The Letter of James
Chapter One
Copyright ©2001, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington
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  1. Greeting (Jas 1:1).
  2. Benefit of trials (Jas 1:2-8).
  3. Rich and poor (Jas 1:9-11).
  4. Temptation and sin (Jas 1:12-18).
  5. Swift to hear, slow to speak (Jas 1:19, 20).
  6. Doers of the word (Jas 1:21-25).
  7. Pure religion (Jas 1:26, 27).

This chapter[ 1 ] deals mainly with the topics of trials, temptation and being doers of the word (see chart OUTLINE OF JAMES 1).


1:1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.

James [from James].[ 2 ] The natural translation of the Greek term for the writer's name is Jacob. Is it possible that the KJV translators honored their king (James) by rendering the name Jacob loosely as "James"?

A bondservant of God [a servant of God, bondman of God].[ 3 ] James was a bond-servant of his half-brother, Jesus Christ.

And of the Lord Jesus Christ [and the Lord Jesus Christ]. Although not conclusive, the fact of James' servitude to both the Father and the Son suggests the deity of Christ.

To the twelve tribes.[ 4 ] "Twelve tribes" is a figurative expression. From a careful reading of the book of James, one is led to believe that they were Christians, not unbelieving Jews scattered over the world. God's NT people everywhere can apply the lessons in the epistle of James (see chart "TWELVE TRIBES" = CHRISTIANS).

    (Jas 1:1)
  1. Christians of faith are of Abraham, father of us all (Ro 4:16).
  2. Those of faith are sons of Abraham (Ga 3:7-9).
  3. Abraham's offspring (Ga 3:29).
  4. The Israel of God (Ga 6:16).
  5. The true circumcision (Php 3:3).

Which are scattered abroad [who are dispersed, dispersed abroad, among the nations, throughout the world, in, which are in, the dispersion].[ 5 ] Peter also wrote to those scattered. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God" (1Pe 1:1, 2). In a sense, all Christians are sojourners, campers on earth, on their way to heaven (see chart SOJOURNING CHRISTIANS).

    (Jas 1:1)
  1. Citizenship in heaven (Php 3:20).
  2. Jerusalem above is free; our mother (Ga 4:26; compare Heb 12:22).
  3. No continuing city, but seek the one to come (Heb 13:14).
  4. Conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear (1Pe 1:17).
  5. As sojourners and pilgrims abstain from fleshly lusts (1Pe 2:11).

Greetings [greeting].[ 6 ] The same Greek word by which James greeted his readers was used in another letter that he and others sent out from Jerusalem. "They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: CHAIREIN Greetings" (Ac 15:23). James uses an ordinary Greek salutation. It can mean hail! or welcome! When used at parting, it means joy be with you!

    (Jas 1:2)
  1. Joy in trials (Jas 1:2).
  2. Exaltation in poverty (Jas 1:9).
  3. Pure religion (Jas 1:27).
  4. A live faith (Jas 2:18).
  5. Patience in persecution (Jas 5:7, 8).
  6. Prayer for the sick and for sinners (Jas 5:14-16).


1:2, 3 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

My brethren [my brothers].[ 7 ] James does not hold out a wonderful outcome for all trials nor does he expect everyone to experience joy during them. These blessings are only for his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Count it [consider it, count yourselves].[ 8 ] James presents a revolutionary idea about temptation (trials or testing). These distressing and unpleasant experiences are to be considered a joy because of their end result (see chart FEATURES OF A LIVING FAITH). The prophet Habakkuk was able to remain true to his Lord in time of hardship. With confidence in God, he wrote:

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food, though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls --Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Hab 3:17, 18).

All joy [an unmixed, pure, joy, supremely happy].[ 9 ] The Christian is not supposed to resign himself to trouble and hate every minute of it. He is to be extraordinarily happy about various trials! James may have been thinking of Christ's words, "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven. For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets" (Lu 6:23; compare Mt 5:12). When people left Judaism and were baptized into Christ, the Jews considered them to be dead. Property of the "dead" was confiscated. Christians "joyfully accepted" the seizure of their real estate (Heb 10:34). There will be a subsequent attainment of joy at the coming of Christ for those who have shared in His sufferings.

"But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (1Pe 4:13).
When [whenever].[ 10 ] The word "when" or "whenever" implies that trials are to be expected from time to time during the course of a Christian's life.

You fall [you, ye, encounter, face, are beset, have to face].[ 11 ] When one falls into a trial it may envelop and affect his entire life for good (or ill).


Into various [divers, of many kinds, by various].[ 12 ] Some trials are brought on by persecution. In this connection, Peter wrote, "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials" (1Pe 1:6).

Trials [temptations].[ 13 ] Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Mt 6:13). By temptation, He meant enticement to do evil. By contrast, in James 1:2, the trials are tests of faith or character.

Knowing that [knowing this, because you know, in the knowledge that].[ 14 ] Christians should not be surprised that they receive blessings in trials. They have been given that information in advance.

The testing of your faith [the trying, that the trying, testing, the proving, such testing, of your faith].[ 15 ] The Greek word for testing has been used of metals cast into the fire to see if they are good or approved (see Pr 8:10; 17:3). Faith is proved and confirmed in the crucible of trials. "That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:7).

Produces [works, worketh, develops, breeds, brings about].[ 16 ] The testing of faith effectively produces patience. It works flawlessly if given the opportunity (see verse 4).

Patience [endurance, perseverance, fortitude, steadfastness].[ 17 ] With persecution in view, Jesus said to the disciples, "By your patience possess your souls" (Lu 21:19). "Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord" (Jas 5:7).


1:4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

But let patience [and, but, let endurance, if you give fortitude, perseverance, steadfastness].[ 18 ] One must be patient with patience. That is, it needs time to work.

Have its perfect work [her perfect work, have its perfect result, must finish its work, full play, do its work completely].[ 19 ] Endurance or patience must be allowed to complete its work in the heart of a Christian in order to perfect or mature him. Paul wrote of the patience of the Thessalonian Christians: "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father" (1Th 1:3).

That you may be perfect [that, so that, you may be mature, you will go on to complete].[ 20 ] When Jesus said, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Mt 5:48), He knew the path toward perfection was strewn with the thorns of many trials. After a period of testing, a Christian's love shines brighter, his forgiveness for others is more tender and his hope is stronger. It is then that perfection is realized. After Paul was stoned at Lystra, he and Barnabas preached briefly in Derbe and returned to Lystra. They kept on preaching there and in other nearby towns. They encouraged everyone "to continue in the faith." They said, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Ac 14:22; compare Ac 11:23).

And complete [and entire, and fully developed, a balanced character].[ 21 ] Sometimes TELEIOS perfect means complete or mature. In this context, it may mean something like "good" or "better" inasmuch as the following phrase means complete. Some think James may have used the terms in apposition.

Lacking nothing [that will fall short in, wanting nothing, lacking in nothing, not lacking anything].[ 22 ] Some Christians, especially babes in Christ, may be lacking something. As they weather the trials of life, their character becomes richer, fuller and more complete. They become stronger in the faith, more considerate and patient with others.


1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

If [but if].[ 23 ] The little word(s) "if" or "but if" make a transition between what James has just written and what is to follow. The suffering Christian may be unable to see any good in his lot in life. Trials may seem to be without any purpose whatever. At such a time, one should ask God for practical insights or wisdom. He will graciously give a positive answer to such a prayer.

Any of you lacks [if any of you lack, falls short].[ 24 ] People may lack wisdom in a general way but, in the present context, James focuses upon understanding the benefit of various trials.

Wisdom [in wisdom].[ 25 ] When in the midst of a fiery ordeal a Christian says, "I don't understand" or "Why me, Lord?" it is an indication that he lacks the wisdom to stand the trial.

    (Jas 1:5)
  1. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people (2Ch 1:10).
  2. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Ps 90:12).
  3. So that you may incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding (Pr 2:1).
  4. May give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Eph 1:17).
  5. That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col 1:9).

    (Jas 1:5)
  1. Ask, and it will be given to you (Mt 7:7; Lu 11:9).
  2. How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Mt 7:11).
  3. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (Mt 21:22; Joh 14:13; 15:7; 16:24).
  4. Because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs (Lu 11:8).
  5. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him? (Lu 18:7).

Let him ask [he should ask, ask for it].[ 26 ] Because the Lord realized there is an advantage for Christians to understand the purpose of suffering and what its outcome will be, He inspired James to instruct them to ask for help. God hears the sincere prayers of Christians. "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1Jo 5:14).

Let us pray for a long life of service. "Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come" (Ps 71:18). The promise is, "They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing" (Ps 92:14). Remember however, Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me, while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (Joh 9:4).[ 27 ]

Of God who gives [that giveth, God who gives, for God is a giver].[ 28 ] The Greek construction implies that God is a giving God. He is the "God who gives."
One of His outstanding characteristics is generosity. That is His nature. "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Php 4:19; see chart THE GIVING GOD).

    (Jas 1:5)
  1. Gives strength, peace (Ps 29:11).
  2. Sends rain on the just and unjust (Mt 5:45).
  3. Makes opportunities to serve (Mt 25:15).
  4. Gave His Son (Joh 3:16).
  5. Provides fruitful seasons (Ac 14:17).
  6. Gives to all life, breath and all things (Ac 17:25).
  7. Gives grace to the humble (1Pe 5:5).

To all [to all men].[ 29 ] Some of God's blessings are universal. For example, the rain falls on the just and unjust alike (Mt 5:45). The gospel message is for all (Mk 16:15, 16). He loves the entire world (Joh 3:16). However, in the present context, His generosity to those who pray in faith is especially designated.

Liberally [generously, generous, freely].[ 30 ] "The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it" (Pr 10:22). In addition to wisdom, God gives knowledge and joy.

"For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to who is good before God. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind" (Ec 2:26).

When the Savior fed the five thousand, the disciples took up twelve baskets of broken pieces (Mt 14:20). He always supplies more than is needed. A characteristic of His generosity is abundant but not wasteful. Sometimes His giving is accomplished through human agents. Consider this. "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you" (Lu 6:38). The one(s) who will return the generosity are not specified.

And without reproach [finding fault, upbraideth not, nor reproaches anyone, and reproaches not].[ 31 ] A good teacher never finds fault with a student's question, no matter how trivial. God is the best teacher of all. He does not put down a sincere seeker who does not understand. When a poor, toil-weary Christian wonders why he is being tested, God gently responds to his prayer by giving him wisdom, comfort and peace.

And it will be given to him [and it shall be given him].[ 32 ] This is a simple, direct statement that God will answer the prayer of faith. He will grant wisdom to the seeker. The implication is that He will give it "liberally." No information is given as to how or when.


1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

But let him ask in faith [when he asks he must believe, he must ask in faith].[ 33 ] Faith or belief is a condition of effective prayer.

