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THE EPISTLE GENERAL OF JAMES 1
THE SALUTATION OF THE SERVANT OF GOD AND OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST TO THE TWELVE TRIBES IN THE DISPERSION. REFERENCE TO THE VARIEGATED TEMPTATIONS TO WHICH THEY ARE EXPOSED, AND TO THE JOYFUL DESIGN OF THE SAME: THEIR CONSUMMATION
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,2 greeting.3 2My brethren, count4 it all joy when ye fall into 3divers temptations.5 Knowing this, that the trying6 of your faith7 worketh patience.8 4But let patience9 have her perfect work,10 that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting 5nothing.11 If any of you lack Wisdom , 12 let him ask of God that giveth to all menliberally,13 and upbraideth14 not; and it shall be given him.15 6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering:16 for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the 7wind and tossed. 17 For18 let not that man think that he shall receive anything of 8the Lord. A doubleminded man19 is unstable in all his ways20 Let the brother of low 9degree21 rejoice22 in that he is exalted.23 But the rich,24 in that he is made low25: because10 as the26 flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen27 11with a burning heat28 but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.29 30
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Introduction. Analysis. The address and salutation; James 1:1.—Reference to temptation as a proof of endurance tending to joy: James 1:2-4.—The means of endurance, wisdom; hence deficiency in wisdom to be met by the prayer of undoubting faith; James 1:5-6.—Caution against instability; James 1:6-7.—Particular advice to the lowly and to the rich (in their own opinion); James 1:8-10.—The fate of the rich; James 1:11.
James 1:1. Address and Salutation. James, (on James, see Introduction above) servant of God, applied in the widest sense to Christians in general (1 Peter 2:16; Ephesians 6:6), denotes in the narrower sense, in the official use of the word, apostolical men (Philippians 1:1); but here the word in its fullest weight signifies not only the head of the church at Jerusalem, but also the Apostle whose special work lay among the Jewish Christian and the Jewish Dispersion (of which Jerusalem was the centre). Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1. [Oecumenius: ὑπἑρ πᾶν δὲ κοσμικὸν , τοῦτο γνώρισμα ἑαυτῶν βούλονται ποιεῖσθαι καὶ λέγοντεζ, καὶ ἐπιστέλλοντες καὶ διδάσκοντεςs.—M.].
Of God and of the Lord.—Of God not the attribute of Jesus Christ, as some expositors have rendered, but God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ represented as wielding one dominion (cf. John 17:3); thereby James also wisely takes together the old Testament and the New. The Apostolical and Christian office is one service; however not service rendered to man but service rendered to God and Jesus Christ with undivided consciousness, obedience and operation. [Oec. “θεοῦ μέν τοῦ πατρός. κυρίου δὲ τοῦ υἱοῦ.” Bengel: “videri potuisset, si Jesum sæpe appellaret, id ex ambitione facere, cum esset frater Domini. Atque eo minus novit Christum secundum carnem.” It is certainly remarkable that James mentions Christ only here and in James 2:1, while in his speeches (Acts 15:21) he does not name Him at all.—M.]
To the twelve tribes in the dispersion.—That is, in their Christian calling, and in being called to Christ. To Jewish Christians primarily (so Laurentius, Hottinger, Schneckenburger, Neander and others), but, secondarily also to the Jews, as far as their adoption of Christianity had not yet been given up (sofern sie noch nicht aufgegeben sind als werdende Christen). See Introduction. As yet all were treated as the theocratico-ideal unity of the people of Israel called to (the reception of) the faith. of course they are distinguished from the Gentile Christians (against Huther; see Wiesinger).
The twelve tribes (τὸ δωδεκάφυλον Acts 26:7) Matthew 19:28; Revelation 7:4-8, etc. The dispersion, see Deuteronomy 30:3; Nehemiah 1:9; Ps. 167:2; John 7:35, etc.
Greeting.—χαίρειν, the Greek form of salutation (χαίρειν sc. λέγει 1Ma 10:18; 2Ma 9:19); used also in the Apostolical decree Acts 15:23 (to which Huther, following Kern, rightly calls attention). The Hebrew שָׁלוֹס Isaiah 48:22 etc. Cf. the forms of salutation used by the other Apostles; as here, they always correspond with the fundamental ideas of the several Epistles. James desires to preserve to his brethren the true joy and to become instrumental in their securing it. Hence χαίρειν of James 5:1 relates to χαρά James 5:2, which we seek to express in the translation, “Salutation of joy (Freudegruss).” [See above in Appar. Crit. James 5:1.—M.].
James 1:4. Reference to the temptation and its design. All joy.—πᾶσα χαρά, not as some of the older expositors render “the highest joy,” but all joy, joy throughout (ὅλως Carpzov., Huther; entire joy) unless indeed the joy, as an all-sided one, is to correspond with the ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς [“all sorts of joy,” “all conceivable joy,” Alford; “rem revera omnique ex parte Iætam,” Theile.—M.]. But this ςαρά is not mere gaudendi materia (Huther): rather, they are to convert the objective substance of joy into subjective riches of joy. ἡγήσασθε is therefore emphatic. [The repetition at the beginning of a Verse or sentence, of the last word in the one preceding, called by grammarians duadiplosis is characteristic of the style of James; e.g. χαίρειν χαράν James 1:1 and following; ὑπομονήν, James 1:3; λειπόμενοι, James 1:4; διακρινόμενος, James 1:6; compare also James 1:13; James 1:19; James 1:21-22; James 1:26.—M.].
My brethren.—Primarily used to denote community of faith, but here also community of theocratic nationality (see James 1:16; James 1:19; James 2:5; James 4:11; James 5:7; James 5:9; James 5:19). [Wordsworth remarks that “this address is very suitable in an Epistle like the present, characterized by the language of stern rebuke; inspired like the reproof of St. Stephen, by the Spirit of Love. James, ‘the Lord’s brother,’ having the Spirit of the Lord, addresses even them as ‘brothers.’ ”—M.].
