Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

James 1

Verse 1

James (ΙακωβοςIakōbos). Grecised form (nominative absolute) of the Hebrew ΙακωβIakōb (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 (δουλοςdoulos). Bond-servant or slave as Paul (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1).

Of the Lord Jesus Christ (κυριου Ιησου Χριστουkuriou Iēsou Christou). Here on a par with God (τεουtheou) and calls himself not αδελποςadelphos (brother) of Jesus, but δουλοςdoulos 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 κυριοςkurios 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 ΙησουςKurios Iēsous and Philippians 2:11 for Κυριος Ιησους ΧριστοςKurios Iēsous Christos the twelve tribes (ταις δωδεκα πυλαιςtais dōdeka phulais). 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 τηι διασποραιtais en tēi diasporāi). “Those in the Dispersion” (repeated article). The term appears in Deuteronomy 28:25 (lxx) and comes from διασπειρωdiaspeirō 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 (Koiné, 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 Koiné but in the Hebraic tone.

Greeting (χαιρεινchairein). Absolute infinitive (present active of χαιρωchairō) 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 λεγετεchairein legete in 2 John 1:10, 2 John 1:11.

Verse 2

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

All joy (πασαν χαρανpāsan charan). “Whole joy,” “unmixed joy,” as in Philippians 2:29. Not just “some joy” along with much grief.

When (οτανhotan). “Whenever,” indefinite temporal conjunction.

Ye fall into (περιπεσητεperipesēte). Second aorist active subjunctive (with the indefinite οτανhotan) from περιπιπτωperipiptō literally to fall around (into the midst of), to fall among as in Luke 10:30 ληισταις περιεπεσενlēistais periepesen (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 (περιperi) by trials.

Manifold temptations (πειρασμοις ποικιλοιςpeirasmois poikilois). 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 πειρασμοςpeirasmos (from πειραζωpeirazō late form for the old πειραωpeiraō 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 James 1:12 (clearly in πειραζωpeirazō in James 1:13) and so in Hebrews 3:8. Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to evil. The adjective ποικιλοςpoikilos (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 (γινωσκοντεςginōskontes). Present active participle of γινωσκωginōskō (experimental knowledge, the only way of getting this view of “trials” as “all joy”).

The proof (το δοκιμιονto dokimion). Now known (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 259ff.) from the papyri examples of δοκιμιοςdokimios as an adjective in the same sense (good gold, standard gold) as δοκιμοςdokimos proved or tested (James 1:12). The use of το δοκιμιονto dokimion (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 James 1:6; James 2:1; James 5:15, regards faith (πιστιςpistis) like Paul “as the very foundation of religion” (Mayor).

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

Patience (υπομονηνhupomonēn). Old and common word for remaining under (υπομενωhupomenō), “staying power” (Ropes), as in Colossians 1:11.

Verse 4

Let have (εχετωechetō). Present active imperative of εχωechō let it keep on having.

Perfect (τελειονteleion). See Romans 5:3. for a like chain of blessings. Carry on the work to the end or completion (from τελοςtelos end) as in John 17:4 (το εργον τελειωσαςto ergon teleiōsas having finished the work).

That ye may be (ινα ητεhina ēte). Purpose clause with ιναhina and present active subjunctive of ειμιeimi This is the goal of patience.

Perfect and entire (τελειοι και ολοκληροιteleioi kai holoklēroi). Perfected at the end of the task (τελοςtelos) and complete in all parts (ολοκληροιholoklēroi ολοςholos whole and κληροςklēros lot or part). “Perfected all over.” These two adjectives often occur together in Philo, Plutarch, etc. See Acts 3:16 for ολοκληριανholoklērian (perfect soundness).

Lacking in nothing (εν μηδενι λειπομενοιen mēdeni leipomenoi). Present passive participle of λειπωleipō to leave. Negative statement of the preceding positive as often in James (cf. James 1:6). There is now a digression (James 1:5-8) from the discussion of πειρασμοςpeirasmos which is taken up again in James 1:9. The word λειπομενοιleipomenoi (lacking) suggests the digression.

