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Just because people grow old does not necessarily mean they grow up. This is especially
true when it comes to being born again. A person could be fifty years old and be a babe
in Christ. No matter how old one is when he obeys the gospel, he still needs "the pure
milk of the word" (1 Pet.2:2) in order to grow. But the time should come when the diet
should change to solid food. This is the meat of the mature. This is the food that "belongs
to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses
exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5:14 NKJV).

Unfortunately there are many Christians that have "become dull of hearing." Even
though they have been in the church long enough to be teachers themselves, they are in
need of someone to teach them again the basic principles of God's word (Heb. 5:11f).
These immature brethren have caused many problems in the Lord's body over the
centuries. It was no different in the time of James. So James, being the man of God that
he was, did not sit idly by without addressing this dilemma. Moved by the spirit of God,
James wrote a maturity manual for his brethren.

No, nobody is perfect. And yes, we all have our faults. But when imperfection and fault
become excuses in stead of statements, then there can be no maturity. And the immature
are like children. They whine, cry, fuss, and fight; completely oblivious to the lost and dying
world around them. All they can see and feel are their own wants and needs. This stifles
the growth and unity of the church.

This is why we all are expected to grow. With this in mind let us go into this study of the
Epistle of James with our minds set on following the many imperatives given therein. If we
do this then we are well on our way to becoming "perfect and complete, lacking in
nothing"(Jas. 1:4).


The man who wrote this epistle claims to be "James, a bond-servant of God and the
Lord Jesus Christ,..." James was a common name. It was a form of the Hebrew name

There were four men with this name mentioned in the New Testament. The most
prominent of the four was "James, the son of Zebedee, the brother of John" (Matt. 4:17-
21). He was nicknamed by Christ "Son of thunder" (Mrk. 3:17). He was with Christ when
Jairus's daughter was raised (Lk. 8:51). He was also at Christ's transfiguration (Mrk. 9:2).
He was the first disciple to die for the cause of Christ. He was put to death by Herod
Agrippa I about A.D. 44 (Acts 12:2).

Another was "James, the son of Alphaeus" (Matt. 10:3; Acts 1:13). He was one of the
twelve apostles (Matt. 10:2-6). He may have also been the brother of Matthew (Mrk.
2:14). Also there is James, the father of Judas (Acts 1:13). We have no other information
as to this man.

Then there is "James, the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1:19). This is the one who did not believe
in Jesus during his earthly ministry (Jn. 7:1-5; Mrk. 3:31-35). Jesus appeared to him after
his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:7). He became a believer and is found praying with the women,
Mary, and his brothers (Acts 1:14). He was later referred to as a "pillar" in the church (Gal.
2:9). He seems to have been the leader of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; 21:18f).

Of these men, James, the Lord's brother, seems to be the author. James, the brother of
John, was martyred too early (A.D. 44) to have written the epistle. Since at least the third
century men such as Origen (c.A.D. 185-253), Eusebius (c.A.D. 265-340), and Jerome
(c.A.D. 340-420) have held the Lord's brother to be the author.

The most compelling evidence comes from the epistle itself.

The characteristics of James the brother of the Lord as seen in Acts 21:17-
25, in Galatians 2:12, and in the description of "James the Just" by
Hegesippus (Ecclesiastical History 2.23) are all in harmony with the heavy
emphasis on genuine religious practice and ethical conduct apparent in the
epistle. The vocabulary of James' speech and letter in Acts 15:13-29 reveals

significant similarity to that of the epistle. The authoritative tone of the epistle
(forty-six imperatives) agrees well with the authority exercised by James in
Acts 15:13ff.; 21:18. 1


James was a family man. He had a Christian wife (1 Cor. 9:5). He was also a man of
prayer. Tradition (i.e. early Christian writings that are not part of scripture) tells us that he
prayed so much that his knees were as hard as a camel's.

He was also a man of God and a leader. Like all devout Jews, James observed the
customary practices of Judaism (Acts 21:17-24). He grew up under the Law of Moses and
the traditions of the Rabbis. Even though he kept the Law, he did it only as a matter of
custom (Acts 15:1-29). He appeared to be the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts
15:13; 21:18f).

The over-all character of the man can best be seen in his death. According to Clement of
Alexandria, James was thrown down from the gable of the temple, stoned, and beat to
death with a club. The story goes on to relate that James, as did Jesus, died praying for
his murderers, asking: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."


The epistle is addressed, "To the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad" (Jas. 1:1).
Paul uses the term "the twelve tribes" to refer to the Jewish nation (Acts 26:7). These
were those who lived outside of Palestine. They were known as the “diaspora.” They
would come from many nations to Jerusalem for Pentecost. When Peter addressed the
crowds on Pentecost, many of those were of the diaspora (Acts 2:9-11). We also know
that the Jews to whom James wrote were Christians. He refers to them as brethren at
least 19 times in this epistle and they were said to have been holding the faith of Christ
(Jas. 2:1). His readers, therefore, would be Jewish Christians.


Since James, according to tradition, was martyred about A.D. 62, this is the latest possible
date that the epistle could have been written. And it is likely, since the epistle presupposes
that the name Christian had already been given (Acts 11:26), and was, by the enemies of
Christ and Christians, being blasphemed, that the epistle was written after A.D. 40. 2

The following are some considerations for a date between A.D. 45 - 50:

1. There is no allusion to Gentile Christians, as would be natural after A.D. 50.

2. The sins condemned are those characteristic of early Jewish Christians.
3. The book itself is more like the Sermon on the Mount than the epistles.
4. The discussion of faith and works in chapter 2 reveals an absence of the issues faced
by Paul in Romans 4 and Galatians 3 after the Jerusalem conference (A.D. 49).
5. The evidence of a simple church order favors the early date. The leaders are "teachers"
(3:1) and "elders" (5:14).
6. Finally, the use of the Greek term synagogue to describe the church assembly or
meeting place (2:2) points to the early period when Christianity was largely confined to
Jewish circles. 3


Jewish Christians were having great difficulty making the transition from Judaism to
Christianity. This in turn affected their personal lives and church fellowship. They were
impatient in difficult times (1:1-4ff). They were not practicing what they were preaching
(2:14ff). They were not in control of their tongues (3:1ff). Fighting and coveting were the
norm (4:1ff). And to top it off, they had become very materialistic (5:1ff).

James wrote to them to try to get them to see their spiritual immaturity. He uses the word
"perfect", which means "mature" several times. These brethren had been on "milk" for so
long (Heb. 5:11-14) they were not growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus
Christ. James wrote to them to help them grow up.



Key Verse: 1:4


A. Have A Joyful Attitude - (vs 3)
B. Understand the Purpose of Trials - (vs 3)
C. Let Endurance Produce Maturity - (vs 4)
D. Ask God For Wisdom - (vs 5)
A. God's Blessing
B. God's Approval
A. What Not To Say (vs 13)
B. What Not To Be (vs 15)
A. Things To Be (vss 19,20)
B. Things To Do (vss 21-25)
A. Worthless (vs26)
B. Pure (vs 27)
A. Circumstance Addressed (vss 1-3)
B. Reasons For Condemnation (vss 4-11)
C. Action To Be Taken (vs 12)
A. Can Faith Without Works Save ? (vs 14)
B. Is Belief Enough To Save (vs 19)
C. Christians Are Justified By Faith And Works (vss 21-25)
D. Conclusion (vs 26)

A. Only A Few Should Become Teachers (vs 1)
B. Reasons (vss 2,3)
C. Characteristics Of Those Who Wish To Teach (vs 13)
D. Earthly Wisdom (vss 14-16)
E. Wisdom From Above (vss 16,17)
A. The Want Of Pleasures (vs 1)
B. Reasons For Not Receiving What They Want (vss 2,3)
C. It's Affect On Their Relationship With God (vss 4-6)
D. Conditions Required For Reconciliation (vss 7-10)
A. You Are Not The Judge (vs 11)
B. God Is Lawgiver And Judge (vs 12)
A. No Guarantee Of Tomorrow (vs 14)
B. The Right Attitude To Have (vs 15)
C. The Sin Involved Is Boastful Arrogance (vss 16,17)
A. Weep And Howl (vs 1)
B. Reasons For Condemnation (vss 3-6)
A. Be Patient (vs 7)
B. Do Not Complain (vs 9)
C. Examples Of Endurance (vss 7,10,11)
A. What Not To Say
B. What To Say
A. For the Suffering (vs 13)
B. For the Sick (vs 14)
C. For the Sinner (vs 15)
D. The Example of Elijah (17)

A. Save His Soul (vs 20)
B. Cover His Sins (vs 20)

English Text is the New American Standard Bible.



James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who
are dispersed abroad, greetings.

1 James,

In the discussion of the authorship of this epistle (cf. Introduction), the writer was
determined to be James, the brother of Jesus. More precisely, since Jesus was born of
a virgin thus not begotten by an earthly father, James would be his half brother.

a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

In describing himself as a "bond-servant", James thoroughly characterizes his relationship

to God and Jesus. The word "bond-servant" (Greek, doulos) literally means "a slave, and
even strictly, one born a slave." 1

Though James was the brother of Jesus, he knew he was "bought with a price" (1 Cor.
6:20). He knew that when he obeyed the gospel he was "born again" (Jn. 3:3-5), thus
born a slave to both God and Christ.

One commentator describes the "bond-servant" as one "who gives oneself up wholly to
another will, serving to the complete disregard of one's own selfish interest." 2

to the twelve tribes that are dispersed abroad,

The designation "the twelve tribes", as the recipients of this epistle, indicates that they
were Jews (cf. Introduction). In further describing them as being those "who are scattered
abroad", the obvious reference is to the Jews of the Dispersion (Greek, diaspora).

The Jewish Diaspora were those Jews who were living outside of Palestine. It is said that
of the 55 million inhabitants of the Roman empire at that time, 7% were Jews. And of the
3 million Jewish population as a whole, 2.5 million lived outside of Palestine. This figure
represents the Dispersion.3 These Jews were regarded as settlers and had freedom to
regulate their own affairs. They organized themselves into religious societies centered
around the synagogue. They also appointed officers to settle any legal actions. 4

The Diaspora still considered Jerusalem as the center of religion and politics. Every year
thousands went to Jerusalem to observe the Passover and to offer sacrifices. Those who
were 20 years old and over had to pay the annual double-drachma, one of which was
equal to a days wage (Luke 15:8,9), as part of that observance.

It is most likely that it was on this occasion that many became acquainted with James and
those who were converted by the church at Jerusalem (Acts 2). Being brethren, nationally,
James would naturally have had a special bond to them. This may be one reason why he
addressed this epistle to them specifically. It must be noted, however, that some
commentators believe the diaspora in this verse is used metaphorically to characterize
both Jewish and non-Jewish Christians as "pilgrim people, whose fatherland is not on earth
but in heaven" (1 Pt. 1:1; cf. 2:11; Acts 8:1).


This word means "Joy to you, rejoice!" This greeting in the sense of joy makes a natural
transition to verse 2.


TRIALS 1:2-11

Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the
testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have it's perfect result,
that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously
and without reproach and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without any
doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the
wind. For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being
a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.

But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the
rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For
the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and it's flower falls off,
and the beauty of it's appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of
his pursuits will fade away.

2 Consider it all joy my brethren, when you encounter various trials;

A. Have A Joyful Attitude

Joe's life was one of continual trials. I remember quite well a time when it seemed that he
had lost everything. Within a year he had lost his job, family, possessions, identity, and
nearly his faith. For months all he could see, hear, and feel was his own pain. Joe read
this verse of scripture over and over and in his agony he would cry, "That's easy for you
to say! Your wife didn't take your children and run off." Joe's pain had built a force-field
around his mind.

Weeks passed and the same question dominated his thoughts. "How could a loving God
allow His children to experience such pain and at the same time expect them to consider
it all joy?" It seemed too unreasonable.

It took time, but through more study, prayer, and pain, the answer was unveiled. Joe came
to realize that he was not being told to consider the trial itself as a joyful occasion, but
rather to consider the effects of the trials as a joyful result. James taught him how to find
this joy through these four imperatives:

1. Consider - vs 2.
2. Know - vs 3.
3. Let - vs 4.
4. Ask - vs 5.

Yes, it works. And there is a tremendous blessing waiting for those who will follow these
instructions. So let us now look at these verses in more detail.

Consider it all joy -

Here James is telling us to consider something. To consider means "...deem, account,

think."5 Considering or thinking about something produces an attitude toward the object of
consideration. James is therefore telling us to have a joyful attitude toward trials.

when you encounter -

Hypothetical situations are one thing, but the actual encounter is quite another. When we
see a trial from a distance, it is easy to contemplate the rewards of passing the test. But
as the trial begins and the encounter evokes emotions, then the urgency of all the details
involved can counteract pure joy.

It is during the encounter that we should be focused completely on the goal of the trial. This
is an act of the will and can dominate the emotional aspects of the test. It was this type of
mind-set that allowed Stephen to pray for those who were stoning him (Acts 7:54-60).

Please don't misinterpret this. James is NOT telling us to have some sadistic attitude that
finds pleasure in pain. I don't believe Stephen, or Jesus for that matter, found any joy in
the actual physical pain and suffering that caused their death, BUT they did consider the
joy of doing the will of God and what it meant to a world of lost souls.

The writer of the book of Hebrews explained it best when he wrote, "All discipline for the
moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful..."(Hebrews 12:11). Joy and sorrow are
contrary to one another. The moment of the encounter seems full of sorrow. But the
sorrow of the moment can produce something to be joyous about. One of the joys, as the
Hebrew writer continues, is in attaining the "peaceful fruit of righteousness"(Heb. 12:11).
And Jesus and Stephen both left this world with this peace knowing that they had done
what was right in the sight of God.

various trials -

Trials come in a variety of forms. No matter how large or small, simple or complex, all trials
can help us grow. They are increments on the ruler of time that let us know if we are
succeeding or failing in life. They are the eyes of the man in the mirror. They are the
standing eight count; the goal line, home plate; the talk with your children about the issues
of life. They are so numerous that to even contemplate them is mind boggling. And yet
all are occasions for growth.

M. Scott Peck speaks of trials in terms of problems. He gives a vivid description of what
problems are and what they do in these words:

“Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and
failure. Problems call forth our courage and wisdom; indeed they create our
courage and wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally
and spiritually. When we desire to encourage the growth of the human spirit,
we challenge and encourage the human capacity to solve problems, just as
in school we deliberately set problems for our children to solve. It is through
the pain of confronting and resolving problems that we learn.”6

God helps us to grow by trying us and making us confront problems. It is how we deal with
the encounter that indicates where we are on the maturity scale.

Having this knowledge of how trials are intended to work for our good in as far as God is
involved, is why James continues with the imperative to KNOW certain things.

B. Understand the Purpose of Trials

Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. -

In order for us to have a joyful attitude towards trials we must first have a reason.
Reasons come from reasoning. Reasoning comes from knowledge, and James tells us
this is the first thing we must have. We must know certain things in order to be joyful in the
midst of trials.

that the testing of your faith -

Here is the first thing we must know; our faith is being tested in these trials. All of God’s
people will have their faith tested. Biblically defined, faith is "the assurance of things
hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1).

Chapter 11 of Hebrews has been called "The Hallmark Of Faith" by many expositors. It
list a great cloud of witnesses that walked by faith and not by sight. One example of one's
faith being tested is Abraham. The writer says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called,
obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he
went out, not knowing where he was going." (Heb. 11:8).

Now Abraham had not seen this place. This placed the land in which he was to inherit in
the realm of "things hoped for." The apostle Paul says, "...hope that is seen is not
hope;" (Rom. 8:24). This means that all Abraham had to go on was God's word. But this
is precisely how faith comes (Rom. 10:17).

What made Abraham so sure that God would keep his word? Why was Abraham so
thoroughly convinced even though he had seen nothing of this land? IT WAS EVIDENCE.
You cannot have a conviction without evidence. The evidence was in the history of God's
dealings with man. Abraham didn't walk with Adam and Eve in the garden. He didn't
witness the fall of man. He didn't see Cain kill Abel. He wasn't there when God destroyed
the world with a flood. He wasn't there when Noah stepped out of the ark on the mountain.
Yet being a descendent of Noah through Shem, he heard these magnificent stories. And
whether through oral or written accounts, Abraham believed what history revealed of God.
That gave him conviction. That was evidence enough for him. That is what enabled him
to move at God's command. And that is what enables us to believe in the promises of

This is the faith that is being tested. What we think faith is and what God defines faith to
be may be two different things. Our substitute will not be accepted. For without faith (the
faith described in the 11th chapter of Hebrews) it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
Therefore, the product of this faith is essential to our salvation.

produces endurance. -

Here is the joyful result of the encounter. This is what trials are intended to produce. The
word "endurance" means to stand unwaveringly without yielding to any outside pressure.
It is used in connection with tribulations (Rom. 5:3), afflictions (2 Cor. 6:4), and

persecutions (2 Thess. 1:4). It is also used in connection with hope (Rom. 5:3; 15:4,5;1
Thess. 1:3) and joy (Col. 1:11). But is most often used in connection with eternal life (Lk.
21:19; Rom. 2:7;Heb. 10:36;2 Tim. 2:10,12; Jas. 1:12).

According to the eleventh edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Man is a seeker after the
greatest degree of comfort for the least necessary expenditure of energy." Endurance,
especially in relation to trials, may entail frustration, grief, sadness, loneliness, anguish,
despair, regret, fear, anger, guilt or anxiety. Since these are uncomfortable feelings,
and since man is a seeker after the greatest degree of comfort, we therefore try to avoid
the encounter. By avoiding the encounter we also avoid the product of the encounter
which is endurance. This can be tragic with eternal consequences.

When we think of the plan of salvation we often think of hear, believe, repent, confess, and
baptism. I cannot recall ever hearing anyone mention endurance in this plan. Jesus,
however, made it very plain that this is just as essential as the acts previously mentioned.
Speaking to his disciples in reference to the trials they were about to encounter, Jesus
said, "By your endurance you will gain your lives" (Lk. 21:19). He tells them they will
be "hated by all on account of my name, but it is the one who has endured to the end
who will be saved" (Matt. 10:22).

The book of Hebrews shows this truth.

But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you
endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public
spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming
sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to
the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property,
knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an
abiding one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has
a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have
done the will of God, you may receive what is promised.

But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith
to the preserving of the soul (Heb. 10:32-39).

Notice three things that the Hebrew brethren had going for them:

1. They had endurance - vs 32.
2. They had joy - vs 34.
3. They had knowledge - vs 34.

It was what they knew (i.e. they had "a better possession and an abiding one.") that
helped them to joyfully endure the trials that were upon them.

No one knows how long these brethren were in this condition. One thing is evident
however; some of them were growing weary of the trials and were slipping back. They
were on the verge of leaving Christ to go back to the Law of Moses where life would be
more comfortable.

The writer then informs them of the need of endurance. He then appeals to their common
heritage as a people who have the kind of faith that produces endurance. And with that
introduction he defines faith through a history lesson of those that had a God-pleasing

It is no wonder why "endurance" has been called "the queen of virtues, the foundation of
right actions, peace in war, calm in tempest, security in plots." It is the quality which keeps
a man on his feet with his face to the wind. It is the virtue which can translate the hardest
trial into glory because beyond the pain it sees the goal.7

This is the effect that God wants in our lives. To be able to endure is to be able to do
more. Tough jobs call for tough people. Paul was such a one (2 Cor. 11:22-33). So was
Abraham (Gen. 22:1-13), Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Dan. 3), and Joseph (Gen.
37:24-28; 39:19-21; 41:38-41;45:1-5). These men passed the testing of their faith.

But what happens to the one who fails? This one goes through a more difficult test. The
apostle Peter was one of these. He boasted great faith (Matt. 26:31-35). But when the
testing of his faith came (Matt. 26:69-74) he failed to endure (vs 75). He did however,
endure the failure. And when test time came again (Jn. 21:15-17) he passed and was then
given the responsibility of feeding the sheep. He preached the first gospel sermon after
the ascension of Christ (Acts 2:14-40).

These men grew strong in the Lord through the testing of their faith. We can do the same
if we will use the knowledge we have of what is actually happening to help us keep our
eyes on our goal. Now comes the decision.

C. Let Endurance Produce Maturity

4 And let endurance have it's perfect result, -

In order for endurance to have a positive effect in our lives, we must first let it. God will not
force us to mature. We have been given a free will. His tests urge us to grow. They are

stepping stones to completeness. We must decide which steps to take. If we decide
correctly, we shall reap the intended result.

that you be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -

Here we have the trinity of maturity. Perfection is one of the intended results of enduring
trials. But how can one be perfect when only one man in the history of civilization was
perfect; that being the Christ?

First of all God does not expect us to be perfect in our modern definition of the word. He
does not expect "flawless, unerring, correct in every detail" Christians. He expects us to
imitate Him (Eph. 5:1), Christ, and all who are faithful (1 Cor. 11:1; Heb. 6:9-12). Those
that are faithful can never be perfect as God and Christ are perfect because "all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (Rom. 3:23). The best we can do is to
imitate and follow their example of perfection.

Secondly, the Greek word for "perfect" can mean "perfect," "complete," or "mature."8
"In the New Testament it is used of those who have attained to spiritual manhood in Christ,
to full maturity and understanding in spiritual matters, and are thus no longer babes and
immature persons in Christ."9 Endurance helps us put away "childish things" (1 Cor.
13:11). In doing this we mature. So "mature" would be a more appropriate translation
in this context.

Another intended result of endurance is completeness. To be "complete" means "to be

entire, whole, complete in all parts."10 The best example of this is found in the 13th chapter
of 1 Corinthians. Here Paul lists all the parts of mature love. Paul said that if he did not
have this love, in it's complete definition, then he was nothing. And it takes endurance to
develop this kind of love. Endurance, therefore, makes a Christian who is lacking in some
spiritual part, become complete.

Finally, endurance places us in a position where we are "lacking in nothing." Since the
statement, "let endurance have its perfect result" or "finish it's work" (NIV) indicates
progress and development, it fits well with the basic meaning of "lacking" which is a racing
term that means "not being left behind by another."11

Trials, therefore, should be viewed as obstacles in the decathlon of life. Endurance

enables us to make it through these tests. The strength gained through the pain keeps the
mature Christian in the front, leading and setting the pace for those who are also in the

The apostle Paul used similar illustrations to portray the Christian life. He asks, "Do you
not know that those who run in the race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run
in such a way that you may win" (1 Cor. 9:24). The prize in reference is eternal life.
This takes hard work and discipline. Paul had to buffet his body in order to make it his
slave. He knew that it was possible, even though he was a preacher, that he could be
disqualified in this race (1 Cor. 9:27).

The Hebrew writer, likewise, employs this analogy. He encourages those who are
struggling to, "...lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles
us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the
cross...." (Heb. 12:1,2).

A Christian who "is lacking in nothing" is one who is disciplined. Since God addresses
us as sons, and since He disciplines those whom he loves, it is therefore for discipline that
we endure (Heb. 12:5-9). Yes, it is painful. As a matter of fact "All discipline for the
moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained
by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11).

To run the race well we must "strengthen the hands that are week and the knees that
are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may
not be put out of joint, but rather be healed" (Heb. 12:12,13). Once healed, we are
complete in all our parts. Being complete, we can run with endurance the race set before
us without lagging behind.

Unfortunately, many of us are lacking when it comes to understanding the need of trials
and the testing of our faith. We may have the knowledge of what trials are intended to
accomplish but we do not have the wisdom that would enable us to count it all joy. James,
therefore, gives us this next command to help us become wise.

D. Ask God For Wisdom

5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, -

An essential element in the progression of maturity is wisdom. Webster defines wisdom

as "the ability to judge soundly and deal sagaciously with facts, esp. as they relate to life
and conduct." James has just given certain facts to his readers: (1). Their faith was being
tested. (2). Tests of ones faith produce endurance. (3). Endurance results in mature,
complete Christians who are lacking in nothing.

James, however, could not give them the ability to put these facts together and use them
in the right way. He could not give them wisdom. This wisdom comes from God and is
called "wisdom from above" to distinguish it from human wisdom (Jas. 3:17). This being
the case, anyone lacking wisdom must "ask of God."

The psalmist wrote, "The fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Ps. 111:10).
This reverence is self evident in praying for wisdom. Therefore, asking God for wisdom is
a wise beginning. This is reminiscent of the Sermon On the Mount (Matt. 7:7-12). All we
must do is ask.

who gives to all men generously and without reproach, -

James does not give us the manner in which God will give us wisdom, he is simply stating
the fact that God will give it to us. Sometimes we are reluctant to ask God for wisdom
because we don't know what God may think of our ignorance. But in this verse we see four
characteristics of God revealed toward our imperfect state.

1. He is a God who gives.

2. He gives to all.
3. He gives generously.
4. He gives without reproach.

God is not like the Wizard of OZ. He is not sitting on a throne of thunder and smoke asking
in a reproachful voice, "Why have you dared to approach the throne of the great and
wonderful GOD?" Nor is he like the master craftsman who values his experience so much
that he is not willing to share it with anyone. When the novice asks for advice the
craftsman replies, "You graduated from that fancy vocational school didn't you? If you
weren't so stupid you would know how to make the application." Our God is quite different.
He wants all His children to solicit wisdom from Him.

and it shall be given to him. -

Again we see here a reflection of the sermon Jesus gave on the mountain. There the
Christ said, "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it
shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives..." (Mt. 7:7-11).

6 But let him ask in faith without any doubting,-

First, in order for our petition to please God it must be made in faith, because "without
faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that he
is, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him" (Heb. 11:6). And "faith comes
by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, we must ask
with complete confidence in God.

Secondly, our petition must be without doubt. The word "doubting" comes from a word
that means "to be at odds with one's self, doubt, waiver."12 We can't think one moment that
God will keep His promise and the next be suspect. We must fully trust Him in order to
receive His wisdom.

Next James shows how this instability of faith will cause one not to receive what was asked

for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

James likens the doubter to the waves of the sea, up one minute and down the next. Peter
was a man who could relate to this analogy. When he stepped out of the boat to walk

towards the Lord his faith was fixed. A few more steps, however, and all that was going
on around him made him doubt the reality of what his faith was enabling him to do;
"...seeing the wind he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out saying,
‘Lord, save me!’" (Mt. 14:25-31). Yes, Peter knew about the surf of the sea.

Had Jesus not been there, Peter's doubtfulness could have meant his death. Likewise, if
we doubt God's promise to give us wisdom, He will not give it to us. And without His
wisdom, our spiritual doom is inevitable. James makes this very plain.

7 For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,

Notice that the attitude under consideration will prevent that person from receiving
“anything” from God.

8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

This is why the Lord will not give him anything. Think for just a moment. To which of these
minds would the Lord give wisdom? Literally, a "double-minded" man is a man of "di, i.e.
two, psychos, i.e. souls." A "two-souled" man is unbalanced. One soul serves one
master while the other another. If, as Jesus says, "...he will hate the one and love the
other..." (Mt. 6:24), then there will be constant turmoil in this individual.

The whole of this persons life will be affected. As Reuben, he is "unstable as water"
(Gen. 49:4) and will not excel. Not only will he fail in his spiritual life but, as James says,
"in all his ways." This person could not benefit from God's wisdom being in this condition.
The development of a God-pleasing faith is required of anyone seeking his wisdom.


9 But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; 10 and let
the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.
11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower
falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the
midst of his pursuits will fade away.

9 But let the brother of humble circumstances -

To describe the circumstances of this Christian brother, James uses the Greek word
tapeinos, which means "lowly, mean, insignificant, week, poor."13 This word describes the
great majority of people in the time of Christ. This class of people were called the am ha-
ares, which means "people of the land". These were slaves (Eph. 6:5-8), day laborers

(Mt. 20:2,9), and beggars (Mt. 21:14; Jn. 9:1,8; Acts 3:2). They, however, weren't the
only ones who were in poverty. Many Scribes were poor also, because "it was forbidden
that they should be paid for exercising their profession."14

The trials of the poor are from the area of poverty. Poverty tries his mind in that it keeps
him from furthering his education. It tries his heart because he is not financially able to
give as he would like. It tries his patience in that the promotion or break that would lift him
out of poverty never comes. It tries his temper when he runs out of patience. It tries his
ethics because when the money runs out and there are mouths to feed and bills to pay;
stealing may become a viable alternative.

