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James 1

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Verse 1

Jas 1:1


James 1:1

1 James,-The author of the book which bears his name was the son of Mary (the mother of our Lord), and Joseph, and thus one of the fleshly brothers of Christ. The grounds on which this conclusion rest are set out in detail in the Introduction to which the reader is referred. It is evident that Mary, the mother of Christ, had at least seven children, among whom were five sons and not fewer than two daughters : "Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?" (Matthew 13:55.) We thus learn that the brothers of Christ, in the flesh, were James (author of the Epistle of Jam es), Joseph, Simon and Judas, lengthened form of Jude, author of New Testament book bearing that name. Jude, indeed, is identified as the "brother of James." (Judges 1:1.) Jesus, James, Joseph. Simon and Judas were the five sons; and, inasmuch as daughters (plural) are mentioned, there must have been at least two girls in the family thus establishing the fact that there were at least se,·en children born to Mary. James was, therefore, along with Jude, a half brother of Christ. Reasons for identifying James with the family of Mary and Christ, and his activities in the early church are set out in detail in the Introduction. (Galatians 1:19.) It is a remarkable fact that our Lord’s brothers in the flesh did not acknowledge his deity during his public ministry. (John 7:5.) It appears that their acceptance of him as the Son of God dates from his resurrection from the dead.

James, (Greek Iakobos, pronounced ee-ack’-o-bos), is the equivalent of the Old Testament name Jacob, and of common usage among the Jewish people. It comes into our language from the Italian Giacomo. Other forms in other languages are Iago (Spanish), Hamish (Scotch), Facques (French), and Xayme (Portuguese). The Hebrew form, widely appearing in the Old Testament is Yahakov pronounced yah-ak-obe’) and means heelcatcher. In Genesis 25:26, the definition in the margin reads, "One that takes by the heel or supplants." The name was evidently a favored one among the Jews for many centuries and was borne by at least three prominent characters of the New Testament: James, brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:19); James, Son of Zebedee and brother of John (Matthew 4:21; Mark 5:37); James, the Less, son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3).

Of the last years and death of James, brother of the Lord and author of the New Testament book of James, we have no reliable data. Statements appearing in Josephus, Hegesippus, the Clementine Homilies and other apocryphal sources are open to question regarding the genuineness and authenticity of the passages, the writers too far removed themselves to supply reliable testimony regarding the matters about which they wrote, or obviously distorted and false. Eusebius, not without reason often called "the Father of Church History," informs us that James was designated "The Just" because of his many admirable virtues thus evidencing the fact that he was highly esteemed by his contemporaries.

a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Cbrist,-It is especially noteworthy that the author, though a brother of Christ in the flesh, makes no mention of this fact in the Epistle, choosing rather to identify himself simply as a servant of God and of Christ. For the probable reasons which prompted this omission, see the Introduction. It is significant that of all the New Testament Epistles, only those which were written by brothers of Christ (James and Jude) have no other identification of the authors save (a) the names; (b) the designation servant. Paul occasionally used the term, but associated the word apostle with it (Titus 1:1; Romans 1:1); and Peter described himself as a servant and apostle (2 Peter 1:1.) The word servant is from the Greek dozdos, a term not easily translated into English, means one "who gives oneself up wholly to another will," serving to the complete disregard of one’s own selfish interests.

Our English word servant weakens the idea down to one who serves for the wages paid and thus falls far short of the idea of joyous and voluntary submission of one’s will to another, inherent in the original word. Our English word slave more nearly suggests the idea, except for the unwilling and involuntary service indicated in it. If, in contemplating the significance of the term, we can eliminate from the word slave the suggestion of unwillingness involved, we have the meaning of the word doulos exactly. The American Standard margin approaches it with the word bo11dservant. (Romans 1:1; James 1:1.)

The faithful doulos (servant). far from being a mere hireling, and interested only in the wages to be paid for services rendered, is bound to his master for life in joyous, happy submission in a relationship where his interests and those of his master’s are so indissolubly joined that indolence, faithlessness, inattention to duty result in loss not only to the master but to him as well ! God’s great men, through the ages, have gladly worn this designation of faithful obedience, unquestioned humility, and unswerving loyalty. Among the Old Testament characters who are thu;; described are Jeremiah (Jeremiah 7:25), Amos (Amos 3:7), Isaiah (Isaiah 20:3), Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deuteronomy 9:7), Joshua and Caleb Joshua 1:2; Numbers 14:24) and Moses (1Kings8:~3), Paul (Philippians 1:1), Peter (2 Peter 1:1), and all faithful believers (1 Peter 2:16), rejoiced to be "bondscrvants" of God and of Christ in the apostolic age. Inasmuch as Christians are "bought with a price" (the precious blood of our Lord) ( 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23 ; Acts 20:28 ; 1 Peter 1:18), it is fitting that the followers of Christ should be thus designated, and should regard all of their personal interests as having been submerged wholly in the interests of Christ.

James dedared himself to be a "servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ." God here refers to the Father, and is to be distinguished from his Son, "the Lord Jesus Christ," thus very clearly indicating the fact that they are two persons in refutation of the theory which alleges that they are but one. We serve God only when we serve Christ also, there being no other approach to the Father: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the v.ray, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6.) All are servants of God because of creation and providence ; but Christians are servants of Christ by virtue of redemption. "And ye are not your own ; for ye were bought with a price : glorify God therefore in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20.) Privileged thus to serve our Creator and His Son we should ever seek to render to him the highest and best service of which we are capable. Doulos, translated servant in our text, derives from .the verb deo, to bind. We are bound in the closest possible relationship with God and Christ; and we should, therefore, be exceedingly careful that we do not profane the Father and His Son through improper conduct. Moreover, there is much significance in the fact that the Spirit chose the word doulos (one born a slave), rather than andrapodon (one made a slave) to indicate the relation of Christians to Christ and to God. It is a relationship which begins in the new birth and whirh we are privileged to maintain through life. And, there is great comfort in the realization that a slave is free of worries regarding food, shelter and raiment-all of which are provided. Jesus said : "Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:31-33.)

to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion,-This is the address of the Epistle. Having identified himself, and having indicated his relationship to God ·and to Christ, the author designates here those to whom he wrote. These were "the twelve tribes" and they are further described as those "which are of the Dispersion." The word "dispersion" from the Greek diaspora (pronounced dee-as-por-ah’) means scattered. The phrase "the twelve tribes" is an exceedingly familiar one to Bible students, and when literally construed has reference to the people of the twelve tribes descended from Jacob (Israel.) Here, as indicated in the limiting phrase, are those "which are of the dispersion." Who were they?

The patriarch Abraham, an emigrant from the Ur of the Chaldees, received from God the original promise of a vast posterity and of great blessing (Genesis 17:1-8); and, is therefore, properly regarded as the father of the Chosen People. The promises thus originally made were repeated to Isaac, Abraham’s son (Genesis 26:24), and to Jacob, Isaac’s son (Genesis 35:9-15). At Peniel, where Jacob wrestled with the angel (Genesis 32:28), his name was changed to Israel (Hebrew yis-raw-ale’) a word which means, power with God. Jacob (Israel) had twelve sons: "Now the sons of Jacob were twelve : the sons of Leah ; Reuben, Jacob’s first-born, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issa.char, and Zebulum ; the sons of Rachel : Joseph and Benjamin ; and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid: Dan and Naphtali; and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad and Asher, these are the sons of Jacob, that were born to him in Padan-a-ram." (Genesis 35:23-26.)

Jacob’s descendants formed a vast family variously described as "the house of Israel," "the twelve tribes," or, simply "Israel." The nation was divided genealogically into tribes, the tribes into families, or clans, and these into households. (Joshua 7:14; Joshua 7:16-18.) The twelve tribes were founded by the twelve sons of Jacob (Israel) who were, in consequence, the tribal heads of their respective groups. There was an exception to this in the case of the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh who, having been raised to the position of heads of tribes, were adopted by Jacob as his sons. (Genesis 48:5.) This arrangement would have made thirteen tribes but only twelve were counted, inasmuch as the tribe of Levi, given the responsibility of conducting the affairs of worship, had no territorial allotment assigned to them, but lived in towns scattered throughout the territory of the other tribes and were supported by tithes from the.people of the other tribes. (Exodus 24:4; Joshua 4:2; Joshua 13:14; Joshua 13:33.) In the reckoning of the tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh were included together as the tribe of Joseph. (Joshua 17:14; Joshua 17:17 ; Numbers 26:28.) The twelve tribes were, therefore, the descendants of Jacob, the people of Israel.

Why are those to whom James addressed his Epistle called "the twelve tribes," instead of the more common designation, "The Jews?" The term Jew, properly speaking, may be applied only to the descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The more general term for all of Jacob’s descendants is Israel. The descendants of Abraham are called Hebrews, a term including the Arab world; the descendants of Jacob are Israelites; the descendants of the two tribes of the southern kingdom,-Judah and Benjamin-are Jews, from the Hebrew yeh-oo-dee’, a Jehudite, that is, a descendant of Judah. Because this tribe constituted by far the greater portion of the chosen people, following the division of the kingdom in 975 B.C., the term Jew was used to denote all in covenant relationship with God which, of course, included the people of the little tribe of Benjamin.

Moreover, by no means all of the people of the ten tribes which, under the leadership of Jeroboam, were induced to follow him and to adopt a corrupted mode of worship and eventually to be swallowed up into Assyrian captivity in 721 B.C., thus losing their tribal identities, abandoned Jehovah; many of these people attached themselves to Judah and continued to worship the God of their fathers. The Levites, for example, utterly refused to allow Jeroboam to involve them in the apostate worship he devised ; and, in consequence, they left the cities assigned to them in the territory of Israel, and thenceforth lived in Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 11:13-14.) They were indeed, from then on to be most active in the affairs of the southern kingdom, and were still busily engaged in performing their duties in connection with the temple worship at the beginning of the Christian era. (Luke 10:32.)

The Assyrian captivity was not a single removal accomplished within a brief period, but consisted of a series of transplantations, covering a period of 150 years. Tiglath-pileser III, in the reign of Pekah, king of Israel, (about 740 B.C.), carried away the trans-Jordan tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh), and the people of Galilee. ( 1 Chronicles 5:26; 2 Kings 15:29.) Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, in the reign of Hoshea, king of Israel, on two occasions invaded the realm, laid siege to Samaria, and carried the people to Assyria. Though the ten tribes ceased to exist by 721 B.C., as distinct political subdivisions of Israel, not all of the people suffered their national distinctions to be obliterated. Some of the people of the ten tribes returned to Judah and commingled with the Jews (Luke 2:36; Philippians 3:5); others were permitted to remain in Samaria, where they joined themselves to the Samaritans and became inveterate enemies -of the Jews. Others were content to live in Assyria, but continued to assert their Israelite characteristics. (Acts 2:9; Acts 26:7.) These were, of course, exceptions ; the majority of the people adopted the idolatrous practices of the peoples among whom they were scattered, intermarried and thus lost their identity.

The Epistle of James is addressed to the twelve tribes "which are of the Dispersion." Not to all people; not to all the people of the twelve tribes, but only to that portion of the twelve tribes included in the descriptive phrase, "the Dispersion." We have seen that this word means the scattered, the dispersed; and designates the descendants of Jacob who lived ol4t of Palestine (then the homeland of the Chosen People). Then, as now, only a small percentage of the Jews lived in the land of Israel ; millions of others were scattered throughout the Gentile world. Strabo, the Greek geographer, wrote: "It is hard to find a spot in the whole world which is not occupied and dominated by Jews."

These migrations were sometimes voluntary, the restless pioneering spirit of a bold and courageous people urging them forward to new frontiers ; but more often than otherwise these transplantations were compulsory. The history of the Israelite people is replete with instances of great masses of their people being forcibly expelled from the lands in which they formerly dwelt. Among the most prominent of these was the captivity of the ten tribes by Assyria alluded to above. (2 Kings 17:23; 1 Chronicles 5:26.) Another was the Babylonian captivity which involved the Jews of Judah and Benjamin, occurring in 587 B.C., and resulting from the wickedness and rebellion of the people. This captivity involved a period of seventy years, a period prophetically designated by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:10; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21), but reckoned from the beginning of Babylonian oppression. A portion of this period was spent under a puppet-ruler in their own land. Not all of the people were carried away to Babylon; some were left in the land of Palestine, and a governor placed over them by the Babylonians. (2 Kings 25:22.) Nor did all of the Jews choose to return to Palestine at the end of their captivity. We have seen earlier that the people of the Assyrian captivity were absorbed by their captors, thus passing from history as a distinct people. The Jews in Babylon, however, vigorously resisted all efforts to assimilate them and they maintained their national distinction there where eventually they wielded tremendous power politically, culturally, and socially. It is indeed affirmed by the historians that the Jews in Babylon attained to such eminence and exercised such great powers that at one time Mesopotamia was under Jewish rule. Babylon provided for the Jews the proper cultural atmosphere for learning and letters, and it was there that the monumental Babylonian Talmud, a sixty volume exposition of the laws of the Jews was produced. When Josephus, the Jewish historian, wrote his Wars of the Jews, the first edition was published in Aramaic, rather than in Greek, and was circulated among the educated Jews in Babylon. (It should be observed that reference is to the land of Babylon, not to the great city which bore that name, but which suffered destruction under divine decree. Daniel 5:1-30.)

Many Jews moved to the land of Egypt in the days of Nebuchadnezzar. (2 Kings 25:26.)

When Jerusalem fell to the Romans in 63 B.C., numbers of Jews were carried as slaves to Rome and, because of their persistence in carrying out their religious ritual, they made poor slaves and were, in consequence, freed. For a time they were segregated in quarters beyond the Tiber river, but they gradually spread over the city and their influence was often felt. For this reason they were often in conflict with their rulers and suffered frequent banishment. But they always returned.

The requirements of business and commerce likewise afforded occasion for wide diffusion of the Jews and wherever business was transacted they were there. On that memorable Pentecost Day of the establishment of the church (Acts 2), Jews were present in Jerusalem for the feast from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the part of Libya about Cyrene, Rome, Crete, and Arabia. Stephen’s disputants were freedmen of Rome, of Cyrene, Alexandria, Ci cilia and Asia. (Acts 6:9.) Wherever people settled in the centuries immediately preceding the Christian era Jews were there. Ancient writers make mention of them in Egypt, Phoenicia, Syria, Coele-Syria, Europe, Thessaly, Boeotia, Macedonia, Aetolia, Attica, Argos, Corinth, in the lands beyond the Euphrates, indeed, throughout the world. Gentiles not infrequently had themselves circumcised, adopted the Jewish mode of worship and were thenceforth regarded as Jews. Among those present when Peter preached the first gospel sermon in the name of the risen Lord were those of this classification. (Acts 2:9-11.) Such were regarded as part of the dispersion. This great diffusion of the Jews through the habitable earth was the greatest single factor in the rapid spread of the gospel as it was preached under the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16.) In every community where Jews resided, though the people about them were pagans, they bore clear and consistent testimony to the doctrine of the One True God ; their synagogues afforded a place for preaching for the apostolic preachers (Acts 14:1), and a congregation of devout worshippers to listen to the presentation of the gospel. To such people and places did the apostles always resort on their missionary tours. (Acts 13:13-46; Acts 14:1-17; Acts 17:1-9.) Only when they were expelled from such quarters did they seek out other places and people. There were, therefore, more Jews scattered throughout the earth than lived in Palestine. James addressed his Epistle to those "which are of the Dispersion." Who were they? There are three possible hypotheses.

(1) We have seen who the "twelve tribes" were, and we have ascertained the significance of the literal phrase, "which are of the Dispersion." Shall we thence conclude that the statement, "the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion," was by the author of James intended to embrace all Jews (good and bad, believers and unbelievers) living in lands other than Palestine? We may, without hesitation, reject this hypothesis on the ground that it is shown to be false by the Epistle itself. The document is addressed to those James styles as his "brethren (James 1:2) ; his readers are privileged to ask of God for wisdom with the assurance it will be bestowed (James 1:5) ; they have regular assemblies for religious activity (James 2:1-4); and they are called by the honorable name of Christ which unbelie.vers blasphemed (James 2:7). These considerations appear to eliminate the possibility that the Epistle was addressed to Jews, as such, scattered through the various communities of the world. If to this the objection is raised that the writer did occasionally address himself to those who are rich, who oppress others who, for example, are said to nourish their hearts for "a day of slaughter" (James 5:5), this "aside," a figure known as Apostrophe, in which a writer turns away from those directly addressed to another group, is not unusual in the Scriptures. See notes on James 5:1-5. For an example of Apostrophe, see Isaiah 14:12. Moreover, it is not outside the realm of possibility that there were those among the disciples who were rich and who thus lived. We learn from James 1:10; James 4:3-6; James 4:13-16, that there were rich people among the disciples. We may therefore properly conclude that the letter was chiefly intended for Christians-not unbelievers.

(2) Was the Epistle intended for all Christian Jews living away from Jerusalem and the land of Palestine? We have seen that the descendants of Jacob (Israel) were indeed widely scattered throughout the world at that time. If the phrase, "the twelve tribes" is to be construed literally such would be the significance of the statement in view of the fact that it was very evidently intended for Christians, and is addressed to "the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion."

(3) There is another and more plausible hypothesis. It is to regard the phrase, "the twelve tribes" as figurative, and therefore to embrace the disciples of the Lord of whatever race or riationality. In view of the disposition of the sacred writers to ignore distinctions of the flesh, and to emphasize the fact that there is no respect of persons with God ; and that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free (Galatians 3:26-29), such would appear to be the more likely hypothesis.

