James 4:5
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?

New Living Translation
What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?

English Standard Version
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

Berean Study Bible
Or do you think the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to dwell in us yearns with envy?

Berean Literal Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit that He has made to dwell in us yearns with envy"?

New American Standard Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"?

King James Bible
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Or do you think it's without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously?

International Standard Version
Or do you think the Scripture means nothing when it says that the Spirit that God caused to live in us jealously yearns for us?

NET Bible
Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, "The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning"?

New Heart English Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit which he made to dwell in us yearns jealously"?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And perhaps you think the Scripture says in vain, “The spirit that dwells within us lusts with jealousy.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Do you think this passage means nothing? It says, "The Spirit that lives in us wants us to be his own."

New American Standard 1977
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

Jubilee Bible 2000
Do ye think that the scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

King James 2000 Bible
Do you think that the scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

American King James Version
Do you think that the scripture said in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

American Standard Version
Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Or do you think that the scripture saith in vain: To envy doth the spirit covet which dwelleth in you?

Darby Bible Translation
Think ye that the scripture speaks in vain? Does the Spirit which has taken his abode in us desire enviously?

English Revised Version
Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying?

Webster's Bible Translation
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Weymouth New Testament
Or do you suppose that it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "The Spirit which He has caused to dwell in our hearts yearns jealously over us"?

World English Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously"?

Young's Literal Translation
Do ye think that emptily the Writing saith, 'To envy earnestly desireth the spirit that did dwell in us,'
Study Bible
Warning against Pride
4You adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world renders himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to dwell in us yearns with envy? 6But He gives us more grace. This is why it says: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”…
Cross References
Numbers 23:19
"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

1 Corinthians 6:19
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

2 Corinthians 6:16
What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people."
Treasury of Scripture

Do you think that the scripture said in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

the scripture.

John 7:42 Has not the scripture said, That Christ comes of the seed of David, …

John 10:35 If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture …

John 19:37 And again another scripture said, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Romans 9:17 For the scripture said to Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have …

Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen …

The spirit.

Genesis 4:5,6 But to Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was …

Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth…

Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet smell; and the LORD said in his heart, …

Genesis 26:14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great …

Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied …

Genesis 37:11 And his brothers envied him; but his father observed the saying.

Numbers 11:29 And Moses said to him, Envy you for my sake? would God that all the …

Psalm 37:1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers, neither be you envious against …

Psalm 106:16 They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD.

Proverbs 21:10 The soul of the wicked desires evil: his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this …

Isaiah 11:13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah …

Acts 7:9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but …

Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, …

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, …

to envy. or, enviously.

(5) Do ye think . . .?--The tone of the Apostle is changed to one of appeal, which, perhaps (but see below), may be rendered thus: Suppose ye that the Scripture saith in vain, The (Holy) Spirit that dwelleth in us jealously regards us as His own? Our Authorised version does not allow of this apparent reference to the Spirit of God indwelling His human temples (1Corinthians 3:16; 1Corinthians 6:19, et seq.) for "lusteth to envy," or enviously, would imply evil and not good. It were well that the unfaithful, addressed in James 4:4, should bear the general sentiment of this verse in mind, and not fancy such warnings of holy writ were uttered emptily, in vain.

Many commentators have been puzzled to say whence the words came which are quoted as authoritative by St. James. Surely the substance was sufficient for him, as for other inspired writers, without a slavish adherence to the form: comp. Genesis 2:7 for the inbreathing of the Spirit, with any such chapter as Deuteronomy 32 for His jealous inquisition. It must, however, be noted that a slightly varied punctuation of the verse will give quite another sense to its questioning. (See Wordsworth.) Suppose ye that the Scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the Spirit, which took up His abode in you, lust to envy? And defensible or not as this translation may be, at least it escapes some of the difficulties of the foregoing. (Exhaustive notes, with references to most authorities, are in Alford; or an easy summary of the matter may be read in Plumptre's St. James.)

