James 4:1
From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(1) From whence come wars . . .?—More correctly thus. Whence are wars, and whence fightings among you? The perfect peace above, capable, moreover, in some ways, of commencement here below, dwelt upon at the close of James 3, has by inevitable reaction led the Apostle to speak suddenly, almost fiercely, of the existing state of things. He traces the conflict raging around him to the fount and origin of evil within.

Come they not . . .—Translate, come they not hence, even from your lusts warring in your members? The term is really pleasures, but in an evil sense, and therefore “lusts.” “The desires of various sorts of pleasures are,” says Bishop Moberly, “like soldiers in the devil’s army, posted and picketed all over us, in the hope of winning our members, and so ourselves, back to his allegiance, which we have renounced in our baptism.” St. Peter (1Peter 2:11) thus writes in the same strain of “fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”; and St. Paul knew also of this bitter strife in man, if not actually in himself, and could “see another law” in his members—the natural tendency of the flesh—“warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which is in his members” (Romans 7:23). See also Note on 2Corinthians 12:7.

Happily the Christian philosopher understands this; and with the very cry of wretchedness, “Who shall deliver me?” can answer, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25). But the burden of this hateful depravity drove of old men like Lucretius to suicide rather than endurance; and its mantle of despair is on all the religions of India at the present time—matter itself being held to be evil, and eternal.

James 4:1. The crimes condemned in this and the following chapter were so atrocious, and of so public a nature, that we can hardly suppose them to have been committed by any who bore the name of Christians. Wherefore, as this letter was directed to the twelve tribes, (James 1:1,) it is reasonable to think that the apostle, in writing these chapters, had the unbelieving Jews, not only in the provinces, but in Judea, chiefly in his eye. From whence come wars and fightings among you — Some time before the breaking out of the war with the Romans, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Jewish commonwealth, the Jews, as Josephus informs us, on pretence of defending their religion, and of procuring to themselves that freedom from foreign dominion, and that liberty which they thought themselves entitled to as the people of God, made various insurrections in Judea against the Romans, which occasioned much bloodshed and misery to their nation. The factions, likewise, into which the more zealous Jews were now split, had violent contentions among themselves, in which they killed one another, and plundered one another’s goods. In the provinces likewise the Jews were become very turbulent; particularly in Alexandria, Egypt, Syria, and many other places, where they made war against the heathen, and killed numbers of them, and were themselves massacred by them in their turn. This being the state of the Jews in Judea, and in the provinces, about the time the Apostle James wrote his epistle to the twelve tribes, it can hardly be doubted that the wars, fightings, and murders, of which he here speaks, were those above described. For as he composed his letters after the confusions were begun, and as the crimes committed in these confusions, although acted under the colour of zeal for God and for truth, were a scandal to any religion, it certainly became him, who was one of the chief apostles of the circumcision, to condemn such insurrections, and to rebuke, with the greatest sharpness, the Jews who were the prime movers in them. Accordingly, this is what he hath done. And both in this and in the following chapter, using the rhetorical figure called apostrophe, he addresses the Jews as if they were present, whereby he hath given his discourse great strength and vivacity. See Macknight. Come they not hence, even of your lusts — Greek, ηδονων, pleasures; that is, your greedy desire after the pleasures and enjoyments of the world; that war — Against your souls; or raise tumults, as it were, and rebel both against reason and religion; in your members — In your wills and affections. Here is the first seat of war. Hence proceeds the war of man with man, king with king, nation with nation; the ambition of kings and nations to extend their territories; their love of grandeur and riches; their resentments of supposed injuries; all the effect of lust, or of earthly, sensual, and devilish desires, engage them in wars.4:1-10 Since all wars and fightings come from the corruptions of our own hearts, it is right to mortify those lusts that war in the members. Wordly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will not allow content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections stop prayer, and the working of our desires toward God. And let us beware that we do not abuse or misuse the mercies received, by the disposition of the heart when prayers are granted When men ask of God prosperity, they often ask with wrong aims and intentions. If we thus seek the things of this world, it is just in God to deny them. Unbelieving and cold desires beg denials; and we may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of lusts than of graces, they will return empty. Here is a decided warning to avoid all criminal friendships with this world. Worldly-mindedness is enmity to God. An enemy may be reconciled, but enmity never can be reconciled. A man may have a large portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who will conform to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God. So that any one who resolves at all events to be upon friendly terms with the world, must be the enemy of God. Did then the Jews, or the loose professors of Christianity, think the Scripture spake in vain against this worldly-mindedness? or does the Holy Spirit who dwells in all Christians, or the new nature which he creates, produce such fruit? Natural corruption shows itself by envying. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up, or lay out for ourselves, according to our own fancies; God the Holy Spirit teaches us to be willing to do good to all about us, as we are able. The grace of God will correct and cure the spirit by nature in us; and where he gives grace, he gives another spirit than that of the world. The proud resist God: in their understanding they resist the truths of God; in their will they resist the laws of God; in their passions they resist the providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God resists the proud. How wretched the state of those who make God their enemy! God will give more grace to the humble, because they see their need of it, pray for it are thankful for it, and such shall have it. Submit to God, ver. 7. Submit your understanding to the truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the will of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armour of God, and stand out against him, he will leave us. Let sinners then submit to God, and seek his grace and favour; resisting the devil. All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or, hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before him.From whence come wars and fightings among you? - Margin, "brawlings." The reference is to strifes and contentions of all kinds; and the question, then, as it is now, was an important one, what was their source or origin? The answer is given in the succeeding part of the verse. Some have supposed that the apostle refers here to the contests and seditions existing among the Jews, which afterwards broke out in rebellion against the Roman authority, and which led to the overthrow of the Jewish nation. But the more probable reference is to domestic broils, and to the strifes of sects and parties; to the disputes which were carried on among the Jewish people, and which perhaps led to scenes of violence, and to popular outbreaks among themselves. When the apostle says "among you," it is not necessary to suppose that he refers to those who were members of the Christian church as actually engaged in these strifes, though he was writing to such; but he speaks of them as a part of the Jewish people, and refers to the contentions which prevailed among them as a people - contentions in which those who were Christian converts were in great danger of participating, by being drawn into their controversies, and partaking of the spirit of strife which existed among their countrymen. It is known that such a spirit of contention prevailed among the Jews at that time in an eminent degree, and it was well to put those among them who professed to be Christians on their guard against such a spirit, by stating the causes of all wars and contentions. The solution which the apostle has given of the causes of the strifes prevailing then, will apply substantially to all the wars which have ever existed on the earth.

