The last subject is discussed in
1. James--an apostle of the circumcision, with Peter and John,
James in Jerusalem, Palestine, and Syria; Peter in Babylon and the
East; John in Ephesus and Asia Minor. Peter addresses the dispersed
Jews of Pontus, Galatia, and Cappadocia; James, the
Israelites of the twelve tribes scattered abroad.
servant of God--not that he was not an apostle; for Paul,
an apostle, also calls himself so; but as addressing the Israelites
generally, including even indirectly the unbelieving, he in humility
omits the title "apostle"; so Paul in writing to the Hebrews; similarly
Jude, an apostle, in his General Epistle.
Jesus Christ--not mentioned again save in
not at all in his speeches
(Ac 15:14, 15; 21:20, 21),
lest his introducing the name of Jesus oftener should seem to arise
from vanity, as being "the Lord's brother"
[BENGEL]. His teaching being practical, rather
than doctrinal, required less frequent mention of Christ's name.
scattered abroad--literally "which are in the dispersion." The
dispersion of the Israelites, and their connection with Jerusalem as a
center of religion, was a divinely ordered means of propagating
Christianity. The pilgrim troops of the law became caravans of the
greeting--found in no other Christian letter, but in James and
the Jerusalem Synod's Epistle to the Gentile churches; an undesigned
coincidence and mark or genuineness. In the original Greek
(chairein) for "greeting," there is a connection with the "joy"
to which they are exhorted amidst their existing distresses from
poverty and consequent oppression. Compare
which alludes to their poverty.
2. My brethren--a phrase often found in James, marking community
of nation and of faith.
all joy--cause for the highest joy
[GROTIUS]. Nothing but joy
[PISCATOR]. Count all "divers temptations"
to be each matter of joy [BENGEL].
fall into--unexpectedly, so as to be encompassed by them
(so the original Greek).
temptations--not in the limited sense of allurements to sin, but
trials or distresses of any kind which test and purify the
Christian character. Compare "tempt," that is, try,
Some of those to whom James writes were "sick," or otherwise
Every possible trial to the child of God is a masterpiece of strategy
of the Captain of his salvation for his good.
3. the trying--the testing or proving of your
faith, namely, by "divers temptations." Compare
tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience (in
the original dokime, akin to dokimion, "trying," here;
there it is experience: here the "trying" or testing,
whence experience flows).
patience--The original implies more; persevering
endurance and continuance (compare
4. Let endurance have a perfect work (taken out of the
previous "worketh patience" or endurance), that is, have its
full effect, by showing the most perfect degree of endurance,
namely, "joy in bearing the cross" [MENOCHIUS],
and enduring to the end
ye may be perfect--fully developed in all the attributes of a
Christian character. For this there is required "joy"
[BENGEL], as part of the "perfect work" of
probation. The work of God in a man is the man. If God's teachings by
patience have had a perfect work in you, you are perfect
entire--that which has all its parts complete, wanting no
"your whole (literally, 'entire') spirit, soul, and body"; as "perfect"
implies without a blemish in its parts.
5. English Version omits "But," which the Greek
has, and which is important. "But (as this perfect entireness
wanting nothing is no easy attainment) if any," &c.
lack--rather, as the Greek word is repeated after James's
"wanting nothing," translate, "If any of you want
wisdom," namely, the wisdom whereby ye may "count it all joy when ye
fall into divers temptations," and "let patience have her perfect
work." This "wisdom" is shown in its effects in detail,
The highest wisdom, which governs patience alike in poverty and riches,
is described in
Jas 1:9, 10.
liberally--So the Greek is rendered by English
Version. It is rendered with simplicity,
God gives without adding aught which may take off from the graciousness
of the gift [ALFORD]. God requires the same
"simplicity" in His children ("eye . . . single,"
upbraideth not--an illustration of God's giving simply.
