James 1:13
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:
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(13) Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God.—Far be it from the true Christian either to give way to sin “that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1), or to suppose for one moment that God, and therefore power invincible, is drawing him from righteousness. Almost every reflection upon the nature of sin leads up to an inquiry as to its cause; and the enigma will hardly be solved in this life. The very facts of the presence of evil amongst God’s creatures, and its continual attraction even for the best, have often driven men to doubt His supremacy. Sadly—how can we of charity think otherwise?—some have felt the pain, but not the purpose of the world. At times they cannot see in nature “the work of a Being at once good and omnipotent,” and prefer to doubt the latter quality sooner than the former.[14] But this nineteenth-century conclusion is no advance beyond the dual system of the Persians, or rather, of Manes, who corrupted with his Indian fancies the faith of Zoroaster. The Manichees settled the difficulty better than our Deists by declaring the existence of a good God and a bad one; and appealed to the daily strife between virtue and vice, nay, life and death, in witness of their simple creed. Thanks to the gospel, a nobler theology is our Christian heritage, whereby we are persuaded that good will triumph at the last, and by which we are taught humility withal to own that God’s ways in so permitting and overworking evil are beyond man’s comprehension. And a better scepticism remains for us than that of the Theist, or Agnostic either; a disbelief more vehement that here can be the end, since in this life we experience in no sense the rewards of just and unjust to the full.

[14] Specially see J. S. Mill’s “Three Essays on Religion.” Nature, p. 38.

For God cannot be tempted with evil.—We can see here a good instance of the excellence of the old Geneva Bible, “the first on several occasions to seize the exact meaning of a passage which all the preceding versions had missed.” Our present rendering follows the Genevan exactly, rejecting those of Wiclif. “God is not a tempter of yuell things”; Tyndale, “God tempteth not vnto evyll”; and Cranmer, “God cannot tempte vnto euyll.”

Neither tempteth he any man.—The trial comes of Him, i.e., the Tempter is allowed; but so far, and no further. God Himself is “unversed of evils,” and no possibility of temptation remains with Him. Into the unseen splendour of His fulness no thought of wrong can enter; no foul thing wing its silent flight. It were blasphemy, perilously near that of the Pharisees (Matthew 12:22-37) to think God’s kingdom could be so divided against itself, that He, directly or indirectly, should seduce His subjects into the revolt of sin. No; if we have one golden clue by which we may feel our erring way out of the labyrinth of this lower world into the belief and trust in God our Father for the life to come, it is this: trials and temptations are permitted to strengthen us—if we will—for His mightier service. And, as compulsory homage would be worthless to the loving Lord of all, voluntary must be found instead, and proved and perfected. Herein is the Christian conflict, and the secret of God’s ways with man.

James 1:13. Let no man say, when he is tempted — To commit sin, in whatever way it may be; I am tempted of God — God has laid this temptation in my way; for God cannot be tempted with evil — It cannot appear desirable, or otherwise than detestable, in God’s eyes; nor can he be inclined to it in any degree, through any external object, or any internal motion; neither tempteth he any man — He does not persuade or incline, much less constrain any one to sin by any means whatever. The word πειραζειν, to tempt, as we have seen, often signifies “to try, in order to discover the disposition of a person, or to improve his virtue, James 1:12. In this sense God is said to have tempted or tried Abraham and the Israelites. Not that he was ignorant of the dispositions of either of them. In the same sense the Israelites are said to have tempted or proved God. They put his power and goodness to the trial, by entertaining doubts concerning them. Here, to tempt, signifies to solicit one to sin, and actually to seduce him into sin, which is the effect of temptation or solicitation. See James 1:14. In this sense the devil tempts men. And because he is continually employed in that malicious work, he is called, by way of eminence, Ο πειραζων, the tempter. It is in this sense we are to understand the saying in the end of the verse, that God is incapable of being tempted, that is, seduced to sin by evil things, and that he seduces no one to sin. God having nothing either to hope or fear, no evil beings, whether man or angel, can either entice or seduce him. Further, his infinitely perfect nature admitting no evil thought or inclination, he is absolutely (απειραστος) incapable of being tempted.” — Macknight.

