We and the Devil tempt ourselves, which leads us into sin and death. James says that when you do something about religion, you really did hear it, and your mom will be proud. The second example makes me wince, however. But I try to love God as much as I can and love my neighbor as much as I can, and I try to show mercy as often as I can. Read James to see what makes you wince.
James is not saying that you can earn salvation by works. There are a couple sources of confusion. Typically the translations put the quotation marks in the wrong place. Hodges a Greek scholar, remember says that vss. James resumes talking to his readers in vs. A second source of confusion is that we have two words that we think are different: What does your paper Bible have in verse 24? If you really have heard the word, you will do the word! Your body is dead if the spirit is not in it, because the spirit makes the body lively.
The angel looks stern; Abraham looks confused; Isaac looks decidedly downcast.
The goat, in contrast, has a happy little goat smile on his face. James is saying that if you take the spirit away from the body, the body dies. In exactly the same way, if you take works away from the faith, the faith dies. I can't read it without being convicted of my sins, and it gives good practical advice on how to stop committing them not that I'm successful in following the advice. James has a number of scary statements, and we see today one of them in vs.
Did your mom ever say to you, "Why did you do that? You should have known better! That's why I keep telling you, "Don't listen to me! Read the Bible for yourself! Now he moves on to his second point: Not only that, but not many of us should become teachers! But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Although this could be taken as an indicative statement Greek morphology , the introductory imperatives of 1: The word "know" is used in Hebrew of "personal relationship with" and in Greek as "facts about.
Believers must live appropriately! Human Speech at 1: Verses relate to this first imperatival phrase.
Jesus' Half-Brothers Speak: James and Jude
This injunction may refer to the informality and unstructured dynamic nature of the worship services of the early church cf. This openness was often abused. This same tension among rival singers, tongue speakers, and prophets can be seen in I Corinthians Anger in this context may refer to 1 persecutions, trials, temptations or 2 personal pride or jealousy related to Christian worship cf. This phrase emphasizes our volitional capacity and responsibility as believers.
The removal of clothing is often used as a biblical metaphor for spiritual characteristics cf. Dirty clothing is an OT metaphor which is often used for "sin" cf. It may refer to unholy living which impairs a believer's hearing of God's word. This term is used in the NT of "that which is left over" or an "abundance of" something cf. Here it seems to mean to keep oneself within the appropriate God-given bounds. This term can be translated "malice" NEB or "vicious talk," which would relate it to James' continuing emphasis on the spoken word.
Plato used this family of terms for the "golden mean," that is a wholesome balance in life brought about by one's control of himself. Believers are able to take off evil i. Humility is a word picture of Jesus cf. See note at 3: God's word, the gospel of Jesus Christ, must be received cf. This receiving is both initial repentance, faith unto salvation, and continuing repentance, faith unto godliness and Christlikeness.
The hearing of faith must issue in a life of faith cf. The Greek text implies that humans already have the implanted word which they must receive by faith. This could be referring to the original creation of humanity, as could v. If so it would refer to God's image in humans cf. Genesis 3 , but is restored by faith in Christ. Three metaphors are used to illustrate the "word of truth": The gospel must be received and then lived out. Verse 21 contains both prerequisites of NT salvation: Salvation involves a negative "turning from" repentance and a positive "turning to" faith.
The term "soul" speaks of the whole person. Humans are a soul cf. The OT usage is found in James 5: But here and in 2: The current theological discussion over "a free salvation" versus "Lordship salvation" is a good example of how modern interpreters proof-text one passage or category of passages to the exclusion of others and thereby developing a dogmatic, systematic, theological position. However, the NT, like all ancient near eastern literature, is highly figurative and often dualistic in presenting truth in tension-filled pairs. In this context we are saved eternal life by God's word, but we must also act on God's word daily OT saved or delivered.
This combination of faith and works is James' central message, faith and works! They are covenant twins! This verse is the central message of the entire book cf. Christianity is a volitional decision to a faith relationship with Jesus Christ which issues in a Christlike lifestyle. It is possible that this phrase is an indirect way of referring to OT obedience as in the Ten Commandments cf. Hearing the truth is not enough; believers must act on it and continue to act on it daily cf.