This conclusion is supported by the following premises: (a) The true Jew today is the Christian: "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Romans 2:28-29.) (b) Descent from Abraham, the father of the faithful, is reckoned on the basis of obedience and not genealogy: "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be in uncircumcision, that the righteousness might be reckoned unto them ; and the father of circumcision to them who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham which he had in uncircumcision." (Romans 4:11-12.) "There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female : for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed according to the promise." (Galatians 3:28-29.) (c) The True Israel of God today is the church: "For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel: neither, because they are Abraham’s seed, are they all children . ... " (Romans 9:6.) "Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham." (Galatians 3:7.) "And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." (Galatians 6:16.) In Christ, all rights bestowed because of fleshly distinctions, are eliminated, and all are regarded as equal in privilege before God. "Wherefore we henceforth know no man after the flesh: even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more." (2 Corinthians 5:16.) If our Lord is not now regarded thus surely men ought not so to be.

We conclude, therefore, that the book of James was written to Christians scattered throughout the world (whether of Jewish or Gentile origin), among whom were, of course, many descendants of Jacob, and that the phrasei the "twelve tribes," because of its obvious significance of totality is a figuative representation of the true Israel of God. Fleshly Israel was scattered by the various banishments she sufjered in her long history; the disciples of the Lord were "scattered abroad" (Acts 8:4) because of persecution directly largely by Saul of Tarsus (Acts 8:1-3), and so might also be properly styled "the Dispersion."

greeting.-(chairein infinitive of chairo, to rejoice.) Though the literal meaning of the word is to rejoice, the infinitive signifies in the compressed form appearing here, joy to you! In 2 John 1:10, the King James’ Translation has the rendering, "Godspeed," but the American Standard Translation presents the more literal English equivalent, "greeting." The word is an expressed wish for happiness for those thus greeted, and was common in Greek letters from which numerous instances may be cited in the centuries before Christ. It is remarkable that it occurs in hundreds of papyri epistles but in the New Testament only here and in Acts 15:23, and Acts 23:26. The former instance is in the Letter from the church in Jerusalem to the brethren in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia which may well have been penned by James (with the concurrence of "the apostles, elders and whole church") who appears to have been quite prominent in the church in that city at that time. Paul and Peter, with some variation, use the more familiar greeting, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:2 ; 2 Peter 1:2.) The fact that this particular form of greeting is used by Christian writers only in Acts 15:23, (where James is prominently mentioned), and here (James 1:1), affords strong presumptive evidence that the author of the Epistle of James is the same as the James there mentioned. The Greek word of greeting, appearing in our text, has been adopted into many tongues, and has been used by multitudes of people for more than two thousand years. Our "Cheer up!" derives from the same stem, and reflects the basic meaning of the word.

Verses 2-4

Jas 1:2-4

James 1:2-18

James 1:2-4

2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations;-Having expressed a wish for joy for his readers, James proceeds to reveal how such may be experienced in a situation which would, by most people, be regarded as the most unlikely one possible to produce such,-a state of manifold (many and varied) temptations. If some among his readers were disposed to feel that a wish for happiness for people who were then enduring the most severe persecution for their faithfulness and fidelity to Christ was an empty and thoughtless gesture, the writer would have them know that these very trials would provide the occasion for the happiness which he wished for them. "Count" (hegesasthe, aorist of hegeomai) means to consider, deem, reckon, think, regard; hence, regard it as an occasion for joy when divers temptations come; not merely some joy, but all joy! Joy complete, whole, without any admixture of regret or sorrow whatsoever.

Such a disposition was to characterize them when they "fall" into manifold temptations. Fall ( peripipto, from peri, round about, and pipto, to fall, "so to fall into so as to be encompassed about," Thayer), emphasizes (a) the external character of the temptation; (b) the suddenness with which it may entrap; and (c) the inability of one to escape such. These temptations are "manifold," (poikilois), hence, of many different kinds (Matthew 4:24; 2 Timothy 3:6; Hebrews 2:4; 1 Peter 1:6.) The trials of Christians are of vastly different character and appear in many forms. One must, therefore, maintain a guard against such in every direction.

"Temptations," ( peirasmois) in both Greek and English can mean (a) inward temptation; (b) outward trial. Here, it is the latter-outward trial-which is meant. While inward temptation is a form of trial, it is apparent from the context that it is a trial in which much suffering is experienced but for which the sufferer sustains no moral blame that is under contemplation here. James would not bid the brethren rejoice when being subjected to the enticements of sin, Satan and the world. From this, and many other similar statements in the Epistle, it is clear that those to whom the Letter was addressed were experiencing great hardship and severe trial in their efforts to live the Christian life.

Those thus addressed are simply styled "brethren," (adelphoi), a word denoting fellow-believers, joined to each other in love, and constituting a single family with God as their Father. It is noteworthy that the inspired writers uniformly avoided the use of terms and designations which would establish class distinctions among the disciples. The terms used, such as disciple, believer, brother, saint, fellow-laborer, beloved brother, etc. denote characteristics, relationships, dispositions, activities, etc. ; and all distinctive titles and honorary appellations were eschewed. Here, those to whom James wrote were his "brethren," his "beloved brethren," (1: 19); and all were regarded as on an equal plane. (James 2:1; James 2:5; James 2:14; James 3:1; James 3:10; James 4:11; James 5:7; James 5:12; James 5:19.) The Hebrew writer referred to "our brother Timothy" (Hebrews 13:23); to Paul Tychicus was "the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord" (Colossians 4:7) ; Epaphras was "a servant of Christ Jesus" (Colossians 4:12) ; and Luke was "the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). Our Lord, on the occasion of the ambitious request of the mother of the sons of Zebedee-that one might sit on the right and the other on the left in his kingdom-renounced all such self-seeking and vain ambition for his followers, and taught them instead that true greatness is along the road to useful service: "Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant : even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:20-28.) He thus made it clear that the way up is first down and that he who would be truly great must render the greatest possible service to mankind.

3 knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. -This is the reason why James’ readers were to regard, as an occasion for rejoicing, the varied trials of life. There is, of course, no merit in the mere submission of one’s self to difficulties; multitudes of people suffer sorely in life because of their misdeeds, and without profit therefrom. "For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men’s matters: but if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name." (1 Peter 4:15-16.) It is because of the blessing resulting from patient endurance under trial by the faithful Christian that there is occasion for joy in the face of such.

Children of God are to know that the proving of their faith produces patience. "Knowing" is from ginosko, to learn to know, to understand; knowledge obtained through observation and personal experience. The form of the word which is in our text is the present active participle and which means here, "Ye are continually finding out, and getting to know .. .. " It is therefore progressive knowledge under contemplation here. Christians are to recognize the purpose of trial, and learn a lesson from each conflict they experience. It is indeed this fact that enables one to endure patiently.

"Proving" ( dokimion, from dokimos, the crucible t h r o u g h which ore is made to pass so that the heat thereof separates the genuine ore from the dross, and possibly here the result of the smelting), indicates the test to which faith is subjected and out of which it appears fully vindicated. Trials become a furnace through which the Christian passes, and thus demonstrates the genuineness of his faith.

This trial of faith and the assurance of its genuine quality "worketh" patience. "Worketh" is from katergazetai, present middle indicative, and means more than merely to work. It signifies to work out (cf. Philippians 2:12), to accomplish, to bring about, and so assures the success of the proof of faith earlier mentioned. That which is thus successfully brought about is patience.

"Patience" (hupomone) resulting from the proof of faith growing out of sore trial is much more than mere submissiveness. The Greek word thus translated has a much more active significance than our English word patience suggests. It means not only the willingness to bear up under the manifold burdens of life, but also indicates the ability to use these burdens as instruments for good and greater glory. This the etymology of the word clearly suggests. It is from the preposition hupo, under, and nieno, to remain, to abide; and thus to stand unwaveringly without yielding to any outside pressure. It denotes the ability to exhibit stedfastness and constancy in the face of the most formidable difficulty. It is this characteristic which, when found in the follower of the Lord, enables him not only to endure the trials of life bravely, but to face up to them and overcome them. It was this which our Lord meant when he said, "In your patience (margin, stedfastness), ye shall win your souls." (Luke 21:19.)

It will be observed, from a careful reading of the inspired text, that the test which trials provide, is in this instance, for the benefit of him whose faith is thus proved, and not as evidence for God. Why does man need to prove (test, establish as genuine) his own faith? Faith is the ground of our hope in God, that upon which our convictions rest. (Hebrews 11:1.) But for it we would be without assurance, and hence without reason or motive for endurance and patience in the face of trial. Thus, when difficulties assail us, we need first of all to be certain of the genuineness of our faith and to have the assurance that it has laid hold on, and will not relinquish, its aims for the future. Obviously, one who does not believe that it is worthwhile faithfully to endure the afflictions of life incident to Christianity will not fight the good fight of faith. (1 Timothy 6:12.) Man must first assure himself of the genuineness and reliability of his own faith if this is the ground on which he is to resist. This may be accomplished only by some such method as is followed when gold ore is made to pass through the fire in order that the genuine metal may be separated from the dross, and identified as the pure gold. Jam es thus teaches that life’s afflictions become the trials of faith, the fiery furnace through which the individual is made to pass, and in which experience he is enabled to determine whether his faith is sufficiently grounded to guarantee its genuineness and reliability.

The "faith" (pis’tis) which trials prove is, in the New Testament, "the conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor of faith and conjoined with it." (Thayer.) It continues and exhibits the same characteristics of the faith which the alien sinner exercises and which leads him on to salvation, "a conviction full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah-the divinely appointed author of salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ." (Ibid.) Thus faith involves (a) unquestioned acceptance of the truth revealed regarding Christ and God; (b) full and unreserved obedience to their commands ; and ( c) humble and unreserved reliance on their promises. (Hebrews 11:6; Jam Ezra 2:20-26.)

Trials prove faith by enabling the believer to determine tire e:dent and degree of willingness to endure and to be obedient to Christ.

4 And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.-We have seen above that the patience of this passage is stedfastness, unwavering constancy in the face of severe and manifold trial. This patience we are to permit to have "its perfect work," (teleion), accomplish its purpose, achieve its end. The word translated "perfect" in this passage does not denote sinlessness, but completeness, wholeness, maturity. It is a term which, in classical Greek, was used of animals which had reached full growth ; of scholars past the elementary period of their studies and therefore mature students; of men full-grown. In the New Testament, it is used of those who have attained to spiritual manhood in Christ, to full maturity and understanding in spiritual matters, and are thus no longer babes and immature persons in Christ. It is said of our Lord that he was made "perfect (teleios) through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10), where, of course, it cannot possibly mean that he was made sinless through suffering as if such a state did not obtain before. There, the word has its usual significance of completeness; our Lord accomplished his mission through suffering, and thus perfected (brought to maturity) the plan for which he came into the world. This patience is to be allowed to have its full effect in order that its possessor "may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing."

In the phrase, "perfect and entire," the Greek is teleioi kai holokleroi, signifying that which is complete and without blemish. The words perfect and entire here are not used synonymously. We have seen that the first as used here denotes maturity, wholeness, completeness. It describes that which has accomplished its purpose, achieved its end; as, for example, a surgeon whose schooling and internship is wholly behind him and he is therefore mature in preparation. The second, entire (from the Greek hololtleros), means that the thing to which it is applied has all that belongs to it, as, for example, a baby, born with all of its parts, and thus in every respect normal. It was used in ancient times of an offering without blemish; of an heir who has received the full portion of his inheritance; of the lame man who had been healed. (Acts 3:16.) Thus those whose faith is sufficiently strong to enable them to endure trial develop patience which, when allowed to reach maturity, completely equip them, leaving them "lacking in nothing."

These words, "lacking in nothing," (en medeni leipomenoi, present passive participle of leipo, to leave), mean "not being left behind by another," thus signifying that those who become "perfect and entire" in no sense lag behind, or are inferior to others. Basically, the word is a racing term, and points to the fact that those who develop into mature Christians are not outdistanced by any. This emphasizes the fact that the most advanced children of God may not relax their efforts, but must ever remember that they are engaged in a race which is won only when the entire distance is covered. There is no place in life where one may ~uspend effort and no longer strive for the victor’s laurels. The severe discipline of life does indeed, when properly used, prepare us for continued progress in Christian attainment ; and, to terminate the effort before reaching the goal is to lose the crown. ’’Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so run that ye may attain." ( 1 Corinthians 9:24.) "Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doeth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2.)

Verses 5-8

Jas 1:5-8

Wisdom and Faith
James 1:5-8

5 But if any of you lacketh wisdom,-The careful reader will observe that quite often in James the leading word of the clause preceding becomes the chief point with which the verse following begins. This is a figure designated by grammarians as anadiplosis, defined by Webster as "Repetition of a word, especially the last word, of one clause, at the beginning of the next." The greeti11g of verse 1 ("joy to you"), is followed by "count it all joy," of verse 2; temptations (trials) lead on to "proving" in verse 3 ; patience, in verse 3, to "patience" in verse 4; lacking in nothing, in verse 4 to "if any man lack . . . " of verse 5; if any man lack, is followed by "let him ask of God who giveth" ; it shall be given him of verse 5, prompts the statement, let him ask in faith, nothing doubting which, in turn, results in "for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed .. . " and so on, frequently in the Epistle.

James had urged his readers to recognize in their varied trials the means by which, through patience, to develop full, spiritual maturity in faith and in life. It would appear that, at this point, he must have anticipated this question: "How is it possible for me to see in my difficulties a blessing? Surely, the ability to do this requires a much greater wisdom than I possess?" And, it is as if James answered, "Indeed so I But, do not despair; there is an unfailing and inexhaustible supply available and at hand."

let him ask of God,-The ability to see great blessings in sore trial is not an inherent one, and must, therefore be acquired. It is quite significant that James did not say, "But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him study philosophy, or, let him meditate, or, let him consult the wise." The wisdom which we need, and must have, to turn our trials into triumphs is available only from God. But, what is this "wisdom" which only God can give? "wisdom," so Webster says, is the "ability to judge soundly and deal sagaciously with facts, esp. as they relate to life and conduct; discernment and judgment; discretion; sagacity." Knowledge, when contemplated apart from wisdom is an "acquaintance with fact; hence, scope of information." Knowledge is thus the possession of facts; wisdom the ability of judging soundly and correctly regarding them. Knowledge is obtained only through study; wisdom is a gift of God. One whose desire is to learn mathematical principles would not resort to prayer but to text books dealing therewith ; one who desires the divine wisdom must get down on his knees. Facts to be stored in the head are obtained only through mental effort; the wisdom which has its home in the depths of the soul only God can bestow. Of the manner in which God bestows this wisdom the writer does not deal ; it is fact of it which is here affirmed.

who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not ;-If, therefore, we lack wisdom (and all of us do), let us "Ask of God who giveth. . . ." The words, "God who giveth" are, in the Greek order, tou didontos Theou, literally, THE GIVING GOD! This statement emphasizes the fact that such is characteristic of him ; he is revealed to us in the character of a Giver. It is a part of his nature to give. Moreover, he gives to all; there are no favored few among the faithful disciples; each is by him regarded with equal favor and his bounties bestowed accordingly. Were we liberal to a fault, our limited means make such widespread uestowal of bounty impossible. But even this does not exhaust the extent of his giving. He gives to all liberally, haplos, a word meaning either generously, or without bargaining, either meaning being possible here, and both combining in our word liberally, simply, unreservedly, without any material expectation of return. We thus learn that (1) God gives; (2) he gives to all; (3) he gives liberally; and (4) he "upbraideth not" (me oneidizontos, present active participle of oneidizo, to cast into one’s teeth, to reproach) because of our requests. Often, when we give, we do so reluctantly, grudgingly, and with reproaches. Have we known this to happen? It is necessary for us to make a request, and then, later to repeat it, only to be met with this objection: "You were just asking for this yesterday, or last week; you are forever asking for something ; are you never satisfied?" God (may his name ever be praised for this fact) never thus upbraids, or casts our requests into our teeth ! Nor does he chide us for the misuse of the gracious bounties already received. He does not say when we make request of him, "What did you do with the things I have already given you? Make better use of them before you come back asking for more." In truth, we should rebuke ourselves for our own misuse of his rich gifts and the poverty which characterizes our efforts in their use.

and it shall be given him.- This reminds us of our Lord’s marvelous promise in Matthew 7:7 : "Ask, and it shall be given you.·· (See, also, Luke 11:9.) Here is one prayer we may be certain the Father will answer. And it shall be given him. The answer to some prayers is conditional. In some instances we are to recognize the contingency of prayer in the petition: "If it please thee, grant our request." For example, it was necessary that our Lord should return to heaven. And, notwithstanding the fact that his disciples earnestly prayed, and fervently hoped that he would remain with them on earth, he departed. It was expedient that he go away. (John 16:7.) Of course, as is ever the case when a petition of God’s faithful children is not granted affirn1atively, the sorrowing followers of the Lord ultimately come into possession of a vastly richer blessing than could ever have been theirs had he remained on earth. There is, indeed, no such thing as an unanswered prayer ever 1,ttered by God’s faithful children. He ans-&ers every prayer his children pray! True, he does not always say, "Yes." Often, he says, "No." But the "No," is as rnuch an answer as "Yes," would be, and springs from the same motive. When, for example, a child, because of its immaturity makes a request of its parents which, for the child’s welfare, they must not grant, their refusal to grant the specific request is not a disregard of the petition of the child, it is an answer to it, and an answer based upon considerations of the child’s welfare. In similar fashion, when we make requests of God which are not for our good; or, because he intends to give us richer blessings later, and he withholds the specific request, this is not a disregard of our prayer, it is an answer to It- an answer grounded in good for us. So it is, and so we should ever regard it, and thus be content with the divine wisdom ever evidenced in such instances.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting:-Our petitions to the Father must, of course, be made "in faith," inasmuch as "without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him." (Hebrews 11:6.) Faith is, as we have seen in our studies of James 1:3, much more than mere intellectual assent to the truthfulness of a proposition-belief that a statement is true--it is firm reliance upon the Lord, unwavering trust in his word, coupled with the disposition to obey fully his commands. We learn here that, i .n order to obtain wisdom (a) we must ask; (b) we must ask of God; (c) we must ask of God in faith; and (d) the petition must be made "nothing doubting." The wisdom which we need to rise to higher plateaus of usefulness, using life’s difficulties as steppingstones on which to climb to these higher elevations must come only from God ; he alone can give it. But, we must receive it; and to receive it, we must believe in him who alone can bestow it. Surely it is idle to expect God to give us wisdom if we will not give him trust! "Doubting," (from diakrinomenos), the chief idea of which, as used in our text, is inner debate; and it presents the picture of a person torn by conflicting notions, now disposed to feel this way, now that. It is, as Thayer remarks, "to be at variance with one’s self," to hesitate, to doubt; and, while it does not denote the utter absence of faith, it describes the disposition of a person who, at one moment, feels God will keep his promise, and, at another moment, that he will not. God’s purpose in bestowing wisdom upon his children is to create a better relationship between him and them; and, if his children entertain doubts of the truth and reliability of his promises, the atmosphere is one of suspicion, and not of faith.

for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed.-He who doubts is one beset by contradictory notions. The inspired writer compares him to the ceaseless and wild surge of the sea which, at one moment, moves shoreward, and at another moment, in the opposite direction, but always aimlessly and without intelligent direction. One torn by such inner conflict can never lean with confidence on God and on his gracious promises. Utterly wanting, in such a person, is that sense of assurance which would enable such a one to approach God in firmness of faith and in robustness of hope, confident that he is faithful who promised (1 Corinthians 1:9), and therefore able to keep that which we have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12). We should ever strive to possess that spiritual poise which enables one to weather the winds of trial, temptation and all earthly difficulty and to exhibit that stability of heart and mind which cannot be moved.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord ;-The second clause of verse 6 describes the restlessness of the man who doubts; the first clause of verse 7 shows that such a one eliminates himself from all special favors from God. A state of mind ranging from hope one moment, to despair through doubt in the next, is not conducive to happiness; and one thus possessed is without claim upon God. There appears to be some contempt expressed by James in the phrase, that man, in this passage. One possessed of such a nature could not possibly be happy in life, and such a one makes no contribution whatsoever of a substantial nature to the times in which he lives. Jacob said of one of his sons, "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel. ... " (Genesis 49:4. AV.) Not only is such a man not promised special blessings in wisdom in answer to prayer, he is not to expect them. Let not that man so much as think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. "The Lord," as in James 4:15; James 5:10-11, is the Father, if James intended any distinction. It is quite likely that he used the term merely to designate deity without designing to distinguish between the members of the godhead.