When ye fall into divers temptations.—These πειρασμοί are the chief motive of the Epistle. And certainly they are not only in a general sense the θλίψεις which an unbelieving world prepares for believers (Luke 8:13; Matthew 13:21 (Huther); nor are they parallel to 1 Peter 1:6. Still less are they in essential antithesis to πειράζεσθαι James 5:13 (as Wiesinger thinks), the antithesis is at the most that of objective incitement and its corresponding subjective irritability. It is a very definite, concrete idea, the elements of which may be gathered in part from the circumstances of the time (see Introduction), and in part from the Epistle itself. The Jewish Christians were then tempted, on the one hand by the hatred of the pagans, on the other by the national fanaticism of the Jews (an alternate odium generis humani), and their ever-rising chiliastic desire of rebellion; they were tempted to participate in the antipathy to the pagans and to transfer it to the Gentile-Christians, to sympathize with the visionary Jewish national sentiment and thus to be again surprised by the old legal service. They were tempted to Ebionitism, which was already germinating (James 2:0), and beyond it to zealotry (James 3:0), to insurrection, (James 4:0), and to apostasy (James 5:0). The temptation came therefore from every side and took the most variegated shapes of alluring and threatening, while their hereditary Judaistic lust presented a counter-impulse (James 1:13). Thus the one great πειρασμός resolved itself into the πειρασμοὶ ποικίλοι. Now since the adjective ποικίλος denotes not only the diverse, but primarily the variegated, it probably contains an allusion to the manifold-dazzling glitter of colours in which the Jewish-Christian and Jewish temptations presented themselves and whereby they might even appear in the guise of Divine revelations and prophetical warnings urging them to be zealous for the honour of God. Into the midst of such temptations they had fallen; on all hands they were surrounded by them (on περιπίπιειν consult the Lexica and Huther), [περιπίπιειν to fall into the midst of anything, so as to be wholly surrounded by it. Luke 10:30; Acts 27:41. So ὅστις ἄν τοιαύταις ξυμφοραῖς περιπέσῃ Plato, Legg. 9, 877. c; μεγάλοις ’ Αἰτωλῶν, καὶ μεγάλαις συμφοραῖς περιπεσόντες Polyb. p. 402, James 1:5; πανικῷ περιπεσόντες, Ib. p. 670, l. 6; λῃστᾶις περιέπεσε Diog. Laert. 4, 50; κακοῖς, 2Ma 10:4, etc.—M.]. The design of every affliction of believers to turn by proof (δοκιμή) into spiritual joy (Acts 4:23; Romans 5:3, etc.) was consequently in an eminent degree peculiar to this great temptation. But this temptation did doubtless bring many an inconstant Jewish-Christian to ruin before the Jewish war, as did that under Bar Cochba.
James 1:3. Since ye know that the proof of your faith worketh endurance.—The Participle γινώσκοντες explains ἡγήσασθε and indicates by way of encouragement the manner how they might turn the heart-grief of the proof into joy (hence neither “and know” (Luther), nor “for you know” Pott). Τὸ δοκίμιον (found only here and 1 Peter 1:7) may mean the medium of proof (the proper signification of δοκιμεῖον, which occurs as a different reading of this passage, also as opposed to δόκιμον), but also proof (δοκιμή) as the result of the test. Huther following Oecumenius insists upon the latter sense, Wiesinger with Semler, Theile and others, the former. And rightly so, although in 1 Peter 1:7 the word signifies proof; for this δοκίμιον is designed to effect the endurance consequent upon δοκιμή. Wiesinger rightly cites Romans 5:3-4, where θλίψις effects ὑπομονή, etc. Huther says that then we ought to have τοῦτο τὸ δοκίμιον. But the temptation and the proof are not purely identical. The tempting element of the proof emanates from the evil one, while the proving element of the proof comes from God. Temptation is proof under the aggravating coöperation of evil incitement to evil. This settles also the objection that temptations may result in failure (of proof); for temptation as a test ever contemplates proof on condition of good behaviour, It explains also, how in the concrete manner of the Scriptures proof may be described as temptation (but with reference to existing difficulties in the proof, Genesis 22:0), and temptation as proof. On κατεργάζεσθαι, to work, effect, see Romans 5:3 and other passages; ὑπομονή manifestly denotes here endurance.—Baumgarten, Theile, Wiesinger, Huther: The μένειν ὑπό standing one’s ground in temptation. Schneckenburger remarks that if ὑπό be emphasized we get the idea of patientia ac tolerantia malorum, if μένειν, that of constantia, firmitas, perseverantia.
James 1:4. But let endurance have a perfect work.—Wiesinger: The emphasis is on τέλειον. The majority of commentators understand the perfect work as the perfecting of ὑπομονή itself. So Huther, Wiesinger: the proof of ὑπομονή (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3). Huther: ὑπομονή is not only passive but also active. This active ὑπομονή is not only to persevere unto the end (Luther: Let patience abide firm unto the end: similarly Calvin, Jerome and many others); ὑπομονή is to be deficient in nothing, neither in joy (Bengel) nor in any essential point; especially, wisdom, confidence, etc.—But James evidently contemplates not only inward demeanour but also and chiefly the outward exhibition of the same, which he deplored to see manifoldly omitted. Hence that interpretation is right, which distinguishes the perfect work, viz., the accomplishing of endurance, as the proof of endurance from endurance itself. So Erasmus, de Wette and others; but these commentators err in limiting this outward proof of endurance to something general, viz.: the exhibition of morality, etc. (see Huther). But James in his Epistle looks at a definite object. The ἔργον τέλειον by which the Jewish Christians were to verify their endurance consisted according to James 2:0 in the unreserved acknowledgment of their Gentile Christian brethren, and according to James 3:4, James 3:5 in their open rupture with judaistic faith-pride and fanaticism. Yes, James cherished the hope of gaining the Jewish Christians and along with them even the Jews themselves, to a greater or less extent, for this perfect work of submitting to the practical results of the Christian life. But if the more general sense is preferred, we have the meaning that Christian endurance must evidence itself in the full carrying out of the practical consequences of the Christian faith. An ἔργον τέλειον of the ὑπομονή in our day would consist in the thorough acknowledgment of Christian humanism and the thorough renunciation of the spirit of sectarianism and fanaticism. ̓Εχέτω is decidedly emphatic. To this endurance must hold, this it must receive, acquire and this it must have to show. It is therefore at once=κρατείτω (Schulthess) and παρεχέτω (Pott).
That ye may be perfect and entire;—ἵνα decidedly expresses the word [used in the telic sense.—M.], and is explained by James 2:22. Τέλειοι and ὁλόκληροι are not altogether synonymous (Huther), although the LXX. use both for תָּמִים. The former expression denotes perfection in the sense of completed development or vitality, the latter perfection in its completed manifestation. [Alford defines ὁλόκληρος as “that in which every part is present in its place,” and cites Plato, Tim., p. 44, c. and Corp. Inscrip. 353, 26.—M.]. But it denotes here specifically: If you want to become entire Jews and close the entire Jewish development, you must become entire Christians; but if you want to sustain the character of entire Christians you cannot dispense with the mark of perfect fraternization with the Christians, also with Gentile-Christians, and that of being opposed to the world, and also to the judaistic world. For the τέλειος is one who has reached his τέλος, the ὁλόκληρος one, cui totum est, quod sorte obtigit (Wahl=nulla parte mancus). The Jew was by origin a symbolic κλῆρος; as a Christian he was to become a real κλῆρος and thus ὁλόκληρος. The primary reference here is manifestly neither to moral perfection in general (Huther), nor to perfection hereafter, but to the rudimental [German: principiell] perfection of the faith of Christians as Christians; but the expression of James involves also the rule of absolute Christian perfection.
In nothing deficient;—λείπεσθαι means primarily to stay behind, to be inferior to another, but also to be wanting, deficient in a thing (James 1:5). The latter sense is advocated by Theile, de Wette, Wiesinger, Huther with reference to James 1:5 and 1 Corinthians 1:7, the former by Storr, Augusti and others, whose view we consider correct notwithstanding the modified sense of the word in James 1:5. For the opposite of having reached the end, or of being τέλειος is just the having stayed behind. The decay consequent upon quiescence and retrogression, the very characteristics of Ebionitism developed at a later period, and of Nazarite-Christianity, is the primary idea which corresponds with the connection of the. whole Epistle. The Jewish people itself became most emphatically the λειπόμενοι of the world’s history. James with a prophet’s eye foresaw all this growing (werdend) decay. It springs indeed from a guilty deficiency in spiritual things or at least from a deficiency that might have been avoided, a point to which James refers immediately after. The sequel moreover shows that he sees in a perfect outward proof of life the full expression of character.