Modern Christianity is guilty of supposing that church attendance or civil responsibility is equated with Christian service. Our cultural segregation of the secular and sacred only achieves self-deception. Verses are an example of such self-deception. Life belongs to God and each of us will give an account to God as to how we have lived it. Modern believers often attend Sunday School and preaching but it does not affect their daily lives. In a sense this is practical atheism, the irrelevancy of God!
Christianity is not a building, nor a creed only, but a faith relationship with God through Christ that impacts every area of life, every day! This metaphor, "face of birth," is used in the sense of seeing one's self. The whole point of vv. We must act on it. They were very expensive and produced only a distorted reflection cf.
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God's word functions as a spiritual mirror of perfect clarity. Believers are to observe themselves in light of God's word, then they are to gaze intently at "the perfect law, the law of liberty," the gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of self is helpful, but knowledge of God is eternal. This phrase is parallel to "the royal law" in 2: This new liberty is illustrated in Rom. God's word is not a barrier to our freedom, but is real freedom from our sin nature.
Believers are now free to serve Him cf. The future tense could refer to temporal blessing now, but because of James' eschatological orientation cf. The King James adds "seems" but the phrase refers to self-deception, not the observation and evaluation of others. Often believers substitute the human performance of rules and ritual for daily, Christlike living. Verses are not a reference to religious hypocrites, but to sincere, unfulfilled, uninformed, unfruitful religionists!
The term "religious" means "one concerned with scrupulous details. Self-control is a sign of Christian maturity cf. Unfortunately orthodoxy without orthopraxy is common among the people of God. This is an empty show cf.
Religion can be a barrier to God cf. Also, see Micah 6: The verse reflects Judaism's almsgiving cf. Holiness is not a radical separation from society, but an involvement in the needs of the poor and socially ostracized cf. The true life-changing gospel always carries with it social concerns and activism. Truly knowing God must issue in serving others made in His image. The term was associated with acceptable sacrificial animals. Faith has two practical aspects: Why is the speech of believers mentioned so often in James 1: Explain James' definition of true religion in vv.
What two items does he emphasize? It is uncertain whether the rich referred to in 1: Possibly they were wealthy Jews, the very ones who persecuted the early Christians. Wealth in the OT was a sign of God's pleasure cf. Poverty even came to be a metaphor for spiritual hunger cf. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? The Williams translation has "stop trying to maintain.
This is not "faith" in the sense of doctrine, as in Acts 6: Here the phrase describes Jesus cf. This reflects an OT idiom, "to lift the face. The NT counterpoint of God's impartiality is found in Acts Believers must be careful of worldly distinctions. They must also be impartial. God in Christ , has torn down every barrier that humans have raised to their fellow man: Grammatically, verse 1 is either a statement or a question which expects a "no" answer NRSV.
This refers to 1 hypothetical wealthy visitors coming to a Jewish, Christian worship meeting or 2 a synagogue-like Christian court setting. The presence of "seats of honor" and "footstool" in the Jewish Synagogue cf. I think the assembly described is not a worship setting but a Christian court similar to those held in the synagogue cf. If so, the two visitors litigants are part of a legal proceeding.
This may explain 1 why they do not know where to sit and 2 the reference to "drag you into court" in v. This implies not only poverty, but a beggar, the cultural opposite of the finely dressed man. Believers were and are guilty of showing distinctions and favoritism much like the church in Corinth, i.
James and Jude Study Guides
Remember James' emphasis is on the word of God! We get the English word "elect" from this Greek term. Notice how election is linked with a certain socio-economic group, not a national group i. God's ways are so different from the world i. Reversals are typical in Scripture. The irony is that God has chosen to bless the poor and socially ostracized. God has chosen them and made them rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, but the local worship leaders were favoring the wealthy and powerful. These were the very ones who were persecuting the early believers.
The gospel being preached to the poor was a sign of the New Age cf. The poor have always felt ostracized from "official" religion, but they were wonderfully accepted and embraced by Jesus. The poor gladly accepted Christ, while the rich tended to trust in their own resources cf.
This is not to imply that every poor person is saved, but they surely are welcome to come to Jesus. Most of the early church were from the poorer classes of society. Jesus' first and last sermons, and most of His parables, dealt with this topic. The phrase relates to the eschatological end-time thrust of Jesus' teachings followed by James. This "already, but not yet" theological paradox relates to the Jewish concept of two ages see Special Topic at 5: The two comings of Jesus caused an overlapping of the two ages. The Kingdom of God has broken into human history with the incarnation at Bethlehem.
