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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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James 1

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verse 1

Greeting James 1:1 gives a brief salutation or greeting to the Jewish believes in the Diaspora.

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

James 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” Comments - It is important to note that James, traditionally identified as the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, does not base his authority in this Epistle on his physical relationship to the Lord, but rather, upon his spiritual office as a servant of Jesus Christ, and we know from Church tradition, as the first bishop of the church in Jerusalem.

James 1:1 “which are scattered abroad” - Comments - The English phrase “which are scattered abroad” in James 1:1 is translated from the Greek word διασπορϊά , from which we derive the English word “Diaspora.” God was able to use the dispersion of the Jews across the known world as a foothold of faith to spread the Gospel. This “Diaspora” is mentioned in two other New Testament passages.

John 7:35, “Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?”

1 Peter 1:1, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

John Calvin writes about how the Diaspora of the Jews took place, “When the ten tribes were banished, the Assyrian king placed them in different parts. Afterwards, as it usually happens in the revolutions of kingdoms (such as then took place,) it is very probable that they moved here and there in all directions. The Jews had been scattered almost unto all quarters of the world. He [James] then wrote and exhorted all those whom he could not personally address, because they had been scattered far and wide.” [81]

[81] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle of James, trans. John Owen, in Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1855), 278.

Every city that Paul the apostle entered, he first found the synagogues and preached to the Jews. It was only after the Jews rejected the message of Jesus that Paul went to the Gentiles. God had prepared an ideal time when the Greek language was universally known, the Romans had build the infrastructure of roads, and the Jews, who were looking for their Messiah, had spread their synagogues throughout the civilized world.

James 1:1 to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” - Comments - James, as the first bishop of Jerusalem and the author of this epistle, would have, no doubt, seen the church at Jerusalem as the center of Jewish Christianity. Jews from around the world would come to the Jewish festivals annually, and they saw Jerusalem as the center of their faith, and themselves as Jews, the twelve tribes of Israel, scattered abroad. Peter, the apostle to the Jews according to Galatians 2:8, also refers to the Diaspora in his first epistle, considering them to be Jewish Christians. This is because Peter did not want to infringe upon Paul’s ministry out of respect by preaching to the Gentile converts in these same regions of the world.

Galatians 2:8, “(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)”

Jerome (A.D. 342 to 420) calls “the strangers” in 1 Peter 1:1 “believers in circumcision”. Thus, he makes this an epistle to the Jewish believers, as Peter is an apostle to the circumcision.

“Simon Peter the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion --the believers in circumcision, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia --pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to over-throw Simon Magus,” ( Lives of Illustrious Men 1)

Why would James make a distinction between Jewish and Gentile Christians? Most likely it is because he did not want to infringe upon Paul’s ministry to the Gentile converts. Therefore, in James’ ministry to the Jewish Christians who lived in the same region of the world as the Gentile converts, he was careful not to exercise authority over the Gentile churches founded by Paul.

James and Peter both were ministers to the Jewish nation. In light of this, they did not want to boast of laboring in another man’s field. Even Paul was careful not to do the same in his ministry to the Gentiles. Note:

2 Corinthians 10:13-16, “But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand.”

So, both James and Peter address the Jewish converts who had scattered with the persecutions that had arisen by the time of the writing of their epistles, in respect of Paul’s converts who were living in these same parts of the world. This is one of the reasons that this epistle is the most Jewish writing of the New Testament.

The early New Testament church did not make the distinction between the Jewish religion and a separate Christian religion that we do today. These were not two different religions, but, rather, one was a greater revelation of the Messianic promise.

Paul went so far as to call the Jews his brethren:

Romans 9:1-3, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:”

Spiritually, we also are Abraham’s seed, grafted to the true vine.

Romans 11:24, “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?”

Galatians 3:7, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”

Therefore, this epistle is also used by the Gentile Christians.

James 1:1 Word Study on “greeting” The Greek infinitive χαίρειν is used in James 1:1 as a formula of greeting, which comes from χαίρω (G5463). In this elliptical form it is called an epistolary infinitive, and is used only three times in the New Testament. It not used by Paul, Peter, or Jude in opening any of their epistles. Thus, it is unique to the New Testament epistles in opening James. It also occurs also in the letter that James wrote to the churches in Acts at the first council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:23). This similarity in style is evidence that James, the leader of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15:0, is the same James who wrote this epistle. This infinitive is also found in the opening of the letter of Claudius to Felix (Acts 23:26).

Acts 15:23, “And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:”

Acts 23:26, “Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting .”

We also find this Greek infinitive χαίρειν used as an absolute infinitive in Romans 12:15 and twice in 2 John 1:10-11.

Romans 12:15, “ Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

2 John 1:10-11, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed : For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

Verses 2-4

Facing the Trial - We first recognize trials as an opportunity to develop a mature character (James 1:2-4). We can find a place of joy in the midst of trials because each lesson in life that brings trials and pressures allows us to learn how to exercise our faith, which is worked out by patience endurance. It is only with our patience during such trials that faith can operate to bring us through the problems. Without such patience our faith can never brought to maturity (James 2:22). Therefore, the epistle of James gives us different types of pressures and trials in life and teaches us how to patiently walk through each one by faith. James calls this the “testing of our faith” (James 1:3) and he will give us wisdom in his epistle on how to walk by faith (James 1:5).

Faith Overcomes by Patience: The Role of Joy in Our Patient Endurance - Note these words of comfort from Frances J. Roberts book, Come Away My Beloved. This passage exhorts us to learn how to rejoice during times of distress. It tells us to look to God as our Maker, who is mighty to restore our lives.

“Praise Me. This I ask of thee in times when it seemeth indescribably difficult to do so. I ask it of thee in love that is stern at this point because I know unequivocally that it is your only hope for survival. Distress of soul and grief of heart can only bring on destruction of body. Joy alone is a healer, and ye can have it in the darkest hour if ye will force thy soul to rise to Me in worship and adoration. I have not failed thee and ye have not failed Me. It is only that ye have failed thyself or, so to speak, the disappointment has come on the human plane not on the divine. Why should ye allow any human experience to alter or affect thy divine relationship with thy Father? Bring thy sorrow, and watch for the sunrise of the resurrection….Thy God is thy maker. He is thy defender. And He is mighty to save. Yea, He is not only mighty to save from sin, but He is mighty to save from despair, from sorrow, from disappointment, from regret, from remorse, from self-castigation, and from the hot, blinding tears of rebellion against fateful circumstances. He can save thee from thyself, and He loveth thee when ye find it hard to love thyself.” [82]

[82] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 27.

It is our position of righteousness that brings true peace in our hearts. This peace will allow the presence of the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with a joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)

1 Peter 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:”

We see this same order of righteousness, peace and joy in Romans 14:17.

Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

If we do not learn to rejoice during difficult times, it will affect our physical health. We will become weak and sick if there is sustained sorrow. Thus, James addresses this issue in James 5:13-15 by asking if anyone is sick.

James 5:13-15, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? 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: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

Faith Overcomes by Patience: The Necessity of Trials - The process of patience and endurance is necessary in order to learn how to live by faith. Creflo Dollar tells of a divine vision that the Lord gave him concerning the subject of faith and patience. In the vision he saw a set of keys to unlock a door. The Lord then asked him if this set of keys would unlock the door. Dollar replied that it would not because the keys were not yet cut to match the lock. The Lord then explained to him that faith is like a set of keys. You can preach the Word of God to a congregation, but until they experience the pressures and trials of life, they will not know how to use their faith. [83] Just as a metal door key must be placed in a vise and pressure applied to its surface and cut to match a lock, so do the pressures in life serve the same purpose for our faith. Each lesson in life that brings trials and pressures allow us to learn how to exercise our faith. It is only with our patience during such trials that faith can operate to bring us through the problems. Without such patience our faith can never brought to maturity (James 2:22). Therefore, the epistle of James gives us different types of pressures and trials in life and teaches us how to patiently walk through each one by faith. James calls this the “testing of our faith” (James 1:3) and he will give us wisdom in his epistle on how to walk by faith (James 1:5).

[83] Creflo Dollar, Changing Your World (College Park, Georgia: Creflo Dollar Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Marilyn Hickey teaches that trials serve to transform us. It exposes our weaknesses so that we can recognize them and make corrections in our own lives. She gives the example of the prodigal son, whose suffering caused him to come to himself, repent and return to his father’s house (Luke 15:11-32). [84]

[84] Marilyn Hickey, Today With Marilyn and Sarah (Englewood, Colorado: Marilyn Hickey Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

James 1:2 “My brethren” Comments - The word “brother” is used twenty-one times throughout the epistle of James (James 1:2; James 1:9; James 1:16; James 1:19; James 2:1; James 2:5; James 2:14-15; James 3:1; James 3:10; James 3:12; James 4:11; James 5:7; James 5:9-10; James 5:12; James 5:19). So, why did he not include the term “and sisters”? Perhaps in the Jewish Diaspora these synagogues were led by men, and served as a brotherhood of Jewish believers. The women and children simply followed the men in the faith.

