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Bible Commentaries
James 1

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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James 1:1 The apostle's address to the dispersed Jews.

James 1:2-4 He recommendeth patience and joy in afflictions.

James 1:5-8 and prayer with faith.

James 1:9-11 He giveth advice to the poor and to the rich.

James 1:12 The reward of those that are proof under trial.

James 1:13-16 Our own lusts, and not God, tempt us to sin.

James 1:17,James 1:18 God is the unchangeable author of all good to his creatures.

James 1:19-25 We must receive the word with purity and meekness, and not

only hear, but do it.

James 1:26 The necessity of governing the tongue.

James 1:27 The essential duties of true religion.

Verse 1

James, the son of Alpheus and brother of Jude, called likewise the brother of the Lord, Galatians 1:19.

A servant; not only by creation, as all the creatures are, Psalms 119:91, or by redemption, as all believers are, but by special commission in the office of an apostle; see Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; compare likewise Romans 1:9.

Of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: the members of this clause may be taken, either jointly, and then the conjunction and hath the power only of an explication, q.d. The servant of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, as Titus 2:2 and the sense must be, the servant of Jesus Christ, who is God: or, separately, (which our translation seems to favour), to let his countrymen know, that in serving Christ he served the God of his fathers; and by the authority both of God and of Christ wrote this to them.

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: being one of the apostles of the circumcision, Galatians 2:9, he writes to all his believing countrymen wherever dispersed, as they were upon several occasions, and at several times, into divers countries, Acts 2:9-11.

Greeting; a salutation usual, not only among the heathen, but the Jews, Matthew 26:49; Matthew 27:29; and used by the Christians, Acts 15:23. It seems to answer to the Hebrew salutation, peace, which was comprehensive of all happiness; and so is this here to be understood.

Verse 2

My brethren; both as being of the same nation and the same religion; so he calls them, that the kindness of his compellation might sweeten his exhortations.

Count it; esteem it so by a spiritual judgment, though the flesh judge otherwise.

All joy; matter of the chiefest joy, viz. spiritual. So all is taken, 1 Timothy 1:15.

When ye fall into; when ye are so beset and circumvented by them, that there is no escaping them, but they come upon you, though by the directeth of God’s providence, yet not by your own seeking.

Divers temptations; so he calls afflictions, from God’s end in them, which is to try and discover what is in men, and whether they will cleave to him or not. The Jews were hated by other nations, and the Christian Jews even by their own, and therefore were exposed to divers afflictions, and of divers kinds, 1 Peter 1:6.

Verse 3

Knowing this; considering.

That the trying of your faith; the reason why he called afflictions temptations, as well as why believers should count it all joy to fall into them, viz. because they are trials of their faith, and such trials as tend to approbation, as the word (different from that in the former verse) imports.

Of your faith; both of the truth of the grace itself, and of your constancy in the profession of it.

Worketh patience; not of itself, but as a means in the hand of God, made effectual to that end.

Objection. Romans 5:3, it is said, Tribulation worketh patience, and patience, experience, or trial; whereas here it is said, that trial works patience.

Answer. The words used here and Romans 5:3 are different; here it is δοκιμιον, which signifies actively, the trying itself, and this works patience; there it is δοκιμη, which is taken passively, for the experiment following upon the trial; or, as we read it, the experience, viz. of our sincerity, as well as of God’s consolation, which may well be the effect of patience wrought by and under trials. And so both are true, that tribulation, as Paul speaks, and trial, as James, work patience; and patience, not a further trial, but rather discovery, or experiment, or approbation of what we are, which appears by nothing more than by patience under sufferings.

Verse 4

But let patience have her perfect work; i.e. effect: q.d. Let it have its full efficacy in you, both in making you absolutely subject to God’s will, and constant to the end under all your sufferings.

That ye may be perfect and entire; that you may grow perfect in this grace, as well as in others, and have the image of Christ (to whom ye are to be conformed) completed in you.

Wanting nothing; either not failing, not fainting in trials, or not defective in any thing which is a needful part of Christianity.

Verse 5

If any of you lack wisdom; if, doth not imply a doubt, but supposeth something which they themselves would grant; viz. that they did lack wisdom, either in whole or in part. It is as if he had said, Since, or seeing, ye lack, &c. See the like, Malachi 1:6. Though this hold true of wisdom taken more generally, yet wisdom here is to be restrained, according to the circumstances of the text, and taken for wisdom or skill to bear afflictions so as to rejoice in them.

