James 3:9
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
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(9) Therewith bless we God, even the Father.—A strange reading of this verse in the more ancient manuscripts makes it, Therewith bless we the Lord and Father. And it may serve to remind us of the oneness of our God, that thus He may be termed Lord and Saviour. His worship and praise are, as explained under James 3:6, the right use of the tongue; but, most inconsistently, therewith curse we men which have been made in the image, after the similitude, of God. See Ps. 1. 16-23, with its final words of warning to the wicked, and praise “to him that ordereth his conversation right.”

The “likeness of God” assuredly remains in the most abandoned and fallen; and to curse it is to invoke the wrath of its Creator. What then can be urged in defence of anathemas and fulminations of councils, or the mutual execrations of sects and schisms, in the light of these solemn words? “Though they curse, yet bless thou . . . and let them cover themselves with their own confusion” (Psalm 109:28-29).

James 3:9-10. Therewith bless we God — That is, therewith mankind bless God; for the apostle, as appears from the next clause, did not speak of himself particularly, or of his fellow-apostles, or even of true private Christians, who certainly do not curse men. Perhaps in this last clause he glanced at the unconverted Jews, who often cursed the Christians bitterly in their synagogues. Made after the similitude of God — Which we have indeed now lost, but yet there remains from thence an indelible nobleness, which we ought to reverence, both in ourselves and others. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing — And the same tongue is often the instrument of expressing both; and “too frequently,” says Doddridge, “when the act of devotion is over, the act of slander, or outrage and insult, commences.” My brethren, these things ought not so to be — At least among those who profess Christianity; it is a shame that any such thing should be found in human nature; and it is a still greater shame that any thing of the kind should be practised by any that profess to be the disciples of Him who was manifested to destroy the works of the devil.

3:1-12 We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion by the tongues of men. Every age of the world, and every condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this. Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed in sinful ways, they are set on fire of hell. No man can tame the tongue without Divine grace and assistance. The apostle does not represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. Other sins decay with age, this many times gets worse; we grow more froward and fretful, as natural strength decays, and the days come on in which we have no pleasure. When other sins are tamed and subdued by the infirmities of age, the spirit often grows more tart, nature being drawn down to the dregs, and the words used become more passionate. That man's tongue confutes itself, which at one time pretends to adore the perfections of God, and to refer all things to him; and at another time condemns even good men, if they do not use the same words and expressions. True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart; and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another. But facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their tongues. Then, depending on Divine grace, let us take heed to bless and curse not; and let us aim to be consistent in our words and actions.Therewith bless we God - We men do this; that is, all this is done by the tongue. The apostle does not mean that the same man does this, but that all this is done by the same organ - the tongue.

Even the Father - Who sustains to us the relation of a father. The point in the remark of the apostle is, the absurdity of employing the tongue in such contradictory uses as to bless one who has to us the relation of a father, and to curse any being, especially those who are made in his image. The word bless here is used in the sense of praise, thank, worship.

And therewith curse we men - That is, it is done by the same organ by which God is praised and honored.

Which are made after the similitude of God - After his image, Genesis 1:26-27. As we bless God, we ought with the same organ to bless those who are like him. There is an absurdity in cursing men who are thus made, like what there would be in both blessing and cursing the Creator himself.

9. God—The oldest authorities read, "Lord." "Him who is Lord and Father." The uncommonness of the application of "Lord" to the Father, doubtless caused the change in modern texts to "God" (Jas 1:27). But as Messiah is called "Father," Isa 9:6, so God the Father is called by the Son's title, "Lord": showing the unity of the Godhead. "Father" implies His paternal love; "Lord," His dominion.

men, which—not "men who"; for what is meant is not particular men, but men genetically [Alford].

are made after … similitude of God—Though in a great measure man has lost the likeness of God in which he was originally made, yet enough of it still remains to show what once it was, and what in regenerated and restored man it shall be. We ought to reverence this remnant and earnest of what man shall be in ourselves and in others. "Absalom has fallen from his father's favor, but the people still recognize him to be the king's son" [Bengel]. Man resembles in humanity the Son of man, "the express image of His person" (Heb 1:3), compare Ge 1:26; 1Jo 4:20. In the passage, Ge 1:26, "image" and "likeness" are distinct: "image," according to the Alexandrians, was something in which men were created, being common to all, and continuing to man after the fall, while the "likeness" was something toward which man was created, to strive after and attain it: the former marks man's physical and intellectual, the latter his moral pre-eminence.