Come they not hence, even of your lusts? - Is not this the true source of all war and contention? The word rendered "lusts" is in the margin rendered "pleasures." This is the usual meaning of the word (ἡδονὴ hēdonē); but it is commonly applied to the pleasures of sense, and thence denotes desire, appetite, lust. It may be applied to any desire of sensual gratification, and then to the indulgence of any corrupt propensity of the mind. The lust or desire of rapine, of plunder, of ambition, of fame, of a more extended dominion, I would be properly embraced in the meaning of the word. The word would equally comprehend the spirit which leads to a brawl in the street, and that which prompted to the conquests of Alexander, Caesar, or Napoleon. All this is the same spirit evinced on a larger or smaller scale.

That war in your members - The word "member" (μέλος melos) denotes, properly, a limb or member of the body; but it is used in the New Testament to denote the members of the body collectively; that is, the body itself as the seat of the desires and passions, Romans 6:13, Romans 6:19; Romans 7:5, Romans 7:23; Colossians 3:5. The word war here refers to the conflict between those passions which have their seat in the flesh, and the better principles of the mind and conscience, producing a state of agitation and conflict. See the notes at Romans 7:23. Compare Galatians 5:17. Those corrupt passions which have their seat in the flesh, the apostle says are the causes of war. Most of the wars which have occurred in the world can be traced to what the apostle here calls lusts. The desire of booty, the love of conquest, the ambition for extended rule, the gratification of revenge, these and similar causes have led to all the wars that have desolated the earth. Justice, equity, the fear of God, the spirit of true religion, never originated any war, but the corrupt passions of men have made the earth one great battle-field. If true religion existed among all men, there would be no more war. War always supposes that wrong has been done on one side or the other, and that one party or the other, or both, is indisposed to do right. The spirit of justice, equity, and truth, which the religion of Christ would implant in the human heart, would put an end to war forever.


Jas 4:1-17. Against Fightings and Their Source; Worldly Lusts; Uncharitable Judgments, and Presumptuous Reckoning on the Future.

