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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
James 1

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

James (Ιακωβος). Grecised form (nominative absolute) of the Hebrew Ιακωβ (so LXX). Common name among the Jews, and this man in Josephus (Ant. XX.9.1) and three others of this name in Josephus also.

Servant (δουλος). Bond-servant or slave as Paul (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1).

Of the Lord Jesus Christ (κυριου Ιησου Χριστου). Here on a par with God (θεου) and calls himself not αδελφος (brother) of Jesus, but δουλος. The three terms here as in James 2:1 have their full significance: Jesus is the Messiah and Lord. James is not an Ebionite. He accepts the deity of Jesus his brother, difficult as it was for him to do so. The word κυριος is frequent in the LXX for Elohim and Jahweh as the Romans applied it to the emperor in their emperor worship. See 1 Corinthians 12:3 for Κυριος Ιησους and Philippians 2:11 for Κυριος Ιησους Χριστος.

To the twelve tribes (ταις δωδεκα φυλαις). Dative case. The expression means "Israel in its fulness and completeness" (Hort), regarded as a unity (Acts 26:7) with no conception of any "lost" tribes.

Which are of the Dispersion (ταις εν τη διασπορα). "Those in the Dispersion" (repeated article). The term appears in Deuteronomy 28:25 (LXX) and comes from διασπειρω, to scatter (sow) abroad. In its literal sense we have it in John 7:34, but here and in 1 Peter 1:1 Christian Jews are chiefly, if not wholly, in view. The Jews at this period were roughly divided into Palestinian Jews (chiefly agriculturists) and Jews of the Dispersion (dwellers in cities and mainly traders). In Palestine Aramaic was spoken as a rule, while in the Western Diaspora the language was Greek (Koine, LXX), though the Eastern Diaspora spoke Aramaic and Syriac. The Jews of the Diaspora were compelled to compare their religion with the various cults around them (comparative religion) and had a wider outlook on life. James writes thus in cultural Koine but in the Hebraic tone.

Greeting (χαιρειν). Absolute infinitive (present active of χαιρω) as in Acts 15:23 (the Epistle to Antioch and the churches of Syria and Galatia). It is the usual idiom in the thousands of papyri letters known to us, but in no other New Testament letter. But note χαιρειν λεγετε in 2 John 1:10; 2 John 1:11.

Verse 2

Count it (ηγησασθε). First aorist middle imperative of ηγεομα, old verb to consider. Do it now and once for all.

All joy (πασαν χαραν). "Whole joy," " unmixed joy," as in Philippians 2:29. Not just "some joy" along with much grief.

When (οταν). "Whenever," indefinite temporal conjunction.

Ye fall into (περιπεσητε). Second aorist active subjunctive (with the indefinite οταν) from περιπιπτω, literally to fall around (into the midst of), to fall among as in Luke 10:30 ληισταις περιεπεσεν (he fell among robbers). Only other N.T. example of this old compound is in Acts 27:41. Thucydides uses it of falling into affliction. It is the picture of being surrounded (περ) by trials.

Manifold temptations (πειρασμοις ποικιλοις). Associative instrumental case. The English word temptation is Latin and originally meant trials whether good or bad, but the evil sense has monopolized the word in our modern English, though we still say "attempt." The word πειρασμος (from πειραζω, late form for the old πειραω as in Acts 26:21, both in good sense as in John 6:6, and in bad sense as in Matthew 16:1) does not occur outside of the LXX and the N.T. except in Dioscorides (A.D. 100?) of experiments on diseases. "Trials" is clearly the meaning here, but the evil sense appears in verse James 1:12 (clearly in πειραζω in verse James 1:13) and so in Hebrews 3:8. Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to evil. The adjective ποικιλος (manifold) is as old as Homer and means variegated, many coloured as in Matthew 4:24; 2 Timothy 3:6; Hebrews 2:4. In 1 Peter 1:6 we have this same phrase. It is a bold demand that James here makes.

Verse 3

Knowing (γινωσκοντες). Present active participle of γινωσκω (experimental knowledge, the only way of getting this view of "trials" as "all joy").

