James 4:6
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
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(6) But he giveth more gracei.e., because of this very presence of the Holy Ghost within us. He, as the author and conveyer of all good gifts, in their mystic seven-fold order (Isaiah 11:2) adds to the wasted treasure, and so aids the weakest in his strife with sin, resisting the proud, lest he be led to destruction (Proverbs 16:18), and helping the humble, lest he be “wearied and faint in his mind” (Hebrews 12:3).

God resisteth the proud . . .—Excepting “God,” instead of “Lord,” this is an exact quotation from the LXX. version of Proverbs 3:34, which reads in our Bibles, “Surely He scorneth the scorners, but He giveth grace unto the lowly.” It is again brought forward by St. Peter (1Peter 5:5), and seems to have been a common saying—“a maxim of the wise that had become, as it were, a law of life.”

James 4:6-10. But he — God, giveth more grace — To all those who, while they shun those tempers, sincerely and earnestly pray for it. Wherefore he saith, [see the margins] God, resisteth the proud — The unhumbled; those that think highly of themselves, and put confidence in their own wisdom, power, or holiness, and who seek the praise of men rather than the praise of God; against these God sets himself in battle array, as it is expressed, Proverbs 3:24. He rejects them, and will not allow them access to, or communion with himself. He thwarts their undertakings, and renders their schemes abortive. But giveth grace unto the humble — Unto those that are humbled under a sense of their ignorance and weakness, their guilt and depravity, and therefore have no confidence in any thing they are or have. Submit yourselves — Or be subject, as υποταγητε signifies, therefore to God — Pursue your lusts no longer, but yield an humble obedience to God in all things. Resist — With faith and steadfastness; the devil — The father of pride and envy; and he will flee from you — And your progress in religion will become greater, and your victory over your spiritual enemies more easy and evident day by day. Draw nigh to God — In faith and prayer; and he will draw nigh unto you — By his grace and blessing; which that nothing may hinder, cleanse your hands — From doing evil; and purify your hearts — From all spiritual idolatry, from all vile affections and corrupt inclinations, from the love of the world in all its branches; be no more double-minded — Vainly endeavouring to serve both God and mammon. Be afflicted — On account of your past sins, especially your ingratitude to God, your abuse of his blessings, and unfaithfulness to his grace; and mourn and weep — For the miseries to which you have exposed yourselves. Let your laughter be turned into mourning — Because of the heavy judgments that hang over you; humble yourselves in the sight and presence of the Lord, and he shall lift you up — Comfort you with a sense of his pardoning mercy.

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.But he giveth more grace - The reference here is undoubtedly to God. Some have regarded this clause as a continuation of the quotation in the previous verse, but it is rather to be considered as a declaration of the apostle himself. The writer had just spoken of envy, and of the crimes which grew out of it. He thought of the wars and commotions of the earth, and of the various lusts which reigned among men. In the contemplation of these things, it seems suddenly to have occurred to him that all were not under the influence of these things; that there were cases where men were restrained, and where a spirit opposite to these things prevailed. Another passage of Scripture struck his mind, containing the truth that there was a class of men to whom God gave grace to restrain these passions, and to subdue these carnal propensities. They were the humble, in contradistinction to the proud; and he states the fact that "God giveth more grace;" that is, that in some instances he confers more grace than in the cases referred to; to some he gives more grace to overcome their evil passions, and to subdue their corrupt inclinations, than he does to others. The meaning may be thus expressed: - "It is true that the natural spirit in man is one that tends to envy, and thus leads to all the sad consequences of envy. But there are instances in which higher grace or favor is conferred; in which these feelings are subdued, and these consequences are prevented. They are not indeed to be found among the proud, whom God always resists; but they are to be found among the meek and the humble. Wherefore submit yourselves to his arrangements; resist the devil; draw nigh to God; purify yourselves, and weep over your past offences, and you shall find that the Lord will lift you up, and bestow his favor upon you," James 4:10.

Wherefore he saith - The reference here is to Proverbs 3:34, "Surely he scorneth the scorners; but he giveth grace unto the lowly." The quotation is made exactly from the Septuagint, which, though not entirely literal, expresses the sense of the Hebrew without essential inaccuracy. This passage is also quoted in 1 Peter 5:5.