1. whence—The cause of quarrels is often sought in external circumstances, whereas internal lusts are the true origin.

wars, &c.—contrasted with the "peace" of heavenly wisdom. "Fightings" are the active carrying on of "wars." The best authorities have a second "whence" before "fightings." Tumults marked the era before the destruction of Jerusalem when James wrote. He indirectly alludes to these. The members are the first seat of war; thence it passes to conflict between man and man, nation and nation.

come they not, &c.—an appeal to their consciences.

lusts—literally, "pleasures," that is, the lusts which prompt you to "desire" (see on [2607]Jas 4:2) pleasures; whence you seek self at the cost of your neighbor, and hence flow "fightings."

that war—"campaign, as an army of soldiers encamped within" [Alford] the soul; tumultuously war against the interests of your fellow men, while lusting to advance self. But while warring thus against others they (without his knowledge) war against the soul of the man himself, and against the Spirit; therefore they must be "mortified" by the Christian.Jam 4:1-6 Our evil lusts and passions tend to breed quarrels

among ourselves, and to set us at enmity with God.

Jam 4:7-10 The way to overcome them, and recover God’s favour.

Jam 4:11,12 Against detraction and censoriousness.

Jam 4:13-17 We must not presume on the future, but commit

ourselves to God’s providence.

Wars and fightings; either it may be understood properly of insurrections, and tumults, in which, possibly, some carnal professors might be engaged; or rather, strife and contention about outward things, wranglings among themselves, and going to law, especially before unbelieving judges, 1 Corinthians 6:1.

Your lusts; Greek, pleasures, i.e. those lusts whereof pleasure is the end, which is therefore put for the lusts themselves: he means the over eager desire of riches, worldly greatness, carnal delights, Titus 3:3, where lusts and pleasures go together.

That war; oppose and tumultuate against reason, conscience, grace, Romans 7:23 1 Peter 2:11.

In your members; not only the members of the body, but faculties of the soul, exercised by them; all the parts of man unrenewed, Colossians 3:5, which are used as weapons of unrighteousness, Romans 6:13.

From whence come wars and fightings among you?.... Which are to be understood, not of public and national wars, such as might be between the Jews and other nations at this time; for the apostle is not writing to the Jews in Judea, as a nation, or body politic, but to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, and to such of them as were Christians; nor were Christians in general as yet increased, and become such large bodies, or were whole nations become Christians, and much less at war one against another, which has been the case since; and which, when it is, generally speaking arises from a lust after an increase of power; from the pride and ambitious views of men, and their envy at the happiness of other princes and states: nor do these design theological debates and disputes, or contentions about religious principles; but rather lawsuits, commenced before Heathen magistrates, by the rich, to the oppression of the poor; see James 2:6 though it seems best of all to interpret them of those stirs and bustlings, strifes, contentions, and quarrels, about honours and riches; endeavouring to get them by unlawful methods, at least at the expense of their own peace, and that of others:

come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? as pride, envy, covetousness, ambition, &c. which, like so many soldiers, are stationed and quartered in the members of the body, and war against the soul; for in the believer, or converted man, however, there is as it were two armies; a law in the members, warring against the law of the mind; the flesh against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and from this inward war arise external ones; or at least from the corruption of nature, which militates against all that is good, all quarrels and contentions, whether public or private, of a greater or lesser nature, and consequence, spring.

From {1} whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

(1) He advances the same argument, condemning certain other causes of wars and contentions, that is, unbridled pleasures and uncontrolled lusts, by their effects, for so much as the Lord does worthily make them come to no effect, so that they bring nothing to them in whom they reside, but incurable torments.

Jam 4:1. The section beginning with this verse is in close connection with what goes before, pointing to the internal reason of the disorders in the congregations referred to. The sudden transition is to be observed from the sentiment directly before expressed, that righteousness prospers only in peace, to the impressive question: πόθεν πόλεμοι κ.τ.λ.] an answer to which follows in a second question “appealing to the conscience of the readers” (Wiesinger).

πόλεμοιμάχαι] synonymous terms, only to be distinguished by the first denoting the general condition, and by the second the single phenomena (Wiesinger, Lange, Bouman: πόλεμος = vehementior dimicatio, μάχη = minus aperta concertatio); correctly Laurentius: non loquitur apostolus de bellis et caedibus, sed de mutuis dissidiis, litibus, jurgiis et contentionibus. Several expositors, as Pott, Schulthess, Schneckenburger, arbitrarily limit these πόλεμοι to contentions between teachers; according to de Wette and Wiesinger, contentions concerning meum and tuum are to be understood; but in what follows the object is not stated, but the cause of the contentions and dissensions among the readers.[186]

The repetition of ΠΌΘΕΝ is explained from the liveliness of the emotion with which James speaks.