The proof (το δοκιμιον). Now known (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 259ff.) from the papyri examples of δοκιμιος as an adjective in the same sense (good gold, standard gold) as δοκιμος proved or tested (James 1:12). The use of το δοκιμιον (neuter article with neuter single adjective) here and in 1 Peter 1:7, clearly means "the genuine element in your faith," not "crucible" nor "proving." Your faith like gold stands the test of fire and is approved as standard. James here, as in verse James 1:6; James 2:1; James 5:15, regards faith (πιστις) like Paul "as the very foundation of religion" (Mayor).

Worketh (κατεργαζετα). Present (durative) middle indicative of the compound verb with the perfective sense of κατα as in Philippians 2:12, which see.

Patience (υπομονην). Old and common word for remaining under (υπομενω), "staying power" (Ropes), as in Colossians 1:11.

Verse 4

Let have (εχετω). Present active imperative of εχω, let it keep on having.

Perfect (τελειον). See Romans 5:3 for a like chain of blessings. Carry on the work to the end or completion (from τελος, end) as in John 17:4 (το εργον τελειωσας, having finished the work).

That ye may be (ινα ητε). Purpose clause with ινα and present active subjunctive of ειμ. This is the goal of patience.

Perfect and entire (τελειο κα ολοκληρο). Perfected at the end of the task (τελος) and complete in all parts (ολοκληρο, ολος whole and κληρος lot or part). "Perfected all over." These two adjectives often occur together in Philo, Plutarch, etc. See Acts 3:16 for ολοκληριαν (perfect soundness).

Lacking in nothing (εν μηδεν λειπομενο). Present passive participle of λειπω to leave. Negative statement of the preceding positive as often in James (cf. James 1:6). There is now a digression (verses James 1:5-8) from the discussion of πειρασμος, which is taken up again in verse James 1:9. The word λειπομενο (lacking) suggests the digression.

Verse 5

Lacketh wisdom (λειπετα σοφιας). Condition of first class, assumed as true, ε and present passive indicative of λειπω to be destitute of, with ablative case σοφιας. "If any one falls short of wisdom." A banking figure, to have a shortage of wisdom (not just knowledge, γνωσεως, but wisdom σοφιας, the practical use of knowledge) .

Let him ask (αιτειτω). Present active imperative of αιτεω, "let him keep on asking."

Of God (παρα του θεου). "From (from beside) God," ablative case with παρα. Liberally (απλως). This old adverb occurs here only in the N.T. (from απλους, single-fold, Matthew 6:22, and απλοτης, simplicity, generosity, is common-- 2 Corinthians 8:2; Romans 12:8). But the adverb is common in the papyri by way of emphasis as simply or at all (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary). Mayor argues for the sense of "unconditionally" (the logical moral sense) while Hort and Ropes agree and suggest "graciously." The other sense of "abundantly" or "liberally" suits the idea in απλοτης in 2 Corinthians 8:2; Romans 12:8, but no example of the adverb in this sense has been found unless this is one here. See Isaiah 55:1 for the idea of God's gracious giving and the case of Solomon (1 Kings 3:9-12; Proverbs 2:3).

Upbraideth not (μη ονειδιζοντος). Present active participle of ονειδιζω (old verb to reproach, to cast in one's teeth, Matthew 5:11) in the ablative case like διδοντος agreeing with θεου and with the usual negative of the participle (με). This is the negative statement of διδοντος απλως (giving graciously). The evil habit of giving stinging words along with the money is illustrated in Sirach 41:22 and Plutarch (De adulat., p. 64A). ] Cf. Hebrews 4:16.

And it shall be given him (κα δοθησετα αυτω). First future passive of διδωμ, a blessed promise in accord with the words of Jesus (Matthew 7:7; Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13), meaning here not only "wisdom," but all good gifts, including the Holy Spirit. There are frequent reminiscences of the words of Jesus in this Epistle.

Verse 6

In faith (εν πιστε). Faith here "is the fundamental religious attitude" (Ropes), belief in God's beneficent activity and personal reliance on him (Oesterley).

