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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

James 4

Verse 1


Where do? “What is the source of all the fights and quarrels which take place both among you Christians and against the non-Christians?” They come from. The crimes which James condemns were so horrible and done so openly, that we can hardly believe Christians would be guilty of such behavior! Yet human nature being what it is, and Christian growth being necessary, we must accept the fact. Compare 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. "The church is a hospital for sinners, not a rest home for saints." We as Christians must cooperate with God by actively resisting our human nature and making a positive effort to live both holy and good lives. See Romans 8:12-13; Romans 12:1-2. Your desires for pleasure. The TEV gives the literal translation. These desires include: pride, greed, lust, and grandiose ambition. Compare Romans 7:23; 1 Peter 2:11.

Verse 2


You want things. The Expositor's Greek Testament says: "It must be confessed that these verses are very difficult to understand." Yet I think MacKnight gives the key by viewing James as a unity. He says: "Next he told them, they never could succeed in converting the heathens, and destroying idolatry, because they did not use the methods proper for these ends (results). They neither prayed to God for assistance and success, nor exercised (used) meekness towards those whom they wished to convert. The Jews still expected an earthly version of Messiah's Kingdom, and they thought it would come by converting Gentiles to Judaism. Even many Christian Jews still thought this, and they expected to be able to live their lives wallowing in sensual pleasure when Messiah's Kingdom came!!! The paradox is their mixed attitude, wanting to bring the Gentiles to Christ, but also to the Law of Moses. Rather than asking God's guidance, they used ranting and raving, quarreling and fighting, to try to make converts, and were ready to kill when they failed to succeed!!!

Verse 3


Because your motives are bad. "Even when you do ask God for success, you do not receive it, because you ask God to bless your wicked and unspiritual efforts, rather than changing your methods to match his instructions!" Their motivation in wanting to make converts, was not to bring God glory, but to get money from these converts to spend on their own pleasures. Compare 1 Timothy 6:5; Titus 1:11.

Verse 4


Unfaithful people! "As an adulterous wife is unfaithful to her husband, so your spiritual adultery is unfaithful to your God!" Don't you know? "You gain the friendship of worldly people by sharing in their sins, but in doing this, you make yourself God's enemy!" Compare John 15:18-20.

Verse 5


Do not think. James 4:6 shows it is not the Holy Spirit, but the human spirit, which James is talking about here. "The human spirit which God placed in us is filled with fierce desires which can destroy us if we do not control them!" [This exact quotation is not found, but it is a lot like Galatians 5:17. Beza connected it with Genesis 8:21. Compare Romans 7:14-25.]

Verse 6


But the grace. “God gives us the grace to overcome our human spirit! And God shows us a better way of making converts to Christ!” God resists the proud. Proverbs 3:34. “God makes the schemes of the proud fail, and frustrates their desires.” But gives grace. “God helps the humble to succeed!” Compare Matthew 5:1-13.

Verse 7


So then. “Submit yourselves to God, especially when you try to convert the pagans!” Resist the Devil, who by filling you with pride and anger, seduces you to use unholy methods to spread your religion.” And he. Benson says: “We may chase away the Devil, not by holy water, the sign of the cross, or any superstitious charm, but by steady virtue and resolute goodness.”

Verse 8


Come near to God. “Worship God with your life, with a deep sense of his holiness and justice, deal with others as he deals with you, and he will bless and assist you in your efforts to serve him! Johnson says: “If we wish God very near to us we must seek to dwell very near to him.” Wash your hands. Some of these Jews were “Zealots.” See note on Mark 15:7. “Before you can worship God, you must make yourself pure from crimes of violence and unholy methods, which you have been using.” Cleanse your hearts. “You must get rid of those evil desires and bad motives which make you act in such contradictory ways!” See James 3:9-12.

Verse 9


Be sorrowful! These words show the contrast between the vulgar gaiety of the pleasure-seeker, and the humility of the one who has turned away from sin and turned to God. Joel 2:12-13. [This does not mean that a Christian must go around with a long face! See 1 Thessalonians 5:16 and note.]

Verse 10


Humble yourselves. See Matthew 23:12 and note.

Verse 11


Do not criticize. “Do not slander each other because of your opinions in religion,” Whoever. “In criticizing and judging your brother in matters of conscience (Romans 14:1-4), you are opposing the Law of both Moses and Christ, which does not permit such things.” If you judge the Law. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “When a man misinterprets the Law, and then acted upon that misinterpretation, and denounced others who did not do likewise, then he was truly not a doer of the Law, but a judge, – and a very bad one too!”

Verse 12


God is the only lawgiver and judge. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “The words are intended to show the arrogant impertinence of those who were judging their neighbors on a misinterpretation of the Law.” Taylor says: “Give every man the benefit of the doubt.”

Verse 13


Now listen to me. “You act as though everything were yours to decide, and that God had nothing to do with the events of the world!”

Verse 14


You don’t even know. “You speak confidently of the future, but you don’t even know for sure if you will even be living tomorrow!”

Verse 15


If the Lord is willing. “This is the proper way to plan things, because it will make you more aware of how much you depend upon God!” “You may make your plans, but God directs your actions” (Proverbs 16:9). See Hebrews 6:3 and note.

Verse 16


But now. “You are proud of your words and you boast about the future as if you were completely independent from God. All such boasting is wrong, because it shows you are ignorant both about yourselves and about God!”

Verse 17


So then. “If you know what is right and good and fail to do it, this makes you guilty of sin. Your guilt is even greater, because you knew better, yet did not do it!” This proves there are sins of omission.

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on James 4". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.