Let him ask of God; by believing, fervent prayer.

That giveth to all men; either to all sorts of men, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, &c., or to all that so ask, as appears by the next verse.

Liberally; or simply, Romans 12:8, i.e. with an open, free, large heart, in opposition to the contracted, narrow spirits of covetous misers. Our translation renders it well liberally; and so the word is used, 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:13.

And upbraideth not; doth not twit them with their importunity, or frequency in asking, (as men often do), however he may upbraid them with their unthankfulness for, or abuse of, what they have received.

And it shall be given him: see Matthew 7:7,Matthew 7:8; John 16:23. The promise is here added to encourage faith in asking.

Verse 6

But let him ask in faith; with confidence of God’s hearing, grounded on the Divine attributes and promises, Mark 11:24; 1 John 5:14.

Nothing wavering; either not disputing God’s power or promise; or rather, not doubting, not slandering through unbelief, Romans 4:20, where the same Greek word is used: so Acts 10:20, nothing doubting; and Mark 11:23, where it is opposed to believing.

For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed: this notes either the emptiness and unprofitableness of faithless prayer, when men’s minds are thus at uncertainties, tossed to and fro; the confidence they sometimes seem to have, like waves, falls down and fails, and their prayers come to nothing: or, the disquiet and torment distrust works in the minds of such waverers, which are never settled till faith come and fix them, Isaiah 57:20.

Verse 7

For let not that man; he that wavers, in opposition to him that asks in faith: all doubting doth not hinder the hearing of prayer, but that which excludes faith, Mark 9:23,Mark 9:24.

Think; vainly conceit, or persuade himself.

That he shall receive any thing of the Lord; even the least mercy, much less the wisdom mentioned.

Verse 8

A double minded man; either;

1. A hypocrite, who is said to have a double heart, Psalms 12:2. Or rather;

2. He that is of a doubtful mind, wavering, and fluctuating with contrary motions, sometimes of one mind, sometimes of another; sometimes hoping, sometimes desponding.

Is unstable; either unconstant, without any fixedness or consistency of spirit, as ready to depart from God as to cleave to him; or unquiet, troubled, full of inward tumults.

In all his ways; by a Hebraism, ways, for counsels, purposes, actions, &c.

Verse 9

Let the brother; i.e. the believer, (for to such he writes), all believers, or saints, being brethren in Christ, 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Timothy 6:2.

Of low degree; the Greek word signifies both lowliness of mind and lowness of condition, (as the Hebrew word doth, to which it answers), but here is to be understood of the latter, {as Luke 1:48} but especially of such a low estate as a man is brought into for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s.

Rojoice in that he is exalted; either exalted to be a brother, a member of Christ, a child of God, and heir of glory, which is the greatest preferment; or exalted to the honour of suffering for Christ: see Acts 5:41; Romans 5:3.

Verse 10

But the rich; viz. broher, he that is in a high, honourable, or plentiful condition in the world.

In that he is made low; supply from the former verse, let him rejoice in that he is made low; not as to his outward state, (for he is supposed to be rich still), but his inward disposition and frame of mind, God having given him a lowly heart in a high condition, and thereby prepared him for the cross, though as yet he be not under it.

Because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away: the reason why the rich brother should be humble in his greatest abundance, viz. because of the uncertainty of his enjoying what at present he possesseth; he is neither secure of his life, nor his wealth; he and his enjoyments pass away, and his pomp vanisheth as easily as the flower of the grass, which fades as soon as it flourisheth.

Verse 11

With a burning heat; or, the scorching east wind, which in those countries was wont to rise with the sun, Jonah 4:8.

So also shall the rich man fade away; either shall is here put for may, the future tense for the potential mood; and then the apostle doth not so much declare what always certainly stall be, as what easily may be, and frequently is, the prosperity of rich men not being always of so short continuance. Or, shall may be taken properly, as we read it; and then his is a general proposition, showing the mutable nature and short continuance of rich men and their riches, whose longest life is but short, and death, when it comes, strips them of their enjoyments: and though this frailty be common to all, yet he speaks of the rich especially, because they are so apt to hear themselves high upon their wealth, and put confidence in it, 1 Timothy 6:17.