8 a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways.-"Doubleminded," in the original text is dipmchos, a man with two minds or souls. The word occurs in no other New Testament book, and in James only here and James 4:8. Inasmuch as there is no clear instance of its use before the Epistle of James was penned this has led to the conclusion that James coined it. Following its use in James, it was adopted by numerous later writers, such as Hermas, Clement, Barnabas, etc. A doubter is a doubleminded person and is in the position of attempting to pay homage to two masters. (Matthew 6:24.) He is, therefore, "unstable," (akatastatos, unsteady, wavering, in disposition and attitude). Such a person is restless, confused in his actions and in all of his ways. A doubleminded man is in conflict with himself; this situation makes him unstable, a word used to describe a drunk man unable to walk a straight course, swaying now this way, now that, without definite direction in his course, and thus unable to get anywhere. Such a one is unstable "in all his ways," and not merely or solely with reference to petitions for wisdom. A waverer in faith will exhibit instability in every department of religious activity. This, incidentally, is the condition which characterizes a person involved in doubt religiously. While the philosophical world regards such a disposition with favor, James, the inspired writer, held the opposite view. Doubt, to him was no evidence of superior learning or unusual intellectual attainment; it was, instead, the mark of mental instability, evidence of confused intellectual processes.

Verses 9-11

Jas 1:9-11

James 1:9-11

9 But let the brother of low degree glory in his high estate: -From the consideration of trials in general (James 1:2-8, the writer, in this section, proceeds to the treatment of those specific problems which result from substantial change in one’s economic condition-from poverty to riches and from riches to poverty. So perfectly adapted to all of man’s needs is Christianity it enables the faithful child of God immediately to cope with all of life’s problems, however varied they may be. The circumstances of life are exceedingly changeful; one may indeed be rich today and poor tomorrow; and the poor may experience similar change in economic station thus rising to affiuence overnight. Such radical alterations in one’s mode of living resulting from such changes produce serious problems and often lead to much temptation. The faithful Christian will not allow his relationship to God to be affected by his financial fluctuations but will, in these very changes, find occasion to rejoice.

The one experiencing these changes in his economic situation is a brother. Contemplated is "the brother of low degree," and also "the rich" (brother, understood.) Both are of the great brotherhood of which God is the common Father and Christ the elder brother. All are brothers in Christ. However great is the difference in their financial standing, they meet on a common level in the Lord. There are no caste systems in Christ. The disposition to elevate some to positions of eminence in the church and to relegate to the realm of obscurity "the brother of low degree," is wholly opposed to the spirit of Christianity and exceedingly wicked in the eyes of God. (James 2 :lff.) Some of the most effective work being done for Christ today is by humble, sacrificing servants of the Lord who labor in his cause for sheer love of him, and without desire for public acclaim whatsoever. These, though they may not experience the heady thrill of notoriety characteristics of the more prominent brethren, will nevertheless shine above the brightness of the stars in eternity. (Daniel 12:3.)

The brother "of low degree" is "to glory in his high estate." The phrase, "of low degree," is from tapeinos, meaning one of humble position, one who, because of external circumstances, has been brought low. While a brother in such a situation would feel some debasement, the emphasis is not so much on his inward attitude, as with reference to his oittward position. Being poor, he is low, in contrast with the rich, who occupy a high position in the world. The distinction which the inspired writer at this point emphasizes is in the financial standing obtaining between the rich and the poor.

When the brother of low degree is suddenly thrust into the position of a rich man, he is to "glory in his high estate." Not simply or solely because he is now rich, not because he is now freed of the fretting problems which ever plague the poor in life, not because his affluence will now enable him to do more in the service of the Savior, but because he has successfully passed the test of faith which sudden riches afford, and now knows that his faith is genuine. We must not, in our study of this passage, disregard the force of the context in which these words appear. The general theme is trials. (James 1:2-18.) Trials lead on to patience, and patient endurance supplies the test by which the genuineness of faith is determined. One’s faith is never more severely tried than when its possessor suddenly becomes rich and affluent. A brother who has experienced this transition, may indeed "glory" (kauchastho, exult) in his successful change in economic condition inasmuch as his faith is still intact. Many disciples, who suffer great hardship and want, endure much persecution and remain devoted to the Lord will, on becoming rich and prosperous, find the temptations resulting from wealth so alluring and seductive that they surrender to Satan. There are, of course, many proper blessings resulting from prosperity. Poverty is not an unmixed blessing, nor are riches an unadulterated evil. There are extremely corrupt poor men, as there are also wonderfully good rich men. Both poverty and riches involve great temptation ; each has its peculiar dangers, but neither necessitates disobedience to God. Perhaps the safest course, for the Christian, is in moderation. Agur, the son of Jakeh, "the oracle," made this request of Jehovah before he died :

"Two things have I asked of thee;
Deny me them not before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lies:
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is needful for me ;
Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah?
Or lest I be poor, and steal,
And use profanely the name of my God." (
Proverbs 30:7-9.)

It is not the amount of money which one has which determines whether one is rich in the objectionable sense ; it is the attitude which one exhibits thereto. He who "trusts" in his riches is condemned because he expects his riches to accomplish for him only that which God can do. (Mark 10:24, see margin.) John, in his short missive to his friend Gaius, informs us how safely rich one may be : "Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." (3 John 1:2.) The brother of low degree may indeed rejoice because his faith has endured the test of both poverty and riches ! Now possessed of a sizable store of this world’s goods, his horizons have been lifted, his potential for good enhanced and his responsibility increased. While he may not be able actually to do more good for the Saviour in his affluence, he is equipped to labor in fields fom1erly closed to him. He may, therefore, properly "glory" (exult) in his "high estate."

10 and the rich, in that he is made low -The "rich" (brother) is likewise to "glory" (rejoice, be glad) that he is made low. That the rich man contemplated in the passage is a brother seems not open to serious question. Obviously, the inspired writer would not direct such an edict to the worldly rich, nor could he reasonably expect those of that class either to heed his admonition or to regard the loss of riches as an occasion for rejoicing. Men of the world regard the loss of riches as a major catastrophe.

When the stock market broke in the ill-fated financial crash of 1929, numbers of men, their entire fortunes wiped out in an hour, lost their reason and leaped from tall buildings in New York City to their deaths. Life to them without their former affluence was no longer desirable. Only a brother (a child of God) can see in financial disaster a blessing. Brought low by his losses, he is nevertheless in position-as a faithful disciple of Christ-to see the deceitfulness of riches (Matthew 13:22), to know their evanescent nature, and to recognize their powerlessness to bring happiness to the human heart. The trial of the brother brought low is doubtless harder to bear than is that characteristic of the brother of low degree who has been raised to financial prosperity. The latter may indeed find, in his improved circumstances, occasion to rejoice; but it is most difficult for one who has seen his riches take wings to feel that in their departure he has experienced a great blessing! But, inasmuch as all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), in the wisdom which God will give him (verse 5), he will be able to see that since such has happened it must be for his good, and he can therein rejoice.

Such a one may thenceforth reason that (1) the loss of riches is, in his case, providential and therefore for his good; (2) his association with the world and with worldly men must thenceforth be less intimate ; ( 3) the burdens borne by men in the business world-which often operate to shorten life-have been lifted and he may expect to live longer ; and ( 4) he is in position henceforth to fix his attention more thoroughly on the things which endure. In so doing, he is now able to appreciate more fully Paul’s affirmation that true values are not those which are tangible and may be seen: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal ; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18.) One of the most vital lessons in life to learn is that "a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth." (Luke 12:15.)

because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.-Not only are riches disposed to vanish, he who possesses them is not more enduring; as the tender, fragile flower of the grass appears only to be crushed or to wither so also does the rich man "pass away." This verb, parele11setm, in the future tense, compounded from para, by, besides, and erchomai, to come or to go, denotes, in impressive fashion, the frailty of human nature, and rapidity with which men, however rich they may be, are made to pass from life. As a slender and delicate blade of grass withers and is gone, so the rich man passes by and is no more. Such a one is not to feel that the loss of riches is fatal; he, too, cannot long remain on the earth and would not therefore reasonably expect to retain his riches and to enjoy them forever. Inasmuch as his life here is "but for a moment," let him recognize that, whatever his earthly circumstances, his riches are not essential to his happiness or well being here, nor can their loss in any fashion defeat him in his efforts to gain heaven and eternal life. The things of this life are so transient in nature that it is of little consequence whether we have abundance or are in want, provided we "put first things first," and enthrone the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts and lives.

(Note: Other interpretations proposed for this passage are, (1) the brother of "low degree" is, because he is a brother, to glory in his high estate ; i.e., because he is a Christian, he is to find in this fact occasion for joy whatever his outward circumstances may be. The rich brother is similarly to glory (exult) because, as a Christian he has accepted a state of humiliation which will operate ultimately for his good enabling him to be saved despite his riches. Objection: all brothers in Christ are on the same level; there is no respect of persons with God (Galatians 3:28-29; Romans 2:11). Throughout the Epistle James deplores the disposition to create distinctions between brethren. (2) The rich man is not a brother at all but one who, because he is. rich, rejoices in the abandonment of life (through yielding to the allurements of the world) which his riches makes possible. Objection: Both classes are addressed in the same fashion as if they were equally related to the writer. The rich would see no occasion for rejoicing in the loss of ·possessions, nor would such be disposed to heed the injunctions issued. The context is against both of these interpretations. The objection, that elsewhere in the Epistle the writer condemn:; the rich, is to beg the question. That wicked rich men are elsewhere condemned does not necessarily require that the conclusion be drawn that James does so here, unless, of course, one subscribes to the view that the mere fact that one is rich means that one is wicked, an absurd conclusion, truly!)

We conclude, therefore, that both the poor and the rich, under contemplation in our text, are children of God; and, that it was James’ design to show that however changfog and changeable the outward circumstances of life may be, those who are faithful to the Lord tnay find occa.rion to rejoice and be happy. We thus le_arn that the rich and the poor both have their trials; and, while they are not the same trials, the road to heaven is not smooth for either. Each may, however, in spite of his peculiar temptations, find satisfaction in service to his Saviour, and ultimately receive eternal bliss.

11 For the sun ariseth with the scorching wind, and 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 goings.-Eastern peoples would be especially familiar with this illustration taken from nature. A scorching wind, called the simoom, frequently begins with the coming up of the sun ; and the heat which it brings is often so intense that the green vegetation withers and eventually dies. The "grass" of the passage (chorion) is from a comprehensive term for vegetation; and, "the flower of the grass" (anthos) does not refer to the bloom but to wild flowers which often grow up in the midst of the grass in Palestine. Lilies were by our Lord called "the grass of the field" in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 6:28; Matthew 6:30.)

This blast of hot air, called "the scorching wind" in the text, comes in from the deserts east of the Jordan valley, and up from the burning sands of Egypt. The destructive character of "the east wind" is often mentioned in the Scriptures. "Yea, behold, being planted,. shall it prosper? shall it not utterly wither, when the east ·wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the beds where it grew." (Ezekiel 17:10.) "And it came to pass, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east ·wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and requested that he might die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live." (Jonah 4:8.) This entire section in James, appears to be based upon a quite similar affirmation from the prophet Isaiah : "The voice of one saying, Cry. And one 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 Hower fadeth, because the breath· of Jehovah bloweth upon it; surely the people is as grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever." (Isaiah 40:6-8.)

Because of the extremely barren nature of much of the soil in Palestine, the scarcity of water and the scorching, burning winds, grass in that country remains green but a short time. Its fragile character and its short life afford au excellent illustration of the brevity of man’s existence on earth, and the rapidity with which men are cut down and are no more. As the tender grass withers and perishes in the burning blasts of the east wind, "so also shall the rich man fade away in his goings." The figure is a familiar one: "Man, that is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down .... " (Job 14:1-2.) " 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 103:15-16.)

James has earlier shown (verses 2-4), that the loss of riches is not to be regarded as a catastrophe; on the contrary, one experiencing this is to rejoice in it, provided that his faith is sufficiently strong to enable him to endure the trial such an experience brings. Here, he emphasizes the fact that the rich will die as do other men as surely as the grass of the field withers and dies. He, too, will "fade away" (maranthesetai, future passive indicative of maraino, to extinguish a light, to put out a flame,) like a light which flickers and goes out, a vivid figure of speech for the suddenness with which life can vanish. Man is thus like a candle which, for the moment is seen, and then is snuffed out and is no more. Such a one will fade away "in his goings," as he goes about his tasks, as the poorest do, he shall die, there is no difference between the rich and the poor in this respect. Like the flower of the field, today alive and beautiful, but tomorrow withered and sere, like a light which flames forth in brilliance one moment, and is out the next, so the rich man dies "in the midst of his goings," and is seen no more.

Verse 12

Jas 1:12

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation;-Verse 12 reverts to the theme of temptation first introduced in verse 2, where it is affirmed that temptation supplies an occasion for joy inasmuch as it proves our faith and leads on to patience and thus to spiritual maturity. It will be recalled, from the comments there, that the temptation contemplated is not a solicitation to do evil, but outward trial, a fact evident from the context. The temptation under consideration enables one to be "approved" (tried, King James’ Version), when the one subjected thereto endures it properly; and it produces for such a one a crown of life. It is for this reason that one called upon to endure temptation (trial, hardship, difficulty) is regarded as "blessed."

"Blessed" (makarios) is the word with which the "beatitudes" begin. (Matthew 5:2-11.) There are indeed many points of resemblance between the Epistle of James and the Sermon on the Mount and to these attention will be hereafter directed. The word 1nakarios, translated "blessed" in the text, describes one who is in a state of blessing, sometimes declared to be a happy one. However, our English word "happy" is an inadequate term to denote the state of blessedness which the original word describes. Blessedness is a condition resulting from a state of inner peace ; whereas, happiness (derived from hap, chance) is dependent on external circumstances. The former is in the heart and not subject to interference from, or the whims of, others; the latter involves matters over which one cannot always maintain control. Happiness is more often produced by material affairs; blessedness is much more spiritual, and therefore of a far more enduring quality. Happiness, closely related to the world, cannot always be enjoyed; blessedness, not dependent on material matters, may ever be the cherished possession of the faithful, however poor they may be in this world’s goods. Blessedness is a characteristic of God himself. ( 1 Timothy 1:11.) Thus, the more we become like God, the more blessed we are. (Matthew 5:8.)

We have seen that (a) the difficulties of life are the means which prove faith; (b) produce maturity in the Christian character ; and (c) enable one to possess an abiding inner peace described as blessed. However, the mere fact that one is subjected to trial does not mean that this state of blessedness always results. Only those who endi~re trial are declared to inherit the blessing. "Endureth," (hupomenei, present active indicative of hupomeno, patience), is derived from the same source as the word translated "patience" in verse 3. Thus the one who endures is the one who patiently submits to the trials of life, knowing that they are the furnace of fire which tests (proves) faith and strengthens character. Etymologically, the word hupomeno (patience) signifies to remain under, and thus denotes the determination of its possessor to bear up under any and all of life’s difficulties which he may be called upon to bear. It vividly describes that quality of endurance which distinguishes the faithful disciple from the superficial one. (Luke 8:13.)