Yet even a poor man can have joy in his low position because in Christ all men are created
equal. Jesus has given the poor man new status.

glory in his high position; -

From an earthly perspective, the terms "humble circumstances" and "high position"
generally are mutually exclusive. But in the realm of God this is the rule rather than the

What then is this high position that the poverty stricken brother has? It is a spiritual
position that is not affected by materialism. It is a position that puts the trials of all men,
rich and poor, on the same plane. It is the result of being in Christ. Once one becomes a
Christian his benefits are the same as every other Christian. Class distinctions are not
found in the church. God is no respecter of persons. The characteristics of this position
are as follows:

1. God is his father (Rom. 8:14,15).

2. Jesus is his brother (Lk. 8:21).
3. He is a joint heir with Christ (Rom. 8:16,17).
4. He has an eternal inheritance (1 Pet. 1:4).
5. He belongs to a divine family (1 Tim. 3:15).
6. His brother is a king (Jn. 18:37).
7. His brother is the High Priest (Heb. 8:1).
8. He is a citizen of an immovable kingdom (Heb. 12:28).
9. He has a dwelling place prepared in God's house (Jn. 14:2).

The poor brother has no reason to be ashamed of his earthly status because his position
as a Christian is very high. In this he can "glory" or "take pride".

10 and let the rich man -

Here is the other end of the spectrum. The rich man, though the text does not specifically
say, is most likely a Christian also. Some believe him to be unsaved, but the context is

contrasting two classes of people within the same environment. Only in this way can both be
told to "glory" in their positions.

The rich were those Jews who were wealthy and arrogant. They came from a class of people
who were often condemned in the Scriptures (Jer. 4:8; Isa. 5:8; Amos 3:10; Prov. 11:28;
1 Tim. 6:19; Lk. 6:24;18:24). Jesus said, "How hard it is for those who are wealthy to
enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" (Lk. 18:24,25).

Since this is the case, the trials of the rich made it more difficult for them to take on this new
position in Christ. The poor brethren thought that the rich were blessed materially by God,
therefore, did not suffer the trials of life that they did. But James is showing them in this
contrast that trials are test of God for ALL His children.

The following are some of the trials the rich may encounter.

1. Tendency towards arrogance due to their class status.

2. Moving towards an attitude of self-sufficiency in that the work of their hands
removes God from their success.
3. Development of a "Master" complex in that they see themselves as persons who
should be served rather than ones who should serve others.
4. The temptation to abuse their prosperity by overlooking the needs of others.
5. Development of a view towards people as simply objects by which wealth can be

It is clear that trials also are no respecter of persons. And even though it is hard for a rich
man to enter the kingdom of heaven, the fact remains that he can enter. James points out
that this is a humiliating process for the rich. Even so, the rich brother, like the poor brother,
can glory in this state.

glory in his humiliation, -

The humiliation of the rich can be two-fold. It could be the loss of riches under persecution
(Heb. 10:32-34) or it could be the humiliation of realizing that the status of being rich does
not procure preference in the kingdom of God. Even though one could influence magistrates
and acquire Roman citizenship with wealth, none could become a citizen of the Kingdom of
God that way.

Access into the kingdom is by way of obedience. The rich brother must obey the same
gospel that the poor brother does. The rich also have commands given specifically to them
on how they are to use their wealth (1 Tim. 6:17-19). And if they do not take care of those
in need, John asks, "How does the love of God abide in him?" (1 Jn. 3:17). This puts a
lot of pressure on those who have the worlds goods. It can also be humiliating for him to find
out that true riches are in Christ and not in possessions (Col. 2:2; Mt. 6:19-21; 1 Pet. 2:7).
However the rich brother is humiliated, he can still glory in this position if his attitude is right.

because like the flowering grass he will pass away.

The rich brother has no more of a lease on life than does the flowering grass. Once he is
humiliated he will see just how tentative and short life really is. Once this is accomplished, he
can glory in his hope for eternal life. Even if he passes away along with his riches, he will have
stored up for himself "the treasure of a good foundation for the future" and will have taken
hold of that which is "life indeed" (1 Tim. 6:19).

11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls
off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of
his pursuits will fade away.

Just as the beauty of the flower is destroyed when its flower falls off, so also is the beauty of
the rich when they die. Both go to the earth from whence they came. Just as the poor die in
their pursuits, so will he. All are equally cast at death. (see Ezek. 17:10; Jonah 4:8; Isa.
40:6-8; Job 14:1,2; Ps. 103:15,16).


12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will
receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him.

A. God's Blessing

12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; -

James concludes his discourse on the testing of the Christian's faith with the promise of a
blessing. The expression, "Blessed is a man...", shows James' familiarity with the
terminology of the O.T. (cf. Ps. 1;1; 32:2; 34:8; 84:12; Prov. 8:34; Isa.56:2) and the
Beatitudes (Mt. 5:3-11).

The word translated "blessed" is from the Greek word makarios, which has been translated
by some as "happy." This translation, however, is inadequate because "happiness" (derived
from hap) is dependent on external circumstances. The external circumstances in trials and
tribulations, such as the Christian persecution under Nero Domitius, the sixth Emperor of
Rome, A.D. 67, did not make the early Church very happy. But those who endured were truly

Makarios is not dependent on external circumstances. "It is a condition resulting from a state
of inner peace."15 It is the distinctive religious confidence that flies in the face of conventional

wisdom. James is using this term to describe "the enviable position of a man who does not
give up when confronted with trying circumstances, but remains strong in faith and devotion
to God."16 There is no inner struggle with this man. He knows the Lord is his Shepherd.

Just simply encountering trials, however, does not mean that one will be blessed. James says
the one who "perseveres" will receive the promise. The word "perseveres" is from the same
Greek word that is translated "endurance" earlier in verse 3. And this is the point at which
many of us fail to some degree.

We fail because we do not like pain. Most of us, fearing the pain involved in trials, attempt to
avoid them. The tendency to avoid problems is the primary basis for all spiritual illness. Some
of us will go to great lengths to avoid trials, straying far away from all which is clearly good and
sensible, in order to find an easy way out. This, however, is a tragic mistake.

What is the easy way out? To some it is drugs or alcohol. To others it is sex and song. Then
there are the elaborate fantasies that some create that sometimes result in the total exclusion
of reality. But no matter what is used to "escape" the pain, the common thread through them
all is the "lie."

The "lie" is a device we use that allows us to believe that we have successfully maneuvered
around the problem. It gives us the relief that we so desperately desire. The saddest part of
it all is that the substitute that we use to escape the pain becomes more painful than the
legitimate suffering it was designed to avoid. Ultimately, the end is worse than the beginning.

In any case, when we avoid legitimate suffering that results from encountering various trials,
we also avoid the growth and maturity that trials and tests demand from us. The worst part
is that we also avoid the blessing and promise that God has promised for those who endure.

B. God's Approval

for once he is approved,

Part of the blessing that one receives from God is His approval. Under the figure of the fiery
furnace, in which ore is melted to eliminate its impurities, the trials in the Christian's life are
used to eliminate from his character the impurities of this life. He is then approved by God (cf.
1 Pet. 4:12; 1 Cor.11:19; Heb. 12:5-8; 1 Pet. 4:15).

he will receive the crown of life, -

With God's approval comes the greatest blessing of all; the crown of life. Literally, the crown
is "an emblem to signify the dignity of a person or an object; afterwards, to express the joy of
a feast, it was transformed into a garland"17 (cf. Acts 14:13). Figuratively, as used here, it is
used to represent the promised reward which is eternal life (cf. 1 Cor. 9:25; Phil. 1:4; 1
Thess. 2:19; 2 Tim. 2:5; 4:8; Heb. 2:7,9; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10; 3:11; 12:1).

which the Lord has promised to those that love Him.

God has promised eternal life to those who love him. His promise cannot be broken because
"it is impossible for God to lie" (Heb. 6:18).

Notice how James describes those who endure. He says that they love God. The Apostle
John says in his letter, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we
love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death" (1 Jn. 3:14). Love is a great
motivator to endure trials. "We love because he first loved us "(1 Jn. 419). All Christians
will be tried. Paul made this clear to Timothy when he said, "All who desire to live godly in
Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). But we endure because we love God and
believe he will keep his promises to us. (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9; Heb. 12:5-8; 1 Jn. 3:1-3;16-32; 4:17-


13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God;" for God cannot
be tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted
when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust is conceived,
it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing bestowed and every
perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is
no variation, or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the
word of truth, so that we might be as it were the first fruits among his creatures.

A. What Not To Say

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God;"

When trials come into our lives temptation is not far behind. There is a difference between
trials, or tests, and temptation. First of all trials are meant to appeal to the higher part of our
nature so as to bring forth our better qualities. These are the tests God puts us through (Gen.
22:1; Heb. 11:17; Acts 20:19; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Pet. 1:6; 4:12; 2:10). Secondly, a test in and
of itself is not a temptation.

Temptation, on the other hand, is an appeal to the lower nature of man in the hope that we will
do things that are wrong. Simply put, a temptation is an opportunity to accomplish a good
thing in a way that is contrary to God's will. Take passing a Math tests for instance. Is it wrong
to pass the test? Certainly not! But if you cheat in order to pass, then you have accomplished
a good thing, i.e. passing the test, in a bad way. This is sin! And God's tests are not intended
to make us sin.

for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

This is why we should not say that God is tempting us. God has no experience in doing evil
things. Since it is evil to tempt people and since God can do no evil; the only conclusion that
can be drawn is that God does not tempt anyone.

Some have alleged that this contradicts Genesis 22:1 where it says that "God tempted
Abraham." (KJV). A closer look, however, will warrant a different conclusion. First of all the
Hebrew word nacah, which is translated "tempted" in the KJV, means "to test", or by
implication "to approve." For this reason many of the newer translations (NKJ, RSV, NAS,
NIV, NEB, JB) have used "tested" or "put to the test"in this verse.

The clear truth is that God's word, rightly divided, NEVER contradicts itself. God was
appealing to the better part of Abraham to bring forth qualities worthy of approval. God tested
his faith because "by it men of old gained approval" (Heb. 11:2,8,9,17,18).

Since it is clear that temptation is not of God, then we must look elsewhere for the source.

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. -

Here we find the source of temptation. It is lust. The word "lust" means “desire”. Aristotle
defined it as "reaching after pleasure." The Stoics added to that definition by saying that it was
"reaching after pleasure beyond the bounds of reason." Clement of Alexandria defined it as
"the spirit which aims at and reaches after that which will gratify itself."18 You can lust after a
woman as Jesus mentions in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:28), or you can lust for power
or advantage (Jude 16-18), but whatever the object, lust seeks only to gratify itself.

Our temptation comes when we are "carried away and enticed" by our desires. These verbs
are words taken from the sphere of hunting and fishing. "Carried away" may be translated
"drawn out." This is what hunters use a baited field for. Deer hunters may use salt blocks
or plant peas to draw their prey from cover. The deer desire the bait and are carried away with
that desire. They are then drawn out from safe cover. Unfortunately for them they are also
often carried off to the butcher soon afterward.

So it is in our own lives. The bait is different, but the scenario is the same. The bait may be
a beautiful woman. You burn with desire for this woman. And God did say that " it is not
good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18). And didn't Paul say, "It is better to marry than to
burn" (1 Cor. 7:9). The problem is that the woman is married. No it's not wrong to desire
companionship. Nor is it wrong to marry. But it is wrong to desire such of a married woman.
If the lust is strong enough it will tempt you to acquire for yourself that which in and of itself is
good (i.e. companionship and marriage), but the acquisition will be made outside of the will of
God (i.e. adultery).

15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; -

The figure of conception and birth shows how sin progresses. Lust conceived a way to take
the bait. The will is then seduced into action. At the point of action conception has taken
place and its monstrous offspring is then born. This action can take place in the heart (mind)
and still be sinful (Mt. 5:28).

It is also important to note that the birth of sin is dependent upon conception. The desire can
be suppressed. Where there is no desire there can be no conception. When we are tempted
to obtain our desires in a bad way, we must forcefully push the thoughts from our minds. Our
thoughts must be held captive by Christ. If they are not we will surely stray from what is right
and in so doing give birth to sin.

But what if we believe that the end justifies the means? Does that excuse us of our sin.
ABSOLUTELY NOT! When we are carried away by our own desires we may get what we
initially want, but that will not change the fact that we have taken the bait and are now
floundering in Satan’s net. It will not change the fact that we are sinning. If prompt action is
not taken then we could remain Satan’s captives, ultimately experiencing seperation from God.

and when sin is accomplished it brings forth death. -

The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). The death that sin brings is spiritual separation from
God. Is God pleased with the death of the wicked? (Ezek. 18:23). Is God willing that any
should perish? (2 Pet. 3:9). DEFINITELY NOT! The fact that temptation can lead to death
is another reason why we can't say that God is tempting us. It is impossible that God would
tempt us knowing that it may result in the very thing that He does not wish to happen.

The tempter is Satan. The first temptation followed the very course that is spoken of in these
verses. The Devil used Eve's desire to become wise. He told her that if she would eat of the
forbidden tree she would "Know good from evil." Eve, seeing that the tree was "desirable
to make one wise," went ahead and ate the fruit (Gen. 3:5,6).

Eve was deceived by Satan. God told her that she would die if she ate of "the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:17). Satan told her that she would not (Gen. 3:3).
Jesus said that Satan is "a liar, and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44).

Eve's deception led to disobedience. "She took of its fruit and ate" (Gen. 3:6). She took the
bait. She was carried away and enticed by her desires. When she surrendered to temptation,
"lust conceived" and sin was the result. And when sin was accomplished, it brought forth
death. Eve died when she sinned in two ways. (1) She was separated from God (spiritual
death) and (2) She was seperated from the tree of life (physical death began.)

Satan is the ultimate source of temptation. He "prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking
someone to devour" (2 Pet. 5:8). We should not be ignorant of his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11).
But if we are, and we fail to resist him, we will also experience separation from God and spend

eternity in "the lake of fire" which is the second death (Rev. 19:20:21:8). This leads to the
next command.

B. What Not To Do

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. -

We are not to be deceived into thinking that the source of our temptation is God. This appears
to be exactly what these brethren were doing. The Greek construction used here (me with the
present tense imperative) "often implies that the addressees have been engaging in the
practice being prohibited."19 James is then telling them: "Stop being deceived!"

17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above,

The line of reasoning is very clear at this point. To say that temptation comes from God is a
lie (1:13), for temptation comes from lust (1:14), and lust produces sin, thereby bringing forth
death (1:15). "Stop believing a lie," says James: "God is good, nothing but good, and all of
his gifts to us are good and perfect" (1:16).

In our spiritual immaturity we might not view God's gifts, such as discipline and tests, as things
that are good and perfect. But as we grow in Christ we begin to see how these things have
worked together for our good (Rom. 8:29). The good comes from the training we receive from
discipline. One of which is "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11).

coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting

God is here referred to as "the Father of Lights." This phrase is used to show God as the
Creator. The Psalmist wrote, "the heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their
expanse is declaring the work of His hands" (Ps. 19:1). Associated with God as the
creator of the heavens was the idea of God as dwelling in the heavens above, as was the
notion of all blessings descending from His abode upon men. "Coming down" is a present
participle which indicates a continuous action. God's gifts never stop.

In Jewish thought God is often likened to the sun. Philo, commenting on Psalm 27:1, "says
that God is not only light, but is also the archetype - and the higher than archetype - of every
light." One rabbi wrote, "The Holy One, blessed be He, enwrapped Himself in light like a
garment, and the brilliance of His splendor shone forth from one end of the universe to the
other."20 With this in mind it is no wonder that the sun, with its beneficial influence, was well
suited to represent God, the source of all good and perfect gifts.

Even though the sun is used to represent God, there is one point of comparison in which this
created light differs; that being it changes. You will find the sun in various positions throughout
the day and night. It's light changes thus creating shadows that vary with it's position. God,
on the other hand, is consistent and never changing (Heb. 13:8).

Yes, God is so much greater than his creation in every aspect. Unlike us, God is not fickle and
moody. His care and love for us never grows dim. We may be faithless, but he remains
faithful. We may forget him, but he never forgets us. God cannot deny himself; He must act
in accord with His character, and his character is one of gracious and redeeming love.21 This
is why God "does not tempt anyone" (1:13). Only good things come from God.

18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, -

James now gives his concluding argument for not believing God is the source of our
temptations. God is the source of our new birth. To all of us who believed the gospel of
Christ, He gave the right to be His children (Jn. 1:12). Through the word of God we have been
"born again" (1 Pet. 1:23; Jn. 3:3-5). God "desires all men to be saved and come to the
knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4; cf 2 Pet. 3:9). Provisions have been made for all (Jn.
3:16); the invitation has been extended to all (Mt.11:28; Rev.22:17); and the gospel is
applicable to all (Mt. 28:18-20; Mrk. 16:15,16). Who, in view of all that God has done for our
good, can say when tempted, "I am being tempted by God."?

so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures. -

The purpose for God giving good and perfect gifts to us is seen in the figure of "the first
fruits." It is drawn from such passages as Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:10; and Deuteronomy
26:2. The term "first fruits" referred to the first portion of the harvest given to God. They were
a token and pledge of the fuller harvest that was to follow. This figure is also used of Christ's
triumph over death (1 Cor. 15:20). Being "the first fruits among His creatures", we are the
sign of the deliverance that the "whole of creation" will experience (Rom. 8:19-22).

God is in the delivering business. Jesus, giving us an example of how to approach God in
prayer, says we should ask Him to lead us away from temptation and deliver us from evil
(Matt. 6:13). Wouldn't this be counter productive if God was the one who was tempting us.
Surely, after all James has said, we must know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God will
never tempt His children. And if God is for us, who can be against us? We can certainly be
joyous over this fact.


19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But let every one be quick to hear, slow to
speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness
of God. 21 Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all remains of wickedness, in
humility receive the word, implanted, which is able to save your souls.

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude
themselves. 23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man
who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone
away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks

intently at the perfect law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful
hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.

A. Things To Be - 19,20

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. -

These brethren knew that they were brought forth into spiritual life by the word of truth. Based
on this knowledge, James begins to build the foundation for proper actions and attitudes. All
"beloved brethren" should reflect, in word and deed, the knowledge they have in Christ.

But let everyone be quick to hear, -

Jesus said, "He who has ears, let him hear" (Mt. 13:9). If we hear and understand God's
word, we will not be tempted to quickly say when trials come upon us: "I am being tempted
by God." It is a sign of immaturity to allow our emotions to speak without understanding.
Understanding comes from learning. "Faith comes by hearing" (Rom. 10:17), and in order
to mature we must be "quick to hear."

The Jews were very familiar with the admonition to listen. "Hear O Israel! The Lord is our
God, the Lord is one!" (Deut. 6:4). Jesus, on many occasions, spoke of hearing (Mrk.
4:9,24; Matt. 13:14; 18:16; Mrk. 8:18). Those who are quick to hear will pay close attention
to James' letter. "The wise in heart will receive commands" (Prov. 10:8a). God made us
with two ears and one mouth. This ought to tell us that we should spend more time listening
than talking.

slow to speak -

You have heard it said, "I would rather be silent and thought a fool, than to open my mouth
and remove all doubt." There is a great deal of truth in this saying. "Even a fool is counted
wise when he holds his peace; when he stills his lips, he is considered perceptive"
(Prov. 17:28 NKJV).

The Jewish Fathers had a saying that went: "There are four characteristics in scholars. Quick
to hear and quick to forget; his gain is cancelled by his loss. Slow to hear and slow to forget;
his loss is cancelled by his gain. Quick to hear and slow to forget; he is wise. Slow to hear
and quick to forget; this is an evil lot."22 This is reminiscent of what Solomon said, "When there
are many words, transgression is unavoidable. But he who restrains his lips is wise"
(Prov. 10:19)

slow to anger -

Not only does a man of knowledge spare his words, he also "has a cool spirit" (Prov. 17:27).
And a truly "cool" person is "slow to anger" (Prov. 16:32; 19:11; 14:29).

When we become angry during our trials, we may blame God for the pain we are experiencing.
After all, the blame has to fall on someone. Instead of looking inward, we look outward. We
also have a tendency toward venting our anger on those about us. Take Peter for instance.
When Judas came to the garden to show the detachment of troops were Jesus was, Peter
drew his sword and nearly decapitated the High Priest's servant (Jn. 18:10). He was slow to
hear, swift to speak, and swift to anger.

Though anger, in and of itself, is not sinful (Eph. 4:26), an "outburst of anger" is (Gal. 5:20).
If we are slow to anger we have time to wisely choose the course of action to take. If we let
our anger burst out on people we will usually say or do (sometimes both) something that is
more hurtful than helpful.

Someone has said, "Temper is such a valuable thing, it is a shame to loose it." Temper is
what gives steel its strength. Likewise, it is the ability to keep our temper that will strengthen
us. It will keep us from becoming "mud slingers". When you really think about it, those who
sling mud are the ones who loose ground.

Lets not throw out the baby with the water, however. Anger is something that we all need. If
we do not get angry at sin then we will probably do nothing about it. We must, however,
demonstrate our anger in a righteous way. We should be angry at the murder of millions of
unborn children, but the bombing of abortion clinics is not the proper and legal way to express
our feelings.

20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. -

The violence and mental anguish brought about by anger does not achieve what is right in the
sight of God. Man's anger, as a rule, is usually brought about by disagreements, conflicts of
interest, or power struggles. God's righteousness is quite the opposite. It is impartial and just.
Even in His anger, God still has the good of all men in mind. He is neither arbitrary, arrogant,
nor vindictive. It is the pride and spitefulness of man that produces unrighteous indignation.
As the old Chinese proverbist once said, "The man who is losing the argument strikes the first
blow." How often have we seen this truth expressed in one form or another?

If we wish to attain to God's standard of righteousness then we must learn to control our
anger. This can only be done through being "quick to hear" and "slow to speak." These are
qualities that help us endure the testing of our faith. If we have a problem in this area then we
need to do something about it.

B. Things To Do

21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all remains of wickedness, -

Since "the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God", we are to "put aside"
those things that make us angry. The phrase "putting aside", was primarily used of taking
off garments.23 The word used for "filthiness" can be used for filth that soils clothes or the
body. The picture that "all remains of wickedness" portrays is "a garden overgrown with
weeds that cannot be controlled."24 James thinks of these sins as a tangled undergrowth which
must be cut away. 25

in humility receive the word, implanted -

The "word" is often compared to seed in the Scriptures (Lk. 8:11). Seed, in order to grow,
must be planted in the soil. The soil is, therefore, the human heart (Lk. 8:15; Ezra 9:31). The
fertility of the soil (i.e. the condition of the heart) is in direct proportion to the nutrients (i.e.
humility and meekness) found therein. The heart that has "put aside all filthiness and all
that remains of wickedness" is of necessity a humble heart.

The Greek word for "humility" is prautes, which has no precise English equivalent. William
Barclay writes about this virtue as follows:

Aristotle defined it (i.e. prautes) as the mean between excessive anger and
excessive angerlessness; it is the quality of a man whose feelings and emotions
and impulses are under perfect control. Andronicus Rhodius, commenting on
Aristotle, writes, "Prautes is moderation in regard to anger...You might define
prautes as serenity and the power, not to be lead away by emotion, but to
control emotion as right reason dictates." The Platonic definitions say that
prautes is the regulation of the movement of the soul which is caused by anger.
It is the temperament (krasis) of a soul in which everything is mixed in the right
proportions. No one can ever find one word to translate all this, but it is a one
word summary of the truly teachable spirit.26


The teachable spirit is docile and tractable, and therefore humble enough to learn.
The teachable spirit is without resentment and without anger, and is, therefore, able to
face the truth, even when the truth hurts and condemns.
The teachable spirit is not blinded by its own overmastering prejudices, but is clear-
eyed to the truth.
The teachable spirit is not seduced by laziness, but is so self-controlled that it can
willingly and faithfully accept the discipline of learning.

"Humility" "describes the perfect conquest and control of everything in a man's nature which
would be a hindrance to his seeing, learning and obeying the truth."27 It puts him in a state of
readiness to receive God's word.
"The word" is the body of truth which is contained in the Scriptures. It is through this that we
are saved (Jas. 1:21), born again (1 Pet. 1:22-25), directed through life (Ps. 119:105), and
strengthened (1 Pet. 2:1). James is going to build heavily on this need in the Christians life.

which is able to save your souls. -

The word "able" is from the Greek word from which we get our English word "dynamite." God's
word is powerful (Heb. 4:12). Paul says that the gospel, which is the word of God, "is the
power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16). The Psalmist knew of
its power to keep one from sin and so wrote, "Thy word have I treasured in my heart, that
I might not sin against Thee" (Ps. 119:11).

In all of this it becomes obvious that there are two sides to our salvation. The word is able to
save, but it saves only those who receive it (Jn. 12:42-50). It is God's will that we all be saved,
but we must want to be saved in order for the word to work in our hearts (1 Tim. 2:4; Jn. 5:40).

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude

It is not enough to simply listen to the word of God. Many people are deluded into believing
that hearing "sound preaching" is the measure of faithful and mature brethren. James makes
it painfully obvious that it is not the hearing but rather it is the doing that exemplifies growth.
Some one has well said: "Too many people mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark
them." If we think we are spiritual simply because we attend "church" regularly we are fooling

People who don't act on God's word after they have taken it to heart usually become
depressed. As one man put it, "Impression without expression leads to depression." We may
push our guilty conscience far back into the recesses of the mind, but it is still there, sitting on
the back burner, simmering. Slowly it evaporates all that can keep it from burning, and then,
that all but forgotten dish begins to stink. The more it burns, the worse it smells. And anyone
who stinks, who doesn't like to stink, but will not do anything to remove the odor, is truly a
depressed soul.

The “doer”, on the other hand, expresses that which he knows to do. Christians are created
in Christ Jesus for "good works" (Eph. 2:10). They are God's "workmanship", his "poem"
(poiema). It is interesting that we get the English word "poet" from the Greek word for "doer"
and “workmanship.” In his expression of Christian living, the doer is quite literally God’s poetry
in motion.

In contrast to the depressed person who only hears; the doer carries about a joyful
countenance. It feels good to do what you know in your heart is right. We actually feel
ourselves growing. We have something by which to gauge our spiritual growth. Spiritual
growth should be just as obvious as physical growth provided that one knows what to look for.
So don't be deluded! If you are not doing you are not growing.

23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his
natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has
immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. -

James now compares the word of God to a mirror. God's word shows us what we look like.
The word "looks" refers to "attentive scrutiny of an object,"28 thereby indicating that this person
knew full well what kind of person he was. This "hearer" had set his mind on, and has taken
careful note of, what God's word has shown him to do in his life. But sadly, this person does
not benefit from this.

The reason why this person came away empty was because he forgot what he saw . He looked
at himself but did not linger long enough to be impressed. When he had gone away he
immediately forgot what kind of person he was. This of course was the easy way out for this

A godly response to such knowledge would have brought from the heart such words as that of
Isaiah the prophet: "Woe is me! for I am undone!"(Isa. 6:5). But not from the person who
only hears. He leaves the word and turns his thoughts to other things in order to avoid the pain
of being "undone".

Most of us have an image of ourselves filed away in our minds. It is very easy to see ourselves
in our own mirrors as "good" and "faithful" servants of God when we attend services and Bible
class. But on how many occasions has a sermon, or a lesson in class, shown us the need to
start doing more than we are doing? How many times has this lead to class discussions on
what we can do? And how often has this ended only with empty words? Oh what a terrible
feeling of guilt this can bring. The pain starts and the pressure builds. The longer we linger at
the mirror the more we feel the need to admit that we are not truly fulfilling the law of Christ.
The pain must be relieved.

How do we spell relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S? Some do. Others just simply forget about it and live
their little lie and pretend they are happy. But true relief is spelled R-E-P-E-N-T. We can turn
away from "all filthiness and all remains of wickedness" and become humble enough to let
God's word grow in our hearts to the point where it produces fruit. God's word can become so
interesting to us that we cannot turn away no matter what we find. We then become so
compelled by God's love, that we can't help but act upon it. This makes one a "doer".

25 But the one who looks intently at the perfect law, -

Now James shows the contrast between those who look and forget and those who look with
intent. The Greek word used for "looks" here is different than that in verse 23. This word
"denotes penetrating absorption."29 This word reveals two things: (1). An abiding interest in the
part of the viewer; (2). A recognition that there is something vitally important to see.30 This
person is not going to go away and forget that which has stirred so much interest.
This man looks into the mirror that James now calls "the perfect law." He sees what he is and
what he must do, but unlike his counterpart, he is willing to face the growing pains demanded
by action. He sees beyond the pain to the liberty that comes with maturity.

the law of liberty, -

The Jewish brethren would be very familiar with the term "law." To a devout Jew the Torah
was the law. It is said, "Moses received the Torah from Sinai" (Avot 1:1). Yet, "there is an
ancient tradition that the Torah existed in heaven not only before God revealed it to Moses, but
even before the world was created. In rabbinic literature, it was taught that the Torah was one
of the six or seven things created prior to the creation of the world...Of these preexisting things,
it was said that only the Torah and the throne of glory were actually created, while the others
were only conceived, and that the Torah preceded the throne of glory (Gen R. 1:4)." 31 This
shows how much the law meant to the Jew.

