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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
James 3

 

 

Verses 1-12

The Power of the Tongue- Many men who were big, rich men or leaders in society would naturally want to be exalted among a local congregation ( James 3:1), but James warns that the office of a teacher comes with greater judgment ( James 3:2). He explains the power of the tongue by using several illustrations from nature; the bridled horse, the rudder of a ship, and the spark that ignites a forest fire ( James 3:3-6). James then explains the difficulty of a man bridling his own tongue ( James 3:7-12). Thus, the tongue can be a source of blessing or cursing.

1. The Tongue Determines Maturity — James 3:1-2

2. The Tongue Directs our Course — James 3:3-5

3. The Tongue Must be Tamed — James 3:6-12

James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James 3:1 — "My brethren, be not many masters" - Comments - In James 3:1 the author tells his readers not to many teachers ( διδά σκαλος) without weighting its consequences. James selected the office of a teacher to warn them about its greater responsibility. In the Gospels Jesus was often called by this title, which is actually the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew/Aramaic term "rabbi." Since this Epistle is addressed to the Jewish community of converts, it was a term, or office, that they clearly understood. The author of Hebrews will use this same term "teacher" in his epistle to the Hebrews in James 5:12. We also see Peter making a reference to this office in his second epistle where he warns his readers about false teachers ( 2 Peter 2:1).

Hebrews 5:12, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

2 Peter 2:1, "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."

One is our Master, or teacher, whose name is Christ Jesus, our Lord. Note:

James 3:1 — "knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation" - Comments- James seems to include himself here as a teacher of God's Word, although the early Church fathers called him the first bishop of the church in Jerusalem. Ephesians 4:11 tells us that teachers are a part of the 5-fold ministry.

The Greek word κρί μα (condemnation) is also translated "judgment." The reason for not becoming many teachers is given: because teachers shall receive a greater judgment; that Isaiah , the person in this office will have to give a greater accountability than others. On the Day of Judgment, our words will be a part of our judgment ( Matthew 12:36-37).

Matthew 12:36-37, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

Jesus teaches that there will be degrees of divine judgment for those who reject Christ ( Luke 10:12-16) as well as those who accept Him ( Luke 12:47-48).

Luke 10:12-16, "But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me."

Luke 12:47-48, "And that servant, which knew his lord"s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

Teacher must practice what they preach, for they will be judged heavier than those non-teachers. Let God do the judging and calling of teachers into this ministry.

Let not an unclean vessel try to clean up someone else's life, or else the blind will lead the blind ( Luke 6:39).

Luke 6:39, "And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?"

1 Timothy 1:7, "Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."

God uses clean vessels ( 2 Timothy 2:20-21).

2 Timothy 2:20-21, "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master"s use, and prepared unto every good work."

Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Matthew 7:1-5 - Judge not, lest ye be judged,

Matthew 12:36-37, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

Matthew 23:8, "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren."

Luke 6:37-38, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

James 3:1Comments- Frances J. Roberts translated this verse as, "Do not many desire to be teachers, for thereby is attached more heavy responsibility." Note:

Let Him fully satisfy thy soul-hunger, and then thou shalt go forth with a full basket on thine arm. Twelve baskets there were ( Matthew 14:20); one for each disciple. There will always be the multitudes to be fed, but the few called to minister. This is by My own arrangement. As the Scripture says: Do not many desire to be teachers, for thereby is attached more heavy responsibility ( James 3:1)." 112]

112] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 154.

James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect Prayer of Manasseh , and able also to bridle the whole body.

James 3:2"For in many things we offend all" - Comments- For all of us are stumbling in something. This suggests the reason for the caution given in James 3:1 about divine judgment upon those who teach God's Word.

James 3:2 — "If any man offend not in word" - Comments- James has just mentioned the office of a teacher, or rabbi ( James 3:1), within the context of this Jewish epistle that also mentioning their synagogues ( James 2:2). It is the tongue that is a teacher's instrument of service. James is saying that a teacher should be able to bridle his tongue, so that he can use his office wisely.

Scripture References- Note similar verses that warn us not to offend in word:

Psalm 34:13, "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile."

Psalm 39:1, "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me."

Isaiah 6:5, "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

1 Peter 3:10, "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:"

James 1:19, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"

James 1:26, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man"s religion is vain.

"the same is a perfect Prayer of Manasseh , and able also to bridle the whole body" - Comments - No child of God is perfect in the sense that he is without fault; but if he will learn to control his tongue, he will develop into Christian maturity and be able to direct his conduct and lifestyle. His tongue will be able to bridle his body and set the course of his life, just as the horse is bridled and guided by a small bit in its mouth and the ship is set on course by a small rudder.

