James 1:2
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
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(2-27) Immediately after the salutation, and with more or less a play upon the word which we translate “greeting” (“rejoice,” James 1:1; “count it all joy,” James 1:2) there follow appeals on behalf of patience, endurance. and meekness.

(2) Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.—Better, Account it all joy whenever ye fall into divers temptationsi.e., trials; but even with this more exact rendering of the text, how can we, poor frail creatures of earth, it may well be asked, feel any joy under such? Do we not pray in our Saviour’s words, “Lead us not into temptation”? (See Matthew 6:13, and Note there.) Yet a little consideration will open out the teaching of Holy Scripture very plainly. The Apostle here is following the same line of thought as that expressed in Hebrews 5:14. By use (or habit, more properly) our senses may be exercised to the discernment of good and evil. The grace of God given to the soul is capable of growth and enlargement, like the powers of body and mind. If either be unemployed, weakness must supervene, and eventually decay and death. And just as the veteran who has proved his armour well, and learned to face habitual danger as a duty, is more trustworthy than a raw recruit, however large of limb and stout of heart, so with the Christian soldier. He must learn to “endure hardness” (2Timothy 2:3), and bear meekly and even gladly all the trials which are to strengthen him for the holy war. Innocence is a grace indeed, and yet there is a higher stage of the same virtue, viz., the purity which has been won by long and often bitter conflict with the thousand suggestions of evil from without, stirring up the natural impurity within. Temptation is not sin. “You cannot,” says the old German divine, “prevent the birds flying over your head, but you can from making nests in your hair;” and the soul victorious over some such trying onset is by that very triumph stronger and better able to undergo the next assault, The act of virtue has, in truth, helped to build up the habit, from which, when it is perfected, a happy life cannot fail to spring. The interpretation of our Lord’s prayer is rather the cry for help to God our Father in the trial, than for actual escape from it: Lead us not, i.e., where we in our free will may choose the wrong and perish. And there is a strangely sweet joy to be snatched from the most grievous temptation in the remembrance that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1Corinthians 10:13).

James 1:2-4. Count it all joy — That is, matter of the greatest joy; when ye fall into divers temptations Πειρασμοις, trials; for though rendered temptations, it does not signify here what is commonly meant by temptations, for these we are directed to pray against, but it denotes trials by affliction and persecution. To these God, by whose providence they come, exposes men, not to lead them into sin, but to afford them an opportunity of exercising and improving their graces and virtues. Hence our Lord declared those to be blessed who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake, Matthew 5:10; and exhorted such, (Matthew 5:42,) to rejoice and be exceeding glad; sentiments which doubtless the Apostle James had in his eye when he spoke to the Jewish Christians in this manner. Knowing that the trying, or proving, of your faith — By persecution and affliction; worketh patience — Exercises and thereby increases your patience, through the divine blessing, and your resignation to God’s will, from which many other virtues will flow. But let patience have her perfect work — Let it be duly and fully exercised, that it may rise to the highest degree of perfection: 1st, By composing your minds to a sweet and humble frame under your sufferings. 2d, By acknowledging God’s hand in them, and blessing him for them. 3d, By resisting all inclinations to impatience, fretfulness, and murmuring. 4th, By quietly waiting for deliverance, in the way God hath appointed, till he shall see fit to grant James 2:5 th, By enduring to the end of the time of your trial; that ye may be perfect and entire — Adorned with every Christian grace and virtue; wanting nothing — No kind or degree of grace which God requires to be in you; but may be complete in all the parts of holiness.

1:1-11 Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God's love; and trials in the way of duty will brighten our graces now, and our crown at last. Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not passion, is set to work in us: whatever is said or done, let patience have the saying and doing of it. When the work of patience is complete, it will furnish all that is necessary for our Christian race and warfare. We should not pray so much for the removal of affliction, as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who does not want wisdom to guide him under trials, both in regulating his own spirit, and in managing his affairs? Here is something in answer to every discouraging turn of the mind, when we go to God under a sense of our own weakness and folly. If, after all, any should say, This may be the case with some, but I fear I shall not succeed, the promise is, To any that asketh, it shall be given. A mind that has single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in devotion, and rise above trials and oppositions. When our faith and spirits rise and fall with second causes, there will be unsteadiness in our words and actions. This may not always expose men to contempt in the world, but such ways cannot please God. No condition of life is such as to hinder rejoicing in God. Those of low degree may rejoice, if they are exalted to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God; and the rich may rejoice in humbling providences, that lead to a humble and lowly disposition of mind. Worldly wealth is a withering thing. Then, let him that is rich rejoice in the grace of God, which makes and keeps him humble; and in the trials and exercises which teach him to seek happiness in and from God, not from perishing enjoyments.My brethren - Not brethren as Jews, but as Christians. Compare James 2:1.