Christ was the end of the Mosaic law to everyone who believed (Rom. 10:4), nailing it to the
cross (Col. 2:14) while having become a curse for them at the same time (Eph. 3:13). But
Christ has a law (1 Cor. 9:21) and James makes sure that the Jewish brethren don't confuse
the two. He calls Christ's law, "the law of liberty." It is also called, "the law of Christ" (Gal.

It is also important to note that the law is here considered to be "perfect." This means that it
is complete, full, "embodying all that is necessary to accomplish its purpose." The Law of
Moses was only a "shadow" which could not "make perfect those who draw near" to God
(Heb. 10:1). The law of Christ is perfect and is able to make us "perfect and complete,
lacking in nothing" (Jas. 1:3).

It is also called "the law of liberty" because through it we are set free. Jesus said, "If you abide
in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth, and the
truth shall set you free" (Jn. 8:31,32). We find the truth in the "mirror", "the perfect law",
which is the word of God. In this mirror we see our death because of sin. But thanks to God,
we sing in our joy ,for in His law we see our freedom (Rom. 7:24).

and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man
shall be blessed in what he does.

The "law of liberty" only liberates those who abide by it. To abide in Christ's law means to "stay
close" to His word. The one who is blessed is the one who's "delight is in the law of the lord,
and in his law he meditates day and night" (Ps. 1:2). My English instructor once told me that
we forget more in the first eight hours after we study a lesson, than we do in three weeks
following. If this is true then we need to spend time every day in the law of Christ. This will
keep us from forgetting what our lives in Christ are all about.

Again James ends a tough speech with an encouraging word. For those who will put into
practice what they have been learning, there is a blessing. "This man shall be blessed in
what he does." The blessing is in the very act of keeping the law. It will produce a peaceful
conscience and bring about happiness of the highest order. It will also exert a good influence
over his whole soul (cf. Ps. 19:7-11).


26 If any one thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but
deceives his own heart, this mans religion is worthless. 27 This is pure and undefiled
religion in the sight of God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and
keep oneself unstained from the world.

A. Worthless

26 If any one thinks himself to be religious, -

It is probably safe to say that most people who "go to church" think they are religious. The word
"religious" describes a person who performs the external acts of worship. It includes such
activities as attending services, teaching Bible classes, taking the Lord's Supper, giving, public
praying, and the like. Though it is good to do these things, the externals of devotion do not
guarantee that the worship is acceptable. These acts can be mixed with things which can
destroy the spiritual side of religion. One of these has to do with the tongue.

and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, -

There are many references to the tongue in this letter (cf. 1:19; 2:12; 3:1-3,14-18; 4:11-12).
This seems to indicate that the problem under discussion was a serious one with these
brethren. Any person who does not keep a tight reign on his mouth and lets his tongue go like
an unbridled horse has deceived himself if he think he is religious. James says he "deceives
his own heart." The tongue actually reveals the heart (Mt. 12:34,35). Since this is true then
an unbridled tongue is indicative of an unbridled heart.

this mans religion is worthless. -

Religion (i.e. the external or ceremonial aspects of religious service) that is practiced from an
unbridled heart is "worthless." It is empty, valueless, without benefit to man, and completely
unacceptable to God. It has the appearance of a whitewashed tomb, "which on the outside
appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Mt.

Our Lord had a lot to say about this kind of religion. He said on one occasion, "This people
honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me..." (Mt. 15:8,9). He also said, "Not
everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 7:21). And
specifically, concerning the tongue, He said, "And I say to you, that every careless word that
men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgement. For by your
words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned" (Mt. 12:36,37).

Now, having read all of this; can our "religion" save us in the day of judgement if our tongues
have been unbridled?

B. Pure

27 This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, -

For religion to be acceptable to God, it must be "pure" and "undefiled." The meaning of "pure"
is " from every admixture of what is false." The meaning of "undefiled" is being
"free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased"32 This, of course, is
opposite the "worthless" religion previously mentioned.

to visit the orphans and the widows in their distress, -

Here are two characteristics of "pure and undefiled religion." The first is the visiting of
orphans and widows. Acceptable religion before God is an active, sincere, and caring religion.
"To visit", means "to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes" 33 The present tense
indicates that it is a continual obligation. We are to do more than call on them socially. We are
to examine and inspect their distress with a view towards taking care of their needs. Though
we are to do good to all people (Gal. 6:10), James singles out two groups of people that the
Jews were already quite familiar with. The first group is that of the orphan.

A devout Jew would remember quite well the law concerning widows and orphans as it was
given to Moses on Mt.Sinai. It said: "You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict
him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and my anger will be
kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall become widows and your
children fatherless" (Ex. 22:22-24). One can see how it would be a benefit to relieve the
afflictions of this group of people.

God is said to be "A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows" (Ps. 68:5).
Maybe this is why James uses the word "Father" in this verse. This would remind them of that
special relationship that God has with his people and with those who have no earthly father to
care for them. The Jews knew very well the charge for them to "Vindicate the weak and
fatherless" (Ps. 82:3). They also knew, as did Job, that when they "delivered the poor who
cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper" they would be blessed (Job 29:11-14).
James knew this would hit home.

Who is an "orphan?" An orphan is one who is deprived of parents, "whether by death,

disease, divorce, desertion, or delinquency."34 Every child deserves parents to love them. They
deserve parents who will train them (Prov. 22:6), provide for them (2 Cor. 12:14), nurture them,
admonish them (Eph. 6:4), and encourage them (Col. 3:21). These are basic, fundamental
needs that are characteristic of all children.

During the time of the writing of this letter, however, life was quite unfavorable towards children
born under Roman law. And since some of the diaspora were found in Roman colonies, they
would be faced with the challenge presented by these conditions. At this time there was the
patria potestas, the father's power. Under this law a Roman father had absolute power over
his family. He could sell them as slaves if he wanted too; he could work them in his fields in
chains; he could punish them any way he liked, and could even inflict the death penalty.

There was also the custom of child exposure at this time. When a child was born, it was placed
before its fathers feet, and, if the father bent down and picked up the child, that meant that he
acknowledged it and wished to keep it. If, on the other hand, he turned his back and walked
away; it meant that he refused to acknowledge the baby and it could be quite literally thrown

A child born of a Roman always ran the risk of being exposed. Those that were not
acknowledged were frequently left in the Roman Forum. There they were usually collected at
night by those who wanted to nourish them in order to sell them as slaves or to stock the
brothels of Rome.36

The laws in our country protect children, but there is still a tremendous amount of abuse and
neglect. And the number of orphans continues to grow. They still have the same basic needs
as they have always had. And the most needed is security.

All children are terrified of abandonment, and with good reason. This fear of
abandonment begins around the age of six months, as soon as the child is able
to perceive itself to be an individual, separate from its parents. For with its
perception of itself as an individual comes the realization that as an individual it
is quite helpless, totally dependent and totally at the mercy of its parents for all
forms of sustenance and means of survival. To the child, abandonment by its
parents is the equivalent of death.37

In 1984 Dr. James Dobson was invited to speak at the White House during a special briefing
on the problems of today's families. Dr. Dobson was impressed with Dr. Armand Nicholi's
presentation of the latest studies conducted on parenting, especially as it contributes to mental
health in children. The results are as follows:

“Consider the effects of divorce, for example. One landmark study revealed that
ninety percent of children from divorced homes suffer from an acute sense of
shock when separation occurred, including profound grieving and irrational fears.
Fifty percent reported feeling rejected and abandoned, and indeed, half the
fathers never came to see their children three years after the divorce. One third
of the boys and girls feared abandonment by the remaining parent, and sixty six
percent experienced yearning for the absent parent with an intensity that
researchers described as "overwhelming." Most significantly, thirty seven percent
of the children were even more unhappy and dissatisfied five years after the
divorce than they had been at eighteen months. In other words, time did not heal
their wounds.”

“ But what about parent child separation that occurs for reasons other than divorce? ...In one
study of fathers whose jobs required them to be away from their families for long periods of
time, the children tended to experience eight specific reactions, as follows: (1) anger, rejection
and depression; (2) Futile attempts at reconciliation - placing phone calls and writing frequent
letters; (3) fantasy experiences - talking as though the father was there, etc; (4) irrational guilt
over the fathers departure; (5) a decrease in impulse control; (6) a decline in school
performance; (7) low self-esteem, and (8) an increase in peer dependency. ” 38

Dr. Nicholi also stressed "the undeniable link between the interruption of parent-child
relationships and the escalation of psychiatric problems we are now seeing."39 The results of
his study are as follows:

One-half of all the hospital beds in the United States are taken by psychiatric
patients. That figure could hit ninety five percent if the present incidence of
divorce, abuse, child molestation and child neglect continue to soar. In that event,
we will also see vast increase in teen suicide (already up more than 300 percent
in 25 years), drug abuse, crimes of violence and problems related to sexual
disorientation. This is our future if families do not come to terms with the needs
of their children.40

Is it possible that the enormity of the task of caring for these children has kept many Christians
from personally doing something about it. I guess it is much easier to have the Department of
Human Services take care of this problem. After all, isn't that what they are paid to do? The
only problem with that is that James was not writing to the Roman government. He was writing
to Christians. And the point he makes is quite clear. If we want to be "doers" of God's word
and practice a religion that is acceptable to God, then we must "do" something about the this
problem. How else will these children receive the teaching of Christ? You can rest assured
that it will not be through a government program.

The other group of people that James specifies is that of "widows." A widow, simply put, is
one who has been deprived of her husband whether by death, desertion, divorce or
incarceration.41 They are to be visited in "their distress." The distress of the widow, like that of
the orphan, is very grievous. It can be emotional, physical, or financial. In many cases it is all
three. Losing loved ones is a hard thing to endure. Lets look first at the emotional aspect of
this distress.

Grief is high on the hurt list. The grieving process "involves a number of emotions, including
sorrow, despair, anxiety, guilt, loneliness, anger, confusion, futility, and an overbearing sense
of loss as someone who has long been a part of us is now taken away for the rest of our

Those who, as Freud put it, are in the "work of mourning" have very intense needs. Gary
Collins gives W.F. Roger's list of needs as: (1) The need for support from others. (2) The need
to accept the reality of the loss. (3) The need to express sorrow. (4) The need to verbalize
hostility and guilt. (5) The need to establish new relationships. 43 (cf. Appendix 4).

The "distress" that accompanies becoming a widow can sometimes be financial. Paul wrote
to Timothy concerning the care and instruction of widows. There were those who were to be
"put on the list" who could be fully supported by the church (1 Tim. 5:9,10). There were also
those who were not to be supported by the church (1 Tim. 5:11-15). The burden of financial
support primarily fell on the family of the widow so that the church would not have to bear the
burden. (1 Tim. 5:16). Paul, however, is referring to Christian widows. James is referring to
widows as a class; Christian or non-Christian. The widow was not to be left distressed.

and keep oneself unstained from the world. -

This is the second aspect of "pure and undefiled religion." If our outward acts, such as taking
care of the needs of the orphans and widows, are to be considered "pure and undefiled", then
most naturally those acts are to come from pure and undefiled motives. The things which are
in the world, "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life:”
(1 Jn. 2:17) can stain the outward expression of any benevolent act. We must, through
"keeping the commandment without stain or reproach" (1 Tim. 6:14), keep our motives
pure for practicing the kind of religion God desires. We can do this by "putting aside all
filthiness and all that remains of wickedness" (Jas. 1:21) and putting on "the whole
armor of God" (Eph. 6:11).


1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an
attitude of personal favoritism. 2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold
ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
3 and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine cloths, and say,
"You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there,
or sit down by my footstool;" 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves,
and become judges with evil motives?

5 Listen, my beloved: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith,
and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have
dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you
into court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you were called?

8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, "You shall
love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. 9 But, if you show partiality, you
are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever
keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11
For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not commit murder." Now
if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a
transgressor of the law.

12 So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For
judgement will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over

A. Circumstance Addressed - 1-3

1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an
attitude of personal favoritism. -

One thing that truly characterized the Jews at this time was a covetous attitude toward
recognition and honor. This can be plainly seen in our Lord's denunciation of the Pharisees
(Mt. 23) and in His parables (Lk. 14:7-14).

The phrase "do not hold" (me with the present tense imperative), is here used to forbid
a practice which is already in progress.1 The practice forbidden here is keeping the law of
Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

The phrase "your faith in our glorious Lord", is literally "the faith of our Lord," and
represents the whole of the Christian religion. The distinctions that were being made
among themselves , as it relates to their practice of Christianity, was foreign to the religion
of God. Their “faith” glorified men, not Christ.

Christ is identified as "our glorious Lord" to show who is to be glorified. Christ should
receive the glory, not man. Showing personal favoritism glorifies one man over another.
This always causes bad feelings and shows a judgmental attitude.

God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Jesus is no respecter of persons (Mt. 22:16).
The Apostles taught Christian equality (Gal. 2:27-29; 1 Cor.12), and when Peter failed to
show this attitude he was rebuked for his sin (Gal.2:11-14). We are all one in Christ. The
glory goes to Jesus, not man.

To show "personal favoritism" is to "show regard for the external circumstances of

another, and to exhibit favoritism on the ground of rank, wealth, social position, worldly
attainment and fame."2 God looks upon the heart of an individual (1 Sam. 16:7). So if we
want to be "imitators of God" (Eph. 5:1), we must "stop judging by mere appearances,
and make right judgments" (Jn.7:24 NIV).

It was the inability to judge righteously that caused the "religious experts" of Christ's day
to reject him as the Messiah. He came from a despised city, Nazareth of Galilee (Jn.
1:45,46; Acts 2:7). He was not a graduate of any of their schools (Mt. 21:23). His
followers were composed of such people as publicans and sinners (Mt. 9:9-11; 21:31,32;
Lk.19:2-10). He also lived in material poverty (Mt. 8:20). Yet he was the very glory of
God (Jn. 1:4).

2 For if a man comes into your assembly -

The word "assembly" is from the Greek word synagoge, which primarily referred to the
Jewish synagogue. Whether it means the building (Lk. 4:15,20,28) or the congregation
(Lk. 12:11; Acts 13:43) is not clear. More than likely, the Jewish brethren were using the
synagogue building as a place to assemble. But even if they met in other buildings, they
"no doubt still continued to refer to their church meeting as a synagoge."3

with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, -

Gold rings and fine clothes were characteristic of the rich and honorable. The well to do
were especially fond of gold rings. The Jews probably copied the wearing and renting of
rings from the Romans. For them it was "a symbol of social status or ambition, especially

for the newly rich."4 "An ancient writer mentions one man who wore six rings on each
finger, day and night, and did not remove them even when he bathed."5 It is said that
Hannibal, after the battle of Cannae, sent as a great trophy to Carthage, three bushels of
gold rings that came from the fingers of Roman knights that were killed in battle.6

James uses the Greek word lampra to describe the clothes of this man. This term was
used "to describe the clothing of a rich person or dignitary. In the Roman world it was the
proper description for the toga of a candidate for public office."7 Lampra is sometimes used
"of brilliant and glistening whiteness...Acts 10:30; Rev. 15:6."8 When this man walked
into the assembly, his mere appearance demanded special attention.

and their also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, -

James is now showing the sharp contrast between the rich and honorable, according to
their society's standards, and the poor and debased. The word "poor" comes from the
Greek word ptochos, which is used to describe those who were "reduced to beggary,
begging, mendicant, asking alms: Lk. 14:13,21; 16:20,22."9 In a broader sense it simply
means, "poverty stricken, powerless to enrich."10 In it's broadest sense it means, "destitute
of wealth, influence, position, honors; lowly, afflicted: Mt. 11:5; Lk. 4:18;..."11

The poor man's clothes were "dirty." This word literally means, "filthy," "dirty,"12 and by
implication, cheap and inexpensive.13 When he walked into the assembly his smell and
appearance brought a different kind of attention.

James is showing quite a contrast here. Instead of being clothed with glistening brilliance,
as was the dignitary; the poor man was cloaked with uninteresting lackluster. Instead of
gold rings on his fingers; he wore beads of dirt and sweat about his neck. Instead of honor
and dignity; he had dishonor and humility. Instead of a commanding presence; he was the
object of scorn.

and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes,

The rich dignitary, of course, receives special attention. He walks into the assembly and
immediately heads start turning. The teacher sees an opportunity to make an impression
on this man and thus the stroking process begins. Where is the poor man who came in
behind him? For now, at least, he must wait in the shadows until the rich man is properly
addressed and situated.

and say, "You sit here in a good place," -

The rich man is greeted with assistance. He is shown to a "good place" to sit. In the
Jewish synagogue the congregation sat facing the ark. On the other hand, the rulers of the
synagogue claimed the "chief seats" which were facing the congregation with their backs
to the ark. These seats were the objects of special ambition (Mt. 23:6); and rank, dignity,

or seniority entitled a rabbi or some other influential dignitary to first priority. 14 It is possible,
however, that the word "good" (Greek, kalos) does not refer to the proffered seat but
should be translated "please." He would then be saying, "Sit here, please,"15 or "Will you
sit here, please (kalos), sir..."16 In any case, the rich man was greeted with kind
assistance and directed to a good place to sit. For the poor man, however, this was not the

and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool;"

You can almost see the condescending look on the face of the speaker as he issues this
command. He gave the poor man two options. He could stand somewhere out of the way,
or he could sit by the speakers footstool. There was no kindness in the words that he
spoke, nor was there any comfort in the assistance that he gave. The position of the
speaker, to that of the poor man, allowed him sufficient elevation to look down his nose at
his brother. This kind of attitude comes from selfish motivation.

B. Reasons For Condemnation

4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil
motives? -

The Jews believed the total number of commandments given to Moses at Sinai were 613.
In a list of the 365 prohibitions, under the heading "Justice," commandments number 273-
276 read: "A judge must not perpetuate injustice, accept bribes or be partial or
afraid."17 In making distinctions among themselves they were acting like judges. And
according to Jewish law these brethren, by showing partiality, were in violation of God's
commandment regarding judges.

The obvious answer to James' question then is "yes." The rich and the poor were treated
differently. And in this discrimination an evil judgement was made. No, it is not wrong to
make a judgment as long as it is righteous. But Jesus said, "Do not judge according to
appearance" (Jn. 7:24) and that is exactly what these brethren were doing. Their
motivation for making the judgment was "evil."

Even though it is hard to admit, we sometimes fall into this same pit. When visitors enter
our assemblies, are we not also impressed by their outward appearance. It seems that
clothes, cars, jewelry, fashion and skin tone carry more weight than the fruits of the Spirit.
This indicates that we have not fully denied ourselves. We still harbor selfish desires.
"There is lurking in the back of the mind the idea that some day it may be necessary to ask
favors of the rich, and it is, therefore, expedient to flatter them. Why bother the poor?
They can never do anything for us anyway."18

James will now advance two arguments against the practice of discrimination. In verses
5-7 he gives the social argument and in verses 8-11 he gives the moral argument.

5 Listen my brethren: -

James loved his brethren. He knew that if they did not see the evil they were practicing
that they would not change. Were they to keep practicing this "worthless" religion they
would not be accepted by God. So James is asking them to pay close attention to what
he is about to say.

did God not choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the
kingdom which he promised to those that love Him? -

This begins the social argument. This is the first of three questions that demand an
affirmative answer. The early church was not drawn from the wealthy and ruling class.
It was drawn from what the world classified as "poor." This can be clearly seen in the
gospels (Mt. 11:5) and in Paul's letter to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:26-29).

The "poor of this world" were numerous in the time of Christ. This class of people
consisted of slaves, (Eph. 6:5-8), day laborers (Mt. 20:2,9), beggars (Mt. 21:14; Jn. 9:1,8;
Acts 3:2), and scribes. Scribes were forbidden to be paid for exercising their profession.19

All of these, except the scribes, made up what was called the "am ha-ares", which means
"people of the land." "Jesus was friendly with this class of people, and freely associated
with them. Though the Pharisees regarded them as worthless outcasts, Jesus was
sympathetic toward their plight and referred to them as "sheep without a shepherd" (Mt.
9:36). As a result of Jesus taking their part, and his own neglect to observe the minute
details of Pharisaic rules..., he was regarded with animosity by the religious leaders of his
day."20 That's right; Jesus himself was one of the "poor of this world."

God chose the "poor" to be "rich in faith." The writer of the Hebrew letter says, "faith
is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
The poor brethren did not have material things to hope in. They're hope was in Christ,
where true riches are found (Eph. 1:18; 2:7;3:8).

God had also called them to be "heirs of the kingdom." The poor were elevated in status
by virtue of faith in Christ which made them sons of God (Gal. 3:26). They were taken from
their low status in the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Christ. (Col.
1:13). This gave them nobility and honor.

To be an heir, in New Testament usage, is to be related to God in such a fashion as to

properly receive that which descends from a father-son relationship (1 Pet. 3:9)...To be an
heir of the kingdom is, therefore, to be in that line of descent from God so as to be properly
entitled to that which belongs to him, and which he holds for his children."21 The poor man
was not only rich, but of royal descent. He was one of the “heirs of the kingdom.”

6 But you have dishonored the poor man. -

Not only were these Jewish brethren debasing him who was spiritually rich when they
honored the worldly rich, but they also asked royalty to sit at their footstool while they
exalted the carnal man to the "chief seat" in their assembly. By doing this they have
dishonored the poor brother.

Far from exhibiting the same high regard for the poor as God does, these brethren had
degraded and withheld respect from them. Their actions were totally contrary to God's will
and way. By not judging righteously, they had established a judicial system of their own,
therefore, were in need of immediate correction. To show how contrary their actions were,
not only to God's will, but to simple reason, James uses three pointed questions.

Is it not the rich who oppress you -

The ones whom these brethren were favoring were from the very class of people who
oppressed them. The "rich" were comprised of merchants, landowners, tax-farmers,
bankers, and men of private means. Several men of the Sanhedrin were of this class, as
was Nicodemas (Jn.7:50; 3:1; cf 12:42).22 Another part of this class were the priests,
"who also operated as bankers."23

These were the oppressors. The word "oppress" is "a strong term describing the brutal
and tyrannical deprivation of one's rights..24 This reveals that "already the early church was
suffering tyranny from the hands of the rich Jews in positions of authority and influence."25
According to Jewish law, "It is forbidden to lend or borrow from another Jew at interest or
participate in an agreement involving interest either as guarantor, witness, or writer of the
contract."26 The Jewish bankers, however, "probably still had the old Babylonian interest
limit of 12 percent in law, but in fact the interest was often exorbitant, sometimes even 300
percent. Often mortgages went even higher and, as with us today, the mortgagee who did
not keep up with his payments had to hand over the property involved."27 These may have
been the ones who's exploits were felt by the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews (Heb.

and personally drag you into court? -

This is the second question James asks. Yes, it was true that the rich exploited them. It
was also true that the rich "personally dragged" them into court. The word "drag"
"describes the act of forcibly dragging a person."28

The "court" could be the local seat of judgment, the Lesser Sanhedrin, or Great
Sanhedrin. Local courts were made up of three judges. Cases that involved a possible
death sentence, however, were decided by a court of twenty-three or more justices29 which
was called a "lesser Sanhedrin."30

The Great Sanhedrin, before A.D. 70, was composed of seventy persons, and was

presided over by the high priest, making seventy-one in all. In New Testament times it was
made up of "the high priest (that is, the acting high priest and those who had been high
priests), the elders (that is, tribal and family representatives of the lay aristocracy), and the
scribes (these legal experts were chiefly from the Pharisaic party)...It had a body of police
under its command and could make arrests on its own authority."31

Since the Romans entrusted the Sadducees with control of the courts, it is not difficult to
see how the courts might be partial to the rich. "According to contemporary records, the
Sadducees were <boorish' and <violent', and this must be taken to refer not only to their own
personal conduct but also to that of their independent police force."32 The Sanhedrin used
this police force to make arrests and to bring the accused to court (Mt. 26:47; Acts 4:3;
5:17,18). This describes the activity that Paul was engaged in before he was converted
to Christianity (Acts 26:10,11; Acts 8:3; Gal. 1:13; Phil. 3:6; 1 Tim. 1:13). These were
the same people that these Jewish brethren were showing favor toward.

7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you are called?"

Not only had they broken their own law by showing partiality, thus dishonoring the poor, but
they were exalting the very class of people that blasphemed the name of Christ. The word
"blaspheme" had come to refer to speaking irreverently and disrespectfully of Deity. 33 To
the Jew, this would also include erasing God's name from the holy text and destroying
institutions devoted to his worship.34 Nonetheless, this was what the rich Jews were doing
(cf. Acts 13:45; 18:6; 26:11).

Christ's name is described here as "fair," that is," noble, excellent, honorable." It was His
name that they were called by, or more literally, "called upon you."35 "This expression
clearly reveals its Old Testament background (Deut. 28:10;2 Chron. 7:14; Amos 9:12).
A man was dedicated to God by calling God's name over him. The act indicated that he
belonged to God. Therefore, Christians bear the worthy name of Christ as an indication
that they are His people."36

Luke said, "the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch" (Acts 11:26). This
is the name King Agrippa used in reference to the group to whom Paul belonged (Acts
26:28). Peter, likewise, uses the name Christian to describe those who suffered reproach
for the name of Christ (1 Pet. 4:14-16).

8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, "YOU SHALL
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF ," you are doing well. -

James now proceeds with his second argument. This section deals with the moral
standpoint of showing partiality.

The word "law" to the Jew meant "Torah." The Septuagint (i.e. the Greek translation of
the OT) translates Torah as "law." It is the first five books of the Old Testament and,
therefore, has been called the "law of Moses." Many Jewish theologians insist that it
means "instruction" or "religious teaching." One Jewish authority has said, "The divine

Torah should guide our whole life; therefore, the Israelite's first duty is to study it."37

The early Jewish church continued to use the Law of Moses as their moral guide. The
commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself is found there (Lev. 19:18) . James called
this commandment "the royal law." It is not called this simply because it was held in
such high esteem. It is royal because "it is the supreme law to which all other laws
governing human relationships are subordinate."38 It is the law of love (cf. Mt. 22:37-40).

Love rules all other laws because "love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10). Jesus
came to "fulfill the law" (Mt. 5: 17). He demonstrated perfectly what it meant to love
people. This was because Jesus and the Father were "one" (Jn. 17:21), and since "God
is love" (1 Jn. 4:8), Christ, therefore, was the personification of God's love.

James said that if these brethren were truly "fulfilling the royal law" then they were
"doing well." So the question of whether or not showing partiality was right or wrong,
once again, was based on the law they were living by.

9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as

James breaks it down to the legal bottom line. If what they did in their assembly was an
act of love then they were keeping the “royal law,” i.e. “doing well.” This, however, was
not the case. They showed partiality. The law itself, condemned this practice (Deut.
16:19,20). They were transgressing the law and were, therefore, “committing sin” and
were “convicted by the law as transgressors.”

The word "convicted" means "to convict by proof of guilt."39 The proof of their guilt is
found in the specific law which forbids partiality. This made them "transgressors." John
commented on sin in much the same way when he said, "sin is the transgression of the
law" (1 Jn. 3:4 KJV).

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become
guilty of all. -

James is now going to explain how an act of favoritism, which is stumbling at least in one
point of the law, constitutes violating the royal law as well. "It is obvious that he has set up
a special case when he speaks of someone who "keeps the whole law" except for "one
point," for in 3:2 he insists that "we all stumble in many ways." However, for the sake
of his argument he imagines a person who "stumbles at just one point."40

This is a powerful statement. We tend to think in terms of "big sins" and "little sins." And
somehow we get the impression that "little sins" are of no consequence. It is only when we
commit the "big sin" that we feel unsafe. There is little doubt that these brethren felt this
way about class distinctions within their assemblies; if they thought about it at all.

11 For He who said, "DO NOT COMM IT ADULTERY ," also said, "DO NO T COM MIT M URDER ."
Now if you do not commit adultery, but commit murder, you have become a
transgressor of the law. -

James continues his explanation with a simple illustration. Even though the law, as the
Jews believed, was given in six hundred and thirteen different commandments, it still was
constitutionally one law. Since this is the case, then the transgression of any one of those
laws makes one a sinner without regard to the seriousness of the offense. "To violate the
law at any one point is not to violate one point only; it is to violate the will of God and to
contradict the character of God."41 And since God is love, then violating the law at any point
is a violation of the royal law of love.

