James 1:26
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

New Living Translation
If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

English Standard Version
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Berean Study Bible
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart and his religion is worthless.

Berean Literal Bible
If anyone seems to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, the religion of this one is worthless.

New American Standard Bible
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.

King James Bible
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself.

International Standard Version
If anyone thinks that he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but instead deceives himself, his religion is worthless.

NET Bible
If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.

New Heart English Bible
If anyone thinks himself to be religious while he does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man's religion is worthless.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And if a man thinks that he serves God, and does not hold his tongue, but deceives his heart, this person's service is worthless.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
If a person thinks that he is religious but can't control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person's religion is worthless.

New American Standard 1977
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.

Jubilee Bible 2000
If anyone among you thinks to be religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, his religion is vain.

King James 2000 Bible
If any man among you seems to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

American King James Version
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

American Standard Version
If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man's religion is vain.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Darby Bible Translation
If any one think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, this man's religion is vain.

English Revised Version
If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man's religion is vain.

Webster's Bible Translation
If any man among you seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

Weymouth New Testament
If a man thinks that he is scrupulously religious, although he is not curbing his tongue but is deceiving himself, his religious service is worthless.

World English Bible
If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn't bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man's religion is worthless.

Young's Literal Translation
If any one doth think to be religious among you, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, of this one vain is the religion;
Study Bible
Hearing and Doing
25But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom, and continues to do so—not being a forgetful hearer, but an effective doer—he will be blessed in what he does. 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, he deceives his heart and his religion is worthless. 27Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.…
Cross References
Psalm 34:13
Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.

Psalm 39:1
For the choir director, for Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. I said, "I will guard my ways That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle While the wicked are in my presence."

Psalm 141:3
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Luke 8:18
Pay attention, therefore, to how you listen. Whoever has will be given more, but whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him."

James 3:2
We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to control his whole body.
Treasury of Scripture

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

seem.

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are …

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are …

Luke 8:18 Take heed therefore how you hear: for whoever has, to him shall be …

1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise …

Galatians 2:6,9 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatever they were, it makes …

Galatians 6:3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he …

bridleth.

James 1:19 Why, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to …

James 3:2-6 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, …

Psalm 32:9 Be you not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: …

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

Psalm 39:1,2 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: …

Psalm 141:3 Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

Proverbs 10:19,31 In the multitude of words there wants not sin: but he that refrains …

Proverbs 13:2,3 A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the …

Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools …

Proverbs 16:10 A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresses …

Proverbs 19:1 Better is the poor that walks in his integrity, than he that is perverse …

Proverbs 21:26 He covets greedily all the day long: but the righteous gives and spares not.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that …

Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not …

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you …

1 Peter 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his …

but. See on ver.

James 1:22 But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Deuteronomy 11:16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you …

Isaiah 44:20 He feeds on ashes: a deceived heart has turned him aside, that he …

Galatians 6:3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he …

this.

James 2:20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Isaiah 1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination to me; the …

Malachi 3:14 You have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that …

Matthew 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Mark 7:7 However, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments …

1 Corinthians 15:2,15 By which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached …

Galatians 3:4 Have you suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

(26) But St. James has thus far dilated only on the first part of his advice in James 1:19, "Let every man be swift to hear"; now he must enforce the remaining clause, "slow to speak."

If any man among you seem to be religious . . .--Better, If any one imagine himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man's religion is vain. The sense of the Greek is slightly obscured by the English version. "If any man . . . seem"--i.e., to himself, and not to others merely; the warning is not to the hypocrite, but the self-deceived. A Christian may have, or rather cannot help having, the feeling that he is a religious man; and so far well. But if such a one deceive his own heart, as confessedly he may, and give to those around him the proof of his self-delusion in not curbing his tongue, vain and useless is all his religious service. Just as some mistakenly suppose there can be a religion of hearing without acting, so others rest satisfied "in outward acts of worship, or exactness of ritual." "But," remarks Bishop Moberly on this passage, and his voice may win an audience where another's would not, "if a man think himself a true worshipper because he conforms to outward services, while he lets his tongue loose in untruth or unkindness or other unseemliness, he deceives himself." The first mark of true religion is gentleness of tongue, just as the contrary, blasphemy, is the most damning fault of all. Our Lord directly says, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:37). The text, however, is more a guide for self-examination than a stone to be cast at a neighbour; and "well is" it indeed for "him that hath not slipped with his tongue" (Ecclesiasticus 25:8).

The Apostle returns to this subject, though from a different point of view, in James 3, which compare with the above. The best commentary on the whole is Bishop Butler's Sermon, No. IV., "Upon the Government of the Tongue."