VJames James 1:5-6. Wisdom a condition of endurance; prayer for wisdom in undoubting faith.
But if any of you;—εἰ δὲ points hypothetically, and with reference to individuals, to a manifold probable or rather perceptible deficiency in general. Deficiency of wisdom has the form of the Judaistic and Ebionite element.
Deficient in wisdom.—Σοφίας without the Article acknowledges in a forbearing manner this lack of wisdom, supposing the deficiency to exist only in part. Oecumenius defines wisdom as τὸ αἴτιον τοῦ τελείου ἔργου, Huther as the insight of the problem of life as a whole as well as in its particular phases, which incites us to work. The reference here is not only to the Proverbs of Solomon, the Wisdom of Solomon and Jesus the Son of Sirach. The New Testament stadium of theocratical insight was objectively wisdom manifested in person (Matthew 11:19), and therefore subjectively the right perception of the signs of the time and the christological fulfilment of the theocracy in the Church as well as in the faith of individuals.31 The distinct relation of this want of wisdom to the temptations (Calvin) cannot be denied with Huther, although, wisdom, to be sure, must not be identified with endurance. As it is a fundamental condition of the same, so it is also one of the chief modes of its exhibition according to James 3:17.
Let him ask from the God.—See Matthew 20:20; Acts 3:2; 1 John 5:15. The further definition shows how important it is that real prayer must be free from the admixture of any conception which obscures the holiness and goodness of God. The Judaizer did also pray, but his conception of the Deity was a Jewish God, partial, legal and measuring His blessings according to merit. The position of the words τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ (Cod. A. τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ διδόντος) gives prominence to the idea that God is a giving God (Huther). See James 1:17. Wiesinger: “Who is known to give.” The sense is: a giving comprehending every thing that is good, hence no object is indicated. (Gebser and al).
To all.—Huther with Calvin and others supply τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν; but God’s giving in the most general sense may not be measured by man’s asking, although He is wont according to the measure of asking and beyond asking to give good gifts and even the Holy Spirit. [Any and every qualification of πᾶσιν reflects on the graciousness of the Giver.—M.].
Sincerely.—ἁπλῶς occurs only here in the New Testament. Huther [and Alford—M.] renders simply and sees in it an exclusive reference to the gift (nothing else is added to it with reference to Wis 16:27), but the reference is not to the quality of the gift, but to the mode of giving; on this account the definition candide, sincere (Kerne, Theile and others), is preferable. Sincere (pure) giving is opposed to calculated giving which according to the view of the law, is at once suspicious and half compulsory. It refers indirectly to the source of benignitas (Bede and al.) and also to the liberality of giving (affluenter, Erasmus and al.) [Wordsworth explains: “who giveth ἁπλῶς, liberally, that is, sinu laxo, expanding the lap of his bounty and pouring forth its contents into your bosom. Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:2; 2 Corinthians 9:11 and the use of the word ἁπλοῦν, dilatare, by the LXX. in Isaiah 33:23; and therefore the word ἁπλῶς is rendered affluenter here by the Vulgate, and copiously by the Syriac version.”—M.].
And upbraideth not with it.—Negative explanation of the preceding or of that which is consequent upon God’s sincere giving. Wiesinger also explains μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος with Luther: “and upbraideth none with it” with reference to Sir. 41:28: μετὰ τὸ δοῦναι μὴ ονείδιζε; Sir 20:15; Sir 18:17 (see Huther’s note from Cicero). Huther disputes this exposition; Semler and al. interpret ὀνειδίζειν: qualemcunque reprehensionem. But then James would utter an untenable sentiment, because God notwithstanding those who ask, in various ways covers men with confusion. The expression also would be too brief in that sense; it is only intelligible if we take it with what goes before as one idea. But the exposition “to put those who ask to shame with a refusal” (Morus, Augusti and al.), is certainly unfounded; although it is less far-fetched than that of Huther; he who afterwards upbraids with his gifts is equally disposed to be hard beforehand and according to circumstances to send away the asker (without claims). “The side-look on the rich, James 1:10; James 5:9,” also, which Huther and Wiesinger detect here, cannot be sustained because it has first of all to be determined whom James means by the rich. The conception of a θεοῦ ὀνειδίζοντος would certainly agree with the religious views of said rich and then also indirectly with their behaviour.
And it (wisdom) shall be given to him.—There is not sufficient reason for taking δοθήσεται (with Huther and Wiesinger) impersonally: it will be given to him. See Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:13; 1 Kings 3:9-12.
James 1:6. But let him ask in faith.—James having objectively defined real prayer as the worship of the true God of revelation, now also defines it subjectively as prayer in faith. See James 5:15; Sir 7:10; John 16:23. It certainly follows (according to Wiesinger) from the appended negative definition that πίστις here designates first of all undivided confiding, full and firm heart-trust. Such trust is only possible as a looking up to the God of free grace according to revelation; Huther therefore rejects without reason the exposition of Calvin: “fides est quæ, del promissionibus freta, nos impetrandi, quod petimus, certos reddit,” as one which lacks sufficient intimations; even the still closer definition of some of the older expositors, “πίστις ̓Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ” would seem to be included implicite. That is, while Wiesinger rightly observes that πίστις both with James and Paul denotes the mind’s moral attitude to God, yet with James this very attitude presupposes a looking up to “the giving God” according to revelation. Hence the μηδὲν διακρινόμενος excludes at once subjective wavering and doubting the certainties of evangelical salvation, because the attempt of fixing the heart outside of the sphere of revelation (in the case of Christians outside of the name of Jesus) would be pure fanaticism. A similar conjoining of “faith and not doubting” also in an objective sense, occurs in Romans 4:20; cf. Romans 14:23; Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:24. James’ conception of faith as given here is consequently his full conception of faith; it is only in such an energy of praying and doing that faith is to him vital, but without it dead. Διακρίνεσθαι=being at discord with oneself, being divided in oneself, and hence doubting must be still further defined as inward false discriminating, judging and deciding, and in this root it is joined with false discriminating and judging, James 2:5. The hard and austere mind on the one hand produces a bard and austere conception of God, and on the other a hard and austere deportment. Huther: “While πίστις is ‘yes,’ and ἀπισττία ‘no,’ διακρίνεσθαι is the union of yes and no, yet so that the preponderance lies with ‘no.’ ” That is, where διακρίνεσθαι has become habitual, a governing trait of character; this is the force of the Participles. But Huther (after Calvin) also mentions the possibility of doubting alongside of honest, yet weak faith (see Note p. 48).
Caution against wavering. James 1:6-7.