James 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses" mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

James 3:3Comments- James 3:3 illustrates how the tongue controls, or bridles, and steers the whole body. You can look at a horse and command it to do something, and it will just look at you and chew its oats. But, when you put a bridle in its mouth and a saddle on its back and set a rider, this great beast will obey every pull on its bridle.

Scripture Reference- Note a similar verse of the horse and its bridle:

Psalm 32:9, "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee."

Note also in Job 39:19-25 how God describes the might of the war horse.

James 3:4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

James 3:4Comments- Both the horse and the ship were considered very powerful and majestic to behold, yet, both of these were controlled by such a small item.

Creflo Dollar explains how a ship can be set on course for its destination. If the steersman allows the ship to swerve slightly off course, it may not be noticeable at first. However, if this mistake is not corrected, the ship finds itself further off course than it ever intended to go. It becomes very difficult to get back on course. In a similar way, many people allow their tongue to slip slightly again and again without correcting these small mistakes. Eventually, problems come into their lives that they never anticipated, and it becomes a big task for them to get back under God's divine blessings. 113]

113] Creflo Dollar, Changing Your World (College Park, Georgia: Creflo Dollar Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

James 3:5 — "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things" - Scripture Reference:

Psalm 12:3, "The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:"

James 3:5"Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!" - Comments- How a little gossip turns in to a raging fire and does not stop until many people are destroyed. It would be interesting to find out the world's most devastating forest fire and realize that it started with just a spark.

Scripture Reference- Note:

Proverbs 26:20-21, "Where no wood Isaiah , there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife."

James 3:5Comments- The little tongue does great things. The point is that such a little member has such great power. For example, a little gossip can turn a whole congregation into strife.

James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

James 3:6"And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity" - Scripture Reference- Note a similar verse that compares the tongue to a fire:

Psalm 57:4, "My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword."

James 3:6"so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body" - Comments - In Matthew 15:11-20 Jesus explains how the tongue defiles the entire Prayer of Manasseh , since out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and causes a man to become defiled.

Matthew 15:18-20, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man." ( Mark 7:1-23)

Scripture Reference- Note similar verses:

Matthew 12:34, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

Matthew 12:36-37, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

Titus 1:15, "Unto the pure all things are pure. but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."

James 3:6 — "and setteth on fire the course of nature" - Comments - That Isaiah , "it sets on fire the wheel, or course, of nature (existence)." Remember how the rudder of a ship guides its course. The same is with our tongue, saying that it sets the course of our life.

James 3:6"and it is set on fire of hell" - Comments - James has been discussing the power of the tongue, now he discusses its deadly power. The kind of defilement brought about by the tongue, which sets a man's life on a deadly course, comes from hell itself. The thoughts and words are from the devil. The Greek word here used for "hell" is "Gehenna." This word has its origin from the Hebrew phrase "valley of Hinnom ( גֵּ֨י הִנֹּ֜ם), which is a the valley on the south side of Jerusalem ( Joshua 18:16, Nehemiah 11:30). In James 3:6 this Greek word is used to describe Hell.

Joshua 18:16, "And the border came down to the end of the mountain that lieth before the valley of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the valley of the giants on the north, and descended to the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi on the south, and descended to Enrogel,"

Nehemiah 11:30, "Zanoah, Adullam, and in their villages, at Lachish, and the fields thereof, at Azekah, and in the villages thereof. And they dwelt from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom."

James 3:6Comments- The tongue is like kindling wood. It may look small, but it is able to ignite an entire forest on fire. In a similar way, one tongue can cause problems to an entire group of people.

Also, note the power or effects of speaking a blessing or curse in this passage (see Genesis 27:12-13).

Genesis 27:12-13, "My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them."

James 3:5-6Illustration- This is illustrated in Ecclesiastes 10:12-13.

Ecclesiastes 10:12-13, "The words of a wise man"s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness."

Mischief, or wicked madness, was the result of a lot of foolish talk.

James 3:5-6Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Proverbs 21:23, "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."

Proverbs 26:20-21, "Where no wood Isaiah , there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife."

James 3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

James 3:7Comments- Man has always sought to tame wild beasts.

James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:8 — "But the tongue can no man tame" - Comments- The tongue resists obedience. If no man can do it, then what's the use of trying? James 1:4-5 gives the reason why!

James 1:4-5, "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack Wisdom of Solomon , let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

James 3:8"it is an unruly evil" - Comments- James 3:8 tells us that the tongue us "a restless evil." The tongue is like a horse biting at the bridle and pulling the reins to tear out of the racing chute. It spills forth poison and evil words. We have to constantly hold back our tongue, likewise from speaking the wrong thing.