ἘΝ ὙΜῖΝ] among you.

The demonstrative οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν emphatically points to what follows; Bouman: graphica rei significatae est informatio, qua primum intento tanquam digito monstrantur, deinde diserte nominantur ΑἹ ἩΔΟΝΑΊ; Michaelis incorrectly assumes this as a separate question = ΟὐΚ ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΚΌΣΜΟΥ ΤΟΎΤΟΥ, John 18:36. By ἘΚ ΤῶΝ ἩΔΟΝῶΝ ὙΜῶΝ the internal reason of these dissensions is disclosed. ἩΔΟΝΑΊ is here by metonymy = ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑΙ; they are lusts directed to earthly riches; not “a life of sensual indulgence as realized lusts” (Lange).

ΤῶΝ ΣΤΡΑΤΕΥΟΜΈΝΩΝ ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ΜΈΛΕΣΙΝ ὙΜῶΝ] The lusts have their seat—as it were their encampment (Wiesinger)—in the members (see on chap. Jam 3:2);[187] they, however, do not rest there, but according to their nature wage war (στρατεύονται). Estius (with whom Bouman agrees) incorrectly explains it: cupiditates, tanquam milites, membris vestris, ut armis utuntur ad opera peccati, by which ἐν is falsely understood. Calovius, Baumgarten, and de Wette, after 1 Peter 2:11 and Romans 7:23, supply κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς or τοῦ νοός; but if James had meant the fight of the lusts against the soul or the’ reason, he would have more plainly expressed it. Gebser, Schneckenburger, Lange, and others (Brückner comprehends both) understand it of the strife of the desires against each other; but this is evidently a foreign thought. According to Wiesinger, “the strife arises and is carried on because the ἐπιθυμεῖν has as its opponent an οὐκ ἔχεινοὐ δύνασθαι ἐπιτυχεῖν, against which it contends.” But it is better to refer the στρατεύεσθαι to everything which hinders the gratification of the desires. As in what follows ἐπιθυμεῖτε refers to αἱ ἡδοναί, and φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε to the idea στρατεύεσθαι, James appears chiefly to have intended the opposing strivings of others against which the ἡδοναί contend. From this internal war arose the πόλεμοι καὶ μάχαι.[188]

[186] According to Lange, James has in view all the hostile dissensions of the Jewish people (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Alexandrians, Samaritans) and of the Jewish Christians (Nazarenes, Ebionites, etc.).

[187] Incorrectly Laurentius: Per membra hic intellige non tantum externa membra, sed et internos animi affectus. Still more strangely Lange explains τὰ μέλη as “the members of individuals and the members of the people.”