In his ways; either in his journeyings and travels for his riches, or rather in his counsels, purposes, actions, Psalms 146:4.

Verse 12

Blessed is the man theft endureth; holds out against the assaults and impressions of temptations with patience and constancy, James 5:11; Hebrews 12:5,Hebrews 12:7.

Temptations; afflictions, as James 1:2.

For when he is tried; approved, and found upon the trial to be sound in the faith: a metaphor taken from metals tried by fire, and found pure.

He shall receive the crown of life; so the heavenly glory is called, Revelation 2:10, either because it is not to be had but in eternal life, or because of its duration and not fading away, 1 Peter 5:4.

Which the Lord hath promised: this shows on what gronnd it is to be expected, viz. on the account of the promise, and how sure we may be of it.

To them that love him; i.e. all true believers, whose faith, and thereby title to the crown, is evidenced by love, which is the fulfilling of the law.

Objection. Why not, promised to them that suffer for Christ, of whom he here speaks?

Answer. That is implied, for none have him more, or evidence their love to him more, than they, that suffer for him.

Verse 13

Let no man say; neither with his mouth, nor so much as in his heart, blasphemously cast the blame of his sins upon God, to clear himself.

When he is tempted; so stirred up to sin as to be drawn to it.

I am tempted of God; either solicited by God to sin, or enforced to it.

For God cannot be tempted with evil; cannot be drawn aside to any thing that is unrighteous, by any motion from within, or impression from without.

Neither tempteth he any man; doth no way seduce or enforce to sin, so as to be justly chargeable as the author of it.

Objection. God is said to be tempted, Exodus 17:2,Exodus 17:7; Deuteronomy 6:16; Psalms 78:41; and to tempt, Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 13:3.

Answer. Both are to be understood of temptations of exploration, or for the discovery of something that was before hidden. Men tempt God, that they may know what he will do; God tempts men, that they (not he, for he knows it already) may know what themselves will do, which then appears, when the temptation draws it out; but neither is to be understood of the temptation here spoken of, viz. of seduction, or drawing into sin. God tempts by giving hard commands, Genesis 22:1; by afflicting, as in Job’s case; by letting loose Satan or other wicked instruments to tempt, 1 Kings 22:22; by withholding his grace and deserting men, 1 Samuel 28:15; by presenting occasions which corruption within improves unto sin, and by ordering and governing the evil wills of men, as that a thief should steal out of this flock rather than that, that Nebuchadnezzar should come against Jerusalem rather than Rabbah, Ezekiel 21:21,Ezekiel 21:22. But God doth not tempt by commanding, suggesting, soliciting, or persuading to sin.

Verse 14

He shows the great cause of sin; that lust hath a greater hand in it than either the devil or his instruments, who cannot make us sin without ourselves: they sometimes tempt, and do not prevail; but when lust tempts, it always prevails, either in whole or in part, it being a degree of sin to be our own tempters.

Drawn away; either this notes a degree of sin, the heart’s being drawn off from God; or the way whereby lust brings into sin, viz. the impetuousness and violence of its motions in us.

Of his own lust; original corruption in its whole latitude, though chiefly with respect to the appetitive faculties.

And enticed; either a further degree of sin, enticed by the pleasantness of the object, as represented by our own corruption; or another way of lust’s working in us to sin, viz. by the delightfulness and pleasure of its motions: in the former it works by a kind of force, in this by flattery and deceit. It is either a metaphor taken from a fish enticed by a bait, and drawn after it, or rather from a harlot drawing a young man out of the right way, and alluring him with the bait of pleasure to commit folly with her.

Verse 15

Then when lust hath conceived; lust (compared to a harlot) may be said to conceive, when the heart is pleased with the motion, and yields some consent to it.

It bringeth forth sin; the birth of sin may be the complete consent of the will to it, or the outward act of it.

And sin; actual sin, the fruit and product of original.

When it is finished; sin is finished, when it is not only committed, but continued in, as the way and course of a man’s life.

