Apr

09

2012

Justin Taylor|12:00 am CT

Echoes of the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of James

I tend to have a suspicion of charts showing extensive parallels between biblical passages. Fifty years ago Samuel Sandmel complained of the extravagance and exaggeration of  “parallelomania.”

One valid example of parallels, in my opinion, can be found in the book of James, echoing the Sermon on the Mount. The parallels potentially become more poignant when we remember that the author of the epistle is James the Just, the younger brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55).

Thanks to the ESV Study Bible for first suggesting to me the following parallels.

Rejoice and be glad in your trials.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2)

Be perfect and complete.

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4)

Ask your good and wise God who loves to give good things.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. . . . Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:5, 17)

Avoid sinful anger before a righteous God.

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matt. 5:22)

“. . . the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)

Be doers, not just hearers, of the word.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matt. 7:24-27)

“. . . be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

God’s heart for the poor in the kingdom.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. . . . Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3, 5)

“Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5)

The necessity of righteousness.

“. . . I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

“. . . whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” (James 2:10)

Mercy to the merciful.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

“. . . judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)

Recognize them by their fruits.

“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16)

“Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” (James 3:12)

Blessed are the peacemakers.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

“And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:18)

Ask and receive.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

“You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:2-3)

You cannot serve God and be friends with the world.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matt. 6:24)

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

Blessed are the mourners.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

“Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:9-10)

Be slow to judge.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12)

God’s provision for tomorrow.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34)

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14)

Do not lay up treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

“Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.” (James 5:2-5)

The example of the prophets.

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

“As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:10)

Do not swear oaths.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37)

“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” (James 5:12)

View Comments (5) Post Comment