God resisteth the proud - The proud are those who have an inordinate self-esteem; who have a high and unreasonable conceit of their own excellence or importance. This may extend to anything; to beauty, or strength, or attainments, or family, or country, or equipage, or rank, or even religion. A man may be proud of anything that belongs to him, or which can in any way be construed as a part of himself, or as pertaining to him. This does not, of course, apply to a correct estimate of ourselves, or to the mere knowledge that we may excel others. One may know that he has more strength, or higher attainments in learning or in the mechanic arts, or greater wealth than others, and yet have properly no pride in the case. He has only a correct estimate of himself, and he attaches no undue importance to himself on account of it. His heart is not lifted up; he claims no undue deference to himself; he concedes to all others what is their due; and he is humble before God, feeling that all that he has, and is, is nothing in his sight. He is willing to occupy his appropriate place in the sight of God and men, and to be esteemed just as he is. Pride goes beyond this, and gives to a man a degree of self-estimation which is not warranted by anything that he possesses. God looks at things as they are; and hence he abhors and humbles this arrogant claim, Leviticus 26:19; Job 33:17; Psalm 59:12; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 29:13; Isaiah 23:9; Isaiah 28:1; Daniel 4:37; Zechariah 10:11. This resistance of pride he shows not only in the explicit declarations of his word, but in the arrangements of his providence and grace:

(1) In his providence, in the reverses and disappointments which occur; in the necessity of abandoning the splendid mansion which we had built, or in disappointing us in some favorite plan by which our pride was to be nurtured and gratified.

(2) in sickness, taking away the beauty and strength on which we had so much valued ourselves, and bring us to the sad condition of a sick bed.

(3) in the grave, bringing us down to corruption and worms. Why should one be proud who will soon become so offensive to his best friends that they will gladly hide him in the grave?

(4) in the plan of salvation he opposes our pride. Not a feature of that plan is fitted to foster pride, but all is adapted to make us humble.

(a) The necessity for the plan - that we are guilty and helpless sinners;

(b) the selection of a Saviour - one who was so poor, and who was so much despised by the world, and who was put to death on a cross;

(c) our entire dependence on him for salvation, with the assurance that we have no merit of our own, and that salvation is all of grace;

(d) the fact that we are brought to embrace it only by the agency of the Holy Spirit, and that if we were left to ourselves we should never have one right thought or holy desire - all this is fitted to humble us, and to bring us low before God. God has done nothing to foster the self-estimation of the human heart; but how much has he done to "stain the pride of all glory? See the notes at Isaiah 23:9.

But giveth grace unto the humble - The meaning is, that he shows them favor; he bestows upon them the grace needful to secure their salvation. This he does:

(1) because they feel their need of his favor;

(2) because they will welcome his teaching and value his friendship;


6. But—"Nay, rather."


giveth more grace—ever increasing grace; the farther ye depart from "envy" [Bengel].

he saith—The same God who causes His spirit to dwell in believers (Jas 4:5), by the Spirit also speaks in Scripture. The quotation here is probably from Pr 3:34; as probably Pr 21:10 was generally referred to in Jas 4:5. In Hebrew it is "scorneth the scorners," namely, those who think "Scripture speaketh in vain."

resisteth—literally, "setteth Himself in array against"; even as they, like Pharaoh, set themselves against Him. God repays sinners in their own coin. "Pride" is the mother of "envy" (Jas 4:5); it is peculiarly satanic, for by it Satan fell.

the proud—The Greek means in derivation one who shows himself above his fellows, and so lifts himself against God.

the humble—the unenvious, uncovetous, and unambitious as to the world. Contrast Jas 4:4.

But he; either the Spirit of God, if spirit in the former verse be understood of the Spirit of God; or God, if spirit be there taken for the spirit of man.

Giveth more grace; either, though we, according to our natural inclination, be envious, yet God (or his Spirit) is bountiful and liberal; or God gives to those that are renewed, more grace than to be hurried on by their own old spirit, to envy, strife, and suchlike lusts.

Wherefore he saith; God saith, viz. in the Spripture: or it may be taken indefinitely, and impersonally, for, it is said. The particular place he refers to, is Proverbs 3:34, according to the translation of the LXX., which not only James, but other New Testament writers, frequently follow.

God resisteth; it is a military term: God sets himself, as in battle, against the proud, defying, beating down, exposing to contempt, and destroying them; he is so far from giving them more gifts, that he rather spoils them, as sworn enemies, of what they have.

The proud; those that by reason of the gifts God hath given them, lift themselves above others: Solomon, in the parallel place, calls them scorners; it being the usual guise of those that think over-well of themselves, to despise others, and even contemn the warnings and judgments of God himself, which may well draw him out to fight against them.

But giveth grace unto the humble; not only gives favour and honour in the sight of men to those that are lowly in their own eyes, but especially furnisheth them with grace for the overcoming and mortifying their carnal desires and remaining corruptions.

