And one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled.—Is it unlikely, knowing as we do the style of the rugged Apostle, that he was drawing other than from the life? Perhaps it was a scene in his own experience during that very famine foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:28-30).
There would, however, seem to be a worse interpretation of the words, beginning so softly with the Eastern benediction: namely, “Ye are warming and filling yourselves.” It is the rebuke of cool prosperity to importunate adversity: “Why such impatience? God is one, and our Father: He will provide.” No amount of faith could clothe the shivering limbs and still the hunger pangs; what greater mockery than to be taunted with texts and godly precepts, the usual outcome of a spurious and cheap benevolence.
Notwithstanding ye give them not.—The “one of you” in the beginning of the verse, then, was representative of the whole body addressed by St. James; and now by his use of the plural “ye,” we see that no individual was singled out for condemnation: the offence was wider and worse.
(1) That in fact faith is of no more value, and has no more evidence of genuineness when it is unaccompanied with good works, than such empty wishes for the welfare of the poor would be when unaccompanied with the means of relieving their wants. Faith is designed to lead to good works. It is intended to produce a holy life; a life of activity in the service of the Saviour. This is its very essence; it is what it always produces when it is genuine. Religion is not designed to be a cold abstraction; it is to be a living and vivifying principle.
(2) there is a great deal of that kindness and charity in the world which is expressed by mere good wishes. If we really have not the means of relieving the poor and the needy, then the expression of a kind wish may be in itself an alleviation to their sorrows, for even sympathy in such a case is of value, and it is much to us to know that others feel for us; but if we have the means, and the object is a worthy one, then such expressions are mere mockery, and aggravate rather than soothe the feelings of the sufferer. Such wishes will neither clothe nor feed them; and they will only make deeper the sorrows which we ought to heal. But how much of this is there in the world, when the sufferer cannot but feel that all these wishes, however kindly expressed, are hollow and false, and when he cannot but feel that relief would be easy!
(3) in like manner there is much of this same kind of worthless faith in the world - faith that is dead; faith that produces no good works; faith that exerts no practical influence whatever on the life. The individual professes indeed to believe the truths of the gospel; he may be in the church of Christ; he would esteem it a gross calumny to be spoken of as an infidel; but as to any influence which his faith exerts over him, his life would be the same if he had never heard of the gospel. There is not one of the truths of religion which is bodied forth in his life; not a deed to which he is prompted by religion; not an act which could not be accounted for on the supposition that he has no true piety. In such a case, faith may with propriety be said to be dead.
Being alone - Margin, "by itself." The sense is, "being by itself:" that is, destitute of any accompanying fruits or results, it shows that it is dead. That which is alive bodies itself forth, produces effects, makes itself visible; that which is dead produces no effect, and is as if it were not.
one of you—James brings home the case to his hearers individually.
Depart in peace—as if all their wants were satisfied by the mere words addressed to them. The same words in the mouth of Christ, whose faith they said they had, were accompanied by efficient deeds of love.
be … warmed—with clothing, instead of being as heretofore "naked" (Jas 2:15; Job 31:20).
filled—instead of being "destitute of food" (Mt 15:37).
what doth it profit—concluding with the same question as at the beginning, Jas 2:14. Just retribution: kind professions unaccompanied with corresponding acts, as they are of no "profit" to the needy object of them, so are of no profit to the professor himself. So faith consisting in mere profession is unacceptable to God, the object of faith, and profitless to the possessor.Depart in peace; a usual form of salutation, wherein, under the name of peace, they wished all prosperity and happiness to them they greeted, Mark 5:34 Luke 7:50 8:48.
Be ye warmed; i.e. be ye clothed; the warmth here mentioned being such as is procured by clothes, Job 31:20.
And be ye filled, or, satisfied with food; a metaphor from the fatting of cattle with grass or hay. The same word is used, Matthew 14:20 Mark 6:42 Philippians 4:12. These two good wishes answer the two former great wants.
Notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; understand, when yet ye are able to relieve them; for he speaks to the rich, or such as were in a capacity of being helpful to others.
What doth it profit? Either, what do your good words and charitable wishes profit them, without charitable deeds? Or, what do they profit yourselves? Or both may be included: as your fair speeches convey no real good to them, so they bring in no reward to you from God.
Depart in peace; wishing them all prosperity and happiness, inward and outward:
be ye warmed and filled; clothed and fed; signifying, that they wished them all the accommodations of life:
notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body; neither clothes to wear, nor food to eat; nothing to warm their bodies, or fill their bellies:
what doth it profit? the Ethiopic version reads, "what doth it profit them?" either the poor brother, or sister, to whom these good words are given, and nothing else; for these will neither warm them, nor fill them; or the persons themselves, that say these tidings to them: and the apostle, by this instance, shows, that as that charity which lies only in words, and in tongue, and not in deed, and in truth, is unprofitable, and good for nothing, even to them that profess it; so that faith, which a man says he has, and yet is without works, is alike unprofitable unto him.And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Jam 2:16 describes the conduct towards those requiring help.
