James 2:7
Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which you are called?
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(7) Do not they blaspheme . . .—To “blaspheme” is to hurt with the tongue, and includes all manner of evil speech; but a more exclusive use of the word is with regard to things divine, and particularly the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31). A moment’s reflection will show, unhappily, that this is alluded to in the text.

That worthy name by the which ye are called?—Better, that good, that glorious Name which was invoiced (or, called) over you—viz., at baptism. “Into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19) had all been baptised who were thus addressed; but most probably the Second Person of the Trinity is referred to here. And it was the scorn and contempt visited upon His Name, which changed the mere abuse and ribaldry into a perilous likeness to the deadliest sin. Most commentators thus restrict the Name here to that of Christ. If their view be correct, the blasphemy would probably be linked with that epithet of “Christian”—then so dishonourable—coined, we are told, first in Antioch (Acts 11:26). But there were far more insulting terms found for the poor and struggling believer—“Nazarene,” “Atheist,” and even worse.

2:1-13 Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.Do they not blaspheme that worthy name? - This is another argument to show that the rich had no special claim to the honor which they were disposed to show them. The "worthy name" here referred to is, doubtless, the name of the Saviour. The thing here affirmed would, of course, accompany persecution. They who persecuted Christians, would revile the name which they bore. This has always occurred. But besides this, it is no improbable supposition that many of those who were not disposed to engage in open persecution, would revile the name of Christ, by speaking contemptuously of him and his religion. This has been sufficiently common in every age of the world, to make the description here not improper. And yet nothing has been more remarkable than the very thing adverted to here by James, that notwithstanding this, many who profess to be Christians have been more disposed to treat even such persons with respect and attention than they have their own brethren, if they were poor; that they have cultivated the favor, sought the friendship, desired the smiles, aped the manners, and coveted the society of such persons, rather than the friendship and the favor of their poorer Christian brethren. Even though they are known to despise religion in their hearts, and not to be sparing of their words of reproach and scorn towards Christianity; though they are known to be blasphemers, and to have the most thorough contempt for serious, spiritual religion, yet there is many a professing Christian who would prefer to be at a party given by such persons than at a prayer-meeting where their poorer brethren are assembled; who would rather be known by the world to be the associates and friends of such persons, than of those humble believers who can make no boast of rank or wealth, and who are looked down upon with contempt by the great and the gay. 7. "Is it not they that blaspheme?" &c. as in Jas 2:6 [Alford]. Rich heathen must here chiefly be meant; for none others would directly blaspheme the name of Christ. Only indirectly rich Christians can be meant, who, by their inconsistency, caused His name to be blasphemed; so Eze 36:21, 22; Ro 2:24. Besides, there were few rich Jewish Christians at Jerusalem (Ro 15:26). They who dishonor God's name by wilful and habitual sin, "take (or bear) the Lord's name in vain" (compare Pr 30:9, with Ex 20:7).

that worthy name—which is "good before the Lord's saints" (Ps 52:9; 54:6); which ye pray may be "hallowed" (Mt 6:9), and "by which ye are called," literally, "which was invoked" or, "called upon by you" (compare Ge 48:16; Isa 4:1, Margin; Ac 15:17), so that at your baptism "into the name" (so the Greek, Mt 28:19) of Christ, ye became Christ's people (1Co 3:23).

Do not they blaspheme? If the rich here spoken of were Christians, then they may be said to blaspheme Christ’s name, when by their wicked carriage they caused it to be blasphemed by others, unbelievers, among whom they were, Romans 2:24 Titus 2:5, &c.; 1 Timothy 6:1: but if rich unbelievers be here meant, the rich men of those times being generally great enemies to Christianity; he would from thence show how mean a consideration riches were, to incline the professors of religion to such partiality as he taxeth them for.

That worthy name; or, good or honourable (as good place, Jam 2:3, for honourable) name of Christ; they blaspheme what they should adore.

By the which ye are called; or, which is called upon you, either, which was called upon over you, when you were baptized into it; or rather it is a Hebrew phrase, and, implies no more than (as we read it) their being called by it, as children are after their fathers, and wives after their husbands, Genesis 48:16 Isaiah 4:1; for so God’s people are called by his name, Deu 28:10 Ephesians 3:15. Of Christ, or Christians;

by the which ye are called? and which, as before, may design either unbelieving rich men, whether among Jews, or Gentiles, who blasphemed and cursed the name of Christ, and compelled others to do so likewise; or such who professed the Christian religion, who by their supercilious and disdainful treatment of their poor brethren, and by their dragging of them to the tribunals of the Heathens, and distressing them with vexatious law suits there, caused the name of Christ, after which they were called Christians, to be blasphemed and evil spoken of, among the Gentiles.

Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are {e} called?

(e) Literally, which is called upon of you.

Jam 2:7. The description of the conduct of the rich is still continued; they not only do violence to Christians, but they even revile the holy name of Christ. Do they not (even) blaspheme that fair name which has been called upon you? The pronoun αὐτοί is put here as in Jam 2:6; incorrectly Theile = hi potissimum.

The expression τὸ ὄνομα ἐπικαλεῖται ἐπί τινα] is borrowed from the O. T., where it often occurs, and in the sense that one becomes the property of him whose name is called upon him; particularly it is said of Israel that the name of God was called upon them; see Deuteronomy 28:10 (where instead of ἐπί the dative is put); 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 14:9; Jeremiah 15:16; Amos 9:12; see also Genesis 48:16; Isaiah 4:1. Accordingly, by the name which is called upon Christians is not meant the Christian name (Hensler: nomen fratrum et sororum), also not the name πτωχοί, but the name of Him only to whom they as Christians belong—the name of Christ (de Wette, Wiesinger, Bouman, Lange, and others); from which, however, it does not follow (as Wiesinger correctly observes) that James here alludes to the name Χριστιανοί.

By the addition of the attribute καλόν the shamefulness of βλασφημεῖν is still more strongly marked.

In support of the hypothesis that the rich are Christians, many expositors (also Brückner and Wiesinger) here arbitrarily explain βλασφημεῖν of indirect blasphemy, i.e. of such as takes place not by words, but by works; but βλασφημεῖν is never thus used in the Holy Scriptures; not one of the passages which Wiesinger cites proves that for which he adduces them; βλασφημεῖν always denotes blasphemy by word.[119]

This word also proves that the rich who are not Christians are here meant (thus also Lange, who, however, will understand particularly the Judaists); which is also evident, because James otherwise would rather have written τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφʼ αὐτούς instead of τὸ ἐπικλ. ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς.

By the thought in this verse James indicates that Christians, by showing partiality to the rich, not only acted foolishly, but were guilty of a violation of the respect due to the name of Christ.

