James continues with his letter about practical matters. He wishes to strengthen these scattered Jews who believe in Jesus to continue in God’s will and life for them–the Christian life.
My translation and notes on James 1:2-8
2 My brothers, consider it all joy when youp find yourselfp surrounded by various trials.
[The Greek word for ‘fall/surrounded’ is περιπίπτω peripíptō (G4045). It does not mean to slip up, trip up, and fall on your face. It means to fall into a trouble that immerses us. Not only that, but it happens by surprise. One minute all is well, then the next is the trouble. TDNTa has this entry on the word:
This word means “to come on something by chance,” “to be innocently involved in something,” “to be overturned”; the noun is used for a “mishap” or “accident.” Philo uses the verb for “to fall into” and also “to fall culpably.” In Josephus we find the senses “to meet,” “to overtake,” “to be involved in (danger, misfortune, etc.),” “to fall into the hands,” “to fall on one’s sword.” In Luke 10:30 the meaning is not so much “to come upon the robbers unawares” as “to fall into their hands unexpectedly.” In Acts 27:41 the idea is that of being brought somewhere by chance or unexpectedly. Running into trials unexpectedly is also what is meant in James 1:2.
The Greek word for ‘trials’ is πειρασμός peirasmós (G3986). It means to experience a situation that could derail us from our goals, plans, and desires. It could be a trial that would lead one to sin, to deny Jesus, to be diverted from something by occupying our time and energy that would be needed to reach that goal, plan, or desire. Here, these Jewish believers did not want to be where they found themselves. They were fleeing their homes and sometimes their families because they believe in Jesus. We are not to look at the negative but instead focus on God who can use these experiences to strengthen us. Compare Hebrews 11:34. When we focus on God, we can have joy].
3 Know this that the testing of yourp faith results in endurance.
[The Greek word for ‘testing’ is (G1383) δοκίμιον dokimion. It means a proofing to check genuineness. See also 1 Peter 1:7, Hebrews 11:6, and Proverbs 3:25].
4 Let endurance have its full, complete work, so that youp may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
[These trials, testings, and sufferings work into us endurance, which is strength of Christian character. God is the one who gives us this strength. It is God’s way of training us for service and commitment].
5 If any of youp lack wisdom, ask God, who gives to all profusely without rebuking, and it will be given to him.
[God’s wisdom is always practical, not theoretical. Adam Clarke writing on Ecclesiastes 7:13: Such is the nature of his providence, that it puts money into the hands of few: but wisdom is within the reach of all. The first is not necessary to happiness; therefore, it is not offered to men; the latter is; and therefore God, in his goodness, offers it to the whole human race. The former can rarely be acquired, for God puts it out of the reach of most men, and you cannot make that straight which he has made crooked; the latter may be easily attained by every person who carefully and seriously seeks it from God. God does not become angry when we ask for wisdom. He is pleased. God is the source of 100% truthful wisdom. See Proverbs 2:6-7, Daniel 2:20-23, and 1 Kings 4:29].
6 But one must ask in faith, without doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea wind driven and tossed.
[Asking in faith does not mean we know our prayers will happen or when. 1 John 5:14 This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. Wisdom will come. We do not know the timing or the means, but it will come. He is the problem solver of all problem solvers. All of God’s decisions are in wisdom, love, and holiness. He knows our needs. He will not fail us. He loves us. He loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins. A conjured-up faith is not a ticket for answered prayer. God is not required to give what we ask for. Doubting is seen in various ways—seeking Yahweh or seeking someone or something else, vacillating between praying for a while then quitting versus continuing in prayer or between wanting versus not wanting].
7 Do not let that person think that he will receive anything from the Lord.
8 A double minded person [is] unstable in every way.
[Doubts are not sinful. The doubt that James mentions is the doubt of is God able; is He willing; does God even care? God even uses doubt to build our faith. He knows how to cut that cancer of doubt from us. Christians want God’s will to be done. He teaches; we learn. He is patient. We might be crushed for a season, but that does not deter God accomplishing His goals for us. He causes our faith to grow. See Mark 9:24 and Hebrews 5:7-9 (Jesus’s tears, His faithfulness, His learning (as a human, for God has nothing to learn). Take courage and rest].