Therewith bless we God; pray, and speak well of God.

Even the Father; of Christ, and in him of all true believers.

And therewith curse we men; rail on, revile, speak evil of, as well as wish evil to.

Which are made after the similitude of God; either:

1. Saints in whom God’s image is anew restored; or rather:

2. Men more generally, who, though they have lost that spiritual knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness in which that image of God, after which man was created, principally consists; yet still have some relics of his image continuing in them.

This is added to aggravate the sin; speaking evil of men made after God’s image, is speaking evil of God obliquely, and by reflection.

Therewith bless we God, even, the Father,.... Of Jesus Christ, and of spirits, and of mercies: this is the instrument that is used in blessing God daily every meal that is eaten; and in joining with the saints, though only verbally and outwardly, in blessing God for all spiritual blessings in Christ, both in prayer, and in singing psalms:

and therewith curse we men: make imprecations, and wish evils upon them:

which are made after the similitude of God as man was originally, Genesis 1:26 and though sin has greatly defaced it, yet there are still some remains of it: and now, what an absurd and monstrous thing is this, that one and the same instrument should be used in blessing God, the Father of all creatures, and in cursing his children, his offering, as all men are by creation, and bear some resemblance to him.

{6} Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the {7} similitude of God.

(6) Among other faults of the tongue, the apostle chiefly reproves slandering and speaking evil of our neighbours, even in those especially who otherwise will seem godly and religious.

(7) He denies by two reasons, that God can be praised by the man who uses cursed speaking, or slandering: first because man is the image of God and whoever does not reverence him, does not honour God.

are closely connected with the foregoing; but not as if “the unstedfastness of the tongue is further described” (de Wette), nor as if the duplicity of the tongue is added as a new point (Lange), but for the purpose of prominently showing how the tongue, although it praises God, yet proves itself to be an ἀκατάστατον κάκον, μεστὴ τοῦ θανατ

Jam 3:9-10 are closely connected with the foregoing; but not as if “the unstedfastness of the tongue is further described” (de Wette), nor as if the duplicity of the tongue is added as a new point (Lange), but for the purpose of prominently showing how the tongue, although it praises God, yet proves itself to be an ἀκατάστατον κάκον, μεστὴ τοῦ θανατ. It is to be observed that this expression, as the first person plural shows, refers to Christians among whom the εὐλογεῖν τὸν κύριον occurs. James does not hesitate to include himself, knowing that naturally he was entirely the same as others.[177] James first places beside each other, by a simple copulative conjunction, the two contradictory acts which man performs by the tongue, namely, the εὐλογεῖν τὸν κύριον and the καταρᾶσθαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. The preposition ἐν is instrumental, as in Luke 22:29 and elsewhere. By the repetition of ἐν αὐτῇ in the second clause, the antithesis is yet more strongly marked. εὐλογεῖν and καταρᾶσθαι are correlate expressions, since the former, as the translation of the Hebrew בֵּרֵךְ, has properly the meaning “to bless;” in reference to God, as here, it means laudibus celebrare, to praise; comp. Psalm 145:21, and other passages.

The combination of τὸν κύριον καὶ πατέρα (instead of the Rec. ΤῸΝ ΘΕῸΝ Κ. Π.) as a designation of God (for by ΚΎΡΙΟς is not here to be understood Christ) is unusual; comp. chap. Jam 1:27. This twofold name designates God on the side of His power and on the side of His love (comp. Matthew 11:25).

In the second clause the important description: ΤΟῪς ΚΑΘʼ ὉΜΟΊΩΣΙΝ ΘΕΟῦ ΓΕΓΟΝΌΤΑς, is annexed to ΤΟῪς ἈΝΘΡΏΠΟΥς, by which the contradiction of the action described still more pointedly appears. The thought and expression agree with Genesis 1:26. Also, according to this, sinful man is still a being created after the image of God. Were the expression merely to be referred to what man originally was, but which he has ceased to be, the point of James’ saying would be broken. Bengel correctly observes: remanet nobilitas indelebilis. Benson, Pott, Gebser, and Semler arbitrarily restrict the contents of this verse to the conduct of those who set themselves up as teachers.[178]

[177] Lange finds a difficulty in James including himself, “which is to be solved either by taking the second clause as a question expressive of surprise, or by hearing James speak as the representative of his people in the name of the guilty people.” But both suppositions are equally impossible; the context contradicts the first, and the fact that James could have no reason to consider himself as the representative of the Jewish people contradicts the second.

