In this section James takes on the themes of steadfastness in trials (vs. 12), love for God (vs. 12), the believer’s eternal reward (vs. 12), God as he is in himself (vs. 17), temptation and desire (vs. 14), death (vs. 15), and the mystery of the new birth (vs. 18). Once again, James packs a tremendous amount of content into a rather spare economy of words. And as always, there is his characteristic plea to be heard, “Know this my beloved brothers…” (vs. 19a).
Bible Scholar Alec Motyer notes that this section of James is about “the triad of birth, life, and death.” The Christian has a very specific understanding of life in general and the Christian lifespan specifically. The biblical view of life is that of a line with a beginning, a middle and an eternal goal. Life as a cycle, endless or otherwise, is a pagan view incompatible with the Scriptures. That is not to say that the biblical or Christian view of life sees physical death as the end. Quite the opposite. The Christian life span has as its goal everlasting life in the presence of God in the new heaven and new earth. And the Guarantor of this glorious hope is God himself in whom “there is no variation or shadow due to change” (vs. 17).