James 1
Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
Jam 1:1. Ἰάκωβος, James) Peter, John, and James were the apostles of the circumcision; Galatians 2. James was especially employed at Jerusalem and in Palestine and Syria; Peter, at Babylon and in other parts of the East; John, at Ephesus and in Asia. Of the twelve apostles, these and Jude have left us seven Epistles, which are called General Epistles, a title given to them all in ancient times, though not adapted to all alike, since some of them are addressed to individuals; they are also called the Seven Canonical Epistles, to distinguish them from the Canonical Epistles of St Paul. John wrote from Ephesus to the Parthians, as ancient tradition affirms; Peter, from Babylon to the dispersed Jews of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; Jude (from what place is unknown), to the same persons as his brother James; James wrote from Jerusalem to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. This James is an apostle: respecting him, see on Acts 15:23.

The Epistle has three parts.

I.  The Inscription, Jam 1:1.

  II.  An Exhortation,

1.  To Patience, that the brethren endure outward, Jam 1:2-12 overcome inward temptations, Jam 1:13-15.

2.  That, having regard to the goodness of God, Jam 1:16-18;

Every one be swift to HEAR, slow to SPEAK, slow to WRATH.

And these three subjects

a)  Are proposed, Jam 1:19-21;

b)  Are discussed:

  I.  That HEARING be joined with doing, Jam 1:22-25;

(And in particular with bridling the tongue, Jam 1:26;

With compassion and purity, Jam 1:27;

Without respect of persons, Jam 2:1-13.)

And, moreover, that faith be joined in all cases with works, Jam 2:14-26.

  II.  That the SPEECH be modest, Jam 3:1-12.

  III.  That WRATH, together with the other proud (inflated) passions, be restrained, Jam 3:13 to Jam 4:10; Jam 4:11-17.

3.  A second exhortation to Patience, which

a)  Derives weight from the COMING of the Judge, in which draws near—

  I.  The calamity of the wicked, Jam 5:1-6;

  II.  The deliverance of the righteous, Jam 5:7-12.

b)  Is nourished by PRAYER, Jam 5:13-18.

  III.  The Conclusion, by Apodioxis,[1] Jam 5:19-20.

[1]    See Append. on Apodioxis.

Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, of the Lord Jesus Christ) The apostle does not again introduce the name of Jesus Christ in this Epistle, except ch. Jam 2:1; nor at all in his speeches, Acts 15:14-15; Acts 21:20-21. If he had often used the name of Jesus, it might have been supposed that he was influenced by vanity, because he was the brother of the Lord; and therefore he less knew Christ after the flesh: 2 Corinthians 5:16. He makes no mention of Abraham, of Isaac (except incidentally, ch. Jam 2:21), of Jacob, or Moses; he says nothing about Judea, Jerusalem, and the temple. Christianity, so recently introduced, is the source from which the whole Epistle is derived.—δώδεκα φυλαῖς, to the twelve tribes) of Israel.—διασπορᾷ, in their dispersion) 1 Peter 1:1; Acts 8:1; (Septuagint) Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 30:4.—χαίρειν, to rejoice) A word of frequent use in salutations, and especially adapted to this passage. Χαρὰν, “joy,” in the next verse. The design of the apostle is, amidst the distress of those times, to exhort to patience, (ὑπομονὴν), and to check their Jewish pride (inflation), which was aggravated by the abuse of Christian faith: in fewer words, to commend moderation, or, if the expression is preferred, a spiritual calmness of soul. See notes on Jam 1:19 : comp. Hebrews 12:1. For in many particulars the Epistle of James corresponds with the Epistle to the Hebrews, and also with the First Epistle of Peter. We will point out the agreement at the passages in question. Oft-times have prophets and apostles, apart from each other, used the same sentiments and expressions, to confirm the minds of their hearers.[1]