Count it all joy - Regard it as a thing to rejoice in; a matter which should afford you happiness. You are not to consider it as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity, but as a fit subject of felicitation. Compare the notes at Matthew 5:12.

When ye fall into divers temptations - Oh the meaning of the word "temptations," see the notes at Matthew 4:1. It is now commonly used in the sense of placing allurements before others to induce them to sin, and in this sense the word seems to be used in James 1:13-14 of this chapter. Here, however, the word is used in the sense of trials, to wit, by persecution, poverty, calamity of any kind. These cannot be said to be direct inducements or allurements to sin, but they try the faith, and they show whether he who is tried is disposed to adhere to his faith in God, or whether he will apostatize. They so far coincide with temptations, properly so called, as to test the religion of men. They differ from temptations, properly so called, in that they are not brought before the mind for the express purpose of inducing people to sin. In this sense it is true that God never tempts men, James 1:13-14. On the sentiment in the passage before us, see the notes at 1 Peter 1:6-7. The word "divers" here refers to the various kinds of trials which they might experience - sickness, poverty, bereavement, persecution, etc. They were to count it a matter of joy that their religion was subjected to anything that tried it. It is well for us to have the reality of our religion tested, in whatever way it may be done.

2. My brethren—a phrase often found in James, marking community of nation and of faith.

all joy—cause for the highest joy [Grotius]. Nothing but joy [Piscator]. Count all "divers temptations" to be each matter of joy [Bengel].

fall into—unexpectedly, so as to be encompassed by them (so the original Greek).

temptations—not in the limited sense of allurements to sin, but trials or distresses of any kind which test and purify the Christian character. Compare "tempt," that is, try, Ge 22:1. Some of those to whom James writes were "sick," or otherwise "afflicted" (Jas 5:13). Every possible trial to the child of God is a masterpiece of strategy of the Captain of his salvation for his good.

My brethren; both as being of the same nation and the same religion; so he calls them, that the kindness of his compellation might sweeten his exhortations.

Count it; esteem it so by a spiritual judgment, though the flesh judge otherwise.

All joy; matter of the chiefest joy, viz. spiritual. So all is taken, 1 Timothy 1:15.

When ye fall into; when ye are so beset and circumvented by them, that there is no escaping them, but they come upon you, though by the directeth of God’s providence, yet not by your own seeking.

Divers temptations; so he calls afflictions, from God’s end in them, which is to try and discover what is in men, and whether they will cleave to him or not. The Jews were hated by other nations, and the Christian Jews even by their own, and therefore were exposed to divers afflictions, and of divers kinds, 1 Peter 1:6.

My brethren,.... Not only according to the flesh, he being a Jew as they were; but in a spiritual sense, they being born again of the same grace, belonging to the same family and household of faith, and having the same Father, and being all the children of God, by faith in Christ Jesus:

count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; not the temptations of Satan, or temptations to sin; for these cannot be matter of joy, but grief; these are fiery darts, and give a great deal of uneasiness and trouble; but afflictions and persecutions for the sake of the Gospel, which are so called here and elsewhere, because they are trials of the faith of God's people, and of other graces of the Spirit of God. God by these tempts his people, as he did Abraham, when he called him to sacrifice his son; he thereby tried his faith, fear, love, and obedience; so by afflictions, God tries the graces of his people; not that he might know them, for he is not ignorant of them, but that they might be made manifest to others; and these are "divers": many are the afflictions of the righteous; through much tribulation they must enter the kingdom; it is a great fight of afflictions which they endure, as these believers did; their trials came from different quarters; they were persecuted by their countrymen the Jews, and were distressed by the Gentiles, among whom they lived; and their indignities and reproaches were many; and their sufferings of different sorts, as confiscation of goods, imprisonment of body, banishment, scourgings, and death in various shapes: and these they "fall" into; not by chance, nor altogether at an unawares, or unexpectedly; but they fell into them through the wickedness and malice of their enemies, and did not bring them upon themselves through any crime or enormity they were guilty of: and when this was their case, the apostle exhorts them to count it all joy, or matter of joy, of exceeding great joy, even of the greatest joy; not that these afflictions were joyous in themselves, but in their circumstances, effects, and consequences; as they tried, and exercised, and improved the graces of the Spirit, and worked for their good, spiritual and eternal, and produced in them the peaceable fruit of righteousness; and as they were attended with the presence and Spirit of God, and of glory; and as they made for, and issued in the glory of God; and because of that great reward in heaven which would follow them; see Matthew 5:11. The Jews have a saying (g),

"whoever rejoices in afflictions that come upon him, brings salvation to the world.''