[188] Comp. Plato, Phaedr. xv.: καὶ γὰρ πολέμους καὶ στάσεις καὶ μάχας οὐδὲν ἄλλο παρέχει ἢ τὸ σῶμα καὶ αἱ τούτου ἐπιθυμίαι; consult also Cicero, de fin. bon. i. 13.Jam 4:1 ff. These verses reveal an appalling state of moral depravity in these Diaspora congregations; strife, self-indulgence, lust, murder, covetousness, adultery, envy, pride and slander are rife; the conception of the nature of prayer seems to have been altogether wrong among these people, and they appear to be given over wholly to a life of pleasure. It must have been terrible for the writer to contemplate such a sink of iniquity. On the assumption, therefore, of unity of authorship for this Epistle, it is absolutely incomprehensible how, in view of such an awful state of affairs, the writer could commence his Epistle with the words: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations”. It is held by some that the writer is, in part, using figurative language; thus, Mayor and Knowling do not think that the adultery referred to is meant literally; but in view of the mention of the “pleasures that war in your members,” and of the injunctions “Cleanse your hands,” “Purify your hearts,” it is difficult to believe that the writer is speaking figuratively. Is one to regard the words in Jam 2:11 (“For he that saith, Do not commit adultery, said also Do not kill …”) as figurative also? And Jam 1:14-15? Cf. Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29. Moreover, it is one of the characteristics of the writer that he speaks straight to the point. It is true that in the O.T. adultery is sometimes used in a figurative sense, meaning unfaithfulness to Jahwe; but it is well to remember that such a use is quite exceptional; out of the thirty-one passages in which adultery is spoken of, in only five is a figurative sense found. In the N.T. there are only two possible cases of a figurative use apart from the verse before us (Matthew 12:39 = Matthew 16:4, Mark 8:38). The word “to commit fornication” (זנה) occurs oftener, in the O.T., in a figurative sense; but in comparison with the vastly larger instances of a literal sense, the former must be regarded as exceptional. But even granting that this particular word is figuratively used, there is still a terrible list of other sins, the meaning of which cannot be explained away; these are more than sufficient to bear witness to the truly awful moral condition of those to whom the Epistle is addressed. On the assumption of an early date for our Epistle, the low state of morals here depicted is extremely difficult to account for. In a community which had recently received and accepted the new faith, with its very high ideals, one would naturally look for some signs of new-born zeal, some conception of the meaning of Christianity, some reflex of the example of the Founder; religious strife, owing to a mistaken zeal, one can understand; isolated cases of moral delinquency are almost to be expected; but the collective wickedness of a newborn Christian community,—this would be quite incomprehensible; and it is clear from the verses before us that the writer is not singling out exceptions. In a second or third generation the community living among heathen surroundings might conceivably become so contaminated as to have lost its genuinely Christian character; with the lapse of years there is an inevitable tendency to deteriorate, until a new spirit of discipline is infused. It seems more in accordance with known facts, and with commonsense, to regard the people to whom this Epistle (or part of it) was addressed as those who had deteriorated from the high ideal set by their fathers and grandfathers, and to see in the writer one who sought to inspire a new sense of discipline and morals into the hearts of his Jewish-Christian brethren.

Jam 4:1-10 form a self-contained whole, dealing with the general state of moral depravity in the community (presumably the writer has more particularly one community in view), and ending with a call to repentance. Jam 4:11-12 form another independent section, belonging in substance to Jam 2:1-13. Jam 4:13-17 form again a separate section without any reference to what precedes or follows.Ch. James 4:1-7. God’s giving and the World’s getting

1. whence come wars and fightings among you?…] One source of discord had been touched in the “Be not many masters” of Chap. James 3:1. Sectarianism and all its kindred evils were destructive of peace, and therefore of all true wisdom. Another besetting sin of the race which St James addressed, from which indeed no race or nation is exempt, now comes in view. “Wars,” protracted or wide-spread disputes: “fighting,” the conflicts and skirmishes of daily life, which make up the campaign,—“What do they come from?” the writer asks, and then makes answer to himself. A question so like in form to this as to suggest the thought that it must be a conscious reproduction, is found in the Epistle of Clement of Rome (c. 45).

even of your lusts that war in your members? Literally, from your pleasures. The noun is used as nearly equivalent to “desires.” Common as the word “pleasure” was in all Greek ethical writers, it is comparatively rare in the New Testament. In the Gospels it meets us in Luke 8:14, and with much the same sense as in this passage. These “lusts” or “pleasures” are, the next word tells us, the hosts that carry on the conflict and perpetuate the warfare. They make our “members,” each organ of sense or action, their camping ground and field of battle. Hence, to extend the metaphor one step further, as St Peter extends it, they “war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).Jam 4:1. Πόθεν, whence?) James hints, that many persons often seek the causes of contentions, though they are evident.—πόλεμοι καὶ μάχαι, wars and fightings) opposed to “peace;” on which he treats in ch. 3. Fighting is the active carrying on of war. There follows shortly afterwards in Jam 4:2, ye fight and war. An inverted Chiasmus. Καὶ μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν, but the Alexandrian MS. in the lesser Oxf. edit., ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ πόθεν μάχαν for Mill, as usual, does not notice the order of the words. Πόθεν is also inserted before μάχαι in L. and N. 1. There may be something remarkable in this variety.[46]—ἐντεῦθεν, hence) The reference is to pleasures (ἡδονῶν), of which mention is expressly made immediately (comp. Jam 4:3), and is implied in ch. 3—στρατευομένων, which war) The same word occurs, 1 Peter 2:11.—μέλεσιν, in the members) The body is the first seat of war: thence there follows the war of man with man, of king with king, of nation with nation.

