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Bible Commentaries

Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

James 3

Verse 1

Be not many masters ; let not many aspire to be teachers or guides in religion; a sin which always abounds where men have the idea that an empty faith without the fruits of obedience is all that is necessary to salvation.

We ; who exercise the office of teachers.

The greater condemnation ; or, as the margin, the greater judgment. We shall be subjected to a severer trial; and if found wanting, to a greater punishment. Right views of the responsibility of religious teachers and guides, of the difficulties of their work, the strict account which they must render to God, and the awful ruin which will come on those who are unfaithful, tend effectually to prevent improper aspirations for power in the church.

Verse 2

Offend all ; we all offend in many things: of course, in the office of teaching also, where there is especial danger of our offending in word. This ought to deter us from forwardness in arrogating to ourselves this work.

Offend not in word ; as much as to say, Sins of word are so difficult to avoid that he who can keep himself from fault in this respect is a perfect man ; one who has his appetites, passions, and all propensities of body and spirit, under wise control.

Verse 4

Listeth ; chooseth.

Verse 5

As everlasting consequences depend upon the use of the tongue, all, and especially ministers of the gospel, should earnestly pray that they may always so speak as shall tend most to honor God and benefit their fellow-men.

Verse 6

Is a fire ; setting society in a blaze, like fire in dry matter.

Defileth the whole body ; when used in spreading moral pollution.

The course of nature ; produces universal destruction, like a general conflagration.

It is set on fire of hell ; instigated in its destructive courses by infernal spirits. The devil employs some men more than they are aware of; and things which they would start at, should they hear him utter them, they at his suggestion utter for him, and thus do his work and ripen to be companions with him and his angels.

Verse 9

Bless we God ; thus professing our love for him.

Curse we men ; thus showing that our profession of love towards God is empty and insincere. Compare 1 John 4:20 .

Made after the similitude of God ; bear his image as rational and immortal beings, and ought therefore to be the objects of our love.

Verses 11-12

The stream must answer to the fountain , the fruit to the tree . The heart that sends forth the bitter water of curses towards men, cannot have the good water of love towards God. Its professions of love and praise must be empty and worthless.

Verse 13

Who is a wise man ; would any man show his wisdom? Let him do it by eagerly assuming the office of a teacher, and occupying his tongue with words of contention and bitterness, but by showing out of a good life his good works with meekness of wisdom ; with that meekness and gentleness which always belong to true wisdom. Knowledge and wisdom, discretion and meekness, a good understanding of the Scriptures, and a life conformed to their precepts, are essential requisites in ministers of the gospel and guides of the church.

Verse 14

Glory not , and lie not against the truth ; by falsely boasting of these as the fruits of true wisdom, which is to slander God’s truth.

Verse 15

This wisdom ; that which is envious, quarrelsome, and leads to contention.

Verse 17

Pure ; in its nature, and in its effects on the person himself and on others. All who are guided by heavenly wisdom will manifest a heavenly spirit; and none have reason to expect acceptance with Christ any further than they have evidence of likeness to him in their temper and conduct.

Verse 18

The fruit of righteousness ; that spirit which righteousness produces, leads peaceable men in a peaceable way to disseminate such views as tend to promote peace with God and peace with one another; thus bringing glory to God in the highest, and proclaiming peace on earth, goodwill to men.

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Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on James 3". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.