[1] St James makes frequent use of the figure Anadiplosis, which properly signifies the use of the same word at the end of one sentence and at the beginning of the next. When used, as here, in a wider sense, it denotes the using of cognate words in the same way; for instance, χαίρειν at the end of this verse, and χαρὰν at the beginning of the next verse: and so in the word ὑπομονὴν, Jam 5:3-4; λειπόμενοι, Jam 5:4-5; διακρινόμενος, twice, Jam 5:6. Add Jam 5:13, etc., James 5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Jam 1:2. Πᾶσαν χαρὰν, all joy) The meaning is, Every trial ought to be esteemed a joy. Hence the word “all” is transferred from the subject to the predicate, while this meaning is retained. A trial ought not to be esteemed otherwise than a joy.[2] Comp. Hebrews 12:11. So 1 Peter 5:10, πάσης χάριτος, of all grace; Isaiah 60:21, ὁ λαός σου πᾶς δίκαιος, “Thy people (shall be) all righteous.” So Numbers 13:2-3; Daniel 12:1, compared with the Apocalypse, Revelation 20:15. The other degrees of patience are contained in joy, which is the highest.—ἀδελφοὶ, brethren) James frequently uses this address, especially at the beginning of a new section.—πειρασμοῖς ποικίλοις, various temptations) So Jam 1:12; 1 Peter 1:6; various of soul and body; for instance, diseases: ch. Jam 5:16.—περιπέσητε, ye fall into) The same word is used Luke 10:30, compared with 36.

[2] Thus Luther: eitel Freude (all joy, nothing but joy); and ch. Jam 3:16, eitel böse Ding, a completely bad thing. (Thus also omnis is sometimes used for merus. See note on ver. 17.—T.)

“Every evil work,” for “every work flowing from thence is evil;” the every being transferred from the subject to the predicate.—E.

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
Jam 1:3. Τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν) your proving, or trial. So τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως, the trial of your faith, 1 Peter 1:7; Proverbs 27:21 (Septuagint), δοκίμιον ἀργυρίῳ, καὶ χρυσῷ πύρωσις· ἀνὴρ δὲ δοκιμάζεται διὰ στόματος ἐγκωμιαζόντων αὐτόν, “The fining-pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; and so a man has his character tested by the mouth of those who praise him.” Herodian, δοκίμιον στρατιωτῶν (adde χριστιανῶν) κάματος, ἀλλʼ οὐ τρυφή, “The test of (Christian) soldiers is not luxury, but toil.” Zosimus, εὐνοίας δοκίμια παρασχόμενος, “Affording proofs of good-will.” The meaning of the word δοκίμιον is therefore trial patiently undergone. Were I not withheld by the parallelism in Peter,[3] I should more readily embrace in James the reading τῆς πίστεως, of your faith, supported as it is by so many witnesses.[4] As it is, trial, spoken of in general terms, embraces the trial of faith, love, and hope. And though there is no special mention of faith in this verse, yet James, as well as other apostles, esteems faith as all in all. See Jam 1:6; Jam 5:15. And the trial of faith, in particular, is firmly established, on the authority of Peter.—κατεργάζεται ὑπομονὴν, worketh patience) The same expression is used, Romans 5:3, with the addition, ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ δοκιμὴν, and patience (worketh) experience. See below, Jam 1:12.—ὑπομονὴν, patience) See Jam 1:12, and the note on Luke 8:15. So Psalm 62:6 (Septuagint), ὅτι παρʼ αὐτοῦ ἡ ὑπομονή μου, “for my patient expectation is from Him.”

[3] From whom it may have been interpolated here.—E.

[4] And indeed Beng. preferred this fuller reading afterwards in the margin of the Ed. 2; and it is expressly given in the Germ. Vers.—E. B.

B and later Syr. support the omission of τῆς πίστεως; and so Tisch. But AC Vulg. support the words; and so Lachm. and Rec. Text.—E.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Jam 1:4. Ἔργον τέλειον, perfect work) This is followed by τέλειος, “a perfect man.” The man himself is characterised (as τέλειος, perfect) from his actions, and the work in which he is engaged. For the attainment of this character, there is need of joy. Τέλειος is equivalent to δόκιμος in Jam 1:12. Compare the note on 2 Timothy 2:15.—ἐχέτω, let it have) He uses exhortation as in Jam 1:2, “COUNT it all joy.” The patience which rejoices is perfect.—τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι, perfect and entire) This expression denotes something absolute: ἐν μηδενὶ λειπομενοι, “wanting nothing,” is a relative expression; for the word λείπεσθαι, “to be in want,” is opposed to πλεονεκτεῖν, “to abound.”[5]