Verse 26. - Seem (δοκεῖ); seems to himself rather than to others; translate, with R.V., thinketh himself to be. Vulgate, Si quis Putat se esse. Religious (θρῆσκος). It is difficult to find an English word which exactly answers to the Greek. The noun θρησκεία refers properly to the external rites of religion, and so gets to signify an over-scrupulous devotion to external forms (Lightfoot on Colossians 2:18); almost "ritualism." It is the ceremonial service of religion, the external forms, a body of which εὐσεβεία is the informing soul. Thus the θρῆσκος (the word apparently only occurs here in the whole range of Greek literature) is the diligent performer of Divine offices, of the outward service of God, but not necessarily anything more. This depreciatory sense of θρησκεία ισ well seen in a passage of Philo ('Quod Det. Pot. 'Jus.,' 7), where, after speaking of some who would fain be counted among the εὐλαβεῖς on the score of diverse washings or costly offerings to the temple, he proceeds: Πεπλάνηται γὰρ καὶ οϋτος τῆς πρὸς εὐσεβείαν ὁδοῦ θρησκείαν ἀντὶ ὁσιότητος ἡγούμενος (see Trench on 'Synonyms,' from whom the reference is here taken). "How delicate and fine, then, St. James's choice of θρῆσκος and θρησκεία! 'If any man,' he would say, 'seem to himself to be θρῆσκος, a diligent observer of the offices of religion, if any man would render a pure and undefiled θρησκεία to God, let him know that this consists, not in outward lustrations or ceremonial observances; nay, that there is a better θρησκεία than thousands of rams and rivers of oil, namely, to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God (Micah 6:7, 8); or, according to his own words, ' to visit the widows and orphans in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world'" (Trench on 'Synonyms,' p. 170: the whole passage will well repay study. Reference should also be made to Coleridge, 'Aids to Reflection,' p. 15). Bridleth not (μὴ χαλιναγωγῶν). The thought is developed more fully afterwards (see James 3:2, etc., and for the word, cf. Polyc., 'Ad Philippians,' c.v.). If any man among you seem to be religious,.... By his preaching, or praying, and hearing, and other external duties of religion, he is constant in the observance of; and who, upon the account of these things, "thinks himself to be a religious man", as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions render it; or is thought to be so by others:

and bridleth not his tongue; but boasts of his works, and speaks ill of his brethren; backbites them, and hurts their names and characters, by private insinuations, and public charges without any foundation; who takes no care of what he says, but gives his tongue a liberty of speaking anything, to the injury of others, and the dishonour of God, and his ways: there seems to be an allusion to Psalm 39:1.

But deceiveth his own heart; with his show of religion, and external performances; on which he builds his hopes of salvation; of which he is confident; and so gives himself to a loose way of talking what he pleases:

this man's religion is vain; useless, and unprofitable to himself and others; all his preaching, praying, hearing, and attendance on the ordinances will be of no avail to him; and he, notwithstanding these, by his evil tongue, brings a scandal and reproach upon the ways of God, and doctrines of Christ. 26, 27. An example of doing work.

religious … religion—The Greek expresses the external service or exercise of religion, "godliness" being the internal soul of it. "If any man think himself to be (so the Greek) religious, that is, observant of the offices of religion, let him know these consist not so much in outward observances, as in such acts of mercy and humble piety (Mic 6:7, 8) as visiting the fatherless, etc., and keeping one's self unspotted from the world" (Mt 23:23). James does not mean that these offices are the great essentials, or sum total of religion; but that, whereas the law service was merely ceremonial, the very services of the Gospel consist in acts of mercy and holiness, and it has light for its garment, its very robe being righteousness [Trench]. The Greek word is only found in Ac 26:5, "after the straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." Col 2:18, "worshipping of angels."

bridleth not … tongue—Discretion in speech is better than fluency of speech (compare Jas 3:2, 3). Compare Ps 39:1. God alone can enable us to do so. James, in treating of the law, naturally notices this sin. For they who are free from grosser sins, and even bear the outward show of sanctity, will often exalt themselves by detracting others under the pretense of zeal, while their real motive is love of evil-speaking [Calvin].

heart—It and the tongue act and react on one another.1:26,27 When men take more pains to seem religious than really to be so, it is a sign their religion is in vain. The not bridling the tongue, readiness to speak of the faults of others, or to lessen their wisdom and piety, are signs of a vain religion. The man who has a slandering tongue, cannot have a truly humble, gracious heart. False religious may be known by their impurity and uncharitableness. True religion teaches us to do every thing as in the presence of God. An unspotted life must go with unfeigned love and charity. Our true religion is equal to the measure in which these things have place in our hearts and conduct. And let us remember, that nothing avails in Christ Jesus, but faith that worketh by love, purifies the heart, subdues carnal lusts, and obeys God's commands.
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