τις ἐξ ὑμῶν] is to be taken generally, and is not, with Grotius, to be limited to those qui fidem creditis sufficere ad salutem.
The address: ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ] expresses a friendly wish at departure; similar to πορεύεσθε ἐν εἰρήνῃ, Acts 16:36; Jdg 18:6. ὑπάγειν εἰς εἰρήνην (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50, and other places) is somewhat different, where εἰρήνη and ὑπάγειν are not yet conceived as united.
With θερμαίνεσθε with reference to γυμνοί, warming by clothing is specially to be thought of (see Job 31:30; Haggai 1:6); but it is inaccurate to explain the verb itself as equivalent to vestiri (Laurentius, Baumgarten, Pott, Bengel, Gebser, Hottinger, Theile).
θερμαίνεσθε and χορτάζεσθε are not imperatives of the passive, and to be taken in an optative sense (Hottinger: utinam aliquis beneficens vobis vestimenta largiatur; similarly Grotius, Morus, Theile), but imperatives of the middle: Warm yourselves, satisfy yourselves; only thus does the contrast appear pointed and definite; that they are not properly to be considered as commanding, but as exhorting, is of itself evident. The plural μὴ δῶτε δέ is explained from ἐξ ὑμῶν; τὰ ἐπιδήδεια (ἅπ. λεγ.) = τὰ ἀναγκαῖα (Gloss.: τὰ πρὸς τροφὴν ἁρμόδια; Suidas: ἀφορμαὶ εἰς τὸν βίον; see Herod. ii. 174; Thuc. ii. 23; Cicero, Off. i. 8: necessaria vitae praesidia); the things necessary for the support of the body, namely, clothing and food. The question τί τὸ ὄφελος; brings forward that such a sympathy which is χωρὶς ἔργων profits nothing, has no efficacy; to this neither egentibus (Hottinger) nor dicentibus (Gomar, Baumgarten, Semler) is to be supplied.Jam 2:16. ὑπάγετε, θερμαίνεσθε, χορτάζεσθε: these words do not seem to be spoken in irony; this is clear from the τί τὸ ὄφελος. They are spoken in all seriousness, and it is quite possible that those whom the writer is addressing were acting upon a mistaken application of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:25 ff., Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.… Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. It was entirely in accordance with their idea of πίστις that these people should leave to their Heavenly Father what, according to both Jewish and Christian teaching, it was their duty to do.—μὴ δῶτε δὲ: “The plural is often used after an indefinite singular” (Mayor).—τὰ ἐπιτήδεια τοῦ σώματος: only here in the N.T., but often found in classical writers; Mayor gives instances.—τί τὸ ὄφελος: in the earlier passage in which this phrase occurs there is no question of irony, it is a direct fallacy which is being combated; in this verse, too, the writer is correcting a mistaken idea, this comes out clearly in the next verse.16. Depart in peace] The phrase was one of familiar benediction, and had been used by our Lord to those who came to Him seeking bodily or spiritual healing (Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48; Acts 16:36). It would naturally only be used where such wants, if they existed, had been, or were going to be, relieved.
be ye warmed and filled] The first verb refers obviously to the naked, the second to those who are destitute of food. The Greek verbs may be either in the imperative or indicative, “Get yourselves warmed and filled,” or “Ye are warming and filling yourselves.” The former is the more generally received interpretation, and represents the kind of benevolence which shews itself in good advice. The idea of mere good wishes is excluded by the use, on this assumption, of the imperative. It may perhaps, however, be questioned whether the indicative does not give a preferable meaning. The man whose faith was only the acceptance and the utterance of a dogma, was mocking the souls of others when he said “God is One—God is your Father,” as much as if he said to the naked or hungry, “Ye are being warmed or filled.” No amount of faith on their part could turn that mockery of a feast into a reality, unless they had the food and clothing they needed; and the man who gave a bare dogma to men without the reality of love, was mocking them,—yes, and cheating himself,—in much the same manner.
notwithstanding ye give them not] Better, and ye give them not. The change to the plural generalises the individual case presented in “one of you.”Jam 2:16. Ἐξ ὑμῶν, of you) This tacit appeal to the judgment of his readers makes the Apodosis more forcible.—ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ, Go in peace) A form of repulse even now in use: God help you, that is, expect no help from me.—θερμαίνεσθε καὶ χορτάζεσθε, be ye warm and filled) This is good and courteous advice, if it were realised, so that there were at hand clothing to warm, and food to satisfy.Verse 16. - Depart in peace (ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ); cf. Acts 16:36. This is something quite different from the fullness of our Lord's benediction, "Go into peace (ὕπαγε εἰς εἰρήνην)" (Mark 5:34; cf. Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48).
Be filled (χορτάζεσθε)
See on Matthew 5:6.
Those things which are needful (τὰ ἐπιτήδεια)
Only here in New Testament.
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