1:12-18 It is not every man who suffers, that is blessed; but he who with patience and constancy goes through all difficulties in the way of duty. Afflictions cannot make us miserable, if it be not our own fault. The tried Christian shall be a crowned one. The crown of life is promised to all who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God, shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above, where love is made perfect. The commands of God, and the dealings of his providence, try men's hearts, and show the dispositions which prevail in them. But nothing sinful in the heart or conduct can be ascribed to God. He is not the author of the dross, though his fiery trial exposes it. Those who lay the blame of sin, either upon their constitution, or upon their condition in the world, or pretend they cannot keep from sinning, wrong God as if he were the author of sin. Afflictions, as sent by God, are designed to draw out our graces, but not our corruptions. The origin of evil and temptation is in our own hearts. Stop the beginnings of sin, or all the evils that follow must be wholly charged upon us. God has no pleasure in the death of men, as he has no hand in their sin; but both sin and misery are owing to themselves. As the sun is the same in nature and influences, though the earth and clouds, often coming between, make it seem to us to vary, so God is unchangeable, and our changes and shadows are not from any changes or alterations in him. What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; and infinitely more. As every good gift is from God, so particularly our being born again, and all its holy, happy consequences come from him. A true Christian becomes as different a person from what he was before the renewing influences of Divine grace, as if he were formed over again. We should devote all our faculties to God's service, that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God - See the remarks on the previous verse. The apostle here seems to have had his eye on whatever there was in trial of any kind to induce us to commit sin - whether by complaining, by murmuring, by apostacy, or by yielding to sin. So far as that was concerned, he said that no one should charge it on God. He did nothing in any way with a view to induce men to do evil. That was only an incidental thing in the trial, and was no part of the divine purpose or design. The apostle felt evidently that there was great danger, from the general manner in which the word "temptation" was used, and from the perverse tendency of the heart, that it would be charged on God that he so arranged these trials, and so influenced the mind, as to present inducements to sin. Against this, it was proper that an inspired apostle should bear his solemn testimony; so to guard the whole subject as to show that whatever there was in any form of trial that could be regarded as an inducement or allurement to sin, is not the thing which he contemplated in the arrangement, and does not proceed from him. It has its origin in other causes; and if there was nothing in the corrupt human mind itself leading to sin, there would be nothing in the divine arrangement that would produce it.

For God cannot be tempted with evil - Margin, "evils." The sense is the same. The object seems to be to show that, in regard to the whole matter of temptation, it does not pertain to God. Nothing can be presented to his mind as an inducement to do wrong, and as little can he present anything to the mind of man to induce him to sin. Temptation is a subject which does not pertain to him. He stands aloof from it altogether. In regard to the particular statement here, that "God cannot be tempted with evil," or to do evil, there can be no doubt of its truth, and it furnishes the highest security for the welfare of the universe. There is nothing in him that has a tendency to wrong; there can be nothing presented from without to induce him to do wrong:

(1) There is no evil passion to be gratified, as there is in men;

(2) There is no want of power, so that an allurement could be presented to seek what he has not;

(3) There is no want of wealth, for he has infinite resources, and all that there is or can be is his Psalm 50:10-11;

(4) There is no want of happiness, that he should seek happiness in sources which are not now in his possession. Nothing, therefore, could be presented to the divine mind as an inducement to do evil.

Neither tempteth he any man - That is, he places nothing before any human being with a view to induce him to do wrong. This is one of the most positive and unambiguous of all the declarations in the Bible, and one of the most important. It may be added, that it is one which stands in opposition to as many feelings of the human heart as perhaps any other one. We are perpetually thinking - the heart suggests it constantly - that God does place before us inducements to evil, with a view to lead us to sin. This is done in many ways:

(a) People take such views of his decrees as if the doctrine implied that he meant that we should sin, and that it could not be otherwise than that we should sin.

(b) It is felt that all things are under his control, and that he has made his arrangements with a design that men should do as they actually do.

(c) It is said that he has created us with just such dispositions as we actually have, and knowing that we would sin.

(d) It is said that, by the arrangements of his Providence, he actually places inducements before us to sin, knowing that the effect will be that we will fall into sin, when we might easily have prevented it.

(e) It is said that he suffers some to tempt others, when he might easily prevent it if he chose, and that this is the same as tempting them himself.

Now, in regard to these things, there may be much which we cannot explain, and much which often troubles the heart even of the good; yet the passage before us is explicit on one point, and all these things must be held in consistency with that - that God does not place inducements before us with a view that we should sin, or in order to lead us into sin. None of his decrees, or his arrangements, or his desires, are based on that, but all have some other purpose and end. The real force of temptation is to be traced to some other source - to ourselves, and not to God. See the next verse.