James 1:6. For he that doubteth is like a wave of the sea.—̓́Εοικε occurs only here and James 1:24 in the New Testament. Huther sees in the γάρ of James 1:7 the repetition of the γάρ in James 1:6. That is, he thinks that James gives only one reason, not two and that the figurative description of him that doubteth James 1:6, is only intended to bring out a clearer exhibition of the fickle mental constitution of the doubter. But “this apparently helpless disunion” assumes another form if we take James 1:6 not only as a colouring but as a declaration that the doubter falls under foreign, anti-divine influences. The sea, according to the Old Testament, is the figure of the constrained (unfrei) life of nations, floating hither and thither in pathological sympathies (Ps. 46:93; Daniel 7:3; Isaiah 57:20; Revelation 13:1). James was doubtless conscious of this theocratic influence at a time, when “the waves of the sea” already began to roar. The symbolical figure of the wind (Ephesians 4:14; cf. James 2:2) however, must be put in the background, because it is only expressed in verbs. But even here we can hardly fail to recognize an allusion to a restless spiritual commotion (Geistesleben) tossing the sea of nations, especially because ἀνεμίζεσθαι is an ἅπαξ λεγ., not found elsewhere (in classical Greek we have ἀνεμοῦσθαι, to be moved by the wind), and ̔ριπίζεσθαι also occurs only here in the New Testament. On the different derivations of the word, see Huther, Note 2, p. 48; viz.: from ριπίς, a bellows or fan, or from ̔ριπή, rush (of the wind) or storm. The latter derivation seems to lie nearest. These expressions are therefore not altogether synonymous (Huther). Bengel makes the former to denote motion from without and the latter motion from within. But both, the wind and the storm come from without; the inner element is here expressed by the sea-nature of the wave. According to Theile, the former indicates the cause, the latter the effect. But the two denote two different relations of degree: the sea in waves, the sea in billows; the breeze, the storm, the excitement of spirits, the rebellious commotion (vide bellum Jud.). From these considerations it seems to follow that the first γάρ has a more limited signification; it pronounces the διακρινόμενος incompetent to pray aright, because he is governed by the evil influences of the world. The second γάρ, on the other hand, bears in a wider sense upon that man’s faithless relation to God. We cannot indeed conveniently render γάρ twice by for and repeat it therefore intensiter by ‘also.’ Calvin makes it=ergo, Huther=namely, that is to say (nämlich), Pott, a particle of transition. The lively figure is charged with prophetico-symbolical matter.
James 1:7. Also let not that man think [or as I should prefer to render “Nor let that man think.” Μὴ γάρ as an elliptic phrase denotes absolute denial and an Imper. or Optat. verb is then always supplied; here the context, on any interpretation that may be adopted, involves absolute denial and the nor has intensive force; the meaning is “let not that man by any means think” or “let that man by no means think.”—M.]. The second γάρ has particular reference to the doubter’s deficiency of faith in God, which is involved in his worldly dependence. Sure, he seeks to supply that deficiency of faith by superstitious or fanatical delusions, but he deceives himself with these delusions. He must become conscious of the nothingness of these delusions before matters can mend with him. The severe handling of false praying is a very ancient characteristic of exhortations to repentance according to Isaiah 1:15; Luke 18:11, this passage and the Reformation.
That man, the one who doubts and has fallen into human weakness. [Alford sees in these words a certain slight expression of contempt.—M.].
That he shall receive any thing.—He receives nothing; see James 4:3 where another reason is specified why he does not receive any thing. [The reference is to the things for which he prays; there are many things, temporal blessings, which he does receive.—M.].
From the Lord.—The reference is of course to God, as in James 1:12; James 4:10, etc., but there is a reason for the use of κύριος instead of θεός; James means Jehovah, the living covenant-God, who has now fully revealed himself in Christ. For details, see Wiesinger. [Alford quotes Hofmann, who remarks that where the Father is not expressly distinguished from the Son by the context, the Godhead in its unity is to be understood by ὁ θεός; and the same may be said of ὁ κύριος—M.].
James 1:8. A two-minded man.—The connection of this sentence with that which precedes it, is variously-explained. The expositions of Pott: “væ homini inconstanti,” and of Baumgarten who wants to join δίψυχος with λήμψεται may be passed over. Winer, Wiesinger and Huther [also Wordsworth—M.] take it in apposition with the former verse and as explanatory of the figure James 1:6, and render “he, a two-minded man.” But the explanation of a figure and especially of one so thoroughly self-explanatory would not suit the style of our Epistle. Although the necessity of the Article before ἀνήρ (Schnecken-burger), if the latter exposition is given, is unfounded, the exposition itself runs into a feeble tautology. Hence we agree with Luther and many expositors in taking ἀνὴρ δίψυχος as the subject and ἀκατάστατος as the predicate and the omission of the copula (is) as elevating the sententious weight of the proposition. Huther says that this would make the thought too abrupt. But in the masculine gender it is this formal abruptness which elevates the sentence, while in point of matter the connection is perfect. The doubter is delineated first as to how he stands to the world (a wave), then as to how he stands to God (a visionist, a man of conceits), and lastly as to how he stands to and by himself. And here it is noteworthy that James speaks of man in the masculine gender, probably not only on account of his proverbial character, but because the dangers against which James cautions his readers, are more especially dangers which threaten the Jewish male-world. The δίψυχος is not the same as the διακρινόμενος (so Luther and al.). According to Huther this word “characterizes the inward being of the doubter.” To be sure, the inward being, not however as the ground of doubting (Huther, Kern, Wiesinger), but as the result of doubting. For two-mindedness is forthwith mentioned as the ground in relation to the manner how the doubter proceeds. Two-mindedness indeed lies already germ-like in doubt itself, but it is doubtfulness which develops wavering and irresoluteness, wherein man has, as it were, two souls, the one touched by God, the other occupied by the world. He is false in both directions, false to God and false to the world by his double reservation, just as he is false to himself by the reservation of his egotism over against his piety and vice versa. But this makes him not forthwith a consummate liar and hypocrite; “he has not only, as it were, two souls in conflict with each other” (Huther), but as yet his enthusiasm glows psychically now for God and now for the world in two changing forms of the psychical life. The word δίψυχος is admirably formed after the analogy of δίγλεσσος and similar words; it appears to occur nowhere prior to this Epistle (see also James 4:8), but besides the analogies just mentioned, it has its type in the Hebrew בְּלֵב וָלֵב (see also Jesus Sir. I, 28), and has been adopted by Clemens Rom. and other church authors (see Huther p. 51). [Alford proposes to make the whole sentence predicate and all to apply to ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος. On the whole, however, we give the preference (with Wiesinger, Huther and Wordsworth) to the certainly most grammatical construction of taking ἀνὴρ δίψυχος in opposition with James 1:6; not as an explanation but as an expansion of the figure in James 1:6. This construction is by no means in conflict with the abrupt and predicative style of James, for the transition from the figure of the wave of the sea to the two-minded man is certainly bold, if not abrupt, there is indeed a transition from a physical to a psychical illustration; the word δίψυχος, itself, used here for the first time in Greek literature, by its novelty would arrest attention and thus in the language of Lange, “elevate the sententious weight of the proposition.”—M.].
An (excited) seditious disturber of peace.—The ordinary rendering ‘unstable’ [E. V.] or inconstant (Luther and al.) does justice neither to the original nor to the connection. For firstly, the expression is already half settled by what precedes it as well as by the words “in all his ways;” for although the latter phrase may bear a good sense, it seems to be used here in a bad sense (Sir. II. 13 ἐπιβαίνει ἐπὶ δύο τρίβους). Secondly, the expression, as the representative of סעַֹר (Isaiah 54:11, LXX.), is too feeble in point of degree. And although, lastly, it may passively denote one driven about by the storm as well as actively a storming seditionary, James 3:16 (ἀκαταστασία) recommends here the use of the active signification. The wavering man, indeed, is exciting and seditious because he is ruffled and driven by the storm (of public excitement). The wave of the sea, related passively to the winds, strikes actively against “the rock.”
