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1. Lusts (hdonwn). Lit., pleasures, as Rev. Properly, sensual pleasures. The sinful pleasures are the outgrowths of the lusts, ver. 2.
That war (strateuomenwn). The thought of wars and fightings is carried into the figurative description of the sensuality which arrays its forces and carries on its campaign in the members. The verb does not imply mere fighting, but all that is included in military service. A remarkable parallel occurs in Plato, "Phaedo," lxvi. "For whence come wars and fightings and factions? Whence but from the body and the lusts of the body? "Compare 1 Pet. ii. 11; Rom. vii. 23.
Desire to have (zhloute). Rev., covet, and are jealous, in margin. See on ch. iii. 14.
Consume it upon (dapanhshte en). More correctly, as Rev., spend it in. The sense is not lay out expense upon your pleasures, but spend in the exercise of; under the dominion of.
4. Ye adulterers (moicoi) All the best texts omit.
Adulteresses (moicalidev). The feminine term is the general designation of all whom James here rebukes. The apostate members of the church are figuratively regarded as unfaithful spouses; according to the common Old Testament figure, in which God is the bridegroom or husband to whom his people are wedded. See Jeremiah 3; Hosea 2, 3, 4; Isa. liv. 5; lxii. 4, 5. Also, Matt. xii. 39; 2 Cor. xi. 2; Apoc. xix. 7; xxi. 9. Will be (boulhqh einai). More correctly, as Rev., would be. Lit., may have been minded to be.
Is the enemy (kaqistatai). Thereby constitutes himself. Rev., maketh himself. See on ch. iii. 6.
5. Do ye think (dokeite). See on ch. i. 26.
The scripture (h grafh). See on Mark xii. 10. Properly, a passage of scripture.
In vain (kenwv). Only here in New Testament.
Proud. See on Mark vii. 22.
Humble. See on Matt. vii. 29.
7. Submit yourselves (upotaghte). Rev., be subject. The verb means to place or arrange under; as resist (ver. 6) is to array against. God sets himself in array against the proud; therefore, array yourselves under God, that ye may withstand the devil.
9. Be afflicted (talaipwrhsate). Only here in New Testament. The kindred noun talaipwria, misery, occurs ch. v. 1.
Mourn (penqhsate). Used of grief that is manifested. So mostly in New Testament, and very commonly joined, as here, with weep. So Mark xvi. 10; Luke vi. 25, etc. In the next sentence occurs the kindred noun penqov mourning, into which laughter, also something manifest, is to be changed. Heaviness (kathfeian). Properly, a casting down of the eyes. Compare Luke xviii. 13. Only here in New Testament.
12. There is one lawgiver (eiv estin o nomoqethv). The A.V. fails to note the emphatic position of one. Better, Rev., one only is the lawgiver. Nomoqethv, lawgiver, only here in New Testament.
13. Go to now (age nun). Go to is an obsolete phrase, though retained in Rev. It is a formula for calling attention: come now.
Such a city (thnde thn polin). More accurately, as Rev., this city. Continue there a year (toihsomen ekei eniauton). Lit., we will make a year. See, for the same form of expression, Acts xv. 33; xviii. 23; 2 Corinthians xi. 25. Better, as Rev., spend a year there. (Compare the A.V., Acts xviii. 23, rightly retained by Rev.) The word poihsomen implies more than mere continuance; rather, a doing something with the year.
And. The frequent use of the copulative gives a lively tone to the passage, expressive of the lightness and thoughtlessness of a careless spirit. Buy and sell (emporeusomeqa). Rev., more concisely, trade. Only here and 2 Pet. ii. 3.
14. Whereas ye know not (oitinev ouk epistasqe). The pronoun marking a class, as being of those who know not.
What shall be on the morrow (to thv aurion). Lit., the thing of the morrow. The texts vary. Westcott and Hort read, Ye know not what your life shalt be on the morrow, for ye are a vapor: thus throwing out the question.
It is even a vapor (atmiv gar estin). But all the best texts read ejste, ye are. So Rev., which, however, retains the question, what is your life?
Appeareth - vanisheth. Both participles, appearing, vanishing.
And then (epeita kai). The kai placed after the adverb then is not copulative, but expresses that the vapor vanishes even as it appeared.
15. For that ye ought to say (anti tou legein umav). Ver. 14 was parenthetical, so that at this point the thought is taken up from ver. xiii. Ye who say we will go, etc. - for that ye ought to say. The rendering in margin of Rev. is simpler: instead of your saying.
16. Ye rejoice (kaucasqe). Rev., glory. See on ch. ii. 13.
Boastings (alazoneiaiv). Only here and 1 John ii. 16. The kindred word ajlazwn a boaster, is derived from alh, a wandering or roaming; hence, primarily, a vagabond, a quack, a mountebank. From the empty boasts of such concerning the cures and wonders they could perform, the word passed into the sense of boaster. One may boast truthfully; but ajlazoneia, is false and swaggering boasting. Rev. renders vauntings, and rightly, since vaunt is from the Latin vanus, empty, and therefore expresses idle or vain boasting.