James 3:5
New International Version
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

New Living Translation
In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.

English Standard Version
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!

Berean Study Bible
In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things. Consider how small a spark sets a great forest ablaze.

Berean Literal Bible
Thus also the tongue is a small member, and boasts exceeding things. Behold a small fire, how great a forest it kindles.

New American Standard Bible
So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

King James Bible
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

Christian Standard Bible
So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest.

Contemporary English Version
Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things. It takes only a spark to start a forest fire!

Good News Translation
So it is with the tongue: small as it is, it can boast about great things. Just think how large a forest can be set on fire by a tiny flame!

Holman Christian Standard Bible
So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites.

International Standard Version
In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it can boast of great achievements. A huge forest can be set on fire by a little flame.

NET Bible
So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze.

New Heart English Bible
So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
In this way, also, the tongue is a small member and has dominion; even a small fire kindles a great forest.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
In the same way the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can brag about doing important things. A large forest can be set on fire by a little flame.

New American Standard 1977
So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!

Jubilee Bible 2000
In the same manner, the tongue is a very small member and boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest a little fire kindles!

King James 2000 Bible
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a forest a little fire kindles!

American King James Version
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles!

American Standard Version
So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire!

Douay-Rheims Bible
Even so the tongue is indeed a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how small a fire kindleth a great wood.

Darby Bible Translation
Thus also the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. See how little a fire, how large a wood it kindles!

English Revised Version
So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire!

Webster's Bible Translation
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

Weymouth New Testament
In the same way the tongue is an insignificant part of the body, but it is immensely boastful. Remember how a mere spark may set a vast forest in flames.

World English Bible
So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest!

Young's Literal Translation
so also the tongue is a little member, and doth boast greatly; lo, a little fire how much wood it doth kindle!
Study Bible
Taming the Tongue
4Consider ships as well. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot is inclined. 5In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things. Consider how small a spark sets a great forest ablaze. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of wickedness among the parts of the body. It pollutes the whole person, sets the course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.…
Cross References
Psalm 12:3
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things.

Psalm 39:1
I said, "I will watch my ways so that I will not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle as long as the wicked are present."

Psalm 73:8
They mock and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression.

Proverbs 26:20
Without wood, a fire goes out; without gossip, a conflict ceases.

James 3:4
Consider ships as well. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot is inclined.

Treasury of Scripture

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles!

so.

Exodus 5:2
And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

Exodus 15:9
The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

2 Kings 19:22-24
Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel…

matter.







Lexicon
In the same way,
Οὕτως (Houtōs)
Adverb
Strong's Greek 3779: Thus, so, in this manner. Or (referring to what precedes or follows).

the
(hē)
Article - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

tongue
γλῶσσα (glōssa)
Noun - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 1100: The tongue; by implication, a language.

is
ἐστὶν (estin)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 1510: I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.

a small
μικρὸν (mikron)
Adjective - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 3398: Little, small. Including the comparative mikroteros apparently a primary word; small (figuratively) dignity).

part of the body,
μέλος (melos)
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 3196: A bodily organ, limb, member. Of uncertain affinity; a limb or part of the body.

[but]
καὶ (kai)
Conjunction
Strong's Greek 2532: And, even, also, namely.

it boasts of
αὐχεῖ (auchei)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 3166: To boast, be arrogant, vaunt. From a compound of megas and aucheo; to talk big, i.e. Be grandiloquent.

great things.
μεγάλα (megala)
Adjective - Accusative Neuter Plural
Strong's Greek 3173: Large, great, in the widest sense.

Consider
ἰδοὺ (idou)
Verb - Aorist Imperative Active - 2nd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 2400: See! Lo! Behold! Look! Second person singular imperative middle voice of eido; used as imperative lo!

how small
ἡλίκον (hēlikon)
Adjective - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 2245: Of which size, of what size, how small, how much. From helix; as big as, i.e. how much.

a spark
πῦρ (pyr)
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 4442: Fire; the heat of the sun, lightning; fig: strife, trials; the eternal fire. A primary word; 'fire'.

sets
ἀνάπτει (anaptei)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 381: To kindle, set on fire, light. From ana and hapto; to enkindle.

a great
ἡλίκην (hēlikēn)
Adjective - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 2245: Of which size, of what size, how small, how much. From helix; as big as, i.e. how much.

forest {ablaze}.
ὕλην (hylēn)
Noun - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 5208: Wood, fuel. Perhaps akin to xulon; a forest, i.e. fuel.
(5) Even so . . .--Thus, like the tiny rudder of the mighty ship, whereon its course most critically depends--the tongue is a little member; for it "vaunts great words which bring about great acts of mischief." The verb translated boasteth is peculiar to this place, but occurs so often in the works of Philo that we may be almost certain St. James had read them. And many other verses of our Epistle suggests his knowledge of this famous Alexandrian Jew.

Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!--It would be more in the spirit and temper of this imaginative passage to render it, "Behold, how great a forest a little spark kindleth!" Thus it is expressed in the Latin Vulgate; and note our own margin, "wood." The image constantly recurs in poetry, ancient and modern; and in the writer's mind there seems to have been the picture "of the wrapping of some vast forest in a flame, by the falling of a single spark," and this in illustration of the far-reaching mischief resulting from a single cause. (Comp. Ecclesiasticus 28:10.)

Verse 5. -

(1) Application, of illustration. The tongue is only a little member, but it boasts great things. The true reading appears to be μεγάλα αὐχεῖ (A, B, C). The compound verb of the Textus Receptus, μεγαλαυχεῖν, is found in the LXX. (Ezekiel 16:50; Zephaniah 3:11; 2 Macc. 15:32; Ecclus. 48:18).

(2) Third illustration. A very small fire may kindle a very large forest. Ἡλίκον (א, A2, B, C1, Vulgate) should be read instead of ὀλίγον (A1, C2, K, L, ff). It is equivalent to quantulus as well as quantus. A somewhat similar thought to the one before us is found in Ecclus. 11:32, "Of a spark of fire a heap of coals is kindled." Υλη "Matter," A.V.; "wood," R.V. The word is only found here in the New Testament. In the LXX. it is used for a "matter" of judgment in Job 19:29; "matter" in the philosophical sense in Wisd. 11:18. (cf. 15:13); the "matter" of a book in 2 Macc. 2:24; the "matter" of a fire in Ecclus. 28:10 (the whole passage, vers. 8-12, is wroth comparing with the one before us); and for "forest" in Job 38:40; Isaiah 10:17. It is most natural to take it in this sense here (so Syriac and Vulgate, silva). "The literal meaning is certainly to be preferred to the philosophical" (Lightfoot on Revision, p. 140). Forest fires are frequently referred to by the ancients. Virgil's description of one ('Georgies,' 2:303) is well known; so also Homer's ('Iliad,' 11:155). 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.
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