James writes a general letter to all God’s people

An EasyEnglish Semantically Analysed Text (2800 word vocabulary) on the letter of James

(A semantically analysed text makes implicit information explicit.)


Leslie & Kitty Pride

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

Words in italics are not in the Greek text. We believe that they are implicit.


This translation is to help people who translate the Bible into their own languages. People may also use this to make translations into their national languages. And then, they can use such translations to translate into their own languages.

This translation is clear and it explains itself completely. In some places, we have added some words to make the meaning clear. We write these extra words in italics like this. (Italics means print where the letters lean forward.) The people who first received these words lived in a different place and at a different time. They understood everything without the words in italics. However, people who live now may not understand everything in the same way. So, the words in italics explain things more clearly. You may not need to translate all the italic words. But some people may not know much about the Bible. Or, perhaps there are no *Christian churches in their area yet. Then the italic words could help such people to understand the complete meaning.

In any particular language, you may need to add words to connect sentences. Use the correct local words to connect ideas.

James 1:1-8 God will help you when you have difficult problems

v1 I am James, and I am the *Lord’s brother. I serve our *Lord Jesus *Christ and God his *Father. I am writing this letter to God’s people who live all over the world. I send my greetings to all of you.

v2 My *brothers and sisters who believe, you may suffer various kinds of difficulties. But try to be happy whatever happens. v3 Remember this: God may have allowed you to suffer those difficulties. He wants to test you. He wants to know if you will continue to trust him. Then, if you are still trusting him, those difficulties will not overcome you. v4 And you will trust him better because you have overcome those difficulties. Then, you will become all that God intends for you to be, as a loyal *believer. You will be complete and you will have every good quality.

v5 So, things are difficult for you now. And maybe you do not know what you should do. Then, you must ask God to give wisdom to you. God always gives wisdom to anyone who asks him. And he does not become angry with anyone who asks. So, God will help you. Then you will know what you should do. v6 But when you ask God for anything, you should trust him firmly. You should not doubt that God always wants to help you. People who always doubt God are not steady. They are like waves in the sea that the wind blows one way and then the other. v7 In fact, such people should not think that the *Lord will give anything to them. v8 They are not steady in anything that they do. They cannot decide whether to trust God or not.

James 1:9-11 Poor people and rich people

v9 *Believers who are poor should be happy about this: God considers that they are very important. v10 And *believers who are rich should be happy too. They can be happy when God makes them humble. They should know that rich people and their riches will disappear. They are like wild flowers, which die. v11 The sun rises and the fierce, hot wind dries the plants. Their flowers fall and they are no longer beautiful. In the same way, rich people will die while they are busy at their work. And they leave this world without their riches.

James 1:12-18 We *sin because of our own wrong desires

v12 Some people have to deal with many difficulties. And God will be kind to them if they do not give up. They are proving that they really trust him. And God will reward them. He will give them the *life that never ends. He has promised this same *life to everyone who loves him.

v13 If people want to do something wrong, they should not blame God for that thought. Nothing can ever tempt God to do anything wrong. He is totally good. And he himself never suggests to anyone that they should do wrong things. v14 But each person thinks that certain activities seem good. And they want to do those things even if they are wrong things. v15 They want to try those wrong things so strongly that they do them. And then, they start doing such things as a habit. If they do not turn away from those *sinful habits, they will separate themselves from God for all time.

v16 My *brother *believers, you must not let other people persuade you wrongly. v17 The truth is that God our *Father in heaven does every good thing for us. And he gives us perfect gifts. God created all the lights in the sky. The lights in the sky shine all the time whether we can see them or not. God never changes. He is always good. v18 He wanted us to trust his true *Message. And he wanted to give us the *life that never ends. That was so that we could be his own special people.

