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James Chapter 1
Endurance and Wisdom
- James, a slave of God and the Anointed Lord Jesus, to the twelve tribes in The Dispersion;(1)“The Dispersion” refers to the Jews who were spread across – i.e. dispersed – throughout the Roman Empire. greetings.
- My brothers, consider it all joy when you fall into various trials,
- knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
- And let endurance have its perfect work so you might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask for it from God – the One who gives generously to all and not while scorning – and it will be given to him.
- Yet let him ask in faith, doubting nothing. For the man who doubts was – and is – like a sea wave, being blown by the wind and being tossed by the breeze.
- For let that man not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.
- That man is double-minded, completely unstable in all his ways.
- But let the brother of low position boast in his high position,
- and let the rich man boast in his low estate because he will pass away like a grassy flower.
- For the sun rose with its scorching heat and withered the grass, and its flower fell, and the beauty of its appearance perished. In this way also, the rich man will wither in his pursuits.
- Blessed is the man who endures a trial, because after becoming approved, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to the men who show preference(2)“show preference” The Greek word used here is “ἀγαπάω” (agapao), which is the verb form of “ἀγάπη” (agape), typically translated “love”. However, unlike our English word “love” – which primarily speaks of affection and feelings – agape centers on preference. In the verb form, it literally means “to prefer” or “show preference for”. In the New Testament, that usually means “moral preference”, or “actively preferring what God prefers” in what we do, not just in what we feel. It’s the “love” based on will, choice, decision, and action; not feelings. (Feelings-based love is the Greek word “φιλέω” (phileó), which properly means “brotherly love/affection”.) to Him.
- Let no one who’s being tempted say: “I’m tempted by God.” For God is unable to be tempted by evil, and He tempts no one.
- But each is tempted, being drawn away and enticed by his own cravings.
- Then being conceived, a craving gives birth to sin. And being accomplished, sin delivers death.
- Don’t be misled my beloved brothers.
Doers of the word
- Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above; coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there’s no change or shifting shadow.
- And being resolved, He birthed us by the word of truth, for us to be a kind of firstfruit of His creatures.
- Know this my beloved brothers, and let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger;
- for man’s anger doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.
- Therefore, having set aside all filthiness and abundant wickedness, welcome the implanted word in gentle strength;(3)“gentle strength” this Greek word is often translated “meek” or “gentle”. However, it doesn’t mean the absence of power as “meek” would suggest. Instead, it specifically refers to strength or power that is gently exercised, without undue harshness. i.e. some who is strong but applies their strength gently. the word which is able to save your souls. (4)“soul” The Greek word here is “ψυχή” (psuché). It does not mean the part of us which survives death and goes to reward or punishment (Biblically that’s our spirit. In Revelation 8:9, animals are said to have “psuché”.) Psuché literally means “breath” and is usually translated “life”. It refers to the life; the vital force which – together with the body – enables a person to live. It can also refer to mind, will, emotions, and desires, which together make up a person’s identity.
- And become doers of the word, and not hearers only (who are deceiving yourselves.)
- Because if someone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this man was – and is – like a man considering his natural face in a mirror.
- For he considers himself and departs, and immediately he has forgotten what kind of man he was.
- But the man who carefully inspects the perfect law (the law of liberty) and remains in it hasn’t become a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work. This man will be blessed in his deeds.
- If someone appears to be religious while not bridling his tongue (but deceiving his heart), this man’s religion is worthless.
- Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep yourself unsullied by the world.
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James Chapter 2
Don’t show Partiality
- My brothers, hold to the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus the Anointed, but not with partiality.
- For if a man comes into your synagogue wearing a gold ring and magnificent clothes, and also a poor man in filthy clothes comes,
- yet you’re attentive to the man who wears the magnificent apparel and say. “You sit here honorably” and to the poor man you say: “You, stand there or sit under my footstool”,
- haven’t you distinguished between yourselves and become judges with wicked thoughts?
- Listen my beloved brothers: didn’t God choose the poor of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to the men who show preference(5)“show preference” is literal, though it’s often translated “love” here. The Greek word here is “ἀγαπάω” (agapaó), the verb form of “ἀγάπη” (agapé). It literally means “to have a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of” (Thayer’s). Unlike the English word “love”, agapaó does not center on feelings. It’s the “love” based on will, choice, and action; not feelings. (Feelings-based love is the Greek word “φιλέω” (phileó), which properly means “brotherly love/affection”.) to Him?