With no doubting [nothing doubting, wavering, without any doubting, a doubt in his mind, and not doubt].[ 34 ] There is a suggestion here that one, during trials, should be meditating on the word of God. Faith comes through the word (Joh 20:30, 31; Ro 10:17).

For he who doubts [because, for, he that doubts, for the one, he that wavereth, the doubter].[ 35 ] When in the wilderness, the Israelites were believers one day and doubters the next (Ps 106:12, 13). Some modern "believers" are much like them. They have "no root" and soon "wither away" (Mt 13:6). On the stormy sea of Galilee, the disciples woke Christ and said, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" (Mk 4:38). After stilling the storm, He asked them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?" (Mk 4:40). At that point, it would seem they should have been as calm as the sea. We would have been, wouldn't we? Well, they were not. They "feared exceedingly" and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!" (Mk 4:41). The fickle Galatians were doubters too. They were "turning away" from Christ. Paul said, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel" (Ga 1:6).

Is like a wave [is like the surf, a heaving sea].[ 36 ] The particular kind of wave depicted by the Greek word is a long crest of water whipped up by the wind that travels over miles of ocean. When in the turmoil of seemingly unending trial, like an ocean wave, the doubter moves along. He may not have his eye on any particular goal. Yet, he longs for serenity, quietness, stability and peace. He can find it only in God. Without Him, life is as turbulent as a stormy sea.

    (Jas 1:8)
  1. Great peace have those who love Your law (Ps 119:165).
  2. [Wisdom's] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace (Pr 3:17).
  3. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You (Isa 26:3).
  4. Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river" (Isa 66:12).
  5. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Php 4:7).

Of the sea.[ 37 ] James must have been familiar with the wave-tossed Sea of Galilee and, possibly, the Mediterranean.

Driven and tossed by the wind [driven with, blown by, tossed by, the wind, driven by the wind and tossed about].[ 38 ] Isaiah used a muddy sea to portray the wicked. He wrote, "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked'" (Isa 57:20, 21; compare 48:22).

Being tossed about like a wave does not determine whether or not one is a Christian. It does mean that one has no hope. Such a person may just be immature. However, he needs to face his doubts and deal with them. Paul longed for the maturity and unity of the saints so they would be "no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting" (Eph 4:14; compare Heb 13:9).


1:7, 8 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

For let not that man suppose [for let not that man, that person, think, expect, a man of that kind, should not think, must not suppose].[ 39 ] The double-minded, wavering doubter need not expect an answer to his prayer. That kind of a man will surely be disappointed. The positive side is that doubt can be resolved by concentrated Bible study and by remaining active in the word.

That he will receive [he, that he, shall receive, to give him].[ 40 ]

Anything.[ 41 ] Lest one conclude that only wisdom will be withheld from the doubter, this makes the application general. The wavering man should not expect to receive anything else he prays for.

From the Lord [of the Lord].[ 42 ]

    (Jas 1:8)
  1. They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods (2Ki 17:33).
  2. No servant can serve two masters (Lu 16:13).
  3. You cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons (1Co 10:21).
  4. Or what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? (2Co 6:15).

He is a double-minded man [being, for, a double-minded man, he is double-minded].[ 43 ] When a person prays, "God, if there is a God, save me from hell if there is a hell," he is wavering between belief and unbelief. He is like a disciple walking on the water who looks toward the Lord one second and at the storm the next (compare Mt 14:28-31). When, in the midst of trial, one may pray for wisdom but, at the same time, have mental reservation as to whether God can bring anything positive out of his plight. Such a person is double-minded.

Unstable in all his ways [is unstable in all his ways, unstable in all he does, and never can keep a steady course].[ 44 ] The double-minded man is confused and bewildered. His thinking is clouded with doubt and indecision. He vacillates and hesitates in the pursuit of spiritual goals, if he has any.


1:9, 10 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.

Let the lowly brother [but let the brother of, in, low, humble circumstances, of low degree].[ 45 ] Humble circumstances, in this verse, focuses on the hardship of poverty. Contrast the rich man in verse 10. Poverty is generally regarded as undesirable, disagreeable and even harmful but it need not be so. Riches, on the other hand, may be, but are not always, harmful.

Glory [rejoice, take pride, may well be proud].[ 46 ] Paul said, "We also glory in tribulations" (Ro 5:3) and we "rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh" (Php 3:3). The man who is poor in material goods has something he can brag or crow about. He has dignity because he is in Christ Jesus. He is a child of the King!

In his high exaltation [in his high position, elevation, in that he is exalted, that God lifts him up, because he is lifted up].[ 47 ] The "high exaltation" of the poor does not imply that he has won the lottery or struck it rich in a gold mine. His exaltation is that of being a Christian. As such, he is an heir of something great beyond imagination. He is an heir of God and a fellow-heir with Christ (see Ro 8:17).

But the rich [but let the rich person, and the rich, and let the rich man, the wealthy brother, one who is rich].[ 48 ] Most Americans are rich by comparison to the rest of the world. Affluent Christians may find something exhilarating and stimulating about associating with others with meager wages and who live in sub-standard houses. This works two ways. There may be a prideful charge because of a superior station. There may be a blessing because of humble fellowship with the needy.

    (Jas 1:10)
  1. For he sees wise men die; likewise the fool and the senseless person perish, and leave their wealth to others (Ps 49:10).
  2. For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven (Pr 23:5).
  3. For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations (Pr 27:24).
  4. I must leave it to the man who will come after me (Ec 2:18).

    (Jas 1:10)
  1. To the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to who is good before God (Ec 2:26).
  2. As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right; it will leave him in the midst of his days, and at his end he will be a fool (Jer 17:11).
  3. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1Ti 6:7).

In his humiliation [glory in, should take pride in, must find his pride in, that he is made low, his low position, being brought low, glory because he is brought low].[ 49 ] The rich Christian is humbled when he is made to realize the futility of trusting in riches. Like every poor saint, he has learned to trust in the living God. He enjoys the fellowship of those with moderate or low incomes. He understands that the common leveler (death) will bring him down to the standing of the meanest pauper.

Because as a flower of the field [as, for as, the flower of the grass, because like flowering grass, as a, like the, the grass's flower, like a wild flower].
[ 50 ] In Palestine, after the spring rains come, red anemones or "lilies" dominate the Palestinian slopes.

He will pass away [he shall pass away, for the rich man will disappear].[ 51 ] Note that it is the rich man who will pass away, not just his bags of money.


1:11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.

For no sooner has the sun risen [for, for when, the sun rises, has risen, is no sooner risen, no sooner is the sun risen, once the sun is up].[ 52 ] Sunlight is necessary for plant growth but the hot sun, in conjunction with drying winds, is destructive to delicate flowers. The comparison shows how delicate the standing of the rich really is. A sudden turn of uncontrolled events can spell their demise.

With a burning heat [with its, scorching heat, a scorching wind].[ 53 ] Like Southern Washington's hot Santa Ana wind, at times, a scorching wind from the east called the "sirocco" blows across Palestine. The scorching wind dries up and wilts the profuse display of wild flowers on the Galilean hillsides (see Job Job 38:24; Eze 17:10; Ho 13:15).

It withers the grass [and, than it, has withered, and withers, it dries out, but it withereth, the plant, the flower, withers].[ 54 ] The "grass" is not necessarily the kind on our lawns. In late spring, some of it has beautiful flowers.

Its flower falls [and its flower falls off, has fallen, and the flower thereof falleth, its blossom falls, its petals fall].[ 55 ] The falling flower symbolizes the passing away of the rich man.

And its beautiful appearance [and the beauty, the grace of the fashion of it, and the comeliness, of its appearance, its beauty, of its look, what was lovely to look at].[ 56 ]

Perishes [perisheth, has perished, is destroyed, is lost forever].[ 57 ] The wealthy man passes away. By contrast, the righteous puts on immortality (1Co 15:53, 54). The inheritance of the righteous is "imperishable" (1Pe 1:4).

So the rich man also [so too, also, in the same way, thus, the rich man, the rich person, the rich also].[ 58 ] Rich who have passed away include Henry Ford, Richard Nixon, Orville Redenbacher (drowning), Nelson Rockefeller, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne (cancer) and many others.

Will fade away [shall fade away, shall wither, shall wither away].[ 59 ]

In his pursuits [while, in the midst of, as he goes about, in his ways, his goings, his business].[ 60 ] Rich men may pass away while still amassing wealth. Their money does not usually buy them much extra days of life. They may be in the middle of a hot business deal or in the process of starring in a movie when the summons comes.


1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Blessed is the man [blessed is a man, happy the man].[ 61 ] Right here on earth there can be joy in adversity. The realization depends upon whether the man who endures it is a prayerful Christian with a strong faith.

Who endures temptation [perseveres under trial, who is steadfast, remains steadfast, under trial, that endureth temptation].[ 62 ] Translations are about evenly divided as to whether PEIRASMON means a trial to test faith (see verses 3, 4) or temptation to entice to sin (see note on verse 13). Common to the path of every heaven-bound Christian is a passage "through many tribulations" (Ac 14:22). Heartaches and persecutions alone do not refine the soul nor do they prepare it for eternity. The Christian must persevere under trial. The Greek HUPOMENEI perseveres is the verb form of HUPOMONEEN endurance or patience (verse 3). Paul said, "If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Ro 8:17). "Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful" (Jas 5:11).

For when he has been approved [for after he is proved, for once he has been once proved, having been proved, when he is tried, having passed that test, because when he has stood the test].[ 63 ] Final approval will be at the judgment day when the Lord says, "Well done!"

He will receive [he shall receive, he will receive for his prize].[ 64 ] The person who endures temptation and is approved anticipates eternal happiness in heaven with the Lord of love (see note on verse 7).

The crown [the victor's crown, the gift].[ 65 ] Paul looked forward to "the crown of righteousness" (2Ti 4:8). Peter wrote of "the crown of glory" (1Pe 5:4). Jesus promised "the crown of life" to the faithful (Re 2:10). All these passages use the word STEPHANOS the victor's crown, the symbol of triumph in a contest (see also 1Co 9:25; 2Ti 2:5; Heb 2:7, 9).[ 66 ] A crown often had a purple band trimmed in white. Consider the faith of the many women and men who gave their lives as martyrs for Christ and who will receive the victor's crown. The lesson to us all is: Never give up! (see note on By evil at verse 13). Jesus made a promise when He said: "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Re 2:10).

Of life [the life].[ 67 ] The Greek construction certainly implies the sense: "The crown which is the life" (see footnote). The crown of life is the life!

Which the Lord has promised [which He, God, the Lord, promised, hath, has, promised].[ 68 ] Since the crown of life=life, we might expect Christ to have promised life and such is the case (see Mt 7:14; 19:29; 25:46; Mk 10:30; Lu 18:29, 30; Joh 5:28, 29; 10:27, 28; 17:2).