James 1:19-27 Real *Christians listen to God’s *Message and they obey it

v19 My *brother *believers, every one of you should eagerly pay attention to God’s true *Message. You should not quickly speak your own thoughts and you should not get angry too quickly. v20 It is a bad thing for any of you to get angry. It may stop you doing good things. And God wants you to do good things. v21 That is why you should stop doing all kinds of wrong things. You must stop every evil habit. Instead, you should humbly accept God’s *Message. God puts his words firmly in our hearts and his words are able to rescue you from *sin.

v22 Do what God orders in his *Message. Do not just listen to it. You must obey it too. Some people just listen to what God says. ‘That is enough for me’, they think foolishly. v23 But people who do not obey God are foolish. They are like people who look at their faces in a mirror. v24 They look at themselves for one moment, and then they go away from the mirror. Immediately they forget what they were like. v25 But you must never stop looking closely at God’s *Message. God’s words are perfect and they free people. God will be kind to you if you obey him. So, you must continue to study God’s *Message carefully. And you must obey what God tells you. You must not just hear it and forget it.

v26 Some people think that they *worship God in the right way. But they constantly say bad things. Those people are wrong. They only think that they are *worshipping God. But they cannot control what they say. v27 We must not do wrong things like people who do not obey God. We must consider people who need help. We must take care of children who have no parents. We should also care about widows who need help. And we must not follow the evil behaviour of people who do not believe. Then, we will be truly *worshipping God our *Father. And God will like what we do.

James 2:1-13 Be as kind to poor people as you are to rich people

v1 My *brother *believers, we believe in our wonderful *Lord Jesus *Christ. So, you must stop giving more honour to some people than to other people. v2 For example, a person enters your meeting place who is wearing gold rings and good quality clothes. Then, a poor person also enters. He is wearing old clothes that he has worn out. v3 You pay special attention to the person who is wearing good quality clothes. ‘Sit here in this good seat!’ you tell him. But you say to the poor person: ‘Stand over there or just sit on the floor!’ v4 Clearly, you would be saying that some people are better than other people. You would be acting wrongly like a judge who does not make fair judgements.

v5 My friends, I really love you. But listen to me. God has chosen poor people so that they will trust him well. People who do not believe God do not like that. They consider that such poor people are *useless. But God will rule. And he will let those poor people share with him. God has made that promise to everyone who loves him. v6 You act badly towards poor people. But it is rich people, not poor people, who cause trouble for you. It is rich people, not poor people, who arrest you with force. It is rich people who accuse you in front of judges! v7 And many rich people say wrong things against Jesus *Christ, your good and kind master!

v8 In the *Scriptures God has ordered us to love each other. This is his royal law. Each of you must love other people as much as you love yourself. Jesus, our *Lord, gave us that command, and it is the most important of all his commands. You must really love other people. Then you are doing what is right. v9 But perhaps you give more honour to some people than you give to other people. In that case, your attitude is wrong. And God’s *Law in the *Scriptures says that you have *sinned.

v10 A person may try to obey all God’s *laws. But perhaps there is just one *law that he does not obey. However, God still considers that person to be guilty. That person is guilty exactly like someone who has not obeyed any of God’s *laws. v11 God said, ‘Do not have sex with someone who is not your wife or husband.’ But he also said, ‘Do not murder anyone.’ So, perhaps you are loyal to your wife or husband, but you have murdered someone. So, actually you have not obeyed all God’s *Law.

v12 *Christ’s *law frees us from many things. But God will still be our judge when this world ends. And God will use that same *law when he is your judge. So, be careful how you act toward other people. Let us all speak and act with care. v13 God will be our judge. And he will not pity people who do not pity other people. But even when he is our judge, kindness is more important to him. And God is kind.

James 2:14-26 Believe God and also do good things

v14 My *brother *believers, here is something else: ‘I believe the *Lord Jesus *Christ’, people may say. But those people may not be doing any good things that might help other people. God will certainly not rescue them from their *sin just because of what they say! v15 Perhaps another *believer, either a man or a woman, is very poor. And they do not have enough clothes or enough food for each day. v16 And then, someone in your group speaks to them: ‘Go away and be content. I hope that God will provide you with food and clothes’, they say. But that person does not give anything to the poor person. That is no help! v17 *Believers must do good things that will help other people. If they do not do good things, their words are *useless. Their words are as *useless as a dead body. Such people do not really trust in *Christ.

v18 But someone may say something like this to me: ‘God rescues some people only because they trust in God. And God rescues other people because they do helpful things for other people.’