James 1:2 “count it all joy” Word Study on “count” Strong says the Greek word “count” “hegeomai” ( ηγε ́ ομαι ) (G2233) literally means, “to lead, to command (with official authority),” and figuratively it means, “to consider, deem.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 28 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as “count 10, think 4, esteem 3, have rule over 3, be governor 2, misc 6.” Strong says this word is a strengthened form of the word ( α ́ γω ) (G71), which means, “to lead, bring, drive, go, pass, induce.”

Comments - The phrase “all joy” perhaps carries the idea of “fullness of joy” (John 15:11). James was telling the Jewish Christians that serving the Lord was not like serving under the Mosaic Law, which required obeying ordinances regarding meats and food. Rather, serving the Lord was a service that comes from the heart, bearing the fruit of joy (Romans 14:17).

John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full .”

Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Comments Why should we consider joy in the midst of trials? It is because the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Nehemiah 8:10, “Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength .”

John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly .”

Paul’s ministry helped the Corinthians to rejoice:

2 Corinthians 1:24, “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy : for by faith ye stand.”

Paul did not want to make them heavy of heart because they were his source of joy:

2 Corinthians 2:1-3, “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.”

The Macedonian’s abundance of joy in poverty and great trials is an example of those who rejoiced amongst trials:

2 Corinthians 8:2, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

The book of 2 Corinthians is Paul's testimony of counting it all joy in the midst of trials, which is the theme of the book of James. Notice how many time Paul refers to joy in 2 Corinthians.

In the letter to the Hebrews we are told that they took their trial joyfully when their possessions were taken from them.

Hebrews 10:34, “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.”

James 1:2 “when ye fall into divers temptations” Word Study on “divers” Strong says the Greek word “divers” ( ποικίλος ) (G4164) means, “motley, i.e., various in character.” The Enhanced Strong says this Greek word is used 10 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as “divers 8, manifold 2.”

Comments - The Greek conjunction ὅταν (when) implies that trials come to all of us as children of God. Although we may cause ourselves problems and trials by making foolish decision, we are not the cause of all of them. In either case, we have a legal right as children of God’s kingdom for divine assistance in dealing with every single trial that comes our way during the course of our moral life on earth.

Comments - The Greek word translated “ye fall into” implies that we do not plan to get into these situations. Rather, we accidentally stumble into them because we often do not see them coming. They appear to ambush us during the course of life. Now, the Lord can and will show us many things that are coming, and even how to avoid them; but, as if often the case, Christians still miss God’s directions and have to endure many trials that they otherwise could have avoided had they been hearing from God. We should walk in wisdom daily and seek the Lord’s guidance in this area so carefully.

Comments - James is writing to believers that have undergone many types of temptations. John Calvin said concerning the plight of Jewish Christians, “For the very name of the nation was so infamous, that they were hated and despised by all people wherever they went; and their condition as Christians rendered them still more miserable, because they held their own nation as their most inveterate enemies.”

1. Persecutions The early Christians had scattered abroad in order to avoid these trials. If fact, the church at Jerusalem had suffered the most, as alluded to in Romans 15:26.

Romans 15:26, “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”

2. Famine - Beside persecutions, the church as Jerusalem has undergone famine during the days of Claudius Caesar, the f ourth Roman emperor, who reigned for over 13 years (A.D. 41-54).

Acts 11:27-30, “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”

3. Oppression - Beside persecutions and famine, this epistle reveals that the rich were oppressing the poor believers in an evil manner. These believers needed instruction in how to deal with being mistreated.

James 2:6-7, “But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?”

James 5:6, “Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.”

4. Sickness - Some of those to whom James writes were “sick,” or otherwise “afflicted,” due to sin in their lives.

James 5:13-14, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? 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:”

Amidst all these manifold trials, James will give them the greatest illustration of a trial in the Scriptures of a man who overcame his trial, the man Job (James 5:11). Thank the Lord for His manifold grace that takes us through any trial (1 Peter 4:10).

James 5:11, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

1 Peter 4:10, “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

James 1:2 Comments - James 1:2 is telling God’s children to anticipate trials with joy because the lessons to be learned are precious. This verse could also read “Be of good cheer,” instead of “Count it all joy;” for this is what Jesus told His disciples each time He found them in a difficult situation. For example, when the disciples were in a storm at sea, Jesus came walking on the water and said, “Be of good cheer,” because He was there to calm the storm (Matthew 14:27). At the Lord’s Supper Jesus told them to be of good cheer when He left them because they would overcome the world by His Resurrection (John 16:33). When Paul was thrown in prison in Jerusalem an angel appeared to him by night and said, “Be of good cheer,” because Jesus would use him to testify at Rome (Acts 23:11). When Paul was on the ship in the storm and all hope seemed lost an angel stood by him to encourage him and he told the others to be of good cheer (Acts 27:22; Acts 27:25). We can be of good cheer because He will see us through those difficult times if we will trust in Him and look to Him for wisdom and guidance. This is what James is about to tell his readers by saying, “If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God,” (James 1:5).

Matthew 9:2, “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Matthew 14:27, “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Acts 23:11, “And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.”

Acts 27:22, “And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.”

Acts 27:25, “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”

James 1:2 Comments - Notice that James did not say to be joyful during our trials and afflictions; but rather, “count it joy,” or “consider it joy.” He was telling them to look at their situation from a different point of view, that is, from a divine perspective. The process of rejoicing in the midst of trials was something that must be learned by patience and prayer. Paul uses this same Greek word “count” in Philippians to explain how he views the carnal things of this world in comparison to the riches of Christ. The author of Hebrews uses it to explain how Moses looked beyond temporal pleasures in hopes of eternal rewards.

Philippians 3:8, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,”

Hebrews 11:26, “ Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”

We see an excellent example of counting it all joy in Hebrews 12:2, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” The next verse says to look their lives from this perspective lest they “be wearied and faint in their minds.” Thus, it is a mental decision to “count it all joy” because we are looking forward to something better. James tells his readers in the next two verses that they can look forward immediately to the development of our character. Thus, our hope becomes the basis of our ability to have joy in the midst of trials and sufferings.

Now why would James say that joy is our goal when experiencing difficult trials in life? We are asked to rejoice in difficult times because joy alone is the healer.

“Distress of soul and grief of heart can only bring on destruction of body. Joy alone is the healer, and ye can have it in the darkest hour if you will force thy soul to rise to Me in worship and adoration.” [85]

[85] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 27.

We do know that joy is the outward manifestation of an inward peace. “Counting it all joy” does not mean that we have to laugh and be excited about the distressful situations in life. Rather, God considers a Christian in the midst of trials to be joyful when they are patiently enduring the storm, while they allow the peace of God calm their inner souls. We are given Job in this epistle as an example of someone who learned to count it all joy in the midst of trials. It is this peace that produces a joy that is unexplainable, but the only way to walk in peace and joy in the midst of the storm is by drawing near to God (James 4:8). It is in this place of rest and trusting in God to carry us through that we can find true peace and joy. It is in God’s presence that the Holy Spirit will come and fill our hearts with joy, which the Scriptures call “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

The manifestation of this inner peace in the midst of a storm is called “endurance” in this epistle. James 5:11 says, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. The theme of the book of James is not that you have to laugh during your trials of affliction, although there may be times to do so. Rather, the phrase “counting it all joy” means that we allow the peace of God that passes all understanding to guard our hearts from overwhelming sorrow and despair.

Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

God wants to bring us into a place of resting in Him, where we keep our peace while the storms rage. Note these words by Frances J. Roberts:

“Behold, in the hollow of My hand, there have I made thee a nest, and thou shalt lay thee down and sleep. Though the elements rage, though the winds blow and the floods come, thou shalt rest in peace.” [86]

[86] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 85.

Thus, James is not referring to the outward joy that the world expresses during afflictions when it says, “Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” (Isaiah 22:13) Rather, is it an inner peace and strength that abides within our hearts that God is leading us into. Thus, “counting it all joy” is a decision that one takes in faith, believing that God will carry him through. We may be afraid or distressed at the beginning, but this decision will bring us into God’s presence to see an Almighty God who is in control of our lives. This is the way that God revealed Himself to Job when this man of righteousness drew near to God. Thus, James will use Job as an example later in this epistle.

We see a similar situation in the life of the church at Corinth. They learned how to walk in joy in a great trial of affliction.

2 Corinthians 8:1-2, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

As we look to God, we find that He becomes our joy; He is our wisdom and our source of strength. Notes these words from Frances Roberts.

