James 1:21
Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
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(21) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.—So Peter (1Peter 3:21) speaks of “the filth of the flesh.” But the defilement here referred to seems general and not special, common, that is, to the whole natural man. The superabundance—the overgrowth—of evil will occupy the heart, if care be not taken to root it out; and, like the thorns in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:7, et seq.), spring up and choke the good seed. All such a rank and poisonous crop must be gathered and laid aside, in caps may be, for some fiery trouble to consume, that out of the dead luxuriant weeds a richer soil for virtue may be made.

Naughtiness (ne-aughtiness, or nothingness) was used in 1611, instead of the older and more correct translation, malice or maliciousness. The badness implied in the original is much more positive than that which appears from our present version.

Receive with meekness the engrafted word.—Or, in mildness accept ye this word of truth (see James 1:18, above), engrafted, like a good olive tree, or rather implanted, in you. The term is peculiar to this place, and means “innate” in its first intention. If taken so, “the innate Word” will be Christ Himself formed within us. (Comp. Galatians 4:19.)

Able to save your souls.—In like manner Paul at Miletus commends the elders of Ephesus “to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Observe, the idea of salvation thus conveyed by the implanted word, is so potentially and not actually. Tended and cultured, it will grow into a tree of life, the fruit whereof may heal the wounds of sin; but the after-growth of this plant of God is largely in the hands of man.

We can hardly help making a brief inquiry in this place on the meaning of “soul.” There are few words more vaguely used by devout persons, or which present greater difficulties to the learned, or open wider fields of speculation for the thoughtful. In common language we speak of “body and soul,” meaning much the same as “body and spirit;” but theologians write more carefully of “body, soul, and spirit” (comp. 1Thessalonians 5:23); and psychologists distinguish between the animal branch of their subject and the rational or intellectual (ψυχή νοῦς). The second of these methods of division is known as the trilogy, and is of most importance to the Christian reader. By it is understood (1) the body, wholly and entirely material, of and belonging to this world; (2) the mind or reason, corporal also—that is, arising from the body, and depending in its exquisite balance upon it; (3) the true soul or spirit, the breath as it were of God, immaterial and immortal. Our bodily nature, of course, is shared with the lower creation, and the spiritual with the higher, while the intellectual is peculiar to mankind. If it be hard to draw a line between vegetable and animal, harder still is it to separate instinct from reason, the difference being of degree rather than kind. But if the one side of the mental soul—namely, the rational, be near akin to what is termed instinctive in the brute, the other, the intellectual, however it may, as it does, soar upward, yet approaches not to the angels, for the difference here is of kind and not degree. Now, strange to say, the Apostle treats not of the spirit but the natural soul. Other texts in plenty assure us that God is able to save the one; from this we may learn salvation is for both, such being the work of “the engrafted Word.” Reason and intellect consecrated to divine service have an eternity before them, one of activity and not repose. The highest conception of God to the Greek mind was the Aristotelian idea of intellectual self-sufficiency and contemplation; the Oriental strives, as for ages it has striven, for extinction and nothingness; but to the Christian is given the sure and certain hope of the glorified body, the enlightened soul, the perfected spirit—three in one, and one in three—working the will and praise of its Maker and Redeemer for ever.

James 1:21. Wherefore — Because wrath is such a hinderance to true religion, and you are regenerated; lay apart — As you would a dirty garment; all filthiness — Every kind of sin which is of a defiling nature. The word ρυπαρια, here used, signifies filthiness adhering to the body. When, as here, applied to the mind, it denotes those lusts and appetites, and other sins which defile the soul, particularly those which are gratified by gluttony, drunkenness, and uncleanness; vices to which many Jews, pretending to be teachers, were addicted; and superfluity of naughtinessΚακιας, maliciousness, or wickedness of any sort; for however specious and necessary it may appear to worldly wisdom, it is vile, hateful, contemptible, and really superfluous: every reasonable end may be effectually answered without any kind or degree of it. Lay this, every known sin, aside by the grace of God, or all your hearing is vain; and receive — Into your ears, your heart, your life; with meekness — Constant evenness and serenity of mind, or with an humble, submissive frame of spirit; the ingrafted word — The word of the gospel, ingrafted in penitent, believing souls by regeneration, (James 1:18,) and by habit, (Hebrews 5:14,) through the influence of God’s Spirit attending the ministry of your teachers, 1 Corinthians 3:5-6. Which is able to save your souls — As a means appointed by God for that end, and when received by faith, Hebrews 4:2.