However, Jesus came the first time not as the military conqueror of Rev. Can these be wealthy believers? See note at 2: NASB "blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called" NKJV "blaspheme that noble name by which you are called" NRSV "blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you" TEV "who speak evil of that good name which has been given to you" NJB "who insult the honorable name which has been pronounced over you". It obviously points back to the Ten Commandments cf.
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matt. Jesus often used Lev. It is a strong word for the church today. We dare not play favorites with those for whom Christ died cf. Showing partiality was a violation of the Mosaic covenant and the law of love the royal law. Notice this is not ignorance, but willful action against God's revealed will.
Partial obedience, or temporary obedience, was never enough to be accepted by God through the Mosaic covenant cf. This type of summary statement about keeping the whole law boys from age 13 and Jewish girls from age 12 is the theological basis of Paul's OT quotes and strong summary statement of mankind's sinfulness in Rom. Believers' words and lives must agree. We must practice what we preach cf. This is the major theme of the book! Even Christians will be judged cf.
The Letter of James
It may have been a well-known proverb in Palestine. It is the negative of Jesus' statement in Matt. This is not works-oriented salvation, but the family characteristics of God should be evident in His children's lives cf. Why has God chosen the poor to be blessed and saved? Why is it so hard for the rich to become believers? Why did this shock the Jews of Jesus' day?
This section of James has caused major theological controversy. This comes not so much from the passage, contextually understood, but from our theological presuppositions and dogmatic systems of proof-texted, western theology. James and Paul do not contradict, but complement one another. The seeming contradiction comes from a misunderstanding of 1 the purpose; 2 the recipients; and 3 definitions of key words i.
Paul is writing to Jews who believe that they are right with God on the basis of 1 their race nationality and 2 their keeping the law of Moses legalism. Paul speaks of entering into the Christian life. He uses Abraham's life as an OT example of being declared right with God before circumcision and before the Mosaic Law cf. James is writing to church people who are making Christianity a creed instead of a lifestyle antinomians or intellectualists, Jewish Gnostics. These folks are asserting orthodoxy as the basis for their assurance of salvation. The books of James and I John assert that daily love in action is not an option for Christians, but is the evidence of their being Christians.
For James, "works" are not Jewish rules, but love in action cf. Paul and James are not giving two ways of salvation, but two aspects of one salvation. Paul speaks of the beginning of Abraham's walk of faith cf. Genesis 15 , and James speaks of its ongoing characteristics birth of Isaac versus offering of Isaac, cf. It is not "faith or works" but "faith and works. Being a carnal, weak, baby Christian is possible cf. John Calvin said "faith alone justifies but the faith which justifies is not alone. This section functions as an encouragement to active faith.
In a sense it is a passage on assurance— not assurance as a doctrine, but as a lifestyle. Assurance is surely a biblical truth, but only in connection with daily Christlikeness, not systematic theology! We are saved to serve.
Jesus' Half-Brothers Speak: James and Jude
Service is the evidence of salvation. It is never the means, but it is the goal, the fruit cf. This truth is much needed in our day of 1 easy believism and 2 assurance as a denominational theological tenet usually given as a dogmatic statement at the beginning of the Christian life. The entire book of James deals with the practical issue of how believers use their resources physical and spiritual on behalf of the Kingdom. Allocation of physical resources reveals the heart! Can that faith save him? Grammatically this question expects a "no" answer. Faith without works is of no use, no profit.
James and I John. All three aspects are involved in genuine, mature faith. Judgment will be based on 1 works cf. This is the second question of verse It also expects a "no" answer. This is a veiled prayer for God to provide their needs. It is an OT idiom for God's provision cf.
It reflects a shallow, flippant response, much like our "I will pray for you" cf. One thing is sure, the ones saying these veiled prayers are not going to do anything themselves to help! James is using this literary construction which suggests a contingency to illustrate the difference between true faith and fake faith or possibly mature faith versus weak faith.
This is an important theological summary statement cf. In his Study Guide Commentary on James Curtis Vaughan sees these three summary statements as constituting the main outline: You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. It is uncertain whether there is 1 one supporter of James' position; 2 one objector to James' position; 3 one of each; or 4 two opposing hypothetical persons alluded to by James. It is uncertain whether the quotation stops at v. It is possible that James' supposed objector is claiming that Christians have different spiritual gifts, some faith and some works.