Particular advice to the lowly [in station—M.] and particular advice to the rich. James 1:9-10.
James 1:9. But let the brother, who is low, glory in his exaltation.—Δὲ indicates a contrast of proper behaviour with what has just been described (Theile), [i.e. with διψυχία—M.]. It directs the brother to turn the particular temptations to wavering into instruments of constancy. Commentators are divided with regard to ἀδελφύς. De Wette and Wiesinger apply the term both to the more remote πλούσιος and to the nearer ταπεινός. Then ταπεινός must not be taken spiritually according to Matthew 11:29, but like πλούσιος with regard to outward circumstances, while the exaltation in which the lowly is to glory, would denote his heavenly dignity. But Huther, representing the opposite view, remarks that that exposition conflicts with the connection, which forbids such a distinction of Christians into poor and rich; that the reference is rather to the πειρασμοί; that a Christian, moreover, as a rich man would hardly have required so urgent a reminder of the transitory nature of things temporal. But three things are here overlooked. 1. That the πειρασμοί affect the rich in a higher degree than they do the poor; 2. That the Apostle, as we have seen in the Introduction, treats both of Jewish Christians (among whom were already rich men) and of Jews. Moreover he addresses, at the very beginning of the Epistle, the twelve tribes as his brethren. 3. The contrast between the poor and the rich had as yet not become prominent, but a contrast of those low in station [E. V. brethren of low degree—M.], and the rich. But that the low in station and the poor are, as brethren, nearer to James than the rich, becomes’ increasingly apparent as the Epistle runs on, especially in James 5:0. Primarily, the lowly and the rich are described as brothers, for James indicates also to the rich a means of deliverance. There is still a third view, represented by Morus and Theile, which comprises both ideas: those who are outwardly poor and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, Mat 5:19; 1 Peter 3:14. Huther contests this union (p. 52), but afterward reaches about the same conclusion. We have first to remember, that the brother of low station is not identical with the poor in James 2:0. Glancing at the characteristics of that time, we find that it designates the Jewish Christian and the Jew absolutely in their low, oppressed theocratic condition as contrasted with the heathen world and the seculiar power; and still more particularly the theocrat, inasmuch as he deeply feels this condition. He is to glory in the dignity of his heavenly and royally-glorious vocation, i.e., to derive from it consolation and joy and to strengthen himself with it. But the rich, i.e., again the Jew and the Jewish Christian, inasmuch as he sees the hopeless situation of the Jewish people in a very different and brilliant light, inasmuch as he is not only rich in the consciousness of his Jewish prerogatives, but also rich in the chiliastic and visionary expectation of the Messianic or pseudo-Messianic restoration of his Jewish theocracy,—he is exhorted to glory in his humiliation, that is, to become reconciled with Christian or pious humility to all his theocratical humiliation, the full development of which in all its fearful magnitude is as yet impending (James 1:11), in order that he may find in this Divine judgment turned into deliverance, the source of rejoicing and exaltation and of real glorying.
And here a general explanation must suffice for our passing on to the general import of the double antithesis: the low–in–station and the rich; the poor and the rich. For we hold the opinion that, after the type of the Old Testament and the Gospels, these expressions are throughout prophetico-symbolical, and that the common literal acceptation of this antithesis has unspeakably flattened the Epistle, weakened its purport and obscured its interpretation. Is it possible to suppose that in the time of James, in all the Jewish Christian congregations among all the twelve tribes the rich were in the habit of slighting the poor and that the unbelieving Jews were everywhere the rich? And that James was so reliably informed on that point, as to feel constrained to call all the twelve tribes to account for it? Such conduct, I should think, could not be generally charged on the Jews proper. The rich among the Jews, as a rule have at all times exhibited much sympathy with and regard for their poor. And this very regard is supposed to have been wanting in such fearful generality in the Apostolic age, at a time where even in Gentile-Christian congregations collections were made for their Jewish Christian brethren! Nor was this the only point on which James felt bound to reprimand, but it is still further supposed that he had to denounce the sexton-rudeness of assigning good seats to the rich and of allowing the poor either to stand or to sit on the bare floor, which rudeness had become prevalent throughout all the twelve tribes! If James, “the good, pious man” had only received a little more credit [for capacity—M.], i.e., the Apostolical spirit united with prophetico–symbolical style, doubtless more would have been found in his Epistle.
The brother must therefore be taken in a general sense, like James 1:2. The low (in station) is the Jewish Christian or the Jew who as such (not primarily as a private individual) felt his theocratic humiliation; this intimates, of course, that he was the more humble just as a being pinched in private affairs might also further such consciousness; this is quite analogous to the Old Testament and the Gospels. (Psalms 74:21; 1 Corinthians 1:27).
Glory.—The stronger rendering for Peter’s (1 Peter 1:6) ἀγαλλιᾶσθαι, analogous to Paul’s expression in 2 Corinthians 12:9. A real glorying or a rendering prominent by glorying, inasmuch as such glorying is in contrast with egotistic selfglorying; or also the condition of Divine grace and assistance.
In his exaltation; ἐν denotes the object in which they shall glory, as a foundation of their well-being. It is the glory, given now already in the form and inwardly manifest (see 1 Peter 1:0), the process of its development being diametrically opposite to the rich man’s flower. ̔́Υψοςis therefore not=steadfast courage (Augusti), or only future exaltation (de Wette), but=sublimitas jam præsens, sed etiam adhuc futura (Theile, Huther).
James 1:10. But the rich in his humiliation. Here we must evidently repeat καυχάσθω. As to the irony contained in this clause (Thomas, Beza and al.), it is not much greater than that in the preceding sentence: let the lowly glory in his exaltation; for 1. such glorying emancipates from vain-glorying, 2. the rich also finds a source of comfort and praise in the full knowledge of his humiliation and its blessed import (see Matthew 5:3).
Because as a flower of the grass.—An Old Testament figure applied to man in general, Job 14:2; Psalms 103:15, to the ungodly with particular emphasis, Psalms 37:2 (Psalms 92:8). But here it is not to be explained with reference to the ungodly (so Huther), but as a historical figure with reference to the decay of the Old Testament glory, which in a surprising manner exhibits the realization of the law of the universal decay of human glory, even as foretold by Isaiah 40:6 etc. to which this passage doubtless has special reference. But in this decay there lay really concealed a consolation (just as in the universal decay of man), at which the thoughtful theocrat might well rejoice. The flower of the Old Testament glory was decaying, but the fruit-time of the Gospel of the New Testament had set in; “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people!” Hottinger has erroneously referred ἄνθος to Isaiah 11:1, where the LXX. render נֵצֶר by ἄνθος. The words “flower of the field” (Isaiah 40:6) are changed into “flower of the grass” with reference to James 1:7 “the grass withereth and the flower fadeth.” So in the parallel-passage 1 Peter 1:23-24.—
The fate of the rich. James 1:11.
