Originally, James wrote this letter to the prophets in Jerusalem because he knew what danger they were in from the priests. He was concerned about the prophets he had left behind. In Rome, James was experiencing persecution from the visiting priests Ananus and his brothers. These priests said that the Jews should obey the Law and that sacrifice was necessary for forgiveness of sins. James proclaimed the Spirit that must be obeyed to achieve purity, and that sacrifice was a waste of time. There was no mention of Jesus.
Later, at the time of the editor, the Roman government was interested in promoting the Christian message. To give authority to his fictitious Paul, the editor created the impression that Paul existed at the time of the early Christians.
Far from languishing in a Roman prison, James was highly respected by the Emperor's family. He could write something to the effect: "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Spirit of God. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace and to everyone else that I pray in the Spirit of God".
Seneca, Nero's tutor, influenced by the teaching of James, could write: "God is with you, He is within you. So I say unto thee, Lucillius, a Holy Spirit dwells within us. Our good and evil He observes, having our own custody. As we treat this Spirit, so he treats us. In truth, no man is good without God".
The extant letters purporting to be between Paul and Seneca were derived from earlier letters between James and Seneca.
-"Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me".(1:25,26)
- "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow", and "every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord". (2:10,11)
- "therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling". (2:12)
- "do everything without complaining". (2:14)
The writer interjects his gospel - there is a switch to the message of Christ.
His letter was superimposed upon an earlier and much shorter prophetic letter. Originally, this was a very short section giving encouragement to the prophets to obey the Spirit. James is confident that he will come to them soon. That Paul will send Timothy and Epaphroditus is fabricated. The writer would have known that Epaphroditus (2:30) had probably been murdered along with Nero.
2.1.If you have any encouragement from being united [with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship] with the Spirit,
3.4.[-- though I myself have reasons for such confidence.