1:19-21 Instead of blaming God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to learn what he teaches by them. And if men would govern their tongues, they must govern their passions. The worst thing we can bring to any dispute, is anger. Here is an exhortation to lay apart, and to cast off as a filthy garment, all sinful practices. This must reach to sins of thought and affection, as well as of speech and practice; to every thing corrupt and sinful. We must yield ourselves to the word of God, with humble and teachable minds. Being willing to hear of our faults, taking it not only patiently, but thankfully. It is the design of the word of God to make us wise to salvation; and those who propose any mean or low ends in attending upon it, dishonour the gospel, and disappoint their own souls.Wherefore - In view of the fact that God has begotten us for his own service; in view of the fact that excited feeling tends only to wrong, let us lay aside all that is evil, and submit ourselves wholly to the influence of truth.

Lay apart all filthiness - The word here rendered filthiness, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, It means properly filth; and then is applied to evil conduct considered as disgusting or offensive. Sin may be contemplated as a wrong thing; as a violation of law; as evil in its nature and tendency, and therefore to be avoided; or it may be contemplated as disgusting, offensive, loathsome. To a pure mind, this is one of its most odious characteristics; for, to such a mind, sin in any form is more loathsome than the most offensive object can be to any of the senses.

And superfluity of haughtiness - Literally, "abounding of evil." It is rendered by Doddridge, "overflowing of malignity;" by Tindal, "superfluity of maliciousness;" by Benson, "superfluity of malice;" by Bloomfield, "petulance." The phrase "superfluity of haughtiness," or of evil, does not exactly express the sense, as if we were only to lay aside that which abounded, or which is superfluous, though we might retain that which does not come under this description; but the object of the apostle is to express his deep abhorrence of the thing referred to by strong and emphatic language. He had just spoken of sin in one aspect, as filthy, loathsome, detestable; here he designs to express his abhorrence of it by a still more emphatic description, and he speaks of it not merely as an evil, but as an evil abounding, overflowing; an evil in the highest degree. The thing referred to had the essence of evil in it (κακία kakia); but it was not merely evil, it was evil that was aggravated, that was overflowing, that was eminent in degree (περισσείαν perisseian). The particular reference in these passages is to the reception of the truth; and the doctrine taught is, that a corrupt mind, a mind full of sensuality and wickedness, is not favorable to the reception of the truth. It is not fitted to see its beauty, to appreciate its value, to understand its just claims, or to welcome it to the soul. Purity of heart is the best preparation always for seeing the force of truth.

And receive with meekness - That is, open the mind and heart to instruction, and to the fair influence of truth. Meekness, gentleness, docility, are everywhere required in receiving the instructions of religion, as they are in obtaining knowledge of any kind. See the notes at Matthew 18:2-3.

The engrafted word - The gospel is here represented under the image of that which is implanted or engrafted from another source; by a figure that would be readily understood, for the art of engrafting is everywhere known. Sometimes the gospel is represented under the image of seed sown (Compare Mark 6:14, following); but here it is under the figure of a shoot implanted or engrafted, that produces fruit of its own, whatever may be the original character of the tree into which it is engrafted. Compare the notes at Romans 11:17. The meaning here is, that we should allow the principles of the gospel to be thus engrafted on our nature; that however crabbed or perverse our nature may be, or however bitter and vile the fruits which it might bring forth of its own accord, it might, through the engrafted word, produce the fruits of righteousness.

Which is able to save your souls - It is not, therefore, a weak and powerless thing, merely designed to show its own feebleness, and to give occasion for God to work a miracle; but it has power, and is adapted to save. Compare the notes at Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Timothy 3:15.

