Hear and Do: Introduction

Hear and Do: Introduction

Hear and Do: Introduction.

“Be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” (James 1:22).

St. James’ belief that followers of the Lord should be doers of the Word has its roots in the Torah, as just about everything else in his letter. The New Testament epistle of James was almost certainly written by the half-brother of Jesus, the very first bishop of the early church in Jerusalem. James is the most Jewish book in the New Testament for a good reason.. James was the most accomplished Torah scholar at that time. As chief rabbi of the early Christian community, James was recognized as the leading authority of the Hebrew Bible, the man all those early Christians depended on as the most qualified to understand and apply Jewish teachings to their Christian life. As the church’s chief judge in interpreting biblical practice, James used the Torah as the basis for all the ideas in his epistle, using all five books of the Torah as sources for his thinking and writing.

By insisting on the importance of being doers of the Word and not merely hearers who let Scripture go in one ear and out the other, James is standing on some very specific aspects of the Scripture. As with the rest of James, the author isn’t presenting any new teaching here in his epistle, he is using his knowledge of the Hebrew Bible to apply the Torah to daily life in a practical way.

Three major events in Scripture can be seen as at least some of the foundation for “doing the Word,” responding to the Word, putting it into action, practicing the message of the Bible.

(1.) the Ketubah, the wedding ceremony between God and the Isrelites on Mount Sinai in Exodus 19-24;

(2.) the Shema, the central creed and prayer of faithful Jews found in Deuteronomy 6;

(3) the prophet Ezekiel’s prophecy of doom over the exiles in Babylon, found in Ezekiel 33.

The Scriptural principle of hear and do is primary in these events. They underscore the necessity of hearing and doing, putting the Word into action, of practicing the Scripture. As a messianic Jew, James knew that doers were those who performed the Torah. James also was well aware of how Jesus found it so important that He concluded His Sermon on the Mount with a special focus on it. Jesus’ parable of the two builders was His creative way of highlighting the centrality of hearing and doing.

Being a Torah scholar, James would certainly been aware of other passages in the Hebrew Bible that centered on the importance of being a doer

Genesis 18:19“For I have known Abram, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice…” 

Psalm 103:17-18“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.” 

Isaiah 1:16-17 = “Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” 

Isaiah 56:1 = “Keep justice and do righteousness, for my salvation is about to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.” 

Jeremiah 22:3“Thus says the Lord: Dispense judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”

Micah 6:8 = “He has shown you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” 

Zechariah 7:9-10“Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, everyone to his brother and sister. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart against his brother or sister.” 

The Lord is expecting all His followers to do His Word. The world would like different if we all practiced these passages. Be doers of the Word.