Nothing doubting (μηδεν διακρινομενος). Negative way of saying εν πιστε (in faith), present passive participle of διακρινω, old verb to separate (κρινω) between (δια), to discriminate as shown clearly in Acts 11:12; Acts 15:9, but no example of the sense of divided against oneself has been found earlier than the N.T., though it appears in later Christian writings. It is like the use of διαμεριζομα in Luke 11:18 and occurs in Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23; Acts 10:20; Romans 2:4; Romans 4:20; Romans 14:23. It is a vivid picture of internal doubt.

Is like (εοικεν). Second perfect active indicative with the linear force alone from εικω to be like. Old form, but in N.T. only here and verse James 1:23 (a literary touch, not in LXX).

The surge of the sea (κλυδων θαλασσης). Old word (from κλυζω to wash against) for a dashing or surging wave in contrast with κυμα (successive waves), in N.T. only here and Luke 8:24. In associative instrumental case after εοικεν. In Ephesians 4:14 we have κλυδονιζω (from κλυδων), to toss by waves.

Driven by the wind (ανεμιζομενω). Present passive participle (agreeing in case with κλυδων) of ανεμιζω, earliest known example and probably coined by James (from ανεμος), who is fond of verbs in -ιζω (Mayor). The old Greek used ανεμοω. In Ephesians 4:14 Paul uses both κλυδονιζω and περιφερω ανεμω. It is a vivid picture of the sea whipped into white-caps by the winds.

Tossed (ριπιζομενω). Present passive participle also in agreement with κλυδων from ριπιζω, rare verb (Aristophanes, Plutarch, Philo) from ριπις (a bellows or fire-fan), here only in N.T. It is a picture of "the restless swaying to and fro of the surface of the water, blown upon by shifting breezes" (Hort), the waverer with slight rufflement.

Verse 7

That man (ο ανθρωπος εκεινος). Emphatic use of εκεινος.

Of the Lord (παρα του κυριου). Ablative case with παρα like θεου in verse James 1:5.

Verse 8

Man (ανηρ). Instead of ανθρωπος (general term) in verse James 1:7, perhaps for variety (Ropes), but often in James (James 1:12; James 1:23; James 2:2; James 3:2), though in other Epistles usually in distinction from γυνη (woman).

Double-minded (διψυχος). First appearance of this compound known and in N.T. only here and James 4:8. Apparently coined by James, but copied often in early Christian writings and so an argument for the early date of James' Epistle (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary). From δις twice and ψυχη soul, double-souled, double-minded, Bunyan's "Mr. Facing-both-ways." Cf. the rebuke to Peter (εδιστασας) in Matthew 14:31.

Unstable (ακαταστατος). Late double compound (alpha privative and καταστατος verbal from καθιστημ), in LXX once (Isaiah 54:11) and in Polybius, in N.T. only here and James 3:8. It means unsteady, fickle, staggering, reeling like a drunken man. Surely to James such "doubt" is no mark of intellectuality.

Verse 9

But (δε). Return to the point of view in verse James 1:2.

Of low degree (ο ταπεινος). "The lowly" brother, in outward condition (Luke 1:52), humble and poor as in Psalms 9:39; Proverbs 30:14, not the spiritually humble as in Matthew 11:29; James 4:6. In the LXX ταπεινος was used for either the poor in goods or the poor in spirit. Christianity has glorified this word in both senses. Already the rich and the poor in the churches had their occasion for jealousies.

Glory in his high estate (καυχασθω εν τω υψε αυτου). Paradox, but true. In his low estate he is "in his height" (υψος, old word, in N.T., also in Luke 1:78; Ephesians 3:1; etc.).

Verse 10

In that he is made low (εν τη ταπεινωσε αυτου). "In his low estate." Play on ταπεινωσις (from ταπεινοω, Philippians 3:7), like ταπεινος of verse James 1:9, old word in various senses, in N.T. only here, Luke 1:48; Acts 8:33; Philippians 3:21. The Cross of Christ lifts up the poor and brings down the high. It is the great leveller of men.

As the flower of the grass (ως ανθος χορτου). From the LXX (Isaiah 40:6). Χορτος means pasture, then grass (Mark 6:39) or fodder. Ανθος is old word, in N.T. only here, verse James 1:11; 1 Peter 1:24 (same quotation). This warning is here applied to "the rich brother," but it is true of all.