13. when … tempted—tried by solicitation to evil. Heretofore the "temptation" meant was that of probation by afflictions. Let no one fancy that God lays upon him an inevitable necessity of sinning. God does not send trials on you in order to make you worse, but to make you better (Jas 1:16, 17). Therefore do not sink under the pressure of evils (1Co 10:13).

of God—by agency proceeding from God. The Greek is not "tempted by," but, "from," implying indirect agency.

cannot be tempted with evil, &c.—"Neither do any of our sins tempt God to entice us to worse things, nor does He tempt any of His own accord" (literally, "of Himself"; compare the antithesis, Jas 1:18, "Of His own will He begat us" to holiness, so far is He from tempting us of His own will) [Bengel]. God is said in Ge 22:1 to have "tempted Abraham"; but there the tempting meant is that of trying or proving, not that of seducement. Alford translates according to the ordinary sense of the Greek, "God is unversed in evil." But as this gives a less likely sense, English Version probably gives the true sense; for ecclesiastical Greek often uses words in new senses, as the exigencies of the new truths to be taught required.

Let no man say; neither with his mouth, nor so much as in his heart, blasphemously cast the blame of his sins upon God, to clear himself.

When he is tempted; so stirred up to sin as to be drawn to it.

I am tempted of God; either solicited by God to sin, or enforced to it.

For God cannot be tempted with evil; cannot be drawn aside to any thing that is unrighteous, by any motion from within, or impression from without.

Neither tempteth he any man; doth no way seduce or enforce to sin, so as to be justly chargeable as the author of it.

Objection. God is said to be tempted, Exodus 17:2,7 Deu 6:16 Psalm 78:41; and to tempt, Genesis 22:1 Deu 8:2 13:3.

Answer. Both are to be understood of temptations of exploration, or for the discovery of something that was before hidden. Men tempt God, that they may know what he will do; God tempts men, that they (not he, for he knows it already) may know what themselves will do, which then appears, when the temptation draws it out; but neither is to be understood of the temptation here spoken of, viz. of seduction, or drawing into sin. God tempts by giving hard commands, Genesis 22:1; by afflicting, as in Job’s case; by letting loose Satan or other wicked instruments to tempt, 1 Kings 22:22; by withholding his grace and deserting men, 1 Samuel 28:15; by presenting occasions which corruption within improves unto sin, and by ordering and governing the evil wills of men, as that a thief should steal out of this flock rather than that, that Nebuchadnezzar should come against Jerusalem rather than Rabbah, Ezekiel 21:21,22. But God doth not tempt by commanding, suggesting, soliciting, or persuading to sin.

Let no man say when he is tempted,.... Here the apostle uses the word "tempted", in another sense than he did before. Before he speaks of temptations, as matter of joy and boasting, here of temptations, which are criminal, and issue in shame and death; the temptations he before makes mention of, being patiently endured, denominate men happy, but here such are designed, which are to be deprecated, and watched against; before he treats of temptations, which were the means of trying and exercising grace, and of purging away the dross of sin and corruption, but here of temptations to sin, and which are in themselves sinful; before he discourses of temptations in which God was concerned; but here of temptations which he removes from him, and denies of him, as being unworthy of him: wherefore, when any man is tempted to sin, whether when under adversity, or in prosperity, let him not say,

I am tempted of God; for God is holy, and without iniquity, nor does he delight in sin, but hates and abhors it; nor can he commit it, it being contrary to his nature, and the perfections of it; whereas no one can tempt another to sin, unless he is sinful himself, and delights in sin, and in those that commit it, nor without committing it himself; and yet sinful men are apt to charge God with their sins, and temptations to them, in imitation of their first parent, Adam, when fallen, Genesis 3:12 who, to excuse himself, lays the blame upon the woman, and ultimately upon God, who gave her to him; and suggests, that if it had not been for the woman, he should not have ate of the forbidden fruit, nor should he have had any temptation to it, had not God given him the woman to be with him, and therefore it was his fault; and in this sad manner do his sons and daughters reason, who, when, through affliction, they murmur against God, distrust his providence, or forsake his ways, say, if he had not laid his hand upon them, or suffered such afflictions to befall them, they had not been guilty of such sin: he himself is the occasion of them; but let no man talk at this wicked rate,