To those who love Him [to them that love him, to those who love God].[ 69 ] The crown "which is life" is given to those who love God (compare 2Ti 4:6-8). In order to receive it, one must abide in the love of Christ and keep himself in God's love (Joh 15:10; Jude 21).

    (Jas 1:12)
  1. Showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Ex 20:6).
  2. For You O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield (Ps 5:11, 12).
  3. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our home with him (Joh 14:23)
  4. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (1Co 2:9; compare Isa 64:4).
  5. If any one loves God, this one is known by Him (1Co 8:3).

Love for Christ implies putting Him first, relegating less important things under Him and taking up one's cross daily.

"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me" (Mt 10:37, 38).

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or wife[ 70 ] or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life" (Mt 19:29).


1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

Let no one say [let no man say, no one should say].[ 71 ]

When he is tempted [when tempted, under trial].[ 72 ] In this verse, temptation has to do with being lured into sin. Christians may expect to be tempted frequently.

I am tempted [being tempted, I am being tempted, that the temptation, is tempting me].[ 73 ] There is a tendency to ascribe responsibility for temptation directly or indirectly to God. This is not right.

By God [of God, is from God].[ 74 ] The Greek does not implicate God as being even partially back of temptation to sin.[ 75 ] He has set up the universe in such a way that man is responsible for certain actions and events. The response to temptation to sin is one of them.

For God cannot be tempted [for God is untouched, is incapable of tempting].[ 76 ] Because of His perfect holiness, God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil" (Hab 1:13). He is aware of the sins of men but He has no desire whatever to partake of them. He cannot deny Himself (2Ti 2:13). He cannot lie (Tit 1:2) and He cannot be tempted to commit sin.

By evil [with evil, by evil things, with evil].[ 77 ] The word "evil" helps to define the words "tempt" and "tempted" as used in this verse. It has to do with enticement to sin. God never spreads the nets of temptation before people. He does not encourage sin.

Nor does He Himself tempt anyone [and He Himself does not, does not himself tempt anyone, neither tempteth he, any man, nor does he tempt, and He, himself, tempts no one].[ 78 ] Although God does not entice to sin, He does put man to the test. An example is when Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac. "Now it came to pass after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am'" (Ge 22:1). The KJV reads, "God did tempt Abraham." Other versions have "did prove," or "put to the test." God did not encourage Abraham to sin but, by testing him, He did challenge his faithfulness.

One should be very cautious about blaming God for anything, especially for tempting man to sin. Some of the ancient Jews erred in this very point. They wrote a great deal about the YETZER HA RA' or JETZER HARA the "evil impulse." They implicate God by accusing Him of creating it.[ 79 ] In spite of the fact that temptation endured is of benefit, especially after one has been approved, James flatly denies that the "evil impulse" comes from God.


1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

But each one is tempted [but every man, every one, is tempted, temptation arises].[ 80 ] The desires within each person lead him toward temptation to sin. God is not to blame for it.

When he is drawn away [carried away, dragged away, drawn away, lured away].[ 81 ] Like an animal cautiously sniffing its way toward the bait in a trap, the tempted person is lured into the snare of sin.

By his own desires [by his own desire, evil desire, lust, of his own lust].[ 82 ] Man's basic desires for self-preservation and other necessities may be modified to carry one in sin. In addition, desires of the mind that appear to be wholly without any rational basis may lead to sin (see note on Eph 2:3).

And enticed [when a man is enticed, and entrapped].[ 83 ] Sometimes temptation comes by way of false religious teachers (see 2Pe 2:14). It may come by a person seductively dressed. It may be presented by a frustrating turn of events or by carefully chosen words of deception. None of these affect a person unless he has a desire to do what is wrong.


1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Then when desire [then lust, desire, then when lust, after desire].[ 84 ] Grandmother "Desire" begins a chain of heartache and destruction that finally ends in the birth of a grandson named "Death," whose mother is "Sin."

Has conceived [hath, having, conceived, conceives].[ 85 ] Something happens in addition to the basic desire itself that is called conception. Conception occurs when a person gives in to the possibility of fulfilling the desire, usually with some degree of enjoyment and approval. There is a danger of committing the actual sin whenever one begins to toy with the idea or to mentally savor the prospect of it.

It gives birth [bringeth forth, and gives birth, gives birth].[ 86 ] When desire or lust has conceived, there is formulated within the thoughts an unholy goal. If, in one's mind, that goal is clearly defined and if one dwells upon it, its consummation is likely to become a reality.

To sin [sin].[ 87 ] Grandmother "Desire" has now given birth to her daughter "Sin." There is no rejoicing over this birth--at least there should not be any.

And sin, when it is full-grown [and, when sin, but sin, when it is completed, is accomplished, is finished, when it is, fully completed].[ 88 ] In a relatively short time, "Sin" has become grown-up and ready to have a child herself.

Brings forth [it brings forth, bringeth forth, gives birth to, breeds].[ 89 ] What will "Sin's" child be like? Beautiful or ugly? Healthy or dying?

Death.[ 90 ] Grandma "Desire" now can look at her new grandson but she cannot enjoy him. He is appropriately named "Death." Why did she not look ahead at the time when she conceived her ill-bred offspring "Sin"? Or, after "Sin" was conceived, why did she not abort that "child"[ 91 ] by appropriate repentance and the seeking of divine forgiveness (see 1Jo 1:7-9)?


1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

Be not deceived [do not be deceived, err, deceive yourselves, don't be deceived].[ 92 ] James cautions his readers about being deceived. Two subjects are in mind. First, the source and result of temptation. Secondly, the source of every good and perfect gift.

My beloved brethren [friends, dear brothers].[ 93 ] James once again expresses his sincere love for his readers (see Jas 1:2, 19; 2:1, 5, 14).


1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Every good gift [every good thing, good gift, all good giving].[ 94 ] Gifts from God are not trinkets for the shelf. They are useful and practical.

And every perfect gift [and perfect gift].[ 95 ] God's giving is not fragmentary or partisan (see verse 5). His gifts are good and they do good. They are perfect, complete and consistently satisfying.

Is from above [from above, [comes down] from above].[ 96 ] Refer back to the note about "the evil impulse" (verse 13). God is not the source of evil. Just the opposite. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (compare Jas 3:15, 17).

And comes down [comes, coming, and cometh, down].[ 97 ] If God has habits, this is surely one of them. The Greek present participle implies that His good and perfect gifts keep on coming down from heaven.

From the Father of lights [of the heavenly lights, lights of heaven].[ 98 ] God is the Creator and Father of all lights in the starry sky. He is also the Father of all spiritual light. Not only that, but Christ dwells in light unapproachable (see charts FATHER OF LIGHTS [A] and [B]).[ 99 ]

    (Jas 1:17)
  1. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained (Ps 8:3).
  2. The Lord is my light and my salvation (Ps 27:1).
  3. In Your light, we see light (Ps 36:9).
  4. You have prepared the light and the sun (Ps 74:16).
  5. For the Lord God is a sun and shield (Ps 84:11).
  6. He has given us light (Ps 118:27).
  7. To Him who made great lights (Ps 136:7).

With whom there is no [with him there is no, who does not, with whom is no].[ 100 ] Inhering within the great person of God is no variation. Nothing like that ever dwells in His holy being.

    (Jas 1:17)
  1. The Lord will be your everlasting light (Isa 60:20).
  2. Light dwells with Him (Da 2:22).
  3. He made the Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning (Am 5:8).
  4. The Lord will be a light to me (Mic 7:8).
  5. Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light (1Ti 6:16).
  6. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1Jo 1:5).
  7. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light (Re 22:5).

Variation [variableness, change].[ 101 ] The English equivalent of PARALLAGE variation is parallax.[ 102 ] God is no different when viewed from separate locations. Neither is he dissimilar at successive moments. He never varies in extent nor in the energy of light. His holy, generous and compassionate nature is perfectly consistent. It never changes (see Mal 3:6). His thoughts never fluctuate due to sinful lusts like those of humans. He does yield in order to answer petitions of His faithful saints (see notes on Jas 5:15-18).

Or shadow of turning [or, no, nor, neither, shifting, changing, shadow, like shifting shadows, play of passing shadows].[ 103 ] God is dependable. His love is never eclipsed by the shadow of any object or person. His justice is not altered by the strictness or permissiveness of society. His grace toward man remains unchanged regardless of the endeavors of others to make it easier or more difficult to obtain.


1:18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Of His own will [in the exercise of His will, set purpose, he chose, according to his own will].[ 104 ] The Greek perfect participle implies that an action is past. A literal translation would be "Having willed." Whatever the wonderful will of God may be, it is for our good. It is never intended to do harm nor to create a temptation to do evil.

He brought us forth [he begot us, begat he us, to give, he gave, us birth].[ 105 ] Instead of lust bearing sin, God brings forth men and women for righteousness. Instead of Him tempting man to do evil, He brings them forth as His children according to His will "for good works" (Eph 2:10).


Robertson L. Whiteside ably pointed out that in NT times men and women were not converted, begotten or brought forth by Holy Spirit baptism. James had been "brought forth" by the word of God. The condition of some hearts makes conversion (turning again) virtually impossible.

"For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should[ 106 ] heal them" (Mt 13:15).

Notice the sequence of actions by those converted: hearing, understanding, turning again and being healed.

    (Jas 1:18)
  1. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice (Joh 18:37).
  2. Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Eph 1:13).
  3. Hope . . . of which you heard in the word of truth of the gospel (Col 1:5).
  4. Rightly dividing the word of truth (2Ti 2:15).
  5. Brought us forth by the word of truth (Jas 1:18).

By the word of truth [with the word of truth, through the word of truth, by declaring the truth].[ 107 ] The word of truth is remarkable (see charts WORD OF TRUTH A and B).

    (Jas 1:18)
  1. This ministry (2Co 4:1).
  2. The word of God (2Co 4:2).
  3. The manifestation of the truth (2Co 4:2).
  4. Our gospel (2Co 4:3).
  5. The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ
    (2Co 4:4).
  6. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2Co 4:6).
  7. This treasure (2Co 4:7).

Paul was instrumental in causing many people to be born again into the family of God. He did this by preaching the gospel to them.

"For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you[ 108 ] through the gospel" (1Co 4:15).

Peter expressed a like thought when he said:

"Having been born again not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1Pe 1:23).

After the new birth is accomplished by the word of God, its influence continues throughout life. John, no doubt recalling that "The seed is the word of God" (Lu 8:11), wrote:

"Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God" (1Jo 3:9).

That we might be [so that we might be, that we should be, to be].[ 109 ]

A kind of [as it were, a certain].[ 110 ]

Firstfruits [the first fruits].[ 111 ] "Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase" (Pr 3:9). In the OT, first fruits were given to God. They were dedicated to Him (see charts FIRST FRUITS OT, NT).