“I will give to thee the needed grace and wisdom for each moment as it cometh, and thou shalt rejoice in the victory. For I will overcome timidity, and I Myself will displace inadequacy. This is My work. I will do it Myself through thee if thou but allow thyself to be a channel for the flow of My Spirit. For I Myself am the life. I Myself am thy wisdom and thy strength, even as I am thy joy and thy peace. I am thy victory. My word is power because My work is spirit and truth. Do not bear about needless burdens. They will but press upon thy spirit and interfere with My movings.” [87]

[87] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 92.

James 1:2 Illustration - As a young Seminary student, I took a part-time job as a night janitor at a private school. While getting ready to dust mop the gym floor one night, I had to wait for the girls’ basketball game to end. In this last game of the conference playoffs, I watched the final struggling moments of the game. The score was 20 to 21. The team that was behind had the ball in their court. The clock was about to run out. The ball went up, and the buzzer sounded ending the game. The ball bounced on the rim. All the players froze, watching the ball. If the ball went in the rim, the losing team would become the winning team, with a score of 22-21. If it missed, they would lose. The ball danced around the rim for a prolonged period of time and fell in. The winning team shouted, screamed, hugged one another and danced. The losing team hung their heads and went to a corner to talk. Several began crying. The young girls' joy for that night was determined by moments when the ball went into the basket. If our minds are on the cares of this world, our joy cannot be full, so that it will be determined by the circumstances of life; but we, as believers, can be lifted above the cares of this life. (February 18, 1983)

Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

James 1:2 Illustration - Kenneth Hagin tells the story of how he stood upon this verse while going through a trial of his faith. [88] As a young minister, his faith was being tested. While visiting his grandfather’s farm, he went behind the barn to pray. He looked the devil in the face and began to laugh. Although he felt like crying, he continued to laugh by faith, because he knew that the victory belonged to him. As he began to laugh, he began to shout and jump in the Holy Ghost. He said to the devil, “Just go ahead and put on all the pressure you can. But the tougher it gets, the more I’m going to shout and praise God”. Hagin says that he kept shouting until the burden lifted and the oppression of the enemy was gone. Soon afterwards, the situation changed for the better.

[88] Kenneth Hagin, Following God’s Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1993, 1994), 35-6.

James 1:2 Scripture References - Note similar verses to James 1:2:

Romans 5:3-5, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

1 Peter 1:6, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:”

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

James 1:3 Comments - The theme in the epistle of James of our faith being tested is further discussed in this opening passage. For example, James 1:13 begins talking about how temptations come. At the end of this epistle, James uses the trials of Job as an example to the New Testament believers. God will test our faith, but not tempt us into evil.

Why is patience so vitally important to develop for us a believers? James will explain that it is our patience that will anchor us in the faith during trials so that we might be brought to maturity. This patience keeps us on the path of redemption. Thus, patience is necessary for the salvation of your souls.

Luke 21:19, “In your patience possess ye your souls.”

Joyce Meyer said that patience is the only fruit of the Spirit that develops under trials. [89] Paul dealt with this same theme in the book of Romans:

[89] Joyce Meyer, “Kampala Uganda Bible Conference,” (Fenton, Missouri: Joyce Meyer Ministries), 16-19 January 2003

Romans 5:2-5, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience ; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Andrew Wommack notes that patience is not developed because of the trial, but because of a believer’s faith in God’s Word in the midst of a trial. Otherwise, those who have suffered the most in life’s difficult situations would have the most faith in God; but this is not the case. [90]

[90] Andrew Wommack, Living in the Balance of Grace and Faith: Combining Two Powerful Forces to Receive from God (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 2009), 24.

Illustration - Job is an excellent illustration of patience, as James will tell us later in James 5:11. It was Job’s willingness to develop patience that brought him through his trial of faith.

James 5:11, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

We were all born without patience. If anyone has ever had children, they are fully aware of this fact. An infant will wake up in the morning and cry for milk. It has no patience to wait while mother prepares the bottle. It will cry as if its life is going to end.

James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:4 “But let patience have her perfect work” Word Study on “patience” - The Greek word “patience” ( υ ̔ πομονη ́ ) (G5281) literally means, “to abide under.” It means to carry the weight of the trial without running out from under the load. It also means persevering endurance and continuance in the original language.

Comments BDAG translates this statement to read, “Let endurance show itself perfectly in practice” (see ἔργον 1b).

John Calvin says, “For ‘ work’ here means the effort not only to overcome in one contest, but to persevere through life.”

It takes patience to bring forth the fruit that God wants us to produce. The completed work of patience is to bear fruit in the kingdom of God:

Luke 8:15, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience .”

Creflo Dollar says that patience is not putting up with the trouble, but rather, out lasting it. It is being consistent with the faith that you had before the trouble came. [91]

[91] Creflo Dollar, Changing Your World (College Park, Georgia: Creflo Dollar Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), 18 September, 2009, television program.

James 1:4 “that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” - Comments - God wants to perfect the whole man, spirit, soul and body. God is concerned about every part of our being, not just the heart (spirit).

1 Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

James 1:4 Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works .”

Verses 2-27

Introduction: Two Paths to Choose - After greeting his readers (James 1:1), the author addresses their present condition of hardships and trials. James begins by stating the theme of this epistle, which is that our faith in God and our patience to obey His Word will produce perseverance to overcome the trials of life with joy (James 1:2-4). James 1:2-27 will shows us that we can respond to trials in two different ways. If we will humble ourselves and seek God’s wisdom, trials become tests of faith. As we patiently obey God’s Word, we develop maturity in our character (James 1:3-4), which eventually results in a crown of life (James 1:12). If we face trials with a proud heart and seek to do things our own way, we find that trials then become a temptation to do evil. If this situation, our fleshly passions and carnal reasoning lead us into sin, and when we follow sin long enough, it results in death (James 1:13-15). Thus, the journey that we take initially depends upon how we face trials, with humility or with pride.

Trials " (Humility: The trial becomes a test of faith) Patience " Maturity " Crown of Life

Trials "(Pride: The trial becomes an temptation to do evil) Lust " Sin " Death

We can also see God’s redemptive plan for us reflected in the words “faith, patience and completion,” which can be translated “justification, perseverance, and glorification.”

The underlying theme of the epistle of James is the saint’s perseverance in the faith amidst the trials of this Christian life. This journey of perseverance must be walked out joyfully if one is to find the strength to endure its trials, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. We first make a decision to endure trials joyfully (James 1:2). This decision is based upon the hope that is set before us (James 1:3-4) (compare Hebrews 12:1-2). Once this decision is made, we must start the journey by getting divine wisdom (James 1:5). At first, walking in divine wisdom is not easy, for we have not tested it in our lives, having lived with carnal reasonings (James 1:6-7). If we will humble ourselves before the Lord (James 1:9-18), He will show us exactly what to do to walk through each trial victoriously (James 1:19-27). Thus, the author will take us on a series of lessons in order to learn how to walk in the wisdom of God so that we can persevere. We can be certain that God’s plan for our lives always leads us into victory (Romans 8:37, 1 Corinthians 15:57, 2 Corinthians 2:14).

Romans 8:37, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

This passage in James 1:2-27 gives us the steps to overcoming trials by faith in God.

Outline - Note the proposed outline:

1. Facing the Trial James 1:2-4

2. Asking for Wisdom James 1:5-8

3. Responding with Humility or with Pride James 1:9-18

4. Become Doers of God’s Word James 1:19-27

The Purpose of Trials - We must ask the question within the context of James 1:2-27 of why God allows such difficult trials to come our way. The answer can be found in the fact that these trials give men an opportunity to demonstrate their love for God. We see a clear example of this in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eve. They faced a trial when the serpent tempted them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord had told them to eat from every tree in the garden except this tree. God did not put this tree in the Garden because He wanted Adam and Eve to sin, but rather, it was the one tree that God would use to give them a trial, or test, of faith as a way that they could demonstrate their love to Him. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve chose the path of lust, sin and death.

Patience and Prayer - The need for patience (James 1:2-4) and prayer (James 1:5-8) is found in the opening verses of this epistle. We find this same theme of patience (James 5:7-11) and prayer (James 5:8-20) in the closing passage of this same epistle. The greatest example of patience in the Old Testament is Job, while the greatest example of the power of prayer was prayed by Elijah when he shut up heaven. Both of these examples are given in the closing passage; for it is through patience and prayer that we find the strength to endure trials while counting it all joy.

Verses 5-8

Asking for Wisdom - If we want God to bring us safely through this trial, the first step is to ask God for wisdom (Proverbs 4:7), and then stand firm and believe that He will show us the way (James 1:5-8); and according to James 1:5 God will always respond to those who come to Him in genuine faith. James will first lay a foundation of how to develop our faith in God in James 1:5-27 before giving us practical wisdom that will help us live by faith and overcome trials. However, we first learn to seek the Lord in faith believing that He will answer our cry.

Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”

Asking in Faith - Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts regarding praying in faith:

“Behold, I am the Lord, Thy God; is anything too hard for Me? I am the light of the world, and the greatest darkness shall never be able to quench that light. I shall be to thee a cloud to preserve by day and a pillar of fire to protect by night. Both in the sunshine and in the darkness, I shall be near thee. Thou shalt delight in Me in thy joys; and in the place of difficulty My love for thee shall be as inescapably real as a blazing pillar of fire. Yea, all I was to Israel, and more, I shall be to thee. For have I not promised to give thee the desires of thine heart, and the heathen for thine inheritance.

“Let no fear hinder. For he that wavereth receiveth not. But keep thine heart single and every alien thought thou shalt rebuke in My Name, for it is of the enemy . For he knoweth full well that he has no defense against pure faith. Only if he can succeed to plant some seed of doubt can he hold back the blessing of heaven among the people of God and nullify the witness to the lost. So hold fast thy profession of faith, for there is a great recompense of reward. (Or we may say, the inheritance of faith is a most rewarding recompense.)” [92]

[92] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 107.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom” Comments - Why is the need for wisdom brought up in a passage about how to endure temptations? Because it is by wisdom that God shows us the way of escape, or the way to endure trials. Thus, wisdom is the greatest need at that time in a person's life, the need to know God’s ways and to be able to make decisions that will lead a man through hard and difficult times; for a person must be able to stand upon God’s word without yielding or compromising.

The conditional clause, “If…” implies that we may already have divine wisdom for this particular situation. When we serve the Lord for a long time, we learn how to respond to particular situations. If this is a new situation, we certainly need wisdom from God.

It is divine wisdom that will show to us the difference between walking in hypocrisy and true religion (chapter 1-2). It will show us how to control our tongue during trials (chapter 3). It will keep us walking in humility (chapter 4). True wisdom will teach us patience and perseverance (chapter 5).

James 1:5 “let him ask of God” - Comments - Kenneth Copeland once said that when his wife was dealing with a potentially deadly disease with her liver, he was praying in as many different ways about the situation as he knew how to pray, yet they were not getting results. They had stood upon healing Scriptures and spoken the Word of God. Then, they had consulted a doctor, who had recommended a medication that had severe side effects. The doctor had also told them that this problem was incurable, and that medication was the only solution, which would have to be taken for a lifetime. One day, the Lord spoke to him and said, “My Word says that wisdom is not a principal thing, it is the principal thing. In the book of James, when you encounter trials, you are to count it all joy. Then, the first prayer that you are to pray is for wisdom. Kenneth Copeland said that he began to ask God for wisdom. The next day, the Lord gave him a word of wisdom about the situation, and showed him what to do. He and his wife began to look in health food stores for the product in the drug that was to cure the problem, without having to take the drug, with all of its side effects. As he followed that leading from the Holy Spirit, a path began to become visible to them about what to do. They found a particular health food to eat that quickly corrected the problem, and his wife, Gloria, has not had that problem again. [93]

[93] Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”

The YLT says, “ The first thing is wisdom --get wisdom, And with all thy getting get understanding.”

James 1:5 “that giveth to all men liberally” - Comments - Notice that James does not make a distinction here between the saved and the lost person, between Christians and non-Christians. This is because God is a good God, who loves all of mankind, who will reach out and touch any life that will reach out to touch him.

Notice how Jesus taught, in the Sermon on the Mount, how God blesses all mankind, the good and the evil.

Matthew 5:45, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

James 1:5 “and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” Comments When bad things happen to us, we can easily fall into condemnation and blame ourselves because of failures. We begin to look for failures in our own lives, and we can find plenty of them. Thus, James 1:5 tells us that we can still come to God without Him being angry with us and ask for wisdom in faith. We must learn to come to God under all circumstances, even if our failures have caused our problems.

James 1:5 Comments - We all need wisdom, whether leaders like King Solomon or ourselves. In this verse and in James 1:17, James begins to describe God as a good God. The Jewish Christians, who were likely the original recipients of this epistle, knew the God of the Old Testament as one of wrath and judgment. They did not see God as personal and concerned about the details of their lives. When a person goes through a trial, he needs to be encouraged to draw near to God, since such a person often feels weak and unworthy to ask God for help. He may feel that it was his own fault that brought on such a problem. Thus, this verse tells us that God is good to all who call upon Him, in any spiritual condition, and they are qualified to receive divine wisdom. Jesus himself, revealed to his disciple that God is a good God:

John 14:8-9, “Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”

James 1:5 also describes the way God gives. He gives cheerfully, gladly, generously, and He does not give grudgingly or unwilling, as man sometimes gives. God does not give while remembering the past sins. Rather, God gives “generously”; that is, He gives to us more than we asked Him to give.

Often, when I have faced a situation, I have learned to whisper a short prayer asking God for wisdom. Without fail, the Lord gives me an inspired idea to help. When the Scripture tells us that God gives to all men liberally , it means that He gives it at all times and in all seasons. In other words, He does not withhold it to those who ask. The phrase “and upbraideth not” means that He does not make us pre-qualify for it by living up to a certain standard. His wisdom is always available for us at all times and seasons of our lives.

James 1:5 Illustration - In January 1996, had just met my wife. We were together organizing our day in my hotel room. Since we were about to go to the bank and get cash for my traveler’s checks, and knowing that I needed my passport as an I.D., I discovered it missing. I looked everywhere in this small hotel room, and that did not take long. Here I was, overseas with a missing passport, and I had to be at work 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. After a second time going through the room, I sat down beside my wife, took her hand and together we asked the Lord for wisdom. I then laid down on one bed and she sat on the other bed (for we had never even kissed), and I waited upon the Lord. In a few minutes, I had a word of knowledge, jumped up, walked over to the dresser, pulled it out from the wall, and my passport fell onto the floor. It had slipped out of my luggage and fell behind this piece of furniture. God’s Word is so true. All we have to do is ask. I have prayed many times for such wisdom, and the Lord had never failed one single time to give me insight into a situation, and most of the time, if I would then wait upon Him, I would receive wisdom immediately.

James 1:5 Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith” Comments - God has required that man live by faith and trust in Him since the beginning. In order to move God in one’s behalf God has established the divine law of faith and trust in Him (Habakkuk 2:4, Hebrews 11:6). Faith in God is man’s way of giving to God his own love and devotion. When we love God He loves us back. He gave us the institution of the family so that this type of reciprocity can be demonstrated on a human level every day.

“nothing wavering” Comments More often, when we ask for divine wisdom in the midst of life’s circumstances, we do not see immediate intervention. We must believe that God is at work, turning even difficult situations around. We should remember that such circumstances were not created in a day, and they often do not subside in a day as well. When we have asked for wisdom, we should move forward in faith, believing that God is on our side. If a man wants God’s wisdom and he asks from God, then turns around and yields to the circumstances of life, he compromises God’s ability to deliver him through a trial. This kind of man is always at an indecision and doubt in everything he does in life (James 1:8). His lifestyle is characterized by failure. He will be a man that does not stick to any commitment in life, a job, a marriage, and he does not complete any task that he begins.

Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”

Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Keith Moore said, “Doubt despairs, complains and is sad, but faith rejoices, gives thanks and is glad.” [94] A person who asks in faith is a person who “counts it all joy” in the midst of his circumstances.

[94] Keith Moore, interviewed by Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Let our minds be filled with the Word of God and not a bunch of carnal-minded reasoning. Then, we will not waver. The Scriptures tell us that Abraham “staggered not” at God’s promises (Romans 4:20). The word “staggered” is the same Greek word that is used here as “wavering.” Abraham did not waver as he asked for God's guidance and wisdom. He considered not his circumstances, and stood on the promises of God.

Romans 4:20, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;”

“For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” Comments - A wave is tossed by the wind from above and by the current from beneath. John Bengel commented that this is figurative of someone being tossed from without, by circumstances, and from within, by emotions and doubt. [95] The trials of life come in manifold and divers temptations, as mentioned in the opening verse. Thus, the waves of the sea tossed about in so many unpredictable ways represent these trials of life. Note how a wave goes up and down, and how the tide goes in and out. Nothing in nature serves as a better illustration of a wavering heart. The waves at the seashore are moved about endlessly. It is the movable item in creation.

[95] John Albert Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament, vol. 5, trans. William Fletcher (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clarke, 1866), 5.

The idea of tossed faith in James 1:6 creates an image of someone running about looking for an escape, looking for an answer to a problem, but never resting in the Lord and waiting on Him for direction.

Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Isaiah 57:19-21, “I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt . There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”

Ephesians 4:14, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine , by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

James 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

James 1:7 Comments - God requires an act of faith and trust in Him from man in order to move in his behalf. There is no exception to this law of faith. Although he may continue to receive food, raiment, the sun and the rain, yet he will not receive one answered prayer. We need to ask according to God’s will if we are going to receive. Of course, God sovereignty intervenes in the affairs of nations and people in order to affect His divine plan of redemption, but the context of this passage refers to an individual’s personal relationship to the Lord, serving Him on a daily basis. In this sense God requires that a man live by faith, which is his way of demonstrating love and devotion to his Maker.

James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8 Comments - A double-minded man tries to keep one foot in the kingdom of God and another foot in the pursuits of the world. God calls this sin (James 4:8). Regarding the phrase “in all his ways,” this man is not only unstable in one area of his life, such as his prayer life, but he becomes unstable in all walks of his life.

James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded .”

Verses 9-11

Humility: The Poor and the Brevity of Life - On two occasions in the epistle of James the Lord reminds us of the brevity of our lives (James 1:9-11, James 4:14). This reminder is placed within the message of the underlying theme of James, which is the perseverance of the saints. In James 1:9-11 we find an illustration in nature of the brevity of our lives. For we see how quickly it appears in all of its beauty, then it withers and dies within days.

James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

James 1:9 Comments - Notice that James 1:9 does not contrast the material poor with the rich and wealthy. Rather, the contrast is with humility and pride, which is the attitude of the rich man within the context of the epistle of James (James 1:10-11; James 2:6; James 5:1). God’s way of honoring man is to exalt the humble in heart, and to lower the proud. Another way the Scriptures say this is “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30; Matthew 20:16).

James opened his epistle by charging the believer count it all joy when he falls into divers trials. He now addresses the humble person and tells him to rejoice in his exaltation. Thus, believers are given a reason for rejoicing. How can a poor, lowly brother find a reason to rejoice? He will rejoice in the fact that he shall will find a way of overcome each and every trial, and eventually receive a heavenly reward (see James 1:12). He is an heir of the kingdom of God (James 2:5). This is the measure of his exaltation.

James 1:12, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life , which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

James 2:5, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith , and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”

When pastor James tells his people to “count it all joy” in the midst of trials, he wants God’s people to look beyond the difficult circumstances of this life and look towards heaven. A believer’s joy does not have to depend upon earthly pleasures, which are temporal, but rather upon this precious relationship with the Heavenly Father. It is the degree of intimacy with the Father that will determine the degree of joy the lowly brother can walk in during this difficult life.

It is this humility that will open a man’s heart to the ways of God so that he can pray in faith and walk in the wisdom that will help him persevere in the midst of trials. We are told in James 1:21 to receive God’s Word in meekness. When we ask God for wisdom, we must be meek enough in heart to receive God’s Word as His reply to us. As we obey this word from God, which we call wisdom, we learn to walk by faith. Thus, the body of this Epistle explains this walk of faith. It is this faith that allows a man to access God in prayer as Elijah did for wisdom so that he can endure trials like Job. The author will then close this topic on faith in James 4:7-10 by asking us to submit to God and humble ourselves in His sight.

The motif of humility will under gird the central message of the epistle of James, which is perseverance through faith in God. We find the teaching on humility in James 1:9; James 1:21; James 4:6-10

James 1:10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

James 1:10 “But the rich, in that he is made low” Comments - James 1:10 may well read, “the rich glories or rejoices in the very things that make him low, namely, his pride in earthly riches. Philippians 3:19 pursues this thought by saying, “whose glory is in their shame.”

Philippians 3:19, “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame , who mind earthly things.”

James 1:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

James 1:11 Comments - In James 1:11 the author illustrates the temporal beauty of a man's riches by using the most beautiful item in God's creation, the flower. The Gospel of Matthew also used the flower to illustrate the glory of riches and how temporal they really are (Matthew 6:28-29).

Matthew 6:28-29, “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

James 1:10-11 Comments Pride: The Rich and the Brevity of Life - In direct contrast to the humble person’s reason to rejoice in his heavenly hope (James 1:9), the rich, being synonymous with the proud in heart in this context, is told to rejoice in his short, temporal earthly possession, for they will soon vanish away.

James 1:10-11 Comments The Brevity of Man’s Life - The theme of James 1:10-11 is taken from Isaiah 40:6-8. This theme is repeated later in this epistle in James 4:14.

Isaiah 40:6-8, “The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth : because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”

James 4:14, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

This theme is repeated often in the book of Psalms (Psalms 90:5-6; Psalms 92:7; Psalms 102:11; Psalms 103:15-16; Psalms 144:4).

Psalms 90:5-6, “Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.”

Psalms 92:7, “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever:”

Psalms 102:11, “My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.”

Psalms 103:15-16, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”

Psalms 144:4, “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.”

Other places in Scripture repeat this theme:

Ecclesiastes 8:13, “But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.”

Verses 9-18

Responding to the Trial with Either Humility or with Pride - In our seeking Him, we must humble ourselves and receive the wisdom that God gives to us (James 1:9). Humility is the door that leads us to our destiny of joy (or rest) in the midst of trials. But the door of earthly riches gives only temporal benefits and will pass soon away (James 1:10-11). Though the proud will reject God’s ways, it is this wisdom that will bring us to victory (James 1:12). Trials and temptations offer us opportunities to demonstrate our love and devotion to God (James 1:12). When we yield to these earthly temptations we do so because of our own selfishness (James 1:13-14). The proud will find himself tempted into sin because of his fleshly passions and eventually be overcome by the trial (James 1:13-15), and this road leads to death (James 1:15). So, we are warned not to take this path of death (James 1:16). James 1:17-18 then tells us the reason we can safely humble ourselves to God’s Word, since only good things coming from God (James 1:17); and since He begat us with the Word of Truth to be a first fruits of His new creation (James 1:18), then he only has good plans for us. He also says this because he wants his readers to understand that the trials they are facing are not from God. It is not and never has been His nature to bring trials into people’s lives that lure them into sin. James has just stated this in James 1:13, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” Rather, God’s will for our lives is to partake of His eternal nature and kingdom, which is proven by the very fact that we have been born again as new creatures in Christ, longing for our complete redemption in glory, which James calls the “crown of life” in James 1:12. God’s purpose for us, even in the midst of trials, is to walk in the character of His first-born creatures (James 1:18). This is our divine calling within the context of the theme of the epistle of James, which is the perseverance of the saints by our works.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Humility: The Poor and the Brevity of Life James 1:9-11

2. Facing Temptations James 1:12-16

3. God is a Good God With Good Plans for Us James 1:17-18

Verses 12-16

Facing Temptations James 1:12-16 describes the two different paths, or options, that people have to choose from when facing temptations. Everyone faces temptations, but not everyone overcomes them. The person who responses to temptations by asking for wisdom and placing his faith in God embarks on the path of perseverance, which choice results in a crown of life; but for those who respond to temptations by following their passions and desires give birth to sin which ends in death. James 1:6 gives the warning to believers not to go down this path of error.

God created every human being with five sense-gates: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling. Most information that we receive enters throughout ears and our eyes. Once this information enters into the mind, which is the seat of our will, intellect and emotions, we must make a decision whether to embrace the information or thought, or to reject it. If we embrace it, our heart opens up and we receive the information. Then we will have our bodies act out the ideals that we have embraced.

When an evil temptation enters our minds, we who have a pure heart do not lust after it nor desire it. The man with a wicked heart will embrace the temptations within his heart because of his evil desires (James 1:14). He will then tell his body to commit such sins (James 1:15). After living a life of pursuing those lusts, and having been brought into the bondages of sin, he will eventually die in those sins (James 1:15).

It is not a sin to have bad thoughts or to feel temptations. We cannot keep our minds from seeing and hearing evil As a child of God, we must choose by our own will to reject such thoughts and cast down evil imaginations.

For example, God placed within the Garden of Eden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to test man’s love and devotion to Him. God did not tempt man to eat of the fruit of this tree. Rather, Adam and Eve were drawn away from God’s Word to follow the words of Satan because of their own lusts and desires (James 1:14). The pursuit of their own desires gave birth to sin and sin brought forth death (James 1:15). Those who resist such worldly temptations demonstrate their love to God (James 1:12).

We find a similar description of the progressive order of sin leading to destruction in 1 Timothy 6:9, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

The Process of Sin and Death James 1:13-15 gives us the process of lust, sin and death. This sequence of events stands in direct contrast to the process of Christian maturity described in James 1:2-4. Those with a humble heart can face a trial joyfully in faith, which produces steadfastness, which develops into maturity. But a proud man who lacks wisdom will face a temptation by yielding to its enticement, which produces sin, and then sin matures into death.