The word translated "endureth" (hupomenei) does not contain a compulsive concept; it is rather a type of stedfastness sustained by one who regards the trials of life as necessary to patience and to maturity of character and therefore readily accepted as a means to future blessing. It must, of course, be kept continually in mind that the inspired writer does not, in this verse, deal with inner solicitations to evil, but to outward trials which, because we are human beings, are an inevitable portion of our heritage. The former must ever be stoutly repelled, not merely suffered. Affirmed here is the fact that trials are (a) common to us all; (b) they must be endured ; ( c), when successfully borne they produce in one a state of blessedness.

for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life,-"Hath been approved," is, literally, "having become approved," (dokimos genomenos); a fact accomplished by having successfully passed the test of faithfulness and fidelity to God which outward trial affords. Under the figure of the crucible (a furnace of fire) in which ore is melted and the dross eliminated, the faithful disciple is, by his trials, enabled to have eliminated from his character the dross of life, and thus privileged to appear approved before God. Evidence of having been able successfully to pass the test is to be seen in the fact that he has, by his patience in affliction, endured. Like metal which has passed through the fiery furnace, and has been cleansed of all impurity, he now possesses a character wholly unalloyed, and therefore pure. Some suffer and do not endure and thus fail the test. (1 Peter 4:15.) Only those who are faithful in the face of trial evidence their sonship: "My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him ; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (Hebrews 12:5-8.)

In truth, only those who faithfully endure are promised salvation ( 1 Corinthians 11:19), a salvation tendered only on evidence of unwavering stedfastness : "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you : but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice: that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy." ( 1 Peter 4:12-13.) For these alone is the symbol of success in patient endurance reserved:

which the Lord promised to them that love him.-He who shall receive "the crown of life" is the one successfully passing the test inherent in trial. He shall receive (future tense) it, at the end of the examination, and not at its beginning, as is by some affirmed. Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for my sake, and for the gospel’s. sake, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." (Mark 10:30.) The "crown of life,"-- ton stephanontes zoes, genitive of apposition, literally, the life crown, thus life itself, is the crown promised. "And this is the promise which he promised us, even the life eternal." (1 John 2:25.) "In hope of eternal life, which God. who cannot lie, promised before times eternal. ... " (Titus 1:2.) See Revelation 2:10, the only other instance where the phrase occurs. Compare, however, Paul’s reference to the "crown of righteousness" (2 Timothy 4:8), and Peter’s allusion to "the crown of glory’" ( 1 Peter 5:4). In all these instances, it is clear that the reception of the crow1i is conditioned on faithfulness and patient endurance. Literally, the crown ( stepha11os) signified the wreath of victory to the winner in the ancient games (1 Corinthians 9:25); it also was an ornament to evidence the bestowal of honor (Proverbs 1:9), and a sign of dignity (2 Samuel 12:30). As those in the ancient games were qualified to receive the crown only when they had complied with the rules thereof, so now only those who conform to the conditions which the Lord himself formulated are privileged to receive the crown of life at the last day. (1 Timothy 2:5.) "Faithful is the saying, For if we died with him, we shall also live with him: if we endure, we shall also reign with him . ... " (1 Timothy 2:11.)

The Lord has promised this crown of life to "them that love him," (tois agaposin auton), literally, to those loving him- not those who once loved him, but to those who now love him. It was promised either in (a) some extra-biblical statement. not preserved for us, but known to those of the apostolic age (cf. Acts 20:35), or, what is more likely, (b) embraced, in principle, again and again in his teaching. ( Matthew 19:28.) It will be observed that, in addition to the condition of patient endurance set out at length by James in verses preceding this, he adds here love for Christ as a condition precedent to the crown of life. Actually, the two are closely related and cannot be separated. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:3.) The Bible abounds with promises to those who love God, because those who truly love him, obey him and endure faithfully to the endthe conditions essential to receiving the crown. (See, also, Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 7:7-11 ; 1 Corinthians 2:9.) ·Those who affect to know him, but refuse to obey him are by John said to be liars. ( 1 John 2:4.)

We may, therefore, rejoice that (a) if we endure, we are by him regarded as faithful ; (b) if faithful, we are assured of the life crown at the end of life’s journey; (c) in view of this we may rejoice even in the midst of grievous trial. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while. if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perisheth though it be proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ : whom not having seen ye love: and whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:6-9.) The love under consideration here is not a vague sentiment or a passing emotion ; it is a robust affection which prompts the possessor to be obedient to all of the Lord’s commands. It is idle for one to profess devotion for Christ while refusing to do his will. Faithful obedience is the test of love. "Ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you." (John 15:14.)

Verses 13-15

Jas 1:13-15

James 1:13-15

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God ;-Thus far in his treatment of temptation, James has dealt with it from the viewpoint of outward trial. (James 1:2-12.) Here, a significant change occurs. No longer does he use the noun form for temptation; thenceforth, a verbal form is used, (Peirazomenos, present passive participle of peirazo, to solicit to do evil), an example of which may be seen in Satan’s solicitation to evil on the occasion of our Lord’s temptation in the mount. (Matthew 4:1 ff.) The shift is a natural one, and to be expected. From the contemplation of those outward trials which inevitably beset men in life, it is an easy transition to the inner conflicts which are no less serious obstacles to faithfulness and piety on the part of the disciples of the Lord. There is, indeed, the disposition on the part of some to hold God responsible for the adversities which assail us, and to accuse him of producing the circumstances which result in hardship and trial. Adam did it in Eden when he sought to shift the blame to God for his evil action by saying, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat" (Genesis 3:12), and his posterity has followed this pattern ever since.

Every evil act is by some justified on the ground that God created our bodies and placed in them desires which he should not have done if he is to regard their gratification as sinful! Such reasoning is, of course, done by those who conveniently forget there is a fundamental difference between the proper use and abuse of privilege ; and is grossly fallacious. Opium, for example, medicinally used, is a blessing to humanity; improperly taken into one’s body it becomes a destructive and deadly poison. The effort to pass on to God responsibility for humanity’s difficulties is a comfortable and common one; it is a convenient method by which man absolves himself of all moral responsibility for his actions. It is not surprising that the theory has a theological application and that there are those who advocate the view that God is the author of every act of man and that all such was predestined from eternity. The doctrine of predestination and reprobation, set out in some of the older creeds, is an example of this view. A more modern version of the doctrine, stripped of theological implication, and of a philosophical flavor, affirms that man is a creature of his origin and surroundings (heredity and environment), neither of which he was privileged to choose, and that any evil which may reside in him is the product of forces over which he had no control, and for which he should not be held responsible. This evasion of personal responsibility is a persistent one, and finds expression not only in Theology and Philosophy but also in Literature, Drama and Poetry. For example, Robert Burns, the plowman poet of Scotland, wrote:

"Thou knowest thou has formed me
With passions wild and strong ;
And listening to their witching voice
Has often led me wrong."

This dangerous and deadly view James strikes down in a single affirmation in this section. (Verses 13-15.)

No one may properly say, "I am tempted of God" (apo tou Theou peirazomai); i.e., from God I am tempted. It is interesting and highly significant that the phrase, from God is, in the Greek Testament, apo theou, rather than hupo theou. The use of apo (ablative) indicates origin, not agency; were the phrase to read, hupo tou Theou peirazomai, the meaning would be that God is directly the cause of temptation; as it is, it insinuates that (though he did not directly order our temptation) he is responsible for it in some remote sense. We must, of course, remember that James is affirming neither; instead, he is denying the charge which some made in that day (and continue to make in this) that God is at least remotely responsible for our sins. The meaning is, Let no man say that God tempts its to do evil in any sense, remote or otherwise. Temptation (solicitations to evil) is neither from (apo), nor by (lmpo) the Father.

for God cannot be tempted with evil,-God is beyond the area of temptation, being untemptable. The word thus translated occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures, but a similar one ( apeiratos), is common in ancient Greek writings. A compound term, it is made up of "a" (not) and peirao, one of the meanings of which is "to be familiar with"; "to have experience in." It would therefore appear that when it is affirmed that God is untemptable, it is meant that having no experience in any evil thing, there can be in him no desire for evil, and thus no ground for temptation. One who is himself wholly removed ·from evil, could never desire to see it, or to cause it to appear in others. God neither tempts, nor is tempted.

and he himself tempteth no man:-Not only is God himself not susceptible of evil through temptation, he tempts no one. Untemptable himself, because of his inherent goodness and eternal abstinence from every evil thing, he does not thrust into the lives of others that which is wholly foreign to his own. It would be wholly inconsistent with his character, his goodness and his love for man whom he desires to imitate himself to be responsible for creating a condition in his creatures which would alienate them from him. If to this the objection is raised that in the King James Translation of Genesis 22:1, it is said that "God tempted Abraham," it should be recalled that the word tempt means (a) trials; (b) evil suggestions ; (c) solicitations to evil. Verses 2-12, of James 1, involves the first of these meanings; verses 13-15, the second and third. James affirms that God tries men for the purpose of determining the genuineness of their faith, but he denies that he does so for the purpose of seducing them to sin. God tested, tried, proved Abraham; the American Standard Version renders Genesis 22:1, "God did prove Abraham .... " God proves us, i.e., he tests our faith; and this is for our good; but he never leads us to sin. The author of all good cannot be the source of sin in us.

14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed.- Here, the writer states the real source of temptation. One is tempted when (a) be is drawn away (b) by his own lust and (c) enticed. One is "drawn away," (exelkomenos, from ek, out of, and helkomai, to draw, "by" (hupo, the agent involved) "his own lust" (epithmnia, desire) "and enticed," (deleazomenos, present passive participle of deleazo, literally, to bait, figuratively, as used here, to trap hy enticing delights.) Desire, seeking satisfaction, prompts to sin; and the individual is caught, trapped, ensnared, or, as we sometimes say, hooked! Forbidden pleasure, however great the desire for it may be, should be rigidly excluded from our lives, lest we be caught in Satan’s snare. The illustration which James uses of enticement is that of the blandishments of a harlot; and the means used, those common to fishermen and hunters. As a fisherman uses the most attractive sort of bait, or the most alluring fly to induce the fish to strike, so Satan tempts us by means of those things which are to us most desirable.

It is good for us, in this connection, to note that desire must first be drawn away, before there is enticement. It is the function of a fisherman’s fly to induce the fish to forsake the safety of the rock or the weeds, and to come within reach of the hidden hook in the enticing lure. We must stay away from those places where we may be easily hooked. Christians should never go to any place where there is the possibility they may be tempted to do wrong. They should abstain from all association with those who are disposed to exercise the wrong influence over them. We should not only avoid those places and practices which we know to be wrong; we should shun all of those which we do not know to be right!

The influence of Satan is universal. No one capable of sinning is removed from the area of his wooing. "Every man," (hekastos, each one) is tempted ; tempted by being drawn away by evil desire induced by the desirable bait which the devil dangles before the unwary. It is vitally important to observe that the first step to sin consists in being drrnvn away, drawn away from our place of safety. The other steps could not follow but for this. Here, indeed, is the threshold Satan must first invade. He must call us forth from our shelter of safety before he can seduce us to sin. The corruptor of morals does not attempt to accomplish his designs in church, in the company of the good, or where the pure of heart gather. His first aim is to draw us away from our spiritual defenses, induce us to go where we ought not, and where we are helpless to resist his advances.

How sad indeed it is to be drawn away from God, drawn away from all that is good, drawn away from the church, drawn away from the Bible, drawn away from the road to heaven. Bad as it is to be drawn away from that which is good, this is but the first step in Satan’s sinful designs, the prelude to even more serious action. Not content with merely drawing us away from that which is good, he then launches us on a course of positive evil. Few drawn away from that which is good stop there; soon they advance to active evil. This, the writer next affirms.

15 Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin:"Lust," is evil desire (epithumia). This desire conceives. The figure is a familiar one. The hapless individual, his defenses abandoned by being drawn away from them, and hooked by his evil desires, discovers that from the union of improper desire and his yielding will, a conception has occurred. The will yields to lust and when "it hath conceived," (sullabousa, second aorist active participle of sullambano, to conceive), the monstrous offspring is born. The lust (evil desire) thus becomes the mother of sin because the will surrendered to the desire, and suffered seduction. It should be observed that James does not affirm that sin sprang into life at the moment desire was experienced. It is, alas, impossible for us to purge our minds of fleeting desires, improper thoughts, and questionable ideas. These appear unwanted, and without prior notice. We must, when such occur, rigidly exclude them, and never harbor and entertain them. It is good to know that their appearance does not of itself constitute sin. The appearance of sin is described by the inspired writer under the figure of a conception and birth. And, as two people are required before a normal conception and birth can take place, so there must be the action and concurrence of two parties operating in the individual before the conception and birth of sin can follow. Desire is one, the influence of Satan over the will is the other. When the will surrenders, through the prompting of evil desire, and Satan moves into the heart, conception takes place. The natural and inevitable fruit thereof is sin.

So long as we are in the flesh it is impossible to avoid all sin. John said, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10.) One simply adds sin to sin in denying sin; it is a sin to say that one does not sin! There is (may God be praised for it) a remedy provided: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9.) These words are, of course, applicable only to those who have obeyed the gospel, and have fallen into sin after having become Christians. Sinners, who have never been children of God, must, in order to be saved from their past, or alien, sins, believe the gospel (Mark 16:15-16) ; repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38) ; confess their faith in the Lord (Romans 10:19), and be buried with him in baptism into the body of Christ (Romans 6:3-4). Then, the remedy sent out in 1 John 1:7 becomes to them available.

Children of God should ever remember that the devil, "as a roaring lion," goes about seeking whom he may devour, and thus be ever on guard against his evil devices. ( 1 Peter 4:8; 2 Corinthians 2:11.) It should grieve the hearts of Christians when they sin, and should prompt them to strenuous efforts in the future to avoid similiar lapses. It has been truly said that, "He who falls into sin is a man, he who grieves at sin is a saint, but he who boasts of sin is a demon."

We have seen that the offspring of evil desire and the will yielded to Satan is sin. James tells us that lust when it conceives "beareth sin." Such is its evil progeny. "Beareth," is from tiktei, present active indicative of tikto, the ordinary word for bringing one into the world in childbirth. Such a birth is the natural result of the conception earlier occurring. And, just as that which is conceived must eventually be born, so it is not possible to hide evil desire long in the heart, it must ultimately spring forth into life, fullborn.

and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death. Sin, when thus born, procedes to maturity, becoming "fullgrown." Far from remaining in a rudimentary state, it goes on to full development. Here, too, James continues the figure of birth to illustrate the beginning, progress, and full maturity of sin. The word translated "fullgrown," is apotelestheisa, first aorist passive particple of apoteleo, that which is complete, fully developed. There is yet another act in this drama of the conception, birth and growth of sin. When fullgrown, it brings forth death. "Bringeth forth," in the text, is from apokuei, from apo, from, and kueo, to be pregnant. This is a medical term often used in Greek literature of unusual or monstrous births. Here, at the consummation of birth, the child is dead. The birth necessarily results in death. The "death" here (thanatos) is separation from God and all that is good. The basic meaning of death is separation. Physical death results from the separation of body and spirit (James 2:26); a death in sin is separation from that which is good (1 Timothy 5:6); and a death to sin is separation from the practice of sin (Romans 6:1-4). Sin, when it becomes fully developed produces death in the individual who harbors it.

We have, in this section, one of the most remarkable pictures of sin in the Scriptures. Improper desire has seduced the will and tempted it to submit to impure contact. From this wicked union sin is conceived, and ultimately born. From babyhood it develops into vigorous manhood and slays eternally him who harbored it. This amazing genealogy each one should contemplate before launching out into a life of sin. Far from blaming God with the result of sin, he who sins should recognize the fact that he is the begettor of his own sin, and the ancestor of his own demise!

The steps of sin are as follows : (1) temptation begins when one is drawn away from the course of right and rectitude; (2) that which prompts one to move away from the position of safety and into an area where danger exists is the enticement (bait) which Satan dangles; (3) the lust which influences one conceives in the union between the evil desire and the submission of the will to Satan; (4) sin is born; (5) this sin grows to full stature; (6) its consummation is spiritual death. Thus, evil desire leads to the birth of sin; and sin, in turn, gives birth to death. Such is the remarkable description of sin so impressively outlined by James in this section. Death, as the natural consequence of sin, is often dwelt upon by the sacred writers. "For when ye were servants of sin, ye were freed in regard of righteousness. What fruit then had ye at that time in the things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of these things is death." (Romans 6:20-21.) See, also, Romans 6:22-23; Romans 8:6; Ephesians 2 : lff; Romans 5:12.

From these affirmations of James we learn that we must never dally with temptation nor entertain improper desire. He who dwells upon evil, nourishes it in his heart and suffers it to settle down in permanent abode, will eventually yield to his desires and translate them into action. Sin does not begin with normal desire. It is when this desire gets out of bounds, clamors for satisfaction, and leads its possessor into a course of action the design of which is to secure such satisfaction that the evil progeny of sin is spawned. Eve is an excellent illustration of the truth taught by James. She looked longingly upon the fruit of the tree of death; but, so long as she looked, and did not eat, sin remained in the shadows. Unable to resist the lure which Satan dangled before her eyes, she ate, Adam was induced to do likewise and the race was plunged into unspeakable misery. Achan, in spite of the specific injunction touching the spoils of Jericho, could not resist the desire for the goodly Babylonish mantle, and the wedge of gold. Said he, "When I saw among the spoil a goodly Babylonish mantle, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them. " (Joshua 7:21.) See Joshua 6:15-21; Genesis 3:1-8.