James responds that faith is not a gift, but a bedrock relationship of trust in Christ. To know Christ is to emulate Him; to live as He lived; to love as He loved; to give oneself to others as He gave Himself to others cf. Spiritual giftedness is not a reduction of Christian responsibility, but an empowerment for effective ministry in conjunction with other believers.
This would be a similar truth to the parable of the sower in Matt. Fruit-bearing, not initial response, proves genuineness cf. No fruit, no root! Yet the demons believe this also cf. Christianity is not only correct doctrine, but a relationship of obedience and love. Orthodoxy alone, without orthopraxy, is empty cf. A theological, intellectual commitment to monotheism cf. Proper belief cannot save, for who among fallen humanity has perfectly accurate theology? Salvation through Christ affects the head doctrine , the heart volitional trust in Christ , and the hand lifestyle Christlikeness.
Demons believe in monotheism! This term was often used in this sense in the magical papyri found in Egypt. Three possible translations come from the most ancient Greek manuscripts:. Paul speaks of his initial call and promises i. However, Paul uses this same concept for Gentiles cf. The semantic field possible meanings and connotations this term has is interesting:.
When one compares these lexical usages it becomes clear how Paul could use this term in one way specialized forensic sense of "made righteous" and James in another shown to be righteous by one's godly living. The term is fluid enough to allow both. Words only have meaning in specific contexts! Genesis 22 was not the grounds of Abraham's faith cf. Genesis 12,15 , but the result and expression. James is using the term "works" in a different way than Paul. James is speaking of the Christian's lifestyle faith cf. I John , while Paul is speaking of a works-righteousness of the Jews or Judaizers of Galatians as a basis for being accepted by God cf.
The word "work" is used eleven times in vv. Faith is initiated and perfected by God, but believers' volition and actions are also part of the equation. The term "perfected" means "mature," "equipped for the assigned task," "complete. James is saying that this verse was "fulfilled" by Abraham's later actions in his willingness to obey God and offer Isaac, the son of promise, as a sacrifice on Mt.
She also is an ancestor of Jesus cf. James uses two extremes, Abraham and Rahab, to prove his point. We could summarize James' description of lifeless faith as 1 demonic, v. Human speech is a recurrent theme of James cf. He deals with it from several different angles in almost every chapter. Speech is part of the image of God in mankind cf. A person's words, like a person's works in 2: The tongue can be a great blessing when controlled and energized by God, but a terrible, destructive force in the hands of the evil one.
Human speech enables us to communicate to others how we feel about life. Therefore, it reveals who we really are Pro. Speech is the acid test of the person Pro. We are social creatures. We are concerned with acceptance and affirmation. We need it from God and from our fellow humans. Words have the power to meet these needs in both positive Pro. There is tremendous power in human speech Pro.
Human speech enables us to communicate to others how we feel about life, therefore, it reveals who we really are Matt. We need it from God and from our fellow man. Words have the power to meet these needs in both positive II Tim. There is tremendous power in human speech; the power to bless Eph. We are responsible for what we say James 3: We will be judged by our words Matt. We reap what we sow Gal. There is an interesting discussion on the topic of "Biblical Perspectives on Language" in Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation , edited by Moises Silva, pp.
If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. The worship service of the early church was dynamic and unstructured. This section of James begins with the responsibility of Christian leaders but easily transitions into the responsibility of every Christian in relation to speech. Teaching is listed as a spiritual gift in I Cor. It is also listed as a function of pastors cf. But here it is viewed as an option for all believers.
It is my theological opinion that all believers participate in the gifts at some practical level. Surely we would not accept a Christian saying. We would say these activities are for all believers.
God gifts some for effective service in these areas, but all believers have responsibilities in these areas. Paul calls himself a preacher, apostle, and teacher cf. All Christians have at least one spiritual gift cf. I believe the New Testament does teach degrees of blessings and punishment. This is a present active indicative indicating continual, habitual action. This may reflect the non-canonical Jewish wisdom book of Ecclesiasticus cf. There are several allusions in the book of James to this inter-biblical wisdom book, written about b. This section shows that one's speech, in a sense, reveals true spiritual character.