[178] Semler’s view is very strange: hi inter publicas Dei laudes, etiam exsecrationes et tristia omnia praeibant in Romanis! It is equally a mistake when Lange refers the expression chiefly to Christians, and specially to Jewish Christians, “in whom the likeness of God, that is, the actuality and visibility of the image, has reappeared.

Jam 3:9. ἐν αὐτῇ: this is Hebrew usage, cf. εἰ πατάξομεν ἐν μαχαίρῃ, Luke 22:49; ἀποκτεῖναι ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ, Revelation 6:8.—εὐλογοῦμεν: this use is Hellenistic. Both in speaking and writing the Jews always added the words ברו־ הוא (“Blessed [be] He”) after the name of God; cf. Mark 14:61, where ὁ εὐλογητός is used in reference to God.—τὸν Κύριον καὶ πατέρα: the reading Κύριον can scarcely be right; Θεόν is not, it is true, well attested (see critical note), but it is required on account of the καθʼ ὁμοίωσιν Θεοῦ; neither the combination τὸν θεὸν καὶ πατέρα nor τὸν Κύριον καὶ πατέρα is in accordance with ordinary Jewish usage; the exact phrase does not occur in the Bible elsewhere, the nearest approach being Tob 13:4, … καὶ Θεὸς αὐτὸς πατὴρ ἡμῶν εἰς πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας. Cf. Isaiah 63:16, σὺ Κύριε πατὴρ ἡμῶν, and 1 Chronicles 29:10, εὐλογητὸς εἶ, Κύριε, ὁ Θεὸς Ἰσραὴλ, ὁ Πατὴρ ἡμῶν. Although the Jews frequently speak of God as “Father,” it is usually in a different combination, probably the most usual being “Our Father” alone, or “Our Father and King”; in the great prayer called the “Shemôneh ‘Esreh” (“Eighteen” [Nineteen] Blessings), which was formulated in its final form about the year 110 A.D., each of the forty-four petitions which it contains begins with the words: Abinu Malkênu[58] (“Our Father, our King”). Πατήρ is always used in reference to God in order to emphasise the divine love; and in the passage before us a contrast is undoubtedly implied between the love of the Father towards all His children, and the mutual hatred among these latter.—f1καταρώμεθα: this word shows that the special sin of the tongue which is here referred to is not slander or backbiting or lying, but personal abuse, such as results from loss of temper in heated controversy. Cf. Romans 12:13, εὐλογεῖτε καὶ μὴ καταρᾶσθε, and see the very appropriate passage in the Test. of the Twelve Patriarchs, Benj. 6:5, ἡ ἀγαθὴ διάνοια οὐκ ἔχει δύο γλώσσας εὐλογίας καὶ κατάρας.—τοὺς καθʼ ὁμοίωσιν Θεοῦ γεγονότας: quoted, apparently from memory, from Genesis 1:26, where the Septuagint reads, κατʼ εἰκόνα ἡμετέραν καὶ καθʼ ὁμοίωσιν; the Hebrew דמות (ὁμοίωσις) is synonymous with צלם (εἰκών). The belief that men are made in the material likeness of God is taught both in Biblical and post-Biblical Jewish literature; philosophers like Philo would naturally seek to modify this. An interesting passage which reminds one of this verse is quoted by Knowling from Bereshith, R. xxiv., Rabbi Akiba (born in the middle of the first century A.D.), in commenting on Genesis 9:6, said: “Whoso sheddeth blood, it is reckoned to him as if he diminished the likeness”; then referring presently to Leviticus 19:18 (Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself), he continues, “Do not say: ‘after that I am despised, let my neighbour also be despised’. R. Tanchuma said, ‘If you do so, understand that you despise him of whom it was written, in the likeness of God made He him’.” The lesson is that he who curses him who was made in the image of God implicitly curses the prototype as well.