Verses 16-17

Jas 1:16-17

James 1:16-17

16 Be not deceived, my beloved brethren.-The words of this verse are closely related in thought, and should be considered with the section immediately preceding. Those to whom James wrote, identified here as his "beloved brethren," are not to allow themselves to be deceived into thinking that God originates temptation and sin in them and thus separation from him. To subscribe to such a view is to be deceived, (planasthe, literally, to wander about, to stray from the right course). Figuratively used in this instance, it is an injunction designed to keep the brethren from allowing their minds to be led away from the truth and into a sphere of thinking which would blame God for their conduct! The words, "be not deceived," are of frequent occurrence in the New Testament. (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 6:7.) Satan labors diligently to deceive the saints about sin, and he seeks to accomplish his purpose by inducing them to abandon the stable principles of the Word of Truth anchored in their minds, and to wander away from them. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 1:27; Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 3:5.) Satan successfully seduces people when he prompts them to abandon the principles of Christianity for the philosophies of men ; and many an unwary soul has been lost to the cause of Christ under the pretext of a search for truth. Ve should, of course, be ever ready to accept truth wherever found ; but we should never forget that any philosophy which is opposed to the teaching of the Scriptures is vicious and false and will, if accepted, plunge its dupes into destruction and perdition. Paul declared that all of "the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are hidden in Christ, and he warns us not to be deluded with "persuasiveness of speech" originating in the wisdom, philosophy and tradition of men. (Colossians 2:1-9.)

The warning issued by James is to his "beloved brethren." The mere fact that one is in Christ does not create immunity to deception and delusion. Were Satan able to convince the saints that God is the author of sin in them, his work would thenceforth be easy and multitudes would slide unsuspectingly into his snare. There are more than twenty-five hundred ’Warnings to the saints of the possibility of apostasy in the Scriptures. One can scarcely open the pages of the Bible without having the eyes fall upon some such injunction as the following: "Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief in falling away from the living God : but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called Today; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:12-13.) Satan deceived and deluded Eve through his subtlety, and thus thrust the human family into speakable misery (2 Corinthians 11:2); and he has, through the ages, continued this device to entrap the saints (2 Corinthians 2:11).

James regarded those to whom he wrote as "beloved brethren," (adelphoi, from "a" copulative, and "delphos," from the same womb). Here, the term denotes fellow-believers united to others by a bond of affection, of Christians constituting a single family. (Thayer.) From its literal significance of male members of the same family and with a common parentage, it has come to mean, metaphorically, those with the same ancestry spiritually, and is thus descriptive of all those who are with us in Christ, whatever their national and racial origins. It is a term of affection, denoting that close relationship which obtains between those of the same family. With God as our Father, and Christ as our elder brother, all who have obeyed the gospel sustain this relationship. Being brothers, we should conduct ourselves accordingly, bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2.) Wholly foreign to this relationship is that disposition of mind and heart which prompts brethren to bite and devour one another (Galatians 5:13-15.) "If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk. Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:25-26.) "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer ; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:14-15.)

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,---It will be observed that the noun gift occurs twice in this clause; and though both of the Greek words thus translated derive from the same original verb (didomi, to give), they differ in form, in spelling, and in meaning. In the phrase, "every good gift," the word is dosis, signifying the act of giving; in the phrase, "every perfect gift," the word is dorema, indicating the result of the act of giving, that is, the gift itself. The word "good," modifying gift, in the first part of the clause, is predicative in nature, and points to the fact that all giving is good; and the adjective "perfect" modifying gift in the second instance, (every perfect gift), emphasizes the fullness, the completeness of that which is given. Of course, the two ideas are closely related. The gift is complete because of the goodness of the giver. The motive which prompts liberality, on the part of men, may be good, but there must be lacking, in the nature of the case, the wholeness, the completeness and the thoroughness of the gift which God bestows.

Such giving and gifts as are those described above, come "from above," that is, from heaven. (James 3:15; John 3:31; John 19:11.) What is meant is that the motive which prompts such giving, as well as the gifts themselves, originate, not with men who can never approach such high ideals in giving, but with God who is in heaven. The Greek word translated "from above," in our text, is the same as that occurring in John 3:3, where Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born "anew," (anothen, margin, "from above"). All that is good ultimately derives from God, the inexhaustible source of all blessing. For this fact we should ever be grateful; and we should express and exhibit our gratitude in word and in deed daily. Many people never pause to express thanks for the bounties which they regularly receive from God’s hand. Like pigs, they eat their food, never lifting their eyes to the tree from which the ·acorns fall I A father, in the presence of his family, boasted that he offered thanks for their food every Christmas day. It is for them quite fortunate that God does not forget to feed them except on "Christmas day!"

The words, "every good gift and every perfect gift," of our text, translate a phrase which, in Greek, forms a hexameter line with a short syllable lengthened, and this has led to the supposition that this is a brief quotation from some ancient poem or early song. Brief quotations from such sources are not unknown in the New Testament. (Titus 1:2; 1 Corinthians 15:33 ; Acts 17:28.) No original source can be cited for the line which appears here, and it may simply be accidental that this particular cadence occurs. Whether it is a quotation from some ancient source not now known to us, or is an accidental metrical line is not important. In either instance, the Holy Spirit selected the words (1 Corinthians 2:13), when penned by James, and they thus became a part of the inspired deposit of truth, whatever their former usage.

coming down from the Father of lights,---This statement is to be construed with the word anothen (from above), which it explains and expands. Good giving and good gifts that are complete and perfect are from above ; they come down to us from their divine source. Again, emphasis is given to the fact that the truly valuable things available to men are not of the earth; they do not find their origin on earth, but descend (katabaino) from him who is in heaven. Inasmuch as all good things from him come down, surely simple gratitude suggests ·that we send up our thanks.

Him from whom they issue is described as "the Father of lights." "Lights," in the text, refers to the heavenly bodies-the sun, the moon and the stars-which provide light for us. God is styled the Father of these heavenly bodies because he is the ultimate source of them. The word "father," in the sense of creator, is by no means unknown in the sacred writings. (Job 38:24; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:17.) While it appears that the best exegesis regards this statement (the Father of lights) as literal, the lesson intended goes beyond the reference to literal lights in the skies and embraces all light, light both literal and figurative. God is of course, the originator of lights and light. As he produced the heavenly bodies by a wave of his omnipotent hand, so he also originates and freely bestows upon his children every perfect gift. From whatever source blessing may appear, it must ultimately be traced to him.

"Back of the loaf is the snowy flour
And back of the flour is the mill ;
And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower,
And the sun and the Father’s will."

God is light and in him "there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5.) Because God, whom man cannot see, made the lights and men can see them, some yield to the temptation to forget God and reverence the creation instead of the Creator. Through the centuries men have often paid homage to the handiwork of God in the heavens rather than to him. They have worshipped nature rather than the Creator of nature. This is sinful in the highest degree. "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18.) The things which abide are not those material matters of the earth which may be seen with the natural eye; such matters perish with the using, and must eventually suffer the dissolution which awaits all worldly things. Our interests should be centered in the things which cannot be shaken and which will remain intact amid the crash of dissolving worlds at the last day.

with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.-Continuing his illustration of the "lights" of which God is Father (creator), Jam es asserts that ( 1) there is no variation nor (2) shadow cast by turning with God, as appears to be characteristic of these "lights" (heavenly bodies). In this respect, God differs greatly from them. With him, there is no "variation" ( parallage, a word signifying the change, in position, from hour to hour, through which the sun appears to pass in its relationship to the earth). God does not reflect such variations in his dealing with us. Though the celestial bodies alter their relation to the earth, and the changes appear from day to day and from season to season, no such variation in God is noted ; he is ever constant and unvarying in his attitude toward us, and in his bestowal of good gifts upon us. "For I, Jehovah, change not. ... " (Malachi 3:6.)

Nor is there "shadow that is cast by turning" with him. The word translated "turning" here, is used in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint Version), in Job 38:33 and Deuteronomy 33:14, for the changes which appear in the relative positions of the heavenly bodies. It is as if James were saying: The phenomena of nature are, of necessity, changeable; the phenoniena of God are unchangeable. All material things are mutable; God is immutable. Though the lights of the heavens change with the hours and the seasons, he who created them changes not. It must therefore follow that only that which is good can originate with him, and he can never be the occasion of placing temptation and sin in the path of his creatures. (Verses 13-15.)

Two wonderful truths are thus affirmed of God in this section : ( 1) There is no admixture of evil in the goodness which he bestows; (2) no obscuring shadow ever falls over him, hiding his goodness. He is ever at the zenith ; he occupies the position of the sun at high noon in the steadying and unvarying light with which he shines so benignly upon the race. It is therefore beyond belief that such a one as thus described could ever lead those who are in his image astray.

Verse 18

Jas 1:18

James 1:18

18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth,-The phrase, "of his own will," is participial, and means: "willing, he brought us forth, ... " and is to be closely construed with the verses preceding. The thought runs thus: instead of regarding God as the source of temptation (and consequent sin), he it is who willed to give us life by means of the truth. The evil offspring of sin is death. God, under the same figure (conception and birth) is a parent, too. But, how vastly different the progeny! That which is born of him possesses life. This evidences the fact that the process of conversion is not accidental or of chance ; it involves the exercise of the divine will, and according to a plan previously adopted. "He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:11-13.)

This does not mean that the selection is arbitrary or that God wills to save only a predetermined number; on the contrary, it is his desire that all should be saved, and come to the full knowledge of the truth. ( 1 Timothy 2:4.) Provision has been made for all (John 3:16); the invitation has been extended to all (Matthew 11:28; Revelation 22:17); and, the gospel is applicable to all (lIatt. 28: 18-20; Mark 16:15-16). That there are those not saved is not a matter involving the opposition of God’s will to them, but of the opposition of their own wills to God: "And ye will not come unto me that ye may have life." (John 5:40.) The reason some do not come to the Lord, even though the gospel is preached to them, and the Lord’s gracious invitation is extended to them is by him thus explained: "For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing. And their eyes they have closed; lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them." (Matthew 13:15.)

That our salvation results from the free determination of the will of God does not necessitate the conclusion that his will is arbitrarily exercised, or that the choice is made independently of human agency and responsibility. The Lord calls; but he calls by the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14) ; and the gospel is to be preached to all, and may be obeyed by all (Mark 16:15-16). The saved have been chosen; but the choice was not capricious or arbitrary ; it requires belief of the truth: "But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth : whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.) God wills the salvation of all who believe his word and obey his will. (Hebrews 5:8-9.)

"He brought us forth," is "begat he us," in the King James’ Version, and, in the Greek text, apekuesen, first aorist active indicative of apokueo, the word occurring in James 1:15, and though not indicating any abnormality here, as there, it does suggest the idea that the action of birth was not the usual, natural one (of a mother) it being, in this instance, affirmed of God (a masculine personality). That the verb is aorist points to a specific act in the past which is a reference to the time when they were born again, saved. The "us" of the passage includes all the Christians to whom James wrote.

The instrument by which God effects the "new birth" is declared to be "the word of truth" (logoi aletheias, genitive), a word originating in truth. This is, of course, the gospel : "Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently : having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God which liveth and abideth. . . . And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you." (1 Peter 1:22-23; 1 Peter 1:25.) It follows, therefore, that the words, "He brought us forth by the word of truth," describe that part of the conversion process in which the word of truth (the gospel) is involved. Under the figure of birth, we are begotten and born, and so become children of God. We are begotten when we believe; and the birth process is completed when we have been baptized in water. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is begotten of God." ( 1 John 5:1.) "In Christ Jesus I begat you through the gospel." (1 Corinthians 4:16.) "Except one be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5.)

that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.-The words, "that we should be," ( eis to einai, purpose clause with the verb) indicate the aim of God’s will exercised as described in the preceding portion of the verse. The figure is that of the sheaf of firstfruits of the harvest which were offered in the passover celebration. (Leviticus 23:10 ; Deuteronomy 26:2.) The "First fruits" were a token and pledge of the fuller harvest to follow; and, as the sheaf of the wave offering presented to the Lord foreshadowed the bountiful harvest to follow, so the early disciples to whom James wrote were among the first of a vaster company which would follow them. Further, the offering was not only an earnest (part payment) of that which was to follow, it was the consecration of the entire harvest. The figure is not an unusual one in the New Testament. Paul declared that the house of Stephanas were "the firstfruits of Achaia" (1 Corinthians 16:15); and John, in The Revelation, makes mention of those who "are firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb" (Revelation 14:4). Our Lord, in triumphing over the grave and Hades, is by Paul affirmed to be "the firstfruits of them that are asleep." (1 Corinthians 15:20.)

It is not improbable that James had particularly in mind the Jewish Christians, in this verse, who were first in Christ Jesus our Lord. To the Jews were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:1), and it was long ago ordained that out of Judah the lawgiver should come (Genesis 49:10). When God’s plan was fully mature, and the Savior came into the world, it was fitting that those who had borne the banner of Jehovah through the centuries in the midst of a pagan world should enjoy the distinction of having the gospel first preached to them, of becoming the first Christians, and thus to be "a kind of firstfruits" of the Lord’s people. To the Jews in Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas said, "It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you ... . " (Acts 13:46.) This allusion to the "firstfruits" would be very meaningful to the Jews, not only from their familiarity with the Hebrew ritual regularly engaged in at the passover feast, but from the further fact that Israel herself had by her ancient prophets been referred to as ’’the first-fruits of his increase." (Jeremiah 2:3.)

The word "creatures," from ktismaton, the most comprehensive term possible, is used to indicate the relationship of these early Christians to all other beings. As such, their position was unique among all the rest of creation, including not only men, but all created beings. The whole of God’s creation partakes in the blessings of redemption, and patiently waits for the conswnmation thereof. (Romans 8:19-22.)

We learn, (1) it was God’s will that those to whom James wrote should become his children; (2) these became his children by being born by the word of truth-the gospel; (3) those who thus did became the "firstfruits" in pledge of a greater harvest.

Inasmuch as it is by the word of trnth we are brought forth into spiritual life, it is vitally important that the truth be preached, believed, and obeyed. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32.) The truth is the means to spiritual freedom; and it ought, therefore, to be preached and taught in its primitive purity without admixture of human opinion or the doctrines and commandments of men. The gospel is the hope of the world; it is the panacea of humanity’s diseases, the specific for mankind’s ills. It is a sad commentary on human nature that many people today prefer to listen to pleasing falsehoods rather than what to them is unpleasant truth. And, as there are always those who desire error rather than truth, so those can be found, who for a price, will supply the preaching desired. Paul admonished Timothy to preach the word, because the time would come when men would not "endure the sound doctrine, but having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts ; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables." (2 Timothy 4:1-4.)

What a glorious parentage is ours through being privileged to be "brought forth" (born of God). Inasmuch as God is our Father, we partake of his nature, the divine nature; and we are, in consequence, expected to conduct ourselves in keeping with our heritage. "And if ye call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to each man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning in fear: knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers ; but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ. ... " (1 Peter 1:17-19.)

Verses 19-20

Jas 1:19-20

James 1:19-27

James 1:19-20

19 Ye know this, my beloved brethren.---Whether this is an injunction, signifying, "know this," (imperative), or "ye know this," (indicative), cannot be definitely determined, inasmuch as the form for both constructions is the same, in this instance. It is likely that the Greek iste is to be construed as indicative; and, that it was James’ design to point out that his readers were familiar with the fact to which he referred in the verses preceding, and he enjoins them to act accordingly. On this hypothesis, the meaning is: You are well aware of the fact that we were brought forth into spiritual life by the word of truth; therefore, let your life, in word and in deed, reflect the knowledge you have gamed therefrom. From a general statement of their knowledge of the noble ideals which should characterize them in their acknowledged familiarity with the word of truth, the writer proceeds to detail what such involves. Here, again, those addressed are the writer’s "beloved brethren," a phrase repeatedly occurring in the Epistles. It indicates, (a) the same parentage ; (b) the closest kinship; ( c) deep and abiding affection.

But let every man be swift to bear, slow to speak, slow to wrath ----Here, the verb "let . .. be" (esto) is imperative. Jam es thus commands each of those to whom he wrote to be (a) swift to hear, (b) slow to speak; ( c) slow to wrath. The word "swift" is from the Greek tachus, occurring only ·here in the New Testament, and signifying that which is fleet of foot, quick, speedy ; and it introduces a remarkable phrase urging a fast and attentive mind, tachtts eis to (Jkousai, a ready disposition to listen. The second phrase, "slow to speak," is of similar construction, the meaning of which is, slow to begin speaking, not of course, slow while speaking! "To speak,’’ is lalesai, ingressive aorist active infinitive. "Slow to wrath," follows the injunctions to be swift to hear and slow to speak. "Wrath," ( orgen) is violent emotion resulting in uncontrolled anger and improper indignation, and renders one thus possessed wholly incapable of receiving the word of truth without which one cannot be saved. Men will not, and cannot, properly listen to God when they entertain bitterness, malice, and hatred in their hearts toward their fellows. While it is likely that these words of James primarily refer to hearing the word of God, in a secondary sense they are applicable also to that which we hear from others.

The disposition to speak rashly and thoughtlessly and not always to weigh one’s words is a besetting sin of many races and was especially characteristic of the Jewish people of the period in which James wrote. There is, therefore, much teaching in the Scriptures regarding the proper use of the tongue. (Proverbs 13:3; Proverbs 14:29; Proverbs 17:27; Ecclesiastes 5:2); and to this subject James himself devoted considerable space (James 1:26; James 3:1-18; James 4:11-12; James 5:9). It has often been observed that the writer, in this passage, gives us his version of the maxim, "Speech is silver; silence is golden." Ancient writers, both sacred and profane, have often dwelt upon the importance of constant vigilance in speech, and many interesting and pithy sayings have come down to us expressing sentiments similar to that of James: "Men have two ears, and but one tongue, that they should hear more than they speak." "The ears are always open, ever ready to receive instruction; but the tongue is surrounded with a double row of teeth, to hedge it in and to keep it within proper bounds." "How noble was the response of Xenocrates ! When he met the reproaches of others with a profound silence, some one asked him why he alone was silent. ’Because,’ says he, ’I have sometimes had occasion to regret that I have spoken, never that I was silent. . . .’ " "Talk little, and work much."