The Bible stresses the importance of our speech see Contextual Insights, D. We are known and judged by our words because our words reveal our character. James uses this term often cf. Horses and ships are used often in the Koine papyri from Egypt as metaphors for control. Paul had been aboard a grain ship which carried passengers plus cargo. Josephus records that he was on a ship with passengers. He describes its dimensions as ' by 65' by 44'. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Nor can salt water produce fresh.
This seems to mean that human speech represents unrighteousness; it reveals the often hidden wickedness of the human heart. James uses the term "world" kosmos in a negative sense in 1: This is literally "the wheel of birth. Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament , vol. It seems to mean a person's life from birth until death, which can even affect future generations. Both of these phrases in v. This is the metaphor Jesus used to describe the punishment and place for those who reject faith in God.
It was turned into the garbage dump for Jerusalem because this valley was the site in the OT where the fire god Molech was worshiped by child sacrifice cf. This is the only use of "Gehenna" outside of the words of Jesus cf. This metaphor is referring to the activity of the evil one in our daily lives. James must have personally experienced or observed the negative effects of human speech! Where Are the Dead? Humans can domesticate and control every animal except themselves.
This is used of the nonstop movement of a snake's tongue cf. Both fit the context. It can refer to Jesus and the Father cf. Most translations prefer the second option because of the mention of human beings created in God's image. This is the only place in the NT this phrase occurs. The blessings of God among contemporary Jewish synagogues would involve 1 liturgical blessings and 2 personal prayers. Surely this structure was followed in the early Christian meetings. For "Father" see Special Topic at 1: Cursing means to call down problems and evil on another using the power of God's name cf.
In context it may refer to rival teachers cf. Mankind was made in God's image and likeness cf. This verse reflects the worth and dignity of mankind whether poor or rich, slave or free, male or female, Jew or Gentile cf. To speak evil of another is to criticize the God who made them cf.
The term "likeness" image is left undefined in Genesis. There are several theories as to the exact components of "the image": Human speech has wonderful potential for good, but it also has terrible potential for evil. The context concerning teachers continues from 3: Several warnings are given. This seems to confirm the presence of unqualified teachers in the early church and today who claimed to be spiritual and have special revelations from God.
However, we need to be reminded that although the context may speak especially to teachers, it addresses all Christians. All Christians can ask for wisdom cf. All Christians must walk and talk in wisdom. I would add, from I John 4: In the Old Testament "wisdom" had both a religious orientation and a practical application to daily life. Paul uses "the fruit of the Spirit," Gal. Wisdom involves more than content or orthodoxy. It is inseparably linked to lifestyle and proper motivation cf. Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. It would refer to a professional teacher or scribe.
Remember that believers are encouraged to ask God for wisdom cf. The gift of "teacher" involves a gift, a lifestyle, and a proper attitude. The NKJV has "good conduct. This was a uniquely Christian virtue. It typifies the life of Christ cf. It is advocated for all believers cf. Gentleness or meekness is a defining quality of God's wisdom.
Teachers must live and teach humbly. The wisdom James speaks about is not the wisdom related to the amount of information learned and the speed and accuracy by which it can be retrieved, but the wisdom of a redeemed heart and mind that seeks God's will so as to do it. Verses describe false wisdom. This verse assumes the presence of unqualified teachers. Heresy is usually committed by sincere believers who 1 magnify one truth to the exclusion of other biblical truths or 2 claim special insight or spiritual power. This is also listed as sin in II Cor.
Egotism the essence of the Fall has no place among the people of God, especially in teachers. It refers to an egotistical, jealous ambition—"my way or no way"—among leaders. Teachers' and leaders' actions speak louder than their words cf. James 2 focused on Matt. These teachers may have been vociferously claiming divine insight and knowledge. See fuller note at 1: This is from the Greek root psuche reflecting the Hebrew term nephesh , which is that part of mankind which he shares with the animals.
This would then mean natural as opposed to the supernatural, the earthly as opposed to the heavenly. This probably refers to 1 the "evil intent" yetzer hara in human nature or 2 a person who judges life by the five senses. He was one of four brothers, possibly younger than James. It is assumed that he was not a follower of Jesus during his ministry, but became a follower after some unrecorded resurrection appearances. Paul refers to the brothers of the Lord as missionaries in 1 Cor 9: According to Paul, these brothers traveled with their wives.
This event was supposedly instrumental in bringing the persecutions of Christians to a halt. Later these sons or grandsons became leaders of the church.