Key Verses and Themes in the General Epistles

Bible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project
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James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?

James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

1 John 3:18-19 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him.

James 3:16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.

Key principle of serving others instead of self.

James 1:17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.

Key principle of depending on God

James 1:19 Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.

James 1:26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.

Listening and avoiding harsh speech

James 2:9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin.

Not showing favoritism

James 4:13-14 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money." Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.

Acknowledgment that we are not the source of our own success

James 5:4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

Just labor and wage practices

James 5:8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.


James 5:12 Let your "Yes" be yes and your "No" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.


James 5:13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray.

James 1:5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

Prayer for specific needs

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Confessing to others and forgiving others

1 Peter 2:13-14 For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.

Obedience to civil authorities

1 Peter 2:18-19 Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.

Obedience to workplace authorities

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Expecting adversity due to following Christ

1 Peter 2:20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval.

Enduring suffering

1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called — that you might inherit a blessing.

Eschewing retaliation

1 Peter 5:2-3 Tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it — not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock.

Servant leadership

2 Peter 3:13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Eternal life in a new earth, cleansed of evil

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 3:2 When he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Personal transformation as the foundation of ethics

Jude 12 They feast with you without fear. They are shepherds who care only for themselves. (NRSV alt. reading).

Accountability of leaders

Jude 22-23 Have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.

Mercy and accountability not mutually exclusive