Proverbs 2-24-23

Jesus’s half-brother, James, was the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. Here is what he taught:

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

The key to being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry is given in verse 21, “humbly accept the word planted in you.” What word? There was no New Testament at that time. The Old Testament? Maybe. James quotes from it in 4:6. More than likely, he is referring to what they have witnessed and talked about, and what James has taught them. Most of their teaching was oral anyway because writings were so scarce. More on that tomorrow.

The gospels of Mark and Matthew may have been written by the time of James’ letter before his death around AD 62, but no one knows for sure. What we do have is some documented information about how James died. He certainly was “slow to anger!”

This article is from Christian History For Everyman by Paul Palao. Here is his disclosure:

I’m retelling the story in my own words, not quoting him. Eusebius gives three versions of the death of James: one from Clement of Alexandria, one from Hegesippus, and one from Josephus (yes, Josephus’ Antiquities was being quoted way back then!). This is Hegesippus’ version, which Eusebius judges the most accurate.

After a while, James’ influence became so strong that even some of the rulers believed, which horrified the scribes and Pharisees. They became afraid that soon the people would be flocking to Jesus as the Christ.
Somehow, perhaps because of his strict observance of the Law, the Pharisees thought they could get James to discourage the people from believing. They asked him to stand at the pinnacle of the temple on Passover and speak.
Apparently, James agreed.
They brought him to the top of the temple, and they shouted to him from below:
“Oh, righteous one, in whom we are able to place great confidence; the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one. So declare to us, what is this way, Jesus?”
Obviously, this wasn’t a very wise thing for them to do. James was ready to take full advantage of such a wonderful opportunity as this!
His words are memorable:
Why do you ask me about Jesus, the Son of Man? He sits in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and he will soon come on the clouds of heaven!
The Pharisees were horrified, but the people were not. The began shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
The Pharisees, realizing the awful mistake they’d made, began crying out, “Oh! Oh! The righteous one is also in error!”

You can probably guess that this had little effect on the crowd. So the next obvious thing to do was to push him down from the temple, letting the people know exactly what happens to those who dare to believe in Jesus.
They climbed the temple as the people shouted, reached the top, and threw James from the pinnacle of the temple.
It didn’t kill him.
He rose to his knees and began to pray for them. “I beg of you, Lord God our Father, forgive them! They do not know what they are doing.”
This would not do! The Pharisees on the ground began to stone him as he prayed, while those from the roof rushed down to join the execution.
One of the priests, however, a son of the Rechabites mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet (ch. 35), shouted, “Stop! What are you doing! The righteous one is praying for you.”
It was too late. A fuller (i.e., launderer) took out one of the clubs that he used to beat clothes and smashed James on the head, killing him with one blow.

I highly recommend going to the website Christian History For Everyman and reading the entire article.

Abba, there is so much information out there from historical records and early church documents that I did not know was available! Thank You for making them available in English in the last several decades. May I take the time to learn all I can and pass it on to faithful brothers and sisters. Amen.

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