21. lay apart—"once for all" (so the Greek): as a filthy garment. Compare Joshua's filthy garments, Zec 3:3, 5; Re 7:14. "Filthiness" is cleansed away by hearing the word (Joh 15:3).

superfluity of naughtiness—excess (for instance, the intemperate spirit implied in "wrath," Jas 1:19, 20), which arises from malice (our natural, evil disposition towards one another). 1Pe 2:1 has the very same words in the Greek. So "malice" is the translation, Eph 4:31; Col 3:8. "Faulty excess" [Bengel] is not strong enough. Superfluous excess in speaking is also reprobated as "coming of evil" (the Greek is akin to the word for "naughtiness" here) in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:37), with which James' Epistle is so connected.

with meekness—in mildness towards one another [Alford], the opposite to "wrath" (Jas 1:20): answering to "as new-born babes" (1Pe 2:2). Meekness, I think, includes also a childlike, docile, humble, as well as an uncontentious, spirit (Ps 25:9; 45:4; Isa 66:2; Mt 5:5; 11:28-30; 18:3, 4; contrast Ro 2:8). On "receive," applied to ground receiving seed, compare Mr 4:20. Contrast Ac 17:11; 1Th 1:6 with 2Th 2:10.

engrafted word—the Gospel word, whose proper attribute is to be engrafted by the Holy Spirit, so as to be livingly incorporated with the believer, as the fruitful shoot is with the wild natural stock on which it is engrafted. The law came to man only from without, and admonished him of his duty. The Gospel is engrafted inwardly, and so fulfils the ultimate design of the law (De 6:6; 11:18; Ps 119:11). Alford translates, "The implanted word," referring to the parable of the sower (Mt 13:1-23). I prefer English Version.

able to save—a strong incentive to correct our dulness in hearing the word: that word which we hear so carelessly, is able (instrumentally) to save us [Calvin].

souls—your true selves, for the "body" is now liable to sickness and death: but the soul being now saved, both soul and body at last shall be so (Jas 5:15, 20).

Wherefore lay apart; not only restrain it, and keep it in; but put off, and throw it away as a filthy rag, Isaiah 30:22: see Ephesians 4:22 Colossians 3:8 1 Peter 2:1.

All, of every kind.

Filthiness; or, sordidness; a metaphor borrowed from the filth of the body, 1 Peter 3:21, and thence transferred to the soul; and it here seems to imply, not only sensuality or covetousness, but all sorts of lusts, whereby men are defiled, 2 Corinthians 7:1 2 Peter 2:20.

And superfluity of naughtiness; i.e. that naughtiness which is superfluous. That is said to be superfluous or redundant, which is more than should be in a thing; in which respect all sin is superfluous in the soul, as being that which should not be in it: and so this intimates that we are not only to lay apart more gross pollutions, but all the lusts of the flesh, and relics of old Adam, as being all superfluities which may well be spared, or excrements, (as some render the word, agreeably to the former metaphor), which should be cast away.

And receive; not only into your heads by knowledge, but into your hearts by faith.

With meekness; with humility, modesty, and gentleness, which makes men submissive to the truth of the word, and ready to learn of God even those things which are above their natural capacity, Psalm 25:9 Isaiah 66:2 Matthew 11:5,27: this is opposed to wrath, which makes men unteachable.

The ingrafted word; either which is ingrafted or implanted, viz. ministerially, by the preachers of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 3:6,7; principally by the Spirit of God, who writes it in the heart, Jeremiah 31:33. And thus it may be taken particularly for the word of the gospel, in opposition to the law, which came to men’s ears from without, and admonished them of their duty, but was not written in their hearts, or ingrafted thereto from them unto obedience to it. Or, that it may be ingrafted, i.e. intimately united to, or rooted in, the heart by a vital union; or made natural to it, (as some render the word), the heart being transformed by the power of it, and conformed to the precepts of it, 2 Corinthians 3:18 Romans 6:17.

Which, viz. when received by faith, is able to save, instrumentally, as being the means wherein God puts forth his power in saving them, Revelation 1:16.