(g) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 8. 1.

{1} My brethren, {c} count it all joy {2} when ye fall into divers temptations;

(1) The first place or part concerning comfort in afflictions, in which we should not be cast down and be faint hearted, but rather rejoice and be glad.

(c) Seeing their condition was miserable because of the scattering abroad, he does well to begin as he does.

(2) The first argument, because our faith is tried through afflictions: which ought to be most pure, for so it suits us.

Jam 1:2. James begins with the hortative words: πᾶσαν χάραν ἡγήσασθε] esteem it complete joy. πᾶσα χάρα, complete joy = nothing but joy. Luther: “Esteem it pure joy.” Many old expositors incorrectly explain πᾶσα = μεγίστη, summum, perfectum gaudium;[35] it is more correct to resolve the adjective here by the adverb ΠΆΝΤΩς, ὍΛΩς (Carpzov), with which the explanation of Theile coincides: rem revera omnique ex parte laetam. The meaning is: the ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΊ are to you a joy which is entire joy, excluding all trouble. See Hom. Od. xi. 507. πᾶσαν ἀληθείην μυθήσομαι, i.e. “of Neoptolemus I will declare to thee the whole truth” (i.e. nothing but the truth, which excludes all falsehood).

χαρά, a metonymy = gaudendi materia, res laeta; see Luke 2:10.

It is not improbable that James by this exhortation to joy refers to the ΧΑΊΡΕΙΝ in Jam 1:1; comp. Jam 1:5; Jam 1:19 (Wiesinger).

The address ἈΔΕΛΦΟΊ ΜΟΥ (or ἈΔΕΛΦΟΊ alone, Jam 4:11, Jam 5:7; Jam 5:9; Jam 5:19; also ἈΔΕΛΦΟΊ ΜΟΥ ἈΓΑΠΗΤΟΊ, Jam 1:16; Jam 1:19, Jam 2:5), which is James’ constant form, expresses the consciousness of fellowship, namely, the fellowship in nationality and belief (Paraeus), with the readers.[36]

ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις] περιπίπτειν involvit (a) notionem adversi, (b) notionem inviti atque inopinati (Theile); it is synonymous with ἐμπίπτειν (see Luke 10:30 compared with Luke 1:36), but has a stronger meaning: to fall into something, so that one is entirely surrounded by it; thus in the classics it is particularly used of misfortune: συμφοραῖς, Plato, Leg. ix. 877e; ζημίαις καὶ ὀνείδεσι, Isocrates, i. 39.

By ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΊ are commonly here understood the ΘΛΊΨΕΙς, which are prepared for Christians on account of their faith by an unbelieving world (comp. Luke 8:13 : ΚΑῚ ἘΝ ΚΑΙΡῷ ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟῦ ἈΦΊΣΤΑΝΤΑΙ; in connection with Matthew 13:21 : ΓΕΝΟΜΈΝΗς ΘΛΊΨΕΩς Ἢ ΔΙΩΓΜΟῦ ΔΙᾺ ΤῸΝ ΛΌΓΟΝ, ΕὐΘῪς ΣΚΑΝΔΑΛΊΖΕΤΑΙ); and undoubtedly James had these in view. Yet there is nothing in the context which necessitates us to such a limitation; rather the additional epithet ΠΟΊΚΙΛΟΙ justifies us to extend the idea, and to understand by it all the relations of life which might induce the Christian to withdraw from the faith, or to become wavering in it. When Lange explains ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΊ specially of “the allurements and threats by which the Gentiles on the one side, and the fanatical Jews on the other, and also the Ebionites, who were already in the field, sought to draw the readers to their side,” he founds this particular statement on his erroneous view of the tendency of the Epistle. To refer the idea only to inward temptations (Pfeiffer) is the more erroneous, as it is even questionable whether James had these in view at all.