- Yet you dishonored the poor. Don’t the rich oppress you and don’t they drag you into court?
- Don’t they blaspheme the noble name by which you were called?
- Nevertheless, if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture: “You shall show preference(6)“show preference”; see previous note to your neighbor as yourself“,(7)quotation/allusion to Leviticus 19:18 you do well.
- But if you show partiality you commit a sin, being convicted by the law as deliberate violator.
- For whoever keeps the whole law yet stumbles at one point did – and does – become guilty of all of it.
- For the One who said you shouldn’t have sex with another man’s wife(8)Quotation/allusion to Exodus 20:14; “have sex with another man’s wife” is one word in the Greek, typically translated “commit adultery”. However, the Greek word (and Hebrew too) is more limited in scope than our English word adultery. In English, “adultery” means illicit sex between a married person – man or woman – and someone who isn’t their spouse. In Greek (and Hebrew also), it meant “a man having sex with another man’s wife”. A married man having sex with an unmarried woman was called fornication. also said you shouldn’t murder.(9)Quotation/allusion to Exodus 20:13 Yet if you don’t have sex with another man’s wife but do murder, you did – and do – become a deliberate violator of the law.
- Speak this way and act this way; like someone about to be judged by the law of liberty,
- for judgement is merciless to the man who didn’t show mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.
Faith and Works
- My brothers, what is the benefit if someone claims to have faith but has no works? That faith isn’t able to save him, is it?
- If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacking daily food,
- and someone from among you says: “Depart in peace; warm and feed yourself”,(10)“warm and feed yourself” could also be translated “be warmed and fed”. Both Greek verbs here have the same inflections for the middle voice (warm and feed yourselves) and the passive voice (be warmed and fed), making either a legitimate translation. but didn’t give them what’s necessary for the body, what’s the benefit?
- In this way also, faith by itself is dead if it doesn’t have works.
- But someone will say: “You have faith and I have works”. Demonstrate your faith to me without works and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
- You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble.
- And do you want to realize, O empty-headed man, that faith without works is useless?
- Wasn’t our father Abraham made righteous by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
- You see that his faith was working together with his works, and by the works his faith was perfected.
- And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: “And Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”(11)quotation/allusion to Genesis 15:6 and he was called a friend of God.
- You see that a man is made righteous by works and not by faith alone.
- And likewise also, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute made righteous by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out another way?
- For just as the body without a spirit is dead, in this way also faith without works is dead.
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James Chapter 3
- My brothers, not many of you should become teachers, having known – and knowing – that we will receive greater judgement.
- For we all stumble in many ways. If someone doesn’t stumble in speaking, this is a perfect man; indeed, he’s able to bridle the whole body.
- And if we put bits into horses’ mouths for them to be influenced by us, we also direct their whole body.
- Also look at the ships: while being so great and being propelled by fierce winds, it’s directed by the smallest rudder wherever the impulse of the man who steers decides.
- In this way also, the tongue is a small part and boasts great things. See how a small fire ignites a great forest.
- The tongue is also a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is appointed among our parts which defiles the whole body, even igniting the course of nature, and being ignited by the Valley of Hinnom.(12)“Valley of Hinnom” is literal, though most translations render it “hell”. Any lexicon will tell you it’s a proper noun referring to a specific valley – the Valley of Hinnom – just outside Jerusalem. Symbolically, it’s where the Jews believed the wicked were punished in the afterlife. Further, Israel’s wickedness in this valley provoked God to prophesy and then bring about Israel’s captivity by Babylon, (Jeremiah 19:1-11, and 2 kings 25:1-12) making it one of the most infamous landmarks in Israel.
- For every race of both beasts and birds; and both reptiles and aquatic animals is being tamed; and they were – and are – tamed by the human race.
- But no one among men is able to tame the tongue; it’s a complete unstable evil, full of deadly poison.
- With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men; the men who were – and are – made in the likeness of God.
- From the same mouth comes out a blessing and a curse. My brothers, these things ought not to be this way.
- Can fresh and bitter water flow from the same spring’s opening?
- My brothers, a fig tree isn’t able to produce olives, is it? Or a grape-vine figs? Neither is a salt spring able to produce fresh water.
- Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him demonstrate his works from good conduct in the gentle strength(13)“gentle strength” this Greek word is often translated “meek” or “gentle”. However, it doesn’t mean the absence of power as “meek” would suggest. Instead, it specifically refers to strength or power that is gently exercised, without undue harshness. i.e. some who is strong but applies their strength gently. of wisdom.
