James 4:16
But now you rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) But now . . . .—How different is the case with you, cries St. James; you actually glory and delight in your own self-confidence and presumption, and every such rejoicing is evil. The word for “boastings” is the same as that translated “the pride of life” in 1John 2:16i.e., its braggart boastfulness, not the innocent gladness of living. It is the trust of the “ungodly” (Psalm 10:6, “There shall no harm happen unto me”), and the mistaken confidence of even such godly men as Job (Job 29:18, “shall die in my nest”), before the Almighty instructs them by trouble, and loss, and pain.

James 4:16-17. Now ye rejoice Καυχασθε, ye glory, in your boastings — Ye please yourselves in the vain thoughts which you entertain of these worldly projects and successes, and you boast of them. All such rejoicing — Or glorying, is evil — The delight you take in these expectations argues either a strange want of consideration, or gross stupidity. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not — That knows what is right and is his duty, and does not practise it; to him it is sin — His knowledge does not prevent but increase his condemnation. As if he had said, Since you cannot but know better, as you have the oracles of God, and profess to believe them, if you do not act answerably thereto, you are guilty of the greater sin. “Because this is true with respect to all who act contrary to knowledge and conscience. Beza and Estius consider it as a general conclusion, enforcing the whole of the reproofs given to the Jews for acting contrary to the divine revelation, of which they were the keepers.” — Macknight. 4:11-17 Our lips must be governed by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice. Christians are brethren. And to break God's commands, is to speak evil of them, and to judge them, as if they laid too great a restraint upon us. We have the law of God, which is a rule to all; let us not presume to set up our own notions and opinions as a rule to those about us, and let us be careful that we be not condemned of the Lord. Go to now, is a call to any one to consider his conduct as being wrong. How apt worldly and contriving men are to leave God out of their plans! How vain it is to look for any thing good without God's blessing and guidance! The frailty, shortness, and uncertainty of life, ought to check the vanity and presumptuous confidence of all projects for futurity. We can fix the hour and minute of the sun's rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapour being scattered. So short, unreal, and fading is human life, and all the prosperity or enjoyment that attends it; though bliss or woe for ever must be according to our conduct during this fleeting moment. We are always to depend on the will of God. Our times are not in our own hands, but at the disposal of God. Our heads may be filled with cares and contrivances for ourselves, or our families, or our friends; but Providence often throws our plans into confusion. All we design, and all we do, should be with submissive dependence on God. It is foolish, and it is hurtful, to boast of worldly things and aspiring projects; it will bring great disappointment, and will prove destruction in the end. Omissions are sins which will be brought into judgment, as well as commissions. He that does not the good he knows should be done, as well as he who does the evil he knows should not be done, will be condemned. Oh that we were as careful not to omit prayer, and not to neglect to meditate and examine our consciences, as we are not to commit gross outward vices against light!But now ye rejoice in your boastings - That is, probably, in your boastings of what you can do; your reliance on your own skill and sagacity. You form your plans for the future as if with consummate wisdom, and are confident of success. You do not anticipate a failure; you do not see how plans so skilfully formed can fail. You form them as if you were certain that you would live; as if secure from the numberless casualties which may defeat your schemes.

All such rejoicing is evil - It is founded on a wrong view of yourselves and of what may occur. It shows a spirit forgetful of our dependence on God; forgetful of the uncertainty of life; forgetful of the many ways by which the best-laid plans may be defeated. We should never boast of any wisdom or skill in regard to the future. A day, an hour may defeat our best-concerted plans, and show us that we have not the slightest power to control coming events.

16. now—as it is.

rejoice in … boastings—"ye boast in arrogant presumptions," namely, vain confident fancies that the future is certain to you (Jas 4:13).

rejoicing—boasting [Bengel].

But now ye rejoice, or, glory; ye please yourselves with them.

In your boastings; viz. of your carnal projects, and hopes of what you intend to do, and expect to get: q.d. You vainly boast of your designs and successes, without taking notice of God’s providence, under the government of which you and your affairs all are.

All such rejoicing is evil; both as being contrary to the word, which assures us so often that it is vain to promise ourselves long life, or prosperity in our worldly business, without God’s leave and blessing, Psalm 127:1 Proverbs 16:9,33; and likewise as proceeding from pride and security. But now ye rejoice in your boastings,.... Of tomorrow, and of the continuance of life, and of going to such a place, and abiding there for such a time, and of trading and trafficking with great success, to the obtaining of much gain and riches; see Proverbs 27:1

all such rejoicing is evil; wicked and atheistical, as expressing a neglect of and independence on Providence; arrogating and ascribing too much to themselves, their power and will, as if they had their lives and fortunes in their own hands, and at their own dispose, when all depend upon the will of God. The Syriac version renders it, "all such rejoicing is from evil"; from an evil heart, and from the evil one, Satan.