There is, therefore, no justification for showing partiality to the rich. To say, "I have kept
all the law except for this little one here.", will not change the fact that "this little law" has
convicted them as transgressors. A sinner is a sinner. And the wages of any sin, no
matter how small or large, is "death" (Rom. 6:23). And separation from God is the same
for all sinners, whether they are partial, murderers, or adulterers.

You can almost see these brethren as they listen to this letter being read by one of the
rulers of the synagogue. There may have been some who were "stiff necked" "and
"uncircumcised of heart", as Stephen would have called them, who began "gnashing
their teeth" (Acts 7:51). But a more pleasant picture is that of them looking at one
another and asking, "what shall we do?"

C. Action To Be Taken

12 So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. -

These brethren had "become judges with evil motives." All they said and did
complimented this arrogant behavior. They needed to stop judging each other and realize
that God and Christ sit in the judgment seat (Rom. 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10).

In view of their present status under the law, they were in need of an attitude adjustment.
The two verbs "speak" and "act" are present active imperatives, which means that they
were to start making it a habit of speaking and acting according to God's will instead of
their own. They needed to start loving each other more. They especially needed to be
more merciful due to the fact that they themselves were going to need mercy to escape the
judgement of the law.

13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy;

In their favoring the rich, mercy was absent toward the poor. The fact that one cannot
expect mercy without showing mercy is clearly portrayed in the Lord's description of the
Judgement (Mt. 25:41-45). The same principle is behind forgiveness (Mt. 6:15; 7:1).

mercy triumphs over judgment. -

Mercy is compassionate; it releases and forgives the debt. This principle underlies the
parable of the unforgiving servant (Mt. 18:21-35). It shows very plainly that those who
have been extended mercy must do likewise or judge themselves liable for the debt they
owe. Mercy should be the mark of a regenerated spirit. If it is present in the believers life
then he will have nothing to fear on the day of judgment. As Jesus said, "Blessed are the
merciful; for they shall obtain mercy" (Mt. 5:7).


14 What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can
that faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of
you says to them, "Go in peace, be warm and be filled;" and yet do not give them
what is necessary for their body; what use is that?

17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18 But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith
without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder.
20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son
on the alter?

22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith
was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, " AND ABR AHAM
friend of God.

24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.

25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she
received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is

A. Can Faith Without Works Save?

Faith is a vital part of the Christian life. We are saved by faith (Eph. 2:8-9), and we walk
by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), and
whatever we do that is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23).

Since this section promotes faith and works as essential to salvation, some have thought
that it disputed Paul's doctrine of faith apart from works (Rom. 4:1-6). Martin Luther
thought that James did "violence to scripture and so contradicts Paul and all scripture."42
He, therefore, threatened "to through it out of the Bible and someday use it to heat his

God, however, is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), and a careful study will show
that there is no disagreement between Paul and James on this subject. Paul is discussing
works of law that are excluded from God's saving plan. James, however, is discussing
works of faith that are included.

The works Paul speaks of are those in which we might boast or glory. They are works of
human achievement that are designed to merit salvation. These works would obligate God
to save us.

The works to which James refers, however, are those that perfect our faith. It is active
obedience to the law of Christ; "the perfect law," "law of liberty." These are designed
to help us grow in Christ. Keeping the commandments of Christ perfects us in love. These
are works we do, not because we can keep them perfectly, but because they can perfectly
keep us. They are the practice of pure and undefiled religion before God. They are
designed so that we cannot help but put into action those things which the Lord has
instructed us to do. They are in no way self serving. They always work toward the good
of all men.

14 What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works?
Can that faith save them? -

These two questions, from the shear force of logic, declare that faith which is not
accompanied by action is useless. James has already told them that they must be "doers
of the word" and not merely hearers. He has made it plain that "pure and undefiled
religion" is one that actively seeks out and helps those who are in need. It is quite evident
that there was a strong need to motivate these brethren before they went too far astray
from active service.

Again, it must be pointed out that James is not speaking of works that are performed to
earn merit before God (as Paul uses the term in Rom. 3:20), but of works that perfect our

15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,

James now presents a hypothetical situation to show how ludicrous it was to think that one
could be saved by a faith that is not active. Here he presents a Christian who is in dire
straits. This person is "without clothing" which literally means "naked,"44 "and is probably
to be understood as a hyperbole. The purpose of the overstatement is to emphasize the
drastic need of this believer."45

This person is also "in need of daily food." Here we see a picture of a cold and hungry
brother who needs help.

16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled;" -

The statement, "Go in peace" was a common Jewish farewell46 and was used by Jesus
(Mrk. 5:34; Lk. 7:50). The two verbs in the phrase "Be warm and be filled" can be taken
as present passive imperatives, which would mean "that they are commands for someone
else to cloth and feed the uncomfortable person."47 One Greek scholar, however, believes
that they are to be taken as a direct middle as in John 18:18 (were warming themselves).48
The meaning would then be "get some warm clothes and eat your fill."49

and you do not give them what is necessary for their body; -

Food and clothing are basic needs of every human being. Paul tells Timothy, "And if we
have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim. 6:8). Jesus said, "Do
not be anxious then, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `With
what shall we clothe ourselves?'...for your heavenly Father knows that you need all
these things" (Mt. 6:31,32).

Under Jewish law it was "a real obligation to give alms and perform acts of charity, such
as, hospitality, education of orphans, redemption of prisoners, attendance at weddings,
visiting the sick, consoling families in mourning, and saving a man from imminent death
and dishonor, even if this should mean the loss of one's own life."50 Everyone was required
to give charity. Even those who were on charity themselves were obliged to give to the
less fortunate. The courts could compel anyone who refused to give charity -or donated
less than his means allowed- to give according to the courts assessment. If a person
willfully disobeyed, they could be flogged, and if he still refused, the court could appropriate
his property in the assessed sum for charity.51

Under the "law of liberty" all Christians are obligated to help those in need. Paul said,
"So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to
those who are of the household of the faith (Gal. 6:10). And when we help the poor,
Jesus said, "to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the
least of them, you did it to me" (Mt. 25:40).

If being in Christ means anything, it means "faith working through love" (Gal. 5:6). The
Apostle John touched on this facet of works when he said, "But whoever has the worlds
goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does
the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with
tongue, but in deed and truth" (1 Jn. 3:17,18). "The priest and Levite in the parable of

the Good Samaritan each had religious training, but neither of them paused to assist the
dying man at the side of the road (Lk. 10:25-37). Each of them would defend his faith, yet
neither demonstrated that faith in loving works."52

what use is it? -

Is there any use for this kind of faith? It could not save those who were holding it. This kind
of faith actually condemned them in that it violated their own Jewish laws governing charity.
It also stood opposed to the "law of liberty" that demands loving action.

Thomas Merton has well said: "It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as
God's will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and
a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you -
try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God's will for yourself!"53

Words, those oral expressions of our thoughts, even if they are the very words of Jesus that
we communicate, without food and clothing, can be empty and counter productive. Do you
think anyone would be impressed with the Christian faith if all they have heard is "Go in
peace, be warm and be filled?"

God's love is truly and completely expressed when it touches every aspect of human needs.
"In Christianity, the one who loves his neighbor is quite simply the man who feeds him,
shelters him, clothes him and heals him. It is all very direct and physical and lacking in
`spiritual' overtones. Yet the food given to the least of the little ones is given to God

17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. -

Just as empty words are useless, so is faith if it is without works. "There is no help for a
sick, hungry family in pious platitudes, unaccompanied by assistance; and there is no
blessing promised or salvation available to people on the basis of faith without works."55

18 But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works;

James is anticipating this argument to arise. "Suppose someone comes forth with the
objection that one's piety and devotion to God are not always exhibited in the same fashion;
one may show his loyalty to God by faith; another by works; yet both be equally pious and
devout in God's sight."56 This challenge is answered with an inspired, Holy Spirit revealed,

show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works." -

How can you see faith without works. Faith, by itself, cannot be seen. It is the "the
ASSURANCE of things hoped for, the CONVICTION of things NOT SEEN" (Heb. 11:1).

"Faith is an attitude of the inner man, and it can only be seen as it influences the actions of
the one who possesses it."57 We know a person has faith the same way we know God

exists. Reasoning from the argument of "cause" we Know God exists because every effect
in the universe has behind it an adequate cause.58 In the same manner, every righteous
work of God that is done by the Christian has behind it an adequate cause. That which
causes us to follow God's will is called "faith." Where there is no effect, there is no cause.
Where there is no works, there is no faith. Therefore, no believer can "show" faith without
expressing it in works. This is why James said, "I will show you my faith by my works."

B. Is Belief Enough To Save?

19 You believe that God is one. You do well; -

The Israelite declaration of faith was the Shema, which is found in Deuteronomy 6:4: "Hear,
O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord!"59 In New Testament times the Shema was
known as the great official prayer. "Its recitation was an acknowledgement of <the yoke of
the kingdom of heaven.' It contained three biblical texts -Deuteronomy 6: 4-9; 11:12-21;
Numbers 15:37-41...It was not so much a prayer as a confession of faith, and was
characteristic of Jewish piety both in the sentiments it expressed and the use of God's

James commends his Jewish brethren for their believing that there is one God. This,
however, was not enough to save a person.

the demons also believe, and shudder. -

To prove the point that one could not be saved by simply holding to a particular creed,
James declared that "demons also believe" the Shema. They go that far. "They never
doubt the fact of God's existence."61 "They are neither atheists nor agnostics. They also
believe in the deity of Christ. Whenever they met Christ when He was on earth, they bore
witness to His Sonship (Mk. 3:11,12). They believed in the existence of a place of
punishment (Lk. 8:31); and they also recognized Jesus Christ as the Judge (Mk. 5:1-13)."62

The man with dead faith was touched only in his intellect. The demons, however, were
touched there also and shuddered at what they knew. It is not, however, a saving
experience to believe and shudder. On the contrary. The believer, after obeying the Lord's
commands, goes on his way "rejoicing" (Acts 8:34-39).

20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is
useless? -

James' logic was irrefutable. The man who believes that "faith alone" can save him is
termed by James a "foolish fellow," which literally means "empty."63 Metaphorically, as
used here, it means, "destitute of spiritual wealth; of one who boasts of his faith as a
transcendent possession, yet is without the fruits of faith."64 This man was foolish because
he had not "recognized" his faith was useless. His only hope was to be willing to accept
the logic of James' argument and repent.

C. Christians Are Justified By Faith And Works

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his
son on the alter? -

As if the previous arguments were not enough to convince this man that works must
accompany a saving faith, James now gives two specific examples of this truth. His first
example is Abraham.

The use of the word "father" reflects ancestry. The Jewish brethren were fleshly
descendants of Abraham. To them Abraham was very special. It was thought that the
merits found in the goodness of Abraham were so great, that God, in His favor toward
Abraham, allowed them to cover all his descendants. He had built up a treasury of merit
which all the claims of his descendants could not exhaust. "So the Jews believed that a
Jew, simply because he was a Jew, and not for any merits of his own, was safe in the life
to come."65

One of their rabbis has said, "The fire of hell (Gehena) has no power to even consume even
the sinners of Israel, but they go down only to be frightened and slightly singed for their bad
actions. Then comes Abraham, who kept all the precepts of the Law, and through his own
merit brings them up again."66 It was also said, "that Abraham sat at the gates of Gehena
to turn back any Israelite who might by chance have been consigned to its terrors."67

With this kind of mind-set it would be easy to slip into a false sense of security. It may be
that some of the Jewish brethren simply transferred this belief to Christ.

James said that Abraham was "justified," which means to "declare, pronounce, one to be
just, righteous, or such as one ought to be."68 It means "to declare guiltless one accused
or who may be accused, acquit of a charge or reproach." It also means, "to be
absolved...(to be declared innocent of the charge of sins), to be freed from its dominion."
God does this for those who believe in Him (Acts 13:39).69

Abraham was "declared innocent of the charge of sins" "by works." The preposition "by"
(Greek, ek), means "out of, from within,"70 thereby indicating that the declaration of
innocence found its source in "works." "Out of" Abraham's offering of Isaac came that
which enabled God to pronounce him righteous.

you see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was

The word "perfected" means "to carry to the end, to complete..."71 The result of faith and
works working together is a completed faith. Faith and works were working towards
completing Abraham's faith. "If there had been no good deeds following, faith would have
been incomplete (v.22), dead (v.17), and useless (v.20)."72

23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABR AHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND

"The Scripture" to which James refers is Genesis 15:6. This is said to be "fulfilled" at
the offering of Isaac. The offering of Isaac is found in Genesis 22:1-14. "Thirty years may
have intervened between the events of these two chapters. In the former passage
Abraham's faith is said to have been credited to him as righteousness."73

The word "reckoned" is a financial term which means, "to put to one's account."74
Abraham was a sinner. As a sinner he was "destitute of righteousness in the sight of
God."75 Abraham was spiritually bankrupt. Due to Abraham's belief in the promises of God,
however, righteousness was accredited his account. James say's that this was "fulfilled"
when Abraham offered Isaac.

The word "fulfilled" is the regular verb for fulfilling Scripture.76 In this context, however,
it is used in the sense of "completion" (cf. v.22). "What Abraham did in Genesis 22 was the
outworking of the faith described in chapter 15. That it was the kind of faith that justifies is
shown in chapter 22. God's act of crediting Abraham with righteousness was vindicated by
Abraham's act of obedience in offering his son. In this way Genesis 22:1-14 fulfilled
Genesis 15:6."77 Conversely, had Abraham not offered Isaac as he was told, then the
Scripture would not have been fulfilled. The angel of the Lord would have said, "Now I
know that you do not fear God, since you have withheld your son from Me." And once
again Abraham would have been bankrupt.

and he was called the friend of God. -

God regarded Abraham as his friend because he was faithful and obedient to the will of God
(cf. 2 Chron. 20:7;Isa. 41:8). Jesus said, "You are my friends, if you do what I
command you" (Jn.15:14).

24 You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. -

It is quite obvious that this is true. But if this is true, does it not contradict the writings of
Paul? Guy N. Woods has an excellent treatment of this question and is presented as

Paul, in Romans 4:1-5, refers to Genesis 15:6, to prove that Abraham was not
justified by works. James...refers to Genesis to prove that Abraham was
justified by works...IT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS that Paul and James have
under consideration TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF WORKS. Paul, in Romans
3:28, tells us that a man is justified "apart from works of the law." What
law? The law of Moses, of course. James informs us that Abraham was
justified by works which perfected his faith. What particular work was alluded
to? The offering of Isaac. But this was a command of God. IT FOLLOWS,
THEREFORE, that the works which are excluded (by Paul) from the plan of
salvation are works such as the law of Moses, and works which are included
(by James) are the commandments of Christ.78

But what of the works that Paul refers to in Ephesians 2:1-10? If both are studied in their
proper context, it will become evident that he is in perfect harmony with James. Paul
speaks of two different kinds of works in these verses. He speaks of works that one could
"boast" in (v.9), and "good works" which we were created in Christ to do. These "good
works" are the works that are to characterize our Christian walk (v.10). These are the
works to which James is referring. In Paul, therefore, as well as in James, good deeds are
the product of genuine faith. And in both writers faith without works is incapable of saving
a person.

25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she
received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

James now uses Rahab the harlot as another OT example of one who had a saving faith.
Although Rahab and Abraham were justified the same way, there was quite a difference
between the two people. "Rahab was a typical Gentile (woman), a proselyte, and in
addition a prostitute, said to have been converted through the report of miracles, married
to Joshua, welcomed into a Jewish family, and the ancestress of eight prophets as well as
of Christ.."79

Rahab was living in Jericho during the Israelites' conquest of Canaan. When Joshua sent
men to spy out the city, Rahab welcomed them, hid them from harm, and helped them
escape from the city. For this she was promised protection when the Israelites took the city
(Josh. 2:1-14). She had faith in the God of the Israelites and knew the city would be taken.
Her works were working with her faith when she provided help to God's people. For this she
was justified.

Rahab has gone down in history as an example of faith. She is included in the "Hallmark
of the Faithful" (Heb. 11:31) and is also recorded in the genealogy of Christ (Mt. 1:5).

D. Conclusion

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. -

All of the arguments set forth by James in this section lead to this conclusion. "Faith is the
body, the sum and substance of the Christian life; works (obedience) the moving and
quickening of that body, just as the spirit is the moving and quickening principle of the
natural body."80 And "as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is
dead." James emphasizes the inescapable relationship between ethics and faith. He was
certain that sound doctrine and creative living go hand in hand. "One must believe right in
order to do right: the one without the other is useless."81

This chapter of James clearly shows that a mature Christian is one who practices the law
of Christ. He does not merely hold to ancient teachings; he practices them in his day to day
living. His faith is not the empty faith of the intellectual, nor is it the demonic faith of unclean
spirits. It is the active and dynamic faith like that of Abraham and Rahab. It is the kind of
faith that saves.



1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall
incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If any one does not
stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
3 Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouth so that they may obey us, we direct
their entire body as well. 4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are
driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, whenever the
inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and
yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small
fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our
members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life,
and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird has been tamed by
the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of
deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men,
who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both
blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does
a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig
tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water
produce fresh.

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior
his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish
ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.15 This
wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil
thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle,
reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the
seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

A. Only A Few Should Become Teachers

1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, -

It is apparent that these Jewish Christians were having serious problems with their
tongues. They had already been told to be "quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to
anger" (Jas. 1:19). And he also said that the believer that did not "bridle his tongue"
was practicing a worthless religion (Jas. 1:26). He further told them to "so speak and so
act, as those who are to be judged..." (Jas. 2:12). And when you read further into
James' letter (4:1 and 4:11,12), you get the impression that this assembly must have had
some very interesting meetings!1

The Greek word for "teachers" is didaskaloi, which is the plural of didaskalos, "which
was the normal translation of the Hebrew word Rabbi."2 The title "rabbi" means "my great
one,"3 or "chief one."4 It was a position of great honor which demanded the greatest
respect. A rabbi claimed greater respect than that which was given to parents, "for, they
said, a man's parents give him ordinary, physical life, but a man's teacher gives him eternal
life"5 This is why this title was greatly coveted by the Jews.6 It was also an honorable
position held among Christians at that time (Eph. 4:11;Acts 13:1). James, himself was
one ("we shall incur," 3:1). This is linked with a more detailed discussion later in the
chapter (3:13-18).

The Greek construction (me with the present imperative ginesthe) is prohibitive, meaning
"Stop becoming many teachers."7 It "probably suggests that it had been a common
practice for many of the readers to seek to become teachers. So James warns that they
should stop becoming teachers in such large numbers."8 The majority of those who sought
this position apparently did not have the understanding and wisdom that was demanded
of a true rabbi (Jas. 3:13ff). There were many during this time period, who were not
qualified to teach, who were causing major problems within the body of Christ (Acts
15:24;1 Cor. 14:26ff;1 Tim. 1:6f;6:3;1 Pet. 2:1;1 Jn. 3).

It must be kept in mind that James was not trying to discourage those who had the proper
qualifications from becoming teachers; only those whose desire stemmed from jealousy
and selfish ambition (Jas. 3:14,16). For in saying, "Let not many of you become teachers",
the implication is that there were a "chosen few", one might say, who had not bowed their
knee to jealousy and selfish ambition, that should pursue this position. But due to the fact
that many were seeking this post who were too immature to have it, he had to issue a stern
warning to show how serious this position was to be taken.

knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgement. -

There is a great responsibility in the privilege of teaching. Greater responsibility means

greater judgment. And when the soul's of men are weighed on the tongues of teachers,
the scales of justice can be unbalanced. For, as James says, "we all stumble in many
ways." But the teacher's "judgment" will be heavier than that of his students. The word
"judgment" "refers to the decision of a judge."9 This would mean that at the day of
judgment, the Lord will separate those who taught His word from those who did not, and
will then judge more strictly those who were teachers. The reason for this is because the
teacher's most influential instrument — the tongue — is so easily misused.

B. Reasons

2 for we all stumble in many ways. -

This is James' explanation for his previous statement. He says, "we all stumble." This is
used figuratively of acts of sin. James is saying, "We all sin in many ways." This also
shows the universality of sin, even among the brethren.

If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man,

"The power of speech is one of the greatest powers God has given to us. With the
tongue, man can praise God, pray, preach the Word, and lead the lost to Christ...But with
that same tongue he can tell lies that could ruin a man's reputation or break a person's
heart."10 A person who never commits sins of speech is a "perfect man."

The Greek word "perfect" is the same word in James 1:4 where it means "finished,
complete, perfect (with regard to morality and ethics, "fully grown, mature").11 The word for
"man" is aner, which generally means "a man, adult male (in contrast to anthropos, which
generally denotes a human being, male or female). It is used of man in various relations,
the context deciding the meaning...e.g., Matt.1:16,19; Mk.10:12; Lk.2:36; Rom.7:23."12 The
context here is that of teaching.

The use of aner as opposed to anthropos probably reflects the fact that only men were
allowed to become “teachers” or “rabbis.” The Rabbinic attitude which reflected this truth
was clearly seen in one of their prayers: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who hast not
made me a woman."13 Women were exempt from the study of the Torah. They "acquired
merit by sending their sons to study and by encouraging their husbands to study."14 The
Jewish woman's "first duties were to her children and her home..." She "was not qualified
to appear as a witness in court and was exempt from fulfilling religious duties that had to
be performed at stated times..."15

Under the "law of Christ" women are not allowed "to teach or exercise authority over
a man" (1 Tim. 2:11). Older women, however, who are "reverent in their behavior", are
to "encourage" or "train," i.e. "to make sane, to restore to ones sense's, to discipline,"16
the younger women. They were to train them to be "workers at home." This included
being a loving and submissive wife, a loving mother, pure and sensible. This was
considered "teaching what is good" (Tit. 2:4). Out of this a Christian woman is justified.

The context, in which James is writing, seems to indicate this distinction in the use of the
term aner. And since a rabbi was generally married, his ability to control his tongue would
naturally reflect his complete maturity as a husband. And if anything can test the tongue,
the "ups and downs" of the relationship between husband and wife truly can.

Stumbling in what one may say can include: slander, blaspheme, gossip, backbiting,
arguing, gainsaying, contradicting, complaining, filthy talk, silly talk, coarse jesting, lying,
mocking, prating, unjustly accusing, threatening, bragging, and boasting (cf. Appendix 1
for Scripture references and definitions). Do you know anybody who has never been
guilty of at least one of these sins?

able to bridle the whole body as well. -

If anyone could be found who never sins with his tongue, he would never sin in any other
way, either. Since sins of the tongue are hardest to avoid, anyone who could control his
tongue would surely be able to keep the body from being used as an instrument of sin.17

3 Now if we put the bits into the horse's mouth so that they may obey us, we
direct their entire body as well. -

James now illustrates the powerful use of the tongue by comparing it to putting a bit into
a horse's mouth. A small bit enables the rider to control a powerful beast in much the
same way the tongue controls a person's life. The rider of our tongue is our spirit. If God's
spirit is strengthening our spirit, we can bridle the powerful tongue. This will enable us to
control our lives as well.

4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong
winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, whenever the inclination of the pilot
desires. -

James uses another illustration to show how such a small thing, as the tongue, can
accomplish great things. Notice also that he says that the ship direction is based on the
pilots desire.

Just as the bit must overcome the powerful nature of a horse, so also must the rudder of
a ship combat the winds and currents that would drive it off course. "The human tongue
also must overcome contrary forces. We have an old nature that wants to control us and
make us sin. There are circumstances around us that would make us say things we ought
not to say. Sin on the inside and pressure on the outside are seeking to get control of the

Just as it takes a strong grip on the reigns to control a horse, so must a strong mind keep
tight reign on our speech. If "death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Prov.
18:21), then it is no wonder that David said, "Set a watch on my lips. Incline not my
heart to any evil thing" (Ps. 141:3,4). Jesus tells us that "Out of the abundance of the
heart the mouth speaketh" (Mt. 12:34, ASV). When Christ is Lord of the heart, He is also
Lord of the lips.

5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts great things. -

Just as the bit and the rudder exert a powerful influence, so does the tongue. James says,
"it boasts great things." Robert T. Oliver, Past President of the Speech Communication
Association, in a speech delivered at the Annual Convention of Toastmasters International,
in his introduction, said:

"We meet here together as fellow workers in the development of one of the greatest of
human arts the realm of public speaking. Just as has always been true since ancient
times, we recognize the enormous importance of the spoken word in the development of
individual personality and in the effective functioning of a democratic society."

Using the formulation of the Constitution as an illustration of the powerful influence of

speech, he said:

The Constitution was formulated in the course of a long summer of group discussion.
Sometimes the delegates were so discouraged that they might have gone home with their
task uncompleted, but George Washington quietly addressed them, saying: "If we offer the
people something that we do not ourselves approve, how can we afterward defend our
work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest may repair. The event is
in the hands of God."19

The Constitution was later ratified and this country had it's first instrument of government.
Yes, the tongue truly "boasts great things." It's power and influence is exceedingly

Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire. -

Not only does the tongue have the power to build, but it also carries within its arsenal
weapons of destruction. What can a little flame do? Warren Wiersbe tells of a fire that
"reportedly started in the O'Leary barn in Chicago at 8:30 P.M., October 8, 1871; and
because the fire spread, over 100,000 people were left homeless, 17,500 buildings were
destroyed, 300 people died. It cost the city over $400,000,000."20 Fire can destroy!

Like a fire, the tongue can "heat things up." David wrote: "I said, `I will take heed to my
ways, that I sin not with my tongue:...I will keep my mouth with a bridle...My heart
was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned; then spake I with my tongue"
(Ps. 39:1a,3, ASV). A hot head and a hot heart can lead to burning words that can
devastate a person's life. And there are a multitude of sins which the tongue can produce
(see Appendix 1).

6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; -

James, having just shown how destructive a fire can be, says quite plainly that the tongue
is just like a fire. Soloman wrote: "A worthless man devises mischief; and in his lips
is a scorching fire" (Prov. 16:27). The tongue is like a fire in at least three aspects. (1).
It inflicts pain. (2). It is destructive. (3). It leaves behind a wake of desolation. What a
terrifying thought to have within our possession such a powerful instrument.

James calls it "the very world of iniquity." The word "iniquity" means
"unrighteousness...a condition of not being right, whether with God, according to the
standard of His holiness and righteousness, or with man, according to the standard of what
a man knows to be right by his conscience."21 "It is as though all the wickedness in the
whole world were wrapped up in that little piece of flesh."22 We can never retrieve words
that we say. And time will not correct the sins of the tongue. God will forgive us if we ask,
but the fire that we started will always smolder.

the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the whole body, -

The tongue is used by metonymy (i.e. a figure of speech in which one word is put for
another) to represent the intelligent, communicating mind that uses the tongue as it's
instrument. It is what a man thinks in his heart that defiles him (Mt. 15:11; Prov. 23:7).
So it is the mind that corrupts a person.

and is sets on fire the course of our life.-

The psalmist wrote: "The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies
go astray from birth" (Ps. 58:3). Since it is true that "out of the abundance of the heart
the mouth speaketh" (Mt. 12:34, ASV), then ones life is truly determined by the direction
his tongue takes. Whether it is for better or for worse is determined within the heart.

and is set on fire by hell. -

If the course of life is wicked, then it was "set on fire by hell." This is James' way of saying
that the wickedness of the tongue originates with Satan. The word "hell" is the Greek
word gehennes, which "comes from the Greek form of the Hebrew name of the valley of
Hinnom (ge- hinnom), a spot just south of Jerusalem where the rubbish of the city was
deposited and burned."23 "It is a sobering thought that the fire which (figuratively) issues
from our tongues, when improperly used, originates in hell."24 Hell is truly the garbage
dump of the world and is the destination of all that are defiled.

The devil holds the match that starts this fire. He is a slanderer, accuser, and false
witness. Jesus called him "the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44). He holds the sinful lighter.