He shall pass away (παρελευσετα). Future middle indicative (effective aoristic future, shall pass completely away from earth).

Verse 11

Ariseth (ανετειλεν). Gnomic or timeless aorist active indicative of the old compound ανατελλω, used here of plants (cf. αναθαλλω in Philippians 4:10), often of the sun (Matthew 13:6).

With the scorching wind (συν τω καυσων). Associative instrumental case with συν. In the LXX this late word (from καυσος) is usually the sirocco, the dry east wind from the desert (Job 1:19). In Matthew 20:12; Luke 12:55 it is the burning heat of the sun. Either makes sense here.

Withereth (εξηρανεν). Another gnomic aorist active indicative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 837) of ξηραινω, old verb (from ξηρος, dry or withered, Matthew 12:10), to dry up. Grass and flowers are often used to picture the transitoriness of human life.

Falleth (εξεπεσεν). Another gnomic aorist (second aorist active indicative) of εκπιπτω to fall out (off).

The grace (η ευπρεπεια). Old word (from ευπρεπης well-looking, not in the N.T.), only here in N.T. Goodly appearance, beauty.

Of the fashion of it (του προσωπου αυτου). "Of the face of it." The flower is pictured as having a "face," like a rose or lily.

Perisheth (απωλετο). Another gnomic aorist (second aorist middle indicative of απολλυμ, to destroy, but intransitive here, to perish). The beautiful rose is pitiful when withered.

Shall fade away (μαρανθησετα). Future passive indicative of μαραινω, old verb, to extinguish a flame, a light. Used of roses in Wisdom 2:8.

Goings (πορειαις). Old word from πορευω to journey, in N.T. only here and Luke 13:22 (of Christ's journey toward Jerusalem). The rich man's travels will come to "journey's end."

Verse 12

Endureth (υπομενε). Present active indicative of υπομενω. Cf. verse James 1:3.

Temptation (πειρασμον). Real temptation here. See verse James 1:2 for "trials."

When he hath been approved (δοκιμος γενομενος). "Having become approved," with direct reference to το δοκιμιον in verse James 1:3. See also Romans 5:4 for δοκιμη (approval after test as of gold or silver). This beatitude (μακαριος) is for the one who has come out unscathed. See 1 Timothy 6:9.

The crown of life (τον στεφανον της ζωης). The same phrase occurs in Revelation 2:10. It is the genitive of apposition, life itself being the crown as in 1 Peter 5:4. This crown is "an honourable ornament" (Ropes), with possibly no reference to the victor's crown (garland of leaves) as with Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:8, nor to the linen fillet (διαδημα) of royalty (Psalms 20:3, where στεφανος is used like διαδημα, the kingly crown). Στεφανος has a variety of uses. Cf. the thorn chaplet on Jesus (Matthew 27:29).

The Lord . Not in the oldest Greek MSS., but clearly implied as the subject of επηγγειλατο ( he promised , first aorist middle indicative).

Verse 13

Let no one say (μηδεις λεγετω). Present active imperative, prohibiting such a habit.

When he is tempted (πειραζομενος). Present passive participle of πειραζω, here in evil sense of tempt, not test, as in Matthew 4:1. Verses James 1:12-18 give a vivid picture of temptation.

I am tempted of God (απο θεου πειραζομα). The use of απο shows origin (απο with ablative case), not agency (υπο), as in Mark 1:13, of Satan. It is contemptible, but I have heard wicked and weak men blame God for their sins. Cf. Proverbs 19:3; Sirach 15:11f. Temptation does not spring "from God."

Cannot be tempted with evil (απειραστος κακων). Verbal compound adjective (alpha privative and πειραζω), probably with the ablative case, as is common with alpha privative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 516), though Moulton (Prolegomena, p. 74) treats it as the genitive of definition. The ancient Greek has απειρατος (from πειραω), but this is the earliest example of απειραστος (from πειραζω) made on the same model. Only here in the N.T. Hort notes απειρατος κακων as a proverb (Diodorus, Plutarch, Josephus) "free from evils." That is possible here, but the context calls for "untemptable" rather than "untempted."