[58] To be distinguished from the “Abinu Malkênu” prayer used in the penitential portion of the Jewish Liturgy.

9. Therewith bless we God, even the Father …] Many of the better MSS. give “the Lord” instead of “God”. The fact dwelt on comes in to illustrate the strange inconsistency, even of men who professed faith in God, in their use of speech. General as the words are, they pointed, we may believe, especially to the feelings of Jews towards Christians, or of the more bigoted section of Jewish Christians towards the Gentiles. Such men were loud in their benedictions of the Eternal, the Blessed One, yet they had not learnt to reverence humanity as such, as made after the likeness of God. They cursed those who worshipped or believed after a different manner from their own. The annals of Christendom shew that the necessity for the warning has not passed away. Councils formulating the faith, and uttering their curses on heretics; Te Deums chanted at an Auto da Fè, or after a Massacre of St Bartholomew, the railings of religious parties who are restrained from other modes of warfare, present the same melancholy inconsistency.

Jam 3:9. Ἐν αὐτῇκαὶ ἐν αὐτῇ, with this itselfand with this itself) A very expressive phrase.—Θεὸν) God. Κύριον, Lord[39]) is the reading of the Alexandrian, Colbertinus 7, and Syriac texts. Baumgarten acknowledges the error; for God and Father is a common title, but not Lord and Father; but he adds the ancient Vulgate or Italian Version. In the Reutling. M.S. it is so read; for the copyists frequently use the name of God and Lord, without distinction; but the other Latin Manuscripts, with one consent, read God (wherefore many of them also omit the particle et, which immediately follows), and thus Cassioderus, in his Conplexiones, and more fully in the preface to his Commentary on the Psalms.—καὶ πατέρα) Baumgarten remarks, on the authority of Mill, δὲ is wanting in the Arabic and Æthiopic Versions.—γεγονότας) The Alexandrian and Colbertinus 7, read γεγεννημένους;[40] and, in addition, notice that ΔῈ is to be read for ΚΑῚ. Mill also reads καὶ: Kuster, δὲ. The latter also reads ΓΕΓΕΝΗΜΈΝΟΥς with a single Ν.—ΚΑΘ ̓ ὉΜΟΊΩΣΙΝ ΘΕΟῦ, after the likeness of God) We have lost the likeness of God: there remains however from that source a nobleness which cannot be destroyed, and this we ought to reverence both in ourselves and in others. Moreover, we have remained men, capable, by the Divine blessing, of being formed again after that likeness, to which the likeness of man ought to be conformed. They who curse, hinder that effect. Absalom has fallen from the favour of his father, but the people still recognise him to be the king’s son.

[39] ABC Vulg. Syr. Memph. read Κύριον. Rec. Text reads θεὸν with MSS. of Vulg. and later Syr., but no other very old authority.—E.

[40] But BC read γεγονότας.—E.

Verses 9, 10. - Examples of the restless character of the tongue: "With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it too we curse men who are made in his image." In the first clause we should read Κύριον (א, A, B, C, Coptic, Syriac, ff, and some manuscripts of the Vulgate) for Θεόν (Receptus, with K, L, and Vulgate). Made after the similitude of God; better, likeness (ὁμοίωσις). The words, which are taken from Genesis 1:26 (καὶ εῖπεν ὁ Θεὸς ποιήσωμεν ἄνθρωπον κατ εἰκόνα ἡμετέραν καὶ καθ ὁμοιώσιν) are added to show the greatness of the sin. Theologically they are important, as showing that the "likeness of God" in man (in whatever it may consist) was not entirely obliterated by the Fall. St. James's words would be meaningless if only Adam had been created in the image and likeness of God. So St. Paul speaks of fallen man as still "the image (εἰκών) and glory of God" (1 Corinthians 11:7; and cf. Genesis 9:6). James 3:9God, even the Father (τὸν Θεὸν καὶ πατέρα)

The proper reading is τὸν Κύριον, the Lord, and the καὶ, and, is simply connective. Read, therefore, as Rev., the Lord and Father. This combination of terms for God is uncommon. See James 1:27.


Not who, which would designate personally certain men; whereas James designates them generically.

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