I would answer, ‘Perhaps you do not do helpful things for other people! But unless you help people, you cannot prove anything to me. You cannot show to me that you really trust in God. However, the helpful things that I do for other people will prove something to you. Those things will show to you that I really trust in God!’ v19 For example, you can easily say: ‘I believe that there is only one real God.’ And you are right to believe that. But the *evil spirits also say that they believe the one real God. And that knowledge causes them to tremble. They shake because of the fear that God will punish them.

v20 Perhaps some stupid people still want more proof. They believe in God, but they do not want to do helpful things for other people. They do not want anyone to tell them that their lives are not right with God. v21 Well, let us think about our dead *ancestor, Abraham, as an example. He was willing to *sacrifice his son, called Isaac, on a certain mountain. And what Abraham did pleased God. God said that Abraham was a truly good person. v22 Abraham was trusting God even while he was obeying God’s command. He was able to trust in God more completely because he obeyed God. v23 And so, we can understand that this *Scripture is true: ‘Abraham really trusted in God, and God accepted him as a truly good man.’ And, as someone else wrote in *Scripture, ‘Abraham was God’s friend.’

v24 Now you can understand what really pleases God. It is not only that we believe the right things. The things that we do should please him also. v25 Another example is Rahab. She had been a *prostitute previously. She looked after the two *Jewish men who had come to the country called Canaan secretly. The men wanted to know how strong Jericho city was. Then, she helped the two men to escape. She sent them home on a different road. And God accepted her as a truly good person.

v26 When people’s spirits permanently leave their bodies, those people are dead. They are no longer any use to society. And so, some people say, ‘I trust in God.’ But if they do not do helpful things for other people, their words are as *useless as a dead body.

James 3:1-12 We should be careful about what we say

v1 My *brother *believers, it is difficult to teach God’s words to other people. Only a few of you should want to become teachers. God will examine people who do not know his true words. But he will examine more strictly all of us who teach those words. v2 All of us do wrong things in many ways. But if we always said the right thing, we would be perfect. And God wants us to be perfect. Then, we would be able to control everything else that we do. But we are not like that.

v3 For example, a small metal bar in a horse’s mouth can make the horse obey us. And the horse will go wherever we want. v4 A ship is another example. It may be a very large ship that moves by the force of strong winds. But a person can direct the ship wherever he wants. He can control it when he turns a very small wooden post at the ship’s end. v5 What a person says can have a big effect like that. We can hurt many people by something that we proudly say.

Think about a forest fire also. A very small flame starts a fire in a large forest. v6 And the fire may destroy the whole forest. So also, when we say evil things, we may hurt many people. What we say shows the evil thoughts in our hearts. What we say spoils all that we do. A flame easily starts a large fire. So, what we say may start something very bad. The *devil himself causes us to say those wrong things. v7 People are able to control all kinds of wild animals and birds and things that live in the water. And people have controlled them. But people are not always able to control what they say. v8 By themselves, people cannot control what they say. When people say evil things, they are wicked. And you cannot trust them. Snake poison kills people. And the words that we say can hurt other people badly.

v9 We can use our tongues and our mouths to do different things. We can speak well to praise God who is our *Lord and *Father. But we also ask God to do evil things to people. We do this although God made us like himself. v10 With the same tongue, we praise one person but we wish evil things for another person. My *brother *believers, we should not do that. v11 Bitter water and good water cannot come out of the same water hole. v12 A *fig tree cannot produce *olives. And a *grapevine cannot produce *figs. Neither can a salty water hole produce good water. So, we should speak only good words. And we should not speak evil words.

James 3:13-18 Real wisdom

v13 Some of you may think that you have a lot of wisdom. You may think that you understand God’s ways. Then, you should always behave well, because you need to show other people your *Godly wisdom. That wisdom helps you to act gently toward other people.

v14 But maybe you are really jealous deep inside yourselves. And you always do what you want. Then, you should not praise yourselves that you are so wise. You may be lying in order to hide the truth. v15 God wants people to receive the wisdom that he gives. He does not want them to have bad attitudes. Selfish people think only about themselves. And they act as their own evil *selves desire. They do what the *devil himself wants them to do.

v16 When people are jealous or selfish, they cause all sorts of trouble. And they do many other evil things. v17 But God wants people to receive the wisdom that he gives. Then, most importantly, they will have pure hearts. They will act in a peaceful way towards other people and they will be gentle to them. They will be willing to accept other people’s ideas. They will be kind to other people and they will do all kinds of good things for them. They will not always be thinking about another person’s place in society and they will be sincere.

v18 People who love peace are genuine. They cause other people to act in a peaceful way. Then, they can all live together well and in the right way.