for God cannot be tempted with evil; or "evils", He was tempted by the Israelites at Massah and Meribah, from which those places had their names, who by their murmuring, distrust and unbelief, proved and tried his patience and his power; and so he may be, and has been tempted by others in a like way; he may be tempted by evil men, and with evil things, but he cannot be tempted "to evil", as the Ethiopic version renders it; he is proof against all such temptations: he cannot be tempted by anything in himself, who is pure and holy, or by any creature or thing without him, to do any sinful action:

neither tempteth he any man; that is, to sin; he tempted Abraham, to try his faith, love, and obedience to him; he tempted the Israelites in the wilderness, to try them and humble them, and prove what was in their hearts; and he tempted Job, and tried his faith and patience; and so he tempts and tries all his righteous ones, by afflictions, more or less: but he never tempts or solicits them to sin; temptations to sin come from another quarter, as follows.

{11} Let no man say when he is {m} tempted, I am tempted of God: {12} for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

(11) The third part of this epistle, in which he descends from outward temptations, that is, from afflictions by which God tries us: to inward, that is, to those lusts by which we are stirred up to do evil. The sum is this: Every man is the author of these temptations by himself, and not God: for we carry in our bodies that wicked corruption, which seeks opportunity forever, to stir up evil in us, from which eventually proceeds wicked behaviour, and in conclusion follows death, the just reward of them.

(m) When he is provoked to do evil.

(12) Here a reason is shown, why God cannot be the author of evil behaviour in us, since he does not desire evil behaviour.

Jam 1:13. To ὃς ὑπομένει πειρασμόν James opposes ὃς πειράζεται;[63] whilst the former gains ΖΩΉ, the end to which the latter approaches is ΘΆΝΑΤΟς (Jam 1:15).

First James disclaims a vain justification of the latter, and then describes the process of ΠΕΙΡΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ. The vain justification is introduced with the direct words of the ΠΕΙΡΑΖΌΜΕΝΟς: ὍΤΙ ἈΠῸ ΘΕΟῦ ΠΕΙΡΆΖΟΜΑΙ, and then disclaimed by the expression: Ὁ ΘΕῸς ἈΠΕΙΡΑΣΤΌς ἘΣΤΙ ΚΑΚῶΝ Κ.Τ.Λ.

By the direct transition from the preceding to this verse, it is supposed that by the ΠΕΙΡΑΖΌΜΕΝΟς spoken about, in contrast to Ὃς ὙΠΟΜΈΝΕΙ ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΌΝ (Jam 1:12), is to be understood the person who does not endure the temptation, and consequently is not proved by it, but who succumbs under it, whilst he suffers himself to be enticed to falling away—to sin. Pott: qui tentatione vincitur, ad peccandum vincitur; Theile: agit Jacobus de turpi tentatione per tristem (tentationem); so also Olshausen, Schneckenburger, Kern, and others. This connection is denied by others; thus Calvin says: de alio tentationes genere disserit; and Wiesinger in the strongest manner: “this appears as the design of the apostle: to distinguish as much as possible those πειρασμοῦς and this ΠΕΙΡΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ, to place the latter as totally different from the former.” But the close connection with the preceding constrains us to the opinion that James has considered both in reference to each other, the ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΊ occasioning the ΠΕΙΡΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ which takes place when ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑ is excited by it.[64] It is arbitrary to take the verb πειράζεσθαι in the clause: μηδεὶς πειραζόμενος, in another sense than in the following clause: ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πειράζομαι, as Hottinger asserts: hic verbum πειράζεσθαι bis dicitur sensu diversi; priori loco simpliciter: adversa pati; posteriori: malis sollicitari ad defectionem (similarly Grotius, Semler; also Lange); for, according to this interpretation, the excuse: ὅτι κ.τ.λ., would not correspond to the supposition contained in μηδεὶς πειραζόμενος. In justification of this view, Matthew 8:30 cannot be appealed to, where the same word (νεκρόν) is used, in the same sentence in different meanings, namely, in a proper and figurative meaning, as here the relation is entirely different.

Some expositors (Pott, Schneckenburger, and others), without reason, paraphrase λεγέτω by “cogitet, sibi persuadeat.” Since the words which immediately follow are introduced in the direct form, it is better to retain the usual meaning of λέγειν, by which it is in itself evident that the external speaking presupposes an internal, on which it is here natural to think.