Socrates, the great Greek philosopher and educator, was once approached by a young fellow who asked the ancient sage to teach him oratory. The young man rattled away at great length; and when, at last, the philosopher was able to speak, he informed the voluble fellow that he would be required to charge him a double fee. "Why a double fee?" he asked. "Because," the famous teacher replied, "I shall have to teach you two sciences; first, how to hold your tongue, and second, how to use it." ·

Solomon said, "In the multitude of words there wanteth not transgression; but he that refraineth his lips doeth wisely." (Proverbs 10:19.) "He that guardeth his mouth keepeth his life; but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction." (Proverbs 13:3.) "See thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him." (Proverbs 29:20.) The degree to which one adheres to the precept, "Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath," will, in large measure, reveal how stable one’s character is. The respect people are disposed to give to our opinions will depend largely on the amount of thought we give to the utterance of these opinions-and not the rapidity with which we express them ! And, those who are impatient of the views of others, and who can scarcely refrain from the expression of their own, will quickly be regarded as uncharitable and unthoughful of others, and possessed of much conceit and immodesty themselves.

20 for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.-This is the reason the Holy Spirit assigns why we are to be "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Those who are full of wrath (violent, mental agitation, resulting in uncontrolled anger), are wholly unequipped to listen to the presentation of the truth; or, for that matter, to do anything that is right. One of the most famous of the Old Testament’s maxims of conduct is expressed by Micah as follows: "He hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good ; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). One who is a battleground of violent passion finds it impossible to conform to this standard of right; and the conflict which rages in such a person makes it far more difficult for those about him to serve God acceptably. A "man’s wrath," (so the Greek phrase runs), is put in contrast with "the righteousness of God." The wrath described here differs from "righteous indignation," which is, on some occasions, proper; condemned here is personal anger which, when it boils up and over, makes it impossible for those thus possessed to "work the righteousness of God," that is, the righteousness which God requires.

What is "the righteousness of God" (dikaiosmien Theou)? Thayer, in an unusually fine statement, says that righteousness, "denotes the state acceptable to God which becomes a sinner’s possession through that faith by which he embraces the grace of God offered him in the expiatory death of Jesus Christ." By faith, this lexicographer means "a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah-the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ." The same authority says that righteousness (dikaiosime) in "the broad sense," is the state of one "who is such as he ought to be, ... the condition acceptable to God." It is, then, simply and solely a state of justification established on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ and man’s acceptance thereof through the conditions required.

This lexical definition is completely and fully confirmed by affirmations of inspired writers. "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Acts 10:34-35.) Righteousness is thus that state or condition wherein one is in a right relationship with God. Our English word "righteousness," derives from the word "right," which, in turn, literally suggests that which is straight (as, for example, a straight line), and so designates a relationship with God which he approves. A "righteous man" is, therefore, one who is straight, lined up properly with God! (Psalms 119:172; 1 John 2:29.)

A simple and brief definition of righteousness is, therefore, right-doing; to be righteous one must do right. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." (1 John 3:7.) Of a certain type of character it is affirmed that he is righteous. Who is he? He that doeth righteousness. No other is. He who does righteousness is righteous; but he who is righteous is one who does right; therefore, he who does right possesses righteousness. Conversely, an unrighteous person is a perverse one ; a perverse one is an individual in a twisted (as opposed to a straight) relationship with God. It is hence clear that righteousness is that state or condition wherein one is approved of God; but God approves of those only who do right (keep his commandments) ; therefore, to possess the approval of God and the righteousness which he requires one must do right, by keeping his commandments.

Here is unmistakable evidence of the falsity of the denominational doctrine of transferred righteousness. It is by some alleged that in the process of conversion Christ transfers to the sinner the righteousness which he possesses, and thenceforth the sinner is clothed in the righteousness which Christ himself exhibits I One can only sadly wonder what the future holds for us as more and more writers among us, following the lead of denominational theologians, adopt the view of an imputation of righteousness on this basis, an idea repugnant to both reason and Scripture. It is absurd to assume that one person is good because another is. True, through the merits of Christ’s blood shed in our behalf, our guilt is cancelled and through obedience to his will we are privileged to go free ; but this is far from declaring that we thereupon become positively good in the absence of good works. There is a vast difference between (a) not imputing guilt (this, the Lord does for us) and (b) in conferring merit (this, the Lord does not) in the process of salvation. The primary import of the word translated righteousness indicates a change in position and in relationship to God, and not, on that basis alone, a life of personal purity. A pardoned criminal is no longer regarded as guilty of the crimes which led to his arrest and conviction, but he is thence by no means a valuable citizen with a long record of civic goodness back of him simply because he has been pardoned. Righteousness is right-doing. To be righteous, one must do right.

But, was not Abraham’s faith reckoned (imputed, ·counted) to him for righteousness? Yes. In the absence of further duties at the moment God accepted Abraham’s faith as an act of righteousness itself. Thus faith itself became the act of obedience, on the basis of which God accepted Abraham as in a right relationship with him. (James 2:20-22.) Did not David speak of "the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works?" (Romans 4:6.) The works contemplated here (as the context clearly shows) were the works of the law. The man to whom the Lord imputes righteousness is the one whose "iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." (Psalms 32:1-2; Romans 4:8.) Such a one actively complies with God’s plan for his forgiveness, and is thus declared righteous (justified.) We must distinguish between a righteousness imputed to (credited to) man because he has a right relationship with God through obedience to his will, and a righteousness which Christ (through his own submission to the will of the Father), is alleged to transfer to the sinner. The former the New Testament teaches; the latter is Calvinism.

But was not Christ made "righteousness" for us? (1 Corinthians 1:30.) The Lord became the means of righteousness for us; i.e., it is through him that we are privileged to receive "the gift of righteousness" (Romans 5:17); but this is accomplished through compliance with his will, and in obedience to his commandments, and not through some mysterious bestowal of merit. We should ever remember that justification does not eliminate the fact of sin ; it simply releases the sinner from the guilt thereof. The history of the act must forevermore remain. Paul, though mindful of the great grace which he had experienced, was never without the consciousness of the fact that he had persecuted the church of God and wasted it. Pardoned, saved, justified, acquitted, no longer under guilt, it now remained for him, through faithful adherence to the Lord’s will to exhibit personal righteousness, "right standing’’ with God. And so with us all. The marvelous blessing of salvation is available through Christ. He is the means of righteousness, through him we receive the gift of righteousness, and in him we partake of God’s righteousness ; i.e., the righteousness which God makes available to us, through unswerving allegiance to his will. The law of Moses was powerless to provide justification. It provided a perfect standard to which man, in sin, could never measure. A measuring cup will indicate the amount of the substance it contains, but it will not increase it; a tapeline will reveal the length of a string, but it cannot make it longer. It was, therefore, necessary that justification "apart from the law" be provided for man. This, we .rejoice to say, was accomplished in Christ.

Verses 21-25

Jas 1:21-25

James 1:21-25

21 Wherefore--That is, for the reasons just assigned. That our hearts may be properly prepared for the word which alone can supply us with the knowledge of salvation, let us eliminate every thing which would hinder or defeat its operation. A stubborn disposition is wholly foreign to that spirit of docility which must ever characterize us if we are to profit by the word in our hearts, and he who would be blessed of God must exhibit that spirit which ever says, "Speak, Lord, thy servant heareth; command, and I will obey." Only those who thus do qualify as the friends of Christ (John 1~: 4); and those who affect to know him while refusing to obey his commandments are, in the words of John, "liars" ( 1 John 2:4). Jes us reserved one of his severest rebukes for those who give lip service to him, but refuse to do what he says : "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46.)

putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness,---- "Filthiness," (ruparian, that which is dirty) occurs only here in the New Testament, but a form of the word appears in the Septuagint Translation of the Old Testament in Zechariah 3:3-4, where the reference is to filthy garments. There is, in the word, a suggestion of loathesomeness, and it seems likely that in his use of this term it was the writer’s design to create in his readers a deep sense of abhorrence of sin, all sin, any sin. Such is God’s attitude toward such, and such should also be our attitude toward it. God regards all sin as a filthy rag, disgusting and sickening, and so should we. Here is indisputable evidence of the fact (often taught in the Scriptures), that sin pollutes the soul, renders it unclean, and creates a condition in a person wholly unlike him whom we affect to serve: "Thou that art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that canst not look on perverseness." (Habakkuk 1:13.)

We should be impressed with the fact that James did not seek to soften the character of sin or ·to obscure God’s unwavering opposition to it. There is the disposition today to dally with sin, to excuse it, to resort to euphemisms in referring to it, to speak of "inhibitions," psychological weaknesses, reversions, environmental influences, hereditary factors, etc., the design of which is to render it less objectionable in the individual, and so to make sin appear to be less sinful! The New Testament writers never attempted to present the matter other than it is- filthiness and overflowing of wickedness.

"Overflowing of wickedness," (perisseean kakias, superabundance of evil), denotes that state in which the heart is filled with evil, and which exhibits itself in ungodliness of life. The picture is of such an abundance of evil in the heart that it bubbles up and overflows in its wicked manifestations. It is by some believed, and with reason, that the first of these statements, "filthiness," describes sins of the flesh; and the second, "overflowing of wickedness," sins of the heart. Obviously, while harboring malice in the heart, or allowing sin to control our members, we are wholly unfitted to receive the word of truth into our hearts and lives. We must, therefore, put all such away.

"Putting away," ( apothemenoi, aorist middle participle of apotitltemi, to put off, as one removes clothing), indicates (a) in the significance of the word the act of stripping oneself completely of every evil thought and act; (b) the tense (aorist), points to a once-for-all-act to be performed before the word can accomplish its full work in the heart; and (c) the middle voice emphasizes that the putting away is something we must do for ourselves, since God will not, and others cannot, do it for us.

receive with meekness the implanted word,---Thus, the word (a) must be received; (b) the word must be received witli meekness. The word, in the Scriptures, is often compared to seed (Luke 8:11) ; and seed, in order to germinate, must enter the soil. The seed-bed for the word of truth is the human heart; and into the heart the seed must fall ; it is powerless to spring up into life otherwise. Those with hearts comparable to the wayside soil do not receive it; or if they receive it, in the rocky, barren ground into which it falls, it soon withers and dies; or, if it is received and springs up, the thorns (cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the pleasures of this life), eventually choke it out. (Matthew 13:1-9; Matthew 13:16-23.) Only those who receive the word "into an honest and good heart" bring forth fruit. (Luke 8:15.) It would be well for each reader of these notes to ask himself or herself the question: "Do I profit by the word sown in my heart, or have I allowed my soul to become a roadway for the world until the seed (which is the word of God) cannot enter; or, if it enters is the ground so barren that it soon withers and fades; or, if it enters and grows, is it in danger of being crowded out by worldly affairs?"

The order of the words, in the Greek text, suggest a more emphatic statement than our translation, "In meekness receive ye . . . " (en prauteti in a docile manner, in contrast with the wrath earlier alluded to, often characteristic of men). One must be meek as well as pure in order for the word to have its full effect in the heart. Those who approach the study of the Scriptures with arrogance may discover the proof texts they seek (as a lawyer seeks precedents to sustain his case from previous court decisions), but such can never imbibe the spirit which pervades the holy pages thereof. One who studies the Bible ought to do so for the purpose of discovering God’s will, in order that one may first practice it in one’s own life, and then teach it to others. Our approach to it should be with the disposition of docility characteristic of little children. This, indeed, is precisely what our Lord taught: "Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me." (Matthew 18:3-5.)

No partial, superficial reception of the word will suffice. "Receive," is from dexasthe, aorist imperative, a positive, once for all action. Moreover, it is the word which is to be received. James would have no sympathy whatsoever with those who would minimize the importance of the written word, and who seek to assign to it a place of relative unimportance. The "word" is the body of truth contained in the Scriptures-the word which constitutes the Scriptures-and is that by which we are saved (James 1:21) ; born again (1 Peter 1:22-25; 1 Corinthians 4:15); directed through life (Psalms 119:105); and strengthened (1 Peter 2:1; Hebrews 5:12-14); the gospel, revealed to us in his word, is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16), and it pleases God to accomplish salvation in this way (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Further, it is the "implanted word" (ton emphuton logon); i.e., rooted, fixed, grown strong, thus emphasizing the necessity of a thorough reception of the word in the heart before it can accomplish its purpose. Other definitions of the word translated "implanted" are inborn, innate, ingrafted. The word, deposited superficially in the heart, can never properly seed and grow into a strong, healthy plant. Here again is positive proof of the absolute necessity of preaching and teaching the truth fully, firmly, and plainly, in order that it may be understood, received without reservation, and thus permitted to have its full influence in the heart. When the soil (which is the heart) is properly prepared, the seed (which is the word of God) will readily spring into spiritual life, and yield its rich fruitage in Christian activity. It is not without much significance that Paul refers to the activities of the Christian life as frnit, the happy result of seedtime, and harvest. (Galatians 5:22.)

which is able to save your souls.---The word of God is able, powerful, dynamic in its operation, from dunamenon, from dunamis, whence our words dynamic, dynamo, dynamite derive. There is power, limitless, inexhaustible power, in the word; and this power is released when received into an honest and good heart. This is in irreconcilable conflict with the view that the word of God is a dead letter, and without inherent power. It operated effectively, when used by our Lord, to still the tempestuous seas, to feed the famishing multitudes, to restore and heal broken bodies, and to raise the dead. It is, therefore, able to save the soul.

"Save," from sosai, aorist active infinitive, means much more than (though it of course also includes) the forgiveness of past, or alien, sins. James was addressing people already forgiven of their alien sins; hence, the salvation here primarily refers to a deliverance following pardon. The Greek verb means to keep safe, preserve; and this is precisely what the implanted word does for us,-it preserves us from a life of habitual sin, and it keeps us pure and holy. David said, "Thy word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalms 119:11.) We are privileged to see, in this section, a principle repeatedly taught in the sacred writings: the necessity of the concurrence of both the divine and the human wills in order to man’s salvation. The word is able to save; but, it saves only those who receive it. God wills the salvation of all men ; but men must will to be saved themselves in order for the word to work effectively in their hearts. (1 Timothy 2:4; John 5:40.)

That which the implanted word saves is the soul. The word "soul," is from the Greek psuche, a generic term, the meaning of which must be ascertained from the text in which it appears. It is variously used in the Scriptures to denote the whole person (Acts 2:41 ), the life which ends at death (Psalms 78:50), and the spirit-the immortal natur~f man (Acts 2:27). Here, the most simple explanation appears to be that Jam es refers to the immortal nature-the spirit of man-which is saved from eternal separation from God by the word received into the heart, and translated into faithful obedience to his will, in the life.

We are, therefore, to rid ourselves of all sinful defilement and with great gentleness take once for all the seeded word which is fully able to accomplish the salvation of the soul. We have seen that James sets out, as a condition precedent to the reception of the word, the removal of "all filthiness." The word "filthiness is rnparian, from rupos, that which is soiled, dirty, filthy. Another instance of the wondrous wisdom of the Scriptures, and the penetrating analyses always characteristic of the Holy Spirit in the words which he selected to convey the message of the Bible ( 1 Corinthians 2:13), is to be seen here in the fact that in classical Greek the word rupos when used in the field of medicine, has reference to wax in the ear! It is not without design that the Spirit chose this particular word, (out of many which might have been selected to convey the idea of filth or dirt), to indicate to us that sin in the soul is comparable to wax in the ear-it renders impossible the reception of the word into the heart. As wax in the ear prevents sound impulses from entering the brain, so sin in the life effectively blocks the hearing of the word and its reception into the heart. Jesus said of some in this condition: "For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them." (Matthew 13:15.) 2

22 But be ye doers of the word,--- "Be ye," (ginesthe, present middle imperative), means much more than simply be, it means "to exhibit yourselves as doers of the word." Moreover, the tense of the verb, denoting continuous action, means, "keep on demonstrating yourselves as doers of the word." Earlier in the chapter, James had emphasized that the word must be received into the heart (implanted there) in order to spring forth into spiritual life; here, he directs attention to the fact that it is not sufficient merely to hear and to receive it, one must also be obedient to it. It is significant that God has never blessed anybody in any age or dispensation because of his faith until such time as his faith exhibited itself in obedience to his will. One is not simply or solely to keep on hearing the word, or even to keep on receiving it; it must express itself in action in the life in order to bless and to save. Further, the verb is middle, emphasizing the fact that the action required is that which one must do for one’s self. Others can teach us; but we must, each one for himself, see to it that the word taught issues in life. The word "doer," (poietai), derives from poieo, a term denoting creative action. Had James intended merely to indicate that we are to be active, the word prasso, to do, to act, would have sufficed. There must, however, be more than mere mechanical action to discharge the obligations inherent in the word ; it denotes a type of action wherein the heart is exercised and where motivation results from such participation. It is noteworthy that from the word translated doer (poietai), comes our word poet. Poetry is regarded as one of the most creative fields in all literature. A faithful Christian poetizes; his life is a perpetual poem, exhibiting therein the beauty and symmetry of a harmonious life, and demonstrating always and everywhere the creative action of a productive life.

and not hearers only,---The word rendered "hearers," (akroatai), was used in the early centuries to designate those attending lectures who heard, but never became, genuine disciples. There are those, in every congregation, who attend services regularly, and who sit passively where the truth is preached, but who never profit by the word preached, nor translate into life the things heard. Many regard hearing the word as sufficient within itself, and feel no sense of obligation further. Our Lord often refuted this assumption. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. . . . Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand : and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house: and it fell ; and great was the fall thereof." (Matthew 7:21-27.) Paul said, "For not the hearers (akroatai) of the law are just before God but the doers of the law shall be justified." (Romans 2:13.) Our Lord pronounced a blessing upon those who "hear the word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:28.)