And he himself tempteth no man (πειραζε δε αυτος ουδενα). Because "untemptable."

Verse 14

When he is drawn away by his own lust (υπο της ιδιας επιθυμιας εξελκομενος). Επιθυμια is old word for craving (from επιθυμεω, to have a desire for) either good (Philippians 1:23) or evil (Romans 7:7) as here. Like a fish drawn out from his retreat.

Enticed (δελεαζομενος). Present passive participle of δελεαζω, old verb from δελεαρ (bait), to catch fish by bait or to hunt with snares and Philo has υφ' ηδονης δελεαζετα (is enticed by pleasure). In N.T. only here and 2 Peter 2:14; 2 Peter 2:18. Allured by definite bait.

Verse 15

Then (ειτα). The next step.

The lust (η επιθυμια). Note article, the lust (verse James 1:14) which one has.

When it hath conceived (συλλαβουσα). Second aorist active participle of συλλαμβανω, old word to grasp together, in hostile sense (Acts 26:21), in friendly sense of help (Philippians 4:3), in technical sense of a woman taking a man's seed in conception (Luke 1:24), here also of lust (as a woman), "having conceived." The will yields to lust and conception takes place.

Beareth sin (τικτε αμαρτιαν). Present active indicative of τικτω to bring forth as a mother or fruit from seed, old verb, often in N.T., here only in James. Sin is the union of the will with lust. See Psalms 7:14 for this same metaphor.

The sin (η αμαρτια). The article refers to αμαρτια just mentioned.

When it is full-grown (αποτελεσθεισα). First aorist passive participle of αποτελεω, old compound verb with perfective use of απο, in N.T. only here and Luke 13:32. It does not mean "full-grown" like τελειοω, but rather completeness of parts or functions as opposed to rudimentary state (Hort) like the winged insect in contrast with the chrysalis or grub (Plato). The sin at birth is fully equipped for its career (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:5).

Bringeth forth death (αποκυε θανατον). Late compound (κυεω to be pregnant, perfective use of απο) to give birth to, of animals and women, for normal birth (papyrus example) and abnormal birth (Hort). A medical word (Ropes) rather than a literary one like τικτω. The child of lust is sin, of sin is death, powerful figure of abortion. The child is dead at birth. For death as the fruit of sin see Romans 6:21-23; Romans 8:6. "The birth of death follows of necessity when one sin is fully formed" (Hort).

Verse 16

Be not deceived (μη πλανασθε). Prohibition with μη and the present passive imperative of πλαναω, common verb to lead astray. This is the way of sin to deceive and to kill (Romans 7:7-14). The devil is a pastmaster at blinding men's eyes about sin (2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 1:27; Ephesians 4:14; etc.).

Verse 17

Gift (δοσις)

--boon (δωρημα). Both old substantives from the same original verb (διδωμ), to give. Δοσις is the act of giving (ending -σις), but sometimes by metonymy for the thing given like κτισις for κτισμα (Colossians 1:15). But δωρημα (from δωρεω, from δωρον a gift) only means a gift, a benefaction (Romans 5:16). The contrast here argues for "giving" as the idea in δοσις. Curiously enough there is a perfect hexameter line here: πασα δο / σις αγα / θη κα / παν δω / ρημα τε / λειον. Such accidental rhythm occurs occasionally in many writers. Ropes (like Ewald and Mayor) argues for a quotation from an unknown source because of the poetical word δωρημα, but that is not conclusive.

From above (ανωθεν). That is, from heaven. Cf. John 3:31; John 19:11.

Coming down (καταβαινον). Present active neuter singular participle of καταβαινω agreeing with δωρημα, expanding and explaining ανωθεν (from above).

From the Father of lights (απο του πατρος των φωτων). "Of the lights" (the heavenly bodies). For this use of πατηρ see Job 38:28 (Father of rain); 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:17. God is the Author of light and lights.

With whom (παρ' ω). For παρα (beside) with locative sense for standpoint of God see παρα τω θεω (Mark 10:27; Romans 2:11; Romans 9:14; Ephesians 6:9.