Verse 5

Lacketh wisdom (λειπεται σοπιαςleipetai sophias). Condition of first class, assumed as true, ειei and present passive indicative of λειπωleipō to be destitute of, with ablative case σοπιαςsophias “If any one falls short of wisdom.” A banking figure, to have a shortage of wisdom (not just knowledge, γνωσεωςgnōseōs but wisdom σοπιαςsophias the practical use of knowledge).

Let him ask (αιτειτωaiteitō). Present active imperative of αιτεωaiteō “let him keep on asking.”

Of God (παρα του τεουpara tou theou). “From (from beside) God,” ablative case with παραpara Liberally (απλωςhaplōs). This old adverb occurs here only in the N.T. (from απλουςhaplous single-fold, Matthew 6:22, and απλοτηςhaplotēs 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 απλοτηςhaplotēs 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 ονειδιζοντοςmē oneidizontos). Present active participle of ονειδιζωoneidizō (old verb to reproach, to cast in one‘s teeth, Matthew 5:11) in the ablative case like διδοντοςdidontos agreeing with τεουtheou and with the usual negative of the participle (μεme). This is the negative statement of διδοντος απλωςdidontos haplōs (giving graciously). The evil habit of giving stinging words along with the money is illustrated in Sirach 41:22 and Plutarch (Deut adulat., p. 64A). ] Cf. Hebrews 4:16.

And it shall be given him (και δοτησεται αυτωιkai dothēsetai autōi). First future passive of διδωμιdidōmi 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 πιστειen pistei). Faith here “is the fundamental religious attitude” (Ropes), belief in God‘s beneficent activity and personal reliance on him (Oesterley).

Nothing doubting (μηδεν διακρινομενοςmēden diakrinomenos). Negative way of saying εν πιστειen pistei (in faith), present passive participle of διακρινωdiakrinō old verb to separate (κρινωkrinō) between (διαdia), 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 διαμεριζομαιdiamerizomai 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 (εοικενeoiken). Second perfect active indicative with the linear force alone from εικωeikō to be like. Old form, but in N.T. only here and James 1:23 (a literary touch, not in lxx).

The surge of the sea (κλυδωνι ταλασσηςkludōni thalassēs). Old word (from κλυζωkluzō to wash against) for a dashing or surging wave in contrast with κυμαkuma (successive waves), in N.T. only here and Luke 8:24. In associative instrumental case after εοικενeoiken In Ephesians 4:14 we have κλυδονιζωkludonizō (from κλυδωνkludōn), to toss by waves.

Driven by the wind (ανεμιζομενωιanemizomenōi). Present passive participle (agreeing in case with κλυδωνιkludōni) of ανεμιζωanemizō earliest known example and probably coined by James (from ανεμοςanemos), who is fond of verbs in ιζω̇izō (Mayor). The old Greek used ανεμοωanemoō In Ephesians 4:14 Paul uses both κλυδονιζωkludonizō and περιπερω ανεμωιperipherō anemōi It is a vivid picture of the sea whipped into white-caps by the winds.

Tossed (ριπιζομενωιripizomenōi). Present passive participle also in agreement with κλυδωνιkludōni from ριπιζωripizō rare verb (Aristophanes, Plutarch, Philo) from ριπιςripis (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 αντρωπος εκεινοςho anthrōpos ekeinos). Emphatic use of εκεινοςekeinos the Lord (παρα του κυριουpara tou kuriou). Ablative case with παραpara like τεουtheou in James 1:5.

Verse 8

Man (ανηρanēr). Instead of αντρωποςanthrōpos (general term) in 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 γυνηgunē (woman).

Double-minded (διπσυχοςdipsuchos). 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 διςdis twice and πσυχηpsuchē soul, double-souled, double-minded, Bunyan‘s “Mr. Facing-both-ways.” Cf. the rebuke to Peter (εδιστασαςedistasas) in Matthew 14:31.

Unstable (ακαταστατοςakatastatos). Late double compound (alpha privative and καταστατοςkatastatos verbal from κατιστημιkathistēmi), in lxx once (Isa 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 (δεde). Return to the point of view in James 1:2.