“no man...every man” - The process of lust-sin-death is not only at work in the life of a sinner (Romans 6:23), but the Word of God says “any man.” This process can be at work in the life of a believer if he does not quickly repent of earthly sins.

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death ; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Thus, we understand that James 1:12-16 is referring to believers. Note:

Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death , or of obedience unto righteousness?”

Romans 8:6, “For to be carnally minded is death ; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

1 John 5:16, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death : I do not say that he shall pray for it.”

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

James 1:12 “Blessed is the man” Comments - We find this teaching style in the Beatitutes in the Sermon on the Mount.

James 1:12 “that endureth temptation...to them that love him” - Comments - Love is willing to endure (1 Corinthians 13:7).

1 Corinthians 13:7, “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

James 1:12 “he shall receive the crown of life” Word Study on “crown” The Greek word στε ́ φανος refers to a victor's crown, while the Greek word for a king's crown is διάδημα .

Comments - The use of the word “crown” in James 1:12 implies that there is a victory that must be won. The battle is overcoming earthly lusts and sins and doing God’s Word, which leads to victory in every area of our lives.

James 1:12 Comments - A trial is an opportunity to prove our love and devotion to God. For example, in the Garden of Eden God did not stop the serpent from coming and tempting Adam and Eve to sin. God deliberately placed a tree in the Garden called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil to test man; for without the ability to choose between right and wrong, man’s love could never be tested. Thus, God wanted to prove man’s love for him by giving him a choice to obey or disobey. When Adam and Eve were tempted to partake of this tree, they demonstrated their lack of devotion and love towards God by pleasing themselves. This is why James 1:12 says, “which the Lord hath promised to them that love him .” When we endure temptations and overcome sin, we show our love towards God.

The process of a trial, endurance and a reward described in James 1:12 not only applies to our promise of eternal life. It reveals to us the process of training and reward that the Lord takes us through on many occasions in Christian journey of this earthly life in order to perfect us for His service. When we overcome temptations and endure hardships, we set ourselves up for a greater anointing and office of ministry. This verse describes the process of sanctification that every believer is asked to pursue. For example, the Lord once said to me that every time Paul was imprisoned he anointing increased, meaning his crown in this life of overcoming trials was a greater anointing. The rest of the epistle of James will guides us through the steps of overcoming temptations.

Some believers will not endure such temptations. Many will be caught up in the pursuit of this world (See the Parable of the Sower). Many will not endure sound doctrine:

2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”

Romans 8:6, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Matthew 10:22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved .”

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

James 1:13 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God” Comments - James 1:13 tells us not to blame God for difficulties in this life. This is a mistake that many believers make during difficult times. They are taught that every single thing that happens to them is within God’s will for their lives. The difficult with this way of thinking is that when difficult times come, people can become angry with God, thinking that He is the ultimate cause of such problems. It is Satan who comes to steal, kill and destroy men’s lives, but God’s will is that we have an abundant life of joy. In the Garden of Eden the Lord did not bring the serpent to Adam and Eve to tempt them. Rather, the serpent had a legal right to be there and to do what he did.

John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

James 1:13 “for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man” Comments - In James 1:13 the statement, “neither tempteth he any man” should end with the implied phrase “with evil.” However it is not written, as is so typical of Greek syntax. So this phrase could read, “for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (with evil).”

James 1:13 Comments - Although God does not tempt us towards evil, He does test our faith. Note:

1 Chronicles 29:17, “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart , and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.”

1 Thessalonians 2:4, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts .”

For example, when your child is about one year old, it is time to learn to walk. You hold him up and turn loose, teaching him to stand up by himself. This is a trial for the child. In the same way, the Lord is trying to get us to grow in our faith.

Genesis 22:1, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”

John 6:6, “And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.”

Satan tempts us in our fleshy realm with evil enticements. God deals with our faith, testing our hearts in order to teach us how to exercise our faith.

There are two examples in the Old Testament of the Lord tempting people to do something against the Lord’s will in order to test their obedience. In Jeremiah 35:0, the Lord told Jeremiah to bring the Recabites into one of the chambers of the Temple and offer them wine. Since their forefather has commanded them to abstain from wine, they refused. God was so pleased with them for refusing the wine that Jeremiah offered them that He pronounced an eternal blessing upon them.

In 1 Kings 13:0, the man of God cried against the altar upon which king Jeroboam was about to burn incense. On his way home, an old prophet of Bethel met him in the way and tempted him to disobey the Lord’s commandment by coming to his home and dining. Afterwards, this old prophet spoke divine judgment upon the man of God and a lion slew him as he departed for home.

James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

James 1:14 Word Study on “tempted” Jack MacGorman says πειρα ́ ζω refers to “enticement to moral wrong.” This type of temptation seeks to establish “a beach-head at the point of desires, at work in our God-given capacities.” Temptation tries to makes us “suspicious of God, making God capricious in denying us delights.” [96]

[96] Jack MacGorman, “Class Lecture,” GREEK 432 New Testament Greek II, Spring 1982 (Fort Worth, Texas: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), comments on James 1:14.

Word Study on “drawn away” MacGorman says ε ̓ ξε ́ λκω describes a fisherman using a lure. [97]

[97] Jack MacGorman, “Class Lecture,” GREEK 432 New Testament Greek II, Spring 1982 (Fort Worth, Texas: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), comments on James 1:14.

Word Study on “enticed” MacGorman says δελεα ́ ζω describes a hunter baiting a trap. [98]

[98] Jack MacGorman, “Class Lecture,” GREEK 432 New Testament Greek II, Spring 1982 (Fort Worth, Texas: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), comments on James 1:14.

Comments All of us face temptations. When we yield to them, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves. However, it is important to note that James will later tell his readers to resist the devil, which implies that the devil is often the source of such trials and temptations that befall our lives.

James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

We begin to see references to the carnal man emerging in the epistle of James. This is the man who is led by fleshly passions (James 1:14) and emotions (James 1:20) rather than the spiritual man who is led by the implanted Word of God which must be received in meekness. The spiritual man walks through temptations by faith in God, while the carnal man is moved by his fleshly nature.

Illustration (1) - We find a biblical illustration to this in Numbers 11:34, “And he called the name of that place Kibrothhattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.”

Illustration (2) - As a young boy, I stuck my finger between the two rods of a table leg. The rods came together at the bottom. As a child, I was enticed and lured by the discovery of just how far I could slide my little finger down between an ever-decreasing gap. I pressed my finger tightly as far down as I could get it. When the game was over, and I began to pull my finger out, it was stuck. I had to call for mother to put soapy water on my hand in order to free the finger.

James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:15 Comments - The word “conceived” literally means, “to claps, seize” ( Strong). This word clearly describes the biological process of the fertilized egg entering the womb and “seizing,” or embedding itself into the wall of the womb. Yet, in the New Testament times, man did not yet know this magnificent process of God's creation in reproduction.

James 1:15 illustrates the process of lust-sin-death by using the process of birth. The way a child was conceived and born in the womb was a great wonder and amazement to the people of the Bible. So, also is the amazing process of how people go so easily and willingly thru the process of sin until death seizes them (Ecclesiastes 1:5).

Ecclesiastes 11:5, “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.”

Just as it takes time to conceive, grow a child in a womb, and give birth, so does it take time for lust to reach its final destination of death. This is where man is so deceived. A carnal man begins to think that sin has no consequences during the period that things seem to be going well in the midst of sin. In time, death will come. Death will come at its proper time, just as the birth of a child comes, suddenly and unexpectedly.

Someone once said:

Sow a thought, reap an action.

Sow an action, reap a habit.

Sow a habit, reap a character.

Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Bob Nichols said, “Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay; it will take you further than you want to go; and it will cost you more than you want to pay” [99]

[99] Bob Nichols, Sermon, Calvary Cathedral International, Fort Worth, Texas.

Illustration - Jack MacGorman said that in school he had become rebellious. His father set a rat trap in the tool shed and caught a rat. He held the trap up and said to his son Jack, “You see the rat in the trap?” After pausing, he continues, “If we are going to catch another rat, we need to clean the trap. Not another rat in the country is stupid enough to hit that trap. Wouldn’t it be good if men were as smart as rats? The devil has not cleaned a trap since the Garden of Eden; yet men, day in and day out, still hit those bloody traps.” [100]

[100] Jack MacGorman, “Class Lecture,” GREEK 432 New Testament Greek II, Spring 1982 (Fort Worth, Texas: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), comments on James 1:15.

James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

Verses 17-18

God is a Good God with Good Plans for Us James 1:17-18 gives us an exhortation to seek God in the midst of trials. These verses simply expound upon the previous statement in James 1:5 about asking God for wisdom, who gives to all generously and does not upbraid us for it.