Can be no (ουκ εν). This old idiom (also in Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11) may be merely the original form of εν with recessive accent (Winer, Mayor) or a shortened form of ενεστ. The use of εν εν in 1 Corinthians 6:5 argues for this view, as does the use of εινε (εινα) in Modern Greek (Robertson, Grammar, p. 313).

Variation (παραλλαγη). Old word from παραλλασσω, to make things alternate, here only in N.T. In Aristeas in sense of alternate stones in pavements. Dio Cassius has παραλλαξις without reference to the modern astronomical parallax, though James here is comparing God (Father of the lights) to the sun (Malachi 4:2), which does have periodic variations.

Shadow that is cast by turning (τροπης αποσκιασμα). Τροπη is an old word for "turning" (from τρεπω to turn), here only in N.T. Αποσκιασμα is a late and rare word (αποσκιασμος in Plutarch) from αποσκιαζω (απο, σκια) a shade cast by one object on another. It is not clear what the precise metaphor is, whether the shadow thrown on the dial (αποσκιαζω in Plato) or the borrowed light of the moon lost to us as it goes behind the earth. In fact, the text is by no means certain, for Aleph B papyrus of fourth century actually read η τροπης αποσκιασματος (the variation of the turning of the shadow). Ropes argues strongly for this reading, and rather convincingly. At any rate there is no such periodic variation in God like that we see in the heavenly bodies.

Verse 18

Of his own will (βουληθεις). First aorist passive participle of βουλομα. Repeating the metaphor of birth in verse James 1:15, but in good sense. God as Father acted deliberately of set purpose.

He brought us forth (απεκυησεν). First aorist active indicative of αποκυεω (verse James 1:15), only here of the father (4 Macc. 15:17), not of the mother. Regeneration, not birth of all men, though God is the Father in the sense of creation of all men (Acts 17:28).

By the word of truth (λογω αληθειας). Instrumental case λογω. The reference is thus to the gospel message of salvation even without the article (2 Corinthians 6:7) as here, and certainly with the article (Colossians 1:5; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:15). The message marked by truth (genitive case αληθειας).

That we should be (εις το εινα ημας). Purpose clause εις το and the infinitive εινα with the accusative of general reference ημας (as to us).

A kind of first-fruits (απαρχην τινα). "Some first-fruits" (old word from απαρχομα), of Christians of that age. See Romans 16:5.

Verse 19

Ye know this (ιστε). Or "know this." Probably the perfect active indicative (literary form as in Ephesians 5:5; Hebrews 12:17, unless both are imperative, while in James 4:4 we have οιδατε, the usual vernacular Koine perfect indicative). The imperative uses only ιστε and only the context can decide which it is. Εστο (let be) is imperative.

Swift to hear (ταχυς εις το ακουσα). For this use of εις το with the infinitive after an adjective see 1 Thessalonians 4:9. For εις το after adjectives see Romans 16:19. The picture points to listening to the word of truth (verse James 1:18) and is aimed against violent and disputatious speech (chapter James 3:1-12). The Greek moralists often urge a quick and attentive ear.

Slow to speak (βραδυς εις το λαλησα). Same construction and same ingressive aorist active infinitive, slow to begin speaking, not slow while speaking.

Slow to anger (βραδυς εις οργην). He drops the infinitive here, but he probably means that slowness to speak up when angry will tend to curb the anger.

Verse 20

The wrath of man (οργη ανδρος). Here ανηρ (as opposed to γυνη woman), not ανθρωπος of verse James 1:19 (inclusive of both man and woman). If taken in this sense, it means that a man's anger (settled indignation in contrast with θυμος, boiling rage or fury) does not necessarily work God's righteousness. There is such a thing as righteous indignation, but one is not necessarily promoting the cause of God by his own personal anger. See Acts 10:35 for "working righteousness," and James 2:9 for "working sin" (εργαζομα both times).

Verse 21

Wherefore (διο). Because of this principle. See Ephesians 4:25.

Putting away (αποθεμενο). Second aorist middle participle of αποτιθημ, to put off, metaphor of removing clothing as in Romans 13:12; Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:25; 1 Peter 2:1.

Filthiness (ρυπαριαν). Late word (Plutarch) from ρυπαρος, dirty (James 2:2), here only in N.T. Surely a dirty garment.