Of low degree (ο ταπεινοςho tapeinos). “The lowly” brother, in outward condition (Luke 1:52), humble and poor as in Psalm 9:12; Proverbs 30:14, not the spiritually humble as in Matthew 11:29; James 4:6. In the lxx ταπεινοςtapeinos 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 (καυχαστω εν τωι υπσει αυτουkauchasthō en tōi hupsei autou). Paradox, but true. In his low estate he is “in his height” (υπσοςhupsos old word, in N.T., also in Luke 1:78; Ephesians 3:1; etc.).

Verse 10

In that he is made low (εν τηι ταπεινωσει αυτουen tēi tapeinōsei auton). “In his low estate.” Play on ταπεινωσιςtapeinōsis (from ταπεινοωtapeinoō Philippians 3:7), like ταπεινοςtapeinos of 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 αντος χορτουhōs anthos chortou). From the lxx (Isa 40:6). ΧορτοςChortos means pasture, then grass (Mark 6:39) or fodder. ΑντοςAnthos is old word, in N.T. only here, 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 (παρελευσεταιpareleusetai). Future middle indicative (effective aoristic future, shall pass completely away from earth).

Verse 11

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

With the scorching wind (συν τωι καυσωνιsun tōi kausōni). Associative instrumental case with συνsun In the lxx this late word (from καυσοςkausos) 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 (εχηρανενexēranen). Another gnomic aorist active indicative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 837) of χηραινωxērainō old verb (from χηροςxēros dry or withered, Matthew 12:10), to dry up. Grass and flowers are often used to picture the transitoriness of human life.

Falleth (εχεπεσενexepesen). Another gnomic aorist (second aorist active indicative) of εκπιπτωekpiptō to fall out (off).

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

Of the fashion of it (του προσωπου αυτουtou prosōpou autou). “Of the face of it.” The flower is pictured as having a “face,” like a rose or lily.

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

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

Goings (πορειαιςporeiais). Old word from πορευωporeuō 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 (υπομενειhupomenei). Present active indicative of υπομενωhupomenō Cf. James 1:3.

Temptation (πειρασμονpeirasmon). Real temptation here. See James 1:2 for “trials.”

When he hath been approved (δοκιμος γενομενοςdokimos genomenos). “Having become approved,” with direct reference to το δοκιμιονto dokimion in James 1:3. See also Romans 5:4 for δοκιμηdokimē (approval after test as of gold or silver). This beatitude (μακαριοςmakarios) is for the one who has come out unscathed. See 1 Timothy 6:9.

The crown of life (τον στεπανον της ζωηςton stephanon tēs zōēs). 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 (διαδημαdiadēma) of royalty (Psalm 20:3, where στεπανοςstephanos is used like διαδημαdiadēma the kingly crown). ΣτεπανοςStephanos 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 επηγγειλατοepēggeilato (he promised, first aorist middle indicative).

Verse 13

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

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

I am tempted of God (απο τεου πειραζομαιapo theou peirazomai). The use of αποapo shows origin (αποapo with ablative case), not agency (υποhupo), 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 κακωνapeirastos kakōn). Verbal compound adjective (alpha privative and πειραζωpeirazō), 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 απειρατοςapeiratos (from πειραωpeiraō), but this is the earliest example of απειραστοςapeirastos (from πειραζωpeirazō) made on the same model. Only here in the N.T. Hort notes απειρατος κακωνapeiratos kakōn 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 (πειραζει δε αυτος ουδεναpeirazei de autos oudena). Because “untemptable.”

Verse 14

When he is drawn away by his own lust (υπο της ιδιας επιτυμιας εχελκομενοςhupo tēs idias epithumias exelkomenos). ΕπιτυμιαEpithumia is old word for craving (from επιτυμεωepithumeō to have a desire for) either good (Philemon 1:23) or evil (Romans 7:7) as here. Like a fish drawn out from his retreat.

Enticed (δελεαζομενοςdeleazomenos). Present passive participle of δελεαζωdeleazō old verb from δελεαρdelear (bait), to catch fish by bait or to hunt with snares and Philo has υπ ηδονης δελεαζεταιhuph' hēdonēs deleazetai (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 (ειταeita). The next step.