    (Jas 1:18)
  1. The first-born of your sons you shall give to Me. You shall do the same with your oxen and sheep (Ex 22:29, 30).
  2. As for the offering of the firstfruits, you shall offer them to the Lord (Le 2:12).
  3. You shall give him the first fruits of your grain, your new wine, and your oil, and the first shearing of your sheep (De 18:4).
  4. You shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground . . . and you shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God (De 26:2, 10).
  5. Bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the Lord annually (Ne 10:35).

    (Jas 1:18)
  1. For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy (Ro 11:16).
  2. My beloved Epaenetus . . . the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ (Ro 16:5).
  3. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (1Co 15:20).
  4. The household of Stephanas . . . the firstfruits of Achaia (1Co 16:15).
  5. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (Jas 1:18).
  6. Redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb (Re 14:4).

Of His creatures [among His creatures, of all he [ 112 ] Christians are brought forth by God and, therefore, ought to be like Him. They belong to Him by right of purchase. "These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb" (Re 14:4). Christians, as first fruits, belong to the Lord. As first fruits, their lives are completely dedicated to Him (see Ro 12:1, 2).

    (Jas 1:18).
  1. Brought forth by the word (Jas 1:18).
  2. Of truth (Jas 1:18).
  3. That Christians might be a kind of first fruits (Jas 1:18).
  4. Implanted (Jas 1:21).
  5. Able to save souls (Jas 1:21).
  6. Perfect law of liberty (Jas 1:25).
  7. Doers of it will be blessed (Jas 1:25).


1:19, 20 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

So then [so that, this you know, you are to know, wherefore, therefore, of that you may be certain, take note of this].[ 113 ]

My beloved brethren [friends, dear brothers].[ 114 ] Once more James expresses his affection for his brethren who read the letter (compare Jas 1:2, 16; 2:1, 5, 14).

Let every man [but let every one, but each of you, everyone, that everyone].[ 115 ] The Greek word for "one" or "man" here is ANTHROPOS human being. Every person, male or female, is to be quick to hear. The main point is that Christians are to continue to hear the word of God.

At this juncture in the letter, James lays out the strategy of his letter from the beginning down through James 4:17 (see chart THREE IMPORTANT TOPICS).

Be swift to hear [is to be swift to hear, be quick to hear, must be quick to listen, should be quick to listen].[ 116 ] The Scriptures speak with a purpose (Jas 4:5). Christians must be learners before they are teachers. They (we) ought to take every opportunity to learn the word of God (see paragraph below).

    (Jas 1:19)
  1. Swift to hear (Jas 1:21-2:26).
  2. Slow to speak (Jas 3:1-18).
  3. Slow to wrath (Jas 4:1-17).

Slow to speak.[ 117 ] Especially during trials, one needs to observe the admonition to be slow to speak. Observance of this would prevent the utterance of multitudinous rash and hateful words. "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise" (Pr 10:19). James' admonition also applies to teachers. They need to prepare themselves for that great work of teaching and then be very careful about what they say and how they say it.

"My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment" (Jas 3:1).

Slow to wrath [slow, and slow, to anger, to be, to become, angry].[ 118 ]

"He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of under-standing is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace" (Pr 17:27, 28).

For the wrath of man [for the anger of man, man's anger, for man's wrath].[ 119 ]

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city" (Pr 16:32).

James uses the word ANDROS, meaning "of man." This word is masculine gender and has to do with males only. He is discussing the anger of a man. However, there is a lesson here for women as well. Rash speech uttered in anger by a woman or a man does little good. "Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools" (Ec 7:9).

Does not produce [does not work, achieve, worketh not, cannot promote, carry out, bring about].[ 120 ] We hear much about a very rare commodity called "righteous indignation." Most people are indignantly unrighteous because what they do in a fit of anger is not regulated by godliness or by common sense.

"It is better to do nothing in anger, but wait till the temper cools and sober analysis is possible. An old proverb says: 'If you are angry count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to a hundred!'"[ 121 ]

The righteousness of God [the justice of God, the righteous life that God desires, God's righteousness].[ 122 ] The righteousness of God in this context means the kind of righteous activities He desires and expects of Christians.


1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Therefore [wherefore, then].[ 123 ] "Therefore" links what has just been said to what will follow. Sometimes the wrath of man brings out improper speech. Akin to wrath are other undesirable emotions that relate to improper sex, pride and hatefulness. Because the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God, one is to put aside all filthiness.

Lay aside [putting aside, laying, apart, aside, get rid of, away with].[ 124 ] The Greek word for "lay aside" was used of the laying down of garments [after having removed them] to prepare for the stoning of Stephen (see Ac 7:58). This command is to be obeyed by all Christians. They are to be active and involved in the endeavor to put aside filthiness and wickedness. These attributes are to be laid aside completely.

All filthiness [all moral filth, all that is sordid].[ 125 ] When under trial, some Christians tend to revert to old speech habits. Vulgar, coarse and offensive language must be put away. Also to be put aside is all moral filthiness whether in thought, speech or action. Questionable video cassettes, magazines and books must be disposed of. Television shows and movies must be carefully selected.

And overflow of wickedness [and all that remains of wickedness, superfluity of naughtiness, the evil that is so prevalent, the malice that hurries to excess, and over-abundance of evils, and abounding of wickedness].[ 126 ] The word "wickedness" or "naughtiness" (KJV) is evil, not childish escapades. Putting away the "superfluity" or "overflow" of wickedness does not have to do with getting rid of a little extra maliciousness here and there. It means get rid of any and all wickedness that remains. A way to start is to curb the temper and refrain from the rash speaking that usually goes with it.

And receive [receive, accept].[ 127 ] The letter of James was written to Christians (brethren, verse 19). Brethren, the "old, old story" should always be a welcome guest and heartily embraced. Like welcoming an old friend, Christians keep on willingly and gratefully receiving the word of God.

With meekness [in, with, humility, and humbly, quietly].[ 128 ] A calm, non-resentful attitude is imperative if one is to receive the word.

The implanted word [the word implanted, engrafted word, the word planted in you, the message planted in your hearts].[ 129 ] The apostles taught the gospel. Men and women listened. They were hearers of the word (verse 23). They heard it and gladly accepted it. When they received it, it should have been "implanted" in their hearts. As they obeyed the gospel, they were brought forth by it (verse 18). It was (is) implanted in all the Christians who read James' letter but not all of it took root and bore fruit at the same time. Maybe the seed was lying dormant. What is the problem? People had heard the word but not every hearer applied all of it. There remained lingering gaps between the lives of the babes in Christ and some teachings of the word. In other words, some of the converts were hearers but not "doers of the work" (verse 25).

One's attitude toward the gospel determines whether it will root itself in his heart (study Mt 13:19-23). When a Christian receives the word he pays attention to it, takes it within and meditates on it. He desires the truth and yearns to make it his daily practice. He keeps on welcoming and accepting it. He keeps on putting into practice more and more of it. Even elders of the church need to receive the word to be built up by it.

"So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (Ac 20:32).

Which is able [which can].[ 130 ] The gospel is "the power of God to salvation" (Ro 1:16). It is described here as being able! It has power to convert sinners but its power does not end at baptism (see Jas 5:20). It continues to be effective throughout the entire life of the Christian.

To save your souls [save you, bring you salvation].[ 131 ] The apostle speaks here of eternal salvation that is within the grasp of every Christian. To attain heaven, the believer must continue in the word of Christ (Joh 8:31, 32). When applied, the word is able to build up and give an inheritance. The next verse will explain more about how the word accomplishes this.


1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

But be [but prove yourselves, but be ye, but you are to be, only be sure].[ 132 ]

Doers of the word [that you act on the message, do what it says].[ 133 ] Obedience to the word is the key to its effectiveness (see Ro 1:5; 6:17; 16:26).

And not hearers only [and not merely, mere, hearers, do not merely listen to the word].[ 134 ] People who attend worship may feel better because they have heard an uplifting sermon. However, unless they put into practice the truths learned, there is little profit in it.

Deceiving yourselves [who delude themselves, your own selves, and so deceive, for that would be to mislead, beguiling, yourselves].[ 135 ] A Christian who reads or listens to the word but does not make a personal application has deceived or deluded himself. It is tragic to play this kind of trick with one's own soul.


1:23, 24 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

For if anyone [for if a, any, man].[ 136 ] "Anyone" (Greek TIS) encompasses any man or any woman.

Is a hearer of the word [be a hearer of, who listens to, the word].[ 137 ] There are basically two kinds of listeners. Those who apply the word to their lives and those who do not.

And not a doer [but never acts upon it, does not do what it says].[ 138 ] Just listening to the truth is not enough. The word must be followed in order to benefit the hearer.

He is like a man [is like, he is like, to a man, unto one].[ 139 ] I suppose both women and men are equally vain but James speaks here of a male who looks into the mirror.

Observing [beholding, who looks at, who considers, considering].[ 140 ] When the man looks into a mirror, he regards the image of his own face. He notices its flaws.

His natural face [his face, the face nature gave him].[ 141 ]

In a mirror [in a glass].[ 142 ] "Mirror" is a better translation than "glass" because, in NT days, mirrors were not made of glass. Ancient mirrors were generally polished brass or some other metal (see Ex 38:8; compare 1Co 13:12).

For he observes himself [for once he has looked at, for he beholdeth, considers, and after looking at, he glances at, for he has considered, himself].[ 143 ]

Goes away [and, and is, gone away, goeth his way, and goes away, upon going away].[ 144 ] The Greek perfect tense denotes a present state resultant upon a past action.[ 145 ] The man has gone away from the mirror and stayed away. This corresponds to a Christian who spends several days without studying the Bible.

And immediately forgets [he has immediately forgotten, straightway, and straightway, forgetteth, he has forgotten, at once forgets].[ 146 ] The Greek aorist tense suggests but does not require that the act of forgetting was immediate.[ 147 ]

What kind of man he was [what kind of person, what manner of man, he was, how he looked, what he looked like, looks like, what he was like].[ 148 ] The man who looks into a mirror and observes a flaw or a speck of dirt and does nothing except to forget about it is like a person who reads the NT and sees how to correct his life but ignores it.


1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

But he who looks [but the person, one, who looks intently, closely, who looks, for whoso looketh, but he that fixes his view].[ 149 ] Looking intently implies more than a casual reading of Scripture. The Greek verb pictures one "bending over" to look. He looks closely and intently. See such a person may be looking into a mirror and discovering some little blemish on his face. He (or she) bends over or leans closer in order to examine it more closely with a view to correcting the problem. The Bible should be studied carefully in order to learn the meaning of each verse and make all necessary applications.

Into [at, on].[ 150 ] The preposition EIS at, into suggests a penetrating look into the word.