[5] Men of the world, or even men of letters, if at any time they desire to honour any one with the greatest praise, adorn him with the praise of a perfect (omnibus numeris absoluti) or accomplished man. We may see from the passage itself with what sort of characters this description truly corresponds: probation is required, and perfect work. That which is complete in the eyes of the world is nothing in the sight of God, in the absence of faith.—German Version.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Jam 1:5. Εἰ, if) The connection of the subjects mentioned in the first and following verses, and in the first and following verses of ch. 4, will be evident to him, who, while he suffers wrongfully, directs his attention to this passage. For the good and the bad affections are alternately and variously brought forward according as the train of thought suggests.—δὲ, but) There is an antithesis between the preceding clause and this: “wanting nothing,” and “if any man lack” (want).—σοφίας, wisdom) by means of which we understand whence and why temptation comes, and how it is to be borne, and how, for example, sickness (ch. Jam 5:14) is to be met. Patience is more in the power of a good man than wisdom; the former is to be exercised, the latter to be asked for. The highest wisdom, which governs patience in the trial of poverty and riches, is described in Jam 1:9-10.—αἰτείτω, let him ask) James strongly urges the prayer of faith. Comp. ch. Jam 5:13, and following verses.—πᾶσιν, to all) who ask aright.—ἁπλῶς, simply) To be taken with the sentence “who gives to all.” Divine simplicity is an admirable excellence. He gives simply, to the more and the less worthy, whether they are about to make a good or a bad use of His gift. To this simplicity that of the faithful answers, not that of the double-minded (διψύχων).—μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος, who upbraideth not) He gives no repulse: when He gives good things, He neither upbraids us with our past folly and unworthiness, nor with future abuse of His goodness.

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Jam 1:6. Πίστει, in faith) James also begins and ends with “faith.” Comp. ch. Jam 5:15. In the middle of the Epistle he merely removes the hindrances to faith, [and shows its true character.—V. g.]—ἔοικε, is like) The same word occurs in Jam 1:23.—κλύδωνι θαλάσσης, a wave of the sea) Such is the man who is destitute of wisdom, not obtained by prayer.—ἀνεμιζομένῳ, which is driven by the wind) from without.—ῥιπιζομένῳ, which is tossed) from within, by its own instability.

For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
Jam 1:7. Μὴ γὰρ οἰέσθω, for let not that man think) Faith does not entertain mere opinions.[6] He who thinks as the double-minded man (δίψυχος), thinks in vain.

[6] οἴεσθαι, as the Latin opinari, denotes the mere holding of an opinion or supposition, and expresses a condition of doubt as opposed to faith.—T.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Jam 1:8. Ἀνὴρ δίψυχος, a double-minded man) The same word (δίψυχος) is applied, ch. Jam 4:8, to those who have not a heart pure and simply given up to God. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, or in the Septuagint. It may be translated “having two souls,” as we speak of “a double-tongued”[7] man. Hesychius, διψυχία ἀπορία, “a state of doubt or perplexity. It is therefore connected in meaning with the word οιακρινόμενος, “the wavering.” Such a man has, as it were, two souls, of which the one holds one opinion, the other holds another. Sir 2:12, ΟὐΑῚ ΚΑΡΔΊΑΙς ΔΕΙΛΑῖς, ΚΑῚ ΧΕΡΣῚ ΠΑΡΕΙΜΈΝΑΙς, ΚΑῚ ἉΜΑΡΤΩΛῷ ἘΠΙΒΑΊΝΟΝΤΙ ἘΠῚ ΔΎΟ ΤΡΊΒΟΥς: “Woe be to fearful hearts, and faint hands, and the sinner that goeth two ways!”—ἀκατάστατος, unstable) For he does not obtain Divine direction by prayer: and being destitute of wisdom, he is at variance with himself and with others. Comp. ch. Jam 3:16.

[7] Both these meanings are contained in the German falsch.

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
Jam 1:9. Καυχάσθω δὲ, but let him glory) The best remedy against double-mindedness (διψυχίαν) or a divided soul. The word “glorying” occurs also, ch. Jam 2:13, Jam 3:14, Jam 4:16.—ὁ ἀδελφὸς, the brother) James thinks it befitting to apply this title to the lowly rather than the rich.—ὁ ταπεινὸς, of low degree) poor and tempted.—ὕψει, in his exaltation) The apostle proposes to speak of the lowly and the rich: he shortly afterwards treats of the rich, Jam 1:11; and then of the lowly, Jam 1:12 : being about to treat of each subject more fully in ch. 5. The design of the whole Epistle is, to reduce all things to an equable footing. Comp. ch. Jam 2:1, Jam 5:13. Ὕψος, blessedness, the crown of life, that fadeth not away.