Overflowing of wickedness (περισσειαν κακιας). Περισσεια is a late word (from περισσος, abundant, exceeding), only four times in N.T., in 2 Corinthians 8:2 with χαρας (of joy), in Romans 5:17 with χαριτος (of grace). Κακια (from κακος, evil) can be either general like ρυπαρια (filthiness, naughtiness), or special like "malice." But any of either sense is a "superfluity."

With meekness (εν πραυτητ). In docility. "The contrast is with οργη rather than κακιας" (Ropes).

The implanted word (τον εμφυτον λογον). This old verbal adjective (from εμφυω to implant, to grow in), only here in N.T., meaning properly ingrown, inborn, not εμφυτευτον (engrafted). It is "the rooted word" (verse James 1:18), sown in the heart as the soil or garden of God (Matthew 13:3-23; Matthew 15:13; 1 Corinthians 3:6).

Able to save (δυναμενον σωσα). Cf. 1 Peter 1:9; James 2:14; James 4:12; James 5:20; Romans 1:16. Ultimate salvation (effective aorist active infinitive σωσα from σωζω).

Verse 22

But be ye (γινεσθε δε). Rather, "But keep on becoming" (present middle imperative of γινομα).

Doers of the word (ποιητα λογου). Old word for agent (-της) from ποιεω to do as in James 4:11; Romans 2:13, but in Acts 17:28 our "poet" (long regarded as a "doer" or "maker").

Hearers (ακροατα). Old word for agent again from ακροαμα (to be a hearer), in N.T. only here and Romans 2:13.

Deluding yourselves (παραλογιζομενο εαυτους). Present middle (direct) participle of παραλογιζομα, to reckon aside (παρα) and so wrong, to cheat, to deceive. Redundant reflexive εαυτους with the middle. In N.T. only here and Colossians 2:4. Such a man does not delude anyone but himself.

Verse 23

And not a doer (κα ου ποιητης). Condition of first class, assumed as true, and ου (rather than μη) contrasts ποιητης with ακροατης.

Unto a man beholding (ανδρ κατανοουντ). Associative instrumental case after εοικεν as in James 1:6. Note ανδρ as in James 1:8 in contrast with γυναικ (woman), not ανθρωπω (general term for man). Present active participle of κατανοεω to put the mind down on (κατα, νους), to consider attentively, to take note of, as in verse James 1:24 (κατενοησεν).

His natural face (το προσωπον της γενεσεως αυτου). "The face of his birth" (origin, lineage, nativity). For this use of γενεσις see James 3:6; Matthew 1:1; Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:13.

In a mirror (εν εσοπτρω). Old word (from εισ, οπτω) in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 13:12. The mirrors of the ancients were not of glass, but of polished metal (of silver or usually of copper and tin). See κατοπτριζομα in 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Verse 24

He beholdeth himself (κατενοησεν εαυτον). Usually explained as gnomic aorist like those in James 1:11, but the ordinary force of the tenses is best here. "He glanced at himself (κατενοησεν aorist) and off he has gone (απεληλυθεν perfect active) and straightway forgot (επελαθετο, second aorist middle indicative of επιλανθανομα) what sort of a man he was" (οποιος ην, back in the picture, imperfect tense). The tenses thus present a vivid and lifelike picture of the careless listener to preaching (Christ's wayside hearer).

Verse 25

He that looketh into (ο παρακυψας). First aorist active articular participle of παρακυπτω, old verb, to stoop and look into (John 20:5; John 20:11), to gaze carefully by the side of, to peer into or to peep into (1 Peter 1:12). Here the notion of beside (παρα) or of stooping (κυπτω) is not strong. Sometimes, as Hort shows, the word means only a cursory glance, but the contrast with verse James 1:24 seems to preclude that here.

The perfect law (νομον τελειον). For τελειον see James 1:17. See Romans 7:12 for Paul's idea of the law of God. James here refers to the word of truth (James 1:18), the gospel of grace (Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:2).

The law of liberty (τον της ελευθεριας). "That of liberty," explaining why it is "perfect" (James 2:12 also), rests on the work of Christ, whose truth sets us free (John 8:32; 2 Corinthians 3:16; Romans 8:2).