The perfect law.[ 151 ] If these notes give someone a good thought then they are useful. Remember, human ideas are not the Bible. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" (Ps 19:7). There is no substitute for the word of God itself. Please study the inspired word. The mirror of verse 23 prefigures the perfect law of liberty. Look carefully into the law of Christ as a perfectionist looks into a mirror, not to modify the mirror but to change what is seen in it.

Of liberty [the law of liberty, that gives freedom, makes us free, that of liberty].[ 152 ] This seems to be a paradox. That is, the term "law" and "liberty" appear to contradict. The "implanted word" is a law. A law is something one is obligated to obey. Yet it is a law "of liberty." How can it be both? Certainly one does not have the liberty to ignore it or change it. It must be that compliance with its terms brings liberty. It brings liberty from the OT Law (see Ro 8:2). Of greater consequence, it frees from sin. It also provides forgiveness for those who believe and obey it.

And continues in it [and abides by it [continueth therein, continues to do this, who lives in its company, and abides in it].[ 153 ] Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed" (Joh 8:31).

And is not a forgetful hearer [not having become, not being, he being not, a forgetful hearer, not forgetting, does not forget, what he hears, has heard].[ 154 ] The Bible was never intended to be kept on a shelf. It was designed by God to be read again and again. It is human nature to forget. Frequent study not only helps to keep it in mind but forever brings out new aspects of its truth.

But a doer of the work [but an effectual doer, but doing it, but acts upon it].[ 155 ] Religion is not primarily a social club. It is serious business. James bears down upon his readers in order to impress them with the necessity of obedience to the word of God.


This one will be blessed [this man, he, shall, be blessed, and that is the man who will find happiness].[ 156 ] One positive result of searching the Scriptures for meaning and making application is happiness.

In what he does [in his deed, by acting, in his doing, in the doing of it].[ 157 ] There is a strong connection between doing the Lord's will and receiving blessedness or happiness. Happiness is not a mystical "something" that is found at the end of the rainbow, at the end of life or only in heaven. It is captured and enjoyed all during the process of the doing of righteous deeds.


1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.

If anyone among you thinks [if any one think himself, considers, if any man among you seem, a man may think].[ 158 ] James calls for self-examination. Would you consider yourself a religious person? Consider this. One of the first things to be learned about religion has to do with something we do many times every day--our talking. What we say and how we say it may enhance or repudiate our profession of religion.

He is religious [to be, himself, that he is, religious].[ 159 ] Several expositors understand this to do with outward involvement in religious services. This is not correct. The man under consideration by James has actually convinced himself that he is religious! He thinks he is a Christian but he is mistaken. How easy it is to overlook one's own faults.

And yet does not bridle [and does not control, does not bridle, keep a tight reign on, bridleth not, but if he has no control over, not bridling].[ 160 ] The word "bridle" suggests the employment of strict and constant control and direction.

His tongue.[ 161 ] By metonymy, the "tongue" is put for "speech." That is the "tongue" should be understood to mean "speech." Every Christian is to control what he says and the manner in which he says it.

But deceives his own heart [but deceiveth, deceiving, his heart, his own heart, he deceives himself, is deceiving himself].[ 162 ] This shows that the man James describes was sincere. He really thought he had God's endorsement. He was sincerely deceived.

This one's religion [this man's, this person's, that man's, his, religion].[ 163 ] A person may think he is pleasing God but, without obedience to a simple command like bridling the tongue, his religion is a sham and a pretense.

Is useless [is worthless, is vain, futile].[ 164 ] Worthless religion is that which is vain. It is void of result. It is supposed to bless lives. It is supposed to lead to heaven. It misses on all counts. Besides that, it is not pure (see verse 27).


1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Pure [this is pure, as pure, this kind without stain].[ 165 ] Jesus gave some insight into what James is talking about. He once said to a Pharisee, "But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you" (Lu 11:41). It is necessary to forgive in order to be forgiven (Mt 6:12). It appears also from James 1:27 that unless one performs deeds of kindness and mercy his sins will not be forgiven.

    (Jas 1:27)
  1. Kind, loving deeds that assist helpless widows and orphans.
  2. Pure and unstained living in contrast to today's world.

And undefiled [and faultless, or without fault].[ 166 ] Purity involves both the positive and the negative. People who practice pure religion will enjoy an imperishable and undefiled inheritance (1Pe 1:4).

Religion [of religion].[ 167 ] There are many kinds of religion in the world, all of which are supposed to bring man nearer to God. Most are of human origin. Some cater to a certain class or race of people. Some are primarily social in nature. Others exist in order to line the pockets of the leaders. Most of the religious world is, in my opinion, a jumble of human ideas mixed with a little truth here and there. It omits much of the truth and deviates from basic conformity to the will of God. Undefiled religion is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. More than that, it is the practice of that truth.

Before God and the Father [in the sight of our God and Father, that our God and Father accepts].[ 168 ] Man-made religion does not count. Only that which is pure in God's sight does.

Is this.[ 169 ]

To visit [to go to the help of, to look after].[ 170 ] The word "visit" implies personal contact in helping others.

Orphans [the fatherless].[ 171 ] An orphan is one bereft of parent or guardian. If a person splits hairs on how to identify an orphan in order to limit his benevolence and get by as cheaply as possible, he reminds me of the one who asked, "And who is my neighbor?" (Lu 10:29). The Lord is pleased with broadening the extent of our compassion, not constricting it.

And widows[ 172 ] (see notes on 1Ti 5:3, 4).

In their trouble [in their distress, affliction].[ 173 ] Widows and orphans have distresses other than being without food or funds. There are illnesses, senility, loneliness, limited transportation and the inability to cope with society's demands.

And to keep oneself [to keep oneself, himself].[ 174 ] Keeping oneself is something that Christians must do. It is not done for them by others or by the Holy Spirit.

Unspotted [unstained untarnished, from being polluted].[ 175 ] The spotless and immaculate Savior wants pure and unstained disciples (see 1Pe 1:19). This is achieved by being forgiven and by living a clean life.

From the world [by the world].[ 176 ] The "world" is the realm of pagan morals and selfish living (see Jas 4:4). Christians may be in the world but must not be of it (Joh 17:14-16). They are leaven that permeates all around them. They enrich lives and inspire others to obey the gospel and to glorify God (Mt 5:16; 13:33). They must not be tainted by the sinful ways of the world.