7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is
tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. -

James now shifts from the power of the tongue to that of it's perversity. God, from the
beginning of time, had given man dominion over the animals (Gen. 1:28). "All kinds" of
creatures of land, sea, and air have been tamed by man. The word "tamed" means "to
restrain," or "subdue."25 And the use of both the present and perfect tense emphasizes "the
continuing aspect of man's dominance over the animals."26

8 But no one can tame the tongue; -

Though man is able to subdue and control every kind of wild animal, he still cannot tame
his tongue. Even though it is true that man, within his own power, cannot tame the tongue;
there is, however, a higher power that can. With God's help we can tame the tongue.
"When you tame an animal, you get a worker instead of a destroyer. When you control
fire, you generate power."28 And when God sets our tongue aflame, it is with powerful
words that come from Him. It is His word that we have hidden in our hearts that keep us
from the sins of the tongue.

it is a restless evil -

The tongue is like a restless evil. It walks back and forth behind pearly white smiles,
waiting for an opportunity to spring forth and kill. There has been, is now , and always will
be, those who find great pleasure in accumulating malicious tidbits about others and telling
them to any available ear.

To combat this evil we ought to ask ourselves some questions when we hear something
of an injurious nature about some one . "Do I know that this is true? Is there sufficient
evidence at my disposal to determine whether or not the report is correct." If not, then it
is best forgotten. If you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is true, then ask yourself,
"Will it do any good to tell it to anyone else? Will it aid the church? Will it help the
community? Will it help our nation?" And especially, "Will it help that person?" If not, then
it is best forgotten!

and full of deadly poison. -

Slanderous people are those "who devise evil things in their hearts; they continually
stir up wars; they sharpen their tongues as a serpent; the poison of a viper is under
their lips" (Ps. 140:2,3). This deadly poison carries with it the power of death. Adolf Hitler
devised evil in his heart. It has been said: "For every word in Hitler's book Mein Kampf,
125 lives were lost in World War II. Our words may not have caused wars or wrecked
cities, but they can break hearts and ruin reputations."29

Those who would shrink in horror from the thought of plunging a sword into
the heart of another will, nevertheless, indulge in malicious gossip that drives
through the heart in a manner far more painful than any possible physical
injury. In Cymbeline, Act III, Scene IV, Shakespeare tells of a husband
who, believing his wife to be disloyal, writes to his servant accusing her of
infidelity, and commands him to kill her. The servant shows the letter to the
accused woman whom he believes to be innocent. Watching the effect of
the letter upon her as she reads, the servant says, “What, shall I draw my
sword? The paper hath cut her throat already. No, tis slander whose
edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue outvenoms all the
worms of the Nile; whose breath rides on the posting winds, and doth
belie all corners of the world; kings, queens, states, maids, matrons,
nay the secrets of the grave this viperous slander enters.” 30

Shakespear had a clear understanding of what the tongue can do. Its ability, from the
serpent in the garden, to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, is abundantly recorded in history.

9 With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have
been made in the likeness of God; -

James goes on to show that inconsistency is one of the restless evils of the tongue.

The word "bless," means "to speak well of."31 The phrase "bless our Lord and Father"
was one the Jews were quite familiar with. Part of the synagogue services was the recital
of the Tefillah, the "supreme" or "great official" prayer. "It was also called Shemoneh
Esreh, because it was originally composed of eighteen benedictions." It starts out: "God,
open my lips, and my mouth shall pronounce Thy praise."32 All eighteen benedictions
have the blessing, "Blessed be Thou, O God..." in them. There was also the Kaddish,
"a prayer recited several times during the synagogue service."33 It starts out: "May His
name be magnified and sanctified in the world..." and ends: "May His great name be
blessed for ever and ever."34 This was something most Jews were doing religiously.

But out of the same mouth that blessed God, came curses. The word "curse" is "an
execration, imprecation, curse"35 "uttered out of malevolence."36 It is the "inversion of a
blessing; a judgment bringing about separation."37 These Christians were actually asking
God to pronounce judgment on those created in His own image. This was not an
occasional slip of the tongue. The present tense indicates that this had become habitual.

"The likeness of God" in which man is created establishes the difference between man
and animal. This phrase corresponds with "the image of God" in Genesis 1:27. We are
like God in that we have "a moral consciousness, the ability to think abstractly, an
understanding of beauty and emotion, and above all, the capacity to worship and love God.
This eternal and divine dimension of man's being must be what is involved in the likeness
of God."38

There is within all of us, even the worst of us, traces of our divine origin . We should always
keep in mind that we, also, were once sheep without a Shepherd. "In as much as man is
the likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), and since God desires the salvation of all men (1 Tim.
2:4), it is the responsibility of every child of God to establish and maintain a relationship
towards others that will enable him to influence them for good."39

10 from the same mouth come both blessings and cursings. My brethren, these
things ought not to be this way. -

One might expect cursings from the mouth of those who do not know the Lord. Likewise,
one might expect blessings from those that do. But both blessings and cursings coming
from the same mouth of those who were holding to "the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus
Christ" is truly inconsistent with "the spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead"
(Rom. 8:11). And this spirit was supposedly dwelling in them. It does not seem possible.
In fact, "these things ought not to be this way." This contradiction should not exist. The
mouth was created to glorify God not to curse those who are created in His image. Even
in nature, contradictions like this do not exist.

James uses two illustrations from the realm of nature to prove this point.

11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? -

James compares the mouth to a fountain. A fountain brings forth water, which is
necessary to sustain life. Most fountains issue "fresh" or "sweet" water that is fit to drink.
Some, however, are contaminated and produce "bitter" water.

The word "bitter" means "pointed, sharp, keen, pungent to the sense of taste, smell, etc."40
It "refers to water so brackish, or even salty, as to be unfit for drinking."41 But one fountain
cannot give both fit and unfit water at the same time. Water springs from a source that is
either good or bad. And what comes out of the mouths of men is evidence of the source
from which it comes.

Those who thirst after righteousness should satisfy their thirst with the water from the well
of life. This well is Jesus, the source of living water. Jesus said, "Whoever drinks of the
water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall
become a well of water springing up to eternal life" (Jn. 4:14). This water then
becomes a well, in the one drinking it, that offers life to others. The water that flows from
this well is a blessing not a curse.

Soloman wrote: "The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and are the
wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook" (Prov. 18:4). "The mouth of a righteous
man is a well of life" (Prov. 10"11). "The law of the wise is a fountain of life" (Prov.
13:14). "Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious." (Ecc. 10:12). Words
spoken by Christians should "edify" and "and give grace to those who hear"(Eph
.4:29). They should "heal" not "harm" (Prov. 12:18,24:2)

12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs?

James now compares the mouth to a fig tree and vine. To James the matter of Christian
conduct is vitally important. There are no shades of Christianity. There is no "fence
straddling" in godly conduct. A Christian's speech was evidence of his father. He was
either of his father the Lord God, or he was of his father the devil.

James illustration is reminiscent of our Lord's teaching. Jesus taught that the fruit
determines the source of a man's religion in these words:

Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree rotten,
and its fruit rotten...For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the
heart. The good man out of his good treasures brings forth what is
good; the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. And
I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall
render account for in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall
be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned (Matt.12:33-

These are powerful words that should be weighed heavily for those who are seeking to be

Neither can salt water produce fresh. -

And just as figs cannot produce olives and vines cannot produce figs; lifeless water cannot
produce life. James may have had in mind the Dead Sea as he spoke these words. The
Dead Sea has the highest salt content of any body of water. It is between 30 and 33
percent salt.42 For this reason it is lifeless. The point James is making is that words we
speak are either beneficial or detrimental.

The ingredients in a carnal Christian's life are comparable to that of a powdered

insecticide. Ninety-nine per cent of its ingredients are harmless, inactive as a destructive
agent, and even healthy if consumed alone. But the one per cent of active ingredient,
Ortho Boric Acid, kills very effectively. Ninety-nine per cent of a Christian's life may be
harmless, inactive as a stumbling agent, and even healthy so far as "church" attendance
goes. But the one per cent active ingredient, a slanderous, evil, backbiting tongue, can
destroy just as well. This powder was either life giving or it took life. The percentile of
healthy to deadly ingredients was a moot point.

God wants Christians to be "unstained by the world." And we should be praying, as Paul
did, for God to set us apart "entirely"; and that our body, soul and spirit be preserved
"complete, without blame" (1 Thess. 5:23). Remember that in the very same way the
insecticide destroyed the roach family because one member brought it in; so can evil
words, brought in by ravenous wolves, destroy an assembly of the saints.

C. Characteristics Of Those Who Wish To Teach

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? -

James, having just exposed an area that the Jewish brethren were having great difficulty
in, now continues the thought of them seeking the position of rabbi (3:1). "Who among
you," in view of what has just been said, "is wise and understanding?" The word "wise"
is from the Greek word sophos, which "was a technical term among the Jews for the
teacher, the scribe, the rabbi."43 The word "understanding" is from the Greek word
episteman, which "describes one who is an expert, who has special knowledge or
training."44 James is asking them, "Who among you is a true rabbi who is an expert
with special knowledge?"

Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in gentleness of wisdom.

It is not enough to just have a knowledge of the Scriptures. A teacher must also have a
life that reflects that knowledge. His life proves that the claim to wisdom and
understanding is something practical. It "puts meat on the bones" and "clothes on the
naked." It does not simply "boast great things," but rather does great things.

The word "gentleness" comes from the Greek word "which was used to describe a horse
that had been broken and trained to submit to the bridle" (see comments on Jas.1:21 for
a complete definition). So this gentleness is strength under control, the control of the Spirit
of God (Gal. 5:22). It is the truly teachable spirit. And anyone who would be a "wise and
understanding" teacher would be skilled in putting God's word into practical every day

The moral of the story is that anyone can have knowledge; even an expert knowledge of
God's word. But only those who show by their "good behavior" their "deeds in
gentleness of wisdom" are true teachers by God's standard. For this person would be
able to "bridle the whole body as well."

The Bible demands of every human being that he perform good works and behave
virtuously toward his fellow man, and is not concerned with abstract definitions. Jeremiah
said: "Let not the wise glory in their wisdom, let not the strong man glory in his
strength, let not the rich man glory in his riches. Only in this should one glory: in his
earnest devotion to Me. For I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and
equity in the world; for in these I delight - declares the Lord" (Jer. 9:22,23).

14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be
arrogant and so lie against the truth. -

This was the source of the Jewish brethren's problems. Here we find the evil motives. The
word "jealousy" "is often used to describe a fanatical zeal for a cause...either in a good
or bad sense."45 James makes it clear by the use of the adjective "bitter" that this is a
sinful zeal. The reason why it is sinful is because it is motivated by "selfish ambition."

The phrase "selfish ambition" "speaks of a self-seeking attitude bent on gaining

advantage and prestige for oneself or group."46 And since "the Greek simple conditional
sentence assumes the existence of the situation described,"47 James tells them to "not
be arrogant" about it.

The Greek word for "arrogant" means "to exult (i.e. rejoice exceedingly), glory."48 The
Jewish brethren "may have been priding themselves in their partisan defense of the truth
— a defense that was to their own advantage and advancement."49

James tells them not to boast about this because in so doing they would be lying "against
the truth." The Greek word for "lie," which means "to play false."50 If they continued in
their arrogance, they would be suppressing the truth; being that the zeal came from selfish
ambition. And God's wrath will come on those who do such as this (Rom.1:18). If there
is to be any boasting it should "be in the Lord" (1 Cor.1:31;cf. Romans 2:17-29).

D. Earthly Wisdom

15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, -

The type of wisdom that these Christians had was not from God, "who gives to all men
generously" (Jas. 1:5). It was not a "good thing" or "perfect gift" which "is from
above, coming down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17). It was not that which was
found in Christ (Col. 2:1-5). It was not that which came from being a good citizen in the
kingdom of heaven (Phil. 3:20). And it was not the result of "seeking the things above"
or setting their minds "on things above" (Col. 3:1,2). This wisdom was the result of
setting their minds "on things that are on the earth" (Col. 3:2).

but it is earthly, natural, demonic. -

James now describes this wisdom. First it is "earthly." It generates from the world in
which we live. It comes from the reasoning of man apart from revelation of God. This type
reasoning leads people to reject the gospel of Christ, counting it as "foolishness" (1 Cor.
1:18). Through it man cannot come to "know God" as He must be known. (1 Cor. 1:21).
Earthly wisdom will be "destroyed" (1 Cor. 1:19), but the wisdom of God will endure

It is also "natural" - which comes from the Greek word psukikos, which means "vitality,"
or " life;" "the state of being alive, peculiar to man in contrast with the animals, the willing,
purposeful self..."51 It is "the inner life of man, equivalent to the ego, person, or personality,
with the various powers of the soul."52 It is said to be "the mediating organ between the
spirit and the body, receiving impressions from without and from within and transmitting by
word or sign."53

Our English word "psychology" is derived from this word. In 1 Corinthians 2:14-15
psukikos is translated "natural" or "without the Spirit"(NIV) referring to the opposite of
"spiritual." The "spiritual" man has received the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:12-14), but the
"unspiritual" does not have the Spirit (Jude 19). The main idea seems to be that of
man's fallen nature as opposed to the new nature given by God. This is wisdom that has
its origin in man's nature totally apart from the Spirit of God.54

In turning from God man has turned from true wisdom because "the fear of the Lord is
the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 9:10). And in man's wisdom "there is no fear of God
before their eyes" (Rom. 3:18). Man's "psychology" is human reasoning apart from God.

But most destructively it is called "demonic." It is the "psychology of Satan." Notice

how it worked on Eve in the garden. Satan told her that the tree would make her "wise"
(Gen. 3:1-7). Satan "lied against the truth" when he told Eve that she would "not surely
die" (Gen. 3:4), because God said that if they ate of the "tree of the knowledge of good
and evil" that they would "surely die" (Gen. 2:17).

Satan is the father of wisdom from below. Through his influence he has made men
arrogant, boastful, liars, and slanderers.

16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil
thing. -

Where these characteristics exist, Satan exists. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor.
14:33), but where this wisdom is found, especially among Christians, "every evil thing
exist." This is a definite contrast with "every good thing" which is from above (Jas.

This self-serving motivation to become teachers caused major problems within the church.
Knowing that jealousy and selfish ambition were the prime movers, one can see why they
were having so many problems with interpersonal relationships. The constant quarreling
must have been quite disorderly, not to mention the legal debates that must have gone on.
And the source, of course, was Satan.

E. Wisdom From Above

17 But wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full
of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

James now gives the characteristics of true wisdom. First he says it is "from above"
meaning it originates with God. Then it is "pure," which means "pure from fault, not half
good and half bad."55 It "is the absence of any sinful attitude or motive."56 It is the
foundation on which the rest of the characteristics of true wisdom are built. It is the
opposite of the self-seeking attitude spoken of in verses 14-16, and of spiritual adultery in
4:4. Only those who are "pure in heart" (Mt. 5:8) can approach God for this wisdom (Ps.

Then it is "peaceable," which means "loves peace."57 This is in contrast to "bitter

jealousy and selfish ambition" which promotes hostility, disorder, rivalry, quarrels,
conflict, and wars (Jas. 4:1,2). It is a quality that creates a desire to produce and maintain
peace (Mt. 5:9;Jn. 14:27; Col. 3:15;2 Thess. 3:16;Isa. 32:17).

It is also "gentle," which means "equitable."58 "It carries the meaning of moderation
without compromise, gentleness without weakness."59

It is also "reasonable," which means "compliant, approachable."60 "The compliant person

is willing to hear all sides of a question, but he does not compromise his own convictions.
He can disagree without being disagreeable."61

It is also "full of mercy," which means "to feel sympathy with the misery of another, and
especially sympathy manifested in action."62 It is the desire to help those who are in
distress and is best illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Mt. 5:7;Lk.

It is also full of "good fruits." These result from a compassionate heart. The faithful are
fruitful. These are the "good works" that we are created in Christ to do (Eph. 2:10).

It is also "unwavering," which "suggests singleness of mind and is opposite of "wavering"

(James 1:6)."63 This wisdom produces stability of thought.

And finally, it is "without hypocrisy," which means "sincere."64 It is without hypokritos,

which was the Greek word used to describe "one who wore a mask, an actor."65 The
Christian who "speaks the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15) is not acting. He is not trying to
deceive people. He has no ulterior motive.

18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who
make peace. -

The man who teaches God's word and builds a body of believers that are doing what is
right before God, is a man who has taught peacefully, from a disposition of love, kindness
and mercy. He has demonstrated in his teaching and in his behavior all the qualities that
accompany wisdom from above. And this man and all that he teaches will be blessed, for
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Mt. 5:9).

Let us remember that God hates "one who spreads strife among brothers" (Prov. 6:19.
So let us work toward peace and mercy.


1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your
pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you
commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.
You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you
ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your own pleasures. 4 You
adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God?
Therefore whosoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of
God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose; "He jealously
desires the Spirit which he has made to dwell in us."? 6 But He gives a greater
grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the

7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to
God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your
hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter
be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the
presence of the Lord, and he will exalt you.

A. The Want Of Pleasures

1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? -

Instead of a climate of peace and righteousness which is characteristic of those who

possess wisdom from above (3:17,18), these brethren were at war with one another. This
was the natural consequence of those whose reasoning was carnal.

Those who made up the Jewish element of Christianity had come from a religious
background that was plagued with conflict. The religious denominations that composed
Judaism were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Therapeutae, Zealots, Herodians, and
Samaritans. The great majority, however, of "Palestinian Jews (more than 90 per cent)
were unaffiliated with any of the sects and groups previously mentioned. These multitudes
were known as the people of the land (am ha-ares)."1 [See Appendix 2 for a study of these

The contentious spirit that had characterized each individual sect and party was probably
carried over, to some degree, into their early Christian development. This can be seen in
the problems that the church at Colassae was having (Col. 2:16-23). Another indication
of this can be found in the use of the terms "bitter jealousy," "selfish ambition," and
"arrogance" to describe the motivation of some who were seeking to be teachers in
James 3:14.

This problem not only affected the diaspora, but most certainly many gentile
congregations at this time. The brethren at Corinth were competing with each other in the
assembly and were even suing one another in court (1 Cor. 61-8;14:23-40). The
Christians in Galatia were "biting and devouring" one another (Gal. 5:15). Paul had to
admonished the church at Ephesus to be "diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in
the bond of peace." (Eph. 4:3). At Philippi two women were at each other (Phil. 4:2).
So this was a problem that plagued the Church as a whole.

The Greek word for "quarrels" was a term normally used of national warfare.2 It pictured
the chronic state or campaign of war. The word "conflicts" presented the separate
conflicts or battles in the war.3 These words had become common terms describing
forceful antagonism of any type.4

It could be that these brethren were at war with each other over positions in the assembly.
Their zeal for God's word, as they understood it, lead to strife and arguments instead of
edification. Selfish ambition, jealousy, and arrogance ruled their meetings instead of grace
and peace.

How can all this be? These are "Christians." They belonged to the same family; they held
to the same faith; they were indwelt by the same Spirit. Why was it like this? James
explains to them the source.

Is not the source your pleasures that war in your members? -

The war between the brethren was an expression of the war that was being fought within
each individual's soul. And the source of the war within oneself was "pleasures." The
word "pleasures" is from the Greek word hedonon, from which we get our English word
"hedonism." It means "sinful and sensual lust, the desire to get what one does not have
and greatly desires."5 Hedonism is a philosophy that views pleasure as the chief goal in
life.6 This philosophy residing in their members (i.e. their mind and body) was at war with
the spirit that God had created in them. The spirit, however, was losing.

The spiritual mind is always at war with the fleshly mind. It reminds me of a dog fight I
once saw in a movie. As the fight progressed it became obvious that the weaker of the two
was going to be killed. It had neither been trained nor fed as well as the other. Only the
strong survived.

It is the same way in man's spiritual war. Paul said, "But I see a different law in the
members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a
prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members" (Rom. 7:23). If a man sows to the
flesh he will "reap corruption" (Gal. 6:8). Whichever part of man is fed the most will
naturally be the strongest, and in this battle only the strong survive.

These brethren were feeding their fleshly appetite for pleasure. This in turn was causing
them to be at war not only with themselves, but with their Christian family and God. A
hedonistic lifestyle is opposed to the Christian lifestyle. When the two are synthesized, the
product is war.

B. Reasons For Not Receiving What They Want

2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. -

This is exactly what King David did. He lusted after Bathsheba which led him ultimately
to have her husband killed (2 Sam. 11:1-27). It was the same reason why Naboth was
murdered. He had a vineyard which King Ahab wanted. Naboth wanted to keep it for his
children and Ahab pouted so much over Naboth's decision that his wife, to comfort him,
had Naboth falsely accused of blasphemy which then led to him being stoned to death (1
Kings 21:1-16). All of this because they desired what they did not have.

The Greek word for “lust” expresses longing and eager desire. It is anxious and self-
seeking. 7 It is the same Greek translation of the word "covet" in the tenth commandment.
Their self-centered desire was so strong that they were willing to kill to fulfill it.

Whether or not these brethren were committing the physical act of murder is difficult to say.
They, at least, were hateful toward their brethren, and this is also called murder (Mt.
5:21,22; 1 Jn. 3:15).

And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

They fought and quarreled because they were "envious," which means to be moved with
jealousy. 8 They were jealous of one another. This conflict was due to their efforts to
satisfy their desires, yet they failed to obtain the very thing they wanted.

You do not have because you do not ask. -

One of the reasons they did not have what they wanted was because they did not ask God
for it. God was not in their thoughts. All focus was on the acquisition of whatever it was
they wanted. It did not matter to them how it was acquired. So with God far from their
minds they sought to gratify their own desires their own way.

Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you" (Mt. 7:7-11). He also said, "If you abide
in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done
for you" (Jn. 15:7). From this it is evident that our receiving what we ask for is conditional.
We must have the word of God abiding in us if we are to expect God to grant our request.
We also must ask "without any doubting" if we expect to receive anything from the Lord
(Jas. 1:6).

3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you
may spend it on your own pleasure. -

Some did not have what they wanted simply because they did not ask. Others, however,
had asked but did not get what they wanted. The reason for this is that their motives were
wrong. They were not seeking first the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 6:33). They were seeking
money to spend on their own pleasures.

The Greek word for "spend" means "to squander."9 The prodigal son is a good example
of one who "squandered" (same Greek word) his money this way (Lk. 15:14). God gives
to us from a motive of love. He expects us to do the same. We are to use what we pray
for to help others, not to gratify the lust of the flesh.

C. How This Attitude Affects Their Relationship With God. -

4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility
toward God? -

Having identified the source of their quarreling, James then rebukes them for spiritual
unfaithfulness. When one adopts the philosophy of hedonism, he adopts a wisdom that
comes from this world. He leaves God and begins a new relationship with the ruler of this
world, the devil. (Jn. 12:31).

God's people in the Old Testament were considered his wife (Jer. 31:32; Ezek. 23; Hos.
2:2-5;3:1-5; 9:1). The church is also represented as married to the Lord (Rom. 7:14; Eph.
5:23-32). Therefore, in turning to the world to satisfy their desire for pleasure, they were
committing spiritual adultery. This is a strong statement in view of the fact that no adulterer
will enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9,10).

James uses the Greek word kosmos ("world") "to refer to the system of evil controlled
by Satan. It includes all that is wicked and opposed to God on this earth."12

James says that "friendship with the world" also puts one at war with God. The word
"friendship" (Greek, philos), means "to love, to be friendly to one."10 Christians become
involved in this love affair gradually. First, they become friends with the world. “This

results in being "spotted" by the world (1:27) so that areas of our lives meet the approval
of the world. Friendship leads to loving the world (1 Jn. 2:15-17), and this makes it easy
to conform to the world (1 Cor. 11:32). The sad result is being condemned with the world
(1 Cor. 3:11-15)."11

This worldly "affair" is "hostility toward God." Hostility denotes hating."13 So in their
adultery these brethren were showing hatred toward God. Jesus said, "No servant can
serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will
hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Lk. 16:13).
He also said, "He who is not with me is against Me" (Mt. 12:30). Worldly Christians
show hatred instead of love towards God.

Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend to the world makes himself an enemy of

God. -

The word "wishes" commonly means "to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded."14
Therefore, James is saying, "whoever deliberately purposes in his heart to be a friend
to the world makes himself an enemy of God." What a terrifying thought!

Even though only the spirit of man truly knows what motivates him; you can still know a
"friend of the world" by how he lives. "You will know them by their fruits" (Mt. 7:16).
Although Jesus said this of false prophets, the principle is the same for all who claim to
be following God's word.

One is obviously a lover of the world who finds more pleasure in associating with worldly
people than with Christians; whose delight is in frequenting those places which cater to the
lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life , rather than
assemblies of the saints; and, whose lifestyle "promotes those things which are of the
world in lavish fashion, while giving a bare pittance of his means into the service of the
Lord."15 The person who deliberately chooses this lifestyle "makes himself an enemy of
God." ( cf. Demas - 2 Tim. 4:10).

5 Or do you think that the Scriptures speaks to no purpose: "He jealously

desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"?

This verse has been a challenge for many translators. For the non-technical reader,
please bear with this momentary digression into the translation of this verse. I find it quite

If this translation is correct, then this statement fits naturally with the analogy of God and
His people being joined together. Just as husband and wife are "one flesh," so God and
His people become "one." The Spirit that God jealously desires may be the "Holy Spirit
of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:13,14), or man's
spirit, as it is made alive through the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 9,10).

Some have seen a problem with the interpretation in this translation of the word
"jealously" to describe God's desire. The word "jealously" is from the Greek word
phthonon, which means "malice" or "ill will."18 "It is the feeling of displeasure produced by
witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others."19 It is said that phthonos
is "incapable of good" and "is used always and only in an evil signification;"20 "this evil
sense always attaches to this word, Matt. 227:18; Mrk. 15:10; Rom. 1:29; Gal. 5:21; Phil.
1:15; 1 Tim. 6:4; Tit. 3:3; 1 Pet. 2:1; so in Jas. 4:5."21

If this is the case, it may be better to translate this verse: "Or do you suppose it is an idle
saying in the Scriptures that the spirit that has taken its dwelling in us is prone to
envious lusts." This would eliminate the Holy Spirit as an interpretation of "spirit" in this
verse. This would be more in line with "the spirit implanted in humans, originally pure and
truthful, but capable of becoming darkened...and contaminated by bitterness..."22 This
would indicate that the "spirit" is that which was given, pure and unblemished, by God at

Some lexicographers believe that the phrase pros phthonon was a Greek adverbial
idiom meaning "jealously."23 Furthermore, the word "desires" (Greek, epipothei),
means "to long for," "to yearn for" something or someone. 24 Pros phthonon epipothe
could then be translated "jealously desires" without impugning God's character with the
evil sense of phthonon.

There is another interpretation, however, based on the ASV rendering of this verse which
reads: "Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Does the spirit which he
made to dwell in us long unto envying?" This breaks the verse into two rhetorical
questions. The implied answer to each is “no.” Accordingly, if those who are acting so
hostile will listen to the Scripture instead of letting it speak in vain, and will cooperate with
the Holy Spirit, God will give “a greater grace” to them16 And defensible or not as this
translation may be, at least it escapes some of the difficulties;17 one of which is a quote
with no Old Testament source; and the other as to which "spirit" James is referring.

Whatever the translation may be, it is certain that in the Old Testament God has said, "I
am a jealous God" (Ex. 20:5;Deut. 4:24; 5:9;Josh. 24:19;Nah. 1:2). The word
"jealous" was often used in the Old Testament in connection with the marriage relation,
and, in this respect, the relation between Jehovah and Israel. "Just as jealousy in husband
or wife is the forceful assertion of an exclusive right, so God asserts His claim, and
vindicates it, on those who are His sole possession."25 (cf. Is. 54:5;62:5;Hos. 2:19). God
claimed to be a husband to His people, and idolatry and wickedness in every form was
considered spiritual adultery. 26 And this spiritual adultery is said to have provoked God to
jealousy ( Deut. 32:16,21; 1 Kin. 14:22; Ps. 78:58; Ezek. 16:38 ).

6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD,

Since God makes such a high demand upon man, and because man's spirit is inclined
toward worldly lusts, He provides more grace wherewith to meet these requirements for
whole-hearted devotion. God's grace is greater than His demands.

James quotes Proverbs 3:34 to make his point. "The reference to the gift of grace looks
back to God's demand for loyalty (vv.4-5). God in grace gives his people the help they
need to resist the appeal of the world and to remain loyal to him."27 Paul said that with
every temptation, God provides a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). God is always faithful and
goes a step beyond in that he gives a "greater grace” to those who are humble.

The word “grace” "contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not
deserved...pre-eminently of that kindness by which God bestows favors even upon the ill-
deserving, and grants to sinners the pardon of their offenses..."28

James says this is given to the "humble," which metaphorically signifies those who are of
low degree.29 God, however, is "opposed," which is an old military term meaning “to range
in battle against,”30 to the "proud."