James makes the πειραζόμενος thus briefly express the excuse, by which he would justify himself: ὅτι ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πειράζομαι, by which he transfers the guilt from himself to God.[65] ὍΤΙ is the form of quotation frequently occurring in the N. T., except with Paul. ἈΠῸ ΘΕΟῦ is emphatically placed first. ἈΠΌ is not equivalent to ὙΠΌ; the former points to the more distant, the latter to the nearest cause, though by later writers ἈΠΌ with passive verbs is sometimes used as equivalent to ὙΠΌ. Here, however, the usual signification of ἈΠΌ is to be retained, for the ΠΕΙΡΑΖΌΜΕΝΟς, introduced as directly speaking, would certainly not stigmatize God as the direct tempter (comp. Matthew 4:1). See Winer, p. 332 [E. T. 464]. James does not with these words refer to any particular doctrine of religion and philosophy, perhaps to the doctrine of the Pharisees and Essenes on εἱμαρμένη (Bull, Ittig, Schneckenburger, and others), or the doctrine of Simon Magus (Calovius), but only considers generally the peculiar bias of the natural man to charge God somehow with the blame of ΠΕΙΡΆΖΕΣΘΑΙ, recognisable in the answer of Adam to the question of God.[66]

James grounds the rejection of the idea contained in μηδεὶςλεγέτω that the πειράζεσθαι, proceeds from God, by a sentence comprising two members: ὁ γὰρ Θεὸςοὐδένα. The word ἀπείραστος, an ἅπαξ λεγ. in the N. T., has in classical Greek—in which, however, the form ἀπείρατος (ἀπείρητος) almost always occurs—either the passive meaning untempted, that is, what is not tempted or proved, or the active meaning: he who has made no trial, equivalent to inexperienced. Some expositors take the word in the second meaning; thus Schulthess: in Deum nulla malorum experentia; de Wette, Brückner, and others.[67] But, on account of the close connection with πειράζειν, the word has here, as most expositors assume, an ethical meaning. Yet it is incorrect to explain it actively, with Luther (God is not a tempter to evil; Vulgate: intentator), because this clause would then be tautological with the following. It is rather to be taken passively: untempted of evil, by which the idea passes from tentatus to that of tentabilis; Winer, p. 175 [E. T. 242, 243]. By the Church Fathers God is often named simply ὁ ἀπείραστος; so Ignat. ad Philipp.: τί πειράζεις τὸν ἀπείραστον; Photius, contra Manich. iv. p. 225: πειράζειν ἐπιχειρήσασι τὸν ἀπείραστον. By this predicate the holiness of God, which is raised above all temptation to evil, is indicated, and is the motive likewise to the following thought.[68]

κακῶν is not masculine, but neuter; not misery (Oecumenius), but evil.[69]

πειράζει δὲ αὐτὸς οὐδένα] expresses the consequence of the preceding and the pointed contrast to ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πειράζομαι. πειράζει is placed first for the sake of emphasis. By αὐτός, which most interpreters pass over, is brought forward not God’s action in contrast to “being tempted” (Theile: ipse quoque non tentat idem ille Deus, qui tentari nequit; Wiesinger: “He, self-active;” so also Lange), but shows that the πειράζειν indeed takes place, but from another cause (ἡ ἴδια ἐπιθυμία) than from God. The meaning of the whole verse is as follows: Let no man, when he is tempted (inwardly enticed) to evil, say, From God I am tempted: for God suffers no temptation; but (δέ) as to the temptation, He (God) tempteth no man: but every man is tempted, etc.[70] As regards the apparent contradiction of this with other passages of the Holy Scriptures, where the sins of men are referred to God as their reason (Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 8:2, etc.), Calvin correctly remarks: Quum Scriptura excoecationem vel obdurationem cordis tribuit Deo, neque illi initium assignat, neque facit mali auctorem, ut culpam sustinere debeat. In his autem duobus solum Jacobus insistit.

[63] When Lange meets this with the question: “How could any one endure the temptation without having first been tempted?” he only shows that he does not understand the explanation here given.

[64] It is to be observed that James designates the trials, on which he thinks in ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπίσητι, ver. 3, as πειρασμοί. It may be said that they are not this in themselves, but only in so far as the Christian is yet a sinner, and can thus be enticed by them into sin; when this happens, then the πειράζεσθαι, of which James here speaks, takes place. Stier: “That there is a necessity for our all being tested and approved through, trial, springs from our sin; the tempting element in our trial, the evil in it, springs therefore from that and not from God.”

