James 3:3
Parallel Verses
New International Version
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.

New Living Translation
We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth.

English Standard Version
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.

New American Standard Bible
Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.

King James Bible
Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal.

International Standard Version
Now if we put bits into horses' mouths to make them obey us, we can guide their whole bodies as well.

NET Bible
And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And behold, we put a bridle in the mouths of horses, so that they will submit to us and we turn their whole bodies.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
We put bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, and we have control over everything they do.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Behold, we put bits (or restraint) in the horses' mouths to persuade them, and we govern their whole body.

King James 2000 Bible
Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

American King James Version
Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

American Standard Version
Now if we put the horses bridles into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For if we put bits into the mouths of horses, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body.

Darby Bible Translation
Behold, we put the bits in the mouths of the horses, that they may obey us, and we turn round their whole bodies.

English Revised Version
Now if we put the horses' bridles into their mouths, that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also.

Webster's Bible Translation
Behold, we put bits in the mouths of horses, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

Weymouth New Testament
Remember that we put the horses' bit into their mouths to make them obey us, and so we turn their whole bodies round.

World English Bible
Indeed, we put bits into the horses' mouths so that they may obey us, and we guide their whole body.

Young's Literal Translation
lo, the bits we put into the mouths of the horses for their obeying us, and their whole body we turn about;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

3:1-12 We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion by the tongues of men. Every age of the world, and every condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this. Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed in sinful ways, they are set on fire of hell. No man can tame the tongue without Divine grace and assistance. The apostle does not represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. Other sins decay with age, this many times gets worse; we grow more froward and fretful, as natural strength decays, and the days come on in which we have no pleasure. When other sins are tamed and subdued by the infirmities of age, the spirit often grows more tart, nature being drawn down to the dregs, and the words used become more passionate. That man's tongue confutes itself, which at one time pretends to adore the perfections of God, and to refer all things to him; and at another time condemns even good men, if they do not use the same words and expressions. True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart; and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another. But facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their tongues. Then, depending on Divine grace, let us take heed to bless and curse not; and let us aim to be consistent in our words and actions.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 3. - Illustration of the last statement of ver. 2. The bit in the horse's mouth enables us to turn about the whole body. So the man who can govern his tongue has the mastery over the whole body. A remarkable parallel is afforded by Sophocles, 'Antigone,' 1. 470, Σμικρῷ χαλινῷ δ οῖδα τοὺς θυμουμένους ἵππους καταρτυθέιτας. So also Philo, 'De Op. Mundi,' p. 19, Τὸ θυμικώτατον ζῶον ἵππος ῤᾳδίως ἄγεται χαλινωθείς. The manuscript; authority is overwhelming in favor of εἰ δὲ (A, B, K, L; א, εἰδε γάρ, etc.; and Vulgate, si autem) instead of ἰδού of the Received Text (C has ἴδε, and the Syriac ecce): thus the apodosis is contained in the words, καὶ ὅλον κ.τ.λ. Translate, with R.V., now if we put the horses bridles into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also. (For a similar correction of ἰδέ to εἰ δέ, see Romans 2:17.)

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths,.... By this, and the following simile, the apostle not only expresses the smallness of that member of the body, which is like the bit in the horse's mouth, and the helm of a ship, but the good use of it, and the great influence it has over the whole body. Horses are without understanding, and need direction in what path to go, and are strong, and would be truly and ungovernable unless bits and bridles were put into their mouths:

that they may obey us; and go in the way we would have them:

and we turn about the whole body of the horse, this way, and that way, as is thought best, by the help of the bit and bridle; and of such use is the tongue to the natural body, that being bridled itself, bridles, directs, and governs the whole body; and its influence on bodies, and societies of men, and Christians, is like that of the bit in the horse's mouth; who, like horses, would be unruly and ungovernable, were it not for the force of language, the power of words, and strength of argument.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

3. Behold—The best authorities read, "but if," that is, Now whensoever (in the case) of horses (such is the emphatic position of "horses" in the Greek) we put the bits (so literally, "the customary bits") into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about also their whole body. This is to illustrate how man turns about his whole body with the little tongue. "The same applies to the pen, which is the substitute for the tongue among the absent" [Bengel].

James 3:3 Additional Commentaries
Context
Taming the Tongue
2For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.…
Cross References
Psalm 32:9
Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

James 3:4
Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
Treasury of Scripture

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

James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue, …

2 Kings 19:28 Because your rage against me and your tumult is come up into my ears, …

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

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

Isaiah 37:29 Because your rage against me, and your tumult, is come up into my …

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