James 4:1-10 The reason why people fight and quarrel

v1 You are always fighting and quarrelling with each other. Now I will tell you the reason why you do that. It is because you are selfish. Each of you wants to do only what you desire. You want to enjoy evil things. But those things oppose what God wants you to do. v2 You want some things so much, but you do not get them. And you would even kill someone to get those things. You want something that another person has. But you are not able to get what you want. So, you quarrel and you fight with that person. You do not ask God for those things and so you do not receive them. v3 And even when you do ask God, he does not give you those things. That is because you are asking for them with the wrong attitude. You are asking for those things just so that you yourselves can enjoy them.

v4 You are not loyally doing what God wants. So you behave like a woman who is not loyal to her husband. Anyone who loves the evil things in this world is really fighting against God. And so, you become God’s enemy. v5 You should not doubt what God has told us in the *Scriptures. God truly cares about the Holy Spirit that he has given us. He has caused the Holy Spirit to live in us! v6 God wants very much to help us. That is why someone wrote these words in the *Scriptures: ‘God opposes proud people. But he is very kind to people who are humble.’

v7 Therefore, let God control you completely. Fight strongly against the *devil, and then he will run away from you. v8 Come near to God in your inner *selves, and then God will come near to you. Some of you have *sinful habits. So, stop doing wrong things and do only good things. Some of you cannot decide to let God control you. So, just stop thinking wrong things and think only right thoughts. v9 You should weep because you have *sinned. You should be very sorry because you have done many wrong things. Do not laugh because you have gained your selfish desires. Instead, be sad because you have done wrong things. v10 Be humble in front of God our *Lord, and then he will give you honour.

James 4:11-12 Do not say bad things about other people

v11 My *brother *believers, stop saying evil things about each other. It is wrong to say bad things about other *believers. When you say bad things about them, you are making judgements against them. But God’s command is that we should love other people. And your words are saying that God is wrong. It is the same as if you say: ‘We do not need to obey all God’s commands.’ But then you yourselves are not obeying God. Instead, you are pretending that you have authority to make judgements against them. v12 In fact, only God can tell people what they should do. Only God can be their judge. Only God is able to forgive people. And only God can punish them. Therefore, you certainly do not have such authority. You may not decide how God should punish other people.

James 4:13-17 Do not think that you can even control your own lives

v13 Some of you are too sure about yourselves. ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to a certain city’, you say. ‘We will spend a year there. We will buy and sell many things. And we will earn a lot of money.’ Now, you just listen to me! v14 You do not know what will happen tomorrow. And you do not know how long you will live. Your life is like a mist. And mists appear just for a short time and then they disappear. So, you should not speak like that. v15 Rather, you should say this: ‘We will do what the *Lord desires. If the *Lord gives us long enough life, then we will do this or that.’ v16 But you think that you control everything in your life. And you are so sure about all the things that you intend to do. Such proud attitudes are evil.

v17 You know what is the right thing to do. But you will be *sinning against God if you do not do that right thing.

James 5:1-6 James warns the rich people who are opposing the *believers

v1 Now, you rich people, listen to me! You should really weep because you will have many terrible troubles. v2 Various things will ruin your wealth. Your fine clothes will have holes because insects have eaten them. v3 And your gold and silver will lose their value. They will not still shine. Instead, they will become mere dust and dirt. God will make a judgement about you because you are so greedy. He will remember your good things that have spoiled. And he will punish you severely, even as a fire destroys completely. You will be like your own metal, which has become mere dust and dirt. You stupidly continue to store wealth until the day when God will be your judge.

v4 Think about what you have done. You have not paid wages to the people who harvested your crops. And so, those people are crying out desperately to God to help them. God is the all-powerful *Lord and he has heard their loud cries. v5 You have lived in luxury and you only want to enjoy your life here on earth. You are like fat cows that will die soon. They do not realise that their lives will soon finish. And you have not realised that God will severely punish you. v6 You decided that innocent people should die. Those people had not done anything wrong, and they were not opposing you. But you arranged for their deaths. That is my message to the rich people who are so cruel to the *believers.