[65] He might find a justification of this in the fact that πειρασμοί actually spring from God. See Meyer on Matthew 6:13, and on 1 Corinthians 10:13. Lange introduces inappropriate matter, maintaining in favour of the concrete relations supposed by him, that the Jews and Judaizing Christians with this word would justify their fanaticism against the Gentiles, particularly their separation from the Gentile Christians, as an affair of God (for His glory)!

[66] Many expressions in Greek authors show how natural this is to man; comp. Il. τ. 86: ἰγώ δʼ οὐκ αἴτιός εἰμι ἀλλὰ Ζεύς, καὶ μοῖρα; Plaut. Aulul. iv. 10. 7: Deus impulsor mihi fuit; Terent. Eunuch. v. 2. 86: Quid, si hoc voluit quispiam Deus?—Such an excuse suggested itself to the Jews the more as it appeared justified by the language of the O. T. Comp. Exodus 20:16. On the contrary, Philo (Quod. deter. pot. 177 D) remarks: οὐ ὡς ἔνιοι τῶν ἀσεβῶν, τὸν Θεὸν αἴτιον τῶν κακῶν φῆσι Μωϋσῆς. Still more fully in Schneckenburger.

[67] Buttmann, p. 148 [E. T. 170], contests this meaning, which rather belongs to the word ἄπειρος. But passages, as Hom. Il. ad Ven. v. 133: ἀδμήτην μʼ ἀγάγων καὶ ἀπειρήτην φιλότητος; Theognis, 772: πολλοὶ ἀπείρητοι δόξαν ἔχουσʼ ἀγαθῶν, show that ἀπείρατος actually has that meaning.

[68] Lange maintains, in reference to the interpretation given above, that in this commentary ἀπείρ. κακ. is explained as equivalent to “God has no experience of evil,” and that it is said that the passive construction: “not tempted,” “not temptable,” is against grammatical usage and the connection! In a very strange manner he thinks it is here designed to strengthen the warning: Let no man say; for this saying, like all fanaticism, was a tempting God, and therefore vain and impious, because God does not suffer Himself to be tempted.

[69] Inapposite uniting of various explanations by Theile and Morus: ἀπείρ. κακ. dicitur, partim quoniam nullae miseriae possunt evenire Deo, partim quoniam per eas non potest inclinari ad peccandum, ad cupiditatem aliquam exercendam; Deus igitur est expers miseriae omnis atque etiam peccati vel pravae cupiditatis, et quia est, neque tentatur a malis ipse, neque alium tentat.

[70] The passage in Sir 15:11-12; Sir 15:20, is especially to be compared: μὴ εἴπῃς ὅτι διὰ κύριον ἀπέστην, μὴ εἴπῃς ὅτι αὐτός με ἐπλάνησεν. Οὐκ ἐνετείλατο οὐδενὶ ἀσεβεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἔδωκεν ἄνεσιν οὐδενὶ ἁμαρτάνειν. See also 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Jam 1:13. Μηδεὶς πειραζόμενος λεγέτω: In view of the specific doctrine which is being combated in these verses, it is probable that the verb πειράζω is here used in the restricted sense of temptation to lust, and not in the more general sense (πειρασμοῖς ποικίλοις) in which πειρασμός is used in Jam 1:2. This view obtains support from the repeated mention of ἐπιθυμία in Jam 1:14-15. The tendency to a sin which was so closely connected with the nature, the lower nature, of man (cf. Romans 7:23) would, on this very account, be regarded by many as in the last instance referable to the Creator of man; that this belief was held will be seen from the authorities cited in the Introduction IV., § 1. On this view πειραζόμενος refers to temptation of a special kind, ἐπιθυμία; cf. Matthew 5:28, πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι …; 1 Peter 2:11, Ἀγαπητοί, παρακαλῶἀπέχεσθαι τῶν σαρκικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς; Jam 4:2-3εἰς τὸ μηκέτι ἀνθρώπων ἐπιθυμίαις ἀλλὰ θελήματι Θεοῦ.…—ὅτι: Cf. the parallel use of כי in Hebrew.—ἀπείραστός ἐστι κακῶν: “Untemptable of evil”; see Mayor’s very interesting note on ἀπείραστος; the word does not occur elsewhere in N.T., nor in the Septuagint. If the interpretation of this passage given above be correct, the meaning here would seem to be that it is inconceivable that the idea should come into the mind of God to tempt men to lust; the “untemptableness” has perhaps a two-fold application: God cannot be tempted to do evil Himself, nor can He be tempted with the wish to tempt men. The word in its essence is really an insistence upon one of the fundamental beliefs concerning the Jewish doctrine of God, viz., His attribute of Holiness and ethical purity; the teaching of many centuries is summed up in the third of the “Thirteen Principles” of Maimonides: “I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, is not a body, and that He is free from all the accidents of matter, and that He has not any form whatsoever”. The Peshiṭtâ rendering of this clause, from which one might have looked for something suggestive, is very disappointing and entirely loses the force of the Greek.—πειράζει, etc., see Introduction IV., § 1.