[ 1 ]The basic text in this chapter is the NKJV. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Alternate phrases in brackets are from ASV, Darby, English Study Bible (ESB), KJV and RSV and occasionally another version. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft method.
[ 2 ]'IAKOOBOS, Jacob or James. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft system.
[ 3 ]THEOU . . . DOULOS, of God a slave (Marshall 894); properly hired servant (Vincent 1.723); an adjective signifying "in bondage" . . . the most common and general word for "servant", frequently indicating subjection without the idea of bondage (Vine 1019).
[ 4 ]TAIS DOODEKA PHULAIS, to the twelve tribes (Marshall 894); companies of people united by kinship or habitation, clans, tribes, used of the tribes of Israel (Vine 1167).
[ 5 ]TAIS EN TEE DIASPORA, in the dispersion (Marshall 894); literally, in the dispersion (Vincent 1.723).
[ 6 ]CHAIREIN, greeting (Marshall 894); literally, rejoice; (to rejoice, is thrice used as a formula of salutation in Acts 15:23, KJV, "send greeting" . . . so 23:26; James 1:1. In 2 John 10, 11, the ASV substitutes the phrase (to give) greeting, for the KJV (to bid) God speed (Vine 508).
[ 7 ]ADELPHOI MOU, brothers of me (Marshall 895); brothers or near kinsmen, in the plural, a community based on identity of origin or life . . . used of the disciples, and so, by implication, all believers (Vine 146, 147).
[ 8 ]HEEGEESASTHE, deem [it] (Marshall 895); primarily, lead the way; hence, lead before the mind, account (Vine 238).
[ 9 ]PASAN CHARAN, all joy (Marshall 895); joy, delight [akin to CHAIROO to rejoice], where it is connected with falling into trials; perhaps also in Matthew 25:21, 23, where some regard it as signifying concretely, the circumstances attending co-operation in the authority of the Lord (Vine 608).
[ 10 ]HOTAN, whenever (Marshall 895); literally, whenever . . . implies that temptation may be expected all along the Christian course (Vincent 1.724).
[ 11 ]PERIPESEETE, ye fall (Marshall 895); the preposition PERI around suggests falling into something which surrounds (Vincent 1.724); fall around [PERI around], hence signifies to fall in with, or among, to light upon, come across . . . into temptation (Vine 404); fall into as to be encompassed by (Thayer 504); fall in with, encounter, fall into, especially misfortunes . . . become involved in various trials (Arndt 649).
[ 12 ]POIKILOIS, into various (Marshall 895); manifold (Vincent 1.724); denotes parti-colored, variegated [POIKILLOO means to make gay: the root of the first syllable is PIK-, found in English picture], hence "divers" (Vine 318).
[ 13 ]PEIRASMOIS, trials (Marshall 895); external adversities (Harrison 1431); in the general sense of trials (Vincent 1.724); in James 1:12, "temptation" apparently has meanings (1) trials with a beneficial purpose and effect, of trials or temptations, Divinely permitted or sent and (2) trial definitely designed to lead to wrong doing, temptation, combined and is used in the widest sense (Vine 1129); adversity, affliction, trouble . . . sent by God and serving to test or prove one's faith, holiness, character, James 1:2 (Thayer 498); passive, being tempted, temptation from without or from within . . . [test, trial is also possible] (Arndt 640,. 641).
[ 14 ]GINOOSKONTES HOTI, knowing that (Marshall 895); signifies to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand, or to understand completely (Vine 627).
[ 15 ]TO DOKIMION HUMOON TEES PISTEOOS, the approved part of you of the faith = that which is approved in your faith (Marshall 895); proving (Vincent 1.724); [akin to DECHOMAI to receive], primarily of metals, signifies to prove . . . more frequently to prove with a view to approval (Vine 63, 64).
[ 16 ]KATERGAZETAI, works (Marshall 895); signifies to work out, achieve, effect by toil (Vine 1244); the compound verb with KATA down, through indicates accomplishment (Vincent 1.724).
[ 17 ]HUPOMONEEN, endurance (Marshall 895); "the staying power of life" (Moffatt, The General Epistles, 9); patience, literally, a remaining under [akin to HUPOMENO a strengthened form of MENOO, denotes to abide under, to bear up courageously (under suffering)] (Vine 359, 360).
[ 18 ]HEE DE HUPOMONEE, and endurance (Marshall 895).
[ 19 ]ERGON TELEION ECHETOO, work perfect let it have (Marshall 895); work [ERGON] is the word with which KATERGAZETAI worketh [produces] is compounded (Vincent 1.724).
[ 20 ]HINA EETE TELEIOI, in order that ye may be perfect (Marshall 895); [from TELOS fulfillment or completion] denotes that which has reached its maturity or fulfilled the end contemplated (Vincent 1.724); complete, conveying the idea of goodness without necessary reference to maturity or physical development [with ethical import, fully grown, mature] (Vine 846).
[ 21 ]KAI HOLOKLEEROI, and entire (Marshall 895); [from HOLOS entire and KLEROS a lot or allotment], that which has all which properly belongs to it; its entire allotment, and is, therefore, intact in all its parts (Vincent 1.724, 725); the development of every grace into maturity (Vine 366).
[ 22 ]EN MEEDENI LEUPOMENOI, in nothing wanting (Marshall 895); more literally, lacking in nothing. The conditional negative MEDENI nothing is used rather than the absolute negative OUDENI, as implying nothing which may be supposed; no possible thing (Vincent 1.725); denotes transitively, in the passive voice, left behind, lacking (Vine 635).
[ 23 ]EI DE, if but (Marshall 895); in pursuing this perfection you will find yourselves lacking in wisdom. One may say, "I know not how to become perfect;" but, if any man, etc. (Vincent 1.725).
[ 24 ]TIS HUMOON LEIPETAI, anyone of you wants (Marshall 895); denotes transitively, in the passive voice, is left behind, lacks (Vine 635).
[ 25 ]SOPHIAS, wisdom (Marshall 895); human wisdom in spiritual things (Vine 1233).
[ 26 ]AITEITOO, let him ask (Marshall 895); ask, frequently suggests the attitude of a suppliant, the petition of one who is lesser in position than he to whom the petition is made . . . with reference to petitioning God (Vine 71).
[ 27 ]Jesus' words in John 9:4 are the motivation for a prayer of the writer of these notes.
[ 28 ]PARA TOU DIDONTOS THEOU, from the [one] giving God (Marshall 895); the Greek puts it so that giving is emphasized as an attribute of God. Literally, "Ask of the giving God," or "God the giver" (Vincent 1.725).
[ 29 ]PASIN, to all men (Marshall 895).
[ 30 ]HAPLOOS, unreservedly (Marshall 895); literally, simply, and this accords with the following negative clause, upbraiding not. It is pure, simple giving of good, without admixture of evil or bitterness (Vincent 1.725); liberally, with singleness of heart, used of God as the gracious and liberal Giver. The word may be taken either (a) in a logical sense, signifying unconditionally, simply, or (b) in a moral sense, generously; for the double meaning compare HAPLOTEES simplicity, sincerity, unaffectedness. On this passage Hort writes as follows; "Later writers comprehend under the one word the whole magnanimous and honorable type of character in which singleness of mind is the central feature" (Vine 663, 664).
[ 31 ]KAI MEE ONEIDIZONTOS, and not reproaching (Marshall 895); [akin to ONEIDISMOS a reproach, defamation and ONEIDOS a matter of reproach, a disgrace], signifies in the active voice [without] reproach, upbraids [not] (Vine 954).
[ 32 ]KAI DOTHEESETAI AUTOO, and it will be given to him (Marshall 895).
[ 33 ]AITEITOO DE EN PISTEI, but let him ask in faith (Marshall 895); ask, frequently suggests the attitude of a suppliant, the petition of one who is lesser in position than he to whom the petition is made . . . with reference to petitioning God (Vine 71).
[ 34 ]MEEDEN DIAKRINOMENOS, nothing doubting (Marshall 895); not equivalent to unbelief, but expressing the hesitation which balances between faith and unbelief, and inclines toward the latter (Vincent 1.725); the verb suggests, not so much weakness of faith, as lack of it [contrast DISTAZOO to stand in two ways, and METEORIZOO in mid air] (Vine 327); neuter, nothing; in a sense not found in professional authorities, at variance with one's self, hesitating, doubting (Thayer 138, 411); without any doubting (Arndt 185).
[ 35 ]HO GAR DIAKRINOMENOS, for the [one] doubting (Marshall 895); in James 1:6 twice, rendered wavering/wavers (Vine 1214).
[ 36 ]EOIKEN KLUDOONI, is like a wave (Marshall 895); admirably chosen, as by a writer who lived near the sea and was familiar with its aspects. The general distinction between this and the more common KUMA wave is that KLUDOON describes the long ridges of water as they are propelled in horizontal lines over the vast surface of the sea; while KURA denotes the pointed masses which toss themselves up from these under the action of the wind. . . Hence, in the figure, the emphasis falls on the tossing; not only moving before the impulse of the wind, but not even moving in regular lines; tossed into rising and falling peaks (Vincent 1.726); a billow (Vine 1214).
[ 37 ]THALASSEES, of [the] sea, Marshall 895); sea, literally (Vine 1002).
[ 38 ]ANEMIZOMENOO KAI RHIPIZOMENOO, driven by wind and being tossed (Marshall 895); driven by the wind [ANEMOS wind] (Vine 332). [from RHIPIS a fan]. Anyone who has watched the great ocean-swell throwing itself up into pointed waves, the tops of which are caught by the wind and fanned off into spray, will appreciate the vividness of the figure (Vincent 1.726); primarily to fan a fire [RHIPIS a fan], then, to make a breeze, used in the passive voice in James 1:6, "tossed," of the raising of waves by the wind (Vine 1157).
[ 39 ]ME GAR OIESTHOO HO ANTHROOPOS EKEINOS, for let not suppose that man (Marshall 895); emphatic, and with a slightly contemptuous force (Vincent 1.726); imagine, "let [not that man] think (Vine 1140).
[ 40 ]HOTI LEEMPSETAI, that he will receive (Marshall 895).
[ 41 ]TI, anything (Marshall 895); that is, which he asks for (Vincent 1.726).
[ 42 ]PARA TOU KURIOU, from the Lord (Marshall 895).
[ 43 ]ANEER DIPSUCHOS, a man two-souled (Marshall 895); the sentence is a comment and enlargement upon that man. "Let not that man think," etc., "a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." Double-minded [DIPSUCHOS], peculiar to James here and 4:8. Not deceitful, but dubious and undecided (Vincent 1.726, 727); of divided allegiance (Harrison 1431); literally means two-souled [DIS twice, PSUCHE a soul], hence, double-minded (Vine 326).
[ 44 ]AKATASTATOS EN PASAIS TAIS HODOIS AUTOU, unsettled in all the ways of him (Marshall 895); the kindred AKATASTASIA confusion is found in Jas 3:16 (Vincent 1.727); [from KATHISTEMI to set in order] rendered "unstable" (Vine 1187).
[ 45 ]HO ADELPHOS HO TAPEINOS, the brother humble (Marshall 895); literally, the brother, the lowly one. Not in the higher sense of TAPEINOS [see on Mt 11:29], but rather poor and afflicted, as contrasted with rich (Vincent 1.727).
[ 46 ]KAUCHASTHOO DE, but let boast (Marshall 895); not strong enough. It is, rather, boast (Vincent 1.727); boast, glory (Vine 943).
[ 47 ]EN TOO HUPSEI AUTOU, in the height of him (Marshall 895); literally, in his exaltation (Vincent 1.727).
[ 48 ]HO DE PLOUSIOS, and the rich one (Marshall 895); wealthy (Vine 967).
[ 49 ]EN TEE TAPEINOOSEI AUTOU, in the humiliation of him (Marshall 895); literally, in his humiliation (Vincent 1.727); abasement, humiliation, low estate, literally, "in his abasement" (Vine 372, 695).
[ 50 ]HOTI HOOS ANTHOS CHORTOU, because as a flower of grass (Marshall 895; only here, verse 11 and 1 Peter 1:24 (Vincent 1.727).
[ 51 ]PARELEUSETAI, he will pass away (Marshall 895).
[ 52 ]ANETEILEN GAR HO HEELIOS, rose for the sun (Marshall 895); by the use of the aorist tense James graphically throws his illustration into the narrative form: "For the sun arose--and withered," etc. (Vincent 1.727).