Verses 5, 6. - The difficulty of the passage is well shown by the hesitation of the Revisers. The first clause is rendered, "Or think ye that the Scripture speaketh in vain?" but as an alternative there is suggested in the margin, "Or think ye that the Scripture saith in vain?" as if the following clause were a quotation from Scripture. And of this following clause three possible renderings are suggested.

(1) In the text: "Doth the Spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the Scripture saith," etc.

(2) Margin 1: "The Spirit which he made to dwell in us he yearneth for even unto jealous envy. But he giveth," etc.

(3) Margin 2: "That Spirit which he made to dwell in us yearneth for us even unto jealous envy. But he giveth," etc. Further, it is noted in the margin that some ancient authorities read "dwelleth in us," i.e. κατώκησεν, which is the reading of the Received Text, and so of the A.V. resting upon K, L; א and B being the primary authorities for κατώκισεν. With regard to the first clause, the rendering of the R.V., "speaketh," may be justified by Hebrews 9:5. It is possible that St. James was intending to quote Proverbs 3:34 immediately, but after the introductory formula, η} δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, he interposes with the emphatic question, "Is it to envy," etc.? and does not arrive at the quotation till ver. 6, when he introduces it with a fresh formula of quotation, διὸ λέγει, a looseness of construction which is quite natural in a Hebrew. Other views, for which it is believed there is less to be urged, are the following:

(1) that the words, πρὸς φθονόν, κ.τ.λ., are a quotation from some (now lost) early Christian writing. On this view the passage is parallel to Ephesians 5:14, where a portion of a Christian hymn is introduced by the words, διὸ λέγει.

(2) That St. James is referring to the general drift rather than to the exact words of several passages of the Old Testament; e.g. Genesis 6:3-5; Deuteronomy 32:10, 19, etc.

(3) That the allusion is to some passage of the New Testament, either Galatians 5:17 or 1 Peter 2:1, etc. Passing on to the translation of the second clause, πρὸς φθονόν κ.τ.λ., it must be noted that φθονός is never used elsewhere in the New Testament or in the LXX. (Wisd. 6:25; 1 Macc. 8:16) or in the apostolic Fathers except in a bad sense. True that Exodus 20:5 teaches us that God is a "jealous God," but there the LXX. renders קנא by the far nobler word ζηλωτής: cf. Wolf, 'Curae Philippians Crit.,' p. 64, where it is noted that, while ζῆλος is a vex media, the same cannot be said of φθονός, which is always vitiosa, and is never used by the LXX. ubi vox Hebraica ׃תסך סעדנךמךרפצך סעתאלךר סךנךמוה לךשׁ מעךדּ דא קנאה This seems to be a fatal objection to the marginal readings of the Revised Version, and to compel us to rest content with that adopted in the text, "Doth the Spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying?" or rather, "Is it to envying that the Spirit... longs?" πρὸς φθονόν being placed for emphasis at the beginning of the sentence. Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain?.... Some think that the apostle refers to a particular passage of Scripture in the Old Testament, and that he took it from Genesis 6:3 as some; or from Exodus 20:5, as others; or from Deuteronomy 7:2 or from Job 5:6 or from Proverbs 21:10 others think he had in view some text in the New Testament; either Romans 12:2 or Galatians 5:17 and some have imagined that he refers to a passage in the apocryphal book:

"For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin.'' (Wisdom 1:4)

and others have been of opinion that it is taken out of some book of Scripture then extant, but now lost, which by no means can be allowed of: the generality of interpreters, who suppose a particular text of Scripture is referred to, fetch it from Numbers 11:29 but it seems best of all to conclude that the apostle has no regard to any one particular passage of Scripture, in which the following words are expressly had, since no such passage appears; but that his meaning is, the sense of the Scripture everywhere, where it speaks of this matter, is to this purpose: nor does it say this, or any thing else in vain; whatever is written there is to answer some end, as for learning, edification, and comfort, for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; neither with respect to what is before suggested, that what is asked in a right manner, and for a right end, shall be given; and that the love of the world, and the love of God, are things incompatible; nor with respect to what follows:

the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? that is, the depraved spirit of man, the spirit of an unregenerate man; that as it is prone to every lust, and prompts to every sin, the imagination of the thought of man's heart being evil, and that continually, so it instigates to envy the happiness of others; see Genesis 6:5 or this may be put as a distinct question from the other, "does the spirit that dwelleth in us lust to envy?" that is, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the hearts of his people, as in his temple: the Ethiopic version reads, "the Holy Spirit": and then the sense is, does he lust to envy? no; he lusts against the flesh and the works of it, and envy among the rest; see Galatians 5:17 but he does not lust to it, or provoke to it, or put persons upon it; nor does he, as the Arabic version renders it, "desire that we should envy"; he is a spirit of grace; he bestows grace and favours upon men; and is so far from envying, or putting others upon envying any benefit enjoyed by men, that he increases them, adds to them, and enlarges them, as follows. 5. in vain—No word of Scripture can be so. The quotation here, as in Eph 5:14, seems to be not so much from a particular passage as one gathered by James under inspiration from the general tenor of such passages in both the Old and New Testaments, as Nu 14:29; Pr 21:20; Ga 5:17.

spirit that dwelleth in us—Other manuscripts read, "that God hath made to dwell in us" (namely, at Pentecost). If so translated, "Does the (Holy) Spirit that God hath placed in us lust to (towards) envy" (namely, as ye do in your worldly "wars and fightings")? Certainly not; ye are therefore walking in the flesh, not in the Spirit, while ye thus lust towards, that is, with envy against one another. The friendship of the world tends to breed envy; the Spirit produces very different fruit. Alford attributes the epithet "with envy," in the unwarrantable sense of jealously, to the Holy Spirit: "The Spirit jealously desires us for His own." In English Version the sense is, "the (natural) spirit that hath its dwelling in us lusts with (literally, 'to,' or 'towards') envy." Ye lust, and because ye have not what ye lust after (Jas 4:1, 2), ye envy your neighbor who has, and so the spirit of envy leads you on to "fight." James also here refers to Jas 3:14, 16.4:1-10 Since all wars and fightings come from the corruptions of our own hearts, it is right to mortify those lusts that war in the members. Wordly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will not allow content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections stop prayer, and the working of our desires toward God. And let us beware that we do not abuse or misuse the mercies received, by the disposition of the heart when prayers are granted When men ask of God prosperity, they often ask with wrong aims and intentions. If we thus seek the things of this world, it is just in God to deny them. Unbelieving and cold desires beg denials; and we may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of lusts than of graces, they will return empty. Here is a decided warning to avoid all criminal friendships with this world. Worldly-mindedness is enmity to God. An enemy may be reconciled, but enmity never can be reconciled. A man may have a large portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who will conform to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God. So that any one who resolves at all events to be upon friendly terms with the world, must be the enemy of God. Did then the Jews, or the loose professors of Christianity, think the Scripture spake in vain against this worldly-mindedness? or does the Holy Spirit who dwells in all Christians, or the new nature which he creates, produce such fruit? Natural corruption shows itself by envying. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up, or lay out for ourselves, according to our own fancies; God the Holy Spirit teaches us to be willing to do good to all about us, as we are able. The grace of God will correct and cure the spirit by nature in us; and where he gives grace, he gives another spirit than that of the world. The proud resist God: in their understanding they resist the truths of God; in their will they resist the laws of God; in their passions they resist the providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God resists the proud. How wretched the state of those who make God their enemy! God will give more grace to the humble, because they see their need of it, pray for it are thankful for it, and such shall have it. Submit to God, ver. 7. Submit your understanding to the truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the will of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armour of God, and stand out against him, he will leave us. Let sinners then submit to God, and seek his grace and favour; resisting the devil. All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or, hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before him.
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