[46] ABC support the second πόθεν, as do also Memph. and later Syr. But Rec. Text omits it with Vulg. BC Vulg. place ἐν ὑμῖν after μάχαι. But A before καὶ πόθεν.—E.Verses 1-12. - REBUKE OF QUARRELS ARISING FROM PRIDE AND GREED. A terribly sadden transition from the "peace" with which James 3. closed. Verse 1. - Whence wars and whence fightings among you? The second "whence" (πόθεν) is omitted in the Received Text, after K, L, Syriac, and Vulgate; but it is supported by א, A, B, C, the Coptic, and Old Latin. Wars... fightings (πόλεμοι...μάχαι). To what is the reference? Μάχαι occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in 2 Corinthians 7:5, "Without were fightings, within were fears;" and 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9, in both of which passages it refers to disputes and questions. It is easy, therefore, to give it the same meaning here. Πόλμοι, elsewhere in the New Testament, as in the LXX., is always used of actual warfare. In behalf of its secondary meaning, "contention," Grimm ('Lexicon of New Testament Greek') appeals to Sophocles, 'Electra,' 1. 219, and Plato, 'Phaed.,' p. 66, c. But it is better justified by Clement of Rome, § 46, Ινα τί ἔρεις καὶ θυμοὶ καὶ διχοστσασίαι καὶ σχίσματα πόλεμος τε ἐν ὑῖν - a passage which has almost the nature of a commentary upon St. James's language. There is then no need to seek an explanation of the passage in the outbreaks and insurrections which were so painfully common among the Jews. Lusts (ἡδονῶν); R.V., "pleasures." "An unusual sense of ἡδοναί, hardly distinguishable from ἐπιθυμίαι, in fact taken up by ἐπιθυμεῖτε (Alford). With the expression, "that war in your members," comp. 1 Peter 2:11, "Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul." Ver. 2 gives us an insight into the terrible difficulties with which the apostles had to contend. Those to whom St. James was writing were guilty of lust, which actually led to murder. So the charge in 1 Peter 4:15 evidently presupposes the possibility of a professing Christian suffering as a murderer or thief. Ye kill. The marginal rendering "envy" supplies a remarkable instance of a false reading once widely adopted, although resting simply on conjecture. There is no variation in the manuscripts or ancient versions. All alike have φονεύετε. But, owing to the startling character of the expression in an address to Christians, Erasmus suggested that perhaps φθονεῖτε, "ye envy," was the original reading, and actually inserted it in the second edition of his Greek Testament (1519). In his third edition (1522) he wisely returned to the true reading, although, strangely enough, he retained the false one, "invidetis," in his Latin version, whence it passed into that of Beza and others. The Greek φθονεῖτε appears, however, in a few later editions, e.g. three editions published at Basle, 1524 (Bebelius), 1546 (Herwagius), and 1553 (Beyling), in that of Henry Stephens, 1576; and even so late as 1705 is found in an edition of Oritius. In England the reading obtained a wide currency, being actually adopted in all the versions in general use previous to that of 1611, viz. those of Tyndale, Coverdale, Taverner, the Bishops Bible, and the Geneva Version. The Authorized Version relegated it to the margin, from which it has been happily excluded by the Revisers, and thus, it is to be hoped, it has finally disappeared. Ye kill, and desire to have. The combination is certainly strange. Dean Scott sees in the terms a possible allusion to "the well-known politico-religious party of the zealots," and suggests the rendering, "ye play the murderers and zealots." It is, perhaps, more probable that ζηλοῦτε simply refers to covetousness; cf. the use of the word (although with a better meaning) in 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Corinthians 14:1, 39. Lusts (ἡδονῶν)

Lit., pleasures, as Rev. Properly, sensual pleasures. The sinful pleasures are the outgrowths of the lusts, James 4:2.

That war (στρατευομένων)

The thought of wars and rightings is carried into the figurative description of the sensuality which arrays its forces and carries on its campaign in the members. The verb does not imply mere fighting, but all that is included in military service. A remarkable parallel occurs in Plato, "Phaedo," 66: "For whence come wars and rightings and factions? Whence but from the body and the lusts of the body?" Compare 1 Peter 2:11; Romans 7:23.

James 4:1 Interlinear
James 4:1 Parallel Texts

James 4:1 NIV
James 4:1 NLT
James 4:1 ESV
James 4:1 NASB
James 4:1 KJV

James 4:1 Bible Apps
James 4:1 Parallel
James 4:1 Biblia Paralela
James 4:1 Chinese Bible
James 4:1 French Bible
James 4:1 German Bible

Bible Hub

James 3:18
Top of Page
Top of Page