[ 53 ]SUN TOO KAUSOONI, with the hot wind (Marshall 895); the article denotes something familiar; and the reference may be to the scorching east-wind (Job 1:19 Septuagint; Eze 17:10) which withers vegetation (Vincent 1.727).
[ 54 ]KAI EXEERANEN TON CHORTON, and dried the grass (Marshall 895); in Palestine or Syria there are ninety genera and 243 species of grass (Vine 502).
[ 55 ]KAI TO ANTHOS AUTOU EXEPESEN, and the flower of it fell out (Marshall 895); aorist tense, literally, fell off (Vincent 1.728).
[ 56 ]KAI HEE EUPREPEIA TOU PROSOOPOU AUTOU, and the comeliness of the appearance of it (Marshall 895); literally, the beauty of its face or appearance (Vincent 1.728); comeliness, goodly appearance, is said of the outward appearance of the flower of the grass (Vine 501).
[ 57 ]APOOLETO, perished (Marshall 896).
[ 58 ]KAI HO PLOUSIOS, also the rich man (Marshall 896).
[ 59 ]MARANTHEESETAI, will fade away (Marshall 896).
[ 60 ]EN TAIS POREIAIS AUTOU, in the goings of him (Marshall 896); his goings to and fro in acquiring riches (Vincent 1.728).
[ 61 ]MAKARIOS ANEER, blessed [the] man (Marshall 896).
[ 62 ]HOS HUPOMENEI PEIRASMON, who endures trial (Marshall 896); an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from outward circumstances (Thayer 498); passive, being tempted, temptation from without or from within, that can be an occasion of sin to a person (Arndt 640); in James 1:12, "temptation" apparently has meanings (1) trials with a beneficial purpose and effect, of trials or temptations, Divinely permitted or sent and (2) trial definitely designed to lead to wrong doing, temptation, combined and is used in the widest sense (Vine 1129).
[ 63 ]HOTI DOKIMOS GENOMENOS, because approved having become (Marshall 896); literally, having become approved. The meaning is not when his trial is finished but when he has been approved by trial (Vincent 1.728); in the NT one who is of tried faith and integrity (Thayer 155); approved [by test], tried and true, genuine (Arndt 203).
[ 64 ]LEEMPSETAI, he will receive (Marshall 896).
[ 65 ]TON STEPHANON, the crown (Marshall 896); primarily, that which surrounds, as a wall or crowd [from STEPHOO to encircle], denotes (a) the victor's crown, the symbol of triumph in the games or some such contest; hence, by metonymy, a reward or prize. . . . . In other passages it stands as an emblem of life, joy, reward and glory, Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; James 1:12 ["crown of life"], Revelation 2:10 [ditto]; 3:11; 4:4, 10; of triumph, 6:2; 9:7; 12:1; 14:14 (Vine 250).
[ 66 ]A different word DIADEMA is the symbol of kingly dignity.
[ 67 ]TEES ZOOEES, of life (Marshall 896); the genitive "of life" is in apposition to crown. The crown consists of life (Tasker 43); literally, the life: the article pointing to the well-known eternal life. The figure is not that of the athlete's crown, for an image from the Grecian games, which the Jews despised, would be foreign to James' thought and displeasing to his readers. Rather the kingly crown, the proper word for which is DIADEMA diadem. The Septuagint in Psalm 21:3 uses STEPHANOS of the royal crown. In Zechariah 6:11, 14, the reference seems to be to a priestly crown, forming part of the high-priest's miter (Vincent 1.728).
[ 68 ]HON EPEENGEILATO, which he promised (Marshall 896); announced, proclaimed, in the NT two meanings to profess and to promise, each used in the middle voice (Vine 892).
[ 69 ]TOIS AGAPOOSIN AUTON, to the [ones] loving him (Marshall 896).
[ 70 ]NU-Text omits wife.
[ 71 ]MEEDEIS LEGETOO, no man let say (Marshall 896).
[ 72 ]PEIRAZOMENOS, being tempted (Marshall 896).
[ 73 ]PEIRAZOMAI, I am tempted (Marshall 896).
[ 74 ]APO THEOU, from God (Marshall 896); literally, from God. Not by God, as the direct agent, but by agency proceeding from God (Vincent 1.728).
[ 75 ]The Spirit impelled Christ to go out into the wilderness where He was tempted by Satan (Mk 1:12, 13).
[ 76 ]HO GAR THEOS APEIRASTOS ESTIN, for God untempted is (Marshall 896); literally, is incapable of being tempted. But some of the best expositors render is unversed in evil things, as better according both with the usage of the word and with the context, since the question is not of God's being tempted, but of God's tempting (Vincent 1.728, 729); as well untempted as untenable . . . that cannot be tempted by evil, not liable to temptation to sin (Thayer 55); without temptation, either active=who does not tempt, or passive=who cannot be tempted. Of God James 1:13, certainly passive because DE in the next clause introduces a new thought, God cannot be tempted to do evil . . . of God as One who cannot and dare not be tempted (Arndt 83).
[ 77 ]KAKOON, of [with] evil things (Marshall 896).
[ 78 ]PEIRAZEI DE AUTOS OUDENA, and tempts he no man (Marshall 896); he himself tempteth no man (Vincent 1.729).
[ 79 ]That the Jews made much of the "evil impulse" is evident from their voluminous writings (see Cohen 88-93 and references). They blamed God for creating it. "Since the evil impulse was created by God for a definite purpose, which is the preservation of the human race, it follows that in the future state, when that purpose will no longer hold good, there will be no further need for it" (Cohen 92). One writer said, "The Holy One, blessed be He, created two impulses, one good and the other evil" (Beracoth, "Benedictions" 61a).
[ 80 ]EKASTOS DE PEIRAZETAI, but each man is tempted (Marshall 896).
[ 81 ]EXELKOMENOS, being drawn out (Marshall 896); this and the following word are metaphors from hunting and fishing. Drawn away, as beasts are enticed from a safe-covert into a place beset with snares. Note the present participle, as indicating the progress of the temptation: "is being drawn away" (Vincent 1.729).
[ 82 ]HUPO TEES IDIAS EPITHUMIAS, by the [his] own lusts (Marshall 896); strong desires of any kind (Vine 697).
[ 83 ]KAI DELEAZOMENOS, and being enticed (Marshall 896); as a fish with bait. Also the present participle (Vincent 1.729); primarily, lured by a bait [from DELEAR a bait], used metaphorically in James 1:14.
[ 84 ]EITA HEE EPITHUMIA, then lust (Marshall 896); note the article, the peculiar lust of his own (Vincent 1.729).
[ 85 ]SULLABOUSA, having conceived (Marshall 896); literally, having conceived (Vincent 1.729); literally, to take together [SUN with, LAMBANOO to take or receive], used of a woman, to conceive . . . metaphorically, of the impulse of lust in the human heart, enticing to sin (Vine 212).
[ 86 ]TIKTEI, bears (Marshall 896); metaphor of the mother (Vincent 1.729); brings forth or born . . . used metaphorically in James 1:15, of lust as bringing forth sin (Vine 102).
[ 87 ]HAMARTIAN, sin (Marshall 896).
[ 88 ]HEE DE HAMARTIA APOTELESTHEISA, and sin having been fully formed (Marshall 896); not when the course of a sinful life is completed; but when sin has reached its full development (Vincent 1.729); perfected, brought to maturity, became "full grown" (Vine 431).
[ 89 ]APOKUEI, brings forth (Marshall 896); a different verb from the preceding bringeth forth. . . . Either (1) Sin, figured as female, is already pregnant with death and, when full-grown, bringeth forth death . . . "The harlot, Lust, draws away and entices the man. The guilty union is committed by the will embracing the temptress: the consequence is that she beareth sin. . . . Then the sin, that particular sin, when grown up, herself, as if all along pregnant with it, bringeth forth death" [Alford]. Or (2) Sin, figured as male, when it has reached maturity, becomes the begetter of death. . . . I am inclined to prefer this, since the other seems somewhat forced (Vincent 1.729, 730); gives birth to, brings forth [from KUEOO to be pregnant], used metaphorically of death as the offspring of sin (Vine 102).
[ 90 ]THANATON, death (Marshall 896).
[ 91 ]By this statement, the writer is not condoning literal abortion.
[ 92 ]MEE PLANASTHE, do not err (Marshall 896); in passive voice, to be led astray, to err (Vine 369); wander away . . . make no mistake (Arndt 665); err (Thayer 514).
[ 93 ]ADELPHOI MOU AGAPEETOI, brothers of me beloved (Marshall 896).
[ 94 ]PASA DOSIS AGATHEE, every giving good (Marshall 896); that which, being good in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect (Vine 493).
[ 95 ]KAI PAN DOOREEMA TELEION, and every gift perfect (Marshall 896); [perfect] enlarges upon good, bringing out more distinctly the moral quality of the gift (Vincent 1.731); complete, conveying the idea of goodness without necessary reference to maturity or physical development, etc. (Vine 846).
[ 96 ]ANOOTHEN ESTIN, from above is (Marshall 896); from above, of things which come from heaven, or from God in Heaven (Vine 8).
[ 97 ]KATABAINON, coming down (Marshall 896); present participle, to be construed with ANOTHEN ESTIN is from above. Literally, "every perfect gift is from above, coming down." As usual, this union of the participle with the finite verb denotes something habitual (Vincent 1.731, with correction on 3.483).
[ 98 ]APO TOU PATROS TOON PHOOTOON, from the Father of the lights (Marshall 896); literally, the lights, by which are meant the heavenly bodies. . . . God is called "the Father of the lights," as being their creator and maintainer (Vincent 1.731).
[ 99 ]One Rabbi affirmed: "The Holy One, blessed be He, enwrapped Himself in light like a garment, and the brilliance of His splendor shone forth from one end of the Universe to the other" (Gen. R. 3.4 from Cohen 33).
[ 100 ]PAR' HOO OUK ENI, with whom has no (Marshall 896); [ENI is] abbreviated from ENESTI is in. Stronger than the simple is, and denoting inherence or indwelling (Vincent 1.731).
[ 101 ]PARALLAGEE, place change (Marshall 896); the word is not used, as some suppose, in a technical, astronomical sense . . . but in the simple sense of change in the degree or intensity of light, such as is manifested by the heavenly bodies (Vincent 1.732); denotes, in general, a change [English parallax, the difference between the directions of a body as seen from two different points], is a transmission from one condition to another; it occurs in James 1:17 . . . the reference may be to the sun, which varies its position in the sky (Vine 1195); rarely as an astronomical technical term; change, variation (Arndt 620); variation, change (Thayer 484).
[ 102 ]Parallax alludes to the difference in position or direction of a heavenly body as seen from two points on earth, or from the same point on earth at opposite seasons of the year.
[ 103 ]EE PROPERS APOSKIASMA, or of turning shadow (Marshall 896); referring still to the heavenly orbs, which cast shadows in their revolution, as when the moon turns her dark side to us, or the sun is eclipsed by the body of the moon (Vincent 1.732); shadow that is cast . . . the probable significance of this word is overshadowing or shadowing-over [which APO may indicate], and this with the genitive case of TROPHEE "turning," yields the meaning "shadowing-over of mutability" implying an alternation of shadow and light; of this there are two alternative explanations, namely, overshadowing (1) not caused by mutability in God, or (2) caused by change in others, that is, "no changes in this lower world can cast a shadow on the unchanging Fount of light" [Mayor, who further remarks, "The meaning of the passage will then be, 'God is alike incapable of change [PARALLAGEE] and incapable of being changed by the action of others'" (Vine 1027).
[ 104 ]BOULEETHEIS, having purposed (Marshall 896); In James 1:18 the perfect participle is translated "of His own will, "literally, "having willed" (Vine 1230).
[ 105 ]APEKUEESEN HEMAS, he brought forth us (Marshall 896); gave birth to, brought forth [from KUEOO to be pregnant], used metaphorically of spiritual birth by means of the Word of God, James 1:18, and of death as the offspring of sin [verse 15; so in the best texts] (Vine 102).
[ 106 ]NU-Text and M-Text read would.
