In this unit, students will study the context and content of the letter of James to gain insight into what it means to have an active faith—one that puts belief into practice. Woven throughout the text is the envisioning of real action toward real people. James teaches the necessity of personal responsibility for one’s actions, and social responsibility as followers of Christ to minister to the poor and marginalized. It is an important handbook for students who are exploring and developing what it means to act in the world with a genuine saving faith.

The unit begins with the first four lessons introducing students to the book of James through investigating questions about its authorship, audience, structure,and overall content. This initial study concludes with the key verse, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” (2:17). This central theme of James becomes the springboard for the next four lessons to examine the characteristics of an active faith.

In lessons 9-12, students will understand that faith is not a goal or destination,but an ongoing process that can be evidenced by the fruits it bears. An honest look at faith would not be complete without addressing the challenges that confront and test our faith: suffering, trials, and temptations. The unit concludes with James’ vision of faith as a caring community that addresses the needs of others, within and outside the church. It is a call to the saving faith that brings healing and hope to the world.