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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

James 4

Verse 1

Lusts [ηδονων] . Lit., pleasures, as Rev. Properly, sensual pleasures. The sinful pleasures are the outgrowths of the lusts, ver. 2.

That war [στρατευομενων] . The thought of wars and fightings is carried into the figurative description of the sensuality which arrays its forces and carries on its campaign in the members. The verb does not imply mere fighting, but all that is included in military service. A remarkable parallel occurs in Plato, "Phaedo," 66 "For whence come wars and fightings and factions ? Whence but from the body and the lusts of the body?" Compare 1 Peter 2:11; Romans 7:23.

Verse 2

Ye lust. See on desire, 1 Peter 1:12; Mark 4:19.

Desire to have [ζηλουτε] . Rev., covet, and are jealous, in margin. See on ch. James 3:14.

Verse 3

Ye ask [αιτειτε] . See on hjrwtwn, besought, Matthew 14:23. Amiss [κακως] . Lit., evilly : with evil intent, as explained by the following sentence.

Consume it upon [δαπανησητε εν] . More correctly, as Rev., spend it in. The sense is not lay out expense upon your pleasures, but spend in the exercise of; under the dominion of.

Verse 4

Ye adulterers [μοιχοι] All the best texts omit.

Adulteresses [μοιχαλιδες] . The feminine term is the general designation of all whom James here rebukes. The apostate members of the church are figuratively regarded as unfaithful spouses; according to the common Old Testament figure, in which God is the bridegroom or husband to whom his people are wedded. See Jeremiah 3:0; Hosea 2:3, Hosea 2:4; Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 61:4, Isaiah 61:5. Also, Matthew 12:39; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:9. Will be [βουληθη ειναι] . More correctly, as Rev., would be. Lit., may have been minded to be.

Is the enemy [καθισταται] . Thereby constitutes himself. Rev., maketh himself. See on ch. James 3:6.

Verse 5

Do ye think [δοκειτε] . See on ch. James 1:26.

The scripture [η γραφη] . See on Mark 12:10. Properly, a passage of scripture.

In vain [κενως] . Only here in New Testament.

Verse 6

Resisteth. See on 1 Peter 5:5.

Proud. See on Mark 7:22.

Humble. See on Matthew 7:29.

Verse 7

Submit yourselves [υποταγητε] . Rev., be subject. The verb means to place or arrange under; as resist (ver. 6) is to array against. God sets himself in array against the proud; therefore, array yourselves under God, that ye may withstand the devil.

Verse 8

Purify [αγνισατε] . One of the three instances in the New Testament in which the word is not used of ceremonial purification. The others are 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:3.

Double minded [διψυχοι] . Compare ch. 1 8.

Verse 9

Be afflicted [ταλαιπωρησατε] . Only here in New Testament. The kindred noun talaipwria, misery, occurs ch. 5 1.

Mourn [πενθησατε] . Used of grief that is manifested. So mostly in New Testament, and very commonly joined, as here, with weep. So Mark 16:10; Luke 6:25, etc. In the next sentence occurs the kindred noun penqov mourning, into which laughter, also something manifest, is to be changed. Heaviness [κατηφειαν] . Properly, a casting down of the eyes. Compare Luke 18:13. Only here in New Testament.

Verse 12

There is one lawgiver [εις εστιν ο νομοθετης] . The A. V. fails to note the emphatic position of one. Better, Rev., one only is the lawgiver. Nomoqethv, lawgiver, only here in New Testament.

But who art thou? [συ γε τις ει] . According to the Greek order : but thou, who art tho?

Verse 13

Go to now [αγε νυν] . Go to is an obsolete phrase, though retained in Rev. It is a formula for calling attention : come now.

Such a city [τηνδε την πολιν] . More accurately, as Rev., this city. Continue there a year [τοιησομεν εκει ενιαυτον] . Lit., we will make a year. See, for the same form of expression, Acts 14:33; Acts 18:23; 2 Corinthians 11:25. Better, as Rev., spend a year there. (Compare the A. V., Acts 18:23, rightly retained by Rev.) The word poihsomen implies more than mere continuance; rather, a doing something with the year.

And. The frequent use of the copulative gives a lively tone to the passage, expressive of the lightness and thoughtlessness of a careless spirit. Buy and sell [εμπορευσομεθα] . Rev., more concisely, trade. Only here and 2 Peter 2:3.

Verse 14

Whereas ye know not [οιτινες ουκ επιστασθε] . The pronoun marking a class, as being of those who know not.

What shall be on the morrow [το της αυριον] . Lit., the thing of the morrow. The texts vary. Westcott and Hort read, Ye know not what your life shalt be on the morrow, for ye are a vapor : thus throwing out the question.

What is your life ? [ποια] . Lit., of what kind or nature.

It is even a vapor [ατμις γαρ εστιν] . But all the best texts read ejste, ye are. So Rev., which, however, retains the question, what is your life ?

Appeareth - vanisheth. Both participles, appearing, vanishing.

And then [επειτα και] . The kai placed after the adverb then is not copulative, but expresses that the vapor vanishes even as it appeared.

Verse 15

For that ye ought to say [αντι του λεγειν υμας] . Ver. 14 was parenthetical, so that at this point the thought is taken up from ver 13 Ye who say we will go, etc. - for that ye ought to say. The rendering in margin of Rev. is simpler : instead of your saying.

Verse 16

Ye rejoice [καυχασθε] . Rev., glory. See on ch. James 2:13.

Boastings [αλαζονειαις] . Only here and 1 John 2:16. The kindred word ajlazwn a boaster, is derived from alh, a wandering or roaming; hence, primarily, a vagabond, a quack, a mountebank. From the empty boasts of such concerning the cures and wonders they could perform, the word passed into the sense of boaster. One may boast truthfully; but ajlazoneia, is false and swaggering boasting. Rev. renders vauntings, and rightly, since vaunt is from the Latin vanus, empty, and therefore expresses idle or vain boasting.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on James 4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/james-4.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.