On ποικίλοις, see 2 Corinthians 6:4 ff; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff. The adjective does not allude to the different sources from which the ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΟΊ sprung, but is to be referred to their manifold forms. In a far-fetched manner, Lange finds in ΠΟΙΚΊΛΟΙς, according to its original meaning, “an allusion to the manifold-dazzling glitter of colours of the Jewish-Christian and Jewish temptations, in which they might even represent themselves as prophetic exhortations to zeal for the glory of God.”

Inasmuch as the Christian has to rejoice not only in the πειρασμοῖς, but on account of them, Oecumenius strikingly observes: τὴν κατὰ Θεὸν λύπην καὶ τοὺς πειρασμοὺς τούτους καὶ ἐπαινετοὺς οἶδε καὶ χαρᾶς ἀξίους· δεσμὸς γὰρ οὗτοί εἰσιν ἀῤῥαγής, καὶ αὔξησις ἀγάπης καὶ κατανύξεωςοὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἐκτὸς γυμνασίων οὔτε κοσμικῶν οὔτε τῶν κατὰ Θεὸν στεφάνων ἀξιωθῆναι. With reference to joy in ΘΛΊΨΕΙς, see Matthew 5:11-12; Acts 4:23 ff; Acts 5:41; Romans 5:3; also Sir 2:1 ff.; particularly comp. the parallel passage 1 Peter 1:6.

[35] Winer (p. 101 [E. T. p. 138]) explains πᾶσα χαρά “all (full) joy.” This would signify such a joy as wants nothing; which, however, does not suit the context.

[36] Incorrectly Semler: Hoc nomen praecipue de doctoribus intelligo.

Jam 1:2-12. Exhortation in reference to the endurance of temptations.

Jam 1:2. Πᾶσαν χαράν: Cf. Php 2:29, μετὰ πάσης χαρᾶς: the rendering in Syrlec, which is rather a paraphrase than a translation, catches the meaning admirably: בכל חדוא הוו חאדין אח̈י, “With all joy be rejoicing my brethren.” ἡγήσασθε: the writer is not to be understood as meaning that these trials are joyful in themselves, but that as a means to beneficial results they are to be rejoiced in; it is the same thought as that contained in Hebrews 12:11 : πᾶσα μὲν παιδεία πρὸς μὲν τὸ παρὸν οὐ f1δοκεῖ χαρᾶς εἶναι ἀλλὰ λύπης, ὕστερον δὲ καρπὸν εἰρηνικὸν τοῖς διʼ αὐτῆς γεγυμνασμένοις ἀποδίδωσιν δικαιοσύνης. ἀδελφοί μου: this term of address was originally Jewish; in Hebrew, אח is used, in the first instance, of those born of the same mother, e.g., Genesis 4:2, etc.; then in a wider sense of a relative, e.g., Genesis 14:12, etc.; and in the still more extended meaning of kinship generally, e.g., of tribal membership, Numbers 16:10; as belonging to the same people, e.g., Exodus 2:11; Leviticus 19:7, and even of a stranger (גֵּר) sojourning among the people, Leviticus 19:34; it is also used of those who have made a covenant together, Amos 1:9; and, generally, of friends, 2 Samuel 1:26, etc.; in its widest sense it was taken over by the Christian communities, whose members were both friends and bound by the same covenant (cf. the origin of the Hebrew word for “covenant,” בּרית, from the Assryo-Babylonian Biritu which means “a fetter”). This mode of address occurs frequently in this Epistle, sometimes the simple ἀδελφοί without μου (Jam 4:11, Jam 5:7; Jam 5:9-10), sometimes with the addition of ἀγαπητοί (Jam 1:16; Jam 1:19, Jam 2:5). πειρασμοῖς: in Jam 1:12 ff. πειρασμός obviously means allurement to wrong-doing, and this would appear to be the most natural meaning here on account of the way in which temptation is analysed, though the sense of external trials, in the shape of calamity, would of course not be excluded; “it may be that the effect of external conditions upon character should be included in the term” (Parry). It is true that the exhortation to look upon temptations with joy is scarcely compatible with the prayer, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13; Luke 11:4) or with the words, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41; Luke 22:40; see too Mark 14:38; Luke 22:46; Revelation 3:10); but, as is evident from a number of indications in this Epistle, the writer’s Judaism is stronger than his Christianity, and owing to the Jewish doctrines of free-will and works, a Jew would regard temptation in a less serious light than a Christian (see Introduction § iv.). Most pointedly does Parry remark: “There is a true joy for the warrior when he meets face to face the foe whom he has been directed to subjugate, in a warfare that trains hand and eye and steels the nerve and tempers the will …”; this is precisely the Jewish standpoint; while the Christian, realising his sinfulness and inherent weakness, and grounded in a spirit of humility, reiterates the words which he has been taught in the Lord’s Prayer. This passage is one of the many in the Epistle which makes it so difficult to believe that it can all have been written by St. James.—περιπέσητε: the connection in which this word stands in the few passages of the N.T. which contain it supports the idea that in πειρασμοῖς external trials are included (Luke 10:30; Acts 27:41).—ποικίλοις: Cf. 1 Peter 1:6., ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς, Pesh. adds πολλοῖς, cf. 3Ma 2:6, ποικίλαις καὶ πολλαῖς δοκιμάσας τιμωρίαις

