James chapter four can be broken into two (2) sections or divisions. The first division or section is verses one through twelve. The second division or section begins in verse thirteen and ends in verse seventeen
In the first section, James describes and rebukes the divisive and destructive behavior by those in the body who have been exhibiting the characteristics prohibited in chapter three and verse fourteen. James writes in what we call a rhetorical format by asking his readers’ questions and then answering them. James rebukes those who are destroying the peace of the various churches that received this letter by condemning their bitterness, jealousies, and selfish ambition.
In the second section James denounces and rebukes the divisive and destructive behavior in the body by those who are wealthy business men. James condemns the sins of the arrogant and wealthy believers.
The Description (4:1-12)
In verses one through three James describes the condition of these Christian communities by asking questions that actually serve to expose the source of the problems. He opens with a diagnostic question, what has caused the fights and quarrels that you are experiencing. James also asks a hard hitting question to establish or pin-point the exact source of the trouble; from within these believers themselves. These problems are not coming from outside the church but they have risen up due to their own selfish desires.
In verses four through six James denounces the condition of these Christian Communities by administering a sharp rebuke. James’ rebuke covers three (3) major areas. First, the friendship that these believers have adopted with the world makes them spiritual adulterers. These believers have become spiritual idolaters. Second, their flawed view of the authority of the Scriptures. James is probing their attitude toward the bible. Thirdly, James demonstrates Gold’s response to these individuals is in relation to their inner attitude.
In verses seven through ten James makes an appeal for these believers to repent of their sin and return to fellowship with God. In this section there are ten imperatives, or commands forming an urgent call by James to correct their attitudes and actions. These commands demand decisive action.
In verses eleven and twelve James makes a plea for these believers to stop their censorship and denunciation of one another. There is no connecting particle between verse ten and verse eleven so some think this is a new section. The context lends itself to seeing verses eleven and twelve continuing the instructions James began in verses seven. As these believers fix their relationship with God, it will then enable them to turn to their fellows believers and fix those relationships which had been broken.
The Denunciation (4:13-17)
In verses thirteen through seventeen James speaks to “businessman” as he demonstrates the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God James states prohibits both arrogance and presumption in their decision making process. James rebukes these believers for acting independently from God and who have become self-willed. James demonstrates the proper attitude of a believer as one who plans and prepares, yet is submitted to the Lord.