James was possibly the first New Testament book written, probably penned in the very late 40’s AD. It is generally accepted that the book was written by James, the leader of the Jerusalem Church, also known as James the brother of Jesus.

From the very first, some people objected to having James in the New Testament. Martin Luther pushed for its exclusion (as well as some other books) because he thought it crossed some Protestant doctrines. However, history shows that God intends for James to be included in sacred Scripture.

Perhaps some of the controversary around the book can be ended if people are willing to accept the book for what it is, and not try to force it to be something it is not. We get a quick look at what it is by looking at the first verse: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.”

James was the leader of the Jerusalem church, but was not one of the original apostles. His letter shows that he is a strong, experienced leader whose purpose is to guide Jewish Christians about how to live as Christians in various countries and cultures. He accomplishes his purpose.


Barnabas was well known for being an encourager. He very likely was just as well known for being wise, sent to take care of Paul after his conversion, becoming Paul’s tutor and sounding board for more than a decade. When there was a problem in the early church, he was likely called on for his advice and influence.

Barnabas was unwise in two events. Not necessarily sinful, but unwise and costly. The first was when Peter and he stopped eating with the Gentiles in Antioch, an action he came to recognize as a mistake. The other instance happened at the advent of the Second Missionary Journey, when Barnabas wanted to take Mark but Paul refused because of Mark’s previous abandonment of the First Missionary Journey. Barnabas and Paul had a sharp, harsh disagreement which caused them to part ways. It would have been to everyone’s benefit to have had an amicable parting.

There is no doubt that Barnabas had a high regard for wisdom. You can imagine the number of hours he and the other church leaders spent trying to find the wisest solutions to the church’s problems and opportunities, as well as the hours spent in prayer asking for wisdom from God.

James wrote that wise people should demonstrate their wisdom by doing good deeds with a spirit of humility. He said that selfish ambition and envy are evil practices and not to boast about them. James could have been thinking about Barnabas when he wrote those things. Barnabas is introduced in Acts when he generously sold land to support the local church and humbly gave all of the money to the apostles.

Think of all the other wise people James got to be around and learn from. Joseph and Mary. Jesus. All the apostles. The people in his church. An unending number of people to teach him about wisdom and its benefits.

Primary Scriptures:
James 1:5-8, 17-18; 3:13-18; 4:5-10; 5:7-20
Story Summary:
Verses with content about wisdom
Kingdom of Judea (Israel)
Circa 50 AD