The word “proud” means "showing one's self above others...pre-eminent,...especially in

a bad sense, with an overweening estimate of one's means or merits, despising others or
even treating them with contempt, haughty."31 God is, therefore, set for war with haughty
“Christians” who have deserted Him for the world. What a terrifying thought!

Thus James' summary of these Jewish Christian's standing before God is quite straight-
forward and precise. Through their arrogant attitudes and worldly associations, they have
set themselves, completely and undeniably, in opposition to the very God they were
claiming to serve. James, however, does not leave them without hope of reconciliation.

D. Conditions Required For Reconciliation

7 Submit therefore to God. -

In this section James issues a series of ten commands. In the Greek, each one is an aorist
imperative which calls for immediate action.32 Since it is the case that God gives "greater
grace" to the humble, the most logical place to start would be for them to turn away from
the world and "submit" themselves to God.

The word "submit" is also a military term33 which means "to arrange under, to
subordinate, obey, be subject."34 James is telling them to get into their proper rank.

These Christians, like so many today, had stepped out from under God's leadership and
enlisted under the flag of the flesh. Their minds were set on the world and not on things
above. Paul gives a more descriptive analysis of this same problem in Romans 8:5-13.
The brethren to whom James is writing needed to re-enlist under the leadership of the
Spirit of God. James, therefore, tells them exactly how to do this.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you. -

James now lays the axe to the root of the problem. Instead of resisting the devil, these
Jewish brethren, just as those Jews to whom Stephen spoke, were "resisting the Holy
Spirit" (Acts 7:51). James commands them to turn this resistance around.

The word "resist" is another military term "used of those who placed themselves in battle
array against an enemy and held their ground."35 It would be doing what Paul said in
Ephesians 6:13: "Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able
to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm." And when the
"flaming missiles of the evil one" did not have their desired effect on them, the devil will
turn and flee. With the devil on the run, and free from his subjugation, the brethren could
then move toward the Lord.

8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. -

James tells those who had left God for the world to initiate the move toward God. God
would then draw near to them. To the Jew this was a common Old Testament theme. The
prophet Azariah, a prophet during the reign of Asa, king of Judah, told Asa: "Listen to me
Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And
if you seek Him, He will let you find Him..." (2 Chron. 15:2).

In similar fashion Isaiah the prophet said:

"Seek the Lord while he may be found;

Call upon Him While he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:5,7)

Any fallen brother, who truly sees the error of his ways, can "draw near with a sincere
heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:22). God will then receive him back and
accept his devotion. So James goes on to explain how drawing near to God is done.

Cleanse your hands you sinners;

Here James uses an expression that would be familiar to Jewish converts. "The Levitical
law treated certain physiological functions as uncleanliness. Contact—even indirect—with
a dead body or with lepers and certain ritually unclean animals meant that one had to
undergo certain rites of purification."36 [See Appendix 3 for a list of Ritual Purity laws.] (cf.
Mrk. 7:2-9,19; Ex. 30:19-21).

Soiled hands were symbolic of guilt (Mt. 37:24). Pilot thought that by washing his hands
he could free himself of the guilt of Christ's death, but it was his heart that needed
cleansing (Mt. 15:19,20).

In a figurative sense, as is here, the cleansing of the hands refers to the purification of life
and conduct. James is, therefore, telling them to cleans their hands by putting away
transgression and guilt. And if these brethren were thinking that they had no sin, then the
truth would not be in them. If the were to think that the had not sinned in what they were
doing, they would have been liars, proving that God's word was not in them. But if they
were to acknowledge their sins, and confess them, God would forgive them and cleanse
them from all unrighteousness(1 Jn. 1:8,9).

Like David they should say:

"I shall wash my hands in innocence,

And I will go about Thine alter, O Lord,
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And declare all Thy wonders" (Ps. 26:6,7).

Christians who have become "stained" by the world (Jas. 1:27) are spiritually unclean in
God's sight. And once again James and Paul are in total agreement as seen in Paul's
discussion of this same problem. Paul concludes his dissertation on this subject by saying,
"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleans ourselves from all
defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 6:14-

So what James is doing here is giving the purification rites as they are under the law of
Christ. The hands represent the acts of sin perpetrated by the Christian. They were an
outward expression of the intent of the heart. These acts of sin are to stop.

and purify your hearts, you double-minded. -

Since these actions came from evil motives (Jas. 2:4), it is only logical that James call for
the purification of the heart as well. The word "purify" is used ceremonially in Acts
21:24,26, but here it is used morally, of "purity of thoughts and motives."37 It is from the
same word used in James 3:17. Therefore, James is telling them to rid their hearts of
sinful motives and attitudes.

Their impure hearts were the result of being "double-minded." They were trying to serve
two masters (Mt. 6:24). But God will draw near to a man who is humbled and wants to get
his mind back on the right track. "A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not
despise"(Ps. 52:17). God has said, "But to this one I will look, To this one who is
humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isa. 66:2). "The Lord
is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18).

9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; -

There are four imperatives in this one verse and they are all calls to repentance. The word
"miserable" means "to toil heavily, to endure labors and hardships; to be afflicted; to feel
afflicted and miserable."38 This is not to be taken lightly. Their sin should weigh heavily
on their souls.

The word "mourn" "usually depicts passionate grief that cannot be hidden."39 It is the
same word Paul used in 1 Corinthians 5:2 to describe what those brethren should have
been doing in view of the immorality that was going on there.

The word "weep" means "any loud expression of grief..."40 It is vividly seen in its use to
describe the weeping of Rachel over her children (Mt. 2:18) and in the emotional display
accompanying the death of a young child in Luke 8:52.

This should be the result of being convicted of their sin. "Godly sorrow produces
repentance..." (2 Cor. 7:10). These brethren should be miserable knowing that they were
unclean and separated from God. The consciousness of this burden of sin should have
made them feel as Paul did: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the
body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24).

This kind of insight into their sinfulness should cause them to mourn as the sinful woman
did who wet the feet of Jesus with her tears (Lk. 7:37-50). It should make them mourn
and weep as it did with Peter after he denied the Lord three times (Lk. 22:56-62).

let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.

The joy and laughter that characterized their rebellion against God was to be turned into
"mourning" and "gloom."

The word "gloom," comes from katephes, which is a compound of kata, which means
"down,"41 and phae, which means "eyes."42 It signifies a looking down with the eyes as
like the publican in Luke 18:13. These brethren should be hanging their heads in shame.
It is just as Jesus said, "Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep"
(Lk. 6:25).

This purification brings one back into fellowship with God. Jesus said, "Blessed are they
that mourn; for they shall be comforted" (Mt. 5:4). When one comes to God and
humbles himself as did the tax-gatherer, who could not look up to heaven, and while
beating his breast said, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" (Lk. 18:13), he will be

10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

It is possible to submit to God outwardly without being humbled inwardly. Pride is

something that God hates (Prov. 6:16,17). And a Christian with this disposition will be

humbled because Jesus said, "Whosoever exalts himself shall be humbled" (Mt.
23:12). It would be better that he humble himself.

"Before honor comes humility...A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble
spirit will obtain honor" (Prov. 15:33;29:13).

For thus says the high and exalted One

Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
"I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite." (Isa. 57:15).

Those who humble themselves shall be exalted. This is consistently taught in the New
Testament as well as the Old (Mt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; 18:14; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Pet. 5:6).

Once again, as is characteristic of James, he ends this discourse with a word of hope for
the brethren that he loves. If they want to be exalted, then the way up is down.


11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a

brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you
judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it. 12 There is only one
lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you to
judge your neighbor?

A. You Are Not the Judge

11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. -

Apparently these brethren had the habit of criticizing each other. The words "speak
against," in a broad sense, means to speak against anything.43 In interpersonal relations
the Greek word describes "a defamer, evil speaker,"44 and involves harsh words about the
absent person.45 The use of me with this present imperative verb indicates that it is a
"prohibition against such a habit or a command to quit doing it,"46 and "usually forbids the
continuation of a practice already in progress."47 [See appendix 1 for sins of speech].

He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and
judges the law; -

James now touches a subject that he covered briefly in chapter 2. One speaks against
someone only after he has made a judgment against him. This judging is harsh and
deprecating. It imputes unworthy motives to others; putting the worst possible interpretation
on their words and actions.48 And in doing this they were "speaking against" and
"judging the law."

Once again the thought of "judges with evil motives" comes to mind. In speaking
against one another these brethren had shown their ignorance of both the Jewish law and
the law of Christ. They were, therefore ignorant judges.

The Jewish law forbade appointing someone as a judge who was ignorant of the law.49
These Jewish Christians had appointed themselves judges over their brethren. The law
also said, "A judge should not accept a college's opinion unless he is convinced of its
correctness." And he was not to "give false testimony or accept testimony from a wicked
person or from relatives of a person involved in the case." Nor was he "to pronounce
judgment on the basis of the testimony of one witness."50

It is possible, from James' prohibition, that some of this was going on. These brethren
were in effect placing themselves above the law, and by their actions declared the law bad
or unnecessary. Their actions, therefore, both "spoke against the law, and judged the
law." (See Appendix 1 for transgressions of the law of Christ governing speech).

The ultimate destination of this judging leads to God himself. The law represents God's
will, therefore, judging the law is the same as judging God.

As God has said:

"Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it"...
"Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:"
"Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?" (Job 40:2,7,8).

It is an arrogant thing to "judge the law." But this is what happens when we judge our
Christian brothers and sisters unrighteously.

but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it. -

In judging the law as either defective or unimportant, the natural inclination would be to set
it aside and not keep it. Therefore, the judge of the law would not be a "doer of the law."
And as James has already pointed out, a violation of one of the commandments puts one
at variance with God. (cf. 2:8-12).

Our relationship with God is, in many ways, determined by our relationship with one
another. John wrote:

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one
who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he
has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who
loves God should love his brother also" (1 Jn. 4:20).

He also said, "The one who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness,
and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes"
(1 Jn. 2:11). And again, Jesus said: "every careless word that men shall speak, they
shall render account for in the day of judgment" (Mt. 12:36).

Judging people improperly shows a definite lack of love. So “be careful little mouth what
you say.”

12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, -

By judging their brethren, these Christians had usurped a position of authority that is
reserved for God alone. It was God who gave the law, therefore he is the one qualified to
pass judgment on those amenable to it. It was characteristic of brethren at this time, as
it is today, to legislate laws that God has not given. And this arrogant display has been a
source of division, heartache, and strife within the body of Christ since it was first
established. (cf. Acts 20:29; Col. 2:20-22; 1 Tim. 4:1ff; 2 Tim. 4:1ff; 1 Jn. 4:1ff).

By saying, "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge" James displaces arrogant, self-
serving men; and places the titles of "Lawgiver" and "Judge" on the one to whom they
belong; i.e. Christ (cf. Mt. 28:18-20;Acts 17:31). Although Jesus said that he did not
come into the world to judge the world, He did say that He will judge the world at the last
day through His word (Jn. 12:47,48).

the One who is able to save and to destroy, -

These brethren may have had the power to destroy a person's reputation or physical life,
but only God has the power to destroy the soul (cf. Mt. 10:28). Since all will be judged by
the words of Christ, it only makes sense to "receive the word implanted" which is able
to save souls.

It also has the power to destroy souls because "he who has disbelieved shall be
"condemned" (Mrk. 16:16).

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to that which we
have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through

angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience
received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great
a salvation (Heb. 2:1-3).

but who are you who judge your neighbor? -

The NIV's translation, "But you - who are you?" and Alford's translation, "But thou, who
art thou?"51 show the actual force of the Greek construction.52 Just because man is
created in the image of God does not give him the right to play God. This is what
Christians do when they start criticizing and faultfinding campaigns within the body of
Christ. There is an echo of the Sermon on the Mount here (Mt. 7:1ff).

James is not talking about righteous judgments (Jn. 7:24) of those who are "within the
church" (1 Cor. 5:3,13). He is talking about "censorious judgment exercised without
sufficient information by people who are without right to do so, and whose design is
detraction, slander, and defamation of character."53


13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we shall go to such a such a city,
and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." 14 Yet you do not
know what your life will be like tomorrow, You are just a vapor that appears for a
little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills,
we shall live and also do this or that." 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance;
all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to the one who knows the right thing to do,
and does not do it, to him it is sin.

A. No Guarantee of Tomorrow

13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such
a city, and make a profit." -

This section is written to Jewish Christian businessmen. These were Jewish merchants
of the Diaspora. The profession of a merchant was held in great respect. Even priests
engaged in commerce.54 Travel and trade were brisk at this time.55 This was due to the
peace that was enjoyed under the Roman Empire. So much so that Epictetus said,
"Caesar has obtained for us a profound peace. There are neither wars nor battles, nor
great robberies nor piracies, but we may travel at all hours, and sail from east to west."56

Many of these merchants were shipowners, bankers, contractors, or shop keepers" 57
Some may have been wholesalers, who had employees working for them and who
undertook journeys.58 "Jewish traders flourished not only in Palestine but also to the utmost
ends of the Diaspora..."59 Some New Testament examples are Aquila, Prisilla, (Acts
18:2,18; Rom. 16:3) and Lydia (Acts 16:14).

Some of these Diaspora merchants may have been among the camel caravans, often of
impressive length, that brought goods from distant cities to Jerusalem.60 The roads to
Rome were linked to these caravan routes. Merchants who used them slept at night in
inns, or by the roadside in specially fortified camps.61

The Christian merchants to whom James wrote had well-laid plans. They had planned to
go to a particular city. They had planned to spend a year there. They had planned the
business activities they were to engage in. And they planned to make money. From a
worldly standpoint, the wisdom in these men's plans was flawless. But from a spiritual
viewpoint it was lacking the most essential ingredient for success - God's approval.

14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. -

It may be that these merchants , in their arrogance, were boasting about their plans. How
clever they must have felt. They had been lulled into a false sense of security and
therefore made no allowance for unforeseen circumstances.

James points out the foolishness of their thinking. They had no idea of what tomorrow
would bring. They had been making plans as if they were in complete control of the future.
They were planning for a year of tomorrows and yet had no idea what would occur in the
first of these. This shows how arrogant they were. Not only was their knowledge of the
future limited, but it was uncertain as whether or not they would even be alive tomorrow.
A wise man has said: "Do not boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day
may bring forth" (Prov. 27:1).

You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. -

To emphasize this point James employs another illustration from nature. Human beings
are "just a vapor." Our lives are like the mist that settles on the mountain in the morning
which vanishes when the sun comes out. This very thought is found in the apocryphal
book Wisdom of Solomon. That writer said:

Our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud,

and shall be dispersed as a mist,
overcome with the heat of the sun.
For our time is a shadow that passeth away;
and after our end their is no returning

(Wisdom of Solomon 2:4-6)

Not only are man's days "few", but they are "full of trouble" (Job 14:1). This is why we
are told to "number our days" (Ps. 90:12). When we fully realize the brevity of life, then
we will put forth more effort to use our time wisely. And James goes on to say that this
begins with a change of attitude.

B. The Right Attitude to Have

15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or
that." -

It must be pointed out that James is not condemning the making of future plans. The good
things that God has given us to do are not always the mere work of a day. The fact that
we are to develop patience and endurance indicates the necessity of preparing for future
good works. And as it relates to our business life, we are to labor diligently as exemplified
by Paul (2 Thess. 3:7-9). What James is condemning is a self-confident attitude which
has not sought out the will of God in their planning strategy.

All plans should be dependent on the Lord's will. All plans should be subordinate to the
will of God. And concerning the plans that are made, we ought to say, "This we will do"
but only if "the Lord wills" that it be done.

This is the very attitude Paul had. To the brethren at Ephesus, he wrote: "I will return to
you again if God wills" (Acts 18:21). And again to the Corinthians he said, "But I will
come to you soon, if the Lord wills" (1 Cor. 4:19).

This attitude does not always have to be verbalized as seen in Paul's statement: "After I
have been there, I must also see Rome" (Acts 19:21). But the Lord's will should always
be present in our thoughts as we plan for the future.

It is arrogant self-sufficiency that prompts a believer to leave the Lord out of his plans. It
is a boldfaced declaration of independence from God. Whether men realize it or not, they
"will live and do this or that" only if "it is the Lord's will."62

C. The Sin Involved Is Boastful Arrogance

16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; -

One of the things that the worldly mind is extremely fond of is "the boastful pride of life"
(1 Jn. 2:16). This pride is defined by Aristotle "as the man who pretends to praiseworthy
qualities which he does not possess, or possesses in a lesser degree than he makes out."63

Their boasting was exaggerated because they could, in reality, do nothing if the Lord did
not want it to be done. If any boasting was to be done, it should have been "in the Lord"
(1 Cor. 1:31).

The word "arrogance" refers to proud confidence in one's own knowledge or cleverness.64
By leaving God out of their plans, these brethren were arrogantly claiming to be in full
control of their lives. Man's boasting, however, only covers up his weakness. Solomon
said it this way: "The lot is cast into the lap, But its very decision is from the Lord"
(Prov. 16:33). "Man cannot control future events. He has neither the wisdom to see the
future nor the power to control the future. For him to boast is sin; it is making himself

all such boasting is evil. -

Though we may "boast in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:31), all such boasting as these brethren
were doing was sinful because it was outside of God's will (cf. 1 Cor. 5:6).

17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him
it is sin.

James concludes with a maxim that means something like "You have been fully
warned."66 The merchants, had they been ignorant of their sin before, now had full
knowledge of their evil arrogance. They now know how to conduct business the way God
expects it to be done - according to His will. Therefore if they still refuse to have God in
their merchant mentality, they would not be doing what is right, therefore, to them "it is
sin" (cf. Jn. 9:41; Jn. 15:22;Lk. 12:47:48;).

Knowing what is right obligates the one who has that knowledge to do right. "For it would
be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known
it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Pet. 2:21).



1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you.
2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. 3 Your gold
and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will
consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your

4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been
withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the
harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Saboath.

5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have
fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and put to death
the righteous man; he does not resist you.

Commentators are of differing opinions as to where this section begins. Punchard believes
that this section "ought to follow chapter 4:17 without a break" thus making it refer to the
Jewish merchants of chapter four.1 Alford believes that "these verses need not necessarily
be the same persons as chapter 4:13ff." He suggests that the words
"Come now" (Greek, age nun), "seem to indicate a fresh meaning."2

They also differ in opinion as to whether these are rich Jewish Christians or rich
unbelievers. Burdick believes that they are not believers and that it is "more reasonable to
understand this section as similar to OT prophetic declarations of coming judgement
against pagan nations."3 Robertson believes that James has in mind "the rich as a class,
whether believer...or unbeliever."4 Adamson believes that they were rich Jewish farmers,
but that it was also possible "that James is also attacking Christian landowners."5

I lean toward Burdick's opinion because the tone is prophetic and these rich, as in chapter
2:6,7, were oppressing poor Christian Jews (4:4); even to the point of having them "put
to death" (4:6). If these were rich Christians it would seem that James would have surely
called for repentance as in chapter 4:7-10.

Another reason is that it seems like James is using this prophecy to show the merchants
in chapter 4:13-17 what ultimately awaits the self-confident and self-sufficient person
whose main interest is the pursuit of riches. He also uses this prophecy to show the poor
Jewish brethren (4:7-11) that the wicked rich who are oppressing them will pay for their

A. Weep and Howl

1 Come now, you rich, -

The "rich" were apparently farmers with large land holdings (vs.4). These farmers either
owned or rented their farms. Some worked them with slaves, but many relied heavily, if
not exclusively, on hired labor.6 (cf. Mt. 20:1-16;21:33-41;Lk. 20:9).

Some of those who made up the Sanhedrin were of this class. Joseph of Arimathea was
one of them. Mark describes Joseph as a "prominent" man (Mrk. 15:43), or " wealthy
landowner."7 He was "a rich man" (Mt. 27:57), and part of his property was a garden (Jn.

Some of the priestly aristocracy may have been landowners. Eleazer b. Harsum, for
example, "is said to have inherited from his father one thousand villages and one thousand
ships, and had so many slaves that they did not know their own master."8

These farmers were just one part of the wealthy class. They were a component of the
ambitious and arrogant of Israel who "condemn and put to death the righteous" (vs. 6).
They were of the class who "blaspheme that fair name" (2:7) by which Christians are
called. They made up the category of those who were often condemned in the Scriptures
(cf. Jer. 4:8; Isa. 5:8;Amos 3:10; Prov. 11:28; 1 Tim. 6:19; Lk. 6:24; 18:24).

weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. -

The word "weep" is used of any loud expression of grief, especially in mourning for the
dead."9 The word "howl" is "an onomatopoeic verb (expressing its significance in its
sound), to howl, wail, lament."10 Both of these words deal with intense pain and agony.

The "miseries" that were to bring about this state of mourning are thought by some to
be the pillage and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 by Titus.11 Others believe them to
be the suffering to be experienced at the second coming of Christ. They both may be right.
It is possible that this is a dual prophecy which has an imminent fulfillment in the
destruction of Jerusalem and an ultimate fulfillment in the second coming of Christ.

Weeping and howling should have characterized the emotional state of those who
understood what misery awaited them on the day of judgment. They should become more
than just "frightened" as in Act 24:25, where it describes the emotional state of Felix in
response to Paul's speech concerning the judgment to come. It should be intense,
physical and audible expressions of fear and trembling.

2 Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth- eaten.

The word "riches," in a general sense, denotes anything that constitutes wealth. Wealth
in James’ day consisted of both money and such commodities as grain, oil, and costly
garments.12 Costly garments were stored as wealth and used as payment for services
rendered (2 Kings 5:5,22;Mt. 6:19). It was, therefore, their commodities and garments
that were deteriorating. The parable of the rich fool is a good illustration of those who store
up wealth (Lk.12:16-20).

3 Your gold and silver has rusted; -

Another part of these rich farmer's wealth was "gold" and "silver." The translation of the
Greek word katiotai as "rusted" is unfortunate. The word may refer to rust, tarnish, or
corrosion.13 Since neither gold nor silver rust or corrode, katiotai could have been
translated "tarnished" without inviting an alleged discrepancy.

and the rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. -

The tarnishing of these precious metals testified as to how long their wealth had been
stored. It also bore witness to their greed. Even though they were not using what they had
hoarded, they were not about to let go of any of their wealth. This is seen in the fact that
they were not paying their labor for services rendered (vs. 4).

The lust for wealth can consume a person's life like a fire consumes brush. "Rust,"
therefore, figuratively stands for "the love of money," which Paul says, "is a root of all
kinds of evil" (1 Tim. 6:10). This love had turned into a raging obsession which
consumed their entire being. Everything they did was for the love of money. This
attraction, however, would turn out to be fatal. For in the final judgment its testimony will
condemn them to the lake of fire.

It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasures. -

The phrase "the last days" has three possible meanings. (1). It could refer to "those
days" of which Christ refers to concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (Mt. 24:1-35). (2).
It could reflect the thought of an imminent coming of Christ in James' time. (3). Or it could
refer to the Christian dispensation, i.e. the time from Christ's first appearance on earth till
His second coming (Heb. 1:1,2; 1 Jn. 2:18). It probably refers to the Christian
dispensation. And being that the destruction of Jerusalem happened within the Christian
dispensation, the likelihood that this may be a dual prophecy becomes even greater.

There is an account of a man who was a member of the Sanhedrin that shows the pillage
of the property of the farmers during the destruction of Jerusalem. This man, according
to Jewish tradition, was a corn merchant named Nicodemus. It is said that luxury was
prevalent in his household. During the chaos which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem,
the mob burned his granaries which were full of wheat and barley.14 His treasures were
literally burned up. Ultimately, the day will come in which these rich farmers will loose more
than their wealth. That day is the day of final judgment.

4 Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been
withheld by you, cries out against you; -

James was not telling his readers that it was a sin to be rich. He was denouncing the sins
that had come about due to the farmer's lust for wealth. Their first sin was that of greed.
They were hoarding their wealth even to the point to where some of it had become moth-
eaten and useless. The sin that James denounces in this verse is what we legally refer to
as "theft of services."

The Jewish laws governing employer and employees were known quite well to the Jews.
The Torah was favorable toward the wage earner. It said that the employer must pay his
day laborer "on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and urgently depends
upon it; else he will cry to the Lord against you and you will incur guilt (Deut. 24:15;Lev.
19:13;cf. Ps. 104:23). The injunction to pay the laborer on time (Lev. 19:13) was
expanded to the effect that anyone who withheld an employee's wages, was in a sense,
taking his life. It was also ruled that the laborer had the right to withdraw his labor at any
time as an expression of his freedom from servitude. And the employer was also "liable for
the worker's food."15

These Rich farmers were breaking the law and oppressing the rights of the laborer and the
pay that was due the laborer was crying out against them. The personification of the
wages reinforces the witness of the laborers against their employer. This figure of speech
is found quite often in appeals for justice throughout the Scriptures (Gen. 4:10; Heb.
12:24) and has specific reference to the mistreatment of labor in the Law (Deut. 24:15).

and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of

Their cry was heard. Even though the rich had turned their ears away from the cries of
their employees; God, however, did not.

God is referred to as the "Lord of Sabaoth." This designation "represents the Hebrew
expression that literally means <Lord of hosts' or <Lord of the armies.'...The word <host' is
also used to refer to God's angels (2 Chron. 18:18) and to all the stars (Deut. 4:19).16 This
is powerful way of declaring God's omnipotence.

James used this designation to reassure his readers of the absolute power of God. To the
rich, "the Lord of Sabaoth" meant "beware," because God and His hosts still side with the
saints. And just because Christians do not war according to the flesh (2 Cor. 10:3), and
are commanded not to take matters into their own hands (Rom. 12:19), does not mean
that there will be no repercussions. For it is written: "VEN GE ANC E IS M INE, I W ILL R EPAY ,"
says the Lord of hosts (Rom. 12:19).

5 You have lived luxuriously on the earth, and lead a life of wanton pleasure; -

The wages that were being held back were being used to support a luxurious and self-
indulgent lifestyle. The word "luxuriously" means "to break down, to enervate,"17 thus
meaning "soft, enervating luxury that tends to demoralize."18 The words "wanton
pleasure" are from the Greek word which means to "lead a voluptuous life, give one's self
to pleasure."19

The expression "on the earth" may be a subtle way of showing the temporal aspect of this
lifestyle. They may live this way on earth, but the day is coming when their soul will be
required of them (Lk. 12:20). When this life ends for the wicked rich, so does their
luxurious living. As Abraham said to the rich man who died and went to hades, "Child,
remember that DURING YOUR LIFE you received good things" (Lk. 16:25), so will it be
said to the greedy, uncaring, rich oppressors at their death. They could not take their
wealth with them (1 Tim. 6:7).

you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. -

These people had indulged to their heart's content. Nothing was withheld that would have
brought them pleasure.

Some of the luxury items that characterized the lifestyle of the rich at that time were spices,
ointments, myrrh, aloes (Mrk. 16:1;Lk. 23:56ff; Jn. 19:39), jewelry, (Jas. 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:9)
and arts and crafts. Their extravagance was seen in their houses, clothing, servants, their
rich offerings and Temple gifts. They gave magnificent banquets and, because polygamy
was allowed among the Jews at this time, some maintained many wives.20

James' use of the "day of slaughter" is borrowed from Jeremiah 12:13. It was used to
designate the day of judgement. This probably meant that the rich will be indulging in this
lifestyle on the very day of judgment (cf. Lk. 17:27ff). They would be like cattle, fattening
themselves, completely oblivious to their impending destruction.

6 You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; -

It has already been noted that the biblical injunction to pay the laborers on time was
expanded to the effect that one who withholds an employee's wages was, in a sense,
taking his life. So by withholding the pay of their employees, these rich farmers had
already taken that which amounted to their lives. But they went even further; they became
judge, jury, and executioner.

Some scholars believe that this refers specifically to the trial and death of Jesus because
Peter calls Jesus "the Holy and Righteous one" (Acts 3:14,15) and Stephen called Him
"the Righteous One" (Acts 22:14;cf.1 Pet.3:18). Others believe that James is referring
to "that class of people who were known as the righteous."21 Barclay takes a figurative view
in that "it may well be that James is saying that in the oppression of the poor and the

righteous man, the selfish rich have crucified Christ again, that every wound inflicted on
Christ's people is another wound on Christ."22 Punchard would also add that James
"prophetically described his own murderers."23

The use of the definite article "the" with "righteous man" would normally refer to a
specific person. This is because the basic function of the Greek article is to point out
individual identity. 24

Given the designation that Peter and Stephen used of Christ (Acts 3:14:15; Acts 22:14),
the individual identity would fit that of Jesus.