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

When it hath conceived (συλλαβουσαsullabousa). Second aorist active participle of συλλαμβανωsullambanō 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 (τικτει αμαρτιανtiktei hamartian). Present active indicative of τικτωtiktō 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 Psalm 7:14 for this same metaphor.

The sin (η αμαρτιαhē hamartia). The article refers to αμαρτιαhamartia just mentioned.

When it is full-grown (αποτελεστεισαapotelestheisa). First aorist passive participle of αποτελεωapoteleō old compound verb with perfective use of αποapo in N.T. only here and Luke 13:32. It does not mean “full-grown” like τελειοωteleioō 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 (αποκυει τανατονapokuei thanaton). Late compound (κυεωkueō to be pregnant, perfective use of αποapo) 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 τικτωtiktō 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 πλαναστεmē planāsthe). Prohibition with μηmē and the present passive imperative of πλαναωplanaō 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 (δοσιςdosis) - boon (δωρημαdōrēma). Both old substantives from the same original verb (διδωμιdidōmi), to give. ΔοσιςDosis is the act of giving (ending σις̇sis), but sometimes by metonymy for the thing given like κτισιςktisis for κτισμαktisma (Colossians 1:15). But δωρημαdōrēma (from δωρεωdōreō from δωρονdōron a gift) only means a gift, a benefaction (Romans 5:16). The contrast here argues for “giving” as the idea in δοσιςdosis Curiously enough there is a perfect hexameter line here:

πασα δο ̀ σις αγα ̀ τη και ̀ παν δω ̀ ρημα τε ̀ λειονpāsa do / δωρημαsis aga / ανωτενthē kai / καταβαινονpān dō / καταβαινωrēma te / δωρημαleion

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 ανωτενdōrēma but that is not conclusive.

From above (απο του πατρος των πωτωνanōthen). That is, from heaven. Cf. John 3:31; John 19:11.

Coming down (πατηρkatabainon). Present active neuter singular participle of παρ ωιkatabainō agreeing with παραdōrēma expanding and explaining παρα τωι τεωιanōthen (from above).

From the Father of lights (ουκ ενιapo tou patros tōn phōtōn). “Of the lights” (the heavenly bodies). For this use of ενpatēr see Job 38:28 (Father of rain); 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:17. God is the Author of light and lights.

With whom (ενεστιpar' hōi). For ενι ενpara (beside) with locative sense for standpoint of God see εινεpara tōi theōi (Mark 10:27; Romans 2:11; Romans 9:14; Ephesians 6:9.

Can be no (ειναιouk eni). This old idiom (also in Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11) may be merely the original form of παραλλαγηen with recessive accent (Winer, Mayor) or a shortened form of παραλλασσωenesti The use of παραλλαχιςeni en in 1 Corinthians 6:5 argues for this view, as does the use of τροπης αποσκιασμαeine (Τροπηeinai) in Modern Greek (Robertson, Grammar, p. 313).

Variation (τρεπωparallagē). Old word from Αποσκιασμαparallassō to make things alternate, here only in N.T. In Aristeas in sense of alternate stones in pavements. Dio Cassius has αποσκιασμοςparallaxis 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 (αποσκιαζωtropēs aposkiasma). απο σκιαTropē is an old word for “turning” (from αποσκιαζωtrepō to turn), here only in N.T. η τροπης αποσκιασματοςAposkiasma is a late and rare word (aposkiasmos in Plutarch) from aposkiazō (aposkia) a shade cast by one object on another. It is not clear what the precise metaphor is, whether the shadow thrown on the dial (aposkiazō 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 hē tropēs aposkiasmatos (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 (βουλητειςboulētheis). First aorist passive participle of βουλομαιboulomai Repeating the metaphor of birth in James 1:15, but in good sense. God as Father acted deliberately of set purpose.

He brought us forth (απεκυησενapekuēsen). First aorist active indicative of αποκυεωapokueō (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 (λογωι αλητειαςlogōi alētheias). Instrumental case λογωιlogōi 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 αλητειαςalētheias).

That we should be (εις το ειναι ημαςeis to einai hēmās). Purpose clause εις τοeis to and the infinitive ειναιeinai with the accusative of general reference ημαςhēmās (as to us).

