fleshly half-brother also named James.
Since the writer of the Epistle of James does not specifically identify himself, there is much speculation as to which James is the author of this letter. Most evidence indicates that James, the brother of Jesus wrote this general epistle from Jerusalem to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad” (Jewish Christians) in about A.D. 63 or possibly even earlier.
The purpose of James’ epistle was to encourage and admonish those Jewish Christians to remain patient and faithful to Christ under difficult conditions. This epistle has been referred to as the Christian book of proverbs.
James began his letter to the persecuted Christians with an admonition that is contrary to human nature. Just as metallic ores must undergo intense heat during the smelting process, Christians should be thankful when they are tried by the heat of persecutions. By enduring these stresses, they become stronger and more patient to live godly lives.
As one undergoes the trials of temptation, he needs wisdom and strength from God. James urged his readers to pray to God to supply the things needed to sustain their spiritual life. Effective prayer must be offered up in faith and not through wavering doubts like unstable waves of the sea.