The fact that the verbs "condemned" and "put to death" are first aorist active indicative,
indicates that the time of action is past.25 The aorist denotes action simply as occurring,
without reference to it's progress and has no temporal significance.26 In addition to this,
the noun "righteous man" or "righteous one," is singular, which is primarily used of one
individual. It can, however, be used generically for a class,27 but the evidence seems to be
in favor of an individual, that being Christ, in this context.

Although it probably refers directly to Christ, it could also refer indirectly to those who make
up the body of Christ. This can be implied in the fact that while Saul was oppressing the
church, Jesus said to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9:2). It
can also be seen, in principle, in Matthew 25:45, where Jesus said, "Truly I say to you,
to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to

In the apocryphal book called The Book of Wisdom, the wicked rich said, "Let us beset
the just one, because he is obnoxious to us." More specifically they said, "But let us
oppress the needy just man;...But let our strength be our norm of justice..." (Wisdom
2:10a;12a). This shows, most explicitly, the attitude of the wicked rich toward the righteous
person. Their justice was arranged so as to always favor themselves. That is where their
strength was. To them "might made right," and they used this strength to "condemn and
put to death the righteous man."

This same book vividly captures the attitude of the wicked rich that sought to kill Jesus.
In their words, the "just one" was "obnoxious" to them for the following reasons:

He sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the

law and charges us with violation of our training. He professes to have
knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord. To us he is the
censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, because his
life is not like other men's, and different are his ways. He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest, the
destiny of the just and boasts that God is his father. Let us see whether his
words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be
the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hands of his

foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have
proof of his gentleness and try his patience. LET US CONDEMN HIM TO A
SHAMEFUL DEATH (emphasis mine); for according to his own words, God
will take care of him. (Wisdom 2:12-20).

he does not resist you. -

Jesus did not resist the Sanhedrin police when they came to arrest him. And when Peter
pulled his sword to defend him, Jesus said, " Put the sword into the sheath" (Jn.
18:11,12). Neither did he resist the cross (Jn. 19:17). As Christ hung there, dying for the
very ones that condemned him, he prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know
what they are doing" (Lk. 23:34). He was an example of his own teaching to "love your
enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for
those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Mt .5:44, NKJV).

Many in the early Church who imitated the non-resistance of Christ paid for it with their
lives. Jesus had warned his disciples that they were not greater than their master, and that
if the wicked persecuted him then they would surely persecute them (Jn. 15:20). He also
stated that they would be cast out of the synagogues and killed by those who thought that
they were offering service to God (Jn. 16:1-3). Furthermore, Paul said, "all who desire
to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). Some of the Jewish
Christians actually endured this persecution "joyfully" without resistance (Heb. 10:32-34).

Proof of this non-resistant attitude among the early church has been well established in the
Scriptures (Mt. 5:38,39,43-47; Rom. 12:19-21), and through the testimony of early church
fathers (cf. Foxe's Book of Martyrs). So, following in the footsteps of Jesus, the righteous
ones who lived by faith did not resist those who persecuted them. Thereby in their
affliction, and in death, they glorified the name of the Lord.


7 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer
waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the
early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts for the coming of
the Lord is at hand.

9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that yourselves may not be
judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 10 As an example, brethren,
of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11
Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of
Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of
compassion and is merciful.

A. Be Patient

7 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.

The word "therefore" indicates that this section is directly related to verses 1-6. The
appeal is, therefore, to the Christian laborers who were being oppressed by the wicked
rich. James exhorts them to "be patient." This was his counsel to all the Jewish brethren
at the beginning of his letter (1:1-5).

The word "patient" "describes the attitude of self-restraint that does not try to get even
for a wrong that had been done."28 It is the very opposite of Greek virtue which Aristotle
defined as the refusal to tolerate any insult or injury. To the Greek the big man was the
man who went all out for vengeance. To the Christian the big man is one who, even when
he can, refuses to do so.29 James is telling these brethren to be steadfast and not to give
in to the desire for vengeance.

Rather than taking matters into their own hands they were to wait for the coming of the
Lord. When the Lord comes, he will come in judgment (Rom.12:19).

Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it,
until he gets the early and late rains.

The first illustration of patience is that of a farmer who waits for the "early and late rains."
These early rains were necessary for the germination of the grain and the latter rains for
the grain to mature (cf. Deut. 11:14;Jer. 5:24). The early rains came in October or
November and the latter rains came in April and May.30

The farmer was patient because the produce was "precious" to him. The harvest was
worth the wait. The writers of the New Testament used farming terms to describe the
Christian life. Paul said, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due season we
shall reap if we do not grow weary" (Gal. 6:9). In a sense, the Christian is a spiritual
farmer, who by sowing to the Spirit, "shall from the Spirit reap eternal life" (Gal. 6:8).
This harvest should be more precious to the Christian than the produce to the farmer.

8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, -

These laborers were to be patient like the farmers waiting for the rains. The farmers got
what they waited for. And so will they if they will hang in there and not return evil for evil.

To do this they will need an inner strength to endure this oppression. The word
"strengthen" means "to make stable, as in Lk. 22:32;1 Thess. 3:13."31 It "has the idea
of providing solid support, of establishing a person, and thus enabling him to stand
unmovable by trouble."32

Paul wanted to go to Rome to impart some spiritual gift so that they would be
"established" (Rom. 1:11). He sent Timothy to Thessalonica to help "strengthen and
encourage" them in their faith (1 Thess. 3:1-3). He also prayed that God would
"establish" their hearts so they would be found blameless at the coming of the Lord (1
Thess. 3:11-13). The strengthening, therefore, would come from God's word, God's
people, and prayer.

for the coming of the Lord is at hand. -

The reason they needed strength was because the "the coming of the Lord" was "at
hand." As previously mentioned, this could have an immediate fulfillment in the
destruction of Jerusalem, and an ultimate fulfillment at Christ's second coming. But if there
is no reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in this verse, then James would have been
referring to the certainty of Christ's second coming at that time. He, then, would have been
regarding Christ, literally, as near at hand.

This would seem to be a bold assumption in view of the fact that no one knows the hour,
not even Jesus, as to when Christ will return (Mt. 24:36-39). Jesus, however, did know
when he was coming in judgment on Jerusalem. He even told his disciples what to look
for. He said that when they saw these things they should know "that He is near, right at
the door" (Mt. 24:33). It, therefore, would make sense to see first, the coming of the Lord
in judgment on the Jews in the destruction of Jerusalem, which would be seen as a
temporal judgment on the wicked rich, and second, at Christ second coming, in which the
wicked rich will receive their eternal judgment.

Whatever may be the case, James' point is still the same. These brethren were to be
patient and wait on the Lord to right the wrongs that had been inflicted upon them. The
knowledge that "the coming of the Lord is at hand" would have stabilized their faint
hearts and given them strength to face this terrible injustice.

B. Do Not Complain

9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another,

Having one's wages held back by an employer can bring out the worst in the best of
people. So would being dragged into court and condemned to die. But Christians are
suppose to endure oppression and injustice without complaining.

This is vividly portrayed in the principle of going the second mile. In response to the way
the Jews had interpreted the saying, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," Jesus
said, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on the right
cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your
tunic, let him have your cloak also" (Mt. 5:38-40). It would be hard enough to outwardly
follow this principle, but it would be even harder not to harbor resentment toward the

The word "complain" commonly meant to sigh, or to groan."33 It is "of an inward,
unexpressed feeling of sorrow."34 James is therefore forbidding "the unexpressed feeling
of bitterness or the smothered resentment that may express itself in a moan or a sigh."35

that you yourselves may not be judged

Groaning or sighing against each other is indicative of an inner judgment. Even though
they may not have verbalized that judgment, the thought, however, was in their hearts.
And that thought was enough to make them judges. This is very similar to the Lord's
teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 7:1-5).

behold, the judge is standing right at the door. -

James had already said that there was only one Lawgiver and Judge (cf. 4:11,12). Since
"the coming of the Lord was at hand," and since the Lord is the Judge, then James'
statement: "the Judge is standing right at the door" intensifies the certainty of the
judgment that was soon to come (cf. Mt. 24:33; Mrk. 13:29).

C. Examples of Endurance

10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who

spoke in the name of the Lord. -

The Jewish brethren would understand quite well the use of the prophets as examples of
suffering and patience. Jeremiah stands out as one who was patient in suffering. He was
put into stocks (Jer. 20:2), imprisoned (32:2), and cast into a muddy well (38:6), yet God
fed and protected him all through the siege of Jerusalem. Jewish tradition has it that he
was finally stoned to death in Egypt by his own people.

The prophets made up a class that was part of a "great cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1)
that endured suffering and remained faithful. Daniel was patient while in the lion's den
(Dan. 6:19-28); Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, was stoned to death (2 Chron. 24:20); and
according to tradition, Isaiah was sawn in two.36

11 Behold, we count those blessed who endure. -

James, as in 1:12, is making the point that the ones who endure are the ones that are
blessed (cf. comments on chapter 1:3). Jesus said, "Blessed are you when men cast
insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you, on account
of me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they
persecuted the prophets before you" (Mt. 5:11,12).

You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's
dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

James does not speak here of Job's patience, for despite the popular phrase “the patience
of Job,” he was hardly an example of that quality (cf. Job 12:2;13:3,4;16:2).37 But he was,
however, a great example of “ endurance,” that quality of spiritual staying power which
enabled men to die for the Lord.38 (cf. Job's situation: Job 1:21,22; 2:10; 13:15; 19:25-

These Jewish Christians had also "seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings" with Job.
They knew that God "increased all that Job had twofold" (Job 42:10). They may have
witnessed this with their own eyes in the lives of God's people in their day. This was proof
that the Lord was compassionate and merciful.

This is the outcome of patiently enduring oppression by the wicked. James is encouraging
them not to fight this evil, but rather to endure it patiently, without groaning against one
another. The Lord will take care of the injustice with justice. And they will see, as Job did,
the outcome of the Lord's dealings if they endure. Then they too will be considered


12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth, or with
any other oath; -

A. What Not To Say

James may still be discussing the issue of the affliction of the laborers in the previous
verses. It is quite possible that in their frustration, these brethren acquired the bad habit
of swearing. But more than likely, this was a prevailing problem with the Jews as a whole.
Therefore, the phrase "above all," may signify the close of his letter.39

James, again, echoes the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:34-37. The principle that Jesus
taught concerning swearing came from the Mosaical law: "You shall not take the name
of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes
his name in vain" (Ex. 20:7).

In the old Testament it was not wrong for a man to make a vow, or swear an oath. Part of
the law read: "If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with
a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that
proceeds out of his mouth" (Num. 30:2). "When you make a vow to the Lord your
God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God
will surely require it of you" (Deut. 22:21). But by the time of Jesus and James the
making of oaths had become frivolous and evasive.

Frivolous swearing would be an unnecessary oath. It had become a common practice at
that time to introduce a statement by saying, "By thy life," or "By my head," or, "May I never
see the comfort of Israel if..."40 There was no need for this kind of language in everyday
conversation. It made sacred things into frivolous words.

Evasive swearing were oaths that were taken with the intent of evading the implied
obligation of the oath. These oaths were cloaks for lying, cheating, and swindling. To the
Jew there were two classes of oaths, those that were binding and those that were not. Any
oath in which the name of God was directly used was considered to be definitely binding;
but any oath in which direct mention of the name of God was not made was held not to be

The Jews, therefore, would split hairs when it came to making oaths. They thought by
avoiding God's name that they were not really guilty of the sin of perjury.42 So, they would
swear by heaven, or earth, or Jerusalem, or even by their own heads, feeling quite free to
break the oath.43 (cf. Mt. 5:34-36).

There were some Jews, however, that forbade, with few exceptions, all oaths. They were
of the Qumran community. It was said of the Essenes: "Every word they speak is more
binding than an oath; they avoid swearing as something worse than perjury among other
people, for they say a man is already condemned if he cannot be believed without
swearing by God."44 Generally speaking,, however, most Jews were habitual oath-takers.

It should be obvious that James is not referring to "swearing" in our modern sense of the
word. He is referring to the Jewish habit of using various oaths to confirm statements,
promises, undertakings, fulfilling business agreements, or in disputes and complaints of
loss, injury, or other wrongs in these and many other relations and transactions of daily

It seems evident that there was quite a bit of evil underlying swearing at that time. And in
reality these brethren could not have avoided God in their oaths. This is because heaven
is his throne, the earth is his footstool, and Jerusalem is "the City of the Great King." And
to swear by their head was to swear by something that belonged to God (Mt. 5:35,36).
This being the case, they would have been guilty of taking the Lord's name in vain.

B. What To Say

but let your yes be yes, and your no, no;

These brethren, being Christians, should have had a character that would have made
oaths completely unnecessary. The support of their integrity and honesty should have
come from what they were themselves. The great Greek teacher Isocrates said, "A man
must lead a life which will gain more confidence in him than ever an oath can do."46 A
Christian should be honest in all that he says and does so that when he makes an
affirmation or denial people will have no reason to question his honesty.

so that you may not fall under judgement. -

In the frivolous and evasive use of oaths a person was always in danger of taking the
Lord's name in vain. And God would judge him for that (Ex. 20:7;Deut. 23:21,22). So,
James, as did Jesus, forbade all swearing of this type. (Note: some still took oaths at
this time: cf. Ps. 110:4;2 Cor. 1:21;Gal. 1:20). It must be remembered, however, that we
are neither God, nor inspired apostles. Therefore, anyone using these as examples to
follow is treading dangerous waters. Remember, Jesus said that anything beyond a yes,
or, no "is evil" (Mt. 5:37).


13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing
praises. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and
let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the
prayer offered in faith will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be
forgiven him.

16 Therefore, confess your sins one to another, so that you may be healed. The
effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with
a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain
on the earth for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the sky
poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. -

The word "suffering" is a compound of kakos, "evil," and pascho, "suffering," therefore,
meaning to "suffer (endure) evils (hardship, troubles)."47 Paul used this word to describe
his plight (2 Tim. 2:9). It is the same word used in verse 10 to describe the circumstances
of the prophets.

When these brethren were suffering evil from their oppressors, they needed "patience"
(v. 8). They were neither to "complain" (v. 9), nor "swear." Instead they were to "pray."

Even though these brethren did not have the right to take the Lord's name in vain while
suffering, they did have the right to use God's name in prayer. The laborers who were
suffering because the rich farmers held back their wages had the right to pray. So they did.
And it reached the ears "of the Lord of Saboath." Jesus said, "...shall not God bring
about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over
them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily" (Lk. 18:7,8). God
can remove affliction if it is his will, but when it is in our best interest to endure suffering,
he gives us a "greater grace" (Jas. 4:6; 2 Cor. 12;7-9).

Paul said, "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). In this God provides the way to
escape temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). In this is found "wisdom from above" which is "first
pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering,
without hypocrisy" (Jas. 1:5;3:17). George Macdonald once said, "Never wait for fitter
time or place to talk to Him. To wait till thou go to church or to thy closet is to make Him
wait. He will listen as thou walkest."

Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises. -

Singing was something that the Jews were very fond of. "Philo tells us that often the Jews
would spend the whole night in hymns and songs."48 This love for singing also
characterized the early Christian assemblies. One of the first descriptions of a Christian
assembly is that given by Pliny (the Younger), the Roman governor of Bithynia, who sent
a report of his investigation into Christian activities to Trajan, the Roman Emperor. In that
report he said, "...that on an appointed day they had been accustomed to meet before
daybreak, and to recite a hymn antiphonally to Christ, as to a god..."49

To be cheerful in times of oppression would be difficult, but not impossible. Even though
Paul said, "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim.3:
12), the truly mature Christian can "count it all joy" when he encounters various trials.
God is said to give "songs in the night" (Job 35:10). He did this for Paul and Silas who,
after being "beaten with rods," thrown "into prison," and fastened "in the stocks,"
were, even at midnight, found "praying and singing hymns of praise" (Acts 16:22-25).
These two men were great examples of those who were "perfect and complete, lacking
in nothing."

In times of suffering, there is always the temptation to do foolish things. One of these is
to try to endure the "days of evil" by getting drunk. This person is not one who is
prayerful, therefore, he has made an unwise choice.

Paul gives sound words for those who are weak in the flesh. He says:

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise,
making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not
be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. AND DO NOT G ET
DRUNK WITH WINE, for that is dissipation, BUT BE FILLED WITH THE SP IRIT ,
THANKS FOR ALL THINGS in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God,
even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (
emphasis mine - Eph. 5:15-21).

Singing praises and giving thanks shows wisdom in times of tribulation. A mature Christian
will take advantage of these godly avenues of escape from the stress of enduring
sufferings. As a matter of fact, singing can make a person cheerful.

14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church,

James now gives instructions to the "sick." The physically sick would have been to weak
to go before the assembly. They were probably at home and bedridden. They were to call
for the elders of the church.

The "church" would have been the local assembly to which the sick brother belonged. The
"elders" were the leaders of the church. Each congregation that was fully organized at
that time would have had a plurality of elders (cf. Acts 14:23; 15:2; 16:4; 21:18; 20:28;
1 Pet. 5:1-4). In Titus 1:5,7 the word "elders" and "overseer" are used of the same
office. In Acts 20:28 the "overseers" were charged to "shepherd" the flock. The same
Greek words are used in 1 Peter 5:1-4. And in Ephesians 4:11 “shepherd” is
translated "pastors." So "elders," "overseers" (also translated "bishops"), and
"pastors" all refer to the same office.

The local congregation was to submit themselves to these leaders because they kept
watch over their souls and would ultimately give an account for their work (Heb. 13:7,17).

and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; -

The elders' prayer may have included the laying on of hands. Some say that this is
"implicit in the phrase <Let them pray over him.'"50 They were also to “anoint” or better to
“rub” him with oil. The word "anointing" (Greek, aleipsantes) " is a general term used for
an anointing of any kind."51 This would indicate that this was not the sacramental
"anointing" which is chriein,52 but rather to "rub" as it is commonly used in medical

In the ancient world oil was considered a cure-all. Barclay quotes Galen, the great Greek
physician, as saying, "Oil is the best of all instruments for healing diseased bodies." 54 It
was used externally and internally. "Josephus...reports that during his last illness Herod
the Great was given a bath in oil in hopes of effecting a cure.” 55 This could mean that
James is prescribing prayer and medicine for the treatment of sickness.

There is, however, another possibility. If, as some believe, the laying on of hands was
implied in the elders prayer, then this could also imply that the spiritual gift of healing was
involved. This was an early period in the growth of the church and spiritual gifts were very
common. Matthew said that Jesus gave his twelve disciples "authority over unclean
spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease"
(Mt. 10:1). Luke records that the twelve healed the sick by anointing them with oil (Mrk.
6:13). Healing was also one of the gifts of the Spirit (1Cor. 12:9)

15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord
will raise him up, -

This statement shows that there is healing power was in the prayer that was offered "in
faith." The elders must believe, without any doubt (Jas. 1:6), that God will restore the

health of the one who is sick. Even though they cannot see the future, they must have
the assurance that their hope will be realized. The prayer offered with this strong a faith
will bring about God's healing power (1 Jn. 5:14-15). The Lord will then "raise him
up," i.e enable him to get up from his sick bed.

and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. -

If this man's sins were the cause of his sickness, they would be forgiven. It is an
undeniable fact that sin can cause sickness and even death. This is well documented
in Scripture (Mrk. 2:5ff; Jn. 5:14f; 9:2;1 Cor. 11:30). The forgiveness of his sins
implies that he had repented and confessed them to God (1 Jn. 1:7-9;2:1).

16 Therefore, confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, so
that you may be healed. -

Here James broadens the arena of those who can use prayer to heal. The present
tense of the verbs indicates a continual confessing and praying. The elders were called
in for a specific case, but in general, all Christians can pray for God's healing hand.
Assuming that they have already confessed their sins to God, they were to confess their
sins to one another, and pray for one another, in order to be healed.

These brethren had been sinning against one another in showing partiality (2:1,9),
judging each other (2:4; 4:12), quarreling, fighting, (4:1,2), and speaking against one
another (4:11).

Jesus said in Matthew 5: 22-24:

But I say to you everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty
before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother "Raca," shall be
guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, "You fool," shall
be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. If therefore if you are presenting
your offering at the alter, and there remember that your brother has
something against you, leave your offering at the alter, and go your way;
first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your

James writes considerably on prayer because these brethren's prayer life was plagued
with problems.

The following are some things James says can hinder prayer:
(l) Not asking (4:2).
(2) Asking with "with wrong motives" (4:3).
(3) Doubting that God will grant the request (1:5,6).
(4) Judging the law (4:11)

Turning away from the law makes one’s prayer an "abomination to the Lord" (Prov.
28:9). But even though "the face of the Lord is against those who do evil," His eyes
"are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayers" (1 Pet. 3:12).

Before their prayer could be accepted as a prayer of faith, these brethren first needed
to be reconciled with one another. They needed to forgive each other before God
would forgive them. Then whatever they were praying for, if they believed without any
doubt, would be granted to them (Mrk. 11:25,26; Mt. 6:14,15). In this context the things
prayed for are forgiveness of sins and healing.

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. -

The prayers of these brethren could not accomplish anything if they continued in their
unrighteousness. But the prayer of "a righteous man," one who will confess his sins
and pray for others, would be very effective.

B. Examples of the Power of Prayer

17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it
might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and three months.
18 And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

James uses Elijah, a simple human being without superhuman powers, as proof that a
righteous man's prayer is effective. Even though Elijah was a prophet of God, he was
by no means perfect. He sinned just like every other man does. As a matter of fact,
right after his victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he became afraid of
Jezebel and ran away (1 Kings 18:20-40; 19:1-10). And this happened after his prayer
had brought about and ended three and one-half years of drought (1 Kings 171;18:42-
45). "It is true that 1 Kings 17-18 does not explicitly say that Elijah prayed, but this may
be assumed from 17:1 and especially from 18:42. The three and one-half years is a
round number based on 18:1."56

Elijah, however, was a "righteous man" in that he faithfully obeyed God's commands
trusting in His promises (1 Kings 19:11-19). For this reason his prayers were effective
in soliciting God's providential use of nature to bring about that which he petitioned.
God answered Elijah's prayers just as he would the prayers of the righteous men to
whom James is writing. He will also answer the prayers of the righteous man today.


19 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back,
20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his
soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

A. Save His Soul

19 My brethren, if any among you stray from the truth, -

James is now addressing the possibility of apostasy. The address, "my brethren"
definitely implies that they were Christians; his spiritual brothers in Christ.

The word " if " is a third class condition. It expresses that in which "there is
considerable probability in its fulfillment."57

The verb "stray" means "to go astray, to wander."58 It is used by Jesus in reference to
sheep that "go astray" (Mt.18:12,13). This suggests a gradual wandering away from
the truth.

"The truth" is the word of God (Jn. 17:17) given through Christ and the Holy Spirit to
His apostles, (Jn. 16:12-15) who gave it to us through the written word (Jn. 20:30).

These Christians "were brought forth" by God's word (Jas. 1:18); their souls were
purified by it (1 Pet. 1:22,23); by it they were saved (1 Cor. 15:1-3); and in it they were
made free (Jn. 8:31,32).
By James’ use of the third class condition “if,” he declares that there was a
considerable probability that some of the brethren to whom he wrote would stray away
from God’s word. And by the tone of this letter, indeed some had already strayed away.

and the one that turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from
the error of his way will save his soul from death,

The Christian who strays from the truth, if he is not turned back, will suffer death. This
does not mean physical death, because all men will physically die (Heb. 9:27), but
rather spiritual separation from God (1 Chron. 28:9;Gal. 5:2-4; 2 Tim. 2:16-18). If he
is turned back then his soul will be saved.

A brother who has strayed too far to turn himself back to the Lord is in dire need of
help. A Christian who sees this happening should feel compelled to help his brother.
Even though prayer is not mentioned in this verse, this whole section lends support to it
as being one avenue of service. But it will take more than just prayer to turn back a
straying brother. If prayer alone could turn a sinner to God then there would be no
need for active service. We could just sit in our padded pews and with pious platitudes
call on God to do all the work. This, however, is not how wandering sheep are brought
back into the fold.

It takes faith and works. Through the righteous brother's faith in God's ability to answer
his prayer for the erring brother, and by personally working with the erring brother, he
would become an active part in the straying brother's restoration. Somehow the fallen
brother must be touched by God's word. If he is beyond seeking the Lord on his own
then the only way the word can prick his heart is if someone brings it to him. This goes
along with the instruction given by Paul on this subject: "Brethren, if a man is
overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of
gentleness..." (Gal. 6:1). You cannot show a spirit of gentleness to someone if you
are not in contact with them.

and will cover a multitude of sins.-

A Christian who is willing to get actively involved with restoring a straying brother truly
shows his love for him. This is because "love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Pet.
4:8). No, this does not mean that loves will "sweep sin under the rug." It means that
no matter what the sin is, or how many sins have been committed, if the straying
brother confesses his sin and ask forgiveness, all his sins will be covered, forgiven
seventy times seven (Jn. 1:9; Mt. 18:21,22), and forgotten (Heb. 8:12).

And so James ends the final chapter of his maturity manual with assurance that God is
still for his people and is more than willing to cover the sins of those who have strayed if
they will return. I am sure that this came as a welcome salve for the wounds left by the
sword of the Spirit; just as it still is today.


1. Slanderer, malicious gossip (2 Tim. 3:3; Tit. 2:3). From the Greek word
diabolos, which means "accusing falsely" and refers "to those who are given
to finding fault with the demeanor and conduct of others, and spreading their
innuendos and criticisms in the church" (Thayer and Vine).
2. Blaspheme, hurling abuse, slanderously reported (Jas. 2:7; Mt. 27:39;
Rom. 3:8). From the Greek word blasphemeo, which means, "in a general
way, of any contumelious speech, reviling, calumniating, railing at, etc" (Vine).
3. Strife, disputes (2 Cor. 12:20). From the Greek word eris, which means
"strife, quarrel, especially rivalry, contention, wrangling" (Vine).
4. Gossip (2 Cor. 12:20). From the Greek word psithurismos, which means
"a whispering, i.e. secret slandering" (Thayer).
5. Backbiters (Rom. 1:30). From the Greek word katalalos, which means "to
speak against," "a defamer, evil speaker" (Vine, Thayer).
6. Contradict, gainsayer, argumentative (Tit. 1:9; 2:9). From the Greek
word antilego, which means "to contradict, oppose, lit. to say against" (Vine).
7. Complain (Jas. 5:9). From the Greek word stenazo, which means "to sigh,
to groan." It comes from "an inward unexpressed feeling of sorrow." It is "the
unexpressed feeling of bitterness or smothered resentment that may express
itself in a moan or a sigh" (Thayer, Vine, Burdick).
8. Filthy Talk (Eph. 5:4). From the Greek word aischrotes, which means
"obscenity, all that is contrary to purity" (Vine).
9. Silly Talk (Eph. 5:4). From the Greek word morologia, which means
"senseless conversation that cheapens the man and does not edify or
administer grace to the hearers" (Wiersbe).
10. Coarse jesting (Eph. 5:4). From the Greek word eutrapelia, which
literally means "easily turning" which "suggests a certain kind of
conversationalist who can turn a statement into a coarse jest" (Wiersbe).
11. Lying (Eph. 4:25). From the Greek word pseudos, which simply means
"a falsehood," a "statement that is contrary to fact, spoken with the intent to
deceive" (Wiersbe).

12. Mocking (Mt. 22:63; Gal. 6:7; Acts 17:32; Acts 2:13). From the Greek
words empaizo, mukterizo, chleuazo, diachleuazo, which together mean "to
play like a child, sport, jest...ridicule, turn up the nose at, sneer at, treat
with contempt, to scoff at whether by gesture of word" (Vine).
13. Prating, unjustly accusing, gossiping (3 Jn. 10:1; 1 Tim. 5:13). From
the Greek word phluareo, which means "to talk nonsense, babbling, garrulous,
tattlers, to raise false accusations" (Vine).
14. Threatening (Eph. 6:9). From the Greek word apeile, which means "to
declare to do harm to someone" (Watson).
15. Boast, brag (Jas. 4:16; 1 Cor. 13:4). From the Greek words alazoneia,
and perpereuomai, which together mean, "arrogant display, boasting, vaunt
oneself, vainglorious, braggart" (Vine).