Why does James make these statements in James 1:17-18 about only good things coming from God (James 1:17) and how He begat us with the Word of Truth (James 1:18)? It is because he wants his readers to understand that the trials they are facing are not from God. It is not and never has been His nature to bring trials into people’s lives that lure them into sin. He has just stated this in James 1:13, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” Rather, God’s will for our lives is to partake of His eternal nature and kingdom, which is proven by the very fact that we have been born again as new creatures in Christ, longing for our complete redemption in glory, which James calls the “crown of life” in James 1:12.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” Word Study on “gift…gift” Two different Greek words are translated “gift” in James 1:17. The first Greek word δο ́ σις (gift) refers to the act of giving, while the second Greek word δω ́ ρημα (gift) refers to the gift itself. In the same way, the Greek word βρω ̂ σις refers to the act of eating, while the Greek word βρω ̂ μα refers to the food itself.

Comments - Oral Roberts teaches that God is a good God. He says, “Something good is going to happen to you.” [101] In other words, He has good plans for our lives and wants to give us good things. We see this stated by our Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:10 when He told His disciples that He came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly

[101] Oral Roberts, A Daily Guide to Miracles and Successful Living Through SEED-FAITH (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Pinoak Publications, c1975, 1976), 48-9.

John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Bill Wiese contrasts God’s gifts to mankind to the conditions in Hell, where there are no gifts from Heaven. [102] Wiese was taken to Hell in 1998, and recalls his experiences in his book 23 Minutes in Hell Wiese. [103] He explains that God is light, and in Hell there is no light, because God is not present in Hell (1 John 1:5). The darkness is so thick that nothing is visible except the flames of Hell. Darkness penetrates every part of Hell. He also explains that God is love (1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:16), and in Hell there is absolutely no love for one another. Every demonic creature in Hell is full of intense hatred towards mankind. God’s mercy is upon the earth, and is extended towards mankind. His mercy is in the heavens (Psalms 36:5). In Hell the demons show no mercy and compassion towards the people that they torment for eternity. They work tirelessly to put as much pain and suffering upon their human victims as possible. On earth mankind experiences grace and truth through the redemptive work of Christ Jesus on Calvary (John 1:17). In Hell no human is given grace or mercy for eternity, but torment and terror. On earth men quench their thirst with life-giving water (Deuteronomy 11:11). In Hell there is no water, so that tormented souls thirst eternally (Zechariah 9:11). In Hell there is no blood, because there is no life in Hell (Leviticus 17:11). On earth God gives every person physical strength to serve Him (Psalms 18:32). In Hell there is no strength, so that the tormented soul is desperate for sleep and rest, but finds none; neither does he have the strength to resist those tormenting him. Each day mankind is daily loaded with divine blessings (Psalms 68:19), the gifts of love, mercy, health, peace, enjoyment, and rest. We have learned to live with so many blessings each day that we have become unmindful of them. As long as a person is alive upon earth, he has hope that even the worst situations can improve. However, in Hell there is no longer any hope. Hell is absent of God’s goodness. In this place of eternal torment, man is left without God’s gifts for eternity. In contrast, mankind is continually experiencing God’s goodness and gifts as long as he has breath on earth.

[102] Bill Wiese, interviewed by Rod Parsley, Breakthrough (Columbus, Ohio: Rod Parsley Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California, November 2008), television program.

[103] Bill Wiese, 23 Minutes in Hell (Lake Mary, Florida: Charis House, c2006).

1 John 1:5, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

1 John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”

Psalms 36:5, “Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.”

John 1:17, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

Deuteronomy 11:11, “But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:”

Zechariah 9:11, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.”

Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

Psalms 18:32, “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.”

Psalms 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”

James 1:17 “and cometh down from the Father of lights” Comments - The phrase, “and cometh down from the Father of lights” tells us that God is the Creator of all things, who provides good things to mankind through His divine providence and omnipotent power.

James 1:17 “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” - Comments Nothing in God's creation is more stable and unchanging than God Himself. In James 1:17, James uses an illustration out of nature that is most subject to change. These are the shadows from the sun. This shadow will be ever changing it position during the process of the sun moving across the sky during the day. At no time during the day is the shadow stationary. In addition, each new day brings the sun's rays into a different angle upon the earth, so that each day of the year, a shadow finds itself changing its position. A shadow is the most illustrative example of change that can be found in nature.

In James 1:17 the divine attribute of unchangableness is referring to the Father, although this is also an attribute of the Trinity:


Psalms 90:2, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”


Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

The Lord:

Psalms 93:2, “Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.”

The Word:

Psalms 119:89, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”

Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

The Holy Spirit always speaks what He hears:

John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

James 1:17 Comments - When we are tossed about with the trials of life (James 1:2), we need to know that we can turn to a God who changes not. It is not the severity of the storm that determines the outcome, but rather the stability of the Savior, who is the anchor of our soul.

James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth” Word Study on “begat” - This same Greek word is used in verse fifteen, “brings forth death.”

Comments - In contrast to sin giving birth to death, God's word brings forth life.

Comments - If we were born again by the “Word of Truth,” then we are sustained by the same Word. Thus, the next passage will teach us to follow this Word by becoming doers of it and not hearers only:

Receive the Word of truth James 1:19-21

Be swift to hear this Word of truth James 1:19

Verses 19-27

Become Doers of God’s Word In James 1:19-27 James exhorts the Jewish believers to be doers of the Word of God, and not just hearers. The epistle of James alludes to the assembly of the early Jewish converts in the Temple and synagogues (James 2:2) a number of times, as the Old Testament Scriptures were read to them (James 1:19-27) by a scribe or teacher (James 3:1). We can imagine Jewish believers assembling in the synagogues, or among themselves, both hearing the Scriptures read to them, and discussing its interpretation in light of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

When we ask God for wisdom in the midst of trials, and if we humble ourselves and are willing to listen to God, He will surely speak to us. Thus, the next step in overcoming trials is to respond in obedience to what God tells us to do. James 1:19-21 tells us that we have to make a decision when facing each trial in life in order to pass the test. We decide whether to receive God’s Word and obey it, or reject it and do things our own foolish way, which often is an angry response (James 1:20), since a trial often involves someone doing us wrong. James will later discuss these two decisions in James 3:13-18 as decisions of earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. James 1:22-27 will explain the difference between false humility and true humility. In order to get onto the path that leads to a crown of life we must overcome the deception of false humility. We become doers of God’s Word from a pure heart (James 1:22-25). We are justified before God by being doers of God’s Word and not hearers only. False humility is most readily seen in our acts of an unbridled tongue (James 1:26), while true humility is most clearly demonstrated in helping those who cannot help themselves, namely, widows and orphans (James 1:27).

Hearers of the Word - James could have said, “You have read about the patience of Job,” in James 5:11. Keep in mind that James is writing to Jewish converts who were dispersed across the Roman Empire, and still assembling in synagogues; for James uses this word συναγωγή in James 2:2, “if there come unto your assembly. ” In this assembly, the chief speaker would read the Scriptures as we see Jesus doing in Luke 4:16. So naturally, the others in the assembly become “hearers.” Thus, we can imagine James describing in James 5:11 a speaker reading from the book of Job and those seated are “hearing” the story, followed by comments about the text. This is why James uses the phrase “hearers of the word” in James 1:19-25.

Luke 4:16, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.”

We have testimony from Eusebius (A.D. 260 to 340), the early Church historian, that such public reading of the Scriptures was standard practice in the early Church.

“These things are recorded in regard to James, who is said to be the author of the first of the so-called catholic epistles. But it is to be observed that it is disputed; at least, not many of the ancients have mentioned it, as is the case likewise with the epistle that bears the name of Jude, which is also one of the seven so-called catholic epistles. Nevertheless we know that these also, with the rest, have been read publicly in very many churches .” ( Ecclesiastical History 2.23.25)

James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

James 1:19 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren” - Comments We are the beloved of God because we have been begotten by Him (James 1:18). We are His children and He is our Father.

James 1:18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

James 1:19 “let every man be swift to hear” - Comments We are to be swift to hear “the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

James 1:19 “slow to speak, slow to wrath” - Comments The believer’s battle against swift speech and wrath describes our carnal reactions to the manifold trials mentioned in the opening verses of this epistle, which stands in direct contradiction to God’s plan for us to “count it all joy” (James 1:2). This anger can progress as described in the next verse into uncleanness and abundance of evil (James 1:20).

James 1:19 Comments Our willingness to close our mouth and listen moves us to be slower to speak out in response; and our slowness to speak out helps us to delay our anger until we better understand a situation. However, we are not to always be silent. There are times when we need to speak out (Ecclesiastes 3:7).