- But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish-ambition in your heart, don’t boast and lie against the truth.
- This isn’t the wisdom coming down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
- For where jealousy and selfish-ambition are, there chaos and every wicked deeds are also.
- But the wisdom from above is first indeed pure, then peaceful, compassionately just, inclined to obedience, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and without hypocrisy.
- And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by the men who make peace.
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James Chapter 4
The Source of Disputes and Quarrels
- From where come the fights, and from where come the quarrels among you? Aren’t they from your passions on each side which wage war among your members?
- You crave and don’t have, you murder and envy and aren’t able to obtain; you dispute and quarrel. You don’t have because you don’t ask.
- You ask and don’t receive because you ask wickedly so you might squander it on your passions.
- You adulteresses! Didn’t – and don’t – you know that friendship with the world is hostility to God? Therefore, whoever has decided to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
- Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks pointlessly? The spirit which dwells in us yearns to envy,(14)James 4:5 verse note. This verse is notoriously difficult to translate, especially the second clause, with multiple legitimate constructions possible. Some constructions have God being jealous over our (human) spirit, some have God desiring the (Holy) Spirit placed in us, and there are others as well. Most take the second clause as a scripture quotation, but there’s no scripture in the Old Testament which matches James words here. Therefore, it hasn’t been translated as a quotation because it doesn’t match any Old Testament scripture, and because it flows neatly into the following verse with the translation chosen here.
- but He gives greater grace. Therefore it says: “God arrays Himself in battle against the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(15)quotation/allusion to Psalm 138:6
- Therefore submit yourselves to God, but resist The Accuser and he will flee from you.
- Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hears you double-minded.
- Grieve, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into gloom.
- Be humbled in the sight of the Lord and He will exalt you.
- Brothers, don’t slander one another. The man who slanders a brother or judges his brother also slanders the law and judges the law. And if you judge the law, you aren’t a doer of the law but a judge of it.
- There is one lawgiver and judge; the One who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you O’ man who judges his neighbor?
- You men who say “Come now, today or tomorrow we’ll travel into that city and we’ll work a year there, and will trade, and will gain a profit”;
- men who don’t know what tomorrow brings. What is your life? For it’s merely vapor; appearing for a short time and afterwards vanishing.
- Instead, you’re to say: “If the Lord wills, we will live and will do this or that.”
- But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is wicked.
- Therefore, to a man who did – and does – know to do good and doesn’t do it, it’s sin to him.
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James Chapter 5
The wicked rich and their fate
- Come now you rich; weep, wailing over the miseries which are coming upon you.
- Your wealth did – and does – rot, and your clothes did – and do – become moth-eaten.
- You gold and silver did – and do – corrode, and their rust will be a testimony against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days.
- Behold, the wage of the workman who harvested your fields, the man who was – and is – defrauded by you, calls out; and the cries of the men who harvested did – and does – enter into the ears of the Lord of Hosts.
- You lived luxuriously on the earth, and lived self-indulgently; you fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.
- You condemned and murdered the righteous; he doesn’t resist you.
- Therefore brothers, patiently persevere until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, patiently persevering for it until it receives the early and late rains.
- You also must patiently persevere. Strengthen your hearts because the coming of the Lord did – and does – draw near.
- Brothers, don’t internally groan against one another so you might not be judged. Behold, the Judge did – and does – stand before the doors.
- Brothers, as an example of affliction and patience perseverance, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
- Behold, we consider the men who persevere blessed. You heard of Job’s perseverance, and you saw the outcome of the Lord; that the Lord is merciful and very compassionate.
- But before all things my brothers, don’t swear an oath; neither by heaven, nor the earth, nor any other oath. But let your yes be yes and your no be no, so you don’t not fall under judgement.
- Is someone among you suffering hardship? Let him pray. Is someone cheerful? Let him sing.
- Is someone among you sick? Let him summon the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,
- and the prayer of faith will save the man who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him.
- Therefore, confess the sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you might be healed. A righteous man’s prayer is very powerful, accomplishing much.
- Elijah was a man of the same nature as us, and he prayed a prayer for it not to rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three years and six months.
- And again he prayed, and the sky gave rain and the land grew its fruit.
- My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone returns him,
- let him know that the man who returned a sinner from his wandering path will save his soul and will cover a multitude of sins.
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