Your souls; yourselves; the soul, as the noblest part, is by a synecdoche put for the whole person: see 1 Peter 1:9.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness,.... All manner of filthiness, both of flesh and spirit; all pride, vanity, wrath, malice, and evil speaking, under hearing the word: the allusion seems to be to a boiling pot, which casts up scum and filth, which must be taken off: and such is the spirit of wrathful men; it throws up the filth of haughtiness and pride, of anger, wrath, and wickedness, which must be taken off, and laid aside; or the word will not be heard to any profit, or advantage:

and superfluity of naughtiness, or "malice"; the abundance and overflow of it, which arises from such an evil heart, where wrath prevails, and governs: see 1 Peter 2:1. There seems to be an allusion to the removing of the superfluous foreskin of the flesh, in circumcision, typical

of the foreskin of the heart, spoken of in Jeremiah 4:4 which the Targum, in that place, calls , "the wickedness", or "naughtiness of your hearts" to be removed:

and receive with meekness the ingrafted word; which becomes so when it is received; when it is put into the heart by the Spirit of God, and is mixed with faith by them that hear it; so that it is, as it were, incorporated into them, and becomes natural to them, which before was not; and taking deep root in them, brings forth much fruit: and where it comes with power, it reduces every high thought into the obedience of Christ, and makes men meek and humble; and only such receive the truth in the love of it; and to such is the Gospel preached, Isaiah 61:1, and none but such hear it with profit and edification:

which is able to save your souls; even your whole persons, both soul and body: but the soul is only mentioned, as being the more excellent part of man: this must not be understood of the word, as if it was the author or cause of salvation, but as an instrument; it being a declaration of salvation by Christ, or what shows unto men the way of salvation by him; and is the power of God unto salvation to them, when it is attended with the energy of the Spirit, and the efficacy of divine grace. See 2 Timothy 3:15.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with {t} meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

(t) By meekness he means modesty, and anything that is contrary to a haughty and proud spirit.

Jam 1:21. James infers (διό) from the thought in Jam 1:20 the exhortation ἐν πραΰτητι δέξασθε τὸν ἔμφυτον λόγον, with evident reference to ἀπεκύησεν ἡμᾶς λόγῳ ἀληθείας (Jam 1:18). He places before this exhortation the participial clause: ἀποθέμενοικακίας] laying aside all filthiness and abundance of wickedness, i.e. all filthy and abundantly prevalent wickedness. The word ῥυπαρία (ἅπ. λεγ. in the N. T.) is here figurative (synonymous with ἀκαθαρσία in Romans 6:19 and other places), as ῥυπαρός and ῥυπαρεύω, Revelation 22:11 (ῥυπαρός occurs in its literal sense in chap. Jam 2:2 : ῥύπος in 1 Peter 3:21). Several interpreters (Calvin, Rosenmüller, Baumgarten, Hornejus, Bouman, Lange, and others) take it here as standing alone, equivalent to moral uncleanness (see 2 Corinthians 7:1 : πᾶς μολυσμὸς σαρκὸς καὶ πνεύματος), either generally “every immoral disposition,” or specifically as avaritia (Storr), or scortatio (Laurentius), or vitia intemperantiae, gulae et lasciviae (Heisen), or “filth in a religious theocratical sense” (Lange); but it is better to join ῥυπαρίαν with κακίας (Theile, de Wette, Wiesinger, and others), so that the ethical judgment of the author on the κακία is thereby expressed (comp. Acts 15:20; Revelation 17:4), equivalent to πᾶσαν κακίαν ῥυπαράν, or less exactly ῥυπαίνουσαν τὸν ἄνθρωπον (Schol. on Matt.); only the idea is more strongly brought forward by the substantive than by the adjective. The word περισσεία, united to ῥυπαρίαν by the copulative καί (not as Schneckenburger thinks exegetical; in the cited passages, John 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 3:5, the position of καί is entirely different), foreign to classical Greek, has in the N. T. the signification abundance, properly: “abundance flowing over the measure,” which Lange incorrectly renders “outflow, communication of life;” see Romans 5:17; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 10:15. Nevertheless the word has been here taken in a meaning corresponding to ῥυπαρία, and has been explained as = περίσσωμα excrementum (Beza, Piscator, Erasmus, Schmid, and others), or also growth (Lösner, Pott, Hottinger, Kern, Schneckenburger, de Wette). But both meanings are arbitrary. The defenders of the second explanation indeed appeal to the passage in Philo, de vict. off. p. 854 B: περιτέμνεσθετὰς περιττὰς φύσεις (fortasse ἐμφύσεις, de Wette) τοῦ ἡγεμονικοῦ; but from this passage it does not follow that περισσεία can be explained de ramis in vite vel arbore abundantibus falceque resecandis (Lösner). It is equally unjustifiable when Küttner, Michaelis, Augusti, Gebser, Bouman, and others explain περισσεία κακίας as “κακία surviving from earlier times,” and thus take περισσεία as synonymous with περίσσευμα (Mark 8:8). Against all these arbitrary views Theile, Wiesinger, Brückner correctly retain the word in the same sense which it has elsewhere in the N. T., so that περισσεία κακίας is the abundance of κακία, i.e. the abundantly existing κακία; only ἐν ὑμῖν is hardly to be supplied as if James had only his readers specially in view (Theile: quod lectoribus peculiare erat).