But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
Jam 1:10. Πλούσιος, the rich) A Synecdoche for every one that is flourishing and gay.—ἐν τῇ ταπεινώσει, in that he is brought low) This is strictly construed with καυχάσθω, let the rich man rejoice. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Samuel 6:22. Ταπείνωσις does not denote the fading away of the rich man, but the lowliness of mind which arises from the sight of that fading away.—ὅτι ὡς, because as) “As the flower of the field—the fashion of it perisheth; the Protasis: “so shall the rich man fade away,” Jam 1:11; the Apodosis.—ἄνθος χόρτου, the flower of the grass) That part of the grass which is most pleasant to the sight, the flower, 1 Peter 1:24.

For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
Jam 1:11. Ἀνέτειλεἀπώλετο, the sun is risenit perisheth) Here are four circumstances (turning points): the first is the cause of the second, the third of the fourth.—καύσωνι) the mid-day “heat” and parching wind, which follows the “rising” of the sun. A gradation.—ἡ εὐπρέπεια, the comeliness) which is in the flower.—πορείαις, his goings) In other places εὐπορία, “abundance of resources” [success in one’s ways or goings], is attributed to the rich; but the apostle uses the simple word, and that too in the plural number, on account of the burdensome greatness (extent) of his undertakings. Πορεία, a journey, from πορεύομαι, “I go,” as βασιλεία from βασιλεύω. I attribute no weight to the reading πορίαις.[8]—μαρανθήσεται, shall fade away) in death.

[8] It was necessary to bring forward this reading in the Appar. p. 728, because Mill speaks obscurely respecting some Manuscripts which have this reading, and is silent respecting Estius quoting Gaignæus.

A reads πορίαις. But the weight of authorities is for πορείαις; Vulg. itineribus—E.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Jam 1:12. Μακάριος, blessed) μακάριος is derived from μὴ, and κὴρ, “immortal.” This word, and the crown of life, are opposed to the word μαρανθήσεται, “shall fade away.”—ὑπομενεῖ, shall endure) See Jam 1:3-4; 1 Peter 2:20. See App. Crit.,[9] 2d Edition, on this passage.—ἐπηγγείλατο, promised) See ch. Jam 2:5.—ἀγαπῶσιν, who love Him) Love produces patience. [He knows how to account all temptations in the light in which it is right to account them: Romans 8:28.—V. g.]

[9] More recent MSS. read ὑπομενεῖ. But the older MSS. AB, etc., and all the Versions, read ὑπομένει, Vulg. suffert. So Lachm. and Tisch.—E.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Jam 1:13. Μηδεὶς πειραζόμενος, no man, who is tempted) Now there follows another section on the subject of temptations. The strength of patience mainly consists in our knowing the source of the evil which tries us.—λεγέτω, say) either in heart, or by word.—αὐτὸς, He) The meaning is, Neither do any sins of ours tempt God from without, to entice us to worse things; nor in truth does He tempt any man of His own accord. This very thing is also characteristic of the Divine simplicity, Jam 1:5. The word αὐτὸς often gives the idea of something spontaneous; wherefore the word βουληθεὶς, “of His own will,” in the opposite part of the antithesis (Jam 1:18), agrees with this.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Jam 1:14. Ἕκαστος, every man) Antithetical to οὐδένα, “no man,” Jam 1:13.—ὑπὸ, by) Lust is, as it were, the harlot; human nature, the man.—ἰδίας, his own) We ought therefore to seek the cause of sin in ourselves, and not without us. Even the suggestions of the devil do not occasion danger, before they are made our own (ἴδια). Every one has his own peculiar lust, arising from his own peculiar disposition, habit, and temperament.—ἐξελκόμενος, drawn away) in the beginning of the temptation, which draws him away from truth and virtue. A passive participle.—δελεαζόμενος, enticed) in its further progress, admitting the allurement to evil (allowing himself to be enticed). A middle participle.

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Jam 1:15. Συλλαβοῦσα, when it hath conceived) Sin arising from man’s will.—ἁμαρτίαν, sin) The act of sin. It does not therefore follow that concupiscence of itself is not sin. He that begets man, is himself man.—ἀποτελεσθεῖσα, when it is finished) having attained its full-grown strength: and this quickly comes to pass.—θάνατον, death) Sin from its birth is big with death.

Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Jam 1:16. [10]Μὴ πλανᾶσθε, do not err) It is a great error to attribute to God the evils which we receive, and not the goods. It is the part of love, to lead us away from this error. A faithful admonition. Comp. ch. Jam 5:19.