A kind of first-fruits (απαρχην τιναaparchēn tina). “Some first-fruits” (old word from απαρχομαιaparchomai), of Christians of that age. See Romans 16:5.

Verse 19

Ye know this (ιστεiste). 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 οιδατεoidate the usual vernacular Koiné perfect indicative). The imperative uses only ιστεiste and only the context can decide which it is. ΕστοEsto (let be) is imperative.

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

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

Slow to anger (βραδυς εις οργηνbradus eis orgēn). 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 ανδροςorgē andros). Here ανηρanēr (as opposed to γυνηgunē woman), not αντρωποςanthrōpos of 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 τυμοςthumos 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” (εργαζομαιergazomai both times).

Verse 21

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

Putting away (αποτεμενοιapothemenoi). Second aorist middle participle of αποτιτημιapotithēmi 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 (ρυπαριανruparian). Late word (Plutarch) from ρυπαροςruparos dirty (James 2:2), here only in N.T. Surely a dirty garment.

Overflowing of wickedness (περισσειαν κακιαςperisseian kakias). ΠερισσειαPerisseia is a late word (from περισσοςperissos abundant, exceeding), only four times in N.T., in 2 Corinthians 8:2 with χαραςcharas (of joy), in Romans 5:17 with χαριτοςcharitos (of grace). ΚακιαKakia (from κακοςkakos evil) can be either general like ρυπαριαruparia (filthiness, naughtiness), or special like “malice.” But any of either sense is a “superfluity.”

With meekness (εν πρατητιen praūtēti). In docility. “The contrast is with οργηorgē rather than κακιαςkakias ” (Ropes).

The implanted word (τον εμπυτον λογονton emphuton logon). This old verbal adjective (from εμπυωemphuō to implant, to grow in), only here in N.T., meaning properly ingrown, inborn, not εμπυτευτονemphuteuton (engrafted). It is “the rooted word” (James 1:18), sown in the heart as the soil or garden of God (Matt 13:3-23; Matthew 15:13; 1 Corinthians 3:6).

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

Verse 22

But be ye (γινεστε δεginesthe de). Rather, “But keep on becoming” (present middle imperative of γινομαιginomai).

Doers of the word (ποιηται λογουpoiētai logou). Old word for agent (της̇tēs) from ποιεωpoieō 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 (ακροαταιakroatai). Old word for agent again from ακροαμαιakroamai (to be a hearer), in N.T. only here and Romans 2:13.

Deluding yourselves (παραλογιζομενοι εαυτουςparalogizomenoi heautous). Present middle (direct) participle of παραλογιζομαιparalogizomai to reckon aside (παραpara) and so wrong, to cheat, to deceive. Redundant reflexive εαυτουςheautous 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 (και ου ποιητηςkai ou poiētēs). Condition of first class, assumed as true, and ουou (rather than μηmē) contrasts ποιητηςpoiētēs with ακροατηςakroatēs a man beholding (ανδρι κατανοουντιandri katanoounti). Associative instrumental case after εοικενeoiken as in James 1:6. Note ανδριandri as in James 1:8 in contrast with γυναικιgunaiki (woman), not αντρωπωιanthrōpōi (general term for man). Present active participle of κατανοεωkatanoeō to put the mind down on (κατα νουςkataκατενοησενnous), to consider attentively, to take note of, as in James 1:24 (το προσωπον της γενεσεως αυτουkatenoēsen).

His natural face (γενεσιςto prosōpon tēs geneseōs autou). “The face of his birth” (origin, lineage, nativity). For this use of εν εσοπτρωιgenesis see James 3:6; Matthew 1:1, Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:13.

In a mirror (εισ οπτωen esoptrōi). Old word (from κατοπτριζομαιeisoptō) 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 katoptrizomai in 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Verse 24

He beholdeth himself (κατενοησεν εαυτονkatenoēsen heauton). 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 (κατενοησενkatenoēsen aorist) and off he has gone (απεληλυτενapelēluthen perfect active) and straightway forgot (επελατετοepelatheto second aorist middle indicative of επιλαντανομαιepilanthanomai) what sort of a man he was” (οποιος ηνhopoios ēn 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 παρακυπσαςho parakupsas). First aorist active articular participle of παρακυπτωparakuptō 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 (παραpara) or of stooping (κυπτωkuptō) is not strong. Sometimes, as Hort shows, the word means only a cursory glance, but the contrast with James 1:24 seems to preclude that here.