Κακία is not here synonymous with πονηρία (1 Corinthians 5:8) = vitiositas (Semler, Theile, and others), but, according to the context, in contrast with ἐν πραΰτητι, as in Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8, Titus 3:3, 1 Peter 2:1, a more special idea, namely, the hostile disposition toward our neighbour which we call malignity (Cremer: malevolence, as social faultiness). Wiesinger inaccurately takes it as equivalent to ὀργή, as that is only one of the proofs of κακία; incorrectly Rosenmüller = morositas.[94] On ἀποθέμενοι, comp. Ephesians 4:25; 1 Peter 2:1; Hebrews 12:1.[95] The participle precedes as a subordinate thought to δέξασθε, because in consequence of man’s sinful nature room can only be made for the good by the rejection of the bad. Also, where similar sentences are co-ordinate, the exhortation to ἀποτίθεσθαι precedes; comp. Romans 13:12, Ephesians 4:22-23, and also the exhortation of Christ: μετανοεῖτα καὶ πιστεύετε, Mark 1:15.

In the positive exhortation: ἐν πραΰτητι δέξασθε τὸν ἔμφυτον λόγον] ἐν πραΰτητι emphatically precedes, in contrast to the κακία from which flows ὀργή. πραΰτης (= πραότης) denotes a loving, gentle disposition toward our neighbour; comp. 1 Corinthians 4:21, 2 Timothy 2:25, Titus 3:2, and other passages; the opposite is ὀριλότης (Pape’s Gr. Wörterb.); incorrectly Calvin: hoc verbo significat modestiam et facilitatem mentis ad discendum compositae. ἐν πραΰτητι does not therefore mean docili animo (Grotius, Rosenmüller, Hottinger), nor “with a modest disposition, which recognises the good deeds of Christianity” (Gebser). Also ἐν πρ. δέξασθε is not a pregnant construction, as if the sense were: monet … illo λόγῳ duce πραΰτητα exerceant (Schneckenburger); but James exhorts to the reception of the word ἐν πραΰτητι, in contrast to those who hear the word in order to use it as a weapon of hatred (condemning others).