Illustration- As a young boy Dad bought a mare with her young filly. To make the mare ride away from the filly at the barn was very difficult. The mare was constantly trying to turn back to the barn. But on the return trip to the barn, she was fighting all along the way to break into a gallop and get back quickly. The tongue is restless, like a mare returning to her baby, always fighting to break out into poisonous words.

Illustration- There is a large praying mantis that spits accurately into one's eyeball. As a young boy one was on the window screen and our grandparents warned us of him. We approached too close and prodded him and the praying mantis spit right in my eye. He did not miss. The tongue is accurate like that, when it is turned loose, it does not miss hitting the mark.

James 3:8Comments- The tongue is like an untamed lion pacing a cage ready to break loose and destroy, or like a venomous snake ready to strike out at any threatening object. People use their words like this.

Psalm 140:3, "They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders" poison is under their lips. Selah."

James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

James 3:9"Therewith bless we God, even the Father" - Comments - The tongue glorifies God to bring forth the fruit of our lips in praise and thanksgiving.

Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Ruth 4:14, "And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel."

John 15:8, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

Hebrews 13:15, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that Isaiah , the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

James 3:9"and therewith curse we men" - Scripture Reference- Note:

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, "Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others."

James 3:9"which are made after the similitude of God"- Comments - Since we are made in God"s image, we are:

1. Not to murder:

Genesis 9:6, "Whoso sheddeth man"s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."

Leviticus 19:27-28, "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD."

2. Not to defile our bodies:

1 Corinthians 3:17, "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."

3. Not to cover the man"s head:

1 Corinthians 11:7, "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man."

4. Not for a man to wear long hair:

1 Corinthians 11:14, "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?"

Scripture Reference- Note:

Genesis 1:26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

James 3:9Comments- We can see in James 3:9 a description of strife in a church, while everyone stands together and sings songs of praise. For example, I was leading the singing at mission in Fort Worth, Texas in the spring of 1983. One member comes to the front just before we sing and asks if he can say or do something. He goes over to another member and apologizes for what he had said. He later shared that he had lost his wife and God had restored his wife back to him.

We speak a blessing upon others, or we speak a curse upon them. We can speak blessing of peace, mercy and grace upon each other. Note:

Judges 9:27, "And they went out into the fields, and gathered their vineyards, and trode the grapes, and made merry, and went into the house of their god, and did eat and drink, and cursed Abimelech."

Ruth 2:4, "And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The LORD be with you. And they answered him, The LORD bless thee."

Ruth 2:20, "And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen."

Ruth 3:10, "And he said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my daughter: for thou hast shewed more kindness in the latter end than at the beginning, inasmuch as thou followedst not young men, whether poor or rich."

2 Samuel 15:20, "Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee."

2 Samuel 16:5, "And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth, and cursed still as he came."

2 Samuel 19:21, "But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the LORD"S anointed?"

Psalm 10:7, "His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity."

Psalm 59:12, "For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak."

Psalm 109

Matthew 5:44, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;"

Matthew 10:13, "And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."

Also, most of the Pauline epistles:

Romans 1:7, "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

James 3:10Comments- For a Christian, this is clearly a battle between the spirit and the flesh.

Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."

Scripture Reference- Note:

Matthew 12:34, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

James 3:12 — "Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs?" - Comments- You cannot sow one seed and expect another type to come up.

James 3:12 — "so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh." - Comments- Note how God miraculously changed the bitter waters of Marah to sweet water in Exodus 15:22-27. The fountain was either salty or fresh, but not both.

James 3:9-12Comments- A Description of the Double-Minded Prayer of Manasseh - This passage of Scripture describes the double-minded man in James 1:8.

James 1:8, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."


Verses 1-18

Slow to Speak: Overcoming an Unbridled Tongue Through Meekness of Wisdom (Bridling our Tongues in the Mental Realm) - In James 3:1-18 James continues to allude to the assembly of Jewish believers in the Temple and local synagogues as they listened to the reading and interpretation of the Scriptures by a rabbi or teacher. These Jewish believers would be tempted to exalt themselves above others, seeking to be the teacher, or rabbi, which served as the head of local Jewish congregations ( James 3:1-12). James now warns his readers to avoid the temptation to exalt himself above others as a teacher and exercise an unruly tongue.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Power of the Tongue — James 3:1-12

2. The Path of Life and Death — James 3:13-18


Verses 13-18

The Path of Life and Death - James 3:13-18 describes the paths of life and death. True wisdom from God is expressed by walking in meekness, which characterizes a man who has tamed his tongue, while earthly wisdom is shown through envy and strife, which characterizes a man who has an unbridled tongue ( James 3:13-18).