But he giveth more grace,.... The Arabic version adds, "to us"; the Ethiopic version, "to you"; and the Syriac version reads the whole thus; "but our Lord gives more grace to us"; or "greater grace"; than the world can give, whose friendship is courted by men; the least measure of grace, of faith, and hope, and love, and of a spiritual knowledge of Christ, and interest in him, and of peace, joy, and comfort, is more worth than all the world, and everything in it: or greater grace, more favours than the saints are able to ask or think; so Solomon had more favours given him than he could think of asking for: or greater grace, and larger measures of it, even of spiritual light and knowledge, under the Gospel dispensation, than under the former dispensation; or where God bestows gifts qualifying for service and usefulness, and these are made use of and employed for such purposes, he gives more: or this may refer to internal grace wrought by the Spirit of God, in the hearts of his people; more of which he may be said to give, when he causes it to abound, as to its acts and exercises; when faith grows exceedingly, hope revives, and is lively, and abounds through his power and influence, and love to God and Christ, and one another, abounds yet more and more; when there is a growth in every grace, and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus, so that this grace becomes a well of living waters, springing up into eternal life, which at last will have its perfection in glory:

wherefore he saith; either the Spirit that gives more grace, or the Scripture, or God in the Scripture, in Proverbs 3:34,

God resisteth the proud: or scorns the scorners; he rejects them that trust in themselves that they are righteous, and despise others; that say, Stand by thyself, I am holier than thou; that are proud of themselves, their enjoyments, their gifts, their external righteousness, and holiness, and are full, and rich, and increased with goods, and stand in need of nothing; these he opposes, he sets himself against, he thrusts them away from him, he sends them away empty, and scatters them in the imagination of their own hearts; and in the things in which they deal proudly, he is above them; he sits in the heavens and laughs at them, and frustrates all their schemes:

but he giveth grace unto the humble; who are sensible of their own vileness and meanness, and acknowledge it; who think the meanest of themselves, and the best of others; and do not envy the gifts and graces of God bestowed upon others, but rejoice at them; and ascribe all they have, and are, to the free grace of God; and ingenuously confess the deficiency of their duties, and the insufficiency of their righteousness to justify them before God; and that when they have done all they can, or are assisted to do, they are but unprofitable servants: now to these God gives grace; he not only gives grace at first, to make them humble, but he gives them more grace, or increases what he gives: grace is God's gift; he gives all the grace that is in Christ, and all the blessings of grace that are in the covenant, and all the grace that is in the hearts of his people; as faith, hope, love, repentance, humility, patience, self-denial, resignation to his will, and every degree of spiritual knowledge; and grace is only his gift; men cannot give it to themselves, nor can the best of men give it to others; not godly parents to their children; nor ministers to those to whom they preach; no, nor the angels in heaven; nor is it to be obtained by the works of men: it is a free gift; it is given of the sovereign will and good pleasure of God, to whom, and when, and in what measure he pleases; to which he is not induced by any motives in men, for they have nothing in them to move him to it; and it is given by him absolutely, without conditions, not suspending it till the performance of them; and he gives it cheerfully and not grudgingly, largely, bountifully, and in great abundance.

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
Jam 4:6. The words μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν are explained from the fact that James already had in his view the passage of the O. T., afterwards quoted, from which these words are taken. The subject is the same as in the former sentence. The comparative does not express the comparison with the blessings which the world gives (Bede: majorem gratiam dat quam amicitia mundi; thus also Tirinus, Gebser, Pott, Winer, Schneckenburger, Kern), or after which those: invidi atque arrogantes, quos reprehendit, Jam 5:2-4 (Bouman), longed for; also it does not indicate “the greater measure of the comforting and satisfying Spirit as related to the longing Spirit” (Lange: “but he gives grace greater than the longing”), but “μείζονα suggests a comparison with a case in which there is no πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθ.” (Wiesinger, so also de Wette); incorrectly Bengel: eo majorem, quo longius recesseris ab invidia.

διό] = therefore, because it is so (de Wette). ἡ γραφή is to be supplied to λέγει. Kern incorrectly takes λέγει impersonally: it is said. The passage is Proverbs 3:34, and is verbally quoted according to the LXX., except that here, as also in 1 Peter 5:5, ὁ Θεός is put instead of κύριος. The ὑ̔περήφανοι are those who, whilst they in striving after high things (τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες, Romans 12:16) will be the friends of the world, are not ready to bear the reproach of Christ. That these are ἐχθροὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, the scripture confirms by ἀντιτάσσεται.

Opposed to these are the παπεινοί, that is, the lowly, those who τοῖς ταπεινοῖς συναπαγόμενοι, Romans 12:16, seek not the friendship of the world, but humbly bear the cross of Christ. That these are φίλοι τοῦ Θεοῦ the Scripture confirms by δίδωσιν χάριν.[198] Comp Sir 3:19-20.