Bringeth forth death; not only temporal, but eternal. Or we may thus take the order and progress of sin: the first indeliberate motion of lust, is the temptation or bait, which by its pleasantness enticeth, and by its vehemency draws the heart after it (as the harlot, Proverbs 7:21, with the flattering of her lips forced the young man, telling him of the pleasure he should enjoy, James 1:14,James 1:16-18, and then he goes after her, James 1:22); the heart’s lingering about and being entangled with the delightful motion of lust, is its committing folly with it; when the full consent is joined, lust hath conceived; when the outward act is performed, sin is brought forth; and when sin is finished in a settled course, it brings forth death; which, though every sin do in the merit of it, yet sin only finished doth in the event.

Objection. Doth not this imply lust, and its first motions, not to be sin?

Answer. No: for;

1. The least motions of it are forbidden, Matthew 5:28; Romans 7:7.

2. It is contrary to the law and Spirit of God, Romans 7:23,Romans 7:25; Galatians 5:16,Galatians 5:17.

3. It is the fountain of impurity, and therefore is itself impure, Job 14:4; Matthew 7:15,Matthew 7:16; James 3:11.

4. Evil thoughts defile a man, Matthew 15:19; Acts 8:22.

Objection. How is lust said here to bring forth sin, when, Romans 7:8, sin is said to work lust?

Answer. James calls the corrupt principle itself lust, and the actings of it, sin; whereas Paul calls the same principle sin, and the actings of it lust. And so both are true, lust, as a root, brings forth the acts of sin as its fruits; and sin as a root, brings forth actual lusts, as its fruits.

Verse 16

Viz. in imputing your sins to God, and saying, that when you are tempted you are tempted of him.

Verse 17

Every good gift; Greek, giving; and so it may be distinct from gift in the next clause; to show, that whereas men sometimes give good gifts in all evil way, and with an evil mind, God’s giving, as well as gift, is always good; and therefore when we receive any thing of him, we should look not only to the thing itself, but to his bounty and goodness in giving it. Or, it may be rendered as our translators do, gift, and so the word is sometimes used by profane writer’s themselves; and then, though it may be implied, that all good gifts, and of all kinds, of nature and of grace, are from God, yet the apostle’s design in this place being to prove that God is not the author of sin, good gifts may most fairly be understood the best gifts, those of grace, (spiritual blessings, Ephesians 1:3), such being contrary to sin, and destructive of it, in one of which he instanceth, viz. regeneration, James 1:18.

And every perfect gift; the highest degree of good gifts, those that perfect us most; to intimate, that all the parts and steps of spiritual life, from the first beginning of grace in regeneration to the consummation of it in glory, are of God.

Is from above; i.e. from heaven, John 3:27,John 3:31; and heaven is put for God that dwells there, Luke 15:21.

And cometh down from the Father; the Creator, Author, or First Cause, as Hebrews 12:9; it is spoken after the manner of the Hebrews: see Genesis 4:20,Genesis 4:21.

Of lights; God is the author of all perfection, and so of corporeal light; but here we are to understand spiritual light, the light of knowledge, faith, holiness, as opposed to the darkness of ignorance, unbelief, sin; of which he cannot be the author.

With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning: he here sets forth God as essentially and immutably good, and the Father of lights, by allusion to the sun, the fountain of corporeal light, and makes use of terms borrowed from astronomy. The sun, though it scattereth its beams every where, yet is not without its changes, parallaxes, and diversities of aspects, not only sometimes clear and sometimes eclipsed, but one while in the east, another in the south, then in the west; nor without its turnings in its annual course from tropic to tropic, (to which the Greek word here used seems to allude), its various accesses and recesses, by reason of which it casts different shadows: but God is always the same, like himself, constant in the emanations of his goodness, without casting any dark shadow of evil, which might infer a change in him.

Verse 18

Of his own will; out of his mere good pleasure, as the original cause, and not moved to it by any dignity or merit in us, Ephesians 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:9.

Begat he us; by a spiritual generation, whereby we are new born, and are made partakers of a Divine nature, John 1:13; 1 Peter 1:3,1 Peter 1:23.

With the word of truth; i.e. the word of the gospel, as the instrument or means whereby we are regenerated: why it is called

the word of truth, see Ephesians 1:13.

That we should be a kind of first-fruits; i.e. most excellent creatures, being singled out and separated from the rest, and consecrated to God, as under the law the first-fruits were, Revelation 14:4.

Of his creatures; viz. reasonable creatures; the word creature being elsewhere restrained to men: see Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:15.