And so continueth (κα παραμεινας). First aorist active articular participle again of παραμενω, parallel with παρακυψας. Παραμενω is to stay beside, and see Philippians 1:25 for contrast with the simplex μενω.

Being (γενομενος). Rather, "having become" (second aorist middle participle of γινομα to become).

Not a hearer that forgetteth (ουκ ακροατης επιλησμονης). "Not a hearer of forgetfulness" (descriptive genitive, marked by forgetfulness). Επιλησμονη is a late and rare word (from επιλησμων, forgetful, from επιλανθομα, to forget, as in verse James 1:24), here only in N.T.

But a doer that worketh (αλλα ποιητης εργου). "But a doer of work," a doer marked by work (descriptive genitive εργου), not by mere listening or mere talk.

In his doing (εν τη ποιησε αυτου). Another beatitude with μακαριος as in James 1:12, like the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. Ποιησις is an old word (from ποιεω for the act of doing), only here in N.T.

Verse 26

Thinketh himself to be religious (δοκε θρησκος εινα). Condition of first class (ει-δοκε). Θρησκος (of uncertain etymology, perhaps from θρεομα, to mutter forms of prayer) is predicate nominative after εινα, agreeing with the subject of δοκε (either "he seems" or "he thinks"). This source of self-deception is in saying and doing. The word θρησκος is found nowhere else except in lexicons. Hatch (Essays in Biblical Greek, pp. 55-57) shows that it refers to the external observances of public worship, such as church attendance, almsgiving, prayer, fasting (Matthew 6:1-18). It is the Pharisaic element in Christian worship.

While he bridleth not his tongue (μη χαλιναγωγων γλωσσαν εαυτου). "Not bridling his own tongue." A reference to verse James 1:19 and the metaphor is repeated in James 3:12. This is the earliest known example of the compound χαλιναγωγεω (χαλινος, bridle αγο, to lead). It occurs also in Lucian. The picture is that of a man putting the bridle in his own mouth, not in that of another. See the similar metaphor of muzzling (φιμοω) one's mouth (Matthew 22:12 εφιμωθη).

Deceiveth (απατων). Present active participle from απατη (deceit). He plays a trick on himself.

Religion (θρησκεια). Later form of θρησκιη (Herodotus) from θρησκος above. It means religious worship in its external observances, religious exercise or discipline, but not to the exclusion of reverence. In the N.T. we have it also in Acts 26:5 of Judaism and in Colossians 2:18 of worshipping angels. It is vain (ματαιος, feminine form same as masculine) or empty. Comes to nothing.

Verse 27

Pure religion and undefiled (θρησκεια καθαρα κα αμιαντος). Numerous examples in papyri and inscriptions of θρησκεια for ritual and reverential worship in the Roman Empire (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary; Deissmann, St. Paul, p. 251). As Hort shows, this is not a definition of religion or religious worship, but only a pertinent illustration of the right spirit of religion which leads to such acts.

Before our God and Father (παρα τω θεω κα πατρ). By the side of (παρα) and so from God's standpoint (Mark 10:27). Αμιαντος (compound verbal adjective, alpha privative, μιαινω to defile), puts in negative form (cf. James 1:4; James 1:6) the idea in καθαρα (pure, clean). This (αυτη). Feminine demonstrative pronoun in the predicate agreeing with θρησκεια.

To visit (επισκεπτεσθα). Epexegetic (explaining αυτη) present middle infinitive of επισκεπτομα, common verb to go to see, to inspect, present tense for habit of going to see. See Matthew 25:36; Matthew 25:43 for visiting the sick.

The fatherless and widows (ορφανους κα χηρας). "The natural objects of charity in the community" (Ropes). Ορφανος is old word for bereft of father or mother or both. In N.T. only here and John 14:18. Note order (orphans before widows).

Unspotted (ασπιλον). Old adjective (alpha privative and σπιλος, spot), spotless. This the more important of the two illustrations and the hardest to execute.

To keep (τηρειν). Present active infinitive, "to keep on keeping oneself un-specked from the world" (a world, κοσμος, full of dirt and slime that bespatters the best of men).

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on James 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/james-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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