This Week's Focus Passage

’Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.’

Focus Passage: James 1:18

’Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.’

This statement of the Holy Spirit through the pen of James is full of matter. It is an unhappy thing that it is not so well known as many other portions of the word of God. It is not likely to be read on a refrigerator magnet. But it is nevertheless pregnant with truth—filled with meaning—much more so than are many popular magnets. There are, it seems, at least three major points being made here by James.

When he says we have been brought forth by the will of God.

When he adds that the means employed is the word of truth.

When he points to the goal of our being a kind of first-fruits.

If James was actually the first of the New Testament books to be written, as many suppose, this might explain how that these concepts are also found in later writings of other apostles in the volume of the New Testament. A. T. Robertson, in his very helpful Word Pictures in the New Testament gives us, in his introduction to the book of James, the following view as to the date of its writing:

‘If the epistle is genuine and James was put to death about A.D. 62, it was clearly written before that date. There are two theories about it, one placing it about A.D. 48, the other about A.D. 58. To my mind the arguments of Mayor for the early date are conclusive. There is no allusion to Gentile Christians, as would be natural after A.D. 50. If written after A.D. 70, the tone would likely be different, with some allusion to that dreadful calamity. The sins condemned are those characteristic of early Jewish Christians. The book itself is more like the Sermon on the Mount than the Epistles. The discussion of faith and works in chapter 2 reveals an absence of the issues faced by Paul in Rom. 4 and Gal. 3 after the Jerusalem Conference (A.D. 49). Hence the date before that Conference has decidedly the better of the argument. Ropes in his Commentary denies the genuineness of the Epistle and locates it between A.D. 75 and 125, but Hort holds that the evidence for a late date rests “on very slight and intangible grounds.” So we place the book before A.D. 49. It may indeed be the earliest New Testament book.’

And this chronological position may go some distance to postulate that the ideas here expressed by James were duplicated by other New Testament writers. Of course, the Holy Spirit of God is the Author of the inspired Word of God. But let’s take a look at the three points earlier referenced.

James is speaking about the children of God being brought forth. Is he not here speaking of the new birth? Of the nine usages of the term ‘brought forth’ in the New Testament [ASV], the application is to birth, whether speaking of Mary bringing forth a son and calling his name Jesus, or of the birth of the fruit of the ground as in the parable of the sower, ‘And other fell into the good ground, and grew, and brought forth fruit a hundredfold.’ Yes, James is doubtless making reference to the birth of those to whom he has written. And, yes, it is possible that he could be referring to their physical birth, or bringing forth. But the context clearly removes that possibility from consideration. While it is certainly according to the will of God when any person is born, the fleshly birth is not brought about by the word of truth. God has employed other means to bring about the physical birth among His creatures. We learned about these things in biology class in our early years in school. But the ‘new birth’ or regeneration is brought about by the Holy Spirit. This we learned from the Word of God, as did Nicodemus.

Paul echoes this reality in his letter to the church at Rome. In his tenth chapter and verse 17, he instructs his hearers, saying, so belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. So the children of God have been brought forth according to God’s will. John joins in with James as he writes his narrative gospel. He put it this way, ‘them that believe on his name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Regeneration is according to the will of God and the means He has determined to employ is His Word; the Word of Truth. So that we find both Paul and John agreeing with James on whose will is being done, and the chosen means employed.

John refers again to a ‘kind of first-fruits’ in the Revelation that Christ gave to him while he was a prisoner in the isle that is called Patmos. John has spoken in the beginning of chapter fourteen of those hundred and forty and four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads. Are these not the new-born children of God? And how are they described to us? These are they that were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. Does this not most likely speak to the holiness of the sons of God? And These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. John goes on to tell us that these were purchased from among men; why? To be the first-fruits unto God and unto the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no lie; they are without blemish. These first-fruits; are they not ‘Holiness unto the Lord,’ or, ‘Holiness unto Jehovah,’ as Jeremiah spoke in his book of prophecy, 2:3, when he declared, Israel was holiness unto Jehovah, the first-fruits of his increase? James was conspicuously an Old Testament scholar. Would it be so surprising that his allusion was to that language in Jeremiah 2? Is Israel not a type of the people of God? As a type, they were the first-fruits unto Jehovah, and are not the children that have been brought forth of the will of God; they that have been brought forth by the Word of Truth; have they not been brought forth to be a first-fruits of his creatures; first-fruits unto Him through the living Word, Jesus Christ?

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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