Ecclesiastes 3:7, “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak ;”

James 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

James 1:20 Comments - Man’s anger is slow to listen and quick to speak, while God is slow to anger. An uncontrolled tongue can create anger. The more the tongue works, the greater the anger, which progresses into “all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness” (James 1:21). When we are slow to listen to the truth and quick to open our mouths, then we are prone to easily get angry. In fact, the more we talk, the angrier we get. This is the behaviour of temperamental people. They tend to speak quickly and aggressively. How often have I taken the time to evaluate the facts of a situation after opening my mouth, and this evaluation found that my angry reaction was unnecessary. How often I have looked back at my angry words and wished I had spoken with without the angry to accompany them. In most cases, it is entirely unnecessary to behave so angrily and foolishly. Later in the epistle of James (see James 3:2), the author will identify this ability to manage our tongue as a sign of Christian maturity.

James 3:2, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”

Note John Wesley's New Testament translation of James 1:20, “ For a man's anger does not lead to action which God regards as righteous.”

James 1:20 Scripture References - Note other verses on man's wrath:

Psalms 145:8, “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.”

Proverbs 14:29, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.”

Proverbs 15:18, “A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.”

Proverbs 16:32, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 1:21 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness” Comments - The filthiness and abundance of evil mentioned in James 1:21 is descriptive of the words and actions that immature believers express when easily drawn into angry. Keep in mind that many of these Jewish communities of believers that James was writing to were being persecuted and mistreated by the rich. They had just cause to be angry because of wrong-doing. Thus, James is giving them practical things to do to overcome their temptations to walk in the flesh and do evil. It is not easy to walk in the spirit under such circumstances, but it is the only way to patiently endure hardships and overcome them with joy (James 1:2), and avoid erring from the path of truth (James 5:19-20). We must remember the theme of the epistle of James, which is an exhortation to endure persecutions from without, and their objective was to strive for maturity in order to persevere (James 1:4), which results in the salvation of their souls (James 1:21).

James 1:21 “and receive with meekness” Comments - We must open our hearts unto God’s Word, if we are going to hear His voice and understand His Word. In the same manner, when I go to pray for someone, if they are not receptive to me or to my message, then I have very little to say and my prayer for them is relatively ineffective. When someone is hungry for the words that I am ministering and they humbly receive what I am saying, God will move mightily for them in the simplest prayer of agreement. I have learned this from experience after working for seven years as an altar worker.

James 1:21 “the engrafted word” Word Study on “engrafted” - In James 1:21 we find the only use of the Greek adjective έμφυτος (G1721) in the New Testament, which means “implanted” ( Strong). The verbal form of this word is used in John 20:22:

John 20:22, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”

Comments - Only in humility can we come before God’s throne (Hebrews 4:16) and receive the living, breathed-upon Word. As we obey it by faith, we are promised salvation by grace.

An attitude of humility must be present while studying God’s word. This attitude must be present to “hear” God's Word:

Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing , and hearing by the word of God.”

We are to take God’s word, not forget it, but let it create in us a Godly lifestyle.

Psalms 119:11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

Proverbs 2:1-5, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”

James 1:21 “which is able to save your souls” Comments - James uses the Greek word σω ́ ζω five times in his Epistle (James 1:21; James 2:14; James 4:12; James 5:15; James 5:20). The Enhanced Strong says it is found 110 times throughout the New Testament, being translated in a variety of meanings “save 93, make whole 9, heal 3, be whole 2, misc 3.” If we compare these five verses in James, it is easy to conclude that James used this word in its broadest sense. We may translate it as “deliver” in every usage and maintain an accurate interpretation of these verses and capture its broad meaning. Thus, James seems to be saying in James 1:21 that the engrafted word will “deliver” us from the sins and bondages of this world and from eternal judgment. This word implies the entire process of the redemption of our souls. This word must become a part of our lives to become salvation and deliverance in our daily lives.

Romans 2:13, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

James 1:21 Comments - The Lord gave me a dream in order to illustrate James 1:21 to me. I saw Kenneth Copeland when he first encountered the teachings of Kenneth Hagin. In this dream Kenneth Copeland humbled himself and embraced every single word that Hagin taught as if it were a priceless treasure. With each teaching he heard Kenneth Copeland immediately put it into practice in his life. His very life and energy and enjoyment and passion were centered around learning from Hagin. I saw the meekness of Kenneth Copeland’s heart as he listened to each teaching and the willingness to obey the divine principles that were taught. This is the reason that Copeland has one of the largest teaching ministries in the world today. His soul was delivered from worldly wisdom, his life delivered from poverty and his body from sickness.

James 1:19-21 Comments - Managing Anger James 1:19-20 states that we are not to get angry and carryout vengeance for ourselves; but we are to give place to wrath (Rev 12:19).

Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

James 1:19-21 teaches us how to manage our anger. Kenneth Copeland gives the testimony of how the Lord showed him a practical way to manage his anger. [104] He was told to immediately hold his tongue when anger comes into his spirit. He was to wait a while before speaking, and then learn to only speak the truth without an angry spirit. At first it was difficult, because he was used to speaking quickly and rashly. I began to try this for myself. Over a period of time I found that I was better able to control my own temper. Our tongue is the key to managing our anger.

[104] Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22 Comments Having received the implanted Word of God, we are to become doers of it. Bob Yandian says that taking in the Word of God is being a hearer, but putting out the Word of God is being a doer. Knowledge is taking in the Word of God, but wisdom is correctly putting out, or applying this Word. [105]

[105] Bob Yandian, Salt and Light: The Sermon on the Mount (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, c1983, 1988), 11.

James 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

James 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

James 1:24 Comments - When James says, “forgetting what manner of man he was,” we know that this is a description of someone who was once born again, and strays away. We note a similar statement in 2 Peter 1:9, “hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”.

2 Peter 1:9, “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

James 1:25 “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty” Comments - The “law of liberty” is also called “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” in Romans 8:2. This law sets us free from the rudiments of this world when obeyed, and does not bringing us into bondage. We find real freedom in serving Christ Jesus, not bondage.

Romans 8:2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”


2 Corinthians 6:12, “You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.” ( NASB).

James 1:25 Comments - James mentions doing and working and works throughout this Epistle (James 1:4; James 1:20; James 1:25, etc.). This is because the emphasis in James is on our actions in contrast to our heart or our minds, to bring us through the trials of life.

James 1:22-25 Comments - The Illustration of a Man Looking into a Mirror In James 1:22-25 the author tries to explain the necessity of applying the Word of God to our lives by using the illustration of a man looking into a mirror. When we do look into a mirror we see a reflection of our outward man (our physical appearance). If we looked into a mirror and saw a dirty face, we would immediately wash up and clean ourselves. How do we see the inner man? To do this we must look into the Word of God and it will reflect the condition of the heart. This is what the author of Hebrews meant when he said, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) If we give our physical appearance daily attention by looking into a mirror and correcting any unpleasant things we see on our bodies, then we should also give our spirits the same daily attention by looking into God’s Word and making the necessary changes to our lives to conform to His Word. This is what James means by being a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. Thus, we keep our spirit man in healthy condition in the same way that we keep our outward man in good condition. In contrast, James says that if we do not become doers of God’s Word, it is like a man who ignores his physical needs after recognizing them in a mirror and walking away and forgetting them.

No one has ever looked at his own face. Our eyes are set within sockets so that we cannot directly see our face. We may be able to see the tip of our nose or lips, but we need a mirror to see our entire face. We know what we look like physically because we trust the image reflected in a mirror. In a similar sense, no one has ever seen his spirit, because it is the invisible part of man’s make-up. Therefore, it is called in Scriptures the inner man and the hidden man of the heart. The only way we can see it is through the reflection of God’s Word, which gives us a clear image of our own spirit. We must trust that what God’s Word says about our born again spirit is accurate, despite what our mind and reason tells us.

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

James 1:26 Comments - The person’s unbridled tongue reflects back on the previous verse, which warns us to be slow to speak and slow to wrath (James 1:19).

James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

James 1:27 “To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” - Illustration: Job 31:0.

Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse on doing for others as a sign of genuine Christian faith, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

James 1:27 “and to keep himself unspotted from the world” - Comments - In John 15:19; John 17:11; John 17:14; John 17:16, we are “in the world, but not of the world.”

John 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

James 1:27 Comments - James is writing to the Christian Jews of the Diaspora. That is, he is addressing all of the Jews who did not live in the land of Palestine. These Jewish converts were zealous and very religious. Therefore, James wants to give them a clear understanding of what true “religious activity” is all about.

The outward sign of true godliness is to help those in need; and the inward sign of true godliness is to remain pure from the temptations of this evil world. Thus, James describes godliness from the heart as well as from our actions. Perhaps James used the examples of orphans and widows because these two groups were discusses in the Law as those whom the Jews were required to help.

Within the context of this epistle, we are taught that in the midst of our trials we should help those who are less fortunate than us.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on James 1". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/james-1.html. 2013.
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