James 1:11. For the sun rose (already).—This again is not only the colouring of the preceding, but considering the reference to Isaiah 40:6 etc., this passage contains an application to Jewish history perfectly intelligible to an Israelite. What Isaiah had represented as having been done in the Spirit, was now fulfilled in reality; the old theocratic glory of Israel had passed away with the crucifixion of Christ. Hence the Aorists ἀνέτειλε. etc., as symbolical expressions, must retain their literal force and neither be construed as used for the Present (Grotius and al.), nor as the mere representation of whatever repeats itself in one past fact (Huther). This historical style serves, of course, the purpose furnishing us with a lively picture in the rapid succession of the separate stages of the process of decay (Winer).
The sun with the burning heat (wind).—Grotius, Pott and al. distinguish ὁ καύσων, the hot, burning wind which accompanies the rising sun (or the arid East wind, קָדִים which coming from the desert of Arabia scorches the plains of Palestine) from the sun itself, referring to Ezekiel 17:10; Ezekiel 19:12; Hosea 13:15 etc. Huther, however, applies the expression to the scorching heat of the sun and cites Isaiah 49:10, Matthew 20:12; Luke 12:55. But in Isaiah 49:10 the heat of the sun is expressly distinguished from the sun, as a higher degree of the ordinary sunshine which oppresses Orientals, and the reference is to the relation of this incumbrance to men, so also in Matthew 20:12, while in Luke 12:55 the sun is not mentioned at all. The supposition that sunrise and the development of the sun’s heat are forthwith imperilling vegetation, would be almost too strong even to an Oriental imagination. To this must be added the presence of the Article before καύσων. But the view, that the sun with the development of its power frequently wakens the hot wind, as a kind of supplemental counterpart of its beneficent operation, is current in Holy Writ. So according to Malachi 4:0. the day of the Lord comes hot as a burning oven on all the proud, while the Sun of Righteousness rises with healing in His wings on all that fear the Lord. So Matthew 13:6, the scorching heat is distinguished from the rising sun; in the interpretation of the parable James 1:21 it is called tribulation or persecution because of the word. Now, as we Occidentals make use of the well-known symbolical language, “the rising sun calls up vapor, fog, and thunder gusts,” so the Oriental is wont to say, “it wakens the hot wind.” Hence the application of this passage to Christ (Laurentius), was not far from its real meaning, but we do not press it; at all events the hot wind of the law, which scorched the glory of Israel, was developing with the sun of the finished revelation. And indirectly it was also the effect of the sun itself (“a stone of stumbling etc.”).
And the beauty of its appearance.—Huther connects the second αὐτοῦ not with τὸν χόρτον but with τὸ ἄνθος. But we cannot imagine that a fallen flower is still to lose its beauty; the flower is gone with the falling; the flower itself and not only its beauty. And thereby (by the falling of the flower) the grass or the plant itself lost all its beauty, the dress of its appearance, without, however, having wholly perished. And this was then precisely the case of Israel. Its flower had fallen away in the most significant manner; like grass, low on the ground, it continued vegetating in its cumbersome existence. The word εὐπρέπεια occurs only here in the New Testament: πρόσωπον often denotes outward appearance. Psalms 104:30; Matthew 16:3 etc.
Thus also shall the rich man, that is: the fate of the withered, stunted plant, or the general fate of the Jewish people will also be the fate of each individual Jew or Jewish Christian if he persists in the conceit of his riches, or refuses to learn to glory in his humiliation. οὕτως=so quickly, so thoroughly.” Wiesinger. “Μαραίνεσθαι, α ἅπαξ λεγ in the New Testament occurs in the LXX. as the translation of יָבֵשׁ Job 15:30, in the same sense, Wisd. of Song of Solomon 2:8.” Huther.
In his journeyings.—Luther has “in his possession,” which rendering rests on the false reading πορία (=εὐπορία, good way, favour of fortune, wealth). Herder, following Laurentius and Piscator, “in his journeyings,” with reference to James 4:13. Huther, “in his ways” (=ὁδοῖς, James 1:8; cf. Proverbs 2:8). Wiesinger, “in his walk,” with reference to de Wette, “in his luxurious enjoyment of life.” The word denotes in classical language 1, a going, a journey; 2, walking along, course. In LXX, way, Nahum 2:5; Jeremiah 18:15; Jonah 3:3-4; but also a journey, Malachi 3:8; Malachi 3:8; cf. Luke 13:22. From these passages it is evident, that πορεία is not used as much as ὁδός in a metaphorical sense. We avoid therefore this expression and render: in his journeyings (of fortune). Huther: “The prominent idea is, that the rich man, overtaken by judgment, perishes in the midst of his doings and pursuits as the flower in the midst of its blossoming falleth a victim to the scorching heat of the sun.”
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. If the purely evangelical character of the Epistle of James has ever been impugned, its opening words may be referred to as furnishing proof that we are moving not on the ground of the Old Testament, but on that of the New. Joy as the burden of salutation is the watchword given to the first readers of the Epistle, who, however, were troubled by manifold temptations. Luke 2:10. The beginning of the Epistle of James sounds like an echo of Christ’s first sermon at Nazareth, which the Author had probably heard, Luke 4:18-19. This χαίρειν makes him homogeneous with Paul (Philippians 4:4) and Peter (1 Peter 1:6), the beginning of whose Epistle exhibits a remarkable agreement with the beginning of that of James. James, like Elihu, knows a God “who giveth songs in the night.” Job 35:10.
2. The very beginning of the Epistle testifies of the truly Christian as well as of the morally exalted character of its Author. The demand “to count it all joy if one has fallen into manifold temptations,” has so lofty and bold a sound as to prompt the question whether such a demand is not beyond the reach of man’s ability. Cf. Hebrews 12:11. Such a demand must severely strike the natural man as a piece of consummate folly and scandalize him. For counting temptation all joy is infinitely more than to be silent in it and to pray, even more than to be grateful for it; it is not sufficient that we readily submit to temptation, but we must glory in it that it is so and not otherwise, and this not only in isolated temptations but in the many temptations which spring from the sufferings of earth. Cf. Romans 5:3. Such a demand makes the Festuses exclaim “James, thou art beside thyself.” Acts 26:24. But the Christian, hearing this first word, feels and is conscious of the spirit of him who addresses him in that word. For how could flesh and blood have been able to reveal what is here so clearly and explicitly put on record, viz. the Christian’s deepest grief at once the source of his highest joy? No other religion, beside the Christian, had raised the suffering of earth to a new ground of gratitude. Bacon’s saying is well known: “Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, adversity that of the New.” Compare the treatise, still worth reading, of F. V. Reinhard, de præstantia religionis Christianæ in consolandis miseris etc., and on the other hand the Diatribe de consolatione apud græcos, auctore A. C. van Heusde, Traj. ad Rhen. 1840.