Δέξασθε (opp. to λαλῆσαι, Jam 1:19) corresponds to ἀκοῦσαι, but expresses more than that, namely: “the inner reception, the taking hold of it with the heart;” comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:6. The object belonging to it: τὸν λόγον ἔμφυτον, can only be the same as what was called the λόγος ἀληθείας in Jam 1:18 (Wiesinger); it is neither “the reason innate in man “(Oecumenius: τὸν διακριτικὸν τοῦ βελτίονος καὶ τοῦ χείρονος· καθʼ ὃ καὶ λογικοὶ ἐσμὲν καὶ λεγόμεθα; see Constit. Apost. viii. 12: νόμον δέδωκας ἔμφυτον), nor the so-called inner light of the mystics, nor the gospel “in its subjective form of life” (Lange). The verb δέχεσθαι is opposed to these explanations. James designates the gospel a λόγον ἔμφυτον, inasmuch as it was no longer strange to the hearts of his readers as Christians; also because it was not merely transmitted (Hottinger: ἔμφυτος = traditus), but implanted.[96] The verb δέξασθε does not conflict with this, as the word by which the new birth is effected among Christians is to them ever proclaimed anew, and must by them be ever received anew, in order that the new life may be preserved and increased in them. It is therefore not necessary, against the use of language, to change the idea: verbum quod implantatum or insertum est, into: verbum quod implantatur or inseritur, or to assume here a prolepsis, as is undoubtedly the case in 1 Corinthians 1:8, Php 3:21 (see Meyer in loco), and 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (Lünemann in loco), and with Calvin to explain it: ita suscipite ut vere inseratur (similarly Semler, de Wette,[97] and others). The mode in which the adjective is united with the substantive is opposed to a prolepsis, which would be only imaginable were it said: ΤῸΝ ΛΌΓΟΝ ἜΜΦΥΤΟΝ ΤΑῖς ΚΑΡΔΊΑΙς ὙΜῶΝ, or something similar.

For the strengthening of the exhortation expressed, James annexes to ΤῸΝ ἜΜΦΥΤΟΝ ΛΌΓΟΝ the clause ΤῸΝ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΝΟΝ ΣῶΣΑΙ ΤᾺς ΨΥΧᾺς ὙΜῶΝ, by which, on the one hand, the value of the ΛΌΓΟς is prominently brought forward, and, on the other hand, is indicated what result ought to arise from the hearing of the word. By the verb ΔΥΝΆΜΕΝΟΝ not the freedom of the human will (Serrarius: quod potest salvare, ut arbitrii libertas indicetur), but the power of the word is emphasized; it is, as Paul says, δύναμις Θεοῦ εἰς σωτηρίαν πάντι τῷ πιστεύσντι (Romans 1:16). But if it has this power, man must receive it, and that in a right manner, so that it may prove its efficacy in him and save his soul. It is to be observed that James says this of his readers, whom he had previously designated as born again (Jam 1:18). Thus, according to James, Christians by the new birth do not as yet possess ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ (the future salvation), but its obtainment is conditioned by their conduct.

Instead of ΤᾺς ΨΥΧᾺς ὙΜῶΝ, James might simply have written ὙΜᾶς, but Schneckenburger correctly warns: cave pro mera sumas circumscriptione personalis; animi enim proprie res agitur; see chap. Jam 5:20.

[94] Meyer’s translation: malice (Romans 1:29), malicious disposition (Colossians 3:8), would also not be entirely suitable, but too special. How Luther has understood the idea cannot be determined from his translation wickedness (Boshcit); since he thus constantly renders κακία, it may be taken in a general or in a special sense; the word badness (Schlechtigkeit) does not occur with him.

[95] To the assertion of Lange, that ἀποθέμενοι is not to be rendered putting off, because the reference is not figuratively to the putting off of filthy garments, but removing; the passages Romans 13:12 (ἀποθώμεθαἐνδυσώμεθα) and Ephesians 4:22; Jam 1:21-25 form a self-contained section. By putting away all impurity the “implanted word” can influence the heart; but it is necessary not only to hear the word but also to act in accordance with it.

21. lay apart all filthiness …] The cognate adjective is found in its literal sense in ch. James 2:2, and figuratively in Revelation 22:11. A kindred noun appears in a like combination in “the putting away of the fifth of the flesh” of 1 Peter 3:21 and in the LXX. of Proverbs 30:12. The word points not specifically to what we call “sins of impurity,” but to every form of sin, including the “wrath” of the preceding verse, as defiling the soul.

superfluity of naughtiness] Better, excess of malice, i. e. excess characterised by malice. The English “naughtiness,” though used in the 16th century, as by Latimer and Shakespeare, as equivalent to “sin” or “wickedness,” has gradually lost its sharpness, and has come to be applied almost exclusively to the faults of children. The Greek word, though, like the Latin word from which malice comes, originally generic in its meaning, had come to be associated mainly (as in Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:1) with the sins that have their root in wrath and anger, rather than with those that originate in love of pleasure, and so carries on the sequence of thought.