[ 107 ]LOGON ALEETHEIAS, by a word of truth (Marshall 896); instruction; the truth as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposed alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and to the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians . . . the truth which is the gospel or which the gospel presents (Thayer 26, 381).
[ 108 ]EGENNEESA, literally, begat (Marshall 666); of one who by means of preaching the Gospel becomes the human instrument in the impartation of spiritual life (Vine 101).
[ 109 ]EIS TO EINAI HEEMAS, for the to be us=that we should be (Marshall 896).
[ 110 ]TINA, a certain (Marshall 896); indicates the figurative nature of the term (Vincent 1.732).
[ 111 ]APARCHEEN, firstfruit (Marshall 896); taken from the requirement of the Jewish law that the first-born of men and cattle, and the first growth of fruits and grain should be consecrated to the Lord. Christians, like first-fruits, should be consecrated to God (Vincent 1.732).
[ 112 ]TOON AUTOU KTISMATOON, of the of him creatures (Marshall 896); has the concrete sense, the created thing, the creature, the product of the creative act (Vine 247).
[ 113 ]ISTE, know ye (Marshall 896); the KJV follows the reading HOSTE. But the correct reading is ISTE ye know. Others render it as imperative, know ye, as calling attention to what follows (Vincent 1.732).
[ 114 ]ADELPHOI MOU AGAPEETOI, brothers of me beloved (Marshall 896).
[ 115 ]ESTOO DE PAS ANTHROOPOS, let be but every man (Marshall 896, 897).
[ 116 ]TAXUS EIS TO AKOUSAI, swift for the to hear (Marshall 897); swift, speedy (Vine 1112).
[ 117 ]BRADUS EIS TO LALEESAI, slow for the to speak (Marshall 897); used twice in James 1:19, in an exhortation to be slow to speak and slow to wrath (Vine 1054).
[ 118 ]BRADUS EIS ORGEEN, slow to wrath (Marshall 897).
[ 119 ]ORGEE GAR ANDROS, for [the wrath] of a man (Marshall 897).
[ 120 ]OUK ERGAZETAI, works not (Marshall 897); to work something, refers especially to freedom from, strife and vainglory (Vine 1243, 1244).
[ 121 ]Manor 277.
[ 122 ]DIKAIOSUNEEN THEOU, [the] righteousness of God (Marshall 897).
[ 123 ]DIO, wherefore (Marshall 897); wherefore, on this account (Thayer 152).
[ 124 ]APOTHEMENOI, putting away (Marshall 897); put off from oneself [APO from, TITHEMI to put, place, set, frequently signifies to lay], "lay apart," "putting away" (Vine 649).
[ 125 ]PASAN RHUPARIAN, all filthiness (Marshall 897); RHUPOS filth occurs in 1 Peter 3:21 and the verb RHUPOW to be filthy, Revelation 22:11 (Vincent 1.732); compare the usage of the word "filthiness" with "vile" or "dirty" (Jas 2:2).
[ 126 ]KAI PERISSEIAN KAKIAS, and superfluity of evil (Marshall 897); the sense is abounding or abundant wickedness (Vincent 1.733).
[ 127 ]DEXASTHE, receive ye (Marshall 897); receive by deliberate and ready reception of what is offered . . . of the favorable reception of testimony and teaching (Vine 927); receive favorably, give ear to, embrace, make one's own, approve, not to reject (Thayer 131); welcome (Williams).
[ 128 ]EN PRAUTEETI, in meekness (Marshall 897); literally, "in meekness;" opposed to malice (Vincent 1.733); gentle, mild, meek (Thayer 534, 535).
[ 129 ]TON EMPHUTON LOGON, the implanted word (Marshall 897); implanted or rooted [from EMPHUOO to implant], that is, a word whose property is to root itself like a seed in the heart (Vine 580); implanted. [The word] is implanted; divinely given, in contrast with something acquired by study (Vincent 1.733).
[ 130 ]TON DUNAMENON, being able (Marshall 897); able, powerful (Vine 4); is able, has power (Thayer 158).
[ 131 ]SOOSAI TAS PSUCHAS HUMOON, to save the souls of you (Marshall 897); save in the technical biblical sense;--negatively, to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment, Joel 2:32 [3:5]; to save from evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance . . . from the punitive wrath of God at the judgment of the last day . . . . positively, to make one a partaker of the salvation by Christ (Thayer 610).
[ 132 ]GINESTHE DE, become ye and (Marshall 897); the word "be [Greek GINOMAI] often translated "become," views their obedience as a constant struggle (Liberty 2588); keep on obeying this message (Williams).
[ 133 ]POIEETAI LOGOU, doers of [the] word (Marshall 897); keep on obeying this message (Williams); the Greek present tense may be rendered "Continue being doers" (Liberty 2588).
[ 134 ]KAI MEE AKROATAI MONON, and not hearers only (Marshall 397); do not merely listen to it (Williams).
[ 135 ]PARALOGIZOMENOI HEAUTOUS, misleading yourselves (Marshall 897); [from PARA beside, contrary to, LOGIZOMAI to reckon], and hence to conclude by reasoning. . . . one betrays himself by false reasoning--reasoning beside the truth (Vincent 1.734).
[ 136 ]HOTI EI TIS, because if anyone (Marshall 897); TIS may be masculine or feminine (Machen 584).
[ 137 ]AKROATEES LOGOU ESTIN, a hearer of [the] word is (Marshall 897).
[ 138 ]KAI OU POIEETEES, and not a doer (Marshall 897).
[ 139 ]HOUTOS EOIKEN ANDRI, this one is like a man (Marshall 897).
[ 140 ]KATANOOUNTI, perceiving (Marshall 897); with the notion of attentively considering [KATA down into, or through; compare EIS into, verse 25] . . . the contrast is not between a hasty look and a careful contemplation [verse 25, looketh]. It is not a mere careless hearing of the word which James rebukes, but the neglect to carry into practice what is heard (Vincent 1.734).
[ 141 ]TO PROSOOPON TEES GENESEOOS, the face of the birth of him (Marshall 897); literally, the countenance of his birth; the face he was born with (Vincent 1.734).
[ 142 ]EN ESOPTROO, in a mirror (Marshall 897); a mirror; a metallic mirror (Vincent 1.734).
[ 143 ]KATENOEESEN GAR HEAUTON, for he perceived himself (Marshall 897); aorist tense, throwing the sentence into a lively, narrative form: he beheld himself and forgot (Vincent 1.734).
[ 144 ]KAI APELEELUTHEN, and has gone away (Marshall 897); perfect tense, implying a continuing condition of absence from the mirror (Harrison 1432).
[ 145 ]Machen 452.
[ 146 ]KAI EUTHEOOS EPELATHETO, and straightway forgot (Marshall 897); aorist tense.
[ 147 ]See Machen 167, 168.
[ 148 ]HOPOIOS EEN, what sort he was (Marshall 897).
[ 149 ]HO DE PARAKUPSAS, but the [one] having looked into (Marshall 897); the verb is used of one who stoops sideways [PARA] to look attentively. The mirror is conceived as placed on a table or on the ground (Vincent 1.734); but the man who looks . . . and keeps on looking (Williams); implies bending over for closer inspection (Liberty 2588).
[ 150 ]EIS, into (Marshall 897); denoting the penetration of the look into the very essence of the law (Vincent 1.734).
[ 151 ]NOMON TELEION TON, law perfect the (Marshall 897); literally, the perfect law, (Vincent 1.735).
[ 152 ]TEES ELEUTHERIAS, of freedom (Marshall 897); the law of liberty (Vincent 1.735).
[ 153 ]KAI PARAMEINAS, and remaining (Marshall 897); that is, continues looking (Vincent 1.735); makes a habit of doing so (Harrison 1432); and keeps on looking (Williams).
[ 154 ]OUK AKROATEES EPILEESMONEES, literally, a hearer of forgetfulness; whom forgetfulness characterizes. . . . a hearer that forgetteth; a rendering which gives the proper sense of forgetfulness as a characteristic (Vincent 1.735); not a hearer of forgetfulness [genitive of quality: "a forgetful hearer"] (Marshall 897).
[ 155 ]GENOMENOS ALLA POIETEES ERGOU, becoming but a doer of [the] work (Marshall 897); literally, of work, as the noun has no article (Vincent 1.735).
[ 156 ]HOUTOS MAKARIOS, this one blessed (Marshall 897).
[ 157 ]EN TEE POIEESEI AUTOU ESTAI, in the doing of him will be (Marshall 897); in his doing . . . the preposition EN [in] marks the inner connection between doing and blessedness (Vincent 1.735).
[ 158 ]EI TIS DOKEI, if anyone thinks (Marshall 897); a man can scarcely seem to be religious, when, as Trench observes, "his religious pretensions are belied and refuted by the allowance of an unbridled tongue" (Vincent 1.735).
[ 159 ]THREESKOS EINAI, religious to be (Marshall 897); a zealous and diligent performance of religious services (Vincent 1.735); given to religious observances (Harrison 1432); fearing or worshipping God; religious [apparently from TREOO to tremble]; hence, properly, trembling, fearful (Thayer 292).
[ 160 ]MEE CHALINAGOOGOON, not bridling (Marshall 897); literally, to guide with a bridle (Vincent 1.736); [from CHALINOS and AGOO to lead], signifies to lead by a bridle, to bridle, to hold in check, restrain; used metaphorically of the tongue and of the body in James 1:26 and 3:2 (Vine 142).
[ 161 ]GLOOSSAN HEAUTOU, tongue of himself (Marshall 897).
[ 162 ]ALLA APATOON KARDIAN HEAUTOU, but deceiving heart of himself (Marshall 897).
[ 163 ]TOUTOU HEE THREESKEIA, of this one the religion (Marshall 897); religious worship (Thayer 292).
[ 164 ]MATAIOS, vain (Marshall 897); void of result . . . used of religion with an unbridled tongue (Vine 1192); devoid of force, truth, success, result (Thayer 393); idle, empty, fruitless, useless, powerless, lacking truth . . . his religion is worthless (Arndt 495).
[ 165 ]KATHARA, clean (Marshall 897); pure as being cleansed (Vine 903); genuine (Thayer 312); in the moral and religious sense: pure, free from sin (Arndt 388).
[ 166 ]KAI AMIANTOS, and undefiled (Marshall 897); the two adjectives pure and undefiled present the positive and negative sides of purity (Vincent 1.736).
[ 167 ]THREESKEIA, religion (Marshall 897); the writer purposely uses the word to set in contrast that which is unreal and deceptive, and the "pure religion" which consists in visiting "the fatherless and widows in their affliction," and in keeping oneself "unspotted from the world." He is "not herein affirming . . . these offices to be the sum total, nor yet the great essentials, of true religion, but declares them to be the body, the THREESKEIA, of which godliness, or the love of God is the informing soul" [Trench] (Vine 944).
[ 168 ]PARA TOO THEOO KAI PATRI, before the God and Father (Marshall 898).
[ 169 ]ESTIN, is (Marshall 898).
[ 170 ]EPISKEPTESTHAI, to visit (Marshall 898); pure and undefiled religion demands personal contact with the world's sorrow: to visit the afflicted, and to visit them in their affliction (Vincent 1.736); primarily, to inspect [a late form of EPISKOPEOO to look upon, care for, exercise oversight], signifies to visit the sick and afflicted (Vine 1202); to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes . . . in order to see how he is, that is, to visit, go to see one . . . the poor and afflicted (Thayer 242).
[ 171 ]ORPHANOUS, orphans (Marshall 898); deprived of one's parents (Arndt 583); bereft [of a father, of parents] (Thayer 454); properly, an orphan, is rendered "fatherless" (Vine 412).
[ 172 ]KAI CHEERAS, and widows (Marshall 898); widows (Thayer 668); literally, women, widows (Vine 1227).
[ 173 ]EN TEE THLIPSEI AUTON, in the affliction of them (Marshall 898).
[ 174 ]HEAUTON TEEREIN, himself to keep (Marshall 898).
[ 175 ]ASPILON, unspotted (Marshall 898).
[ 176 ]APO TOU KOSMOU, from the world (Marshall 898); the world, and everything that belongs to it, appears as that which is hostile to God, that is, lost in sin, wholly at odds with anything divine, ruined and depraved . . . keep oneself unstained by the world (Arndt 446); the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ (Thayer 357).

Copyright ©2001, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington, U.S.A.
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The basic text, and all quotations not designated otherwise, are from the New King James Version, copyrighted ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Bracketed alternatives are drawn from various sources such as the ASV, Darby, KJV and RSV. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft method.

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