3. Since ye know.—In order to make a joy like that which he had just recommended to them possible to their πίστις, James now points to the fruit of their γνῶσις. Faith also had a science of its own, but a science, different in kind although not inferior in value and reliability to the knowledge whose province is purely natural. On the one hand even Christians are constrained to acknowledge “we are but of yesterday and know nothing,” Job 8:9, but on the other, the things which were hidden from the wise and prudent are revealed to them, Matthew 11:25-26. And this science is fully competent to enable him to secure the joy here recommended; he knows from whom the temptation comes, he knows the purpose temptation serves, viz. the proof of faith. This view alone is calculated to reconcile him to the sufferings he has to endure. It is not chance if the Christian, more than many others, falls into manifold temptations, as little chance as if the smelter, in order to refine gold or silver, heats the furnace to a certain degree. Still less is it a just punishment but rather a means of purification, improvement and education, without which it is impossible for us to attain any degree of greatness in the kingdom of God. Thus we have here also a confirmation of the words of Seneca: “Opus est ad notitiam sui experimento. Quod quisque possit, nisi tentando haud didicit.
4. Christian endurance is infinitely diverse from stoical indifference with its motto: “res mihi, non me rebus subjungere conor.” It has a more sublime origin, a milder character, a greater duration, a more glorious fruit.
5. It is remarkable that James insists in the very beginning of the Epistle upon Christian perfection, so that in James 1:4 the same word is twice used. So also the perfect law, James 1:25, the perfect man, James 3:2, etc. Cf. the beautiful essay of Ad. Monod in his Adieux, James 1856: “Tout dans l’ Ecriture est idéal.”
6. The exhortation in James 1:4 contains the profound hint that where endurance has its perfect work, the Christian, as to principle, is perfect and in nothing deficient. For where Christian endurance holds sway, there the power of sinful selfishness is broken, of selfishness which perchance would love to take a position either independent of God or higher than God, but in no event under God. For the heroism of faith is evinced in two ways, it is suffering or militant. The former is higher than the latter, because it demands the greatest self-denial, and he who really attains to it, by so doing carries also within himself the principle of Christian perfection.
7. The short Epistle of James treats relatively much of prayer, see James 1:5; James 4:2-3; James 4:8; James 5:13-18. Herein also the Apostle appears as the true servant of Him who not only did conduct His disciples to the school of prayer, but was to them in this respect also a pure and perfect pattern Luke 11:1. The manner in which James speaks of prayer shows clearly that he recognizes a direct connection between prayer and its answer, not only in the sense of modern unbelief that prayer can only psychologically exert a beneficial influence on the heart of the person praying, but also that prayer is the Divinely appointed means for the direct obtaining of our wants, which also without such prayer we should certainly not receive. If prayer were only psychologically operative on the person praying, it would be altogether inexplicable why James also so earnestly and emphatically enjoins prayer for others (intercession, James 5:13-18), as in the former case prayer could not possibly be of any use to them. Cf. this commentary on 1 Timothy 2:1-7.
8. The Christian never needs more wisdom than when in temptation everything depends upon his enduring it in the right manner and according to the will of God. We often speak of the wisdom which men need in prosperity lest they become ungrateful, haughty or arrogant and this assertion is correct. But in adversity also we need the Divine light not less if we would truly understand the lesson God is teaching us thereby and not be driven by our own excited feelings into lamentable error. This was duly understood and appreciated by the sacred bard, Psalms 94:12. There never was a sinner converted by the highly praised benefit of tribulation alone, as long as the Lord Himself did not render the wholesome chastisement efficacious with the rod of His Word and the light of His Spirit. In the day of tribulation we probably need Divine wisdom even more than in the days of joy; wisdom in order that we really choose the true way without turning to the right or to the left; wisdom, in order that we may understand what God wants us to do when He denies us the realization of some cherished desire, or when He lays on us a heavy burden, etc.
9. What James says of the indispensable necessity of faith in prayer, is also taken from our Lord’s own teaching, Matthew 21:21-22. His charming figure of the waves of the sea originated probably in his own recollection of the lake of Gennesareth. The striking truth of this figure is best understood, if we apply it to our inward experience of life. The soul is like the sea, but doubt blows over it like a tempest which upheaves the waters from their lowest depth; in such a condition, the heart of the δίψυχος is not susceptible of the enjoyment of answer to prayer. Cf. 1 Kings 18:21, where the expression “to halt between two opinions” [German: “to halt on both sides.”—M.], indicates a similar inward breach, with a probable allusion to a bird limping from twig to twig without finding rest any where.
10. James seems to present us with a new paradox in the exhortation (James 1:9) “Let the brother, who is low, glory in his exaltation.” There is however an exaltation seen by God and the Lord, which does not depend upon earthly honour and perishable riches and is mostly to be found where superficiality would last and least look for it. To be humiliated can only be irritating and disagreeable to flesh and blood; but if it happens for the sake of Christ’s name, if the humiliation is borne with the eye turned to Christ and united to Christian nobility of soul, then it is not counted a disgrace, but borne as the highest honour. Cf. Matthew 5:11-12; Acts 5:41-42. Here we are involuntary reminded of Pascal’s beautiful saying concerning man: “Gloire et rebut de l’univers, s’il se vante, je l’abaisse; s’il s’abaisse‚ je le vante.”
11. The number of the rich who were able to glory in their humiliation has always been small. Cf. Matthew 19:23-26. Still history here and there shows us individuals in the fire of the fiercest assault and temptation. Hear only e.g. the splendid language of Chrysostom in his speech after the fall of Eutropius, Opera, vol. 3, p. 586, ed. Montf. “Why did we not tremble? Because we do not fear any of the adversities of this life. What could inspire us with terror? Death? We run so much the sooner into the haven of repose. The loss of earthly riches? Naked I came out of my mother’s womb and naked I shall return into the mother-womb of the earth. Exile? The earth is the Lord’s and what therein is. False accusations? Rejoice and be exceeding glad when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for great shall be your reward in heaven. I saw the swords above me and looked up to heaven. I expected death and thought of the resurrection. I looked at earthly adversities and counted up the blessings at the right hand of God. I looked upon the perils and my eye beheld in spirit the crown of glory. What I am constantly preaching in my sermons, was constantly preached by the deed in the market-place. The wind blows and scatters the leaves, the grass withers and the flower fades.” (The last sentence probably contains an indirect allusion to James 1:11.)
12. The crown of life, of which James here speaks, presents not only a contrast to the perishable laurel-crowns for which the Greeks contended in the games, but also to that fading flower to which James referred in the preceding verse (James 1:11). In the doctrine of the reward of grace accorded to persevering faith, James is in prefect agreement with our Lord and His other Apostles. Cf. Mat 19:28; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:21. His mentioning the crown of life which is ready for all who love the Lord, affords a not indistinct view of “the election of grace.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
James 1:2-8. Epistle for 3d Sund. in Lent, James 1:9-12 Epistle for 22d Sund. after Trinity in the Grand Duchy of Hesse and elsewhere. [James 1:1-12 Epistle for St. Philip and St. James’s Day in the Church of England and the Prot. Epis. Church in the U. S.—M.].