[10] Μὴ οὖν is the reading of the Alexandr. and the Lat. Vers. This one example will show that I do not attribute too much weight to the agreement of these two, when unsupported by other evidence; for I have not wished to indicate this various reading in the margin of the text.

Vulg. has “Nolite itaque errare.”—E.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Jam 1:17. Πᾶσα, every[11]) The connection of the discourse is evident, when thus resolved: δόσις, a “gift” (a giving), which is altogether good; δώρημα, a boon, which is altogether perfect. No evil things come from above, but only things good and perfect. The words “good” and “perfect” form the predicate of the sentence; “gift” and “boon” are the subject.[12] “Every,” in both clauses, if the meaning is considered, belongs to the subject.[13] Comp. “all,” Jam 1:2, note.—δόσις, a giving, a gift) A “good gift,” as opposed to “sin,” denotes those things which, from the beginning and by daily increase, tend to righteousness and piety. Aperfect boon,” as opposed to “when it is finished” and “death,” denotes those things which relate to perfection of character and a happy life: comp. 2 Peter 1:3.—ἄνωθέν ἐστι καταβαῖνον) is that which descends from above. Comp. “descending,” Jam 3:15.—ἀπὸ, from) namely, “from the Father of lights.” The expression, from above, is hereby explained.—τοῦ Πατρὸς τῶν φώτων, the Father of lights) The title of Father is here used with great propriety. There follows, in the next verse, ἀπεκύησεν, “He begat us.” He stands in the place of father and mother. He is the Father even of spiritual lights in the kingdom of grace and glory. Much more then is He Himself “Light1 John 1:5. Immediately on mention of “light,” there is added, as usual, mention of life, by regeneration, Jam 1:18.—πὰρ ᾧ οὐκ ἔνι παραλλαγὴ ἢ τροπῆς ἀποσκίασμα, with whom is no variableness, or shadow of turning) Παραλλαγὴ denotes a change in the understanding (see 2 Kings 9:20,[14] Septuagint); τροπὴ, a change in the will. In each word there is a metaphor taken from the stars, and used with singular propriety in this passage, where mention is made of lights. Παραλλαγὴ and τροπὴ occur in nature (see τροπὰς in Job 38:33), which has a daily vicissitude of day and night, and has at one time a greater length of day, at another time a greater length of night; but there is nothing of this kind in God. He is pure, unsullied [nothing but] Light. Παραλλαγὴ and τροπὴ, variation and change, if they take place at all, take place in us, and not in the Father of lights. Ἀποσκίασμα sometimes has the meaning of ὁμοίωμα, likeness: for so Hesychius explains it; whence Gregory of Nazianzus uses as synonyms, τὸ τῆς ἀληθείας ἴνδαλμα καὶ ἀποσκίασμα, the appearance and likeness of the truth; and in Cicero, as Budæus observes, the outline of an object is opposed to its perfection. But in this passage it is opposed to lights, and is therefore used more correctly; so that ἀποσκίασμα τροπῆς is the first casting of a shadow, which is accompanied by a revolution. The same Hebraistic use of the genitive occurs shortly after in Jam 1:21, superfluity of naughtiness, from which we may infer, that there is an opposition between the words variableness and good gift; just as shadow of turning is opposed to the expression, perfect boon. Παραλλαγὴ denotes something greater: hence there is a gradation in the negative sentence: not even the shadow of turning. This at length [this, and this only] makes up perfection; the former is good. He is more perfect who has not even the shadow of turning.

[11] πᾶσα seems to be used like the Latin merus, in the sense of nothing but. See Raphelius on the passage.—T.

[12] By δόσις, we may understand the gift or act of giving; by δώρημα, the fulness of the benefit bestowed.—T.

[13] “The giving and gift that comes from above is all perfect;” not as Engl. Vers.—E.

[14] ἐν παραλλαγῇ ἐγένετο, is used to denote the violence of Jehu’s driving.—T.

Δόσις, the Acts of giving, the gift in its initiatory act: δώρημα, the thing given, the boon when perfected.—E.

