James 4:14
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

King James Bible
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Darby Bible Translation
ye who do not know what will be on the morrow, ([for] what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, appearing for a little while, and then disappearing,)

World English Bible
Whereas you don't know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.

Young's Literal Translation
who do not know the thing of the morrow; for what is your life? for it is a vapour that is appearing for a little, and then is vanishing;

James 4:14 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Whereas ye know not - This verse should be read in a parenthesis. It is not only impious, but grossly absurd, to speak thus concerning futurity, when ye know not what a day may bring forth. Life is utterly precarious; and God has not put it within the power of all the creatures he has made to command one moment of what is future.

It is even a vapour - Ατμις γαρ εστιν· It is a smoke, always fleeting, uncertain, evanescent, and obscured with various trials and afflictions. This is a frequent metaphor with the Hebrews; see Psalm 102:11; My days are like a shadow: Job 8:9; Our days upon earth are a shadow: 1 Chronicles 29:15; Our days on the earth are a shadow, and there is no abiding. Quid tam circumcisum, tam breve, quam hominis vita longissima? Plin. l. iii., Ephesians 7. "What is so circumscribed, or so short, as the longest life of man?" "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth, because the breath of the Lord bloweth upon it. Surely the people is like grass." St. James had produced the same figure, James 1:10, James 1:11. But there is a very remarkable saying in the book of Ecclesiasticus, which should be quoted: "As of the green leaves of a thick tree, some fall and some grow; so is the generation of flesh and blood: one cometh to an end, and another is born." Ecclus. 14:18.

We find precisely the same image in Homer as that quoted above. Did the apocryphal writer borrow it from the Greek poet?

Οἱη περ φυλλων γενεη, τοιηδε και ανδρων·

Φυλλα τα μεν τ' ανεμος χαμαδις χεει, αλλα δε θ' ὑλη

Τηλεθοωσα φυει, εσρος δ' επιγιγνεται ὡρη·

Ὡς ανδρων γενεη, ἡ μεν φυει, ἡ δ' αποληγει.

Il. l. vi., ver. 146.

Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,

Now green in youth, now withering on the ground

Another race the following spring supplies;

They fall successive, and successive rise.

So generations in their course decay;

So flourish these, when those are pass'd away.

continued...

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

It is. or, For it is. a vapour.

James 1:10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

Job 7:6,7 My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope...

Job 9:25,26 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good...

Job 14:1,2 Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble...

Psalm 39:5 Behold, you have made my days as an handbreadth; and my age is as nothing before you...

Psalm 89:47 Remember how short my time is: why have you made all men in vain?

Psalm 90:5-7 You carry them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which grows up...

Psalm 102:3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.

Isaiah 38:12 My age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life...

1 Peter 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass wither, and the flower thereof falls away:

1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch to prayer.

1 John 2:17 And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God stays for ever.

Library
December 29 Evening
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.--JAMES 4:8. Enoch walked with God.--Can two walk together, except they be agreed?--It is good for me to draw near to God. The Lord is with you, while ye be with him: and if ye seek him, he will be found of you: but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. When they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

April 4. "Resist the Devil and He Will Flee" (James iv. 7).
"Resist the devil and he will flee" (James iv. 7). Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. This is a promise, and God will keep it to us. If we resist the adversary, He will compel him to flee, and will give us the victory. We can, at all times, fearlessly stand up in defiance, in resistance to the enemy, and claim the protection of our heavenly King just as a citizen would claim the protection of the government against an outrage or injustice on the part of violent men. At the same time we
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Next Let not Man, Now that He Knoweth that by the Grace of God...
44. Next let not man, now that he knoweth that by the grace of God he is what he is, fall into another snare of pride, so as by lifting up himself for the very grace of God to despise the rest. By which fault that other Pharisee both gave thanks unto God for the goods which he had, and yet vaunted himself above the Publican confessing his sins. What therefore should a virgin do, what should she think, that she vaunt not herself above those, men or women, who have not this so great gift? For she ought
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

Whether Strife is a Daughter of Anger?
Objection 1: It would seem that strife is not a daughter of anger. For it is written (James 4:1): "Whence are wars and contentions? Are they not . . . from your concupiscences, which war in your members?" But anger is not in the concupiscible faculty. Therefore strife is a daughter, not of anger, but of concupiscence. Objection 2: Further, it is written (Prov. 28:25): "He that boasteth and puffeth up himself, stirreth up quarrels." Now strife is apparently the same as quarrel. Therefore it seems
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Cross References
Job 7:7
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.

Psalm 39:5
You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

Psalm 78:39
He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.

Psalm 102:3
For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.

Psalm 144:4
They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow.

Proverbs 27:1
Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Isaiah 2:22
Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?

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