James 3:16
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion.—Where emulation, zeal, and rivalry exist, there also are sedition, anarchy, restless disturbance, and every villainous act. The whole state is evil, and utterly contrary to the rule of the Gospel—

“For words and names let angry zealots fight:

Whose life is in the wrong can ne’er be right.”

3:13-18 These verses show the difference between men's pretending to be wise, and their being really so. He who thinks well, or he who talks well, is not wise in the sense of the Scripture, if he does not live and act well. True wisdom may be know by the meekness of the spirit and temper. Those who live in malice, envy, and contention, live in confusion; and are liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such wisdom comes not down from above, but springs up from earthly principles, acts on earthly motives, and is intent on serving earthly purposes. Those who are lifted up with such wisdom, described by the apostle James, is near to the Christian love, described by the apostle Paul; and both are so described that every man may fully prove the reality of his attainments in them. It has no disguise or deceit. It cannot fall in with those managements the world counts wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere, and open, and steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself. May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy shown in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness abounding in our lives, prove that God has bestowed upon us this excellent gift.For where envying and strife is, there is confusion - Margin, tumult or unquietness. Everything is unsettled and agitated. There is no mutual confidence; there is no union of plan and effort; there is no co-operation in promoting a common object; there is no stability in any plan; for a purpose, though for good, formed by one portion, is defeated by another.

And every evil work - Of the truth of this no one can have any doubt who has observed the effects in a family or neighborhood where a spirit of strife prevails. All love and harmony of course are banished; all happiness disappears; all prosperity is at an end. In place of the peaceful virtues which ought to prevail, there springs up every evil passion that tends to mar the peace of a community. Where this spirit prevails in a church, it is of course impossible to expect any progress in divine things; and in such a church any effort to do good is vain.

"The Spirit, like a peaceful dove,

Flies from the realms of noise and strife."

16. envying—So English Version translates the Greek, which usually means "zeal"; "emulation," in Ro 13:13. "The envious man stands in his own light. He thinks his candle cannot shine in the presence of another's sun. He aims directly at men, obliquely at God, who makes men to differ."

strife—rivalry [Alford].

confusion—literally, "tumultuous anarchy": both in society (translated "commotions," Lu 21:9; "tumults," 2Co 6:5), and in the individual mind; in contrast to the "peaceable" composure of true "wisdom," Jas 3:17. James does not honor such effects of this earthly wisdom with the name "fruit," as he does in the case of the wisdom from above. Jas 3:18; compare Ga 5:19-22, "works of the flesh … fruit of the Spirit."

For where envying and strife is; the usual companions of this devilish wisdom.

There is confusion; or, inconsistency, viz. both with man’s self and others; envy makes him unqniet in himself, and troublesome to others, by causing contentions and seditions among them, and breaking their peace, as well as his own.

And every evil work; all manner of wickedness is ushered in by this confusion and sedition.

For where envying and strife is,.... Where these are cherished in the heart, and especially where they break out into action, in families, neighbourhoods, states, or churches:

there is confusion and every evil work; these occasion disturbances, raise uneasiness, make disquietude, and cause tumults whenever they appear; and put persons upon doing everything that is wicked, to gratify such insatiable lusts.

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jam 3:16. Reason of the judgment expressed in Jam 3:15. With the introductory words: ὅπου γὰρ ζῆλος καὶ ἐριθεία, James points back to Jam 3:14; with the following words: ἐκεῖ κ.τ.λ., he names the fruit of ζῆλος and ἐριθεία; these are ἀκαταστασία and πᾶν φαῦλον πρᾶγμα; ἀκαταστασία] is uproar, disorder; comp. Proverbs 26:28; στόμα ἄστεγον ποιεῖ ἀκαταστασίας. An uproarious disorderly nature proceeds not from God: οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἀκαταστασίας ὁ Θεὸς, ἀλλ ̓ εἰρήνης, 1 Corinthians 14:33.

To this special idea, which is particularly brought forward on account of the condition of those to whom James writes, the general idea: every evil deed, is added, in order to lay stress on the fact that zeal and partisanship bring along with them the corruption of the whole moral life. Of a wisdom which effects this, it must naturally hold good what is said of it in Jam 3:15.

The supposition of Kern (Tüb. Zeitschr. 1835, II. 59), to which de Wette assents, that the here presupposed controversies between Jewish and Gentile Christians are alluded to, is properly rejected by Brückner.

Jam 3:16. πᾶν φαῦλον πρᾶγμα: this sums up the matter; cf. John 3:20, πᾶς γὰρ ὁ φαῦλα πράσσων μισεῖ τὸ φῶς, and with this one might compare again the words in our Epistle, Jam 1:17, πᾶσα δόσις ἀγαθὴἄνωθέν ἐστιν καταβαῖνον ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς τῶν φώτων.

16. envying and strife] Better, as before, envy and rivalry. See note on James 3:14.

there is confusion and every evil work] On the first word see note on James 3:8. It describes here the chaotic turbulence of such an assembly as that indicated in the preceding verse. Comp. Proverbs 26:28, where the Greek word in the LXX. answers to the “ruin” of the English version. The word for “evil” is not the common one, and expresses contempt as well as condemnation. Better, every vile deed. It is the word used in John 3:20; John 5:29.

Jam 3:16. Ἐκεῖ ἀπαταστασια, there [is] confusion) contrary to peace, Jam 3:17. What is the character of that wisdom, is known by the effect. James thinks it unworthy of the name of fruit. Comp. Jam 3:17-18.—πᾶν φαῦλον πρᾶγμα, every evil work) The force of the word every, is plain, if the sentence is thus put: Every work which arises from that source is evil. The antithesis is, full of mercy and of good fruits, etc.

Verse 16 substantiates the assertion just made in ver. 15. Render, as in ver. 14, jealousy and faction. Ἀκαταστασία: confusion, of which God is not the author (1 Corinthians 14:33). James 3:16Confusion (ἀκαταστασία)

See on restless, James 3:8.

Evil (φαῦλον)

An inadequate rendering, because it fails to bring out the particular phase of evil which is dominant in the word: worthlessness, good-for-nothingness. In classical Greek it has the meanings slight, trivial, paltry, which run into bad. In the New Testament it appears in this latest stage, and is set over against good. See John 3:20; John 5:29; Titus 2:8. Rev., vile, which, according to its etymology, Lat., vilis, follows the same process of development from cheap, or paltry, to bad.

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