13. Let no man say when he is tempted] The thought of trial as coming from outward circumstances, and forming part of man’s spiritual education, leads to a deeper inquiry as to its nature, and so passes on to the wider notion of temptation, which includes the allurements of desire as well as the trials of adversity, In both cases men found refuge from the reproof of conscience in a kind of fatalism. God had placed them in such and such circumstances; therefore, He was the author of the sin to which those circumstances had led. The excuse is one which presents itself to men’s minds at all times, but here also there is a special point of contact with the Son of Sirach: “Say not thou, it is through the Lord that I fell away” (Sir 15:11). It may be noted that the popular Pharisaism, which taught a doctrine of necessity (Joseph. Ant. xviii. 1. § 3; Wars, ii. 8. § 14) while speculatively maintaining also the freedom of man’s will, was likely to develope into this kind of practical fatalism.

I am tempted of God] The order of the Greek words is more emphatic, It is from God that I am tempted.

for God cannot be tempted with evil] The English “cannot be tempted” answers to a Greek verbal adjective, not used elsewhere in the New Testament or in the LXX. version of the Old, and not found in Classical Greek. Its meaning as used in later Greek writers, is simply “untried,” and so “unversed in,” and it has been maintained that it is so used here, but the context makes it almost certain that St James used it in the sense of “untempted.” At first it might seem as if this assertion did not meet the thought to which it appears to be answer, but the latent premiss of the reasoning seems to be that no one tempts to evil, who has not been first himself tempted by it. If men shrank from the blasphemy of affirming that of God, they ought to shrink also from the thought that He could ever tempt them to evil. He who was absolutely righteous, could not be the originator of sin. He tries men, but does not tempt them.

neither tempteth he any man] Better, and He (the pronoun is emphatic) tempteth no one.

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.

Verse 13. - God is not the author of temptation; cf. Ecclus. 15:11, 12, "Say not thou, It is through the Lord that I fell away: for thou oughtest not to do the things that he hateth. Say not thou, He hath caused me to err: for he hath no need of the sinful man." From God; ἀπὸ Θεοῦ (the article is wanting in א, A, B, C, K, L). Contrast ὑπὸ τῆς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας. Ἀπὸ Θεοῦ is a more general expression than ὑπὸ Θεοῦ, which would refer the temptation immediately to God. Ἀπὸ Θεοῦ is frequently used as a kind of adverb divinitus. Cannot be tempted; ἀπείραστος: an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. Syriac, "is not tempted with evils;" Vulgate, inten-tator malorum; R.V., "cannot be tempted of evil;" R.V. margin, "is untried in evil." Alford has a good note on this word, in which he points out that it has but two meanings:

(1) that has not been tried;

(2) that has not tried.

The rendering of the Vulgate is thus etymologically possible, but is against the context. The use of the word may, perhaps, be extended somewhat wider than the renderings given above would allow, so that it may be paraphrased as "out of the sphere of evils" (Farrar). Neither tempteth he, etc. Here the writer has in his mind the conception of a direct temptation from God. Αὐτός is emphatic. Render with R.V., And he himself tempteth no man. James 1:13Of God (ἀπὸ Θεοῦ)

Lit., from God. Not by God, as the direct agent, but by agency proceeding from God. Compare Matthew 4:1, where the direct agency, "by the spirit," "by the devil," is expressed by ὑπό.

Cannot be tempted (ἀπείραστος ἐστι)

Lit., 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. Rev. gives this in margin. Ἀπείραστος, only here in New Testament.

Neither tempteth he (πειράζει δὲ αὐτὸς)

The A. V. fails to render αὐτὸς: "He himself tempteth no man." So Rev.

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