Verses 19-20

Let every man be swift to hear; prompt and ready to hear God speaking in

the word of truth, before mentioned.

Slow to speak; either silently and submissively hear the word, or speak not rashly and precipitately of the things of faith, but be well furnished yourselves with spiritual knowledge, ere you take upon you to teach others.

Slow to wrath; either, be not angry at the word, or the dispensers of it, though it come close to your consciences, and discover your secret sins; the word is salt, do not quarrel if it make your sores smart, being it will keep them from festering: or, be not angrily prejudiced against those that dissent from you.

For the wrath of man: that anger which is merely human, and generally sinful, inordinate passion and carnal zeal.

Worketh not the righteousness of God; will not accomplish the ends of the word in you, viz. to work that righteousness which in the word God prescribes you. But here is withal a meiosis in the words, less being spoken than is intended; it is implied therefore, that the wrath of man hinders the operation of the word, and disposeth to that unrighteousness which is forbidden by it.

Verse 21

Wherefore lay apart; not only restrain it, and keep it in; but put off, and throw it away as a filthy rag, Isaiah 30:22; see Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:1.

All, of every kind.

Filthiness; or, sordidness; a metaphor borrowed from the filth of the body, 1 Peter 3:21, and thence transferred to the soul; and it here seems to imply, not only sensuality or covetousness, but all sorts of lusts, whereby men are defiled, 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Peter 2:20.

And superfluity of naughtiness; i.e. that naughtiness which is superfluous. That is said to be superfluous or redundant, which is more than should be in a thing; in which respect all sin is superfluous in the soul, as being that which should not be in it: and so this intimates that we are not only to lay apart more gross pollutions, but all the lusts of the flesh, and relics of old Adam, as being all superfluities which may well be spared, or excrements, (as some render the word, agreeably to the former metaphor), which should be cast away.

And receive; not only into your heads by knowledge, but into your hearts by faith.

With meekness; with humility, modesty, and gentleness, which makes men submissive to the truth of the word, and ready to learn of God even those things which are above their natural capacity, Psalms 25:9; Isaiah 66:2; Matthew 11:5,Matthew 11:27; this is opposed to wrath, which makes men unteachable.

The ingrafted word; either which is ingrafted or implanted, viz. ministerially, by the preachers of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 3:6,1 Corinthians 3:7; principally by the Spirit of God, who writes it in the heart, Jeremiah 31:33. And thus it may be taken particularly for the word of the gospel, in opposition to the law, which came to men’s ears from without, and admonished them of their duty, but was not written in their hearts, or ingrafted thereto from them unto obedience to it. Or, that it may be ingrafted, i.e. intimately united to, or rooted in, the heart by a vital union; or made natural to it, (as some render the word), the heart being transformed by the power of it, and conformed to the precepts of it, 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 6:17.

Which, viz. when received by faith, is able to save, instrumentally, as being the means wherein God puts forth his power in saving them, Revelation 1:16.

Your souls; yourselves; the soul, as the noblest part, is by a synecdoche put for the whole person: see 1 Peter 1:9.

Verse 22

But be ye doers of the word; the same as doers of the work, James 1:25, namely, which the word prescribes; q.d. Receive the word by faith into your hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in your lives: see Luke 11:28; John 13:17.

And not hearers only; not contenting yourselves with a bare hearing the word, though it have no influence upon you.

Deceiving your own selves; playing the sophisters with, or putting a fallacy upon, yourselves; particularly, persuading yourselves into a good opinion of your state, merely because of your being hearers of the word, Matthew 7:21.

Verse 23

He is like unto a man: the Greek word here used, properly signifies the sex, not the species, but is indifferently used by this apostle with the other, as James 1:12,James 1:20, so that by a man looking at his face in a glass, is meant any man or woman.

Beholding his natural face; or, the face of his nativity, by a Hebraism, for natural face, as we translate it; i.e. his own face, that which nature gave him, or he was born with.

In a glass; the word is here compared to a looking-glass: as the glass represents to us the features and complexions of our faces, whether beautiful or deformed; so the word shows us the true face of our souls, the beauty of God’s image when restored to them, and the spots of sin which so greatly disfigure them.