It would be well for us to take notice of the fact that the hearer only of which James speaks is not a person who listens with little or no interest; on the contrary, the word ( akroatai) denotes those who listen avidly and feel great interest in the things being presented, but who think that the blessing therein derives from the listening and who make no effort to express in life the things heard. One who audits a course in college may derive momentary benefit from the things heard, but he will not be on the stage when the diplomas are handed out! In like fashion, it is impossible for one to acquire considerable knowledge of the Scriptures by attentively listening to their presentation; but, those who make no effort to inculcate into life the principles learned will be missing when the Diplomas are handed out on the Great Examination Day.

deluding your own selves.---Those who hear, but do not, are not only without promise for the future, they are under a delusion. The word "deluding," is from paralogizomenoi, present middle participle of paralogizomai, from para, "beside," and logizomai, to "reckon," literally, to reckon sideways, and then to cheat, to deceive. Thus, a person who assumes that he can derive sufficient benefit from the word by merely listening to it simply cheats and deludes himself. The word occurs only here and in Colossians 2:4, where the meaning appears to be: "Led astray by unsound argument." He who thinks that it is enough merely to hear the word from week to week is resorting to fallacious reasoning; he is using arguments that are illogical; and, in so doing, is deceiving and deluding himself. This is not to minimize the importance of learning the truth. This, indeed, is the first step to faithful service. But, of what avail is it, though one can quote every verse in the New Testament if one practices none of them? Of what value is it to be able to silence every opponent with a thus saith the Lord, if the one so doing refuses to heed the admonitions oneself? He who thus does increases his own guilt: "For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, then, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them." (2 Peter 2:21.) The mere fact that one can quote the Great Commission does not assure salvation; it must be believed and obeyed to produce spiritual life. John said, "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 John 2:4.)

It should be observed that this verse under consideration bids us not only to do, but to be doers. The substantive is stronger than the verb; there is in the construction the suggestion of persistence and continuation. "Let this be your constant pursuit," is the meaning thereof. Such is to be continued in as if it were one’s main purpose in life, as indeed it should be. Those who hear, but do not do, delude themselves, by assuming that they shall receive the blessing from the mere fact of hearing, when in reality, the blessing is promised only to those who obey. ( 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.) Let it be remembered that Jam es is not addressing the alien sinner primarily here. These words are addressed to Christians! One who merely listens to a doctor, but never takes his course of treatment, need not hope to profit thereby; and a disciple of our Lord is by him regarded as a genuine one only if he abides in his word; i.e., conforms completely to it. (John 8:31-32.)

23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer,---The first clause is, literally, "if any one is a hearer of the word, and a not-doer . .. " thus contrasting those who hear and do with those who hear and do not. The construction is an interesting one-a condition of the first class with the statement assumed as true, and thus with the conclusion following. He who hears and does not is like the man whom James describes later in the verse. Because that which we hear, but do not allow to take root in our hearts, is soon forgotten and can never be a blessing, it is vitally important for every disciple to take special pains to see to it that the truth heard is also heeded. Otherwise, he is merely a hearer and a not-doer.

he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror:---"His natural face," is, literally, the face of his birth (prosopon tes geneseos autou.) The "mirror," to which the writer alludes was not made of glass, but of some sort of polished metal, usually copper or tin, and sometimes silver, and highly burnished to reflect. One who hears and does not is like a man (not a woman, strangely enough!) who sees the reflection of his face in the mirror. One would suppose, from the nature of the illustration, that James intended to indicate that the man idly and carelessly glanced at his face in the mirror and that the effort was so momentary and brief that there was not sufficient time for an impression to be made. On the contrary, the word "beholding" is from katanoeo, to fix the mind definitely on, to regard attentively, to take careful note of. We shall see that it was not a defective look which led to forgetfulness, but the fact that he turned from the mirror to other things!

24 for he beholdcth himself, and gocth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.---The tense of the verbs in this graphic illustration are highly significant. He looked (aorist) at himself, and has gone away (perfect active), and immediately forgot (aorist middle indicative) what kind of man he was. Thus, even the verbs of the passage provide a lifelike representation of the man who hears but does not. The man looked but did not linger; he went away, and the state of abandonment continues to the present ; and he therefore forgot the impression received when he looked. Lessons merely listened to, and not allowed to sink deeply into the heart, are quickly forgotten and they influence the life no more than a glance into a mirror. The parallels are important and should not be lost upon us. The glance into the glass represents the listener who hears the word ; the going away is the wandering of the mind from that which is heard ; and, the result, in each instance, is forgetfulness. The effort of some to see in this illustration the effect of sin in the life, such as the marks of dissipation in the countenance, is fanciful; it was simply James’ purpose to compare the quick glance and the equally speedy removal of the impression thus received with the loss sustained by the superficial hearers who listen to the word but soon forget it.

We are taught in the word to take heed how we hear as well as to be careful what we hear. This lesson our Lord taught in the parable of the sower, one of the most striking and impressive parables of the New Testament. (Matthew 13:1-9; Matthew 13:19-23; Luke 8:4-15.) The hearer sustains a tremendous responsibility to translate into life the lessons which he learns; and he must answer in judgment for his increased opportunities. (Matthew 11:21-24; 2 Peter 2:20-22.) Nor, are those who teach and preach the word without great responsibility. (James 3:1.) It is the obligation of all of those who thus do to present the truth in interesting and simple fashion so that those who hear may readily grasp it. Slovenliness, whether in the pulpit or in the pew, is inexcusable, highly objectionable to God, and a serious barrier to the spread of the gospel.

25 But he that looketh into the perfect law,---Here begins the application of the illustration of the man who looks but forgets his reflection in the mirror, set out in verses 23, 24. It is presented as a contrast, as evidenced by the word "but" with which the verse begins. Actually, the illustration of the mirror is mingled with the lesson and the figure is dropped. A man looks into his mirror and for a moment sees his reflection, but passes on, forgetting what he saw. Such is characteristic of one who hears the word of truth, but soon forgets it, and is thus wholly uninfluenced by it. The genuine listener is far more interested. The verb "looketh" clearly indicates this. It is from parakupsas, aorist active participle, from parakupto, to stoop and look, to gaze intently. It is the term used to describe the actions of Peter and Mary as they peered into the empty tomb of Christ on the morning of his resurrection. (John 20:5; John 20:11.) It describes, in vivid detail, one who stoops down, as it were, in order to get the closest possible look; and, as used in our text, denotes one who is highly interested in the word of truth. It is a stronger term, and indicates a much more minute look, than that suggested by "beholding" in verse 24. It reveals (a) an abiding interest on the part of the viewer; (b) a recognition that there is something vitally important to see. It is this disposition which characterizes the interested listener.

That into which such a one intently looks is "the perfect law." It is well to observe first that it is law into which one is to look. Jam es would be utterly without sympathy with that school of thought which alleges that the Old Testament consisted wholly of law, but no grace; the New Testament wholly of grace, but no law! Law is "a rule of action"; to insist that there is no law in the new covenant is to urge that there is no rule by which we are to walk today. In complete contrast with such a view, there is a "law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 9:21); a "law of the Spirit of life" (Romans 8:2) ; a "law of liberty" (James 1:25; James 2:12) ; the "law of love" (Romans 13:10) ; and, to insist that there is no law in the New Testament is (a) in conflict with these plain affirmations of inspiration; (b) implies that we are without an enforceable standard of conduct; and ( c) disregards the significance of the word law.

But did not Paul declare that children of God are not under law, but under grace? (Romans 6:14.) The statement, "Ye are not under law, but under grace," is either (a) limited by the context; or (b) it is not. If it is not, Christians are a lawless people. Those who are under no law are lawless. It is absurd to affirm, in one breath, that children of God are not under law, any law, law of any kind, and then to concede that they are under restraint. Law is restraint. Those who are restrained are under law. Where there is no law there is no restraint. Moreover, those who are without law are without sin. Sin is the transgression of the law. "Where there is no law, neither is there transgression." (Romans 4:15.) Where there is no law, there is nothing to transgress; where there is nothing to transgress, there is no sin. Hence, where there is no law, there is no sin. This conclusion is irresistible. What is sin? It is lawlessness. ( 1 John 3:4.) What is lawlessness? Lawlessness is an offense against law. But, where there is no law, there can be no offense against it. Those incapable of offending are either (a) perfect, thus above law; or (b) they are wholly without Jaw. How can one transgress that which does not exist? We are under some law; or, we are not. If we are not, then it is impossible for us to sin; if we are under some sort of law, then those who affirm otherwise, are in grave error.

That Paul, in the passage alluded to, (Romans 6:14), did not intend to affirm that children of God are wholly without law of any kind is evident from (a) the fact that he himself said that we are under law to Christ and to God (1 Corinthians 9:21) ; and (b) from the context in which the statement appears. The thesis of H.omans is that justification is through the system of faith which originated with Christ, and not by means of the law of Moses. (Romans 1:16-17.) In much detail, and with many contrasts, does he pursue this argument from Romans 1:13 through 8:25. The law which the Gentiles did not have (2: 12-16), was the law of Moses. That upon which the Jew rested, in which he found instruction, gloried in, and often transgressed (2:17-24), was the Law of Moses. The ordinances of the law (2:25-28), were of the law of Moses. The works of the law (3:19, 20), which could not justify, were the works of the law of Moses. The righteousness, in Christ, apart from the law (2:21-26), is that which is apart from the law of Moses. The law of works, contrasted with the law of faith (Romans 3:27-28), was the law of Moses. The law which issued in, and was established by faith (4:31), was the law of Moses. The blessing pronounced upon Abraham, because of his faith, (cited by the apostle to sustain the view that justification was not by the law of Moses), which was exercised anterior to the giving of the Law (4:9-14), was declared to be apart from, and before the law of Moses. The law to which the Jews were made dead, in order that they might properly be joined to Christ (Romans 7:1-6), was the Jaw of Moses. The law which said, "Thou shalt not covet" (Romans 7:7), was the law of Moses. The commandment, which Paul found to be death to him (Romans 7:7-25), was the law of Moses. The law which was weak, through the flesh (Romans 8:2), was the law of Moses. It is, therefore, an exceedingly careless and confused exegesis which would take from such a context a statement which says, "For ye are not under law, but under grace," and deny that the law referred to is the law of Moses! Here, the contrast intended is exactly the same as that of John 1:17 : "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jes us Christ." The conclusion is irresistible that the statement, (Romans 6:14 : "for ye are not under law, but under grace,") is limited to the contextual significance of the term; and, that Paul, continuing his thesis that Christians are not under the law of Moses, but are, in this dispensation, wholly answerable to Christ, meant by the statement, You are not tmder the law of Moses; yot’ are am.enable to Christ through the system of grace originating with hi-ni. This is, however, far from affirming that, in consequence, Christians are not under any law today. (Galatians 6:2; James 2:12; 1 Corinthians 9:21.)

Children of God have been, by the precious blood of Christ, redeemed from the curse of the law (of Moses), and are privileged, in Christ, to share in the blessings of salvation available through conformity to "the law of the Spirit of life." (Romans 8:2.) Through the freedom from the law of Moses children of God today enjoy, they may pursue their obligations under the law of love, realizing that the law by which they shall be judged (James 2:12), is not one of slavery, but one of freedom. By this rule (of law), let us ever walk. (Galatians 6:16.)

The law, into which Christians are to look intently is a perfect one. "Perfect," in this passage, is from teleion, from telos, end, thus indicating, completeness, fullness, wholeness. The law of Christ is full, complete, embodying all that is necessary to accomplish its purpose.

the law of liberty,---This statement is further explanatory of why the law is designated as perfect, in the statement preceding. It is law, it is a perfect law, it is a perfect law of liberty. It is law, because it is "a rule of action" the design of which is to govern our lives; it is a perfect law, because it is (a) without defect; (b) it is all-sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was designed. It is a law of liberty, because obedience thereto sets one free from the bondage of sin and Satan, and spiritual death.

The view obtains with some that law and liberty are contradictory terms. The Holy Spirit, through James, envisioned no such difficulty. With him it is perfectly consistent to speak of law and liberty in the same breath, and to join them in the same phrase. Indeed, there can be true liberty only where there is law; law is restraint; where there is no restraint there is the most hopeless and abject slavery. A dope addict, for example, defies law, and thus operates without restraint, and thereby suffers the most rigorous bondage. Denominational theologians, laboring under the prepossessions of their creeds, seek to eliminate all law from God’s plan today, and in this fashion attempt to avoid the essentiality of baptism, and other acts of obedience, as conditions precedent to the forgiveness of sins.

It is by such contended that law excludes grace; and that to insist on adherence to law, as a condition of salvation, makes the redemptive plan a system of works instead of faith. It is strange that those who thus reason (and who place such great confidence in the efficacy of faith, apart from all work) fail to observe that on this hypothesis, faith itself is excluded! "They said therefore unto him, What must we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John 6:28-29.) Belief itself is thus declared to be a work of God. It is, therefore, highhanded presumption on the one hand, and a denial of the plain affirmations of Scripture, on the other, to insist that there is efficacy in one work of God (faith), but not in another (baptism) in order to salvation. The truth is, neither is efficacious in obtaining salvation for us ; we are saved on the merits of Christ’s blood shed in our behalf, but appropriated on compliance with the conditions which the Lord himself gave. These are belief in his deity (Mark 16:15-16), repentance from every sin (Luke 13:3). confession of him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and baptism in water (Acts 2:38). The Lord saves us; but he saves us only when we believe, repent, confess and are baptized in water for the remission of sins! To allege that such is legalism is to level the charge against the Lord himself who is the author of the plan oi salvation applicable to us today.

To object to this on the ground that it involves a plan is absurd; a "plan" is "a proposed method of action or procedure," (Webster) ; the Lord requires of us the foregoing "method oi action, or procedure" in order to our salvation. To charge that emphasis on the Plan is to minimize the Man is opposed to common sense ; we magnify the Man in exact ratio to the respect we exhibit for his Plan. The confidence we have in our physician is indicated by the degree of faithfulness which characterizes our adherence to his instructions. We evidence our respect for Christ in the care we exercise in doing what he said. We honor the Man in respecting and obeying the Plan! The effort to draw away attention from the plan on the allegation that such should be focussed on the Man usually has as its aim deemphasis of the commands of Christ, particularly baptism. We implore our readers to avoid and repudiate this hurtful and dangerous heresy. If it is legalism to insist that every command of Christ should be equally respected and faithfully obeyed, then let us all be legalists I Far better this than to deny the plain affirmations of his word and thus, in effect, to become infidels!

and so continueth,---It is not enough merely to look, or to look intently into the "perfect law of liberty"; one must continue therein. "Continueth," is from parameinas, an aorist active participle, meaning to "stay close." It is to be closely construed with parakupsas, "to look into," in the preceding clause of the verse. The "law of liberty" is set out in the New Testament; and, one who has the proper attitude toward it will stay close to it; i.e., he is never far from contemplation thereon, and he returns again and again to that in which he finds chief delight. In harmony with the Psalmist’s observation, such a one’s delight "is in the law of Jehovah, and on his law doth he meditate day and night." It is psychologically true that we forget more in the first eight hours after the study of a lesson, than we do in the three weeks following; and it is, therefore, of prime importance that we study regularly and review frequently the matters studied. It is interesting to note the relation which obtains between the approach which Jam es mentions, and the resulting action : The good hearer (1) looks deeply and with much thought into the Scriptures; (2) he remains with them, not allowing matters of the world to distract him from his study, nor to take from him that which he has learned.

being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh,---"A hearer that forgetteth," is one whose disposition is to hear and to forget; such is characteristic of him; and such he always does. He is simply a forgetful hearer. Many are in this class today. They sit quietly and politely under the sound of gospel preaching, but their thoughts are far away and on material matters, and the word of truth finds no room to settle down and stay in hearts already filled with worldly affairs. The "doer that worketh," (alla poietes ergon, genitive of description), is literally a "doer of work," one whose characteristic is to work. Thus, people with totally opposite dispositions are here contrasted: (a) the hearer who forgets; (b) the hearer who puts into practice the things heard. Only the latter is promised blessing.

this man shall be blessed in his doing.---Blessedness belongs only to those who are obedient to the Lord’s will. Jesus said, "If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them." (John 13:17.) There is no promise in the word of truth to indolent and indifferent individuals. Both by precept and by example our Lord emphasized the essentiality of faithful obedience to his will as a prerequisite to blessing.

Let us then be impressed with two things in this section of James: (1) There is a law of liberty to which all are today answerable; (2) this law of liberty is perfect. It is a law of liberty because it enables the ones obedient thereto to enjoy true freedom. Far from enslaving men, the law of God liberates them, enabling them to be truly free. The ancient Greeks were agreed on this premise and often expressed themselves to this end. "To obey God is liberty," said the scholarly Seneca. The Stoics

Verses 26-27

Jas 1:26-27

James 1:26-27

26 If any man thinketh himself to be religious,---Verses 20-25 are an inspired commentary on James 1:19. These verses deal particularly with being "swift to hear," mentioned there. Verse 26 begins with the consideration of another portion of verse 19, "slow to speak." "Ii any man thinketh," is a condition of the first class. "Thinketh," from dokei, has the marginal reading, "or seemeth to be," and, "thinketh," in the text, or seemeth (a less likely rendering) equally make good sense. The latter would refer to the impression such a one would make upon others ; the former, the impression entertained by oneself, the more likely meaning here. The context suggests that the reference is to the man’s attitude toward himself, rather than as he may appear to others. It is quite possible for one to deem himself religious when he is far from such. We shall see later in more detail that the reason for this deception is that such a one fails to exercise the control over his speech which he should, thus nullifying his claim to effective religion.