receive with meekness the engrafted word] The order of the words in the original is more emphatic, but in meekness (as contrasted with wrath and malice) receive ye. The “engrafted word” is that which was before referred to as the instrument by which the new and better life was engendered. The English “engrafted” suggests one process of growth somewhat too definitely, and implanted would be a better rendering. The word is not found elsewhere in the New Testament (the Greek word in Romans 11:17 is more specific), but, like so many of St James’s phrases, appears in the sapiential books of the Apocrypha (Wis 12:10, “their malice was bred in them”). We note the agreement of his teaching with that of the Parable of the Sower, where the Seed is the “Word,” and the conditions of its fertility are found in “the honest and good heart” (Matthew 13:23), free from prejudice and bitterness. Moral discipline, the putting away of that which defiles, is the right preparation for the highest spiritual life.

which is able to save your souls] The words express at once the power, and the limits of the power. There was in the implanted word, taken in its widest sense, the promise and the potency of salvation, yet it did not work as by compulsion or by a charm, but required the co-operation of man’s will. So, later on, St James speaks of God Himself as being “able to save” (chap. James 4:12).

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.

Verse 21. - With the form of expression in this verse, comp. 1 Peter 2:1, "Putting away, therefore, all wickedness (ἀποθέμενοι οῦν πᾶσαν κακίαν), and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil-speakings, as new-born babes long for the spiritual milk," etc. Filthiness (ῤυπαρὶαν). Here only in the New Testament, never in LXX.; but the adjective ῤυπαρός is the word used of the "filthy garments" in Zechariah 3:3, 4 - a narrative which illustrates the passage before us. Karts is not vice in general, but rather that vicious nature which is bent on doing harm to others (see Lightfoot on Colossians 3:8). Thus the two words ῤυπαρία and κακία comprise two classes of sins - the sensual and the malignant, Engrafted; rather, implanted. The word is only found again in Wisd. 12:10, where it signifies "inborn." St. James's teaching here is almost like a reminiscence of the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3, etc.). The "implanted Word" is the gospel teaching. "The seed is the Word of God" (Luke 8:11). James 1:21Filthiness (ῥυπαρίαν)

Only here in New Testament, but James uses the kindred adjective (James 2:2), "vile raiment." Ῥύπος, filth, occurs in 1 Peter 3:21 - on which see notes; and the verb ῥυπόω, to be filthy, is found in Revelation 22:11.

Superfluity of naughtiness (περισσείαν κακίας)

A translation which may be commended to the attention of indiscriminate panegyrists of the A. V. Περισσεία is an unclassical word, and occurs in three other New-Testament passages - Romans 5:17; 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 10:15. In all these it is rendered abundance, both by A. V. and Rev. There seems to be no need of departing from this meaning here, as Rev., overjoying. The sense is abounding or abundant wickedness. For haughtiness Rev. gives wickedness, as in 1 Peter 2:1, 1 Peter 2:16, where it changes malice to wickedness. It is mostly rendered malice in both A. V. and Rev. In this passage, as in the two from Peter, Rev. gives malice, in margin. Malice is an adequate translation, the word denoting a malevolent disposition toward one's neighbor. Hence it is not a general term for moral evil, but a special form of vice. Compare the wrath of man, James 1:20. Naughtiness has acquired a petty sense in popular usage, as of the mischievous pranks of children, which renders it out of the question here.

With meekness (ἐν πραΰ́τητι)

Lit., "in meekness;" opposed to malice.

Engrafted (ἔμφυτον)

Only here in New Testament. Better, and more literally, as Rev., implanted. It marks a characteristic of the word of truth (James 1:18). It is implanted; divinely given, in contrast with something acquired by study. Compare Matthew 13:19, "the word of the kingdom - sown in his heart." Grafted or graffed is expressed by a peculiar word, employed by Paul only, ἐγκεντρίζω, from κέντρον, a sharp point, thus emphasizing the fact of the incision required in grafting. See Romans 11:17, Romans 11:19, Romans 11:23, Romans 11:24.

Which is able to save (τὸν δυνάμενον σῶσαι)

Compare Romans 1:16, "the power of God unto salvation."

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