James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
The Book of James is all about wisdom. When James frequently speaks of wisdom, he is saying the same thing as when other New Testament writers mention the Holy Spirit.1
The Bible makes this connection between the presence of the Spirit and possessing of wisdom in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 34:9 says, that, “Joshua . . . was full of the spirit of wisdom.” Looking at Daniel, an ungodly leader senses something divinely distinct about him and says in Daniel 5:14, “I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.” In Isaiah 11:2, it was promised that Jesus would come and “the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding…” In the New Testament, when it came time to pick leaders in the early church, Acts 6:3 reports the apostles saying, “Brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom.” Lastly, in Ephesians 1:17, Paul prays “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom.” The Bible often speaks of the cause (Spirit) and effect (wisdom) with various authors stressing one or the other while speaking of both.
Jesus’ wise brother James is filled with the Holy Spirit, writes the Scriptures by the power of the Spirit, and instructs Christians that it requires wisdom from the Holy Spirit to know and follow the will of God. Additionally, James dies a martyr’s death in service to his half-brother. We read that “James the half-brother of Jesus was executed…he was thrown off the temple and, still alive, was stoned to death.”2 Dying, James echoes his big brother Jesus from Luke 23:34 saying, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Where do you need wisdom in your life? Pray for God to teach you wisdom as we study the book of James.
- J.A. Kirk, “The Meaning of Wisdom in James: Examination of a Hypothesis,” New Testament Studies 16, no. 1 (October 1969), 24–38; William Sailer ed., Religious and Theological Abstracts (Myerstown, PA: Religious and Theological Abstracts, 2012.
- D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 389.