"Religious," from threskos, derived from thrcskeia, designates piety as it manifests itself outwardly-external devotion. It includes such activities as public prayer, observance of the Lord’s supper, church attendance, and the like. There is in the word ;;ome suggestion of scrupulosity, the disposition to be particularly concerned with the most minute details; and it is very possible for one to be extremely careful in such activities and at other times to indulge in unbridled speech highly displeasing to God. In these one may engage quite freely, yet unacceptably, and under a delusion regarding one’s true condition. One may think himself to be wholly pleasing to God, in these respects, yet fail in others, and so be out of harmony with the Creator. We thus learn that however scrupulous one may be in the observance of the outward forms of religious activity, if one does not control the tongue one is self deceived and displeasing to God. It is the design of Christianity to bring our whole being into harmony with Jehovah; and, if the tongue is unrestrained, this is sufficient evidence that in such a person the influence which Christianity normally exercises is wanting, and the man’s religion is vain.

while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man’s religion is vain.---"Bridleth," (chalinagogeo, from chalinos, a bridle, and ago, to lead) graphically portrays a man putting a bridle in his own mouth, and not in another. He who does not bridle (exercise complete control of) his tongue is, in consequence, deceived, and has a religion that is vain. "Deceived," here is from apaton, present active participle of apatao, to deceive, trick. Such a one is not only deceived ; he keeps on tricking himself under the delusion that he is an acceptable religious character. "Religion," from threskeia, is devotion in outward manifestation ; and is translated "worshipping" in Colossians 2:18. The word "worshipping," in this instance has, .in the American Standard Version, a footnote which says, "The Greek word denotes an act of reverence, whether paid to a creature, or to the Creator." This emphasizes that the word means outward devotion, external religious actions.

Such religion is "vain,’’ mataios, empty, valueless, without benefit to man, and unacceptable to God. The word thus translated indicates that which fails to produce the desired result and is thus fruitless. It follows, therefore, that however punctual in the performance of the external duties of Christianity one may be, if the tongue is not rigidly controlled, such a one’s religion is profitless and vain. This is a lesson sorely needed. There is the disposition to feel that it is enough if one conforms to the rituals and ceremonials of Christianity; and but little importance, in the minds of many, attaches to the condition of heart characteristic of those participating. Some religions, indeed, are founded on the premise that a mere profession is sufficient, and that the blessing of God falls upon those who engage in a prescribed number of devotions without regard to the condition of heart of those thus engaging. This persistent view Jesus repeatedly refuted. Among the final warnings issued in the Sermon on the Mount, he said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, 1 never knew you : depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-22.) Of others similarly influenced, it was said, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matthew 15:8-9.)

It will be seen that the reason such religion is vain is that it does not please God. Though it highly pleases the worshipper, unless God is pleased, no blessing derives therefrom. It is the end and aim of religion to satisfy the requirements of Jehovah ; and when men follow a course the design of which is to please them, on the assumption that such is sufficient to please God, they are under a delusion. We are assured of pleasing God only when we do exactly what he said in his word and that witbout addition, without subtraction, without modification.

27 Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this,---The adjectives "pure," and "undefiled," describes an approved kind of religion, now to be contrasted, by James, with the "vain" religion characteristic of a person with an unbridled tongue and a deceived heart. "Pure," from kathara, denotes that which is clean ; "undefiled," from amiantos, that which is without contamination. The two words often appear together ; and they evidence the fact that the religion which pleases God is in sharp contrast with the devotions which rely, for their efficacy, on ritual and ceremonial, and are without regard for the purity of heart and the sincerity of soul which the New Testament throughout enjoins. It is idle for one to expect God to be pleased with outward acts of religion when the heart is not pure. (Matthew 5:8.) The disposition to feel that mere mechanical performances suffices is a persistent and stubborn one, and is often inveighed against by writers in both of the Testaments. Against this unwarranted assumption Micah thundered in one of the most impressive passages in the Old Testament: "Wnerewith shall I come before Jehovah, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good ; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:7-8.) Our Lord’s most severe denunciations were reserved for religious men who made long prayers, but who devoured widow’s houses! (Matthew 23:25-26.)

The religion contemplated here is "before our God and Father." "Before," is from para, by the side of, i.e., the rule of measurement which God keeps, as it were, by his side, to determine such. Whatever men may affirm regarding the attributes and characteristics of religion, this passage is God’s standard; and, of course, the only right one. He is "our" God and is further identified, in the passage, as "Father," quite significantly in view of the injunction regarding fatherless ones and widows in need: "His name is Jehovah; and exult ye before him. A father of the fatherless, and a judge of widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families ... " (margin, niaketh the solitary to dwell in a house). (Psalms 68:4-5.) "Jehovah preserveth the sojourners: he upholdeth the fatherless and widow, but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down." (Psalms 146:9.)

We have earlier observed that the word translated religion (threskia) denotes external actions, outward devotions. This, then emphasizes the fact that benevolence is by our Lord regarded as worship, and that those who neglect to provide for the fatherless and widow, however punctilious they may be in the observance of the visible forms of worship, such as prayer, singing, the Lord’s supper, and the like, are without the approval of God. What is "pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father"? It is "this," lzaute, a demonstrative pronoun, in agreement with "religion" (threskeia):

to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,--- "To visit," is from episkeptesthai, present middle infinitive of episkeptomai, to see, to inspect, with a view of assisting. It is used figuratively here to designate the assistance which pure and undefiled religion requires of the Lord’s people regarding "the fatherless and widows." It is quite obviously not limited to a social call; an orphaned or abandoned child would find little solace in such ! God "visited" his people by sending his Son into the world to bless and to save them (Luke 1:68) ; the "fatherless and widow" are "visited" when we do what we can to comfort and sustain them. The infinitive "to visit," is in the present tense, thus indicating a continuous and habitual action, "Keep on visiting the fatherless and widow .... " Jesus said, "For ye have the poor always with you, and whensoever ye will ye can do them good .... " (Mark 14:7.) The obligation remains so long as the need continues ; and, since the need always exists, the obligation continues.

The "fatherless," (orphanous) are those "bereft of parents," whether because of death, disease, divorce, desertion or delinquency; children without parents, children whose parents either cannot, or will not, provide for them fall within the purview of this word. The "widows" (cheras) are women who have lost their husbands (either by death or desertion), and are without the means of support. It is interesting to observe that the word has a metaphorical significance of abandonment; i.e., of one forsaken. (Cf. Revelation 18:7.) The phrase, "in their affliction," describes the status of both fatherless and widows, and that which necessitates the "visiting." James does not, of course, imply here that orphaned children with a trust fund set up for their support or rich widows are to be provided for financially. Those to be "visited" (sustained and supported) are children without parents to provide (for any of the reasons above designated), and widows in destitution.

There are those who have objected to the orphan homes among us on the ground that there are children in them with one or more parents living ; and, that such children are not orphans. This objection is wholly without merit in that (a) it disregards the meaning of the word orphanos, translated fatherless (see above) ; (b) such children are often the most destitute and needy of any. Every one recognizes the needs of a child which suffers the loss of both parents in death, and loving arms are quickly outstretched to receive it, but the truly destitute child is the one whose parents either will not, or cannot, provide but because they live others cannot take the children into their own homes and support thein. Here, especially, the legal homes (homes such as the Tennessee Orphan Home, set up in harmony with state law, and operated accordingly), fulfill a need which private homes simply cannot meet. A child with worthless parents, on becoming a ward of the state, can seldom be placed in a private home; the children our "orphan" homes receive in this category would, did we not have such homes, go into Catholic or denominational institutions.

It is alleged that this passage is exclusively individual; i.e., the duties here enjoined are obligatory upon individuals only, and that the church cannot scripturally participate in such. The objection is invalid because (a) there is nothing in the passage or its context which justifies such a conclusion; if it be urged that James has in mind only the individual from his use of the word "oneself," in the final clause of the verse, it should be noted that the context deals with the "church assembly" (James 2 :lff), in the verses following which, as James penned the statement, was without chapter and verse division; (b) such a conclusion would mean that the church is forbidden to practice pure and undefiled religion ; (c) such would require that each individual member of the church must, if able, take at least two orphans and at least two widows (the words are plural), into his own home and support them, in order to engage in pure and undefiled religion; (d) If it is alleged that James designates by the word "oneself" in the last clause of the verse a duty which only an individual may perform, and which bears no relationship to church duties, would not Paul’s statement, "But let a man prove himselfJ and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body" exclude the church? (1 Corinthians 11:28-29.) If "oneself" in James 1:27, excludes the church from all participation in the matters mentioned, why would not "himself" from the same mode of reasoning, eliminate the Lord’s supper from church action? Is the Lord’s supper exclusively individual action, and from which the church must abstain? If not, why does "oneself," eliminate it, but "himself" include it? The effort to exclude the church from such participation, on the basis of this argument, is obviously a failure!

The truth is, it was not James’ design to indicate the who in the passage under study, but the what. It was doubtless assumed by him that those to whom he wrote would understand that these injunctions were obligatory- upon them whether collectively or individually. However, poor one may be, one who belongs to a congregation which supports the fatherless and widow, participates therein, inasmuch as we are all mmebers of the same body. (1 Corinthians 12 :lff.) Paul designates the who in 1 Timothy 5:16, when he charged the church with the responsibility of providing for the widow "indeed." Since widows and orphans are to be provided for some way, and inasmuch as Paul designates that such is the responsibility of the church, the church may properly provide funds to support the destitute. So Paul taught in Galatians 6:10 : "So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, especially toward them that are of the household of the faith." The effort to make this passage exclusively individual is absurd; it requires the conclusion that Paul, in a letter specifically addressed to "the churches of Galatia" (Galatians 1:2), gave them instruction therein which it wotdd be sinful for these chitrches to follow! It is clearly the responsibility of the church to provide for the needy. (James 1:27; Galatians 6:10; 1 Timothy 5:16.)

Whether the church supports the needy in a legal home (one licensed by the state for the purpose of providing for the destitute), operating in harmony with state law, as in the case of the homes for the fatherless and the aged being operated by faithful Christian men and women and supported by the churches of Christ, or in a natural ’home (their own, or some others), the principle is precisely the same. A great (though temporary) need arose in the Jerusalem church, shortly after the day of Pentecost, which the disciples of that congregation sacrificially met by selling their possessions and placing the proceeds thereof into the hands of the apostles to be disbursed for the poor among them as the need arose. (Acts 6:1-6.) The needy thus provided for continued to exercise the autonomy of their families; the mere fact that they were being thus supported does not mean that the church took these homes into the congregations where the elders exercised oversight of the family structure in the same manner as they oversaw the operation of the Bible school. The church and the home are separate institutions; each has its distinctive and peculiar duties; and, in this area the church cannot properly usurp the functions of the home. To the home God assigned the duties and responsibilities of child care; the church was not organized to engage in such. The hotne cannot scripturally operate as a church; neither can the church operate as a home. When the home falls into the need, it is the duty of the church to come to its aid; but, in so doing, it does not dissolve the home, and assume its functions. The church has no more right to attempt to operate as a home than it does as a state! The doctrine of the union of church and state is Catholicism ; the theory that the church can take over the home and operate it as a part of the church, is hobbyism.

The "orphan homes" (the term is a misnomer, the ·children received into them are no longer, orphans; i.e., bereft of parental care, but are being lovingly cared for by tender, Christian hands, and supported by the churches of Christ), are not in conflkt with the church, because these institutions are not doing the work of the church, they are performing the functions of the home; they are not in conflict with the home, because the home, which they replace for the child, is gone. What is an "orphan" home? It is the home which the child had, but lost, and which has been restored. It is God’s will that "the solitary" should be placed "in families" (Psalms 68:6), and this is precisely what is done for them when they are placed in these homes and are provided for there. It follows, therefore, that these homes, every one of them today being supported by the churches of Christ, are scriptural ones, and deserving of our liberal financial support, our prayers and our encouragement. May the "God of the fatherless and the judge of widows" bless every one of them.

and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.---This is the second aspect of the religion (outward devotion) which is pure and undefiled. "To keep," (terein, present active infinitive), means to keep on keeping oneself unspotted from the world! Children of God are members of the church ( ecclesia, from ek, out of, and kaleo, to call); and have been called out from the world; they are, therefore not to love it (1 John 2:15), to have friendship with it (James 4:4), but to separate themselves from it. The "world," (kosmos) denotes that which is peculiar to this existence, in contrast with the realm of the spirit; the domain of Satan, that over which he rules, and. in which his spirit is the dominating factor. It is the world of the unbelieving, the corrupt of heart and life; and Christians are to have no concourse with those who are of it, lest they suffer contamination. One keeps "unspotted" from the world by not allowing the spots of the world to be transferred to him. One cannot come into contact with dirt, without becoming dirty; in like fashion, it is impossible to participate in the things of the world, without being worldly. Paul solemnly admonished: "Have no fellowship (partnership, joint participation) with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove (expose, bring to light) them." (Ephesians 5:11.) Paul’s admonition to Timothy, "Keep thyself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22), is as applicable to all of us today, as to him to whom it was originally penned. Only those who thus do, shall see God. (Matthew 5:8.) "Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1.) "But like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16.)

Discussion Questions on James Chapter One

(The question numbers refer to the verse number.)

1. Which James is the author of this book?
What is a “bond servant”?
Is this book addressed to Jews or Christians?
Who are the “12 tribes” mentioned here?
Where do they live?

2. What is the meaning of the word “temptation”?
Is “temptation” used in more than one way in the NT?
Could temptation be a trial or a testing in this passage?
What does 1 Corinthians 10:13 teach about temptations?
How can temptation be a joy?
Define: Joy
What is the difference in joy and happiness?

3. How is our faith tested?
What is a definition of patience?
How does faith produce patience?

4. How does patience make us perfect?
How does patience work?
Does “perfect” mean without flaw or error?
Can we say that we lack nothing?
Does “nothing” include material things?
Is this verse talking about having all spiritual needs met?

5. What is wisdom?
Can we get wisdom from God by asking for it?
How do we receive wisdom?
What part does experience and knowledge have in our wisdom?

6. Why is doubt dangerous?
List some reasons we begin to doubt.
How do we ask in faith?
Explain how we are like a ship tossed by the wind.

7. Why do we NOT get what we seek from the Lord?
Why would God not answer or prayer?
Why do we not ask for what we need from God?

8. What is a double-minded person?
Why are we double-minded in some situations?
How is the double-minded person unstable?

9. Who is a lowly brother?
Is there anything wrong with being poor?
When is the lowly brother be exalted?
How does exaltation come?

10. Who is rich?
How are the rich humiliated?
Is there anything wrong with being rich?
What is the point of the flower that passes away?
Why is wealth said to be temporary?

11. What is the message of this verse?
Does this passage teach that beauty fades?
How does this illustration apply to the rich?

12. How do we endure temptation?
What is the meaning of “temptation” in this verse?
What is the crown of life?
Who will receive the crown of life?
When do we get this crown? (2 Timothy 4:8)

13. What does “temp” mean in this verse?
Does God tempt us?
Why isn’t it God’s fault when we are tempted?
If God does not tempt me, how am I tempted?
Explain Genesis 22:1
Can we tempt God?
Compare with Deuteronomy 6:16 and Matthew 4:7.

14. Define “lust”.
How does lust draw us away?

15. What is the definition of sin?
Study 1 John 3:4; Romans 3:23; James 4:17.
What are sins of “omission” and “commission”?
How does lust give birth to sin?
How does sin “grow up”?
Why does sin result in death?
In the Garden of Eden, did sin result in physical or spiritual death?
What kind of “death” is meant in this verse?

16. Why are we given a warning about being deceived?
How are brethren deceived?
Does this verse refer to the passage above OR the statement to follow?

17. Where do all good things come from?
What is “good” in this verse?
Explain how God is the “Father of lights”?
What is meant by the expression “no variation”?
What is the significance of having no “shadow of turning”?

18. How is our salvation the will of God?
What is the “word of truth” mentioned here?

How are we the first fruits of his creatures?
What does “first fruits” mean in this verse?

Study 1 Corinthians 15:23 and Revelation 14:4

19. Why should we be swift to hear?
Hear what?
What does the word “hear” mean?
What is the intent of “slow to speak”?
Why should we be slow to wrath?
Is there a difference in wrath and anger?

20. What are the results of wrath?
Can one be filled with wrath and still live righteously?
Is it always a sin to be angry?
Was Jesus ever angry? (See Mark 3:5)

21. What is meant by filthiness?
Define: wickedness.
What is meekness?
Is meekness a sign of weakness?
What is the implanted word?
How is the word implanted?
How does the word save our souls?
What else “saves” us? Make a list of the things that save.

22. Why are we to be doers?
Are we saved by faith OR doing the will of God?
How can we be hearers only?
Explain how we deceive ourselves?

23. What is the purpose of looking in a mirror?
How can you identify a hearer only?
How can you tell if one is a hearer AND doer?

24. How do we forget what kind of person we are?
Why do we try to forget what kind of person we are?
In what way do we observe ourselves?
Do we see ourselves differently that others see us?
How does an anorexic see themselves?

25. What is the perfect law of liberty?
How can it be liberty and be law at the same time?
What is required for us to “continue” in this law?
What is implied about not continuing in the law?
Why are we forgetful hearers?
How are we blessed in keeping the law?

26. Define – Religious
Can we “seem” to be religious without it being genuine?
Study Matthew 23:14.
How do we bridle our tongue?
Name some ways we deceive our hearts.
Why is this person’s religion useless?

27. What makes religion pure?
Explain how religion can be defiled.
What does it mean to “visit” widows and orphans?
What is an “orphan” in this passage?
Study this word in John 14:18.
Can we keep unspotted from the world?
How can we live IN the world and not be spotted BY the world?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on James 1". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/james-1.html.
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