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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
James 3




Questions For James Chapter Three

1. What kind of masters are meant in first verse?

2.State what this would cause us to receive.

3.How do we offend all?

4.How may we be perfect in this connection?

5.On what theory is he considered perfect?

6.Compare verse2with 1 Corinthians 9:27.

7.Do horses" bits manage them mechanically?

8.Does the tongue manage us mechanically?

9.Show argument from the ships" rudders.

10.To what member is all this likened?

11.Through what trait does the tongue do evil?

12.Does a great fire require a great lighter?

13.Might the work of the tongue become greater1

14.What kind of world is attributed to it?

15.Among whom docs it become such?

16.What body is meant in sixth verse?

17.State what course or fuel it ignites.

18.From where did the "light" originate r

19.How many kinds of brutes have been tamed?

20.By whom have they been tamed?

21.What law in Genesis agrees with this?

22.Is the "man" verse8 same as verse "( r

23. Why can no man tame this tongue?

24. Of what is it full?

25. If no man can tame it why blame it?

26.What contradictory use is made of the tongue?

27.State a natural law that would shame this.

28.On this principle where is the divided tongue?

29.Explain "conversation" verse13.

30.Of what should it consist?

31.What kind of man is expected to do this?

32.Show relation between meekness and wisdom.

33.Would this cause the tongue to be tamed?

34.Describe bitter envying.

35.Where do these evils originate?

36.What system of truth meant in14th verse?

37.Is the above one form of wisdom?

38.Where does it belong?

39.Explain being sensual

40.Why is it devilish?

41.State results of envying and strife.

42.Does this violate Colossians 3:15?

43.From where does the desired wisdom come?

44.What is its first characteristic?

45.Compare the2nd with Romans 12:18.

46.Is it easy to be persuaded?

47.Full of what?

48.How does it differ from2: 1 , etc.?

4D.What fruit is sown by such like persons?

50. In what condition is it sown?

Verse 1

Masters is from DIDASKALOS, and it is the same word rendered "teachers" in Hebrews 5:12. In that place Paul says the brethren ought to be teachers, using the word in a good sense, while James says for the brethren not to have many of them. We must therefore consider the connection in which it is used in order to get the meaning in any given case. In our verse it is plain that James is writing of men who put themselves up as teachers who do not properly control their tongues. Such people are to be condemned all the more because they do harm by their words.

Verse 2

For in many things. If we do have too many of such professed teachers we will ofiend all or all (of us) will offend or stumble. The importance of our language is the subject in several verses. If a man does not offend (or stumble) with the improper use of his tongue he will prove to be a perfect or complete Prayer of Manasseh , controlling even his body.

Verse 3

The great influence of apparently small things is the idea James is illustrating in this and the next verse. In size and weight a bridle bit is very small, yet with it we control the direction of the entire animal.

Verse 4

The same thing is true of the helm or rudder of a ship. It is but a few inches or feet long, yet it may guide a ship that is many hundreds of feet in length.

Verse 5

The application of the illustration is made to the tongue. The last word is from o1.oss., which means as its first definition the literal organ that is a member of the fleshly body. The Greek term is used because the tongue is the instrument by which the speech or words of a person are produced. Actually it is the language of the individual that is being considered, although the form of the phrases is related to the physical organ of speech. James uses another illustration for the same purpose as that in verses3,4. If a man wished to burn a structure as tall as a tower, he would need only to use a torch an inch long.

Verse 6

James calls the tongue a fire because he had just used the illustration of "a little fire." It is called a world of iniquity because the original word for world means mankind. The evil use of the tongue will affect mankind in general ifit is not curbed. Defiles the whole body. Our organ of speech if allowed to work sinfully will result in evil conduct of the whole body. Course literally means "a wheel" according to Thayer, and nature means the procedure of human existence. The figure represents it as a wheel that is rolling onward. James means that the evil tongue sets this wheel on fire. It is set on fire of hell (GEHENNA); not literally, of course. But a torch has to be "lighted" from some source, and James regards a wicked tongue as so bad that he represents its owner as having applied to hell to "get a light."