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Jam 1:18. Βουληθεὶς, of His own will) with an inclination most loving, most free, most pure, most fruitful. In Hebrew אב, from אבה, he willed: comp. John 1:13. Ἔλεος, mercy, 1 Peter 1:3, corresponds with this. There is an antithesis in the words, Lust, when it hath conceived.—ἀπεκύησεν) begat He. Antithetical to ἀποκύει, bringeth forth (begetteth), Jam 1:15.—ἡμᾶς, us) who believe, especially of Israel. A twofold generation is spoken of, the one opposed to the other; and that which is in evil is described by abstract terms, that which is in good by concrete.—ἀληθείας, of truth) the Gospel.—ἀπαρχήν τινα τῶν αὐτοῦ κτισμάτων, a kind of first fruits of His creatures) We are of God by creation and generation; His workmanship, Ephesians 2:10; and offspring, Acts 17:29. Of all His visible creatures, and they are many and great, the faithful are the first fruits, the chief and noblest part, more holy than the rest and sanctifying the rest; and it is on this account that they (the faithful) are exercised with temptations. A kind of: There is modesty in this expression, for strictly and absolutely Christ alone is the first fruits.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
Jam 1:19. Ὥστε, wherefore) The Summing up[15] or Conclusion, and also a Statement of those things which follow, in three divisions. Excess in words and the affections of the tongue and the heart, Jam 1:26, is unfavourable to hearing with profit.—πᾶς, every man) This is opposed to no man, Jam 1:13; for this 19th verse has reference to that, and not merely to the preceding verse.—ταχὺς εἰς τὸ ἀκοῦσαι, swift to hear) The true method of hearing (receive ye), together with the obedience and right disposition of the hearers, is treated of in verses 21–27, and the whole of ch. 2—βραδὺς εἰς τὸ λαλῆσαι, slow to speak) This is treated of in Jam 1:26, and in ch. 3. Slow to speak; so that he speaks nothing against God, ch. Jam 1:13; nor anything improperly concerning God, ch. Jam 3:1-13.—βραδὺς εἰς ὀργὴν, slow to wrath) This is treated of, ch. Jam 3:13 and following verse, ch. Jam 4:5. Slow to wrath, or impatience, towards God, and proneness to anger as it respects his neighbour. He who is slow to anger will readily forbear all anger, and assuredly all evil anger. Hastiness drives to sin.

[15] See on SYMPERASMA, Append.

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
Jam 1:20. Ὀργὴ wrath). A most powerful passion.—ἀνδρὸς, of man) The male sex especially cherishes wrath, 1 Timothy 2:8; and its actions, whether just or unjust, are more widely exposed to view. The wrath here intimated is that of nature, without grace.—δικαιοσύνην Θεοῦ, the righteousness of God) All duties which are divinely enjoined and pleasing to God.—οὐ κατεργάζεται, worketh not) That is, altogether hinders the righteousness of God; although it seems to itself, while inflamed, especially to work that (righteousness); [and therefore it constitutes the principal part of these three-membered sentences.—V. g.] Purer effects are produced without anger.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Jam 1:21. Ἀποθέμενοι πᾶσαν ῥυπαρίαν, laying aside all filthiness) A metaphor from a garment; ch. Jam 2:2. Ῥυπαρία, defilement, which is cleansed away by hearing the word: John 15:3.—τερισσείαν κακίας) abundance, excess, which is usually faulty, especially in speaking (Matthew 5:37). [In thoughts, words, gestures, and works, excess is not without fault.—V. g.] Κακία does not mean malice or craftiness; but badness or vice (faultiness), as opposed to virtue; and the genitive κακίας has here the force of an epithet [faulty excess; not as Engl. Vers.]—ἐν πραΰτητι, with meekness) This is opposed to wrath, and is shown in all things. Comp. 1 Peter 2:1-2. Anger and sudden impetuosity of mind is a hindrance to hearing: therefore meekness is required.—δέξασθε, receive) with your mind, with your ears, and in action. [Act the part of ready hearers.—V. g.]—τὸν ἔμφυτον, engrafted) by regeneration, Jam 1:18, and by habit [which you have acquired from your earliest years.—V. g.], Hebrews 5:14; and also by custom derived from their ancestors, who were Israelites [namely, the people of GOD.—V. g.], Jam 1:1. Comp. 2 Timothy 1:5. It is engrafted, and therefore most intimately connected with the faithful, and nigh unto them; Romans 10:8 : therefore it is to be received with meekness.—λόγον, the word) the Gospel: 1 Peter 1:23, etc.—τὸν δυνάμενον, which is able) with great efficacy.—σῶσαι, to save) The hope of salvation nourishes meekness; and this in turn supports that.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
[22. Παραλογιζόμενοι ἐαυτοὺς, deceiving their [“your”] own selves) Pleasing themselves in their hearing.—V. g.]