But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jam 4:16 expresses the conduct of those addressed in contrast to Jam 4:15; and in such a manner that the judgment upon that conduct is also expressed.

νῦν δέ] here, as frequently, where the reality in opposition to what is set before a person is emphasized; see 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 14:6.

καυχᾶσθε ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονείαις ὑμῶν] By ἀλαζονεία is to be understood the arrogant self-reliance on the duration of earthly prosperity; see explanation of 1 John 2:16. De Wette inaccurately explains it by bragging; Theile, by arroganter facta, dicta; Schneckenburger, by pertness; Wiesinger, by “those arrogant expressions affecting complete independence;” Lange, “by vain and arrogant self-exaltation;” and others differently. The plural is used, because such haughtiness manifests itself differently under different circumstances.

ἐν] here used differently than in chap. Jam 1:9 : the ἀλαζονείαι are not the object, but the reason of the boasting, that from which it proceeds (against Wiesinger), and καυχᾶσθαι is designated from the standpoint of James: that haughty and presumptuous language in Jam 4:13; comp. Proverbs 27:1.

With the following words: πᾶσα καύχησις κ.τ.λ.] James definitely expresses his reprobation.

τοιαύτη] not every boasting in itself (chap. Jam 1:9), but every boasting which proceeds from ἀλαζονεία, which is founded in it and connected with it, is wicked.Jam 4:16. νῦν δὲ: “but now,” i.e., as things are; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:6, νῦν δὲ, ἀδελφοί, ἐὰν ἔλθω …—καυχᾶσθε ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονίαις ὑμῶν: those vauntings were, of course, not on account of following out their own will in despite of the divine will, but because of the thoughtlessness which did not take God’s will into account, and therefore boasted of the ability of following one’s own bent. Both are bad, but conscious opposition to the will of God would, of the two, be worse. Ἀλαζονίαις comes from ἀλαζών which is literally a “wanderer,” then it comes to mean one who makes pretensions. Cf. Proverbs 27:1, μὴ καυχῶ τὰ εἰς αὔριον, f1οὐ γὰρ γινώσκεις τί τέξεται ἡ ἐπιοῦσα: the word occurs only here and in 1 John 2:16 (ἡ ἀλαζονεία τοῦ βίου) in the N.T.—πᾶσα καύχησις τοιαύτη …: boasting of this kind must be evil because it forgets God, and unduly exalts self.16. But now ye rejoice in your boastings] Better, ye exult in your vain glories. If the words were not too familiar, ye glory in your braggings would, perhaps, be a still nearer equivalent. The noun is found in 1 John 2:16 (“the pride of life”), and not elsewhere in the New Testament. It is defined by Aristotle (Eth. Nicom. iv. 13) as the character of the man who lays claim to what will bring him credit when the claim is either altogether false or grossly exaggerated. He contrasts it with the “irony” which deliberately, with good or bad motive, understates its claims. The “now” is more or less emphatic, = “as things are.”Jam 4:16. Καυχᾶσθε ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονείαις, ye boast in your arrogant pretensions) Their arrogance is expressed in the words, we will go—we will get gain; their boasting is implied in their presuming upon the time.—πονηρὰ, evil) The opposite is good, Jam 4:17.Verse 16. - But now. As is actually the case, "ye glory in your vauntings." ἈλαζονείΑ: only here and in 1 John 2:16; in the LXX., in 2 Macc. 9:8 and Wisd. 5:8. It is a favorite word with St. Clement of Rome. On its meaning and distinction from ὑπερηφανία and other kindred words, see Trench on ' Synonyms,' p. 95; and cf. Westcott on the 'Epistles of St. John,' p. 64. The vice of the ἀλάζων "centers in self and is consummated in his absolute self-exaltation, while the ὑπερήφανος shows his character by his overweening treatment of others. The ἀλάζων sins most against truth; the ὑπερήφανος sins most against love." This extract will serve to show the fitness of ἀλαζονεία rather than ὑπερηφανία in the passage before us. The verse should be rendered, as in R.V., "But now ye glory (καυχᾶσθε) in your vauntings: all such glorying (καύχησις) is evil." Καύχησις is the act, not the matter (καύχημα), of glorying. Ye rejoice (καυχᾶσθε)

Rev., glory. See on James 2:13.

Boastings (ἀλαζονείαις)

Only here and 1 John 2:16. The kindred word ἀλαζών, a boaster, is derived from ἄλη, a wandering or roaming; hence, primarily, a vagabond, a quack, a mountebank. From the empty boasts of such concerning the cures and wonders they could perform, the word passed into the sense of boaster. One may boast truthfully; but ἀλαζονεία is false and swaggering boasting. Rev. renders vauntings, and rightly, since vaunt is from the Latin vanus, empty, and therefore expresses idle or vain boasting.

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