Verse 7

The facts of controlling a horse with a bit, guiding a ship with a rudder or training a beast by man all have one thing in common, namely, the feat is accomplished by another party; the things controlled are acted upon by an outside force.

Verse 8

Such a feat cannot be Acts - complished upon the tongue "because of its characteristic of poison which defies being subdued by another man than its owner. James does not say a man cannot subdue his own tongue; in truth he teaches that a man can and should bridle his own tongue (chapter

Verse 9

The main point in this and the next verse is to show the inconsistency ‘in they uncontrolled tongue. Man is made after the similitude of God, therefore He should be regarded with respect. Yet the evil tongue will bless one and curse the other.

Verse 10

This repeats the thought of the preceding verse in another form of expression. The words same mouth emphasize the inconsistency in a more direct way.

Verse 11-12

In Verses11-12James refers to the consistency of the things in the natural creation, to shame the man who is double-minded in the use of his tongue. The same God who made the inanimate things named also created man and gave him a tongue wherewith to express his intelligence. How in excusable it is therefore in him to make such an evil use of the blessing of speech.

Verse 13

Wise man is one who has learned to exercise good judgment, and knowledge means information concerning which he may exercise that good judgment. James gives some specific suggestions on how such a man may manifest those traits in his conversation, which means conduct or manner of life. He is to do it with meekness of wisdom; a truly wise man will be meek or humble and not boastful of his knowledge.

Verse 14

Bitter envying denotes a mind that is resentful toward another person who is fortunate. The original word for strife means an attempt to outdo some other person by fair means or otherwise. Should such a person succeed he is admonished not to glory in it. Lie not against the truth. Certainly all lies are against the truth, but the special thought is that an envious person cannot oppose a righteous or fortunate one without contradicting the truth involved.

Verse 15

Wisdom is from a Greek word that has a great variety of meanings. Thayer comments on this phase of the subject as follows: "Used of knowledge of very diverse matters. so that the shade of meaning in which the word is taken must be discovered from the context [connection] in every particular case." In general the word refers to knowledge or information that a person may have (or claim to have), whether it be good or bad. true or false. This should prepare us to see why James calls something by the word-wisdom when he is speaking of that which he disapnroves. Earthly is used as a contrast to above; sensual pertains to the natural or animal part of our nature; devilish, is an adjective and means something that has the character of demons.

Verse 16

James verifies his description of this wisdom (preceding verse) by repeating virtually the sentiments of verse14. He emphasizes it by adding the results of such "wisdom" namely, confusion and every evil work.

Verse 17

In James 3:14-16 James designates the kind of wisdom that does not come from above (or heaven); the present verse describes the kind that does come from the higher source. First pure signifies that it is of the most importance for a man"s information to be pure or unmixed with anything false. Then peaceable indicates that peace is not to be desired unless it is according to the truth. That is why Paul placed it on condition in Romans 12:18. Gentle means to be mild and fair in one's temperament even when insisting on truth as being preferable to peace. Easy to be intreated is all from one Greek word that means to be of a yielding disposition and not stubborn when the heavenly wisdom is presented. Full of mercy means that one's life is merciful toward those in difficulties whenever the occasion arises, and not only when it is the most convenient to be so. Fruits are the deeds that are performed and heavenly wisdom will prompt one to produce good deeds. Without partiality denotes an attitude that does not show respect of persons. (See Ja, Ezra 2:1-4.) Without hypocrisy means that our expressions of friendliness to others will be sincere and not a mere pretense. A tree is known by its fruit, hence if a man is being influenced by the wisdom that is from above, he will exhibit the characteristics that are described in this verse.

Verse 18

If a man possesses good fruit he usually wishes to reproduce it by sowing or planting it. Hence he will sow it righteously by conforming to the rules of peace that have been formed in harmony with the pure wisdom.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on James 3:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

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Saturday, October 24th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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