[198] The difficulty of the passage has induced some expositors to have recourse to arbitrary emendations; thus Erasmus and Grotius explain the words from διὸ λέγει to χάριν as a gloss from 1 Peter 5:5. Hottinger (with whom Reiche agrees), on the contrary, is inclined to erase the words from μείζονα to λέγει, and to insert a δέ between and Θεός. Also Lücke, according to Gebser, considered those words a kind of gloss and error librarii to ἡ γραφὴ λέγει and τοῖς ταπ. δίδ. ver. 6, and that the context is to be thus construed: πρὸς φθόνονἐν ὑμῖε ἔ δοκεῖτε ὅτε κενῶς ἡ γρ. λέγει: ὁ Θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις κ.τ.λ.

Jam 4:6. μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν: these words further emphasise the developed doctrine of the Spirit referred to above; they point to the nature of divine grace, which is almost illimitable. These verses, 5, 6, witness in a striking way to the Christian doctrine of grace, and herein breathe a different spirit from that found in most of the Epistle.—ὁ Θεὸςχάριν: Cf. Sir 10:7; Sir 10:12; Sir 10:18; Pss. of Sol. 2:25, 4:28; the quotation is also found in 1 Peter 5:5; taken with the preceding it teaches the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Ephrem Syrus quotes this as a saying of Christ’s (Opp. iii. 93 E., ed. Assemani; quoted by Resch, op. cit., p. 199).

6. But he giveth more grace] Following the explanation already given, the sequence of thought seems to run thus: God loves us with a feeling analogous to the strongest form of jealousy, or even envy, but that jealousy does not lead Him, as it leads men, to be grudging in His gifts; rather does He bestow, as its result, a greater measure of His grace than before, or than He would do, were His attitude towards us one of strict unimpassioned Justice.

Wherefore he saith …] The nominative to the verb is not expressed, and we may, with almost equal fitness, supply the Scripture, the Spirit, or God.

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble] The point of the quotation lies in the last clause, as containing the proof of what St James had just asserted, that God gave His grace freely to those who thought themselves least worthy of it. It is to be noticed (1) that we again find St James quoting from one of the great sapiential books of the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:34), and (2) that St Peter also quotes it (1 Peter 5:5). That maxim of the wise of old had become, as it were, a law of life for the Community at Jerusalem. Clement of Rome follows their example (c. 30).

Jam 4:6. Μείζονα) So much the greater the farther you depart from envy.—δίδωσι, He giveth) God.—λέγει, it saith) the Scripture, Jam 4:5. James confirms the authority of Solomon, whom he quotes with great propriety, when he would dissuade us from the hinderances to wisdom.—ὁ Θεὸςχάριν) Proverbs 3:34. Septuagint has Κυριος—the rest in the same words. James altogether agrees with Peter: see 1 Peter 5:5.—ὑπερηφάνοις, the proud) Pride is the mother of envy, respecting which see Jam 4:5. The Hebrew is ללצים, scoffers, such are they who think that the Scripture speaks in vain.—ἀντιτάσσεται, resists) In the Hebrew יליץ, He will laugh at. The humble are of such a spirit, that if it were possible for God to require the service of any one, they would afford it; but the proud endeavour to resist Him, as Pharaoh did; therefore He repays each according to their own deservings. He resists the proud, but He gives grace to the lowly.—χάριν, grace) He, to whom God gives grace, learns to lay aside all envy.

Verse 6. - God resisteth the proud. The connection of this with ver. 4 is very close, and is favorable to the view taken above as to the meaning of the first clause of ver. 5, as the words appear to be cited in support of the statement that whosoever would be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. The quotation is from Proverbs 3:34, LXX., Κύριος ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται, ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσι χάριν. St. James's version agrees with this exactly, except that it has ὁ Θεὸς instead of Κύριος (the Hebrew has simply "he," ran). The passage is also quoted in precisely the same form by St. Peter (1 Peter 5:5), and with Θεὸς instead of ὁ Θεός by St. Clement of Rome. In St. Peter the quotation is followed by the injunction, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God .... Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom withstand (ω΅ι ἀντίστητε) steadfast in the faith." There is clearly a connection between this passage and the one before us in St. James, which proceeds, "Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil (ἀντίστητε δὲ τῷ διαβόλῳ), and he will flee from you." This passage, it will be felt, is the simpler, and therefore, probably, the earlier of the two (cf. James 1:3). James 4:6Resisteth

See on 1 Peter 5:5.


See on Mark 7:22.


See on Matthew 7:29.

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