The Sadducees were the most influential sect of Judaism. The name Sadducees (Greek
Saddoukaioi, Hebrew Zaddukim) is usually "linked, along with the bene Zodok ("Sons of
Zadok") of Qumran, to the high priest at the time of Solomon" (Simon) "or some later
Zodak" (Fereguson). They claimed to be "the legitimate priesthood, in accordance with the
principle proclaimed by Ezekiel: "These are the sons of Zodak, who alone among the sons
of Levi may come near the Lord to minister to Him" (Ezek.40:46) (Simon). "The
Sadducean party was made up of chief priest and elders, the priestly and the lay nobility"
(Jerimias). "They represented an aristocracy that seems to have been haughty and
exclusive" (Simon).

This sect was small in number, but had great influence in political and religious affairs.
They were prominent men and were educated. Sociologically, they "represented the
sophisticated, urban class which was centered in Jerusalem. Many of them were wealthy
landowners." Theologically, they were conservative (Metzger). They "were opposed to any
ritual or doctrinal innovation: it was on this point that they were in fundamental opposition
to the Pharisees" (Simon). They "accepted only the written law of Moses as authoritative
and rejected the oral law of the pharisees" (Ferguson). They also denied the resurrection
of the dead, angels, spirits (Acts 23:8; Mt.22:23-33), "penalties in the underworld, and
rewards" (Josephus, Jewish Wars, 2.8.14). During the development of the early church
"a great many of the priest were becoming obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).


The second major sect, the Pharisees (Greek pharisaios; from the Hebrew root parash,
"the separated ones"), "i.e. the holy ones, the true community of Israel" (Jerimias), are
thought to be "successors of those who in earlier generations were called the Hasideans
(=the Pious)" (Metzger). They represented a large portion of the Jewish community. "From
a reliable source, transmitted to us by Josephus...we learn of `more than six thousand'
Pharisees during Herod's time throughout his kingdom" (Jerimias). They had "the
reputation of excelling the rest of their nation in the observance of religion, and as exact
exponents of the laws" (Josephus, Jewish Wars, 1.5.2). "They were for the most part men
of the people, with no scribal education. But they were so closely linked with the scribes
that it is difficult to separate them" (Jerimias).

The scribes, as part of the Pharisaic party (Mrk.2:16; Acts 23:9), were sometimes referred
to as "lawyers" (Lk.11:52), "teachers of the law" (1 Tim.1:7), or simply "teachers" (Jas.3:1).
They held the title rabbi, which literally means "my great one." Another title commonly
used to address a scribe was "master." "Apart from the chief priests and members of
patrician families the scribe was the only person who could enter the supreme court, the

Sanhedrin. The Pharisaic party in the Sanhedrin was composed entirely of scribes"
(Jerimias). The phrase "scribes and Pharisees" (Mt.22:13) seems to indicate that there
were scribes with other sectarian affiliations (Metzger).

The Pharisees religious life was built around the Torah. They saw the Torah "as a
developing, dynamic social force" (Ferguson). To keep the law of Moses from becoming
ritualistically dead and to give it fresh meaning and vitality, they interpreted the law instead
of following it by the letter. This naturally led them to go beyond the written text. "In their
eyes, the tradition that they invoked in doing this, far from opposing the Torah, was the
natural prolongation and explanation of it" (Simon). The Sadducees, on the other hand,
rejected the oral traditions (i.e., that accumulated body of pronouncements of Jewish
teachers down through the generations) (Metzger). This became a subject of permanent
dissension between the two parties (Simon). The Pharisees, therefore, were considered
the liberal party.

Doctrinally, the Pharisees held to the doctrine of foreordination, the immortality of the soul,
the resurrection of the body, reward and punishment in the after life, fate and free will, and
the existence of angels and demons (Metzger-Ferguson). It was out of this sect that the
apostle Paul came (Acts 23:6; 26:5).


The Zealots were the third major sect were. This party was formed by Judas the Galilean,
who stirred up a rebellion against the Romans in A.D. 6 (Acts 5:37) (Metzger). "The
Zealots and the Pharisees were in agreement on all points, except that the zealots
professed a fierce attachment to liberty, recognizing God alone as master, and were
always ready to suffer torture and death rather than bow before the authority of man...They
expressed in actions a hostility that, in the Pharisees, most often remained theoretical"

"Zealots were active throughout the war of A.D. 66-70, a war which resulted in the fall of
Jerusalem. The last pocket of Zealot resistance continued to hold out for three more years
at the stronghold Masada..." (Metzger). One branch of the Zealot movement was known
as the "knife men" (Ferguson), or "assassins" (Metzger) (Acts 21:38). "They mingled
among the crowds on festival occasions with daggers hidden in their garments. After
striking down prominent collaborators with Roman officials, they disappeared in the
crowed" (Ferguson). That some of the Zealot sect had turned to Christ is evidenced in a
disciple of Jesus named "Simon the Zealot" (Acts 1:13; Lk.6:15). Peter showed a Zealot
mentality when he drew his sword on those who had come to arrest Jesus, cutting off the
right ear of Malcus, the high priest's servant (Jn.18:10).

Other Palestinian Sects
The Essenes

The Essenes were another sect of Judaism at this time. The name Essenes, according
to Philo, is derived from the Greek word hosioi, which means "holy or "pure." Josephus
suggested that the name was derived from semnoi, which means "the venerable." Others
believe that the name is derived from the Aramaic equivalent of hosois, which is hasya,
which is the equivalent of the Hebrew hasid. The word "Essenes" would then be a
transliteration (perhaps through Aramaic) of hasidim, which means "pious" (Simon). This
would be probable if the Hasidim (a conservative group of Jews who opposed hellenization
under the Seleucid dynasty and Antiochus Epiphanes) were the ancestors of the Essenes.

"According to information given by Philo, Josephus, and Pliny, they numbered about four
thousand and devoted themselves to a simple and abstemious life" (Metzger).

The Essenes, like the Pharisees, had begun as a voluntarily segregated

group, whereas the Pharisees had ceased to be such except in a relative
fashion. The Essenes were separated from the masses, whom they
considered to be impure and impious. They were separated from the
Sadducees who, in their eyes, represented an illegitimate priesthood. They
were separated from the Pharisees, despite certain affinities of spirit,
practice, and doctrine, because in general they exceeded the Pharisees in
the strictness and the completeness of their observance of the law. They
were separated from the Zealots, despite certain belated
convergences...because Essenism was not at all a manifestation of militant
nationalism. Indeed, the Essenes were separated from the totality of the
Jews, because they constituted a closed society, with secret rites and
esoteric teaching (Simon).

Many scholars believe that John the Baptist had at least been in contact with the Essene
community due to the similarities of his message to that of the Essenes. It is also believed
that since Essenism disappeared from the scene at the same time that Christianity entered
it, that "there is every reason to believe that Essenism provided Christianity with some of
its recruitment, starting at the very beginning and perhaps increasing after A.D. 70"


The Therapeutae were a Jewish community living near Lake Mareotis in lower Egypt.
Their name means either "healers," "worshippers," or "miracle workers" (Ferguson). Those
who were considered true Therapeutae were disciples of Moses (Simon). It is possible that
they may have been an imitation of the Essenes (Ferguson). The basic difference
between the Essenes and Therapeutae was in their lifestyles. "Whereas the Essenes led
an active life, devoting almost the whole day to manual labor and reserving a part of the

evening for study, the Therapeutae were devoted solely to pure contemplation. Every
moment was taken up with solitary or collective study, meditation, and prayer" (Simon).
They differed from the Essenes also in that they included men as well as women into their
community. "Eusebius, reading Philo through the eyes of a Christian of the fourth century,
believed that he recognized in the Therapeutae the first representatives of Egyptian
Christianity, standing in direct line with the monasticism of his own day" (Simon).


The party of the Nazerenes took its place among the Palestinian sects. The term
Nazarene (Greek, Nazoraioi) may be derived from a root word which means "to observe,"
and may possibly mean "observant people" (Bruce). It is possible that this name may have
been used "of a pre-Christian group, then of the first Christians in general and perhaps
other sects as well, later coming to designate the Jewish Christians and also, finally, the
Mandaeans" (Simon). In actual practice the name Nazerenes may have simply been
derived originally from Nazereth, the home-town of Jesus (Bruce).

The Nazoraioi were Jews by race and lived in Galaatides, Basanitides, and other Jordanian

They practiced circumcision, observed the sabbath and other feasts of the
Jews, and recognized the fathers mentioned in the Pentateuch as
representatives of true religion. But although they acknowledged that Moses
had indeed been given the divine law, they rejected the Pentateuch, for they
denied that the authentic law was found in the Pentateuch. Finally, while
keeping all the observances of the Jews, they refused to offer sacrifices or
to eat the flesh of animals....

Finally, the characteristics which Epiphanius attributes to the Nazoraioi

reappear trait by trait in the Jewish Christian sect of Ebionites. The only
additions are faith in Christ and a somewhat peculiar Christology...This group
provides a particularly clear example of the mechanism involved when a
Jewish sect passes over into Christian heterodoxy (Simon).

The Samaritans

Now reaching the bottom of the scale we find the Samaritans. Traditionally the origin of
the Samaritans has been traced back to the separation of the Samaritans from the Jewish
community and the construction of their Temple on Mount Gerizem in the fourth century
BC (Jerimias).

By New Testament times the Samaritans were "clearly distinct from the Jewish
community...Israel rejected them with abhorrence, and refused to consider them as Jews"
(Simon). The Jews looked upon the Samaritans as foreigners (Lk.17:18). There are
several reasons for this. "For one thing, the Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch alone as
inspired Scripture. Also, refusing to admit the temple in Jerusalem as the authentic
dwelling place of God, they offered their sacrifices on Mount Gerizim" (Simon).

Thus, in the first century AD with which we are now concerned, we are in one of the
periods of embittered relationships between Jews and Samaritans. When Jesus crossed
Samaria he could find no shelter, for he was going to the hated Temple in Jerusalem (Luke
9:52,53). He was refused even water to drink (John 4:9) and this shows the burning hatred
of the Samaritans for the Jews...The Jews for their part began to call the Samaritans
"Cutheans"... and the word "Samaritan" was a gross insult in the mouth of a Jew (John
8:48;b.Sot. 22a) (Jerimias).

The Herodians

"The Herodians are not mentioned outside the gospels, and the gospels tell us nothing
about them" (Ferguson). Most scholars believe "that they were neither a religious sect nor
a political party. The term apparently denotes an attitude and an outlook, and refers to
Jews of influence and standing who supported the Herodian rule..." (Metzger). "There is
nothing in the name to indicate that they were other than political partisans" (Ferguson).
"In such allegiance they were definitely in the minority, for most Palestinian Jews were
strongly opposed to that regime" (Metzger).

The Herodians are mentioned as those who were a party to a plot to kill Jesus in Galilee
(Mrk.3:6). They also tried to trap him with a question concerning a poll tax (Mt.22:16) to
get him in trouble with either the Jews or the Roman Government.

The Common People

The great majority of Palestinian Jews (more than 90 per cent) were
unaffiliated with any of the sects and groups previously mentioned. These
multitudes were known as the people of the land ('am ha-res). In the earlier
books of the Old Testament this term meant merely the common people, as
distinct from rulers and aristocracy. After the return from the exile, the
phrase was sharpened to designate those Palestinians whose Judaism was
mixed or suspect, and with whom the more scrupulous Jews could not
intermarry (Ezra 9:1-2; Neh. 10: 30-31).

In New Testament times the term came to mean specifically all those who,
either through ignorance or indifference, failed to observe the Mosaic law
and all its ramifications. The antipathy of the Pharisaic elite for the common
people finds expression in John 7:49, where the designation "this crowd" is
applied with scornful contempt to the ignorant masses who do not know the
law. So deep-seated was the Pharisee's disdain for the people of the land,
whom he regarded as immoral and irreligious, that he avoided as far as
possible all contact with them. According to rabbinical law they were not to
be summoned as witnesses, nor their testimony admitted in court. No secret
was to be entrusted to them, nor should one of them be appointed guardian
of an orphan. A Pharisee could not eat with an 'am ha-ares, and marriage
between the two classes was condemned in terms of abhorrence (the
judgment was that "their women are unclean vermin").

Jesus was friendly with this class of people, and freely associated with them.
Though the Pharisees regarded them as worthless outcasts, he was
sympathetic toward their plight and referred to them as "sheep without a
shepherd" (Matt. 9:36). As a result of Jesus' taking their part, and his own
neglect to observe the minutiae of Pharisaic rules (such as the ceremonial
washing of the hands before eating; (Mark 7:1-5; Luke 6: 1-5; 11:37-41), he
was regarded with animosity by the leaders of his day.

Bruce Metzger, THE NEW TESTAMENT: Its Background, Growth, and Content, pp. 45,46.



Anyone who touches a carcass or one of the eight species of reptiles becomes ritually

Food becomes unclean by coming into contact with a ritually unclean object.

Menstruous women and those lying-in after childbirth are ritually impure.

A leper, a leprous garment, and a leprous house are all ritually unclean.

A man having a running issue is unclean, as is semen.

A woman suffering from running issue is also unclean.

A human corps is ritually unclean.

The purification water purifies the unclean, but it makes the clean ritually impure.

It is a mitzvah (commandment) to become ritually clean by ritual immersion.



The need for support from others. At a time of grief it is important to have others,
including people from the church, who can be present or available to listen, share and help.

The need to accept the reality of the loss. The intellectual knowledge that someone
has died as well as the emotional acceptance of this fact are often two different issues.
The mourner must go through the painful process of accepting the reality of the loss-a
process which usually takes several months. To do this there is often a need to talk about
the departed one, to relive past memories, and to remind oneself that the loss has actually

The need to express sorrow. When he arrived at the home of Mary and Martha
following the death of their brother, Jesus wept (Jn.11:35). This may seem strange when
we consider that Jesus knew in advance that Lazarus would be restored to life (Jn.11:11-
15), but by His example the Lord showed that the expression of sorrow is quite appropriate
even among those who know that the departed one is "with Christ; which is far better"
(Phil.1:23). Therefore, the church leader must permit and encourage the outpouring of
feelings, for this is a necessary part of grieving-for believers and nonbelievers alike.

The need to verbalize hostility and guilt. Books and articles on grief make frequent
references to the anger and hostility that are often experienced by grief-stricken persons.
Sometimes the anger is directed toward other people or toward God, and sometimes there
is anger with the person who in dying has caused all of the present problems...Also
common is anger directed inward toward oneself. This is really self-condemnation for what
was said or not said, done or not done, while the dead person was still alive. When the
mourner thinks about his past life or when he realizes that he is angry with God or the
deceased, there are often great feelings of guilt.Sometimes expensive funerals or large
memorial gifts are really unconscious attempts by the grieving to atone for a guilty

The need to establish new relationships. The grieving person must find others who
can provide the security and satisfaction that the former relationship provided. This is a
difficult and time-consuming process which can be accompanied by guilt if the mourner
feels that in building new friendship he is also being unfaithful to the deceased. With the
loss of a spouse the problem is accentuated, since ours is a society where people do
things in couples and often there is little space for the unattached. All these needs present
the church leader with a real challenge as he works with the grieving over a period of
months. 42



1. Burdick, James. The Expositor' s Bible Comment ary, p. 161. Volume 12.
2. Woods, p. 18.
3. Robertson, p. 4 - Burdick, p. 162


1. TWBB, s.v. "bond-servant."

2. Woods, p. 24.
3. Lietzman, p.
4. Ibid.
5. Thayer, p. 276.
6. Peck, Scott M. The Road Less Travelled, p.16.
7. NTE, p. 145.
8. Burdick, p. 168.
9. Woods, p. 38.
10. Thayer, p. 443.
11. Woods, p. 39.
12. BAG, p. 520.
13. TDNT, 8:1.
14. Jeremias, p.112.
15. Woods, p. 52.
16. Burdick, p. 171.
17. DNT, s.v. "crown."
18. NTW, p.122.
19. Burdick, p. 172.
20. Adamson, p. 358.
21. Ibid.
22. Barclay, p. 64.
23. Burdick, p. 174.
24. Wiersbe, p. 53.
25. Barclay, p. 66f
26. Ibid, 68.
27. Ibid
28. TDNT, 4:975.

29. Ibid, 5:815.
30. Woods, p. 90.
31. Wigoder, p. 96.
32. Thayer, p. 32.
33. Ibid, p. 242.
34. Woods, p. 100.
35. Barclay, Galations - Ephesians, pp. 208,209.
36. Ibid.
37. Peck, p. 25.
38. Letter from James Dobson, 1984.
39. Ibid.
40. Ibid.
41. Woods, p.100.
42. Collins, Gary. Effective Counseling, p. 145.
43. Ibid, pp. 146-48.


1. Burdick, p. 177.
2. Woods, p. 106.
3. Burdick, p.178.
4. Adamson, p. 252.
5. Woods, p. 107.
6. Vincent, p. 738.
7. Burdick, p. 178.
8. Thayer, p. 371.
9. Ibid, p. 557.
10. Vine, p. 109.
11. Thayer, p. 557.
12. Robertson, p. 28.
13. Gutzke, p.
14. Edersheim, In the Days of Christ, pp. 249ff.
15. Burdick, p. 178.
16. Adamson, p. 279.
17. Wigoder, p. 231f.
18. Woods, p.
19. Jeremias, p. 109ff.
20. Metzger, p. 46.
21. Woods, p. 112.
22. Jeremias, p. 87ff.
23. Adamson, p. 253.

24. Burdick, p. 179.
25. Woods, p. 116.
26. Wigoder, p. 223.
27. Adamson, p. 251.
28. Burdick, p. 179.
29. Metzger, p. 52.
30. Ferguson, p. 453.
31. Metzger, p. 52.
32. Adamson, p. 254.
33. Burdick, p. 179.
34. Wigoder, p. 223.
35. Robertson, p. 31.
36. Burdick, p. 179.
37. Bonsirven, p. 79ff.
38. Burdick, p. 179.
39. Robertson, p. 32.
40. Burdick, p. 180.
41. Ibid.
42. Class notes on James, 1981.
43. Adamson, p. ix.
44. Thayer, p. 122.
45. Burdick, p. 182.
46. Robertson, p. 34.
47. Burdick, p. 182.
48. Robertson, p. 34.
49. Burdick, p. 182.
50. Bonsirven, p. 151f.
51. Wigoder, p. 168f.
52. Wiersbe, p. 77.
53. Adamson, p. 290.
54. Ibid, p. 291.
55. Woods, p. 136.
56. Ibid, p.
57. Burdick, p. 183.
58. Turner & Meyers, Godhead, p. 11.
59 Wigoder, p. 10.
60. Bonsirven, p. 129.
61. Robertson, p. 36.
62. Wiersbe, p. 78f.
63. Vine, p. 181.
64. Thayer, p. 343.
65. Barclay, Matthew, vol.1, p. 39.
66. Dummelow, p. 631.
67. Barclay, Matthew, p. 39.
68. Thayer, p. 150.

69. Woods, p. 143.
70. Dana & Mantey, p. 102.
71. Robertson, p. 37.
72. Burdick, p. 184.
73. Ibid.
74. Wiersbe, p. 82.
75. Vine, p. 258.
76. Robertson, p. 37.
77. Burdick, p. 184.
78. Woods, p. 148.
79. Adamson, p. 302.
80. Alford, p. 302.
81. Adamson, p. 30.


1. Wiersbe, p. 90.
2. Barclay, Matthew, Vol.1, p. 317.
3. Wiersbe, Matthew, p. 166
4. Ellicott, Matthew, p. 327.
5. Barclay, Matthew, Vol.2, p. 317.
6. Adamson, p. 366.
7. Robertson, p. 39.
8. Burdick, p. 186.
9. Ibid.
10.Wiersbe, p. 90.
11. Vine, p. 174.
12. Ibid, p. 240.
13. Wigoder, p. 151.
14. Ibid.
15. Ferguson, p. 58.
16. Robertson, Epistles of Paul, Vol.4 p. 602.
17. Burdick, p. 187.
18. Wiersbe, pp. 91f.
19. Monroe & Oliver, Principles and Types of Speech Communication, pp. 506ff.
20.Wiersbe, p. 94.
21. Vine, p. 260.
22. Burdick, p. 187.
23. Ibid, p. 188.

24. Woods, p. 166.
25. Thayer, p. 124.
26. Vine, p. 109.
27. Burdick, p. 188.
28. Wiersbe, p. 96.
29. Ibid, p. 95.
30. Woods, p. 170.
31. Vine, p. 132.
32. Bonsirven, p. 130.
33. Ibid, p. 133.
34. Ibid.
35. Thayer, p. 335.
36. Vine, p. 262.
37. DTNT,
38. Morris, Genesis Record, p. 74.
39. Woods, p. 174.
40. Vine, p. 129.
41. Burdick, p. 189.
42. Zondervan Pictorial Bible Atlas, p. 23.
43. TDNT, 7:505
44. Burdick, p. 190.
45. Ibid.
46. Ibid.
47. Ibid.
48. Robertson, p. 46.
49. Burdick, p. 190.
50. Robertson, p. 46.
51. Knudson, p. 226.
52. NIDNTT, 3:676ff
53. Vincent
54. Wiersbe, p. 106.
55. Robertson, p. 47.
56. Burdick, p. 191.
57. Robertson, p. 47.
58. Ibid.
59. Wiersbe, p. 111.
60. Robertson, 47.
61. Wiersbe, p. 111.
62. Vine, p. 61.
63. Wiersbe, p. 112.
64. Burdick, p. 191.
65. Wiersbe, p. 112.


1. Metzger, p. 45.
2. Burdick, p. 192.
3 Robertson, p. 49.
4. Burdick, p. 192.
5. Robertson, p. 49.
6. Burdick, p. 192.
7. TDNT, 3:171.
8. Vine, p. 37.
9. Robertson, p. 50.
10. Thayer, p. 653.
11. Wiersbe, p. 123.
12. Burdick, p. 193.
13. Vine, p. 30.
14. Thayer, p. 105.
15. Woods, p. 212.
16. Vine, p. 26.
17. Ellicott, p. 276.
18. Adamson, p. 331.
19. Vine, p. 37.
20. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 87.
21. Vine, p. 37.
22. Adamson, p. 332.
23. Burdick, p. 194.
24. Ibid.
25. Vine, p. 84.
26. Ibid.
27. Burdick, p. 194.
28. Thayer, p. 666.
29. Vine, p. 238.
30. Robertson, p. 52.
31. Thayer, p. 641.
32. Burdick, p. 194.
33. Robertson, p. 52.
34. Thayer, p. 645.
35. Woods, p. 224.
36. Bonsirven, p. 139.
37. Burdick, p. 195.
38. Thayer, p. 613.
39. Burdick, p. 195.

40. Vine, p. 206.
41. Dana & Mantey, p. 107.
42. Robertson, p. 53.
43. Vine, p. 58.
44. Thayer, p. 332.
45. Robertson, p. 54.
46. Ibid.
47. Burdick, p. 196.
48. Woods, p. 239.
49. Wigoder, p. 232.
51. Alford, p. 318.
52. Burdick, p. 196.
53. Woods, p. 239.
54. Jeremias, p. 31.
55. Adamson, p. 249.
56. Ferguson, p. 64.
57. Adamson, p. 250.
58. Jeremias, p. 34.
59. Adamson, p. 249.
60. Jeremias, p. 31.
61. Adamson, p. 249.
62. Burdick, p. 197.
63. NTW, p. 47.
64. Burdick, p. 198.
65. Wiersbe, p. 133.
66. Burdick, p. 198.


1. Ellicott, p. 281.
2. Alford, p.320.
3. Burdick, p. 199.
4. Robertson, p. 57.
5. Adamson, p.246.
6. Ibid, p.240.
7. Jeremias, p. 96.
8. Ibid, p. 99.
9. Vine, p.206.
10. Thayer, p. 443.
11. Ellicot, p. 281.

12. Burdick, p. 199.
13. Ibid
14. Jerimias, p. 96.
15. Wigoder, p. 162.
16. Burdick, p. 200.
17. Robertson, p. 59.
18. Burdick, p. 200.
19. Thayer, p. 583.
20. Jerimias, pp. 8,9.
21. Burdick, p. 200.
22. Barclay, p. ?
23. Ellicott, p. 284.
24. Dana & Mantey, p. 137.
25. Summers, p. 66.
26. Dana & Mantey, p. 193.
27. Robertson, p. 52.
28. Burdick, p. 201.
29. NTW, p.197.
30. Robertson, p. 61.
31. Ibid
32. Burdick, p. 202.
33. Ibid
34. Vine, p. 178.
35. Burdick, p. 202.
36. Ellicott, p. 286.
37. Burdick, p. 202.
38. NTW, p. 143.
39. Robertson, p. 63.
40. Barclay, Matthew, vol:1, p. 156.
41. Ibid, p. 157.
42. Adamson, p. 377.
43. Barclay, Ibid.
44. Josephus, WAR 2.135.
45. Adamson, pp. 376,377.
46. Barclay, Ibid, p. 158.
47. Thayer, p. 320.
48. Barclay, Phillipians, Collossians, and Thessolonians, p.190.
49. Bettenson, p. 6.
50. NIDNTT, "Prayer" (proseuchomai), II, p. 875.
51. Vine, p. 58.
52. R. C. Trench, as quoted by Robertson, p. 65.
53. Ibid
54. Ibid, p. 64.
55. Burdick, p. 204.
56. Ibid.

57. Dana & Mantey, pp. 287,290.
58. Robertson, p. 67.


Adamson, James B. James: The Man and His Message. Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans Company, 1989.
Alford, Henry. Alford's Greek Testament. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: Gardian Press, 1976. Vol
4: James-Revelation.
Barclay, William. The Letters of James and Peter. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press,
Barnes, Albert. James - Jude. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949.
Burdick, Donald W. James: Expositor' s Bible Commentary. 12 vols. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1981.
Buttrick, George Arthur. ed. The Interpreter's Bible. 12 vols. Nashville: Abingdon Press,
1957. Vol 12: James - Revelation.
Ellicott, Charles John. ed. Layman's Handy Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1957.
Gaebelein, Frank E. ed. The Expositors Bible Commentary. 12 vols. Grand Rapids:
Zonervan Publishing House, 1981. Vol. 12: Hebrews - Revelation.
Gutzke, George Manford. Plain Talk On James. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing
House, 1969.
Plumptre, E. H. The General Epistle of St. James. Cambridge: University Press, 1901.
Roberts, J. W. A Commentary On The General Epistle Of James. Wolfe City: Henington
Publishing Company, 1963.
Robertson, John A.T. Word Pictures In the New Testament. 6 vols. Nashville:
Broadman Press, 1933. Vol. 6: The General Epistles And The Revelation of John.
Stier, Rudolf. The Epistle Of St. James. Minneapolis: Klock and Klock Christian
Publishers, 1871.
Tasker, R. V. G. The General Epistle Of James. TNTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
Wiersbe, Warren. Be Mature. "An Expository Study on the Epistle of James." Wheaton:
Victor Books, 1981.
Woods, Guy N. A Commentary on the Epistle of James. Nashville: Gospel Advocate
Company, 1976.


The Greek New Testament. New York: American Bible Society, 1966.
Berry, George Ricker. Berry's Greek-English New Testament Lexicon With Synonyms.
Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1897.
Dana, H.A. and Mantey, Julius R. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament.
Toronto: The Macmillan Company, 1927.
Meztzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. New York:
United Bible Society, 1971.

Robertson, A.T. The Minister and His Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker
Book House, 1977.
Summers, Ray. Essentials of New Testament Greek. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1950.


Bettenson, Henry, ed. Documents of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University
Press, 1947.
Bonsirven, Joseph,S.J. Palestinian Judaism in the Time of Jesus Christ. New York:
Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., 1964.
Bruce, F.F. The Spreading Flame. Grand Rapids: William. B. Eerdmans Publishing
Company, 1958.
Ferguson, Everett. Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987.
Jerimias, Joachim. Jerusalem in the Times of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
Metzger, Bruce M. The New Testament: It's Background, Growth, and Content.
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1965.
Simon, Marcel. Jewish Sects At The Time Of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967.
Wigoder, Geoffrey, ed. Jewish Values. Keter Publishing House Jerusalem Ltd.:
Jerusalem, 1974.


Knudson, Ralph E. Theology in the New Testament. Valley Forge: The Judson Press,
Kummel, Werner George. The Theology of the New Testament. Nashville: Abingdon
Press, 1973.


Thayer A Greek/English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Henry Thayer.

DNT Dictionary of New Testament by Xavier Leon-Dufour.
TWBB A Theological Wordbook of the Bible by Alan Richardson.
NTW New Testament Words by William Barclay.
Strong Abingdon's Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
BAG A Greek / English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian

TDNT Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Kittel.
Vine Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
NIDNTT The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology
WSNT Word Studies of the New Testament by Marvin Vincent.

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