James 5:7-20 Have patience and always remember to pray

v7 Well then, my *brothers and sisters, you must be patient in every situation. Rich people will cause you to suffer. But wait patiently until the *Lord Jesus *Christ comes back again. Farmers wait for their valuable crops to grow. They wait patiently for the rain so that they can plant the grain. And they wait for more rain so that the plants will grow until the harvest season.

v8 In the same way, you also should wait patiently and you should trust the *Lord Jesus firmly. He will come back soon. v9 My friends, do not complain about each other. The *Lord Jesus is our real judge. And his judgement may declare that you are wrong. He is ready to appear to us and he will make the judgement about us.

v10 My *brothers and sisters, think about the *prophets who lived long ago. They are an example of how we should be patient. The *Lord sent them to speak his messages to people. And the people caused those *prophets to suffer much. But they were very patient and they did not complain. v11 We certainly approve of all those *prophets who suffered so much. They belonged to God. You have heard how Job suffered great trouble. But Job continued to trust God, and the *Lord finally brought about the end of Job’s troubles. The *Lord pities us when we suffer. And he is very kind.

v12 Also, my friends, I want to say something important about when you make firm promises. You should not say: ‘If I do not do this, I ask God in heaven to punish me.’ And you should not say, ‘If I do not do this, I want someone here in this world to punish me.’ Do not say anything like that. Instead, if you say ‘Yes’, then do that thing. Or if you say ‘No’, then you should not do it. You must mean what you say. Then God will not punish you.

v13 If any of you is suffering, you should pray. You should ask God to help you. If any of you is feeling cheerful, you should sing. You should sing songs to praise God. v14 When any of you is ill, you should tell your group leaders. Then they will come and they will pray for you. They will put *olive oil on you. And then those leaders will ask the *Lord to cure you. v15 All of you should really be trusting the *Lord when you pray. Then the person who is ill will become well again. The *Lord will cure you. But you may have *sinned. And that *sin may have caused you to be ill. So, you should confess any wrong things that you did to God. Then he will forgive you.

v16 The *Lord is able to cure sick people. And he is able to forgive *sin when people pray. So, confess to each other the wrong things that you have done. And pray for each other so that God may cure you. He will cure your body and he will forgive your *sins. Always do what God wants. Then, when you ask him to do things, God will act powerfully for you. v17 The *prophet Elijah was an ordinary person like us. One day he prayed hard that it would not rain. So, it did not rain for three and a half years. v18 Then Elijah prayed again. He prayed that rain would fall. So, God sent rain, and again the plants produced their fruit.

v19 My *brothers and sisters who believe, remember this: Any one of you might stop obeying the true *Message from God at any time. Then, one of your group should persuade you to obey God again. They should persuade you so that you will stop doing wrong things. v20 It is good to help someone from among you to stop their *sin. You would be saving such a person from death[1]. And God will also forgive their many *sins.

Word List

ancestor ~ any person from the past from whom the families of your father or mother have come.

believer(s) ~ people who believe *Christ. Believers hear and obey Jesus’ *Message. They also meet together often to *worship God. They are also called *Christians.

brother, brothers and sisters ~ the name that people use sometimes when they speak to a group of people from their own town or country. They also use this name for people with whom they have shared an experience. They say this to other people even if they are not brothers by birth. Among *Christians or in the Bible, this name includes women as well as men.

Christ ~ God sent Jesus as his ‘Christ’ or ‘Messiah’. The name ‘Christ’ means the work that Jesus came to do in this world. ‘Christ’ is what *Greek people say. ‘Messiah’ means the same, but ‘Messiah’ is what *Hebrew people say.

Christian ~ someone who believes *Christ. A Christian does what Christ wants. People began to call *believers Christians when Paul first went to Antioch.

devil ~ the chief evil spirit. He rules all the evil things in the world. He is false. He fights against all that is true. He is also called Satan.

evil spirits ~ they come from the *devil. They are also called ‘demons’. Sometimes, people can feel that these spirits are present. And people may be aware that such spirits are evil.