James 1:5 tells us to ask God for wisdom. The author now tells his readers in James 3:13 to look for examples of true wisdom among their church members. If a person is walking in envy and strife, he is walking in earthly wisdom ( James 3:14-16). If a person's walk is characterized by "pureness, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy," ( James 3:17-18) he is an example to be followed.

James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

James 3:13"let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom" - Comments- Jack MacGorman describes "meekness of wisdom as "tamed strength." He illustrates this with a work horse, who is powerful when working, but tame when resting. 114]

114] Jack MacGorman, "Class Lecture," GREEK 432 - New Testament Greek II, Spring 1982 (Fort Worth, Texas: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), comments on James 3:13.

Scripture References- Note similar verses that illustrate this phrase:

Proverbs 16:32, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."

Ecclesiastes 9:13-18.

James 3:13Comments- Joyce Meyer says, "The very first attribute of true wisdom is humility, so it means no person is walking in true wisdom unless they're leaning on God. No matter how smart somebody looks, they're not walking in true wisdom unless they're leaning on God." 115]

115] Joyce Meyer, "Laboring in Vain," tape number 509-4 (Fenton, Missouri: Joyce Meyer Ministries), audiocassette.

The epistle of James begins by telling us that whoever lacks wisdom can ask of God who gives to all men liberally ( James 1:5-6). This means, that if we are not wise men it is because we are not leaning on God for that wisdom. Note

James 1:5-6, "If any of you lack Wisdom of Solomon , let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."

This is because it takes a humble, or meek spirit, to receive and follow God's Word when it contradicts what our flesh wants to do. This is why James says in James 1:21 to receive the engrafted Word of God with meekness.

James 1:21, "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls."

We are told in Proverbs 9:10 that it is the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Thus, none of us can walk in true wisdom without first humbling ourselves in the sight of the Lord and yield to His Word.

Wisdom empowers a believer, but humility allows us to manage this power, so that we do not exalt ourselves above others who lack this divine attribute that helps us walk above the problems of this world. But we must not view meekness of wisdom as simply a passive person; for James will soon tell his readers to "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you," ( James 4:7). Thus, it may be seen as a person on his knees before God, but it is also demonstrated as a person shouting at the Devil, casting him out of his life. Walking in our divine authority as God's children by casting out devils and healing the sick is a display of this empowerment of divine wisdom.

James 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

James 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

James 3:15Comments- Earthly wisdom is human wisdom and philosophy, or carnal-mindedness. Sensual wisdom is the natural world as opposed to the supernatural world, unspiritual as opposed to spiritual, soulish and carnal. In contrast, divine wisdom was to be prayed for ( James 1:5); it aids us in living a Godly life ( James 3:13).

James 1:5, "If any of you lack Wisdom of Solomon , let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

If we do not seek divine wisdom from God above, then we will seek the wisdom of this world. There are three sources of influence that man receives in this world if he does not seek divine wisdom from above. This verse calls them earthly, sensual and devilish sources. The earthly wisdom refers to the influences of those around us, including circumstances in which we find ourselves. Sensual wisdom is that which comes from our carnal mind, our thoughts and the lusts of the flesh. Devilish wisdom is the influence of Satan and his fallen demons in our hearts. Thus, the wisdom of this world can be identified by its physical, mental, and spiritual attributes, which is described as earthly, soulish, and devilish.

James 3:16 For where envying and strife Isaiah , there is confusion and every evil work.

James 3:16Comments- Even in marriages, if strife is allowed in, this gives place to other problems such as hatred, bitterness and even divorce. This marriage is open to the work of Satan.

Envy and strife come from a heart of pride. Note:

Proverbs 13:10, "Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom."

Envy and strife are works of the flesh:

Galatians 5:15-21

Romans 8:6, "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."

1 Corinthians 3:3, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"

Envy and strife can damage relationships with people that are difficult to be healed.

Proverbs 18:19, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 3:17Comments- This verse defines the kind of wisdom that we are to ask our heavenly Father for ( James 1:5).

James 3:15-17Comments - Earthly Wisdom and Heavenly Wisdom of Solomon - James 3:15-17 defines two kinds of wisdom: earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom.

James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

James 3:18Comments - Here is the principle of sowing and reaping. Those who have the fruit of righteousness in their lives are those who sow in peace, those who practice peace rather than envy and strife ( James 3:16, 1 Peter 3:11). You cannot sow righteous fruit in peace and sow discord at the same time. If the seed that you sow is to result in righteousness, it must be sown in peace ( Matthew 5:9).

1 Peter 3:11, "Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it."

Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on James 3:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/james-3.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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