2. count it all joy …] We lose, in the English, the link which connects the wish for “joy” merged in our “greeting,” with the thought which indicates how the wish may be realised even under conditions that seem most adverse to it. The transition may be noticed as characteristic of the style of the Epistle. Other examples of a like method will meet us as we go on. The Greek formula for “all joy” (literally, every kind of joy) suggests the thought of the varied elements of joy that were to be found in the manifold forms of trial.

into divers temptations] The word, as commonly in the New Testament, stands for trials that take the form of suffering, rather than for the enticements of pleasure. Comp. Luke 22:28; Acts 20:19; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 1:6. Its use implies accordingly that those to whom the Epistle was written were passing through a time of adversity. This was true, more or less, of the whole Jewish race, everywhere, but it was specially true of those who being of the Twelve Tribes, also held the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of those most of all who were most within the writer’s view. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 10:32-33, for the sufferings of Jewish and specially of Hebrew Christians. The word for “fall into” implies an unlooked-for concurrence of adverse circumstances.

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.

Verses 2-18. - THE SUBJECT OF TEMPTATION. This section may be subdivided as follows: -

(1) The value of temptation (vers. 2-4).

(2) Digression suggested by the thought 'of perfection (vers. 5-11).

(3) Return to the subject of temptation (vers. 12-18). Verses 2-4. - The value of temptation. Considered as an opportunity, it is a cause for joy. Verse 2. - My brethren. A favorite expression with St. James, occurring no less than fifteen times in the compass of this short Epistle. Count it all joy, etc.; cf. 1 Peter 1:6, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold temptations, that the proof of your faith (τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως)... might be found unto praise," etc. The coincidence is too close to be accidental, although the shade of meaning given to δοκίμιον is slightly different, if indeed it has any right in the text in St. Peter (see Herr, vol. it. p. 102). Here it has its proper force, and signifies that by which the faith is tried, i.e. the instrument of trial rather than the process of trial. Thus the passage in ver. 3 becomes parallel to Romans 5:3, "tribulation worketh patience." With regard to the sentiments of ver. 2, "Count it all joy," etc., contrast Matthew 6:13. Experience, however, shows that the two are compatible. It is quite possible to shrink beforehand from temptation, and pray with intense earnestness, "Lead us not into temptation," and yet, when the temptation comes, to meet it joyfully, Περίπέσητε. The use of this word implies that the temptations of which St. James is thinking are external (see Luke 10:30, where the same word is used of the man who fell among thieves). 1 Thessalonians 2:14 and Hebrews 10:32, 33 will show the trials to which believing Jews were subject. But the epithet "manifold" would indicate that we should not confine the word here to trials such as those. James 1:2All joy (πᾶσαν χαρὰν)

Joy follows up the rejoice of the greeting. The all has the sense of wholly. Count it a thing wholly joyful, without admixture of sorrow. Perhaps, as Bengel suggests, the all applies to all kinds of temptations.

When (ὅταν)

Lit., whenever: better, because it implies that temptation may be expected all along the Christian course.

Ye fall into (περιπέσητε)

The preposition περί, around, suggests falling into something which surrounds. Thus Thucydides, speaking of the plague at Athens, says, "The Athenians, having fallen into (περιπεσόντες) such affliction, were pressed by it."

Divers (ποικίλοις)

Rev., manifold. See on 1 Peter 1:6.

Temptations (πειρασμοῖς)

In the general sense of trials. See on Matthew 6:13; and 1 Peter 1:6.

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