Bringing faith to completion through perseverance

The trial and proof of your faith are one and the same.

James 1:2-4, 12 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. … Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

According to the first verse in this epistle, James is writing to the twelve tribes of Israel in the Dispersion. These are the scattered Israelites who were the descendants of those who had been taken captive during the Assyrian and Babylonian campaigns to overthrow Israel roughly six hundred years previous. Some of them had attempted to maintain their Hebraic identity, but most had been assimilated into the cultures of the nations to which they were taken. James is writing to them as a believer in the Messiah; this is a call to return to the faith of their fathers with the fulfillment of the restoration of Israel through faith in Messiah.

In living among the pagan nations, they experienced many trials in attempting to live as Hebrew believers in the one true God. James addresses this as the primary issue they faced, but he does so in a way to encourage them that these trials actually demonstrate the truth of their faith. Though their faith was being tested, it was also being proven. The word for testing also serves to illustrate the proof of that faith. As they remained vigilant and steadfast in their faith, the quality of their faith was being proven to those around them.

This steadfastness of faith is a term derived from the original Greek which means “to remain under.” It is sometimes translated as endurance or perseverance. It illustrates that their faith was being proven as they remained under the pressure of the trial.

This is a similar characteristic that the apostle Paul mentions in his letter to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

James takes this endurance a step further by saying that the endurance or perseverance during trials provides a completeness to one’s faith; it’s as if the faith is lacking something until it actually undergoes a trial to see if it is genuine. In doing so, one receives the crown of life, the reward of the victor through conquest. In the culture of the day, the wreath or crown was only awarded to the athlete who endured through the contest of strength and overcame the adversity by persevering above all others. However, in the spiritual contest of the new believers in Messiah, their reward was life itself, not just a wreath to adorn their heads.

We today are in a similar situation as those scattered Israelite descendants of long ago. We have echoes of a spiritual heritage that has become enmeshed with the culture around us. Yet, through the same faith in Messiah, we are tasked with demonstrating a perseverance in that faith which results in a continuation of that same life that has been provided throughout the intervening millennia, “the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Living as faithful exiles

This is how the kingdom grows over time.

1 Peter 1:14-17, 2:1-2 – As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. If you appeal to the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during your time living as strangers. … Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation…

As Peter writes to the dispersed Israelites throughout the known world who have accepted Messiah Yeshua, he encourages them to live in holiness among the nations where they have been exiled. From the exhortations he relates to them, we can draw some parallels for our own lives.

Firstly, he urges them not to be conformed to the desires of their former ignorance.

1 Peter 1:18 – For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your fathers…

This “empty way of life” was a life of rules and regulations poured on top of the simplicity of the law of God. Their “fathers,” the scribes and Jewish leaders through the preceding centuries, had corrupted the pure word of God into a long list of regulations about every aspect of life that was unachievable. Through their “oral Torah” traditions, they bound heavy loads on them that they could not keep.

Yeshua had railed against this hypocrisy and religious totalitarianism:

Matthew 23:2-4, 28 – “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. “Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. “They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. … “In the same way, on the outside [they] seem righteous to people, but inside [they] are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Peter reminds them how they have been redeemed from this maze of human traditions, and that they were instead to seek “the pure milk of the word” without all of the added burdens.

Additionally, he encourages them to “conduct themselves with reverence during their time living as strangers.” This reverent conduct among the pagan nations they were exiled to should be a testimony to the righteousness of their belief in the one true God.

1 Peter 2:15 – For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good.

By doing good in their exilic communities, they should be an example to those around them that their lives were based on something more than just trying to survive in a foreign land.

Also, by living on the pure milk of the word, they would be constantly growing in understanding and wisdom, further setting them apart from their contemporaries in a way that would honor God. In this way, they would be actively demonstrating true holiness or “set-apartness” because of the wisdom of their ways.

From these admonitions, we can draw some analogous wisdom for our lives today. In one sense, believers in Messiah today are exiled from our true inheritance, living among “pagan” nations that don’t understand the spiritual heritage of these early believers that we are continuing to this day. It is up to us to live reverently among them, not joining in with their revelries and corrupt practices.

By doing good according to God’s word, our actions can similarly silence the foolish talk that circulates among those who are ignorant of God’s wisdom. The good that we do should speak for itself of the integrity of our beliefs.

Finally, if we also live on the pure milk of the word, we will continually be growing in our understanding until we are then able to receive the meat of the word, and in all of these things render faithfully God’s will in our lives.

Just as Peter exhorted the exiles to live holy lives, we should also continue that heritage by living holy lives in our generation, and for the generations to come. These actions can positively influence our neighbors who may not yet know God. This is how the kingdom grows over time, just as it has reached us over the millennia since Peter wrote to these congregations.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.