Father, God our Father ~ a description that tells us how God relates to Jesus *Christ. This does not mean that God the Father was married. God did not give birth to a son, as people do in this world. *Christ has always been God, even as the Father and the Spirit have always been God. The words ‘God the Father’ remind us that God provides for us. And these words remind us that he created everything. *Christ is called the ‘Son of God’, because he always obeyed the Father completely. But Christ is God, even as the Father and the Spirit are God. *Christ relates in the closest way to the Father. *Christ is closer to God than a human child can be to its parents.

fig ~ a soft, sweet fruit which is full of seeds. Fig trees grow in hot countries. People eat them fresh or they dry them.

Godly wisdom ~ wisdom that comes from God.

grapevine ~ a bush that yields a sweet, round fruit (called the grape). The fruit hangs in large groups from long branches called vines.

Greek ~ the language that people in Greece speak. It was a language of culture and commerce during the period of the New *Testament. People used Greek to write the New *Testament originally.

Hebrew ~ The *Jews speak the language called Hebrew. They wrote the Old *Testament in Hebrew.

Israel ~ God changed the name of Jacob to Israel (Genesis chapter 35). The sons of Jacob were the beginning of the nation called Israel. The land that God promised to them is the country called Israel.

Jews, Jewish ~ the race (family group) of people who live in *Israel and speak the *Hebrew language. The Jewish race began with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (who became *Israel). God chose those people as his special people (in the Old *Testament of the Bible). And Jesus was a Jew.

law, Law ~ the laws that God gave to *Moses, who wrote them down. The Law begins with the Ten Rules in Exodus chapter 20, and continues to the end of the book called Deuteronomy. The *Jewish priests, *Pharisees and teachers added other laws to those laws that *Moses wrote. They thought about thousands of other ways to use these rules. But Jesus did not accept the laws that they had added.

life (that never ends) ~ to live with God for all time. Jesus made a promise to every person who believes him. Jesus says that such a *believer will always live with God. Also, God will live with them, here in this world. And they will live with God after their bodies die. It is a new life, and it is a much better life.

Lord ~ the boss or owner of something or of a work. The Bible uses ‘Lord’ for God, because he controls everything. But the authors of the New *Testament also called Jesus *Christ ‘Lord’, or ‘the Lord’. That was because they recognised him to be God.

Message ~ what God wants to say to people, the Good News about Jesus *Christ. This is what people call ‘the Gospel’.

Moses ~ Moses was *Israel’s leader for more than 40 years. God spoke directly to Moses several times, and God told Moses to wrote down all his *laws. Then people could read the *Law. And they would not forget what God had ordered.

olive ~ the tasty fruit of a certain Mediterranean tree. The tree is only six metres (20 feet) high; but it can live for many centuries. People eat the green or black fruit, and they also squeeze the fruit to get oil. They use the oil as lamp fuel and also in their food. They may use it to cure injuries. The *Jews also used it in their religion (for example, see Exodus 27:20).

Pharisees ~ a group or party of *Jewish leaders, often rich people. Some Pharisees became very proud. They thought that only they themselves obeyed all God’s commands. Most Pharisees did not like the things that Jesus taught. They opposed him strongly.

prophet ~ someone who speaks God’s word about what will happen in the future. These words might be about a person, thing or event.

prostitute ~ a woman who sells her body to men other than her husband for sex; a street woman.

sacrifice ~ to kill in order to offer a gift to God.

Scriptures ~ God’s *Message which various people wrote down over many centuries; the complete record of how God showed himself to people in the world. The early *believers or *Christians had only the Old *Testament until the New *Testament writers wrote their books. Our Scriptures are now the whole Bible.

selves ~ people’s minds, in other words, their inner thoughts, attitudes and desires.

sin, sins ~ the evil things that we do. God himself says that they are wrong; to sin is to do such things.

sinful ~ an action that is a *sin.

testament ~ The Old Testament is the first part of the Bible. God’s servants wrote it before Jesus *Christ was born. The New Testament is the part that other *believers wrote after Jesus *Christ. Together they are called the *Scriptures.

useless ~ not useful for any purpose whatever.

worship ~ when we think about God; when we think about what he is doing. And then we tell him how wonderful and how great he is. We can worship him by ourselves. Or we can meet with other *believers to worship him. Then we all together speak or sing about God’s greatness.


[1] Some Christians believe that this means the death of the body. Other Christians think that this means the death of the spirit, in other words, to go to hell.


© 2007, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

July 2007

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.bible