Verse 24

The remembrance of what his face is vanisheth as soon as his eye is off the glass; he remembers not the spots he saw in his face, to wipe them off. So he that sees the blemishes of his soul in the glass of the word, and doth not remember them to do them away, looks in that glass (i.e. hears the word) in vain.

Verse 25

But whose looketh into; viz. intently and earnestly, searching diligently into the mind of God. The word signifies a bowing down of the head to look into a thing; and is used of the disciples’ looking into Christ’s sepulchre, Luke 24:12; John 20:5; see 1 Peter 1:12; and seems to be opposed to looking into a glass, which is more slight, and without such prying and inquisitiveness.

The perfect law of liberty; the whole doctrine of the Scripture, or especially the gospel, called law, Romans 3:27, both as it is a rule, and by reason of the power it hath over the heart; and a law of liberty, because it shows the way to the best liberty, freedom from sin, the bondage of the ceremonial law, the rigour of the moral, and from the wrath of God; and likewise the way of serving God freely and ingenuously as children; and because, being received into the heart, it is accompanied with the Spirit of adoption who works this liberty, 2 Corinthians 3:17. It is called a perfect law, not only as being entire and without any defect, but as directing us to the greatest perfection, full conformity to God, and enjoyment of him, 2 Timothy 3:16,2 Timothy 3:17.

And continueth therein; perseveres in the study, belief, and obedience of this doctrine, {Psalms 1:2} in all conditions, and under all temptations and afflictions. This seems to be opposed to him, who, when he hath looked in a glass, goes away, James 1:24. By which are set forth slight, superficial hearers, who do not continue in Christ’s word, John 8:31.

He being not a forgetful hearer; Greek, hearer of forgetfulness, by a Hebraism, for a forgetful hearer; it answers to him in the former verse, that forgetteth what manner of man he was; and implies, not only not remembering the truths we have heard, but a not practising them, as appears by the next clause.

But a doer of the work; viz. which the word directs him to do: the singular number is put for the plural; he means, he that reduceth what he hears into practice, Psalms 103:18.

This man shall be blessed in his deed; this is opposed to bare hearing, and the doer of the work is said to be blessed in or by his deed, as the evidence of his present begun blessedness, and the way to his future perfect happiness.

Verse 26

If any man among you seem to be religious; seems to others, or rather to himself; thinks himself religious, because cause of his hearing and outward worship: thus the word rendered seems is often taken, 1 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 8:2; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 6:3. Here he shows who are not doers of the work, as in the next verse, who are.

And bridleth not his tongue; restrains it not from the common vices of the tongue, reviling, railing, censuring, &c.

But deceiveth his own heart; either deceiveth his own heart in thinking himself religious, when indulging himself in things so contrary to religion, or deceiveth his own heart, being blinded with self-love, and lifted up with self-conceit, which is the cause of his censuring and speaking evil of others.

This man’s religion is vain; empty, and to no purpose, having no reality in itself, and bringing no benefit to him.

Verse 27

Pure religion; true, sincere, genuine, Matthew 5:8; John 15:3.

And undefiled; this seems to reflect upon the hypocritical Jews, whose religion consisted so much in external observances, and keeping themselves from ceremonial defilements, when yet they were sullied with so many moral ones, James 1:14; Matthew 23:23; John 18:28; devoured widows’ houses. They thought their religion pure and undefiled; the apostle shows here which is really so before God; in the sight of God, and according to his judgment.

God and the Father; i.e. God who is the Father, and being only explicative, as Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 5:20; yet this title may be given here to God with respect to what follows, and to show that such acts of charity are acceptable to him that is called the the Judge of widows, and the Father of the fatherless, Psalms 68:5.

To visit; this includes all other acts of charity to them, comforting, counselling, relieving them, &c.

The fatherless and widows; he doth not exclude others from being the objects of our charity and compassion, but instanceth in fatherless and widows, as being usually most miserable, because destitute of those relations which might be most helpful to them; and possibly in those times persecution might increase the number of widows and orphans.

In their affliction; when they had most need; lest any should think it sufficient to visit them that were rich, or in a prosperous condition.

And to keep himself unspotted from the world; untainted by the evil example of men in the world, and free from the lusts of the world, moral pollutions. The apostle doth not here define religion but only instanceth in these two things, good works and holiness of conversation, as testimonies and arguments of the truth of it.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on James 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/james-1.html. 1685.
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