[119] Were it here asserted that the blaspheming of the name of God or of Christ was occasioned by the wicked works of Jews or Christians, this would be indicated not by the active verb, but by the passive with διά; see Romans 2:24; Titus 2:5; 2 Peter 2:2; Isaiah 52:5. Moreover, even then blasphemy (namely, of the Gentiles) could only be expressed by words.Jam 2:7. βλασφημοῦσιν: for the force of the word cf. Sir 3:16, ὡς βλάσφημος ὁ ἐγκαταλιπὼν (the Greek is certainly wrong here, the Hebrew has בוזה, “he that despiseth”) πατέρα. Cf. Romans 2:24, τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ διʼ ὑμᾶς βλασφημεῖται ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν (Isaiah 52:5); the word in the N.T. is sometimes general in its application, of evil speaking with regard to men (in the Apoc. of Peter the phrase, οἱ βλασφημοῦντες τὴν ὁδὸν τῆς δικαιοσύνης occurs twice, 7, 13); at other times, specifically with reference to God or our Lord.—τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς: the name here (especially in view of καλόν) must be “Jesus” (Saviour), for the Jews would not be likely to have blasphemed the name of “Christ” (Messiah); in Acts 4:10-12 it is also the name of “Jesus,” concerning which St. Peter says: Neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. τὸ ἐπικλ. ἐφ. ὑμ. is a Hebraism, in Amos 9:12 we have: יאשׁר נקרא שׁמי עליהם which the R.V. renders (incorrectly): “which are called by my name,” it should be: “Over whom my name was called,” as rendered by the Septuagint, excepting that it repeats itself unnecessarily, ἐφʼ οὒς ἐπικέκληται τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπʼ αὐτούς. The Peshiṭtâ, too, has, שמא טבא דאתקרי so that the R.V. rendering here is incorrect, though the margin has “which was called upon you”. The idea which the phrase expresses is very ancient; a possession was known by the name of the possessor (originally always a god), this was the name which was pronounced over, or concerning, the land; in the same way, a slave was known under the name of his master, it was the name under whose protection he stood. And so also different peoples were ranged under the names of special gods; this usage was the same among the Israelites, who stood under the protection of Jahwe—the name and the bearer were of course not differentiated. This, too, is the meaning here; it does not mean the name that they bore, or were called by, but the name under whose protection they stood, and to which they belonged Parallel to it was the marking of cattle to denote ownership. (See, in reference to what has been said, Deuteronomy 28:10; 2 Samuel 12:28; Jeremiah 7:10). In the passage before us there is not necessarily any reference to Baptism, though it is extremely probable that this is so; Mayor quotes Hermas, Sim. ix. 16, πρὶν φορέσαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ νεκρός ἐστιν· ὅταν δὲ λάβῃ τὴν σφραγῖδα (baptism) ἀποτίθεται τὴν νέκρωσιν καὶ. ἀναλαμβάνει τὴν ζωήν. Resch (op cit. p. 193) quotes a very interesting passage from Agathangelus, chap. 73, in which these words occur: … καὶ εἰπὼν ὅτι τὸ ὄνομά μου ἐπικέκληται ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ ναὸς τῆς θεότητός μου. In the passage before us, the omission of all mention of the name, which would have come in very naturally, betrays Jewish usage; as Taylor truly remarks (Pirqe Aboth., p. 66): “A feeling of reverence leads the Jews to avoid, as far as possible, all mention of the Names of God. This feeling is manifested … in their post-canonical literature, even with regard to less sacred, and not incommunicable Divine names. In the Talmud and Midrash, and (with the exception of the Prayer Books) in the Rabbinic writings generally, it is the custom to abstain from using the Biblical names of God, excepting in citations from the Bible; and even when Elohim is necessarily brought in, it is often intentionally misspelt …” It should be noted that this phrase only occurs once elsewhere in the N.T., and there in a quotation from the O.T., quoted by St. James in Acts 15:17.7. Do not they blaspheme that worthy name] Better, Do not they revile that noble Name? The pronoun is again emphatic, Is it not they that revile? The two senses of the Greek verb, the reviling which has man for its object, and the blasphemy, in its modern sense, which is directed against God, are in this instance so closely mingled that it is difficult to say which predominates. Men reviled Christ as a deceiver, and in so doing were, not knowing what they did, blaspheming the Son of God. The Name can be none other than that of Jesus as the Christ, and the epithet attached to it, “which is given you, or called upon you,” is best explained as referring to the name of Christian, which was beginning to spread from Antioch into Palestine (Acts 11:26). Where it had not yet found its way, it was probable enough that the disciples of Jesus would be known by the name out of which “Christian” sprang, as οἱ Χριστοῦ, “Christ’s people,” “Christ’s followers.” The description reminds us of the account St Paul gives of his work in compelling the saints to “blaspheme” (Acts 26:11). The persecution in which he thus took part was instigated, it will be remembered, by the Sadducean priests, who formed a wealthy aristocracy, rather than by the more cautious Pharisees, who adopted the policy of Gamaliel (Acts 5:17; Acts 5:34).Jam 2:7. Βλασφημοῦσι, blaspheme) Proverbs 30:9. The apostle is speaking chiefly of rich heathens. Comp. 1 Peter 4:14; 1 Peter 2:12. For there were not many rich men among the Jews, at any rate at Jerusalem.—τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα, the good name) השם, the name of God, to be praised above all things, בי טוב, since it is good, and His good name.—τὸ ἐπικὶηθὲν ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς, which is invoked over you) from which ye are called the people of God. There is a similar expression, Genesis 48:16; Isaiah 4:1.Verse 7. - That worthy Name (τὸ καλὸν ὄνομα); the honorable Name; probably the Name of Christ, by which the disciples were known (Acts 11:26), and for which they suffered (Acts 5:41; 1 Peter 5:14-16). By the which ye are called; literally, which was called upon you (τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφ ὑμᾶς). A similar expression is found in St. James's speech in Acts 15:17, in a quotation from Amos 9:12. They (αὐτοὶ)

Emphatic. "Is it not they who blaspheme?"

Worthy (καλὸν)

Rev., better, because stronger, honorable. By this epithet the disgracefulness of the blasphemy is emphasized.

By the which ye are called (τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφ' ὑμᾶς)

Lit., which is called upon you; the name of Christ, invoked in baptism. The phrase is an Old-Testament one. See Deuteronomy 28:10, where the Septuagint reads that the name of the Lord has been called upon race. Also, 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 4:1. Compare Acts 15:17.

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