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
Jam 1:23. Ὅτι, because) The false reasoning, self-deceit, of careless hearers is explained.—γενέσεως, of nature) Comp. ch. Jam 3:6.—ἐν ἐσόπτρῳ, in a mirror) The truth of Scripture is proved from this, that it presents to a man a most accurate portrait of his soul.

For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
Jam 1:24. [Κατενόησε, he hath contemplated himself) It can hardly happen that no knowledge whatever of one’s self is imparted by the hearing of the word: 1 Corinthians 14:24.—V. g.]—εὐθέως, straightway) turning away to other subjects. The repetition of καὶ has great force in expressing this hastiness joined with levity. Genesis 25:34 (Septuagint).—ἐπελάθετο, he forgetteth) Forgetfulness is no excuse: Jam 1:25; 2 Peter 1:9.

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Jam 1:25. Παρακύψας, whoso looketh into) This answers to Jam 1:24, he beholdeth himself. The word παρακύπτω gives the idea of such a search after an object which is concealed as does not confine itself to the surface of the mirror, but penetrates to that which is within. Sir 14:23, Ὁ παρακύπτων διὰ τῶν θυρίδων τῆς σοφίας, he that prieth in at the windows of wisdom. A blessed curiosity, if it is efficacious in bearing fruit.—εἰς νόμον τέλειον τὸν τῆς ἐλευθερίας, into the perfect law of liberty) He applies this appellation to the law, inasmuch as [in so far as] it is established by faith: Romans 3:31. Comp. the notes on ch. Jam 2:12; Jam 2:8. St James takes care that no one should abuse the peculiar expressions employed by St Paul respecting the bondage and yoke of the law. He who keeps the law is free: John 8:31-32. Man ought to agree with the perfection of the law, in the perfection of his knowledge and obedience; otherwise he is not free, but guilty. Comp. Jam 2:10.—καὶ παραμείνας, and continueth) This is antithetical to goeth his way, Jam 1:24.—οὗτοςοὗτος) this manthis man, I say. The words here inserted express the reason of the assertion (of the predicate), and the repetition has weight.

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.
Jam 1:26. Εἴ τις, if any man) He now adds examples of doing the work.—θρῆσκος, religious) A worshipper of God, in private and in public. Hesychius, θρῆσκος, ἑτερόδοξος, εὐγενής: that is, one who has more knowledge than others, and is endued with a nobler mind. The commentary of Œcumenius agrees with this; for with him θρῆσκος is one who knows the secret things of the law, and diligently observes them.[16]—ΜῊ ΧΑΛΙΝΑΓΩΓῶΝ, not bridling) A most appropriate metaphor. Comp. ch. Jam 3:2-3.—γλῶσσαν, his tongue) and heart also.—καρδίαν, his heart) and tongue also. The one leads and follows the other. The tongue has its faculty of speech, and the heart its affections;[17] Jam 1:19.

[16] γνώστης τῶν ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ἀποῤῥήτων καὶ ἀκριβὴς φύλαξ.

[17] These two things are joined together in a similar way, Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 : “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God.” And that Book of Solomon agrees with this Epistle of James in this respect especially, that they both urge moderation in all things. Compare Matthew 12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The tongue sins in reproaches, perjuries, lying, jesting, false promises, murmuring, etc.—V. g.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Jam 1:27. Θρησκεία, religion) It is only when a man succours the wretched, and avoids those plunged in the gaiety of the world, that the whole of the worship which he pays to God can be right.—καθαρὰ καὶ ἀμίαντος, pure and undefiled) proceeding from pure love, and removed from the defilement of the world.—ἐπισκέπτεσθαι, to visit) with advice, comfort, kind offices, and of his own accords.—ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας, the fatherless and widows) that is, the afflicted, even those who are not related to us, who are neglected by many. Synecdoche.[18]—ἘΝ Τῇ ΘΛΊΨΕΙ, in their affliction) For if it is done for other reasons, that is not religion.—ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν, himself unspotted) That effect is produced, if we abstain from intercourse with those who are of no benefit to us, nor we to them.—τηρεῖν, to guard) with anxious care.

[18] See Append. on SYNECDOCHE.

Gnomon of the New Testament by Johann Bengel

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