He gives to the humble suppliant without upbraiding him with his past
sin and ingratitude, or his future abuse of God's goodness. The Jews
pray, "Let me not have need of the gifts of men, whose gifts are few,
but their upbraidings manifold; but give me out of Thy large and full
hand." Compare Solomon's prayer for "wisdom," and God's gift above what
he asked, though God foresaw his future abuse of His goodness would
deserve very differently. James has before his eye the Sermon on the
Mount (see my
God hears every true prayer and grants either the thing asked, or else
something better than it; as a good physician consults for his
patient's good better by denying something which the latter asks not
for his good, than by conceding a temporary gratification to his
6. ask in faith--that is, the persuasion that God can and will
give. James begins and ends with faith. In the middle of the
Epistle he removes the hindrances to faith and shows its true character
wavering--between belief and unbelief. Compare the case of the
Israelites, who seemed to partly believe in God's power, but leaned
more to unbelief by "limiting" it. On the other hand, compare
("staggered not . . . through unbelief," literally, as
here, "wavered not");
like a wave of the sea--
where the same Greek word occurs for "tossed to and fro," as is
here translated, "driven with the wind."
driven with the wind--from without.
tossed--from within, by its own instability
[BENGEL]. At one time cast on the shore of faith
and hope, at another rolled back into the abyss of unbelief; at one
time raised to the height of worldly pride, at another tossed in the
sands of despair and affliction [WIESINGER].
7. For--resumed from "For" in
that man--such a wavering self-deceiver.
think--Real faith is something more than a mere
thinking or surmise.
anything--namely, of the things that he prays for: he does
receive many things from God, food, raiment, &c., but these are the
general gifts of His providence: of the things specially granted in
answer to prayer, the waverer shall not receive "anything," much less
8. double-minded--literally, "double-souled," the one soul
directed towards God, the other to something else. The Greek
favors ALFORD'S translation, "He (the waverer,
is a man double-minded, unstable," &c.; or better,
BEZA'S. The words in this
are in apposition with "that man,"
thus the "us," which is not in the original, will not need to be
supplied, "A man double-minded, unstable in all his ways!" The word for
"double-minded" is found here and in
for the first time in Greek literature. It is not a hypocrite
that is meant, but a fickle, "wavering" man, as the context
shows. It is opposed to the single eye
9, 10. Translate, "But let the brother," &c. that is, the
best remedy against double-mindedness is that Christian
simplicity of spirit whereby the "brother," low in outward
circumstances, may "rejoice" (answering to
"in that he is exalted," namely, by being accounted a son and heir of
God, his very sufferings being a pledge of his coming glory and crown
and the rich may rejoice "in that he is made low," by being stripped of
his goods for Christ's sake [MENOCHIUS]; or in
that he is made, by sanctified trials, lowly in spirit, which is true
matter for rejoicing [GOMARUS]. The design of the
Epistle is to reduce all things to an equable footing
(Jas 2:1; 5:13).
The "low," rather than the "rich," is here called "the brother"
10. So far as one is merely "rich" in worldly goods, "he shall
pass away"; in so far as his predominant character is that of a
"brother," he "abideth for ever"
This view meets all ALFORD'S objections to
regarding "the rich" here as a "brother" at all. To avoid making the
rich a brother, he translates, "But the rich glories in his
humiliation," namely, in that which is really his debasement (his rich
just as the low is told to rejoice in what is really his exaltation
(his lowly state).
11. Taken from
heat--rather, "the hot wind" from the (east or) south, which
The "burning heat" of the sun is not at its rising, but rather
at noon; whereas the scorching Kadim wind is often at sunrise
[MIDDLETON, The Doctrine of the Greek
uses the Greek word for "heat."
"bloweth upon it," seems to answer to "the hot wind"
grace of the fashion--that is of the external appearance.
in his ways--referring to the burdensome extent of the rich
man's devices [BENGEL]. Compare "his ways," that
is, his course of life,
12. Blessed--Compare the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount
(Mt 5:4, 10, 11).
endureth temptation--not the "falling into divers temptations"
is the matter for "joy," but the enduring of temptation "unto
the end." Compare
when he is tried--literally, "when he has become tested" or
"approved," when he has passed through the "trying"
his "faith" having finally gained the victory.
the crown--not in allusion to the crown or garland given to
winners in the games; for this, though a natural allusion for Paul in
writing to the heathen, among whom such games existed, would be less
appropriate for James in addressing the Jewish Christians, who regarded
Gentile usages with aversion.
of life--"life" constitutes the crown, literally, the
life, the only true life, the highest and eternal life. The crown
implies a kingdom
the Lord--not found in the best manuscripts and versions. The
believer's heart fills up the omission, without the name needing to be
mentioned. The "faithful One who promised"
to them that love him--In
"the crown of righteousness to them that love His appearing." Love
produces patient endurance: none attest their love more than
they who suffer for Him.
13. when . . . tempted%%%%%