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  • Writer's pictureJai Jind

True Religion

In the book of James, the word “religion” is translated from the Greek noun θρησκεία, transliterated threskeia. This word is found only four times in the New Testament, and carries a singlular sense of “worship.” James 1:27 is the only verse which gives a working definition of Biblical religion—or more accurately—worship. It can be broken into two interrelated parts that encompass the whole of the law: (1) loving one’s neighbor, and (2) loving one’s self (Lev 19:18; Jas 2:8).

Firstly, we see God’s care for the helpless taught throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, special care is commanded for orphans and widows within God’s covenant community (Exo 22:22; Deu 24:17). In the New Testament, Jesus reveals that this care is personally received by him—or God himself (Matt 25:31-37).

Secondly, James teaches that true religion also involves “[…] keep[ing] oneself unspotted from the world” (1:27). This command echoes the Royal law of loving one as oneself. For example, Paul teaches that “[…] sexual sins are sins against one’s own body” (1 Cor 6:18). Thus, to be spotted by the world—is to sin against oneself.

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