The perfect law (νομον τελειονnomon teleion). For τελειονteleion 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 ελευτεριαςton tēs eleutherias). “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 (και παραμειναςkai parameinas). First aorist active articular participle again of παραμενωparamenō parallel with παρακυπσαςparakupsas ΠαραμενωParamenō is to stay beside, and see Philemon 1:25 for contrast with the simplex μενωmenō (γενομενοςgenomenos). Rather, “having become” (second aorist middle participle of γινομαιginomai to become).

Not a hearer that forgetteth (ουκ ακροατης επιλησμονηςouk akroatēs epilēsmonēs). “Not a hearer of forgetfulness” (descriptive genitive, marked by forgetfulness). ΕπιλησμονηEpilēsmonē is a late and rare word (from επιλησμωνepilēsmōn forgetful, from επιλαντομαιepilanthomai to forget, as in James 1:24), here only in N.T.

But a doer that worketh (αλλα ποιητης εργουalla poiētēs ergou). “But a doer of work,” a doer marked by work (descriptive genitive εργουergou), not by mere listening or mere talk.

In his doing (εν τηι ποιησει αυτουen tēi poiēsei autou). Another beatitude with μακαριοςmakarios as in James 1:12, like the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. ΠοιησιςPoiēsis is an old word (from ποιεωpoieō for the act of doing), only here in N.T.

Verse 26

Thinketh himself to be religious (δοκει τρησκος ειναιdokei thrēskos einai). Condition of first class (ειδοκειei̇dokei). ΤρησκοςThrēskos (of uncertain etymology, perhaps from τρεομαιthreomai to mutter forms of prayer) is predicate nominative after ειναιeinai agreeing with the subject of δοκειdokei (either “he seems” or “he thinks”). This source of self-deception is in saying and doing. The word τρησκοςthrēskos 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 (Matt 6:1-18). It is the Pharisaic element in Christian worship.

While he bridleth not his tongue (μη χαλιναγωγων γλωσσαν εαυτουmē chalinagōgōn glōssan heautou). “Not bridling his own tongue.” A reference to James 1:19 and the metaphor is repeated in James 3:12. This is the earliest known example of the compound χαλιναγωγεωchalinagōgeō (χαλινοςchalinos bridle αγοago 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 (πιμοωphimoō) one‘s mouth (Matthew 22:12 επιμωτηephimōthē).

Deceiveth (απατωνapatōn). Present active participle from απατηapatē (deceit). He plays a trick on himself.

Religion (τρησκειαthrēskeia). Later form of τρησκιηthrēskiē (Herodotus) from τρησκοςthrēskos 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 (ματαιοςmataios feminine form same as masculine) or empty. Comes to nothing.

Verse 27

Pure religion and undefiled (τρησκεια καταρα και αμιαντοςthrēskeia kathara kai amiantos). Numerous examples in papyri and inscriptions of τρησκειαthrēskeia 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 τωι τεωι και πατριpara tōi theōi kai patri). By the side of (παραpara) and so from God‘s standpoint (Mark 10:27). ΑμιαντοςAmiantos (compound verbal adjective, alpha privative, μιαινωmiainō to defile), puts in negative form (cf. James 1:4, James 1:6) the idea in καταραkathara (pure, clean). This (αυτηhautē). Feminine demonstrative pronoun in the predicate agreeing with τρησκειαthrēskeia visit (επισκεπτεσταιepiskeptesthai). Epexegetic (explaining αυτηhautē) present middle infinitive of επισκεπτομαιepiskeptomai 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 (ορπανους και χηραςorphanous kai chēras). “The natural objects of charity in the community” (Ropes). ΟρπανοςOrphanos 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 (ασπιλονaspilon). Old adjective (alpha privative and σπιλοςspilos spot), spotless. This the more important of the two illustrations and the hardest to execute.

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

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on James 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.