How the vocation of being servants of Jesus Christ was especially committed to the authors of the New Testament and how it still is the prerogative of all believers.—The servant of Jesus Christ can do nothing better than to strengthen his brethren.—In Christ is joy for all people.—How Christianity renders possible what seems to be impossible.—The sufferings of this time the Christian’s proof of faith. It is this very fireproof [noun, to give the full force of German “Feuerprobe”] which establishes 1, the genuiness 2, the standard and 3, the intrinsic value of this gold of faith. Cf. 1 Peter 1:7.—Endurance under all temptations the daughter of faith, the mother of all other virtues.—The Christian life a God-consecrated sacrifice which must be without spot or blemish. “Ask, what I shall give thee,” 1 Kings 3:5.—The difference between Divine and human benevolence, cf. Sir 18:18. The great value of believing prayer and its indispensable necessity in times of great temptation. The curse of wavering; the value of Christian decision of character.—Riches and poverty viewed in the light of faith.—Abasement the way to exaltation, want the way to enjoyment, fighting the way to the crown.—The beatitude of the servant of Christ (James 1:12) compared with the beatitudes of the Master, Matthew 5:3-12.
On the whole section James 1:1-12.—The Christian’s threefold duty in temptation: 1. Suffering (James 1:2-4), a. with grateful joy: b. with enduring patience; 2. Prayer (James 1:5-8), a. for a precious gift at the hands of a magnanimous giver; b. in simple faith without any doubt; 3. Glorying (James 1:9-12), a. in the present conflict; b. in the expectation of the future crown.
Tholuck (Sermons I. 5, 340) on James 1:2. “Why the Christian counts his temptation all joy.” 1. He knows whence it comes; 2. He knows whither it leads.
Staag:—The Christian’s behaviour in crosses and temptations: 1. The bliss of the cross; 2. the prayer of the cross; 3. the disposition of the cross; 4. the promise of the cross.
Beck: (James 1:5)—The true wisdom.
Klemm:—The prize in the arena of life.
Dräseke:—Humility the condition of all true moral greatness, for it Isaiah , 1. its beginning, 2. its food, 3. its support and 4. its crown.
Arndt:—Happy is the man who endures temptation.
Porubszky: (James 1:1-4).—The temptations of faith: 1. How they are occasioned. 2. How they effect endurance. 3. How they excite believing activity.—(James 1:5). Prayer the first act of faith.—(James 1:6-8). The doubter’s torment and deliverance.—(James 1:9-12). Through abasement to exaltation. I. The end: exaltation, 2. the means: abasement.
Starke:—To be the servant of God is to a believer a precious title of honour, in which he may always glory.
Cramer:—The Church of the New Testament is not confined to one locality as in the time of the Old Testament, “but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him” Acts 10:35.
Quesnel:—One of the chief cares of conscientious teachers is to comfort those who suffer for the Lord’s sake, 1 Corinthians 14:3.
Hedinger:—Great art! To laugh in weeping, to be glad in sadness. But there is still time to learn it; our strength is nothing, it is altogether God’s work and doing, Philippians 4:11-13.
Cramer:—Different medicines are required for different maladies, different chastisements for different sins, Titus 3:3.
Starke:—Sincere faith is not dead but alive and works all manner of good, 2 Peter 1:5-6.—Crosses and suffering promote patience just as the wind strengthens the roots of the tree, James 5:2.—He that has begun well must persevere unto the end or all former labour is lost.—Patience in the first hour is not sufficient. The end brings the crown.—It is great wisdom to bear suffering aright, and that wisdom is of God’s supplying.
Hedinger:—A rich man who is charitable is a rare spectacle; to be giving and never tire of beggars is more than human; but to give above all that we can ask is Divine (Ephesians 3:20).
Osiander:—Because God does not angrily upbraid us with His benefits, therefore we should still less reproach our neighbour with the good we show him.
Langii Op.:—The highest honour which a creature can confer upon God is to trust Him in every thing by faith and to rely in the full assurance upon His promises, which is also the purest worship, Romans 4:20-21.
Quesnel.:—Faith is the fountain of Christian prayer; the stream does not flow, if the fountain is dried up, Romans 10:14.—True believers are not fickle and changeable, but constant and steadfast, Colossians 2:5.—Would you serve God, then let it be your serious endeavour not to tempt God.—A divided heart longs not for God, Matthew 22:37.—A poor believer is as much a brother in Christ as a rich, Philemon 1:16.—Humility and abasement have been made by Christ true exaltation, Job 22:29.
Hedinger:—Riches are not culpable in themselves, but they may easily make men haughty.
Cramer:—God willeth that the rich and the poor should dwell together.
Langii Op.:—The transitoriness of life and instability of outward prosperity are to be well considered.
Hedinger:—Rich and ungodly—a double hellrope. Take care that avarice put it not round your neck, 1 Timothy 6:9-10.
Langii Op.:—Believing Christians are not only the subjects but the sharers of Christ’s reign, as those who rule and govern with Him, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3.
Cramer:—What is marred by the crown of thorns, which we have to wear here on earth, will be amply compensated by the crown of life in heaven, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.
Stier:—In order to do justice to the deep, rich meaning of every word and sentence of this Epistle, we have ever to begin with the beginning without ever exhausting its fulness. What a sermon might be preached on the single joy (χαίρειν) which sounds into our tribulation.—What a lofty saying is the verse connected with it—“Count it all joy if you fall into manifold temptations,” etc.
Heubner:—Proofs (trials) a Divine blessing.—To have a good beginning and to omit the prosecution is disgraceful.—Wisdom, that is not from God, is no wisdom.—Faith and prayer are mutual conditions.—Where the will is still wavering, there is no trust.—1 Samuel 2:30 holds good of belief and unbelief.—Christianity exalts a Christian above his station.—It is a touching spectacle, that commands respect, to see a Christian, whose position in the world is commanding, clothed with humility.
[James 1:1. It is the duty of the Church to send greetings of joy to the dispersed children of God and to use every means for turning the wilderness of the dispersion into the garden of the Lord. (Missionary Sermon)—James 1:2. The true Christian sees in temptation of every kind and of every degree cause for unmingled joy. Cf. Romans 5:3; 2 Timothy 2:12.—James 1:3. The Christian in the furnace: 1. Experiencing the heat of temptation, 2. Rejoicing in the watchful care of his superintending Master, 3. Jubilant at the result of the fiery process. Mal 3:3; 1 Peter 1:7.
James 1:4-5. γοῶσις may be acquired in the schools, σοφία is the gift of God. Cf. Lactantius, “on true and false wisdom.”—True wisdom the gift of God to prayerful believers.—The characteristic of true wisdom—it makes wise unto salvation.—James 1:6. The doubter like a wave. a, in his conduct—driven hither and thither, by contrary winds or lashed into a billow by the tempest; b, in his end—touching the shores of safety but dissolving into spray and returning to the treacherous sea.—James 1:7. Instability the characteristic of schism.—James 1:8. The mountain is reached from the valley.—James 1:9. The riches of wealth—the riches of learning—the riches of station—the riches of earthly honour no grounds for glorying.—True riches are riches toward God.
James 1:10-11. The fate of earthly greatness symbolized in the fate of the flower. James 1:12. Earthly afflictions and trials destined to become amaranths in the crown of life.—On the whole section James 1:1-12 compare John 14:1-14.—M.].
[Bp. Conybeare: James 1:4.—Our very joys are broken and interrupted, and our distresses are so frequent and sharp, that we scarce know how to support ourselves under them: and yet borne that must be which cannot be avoided by us. The will of God must be submitted to by His creatures, both in the ordinary dispensations of Providence and in the more eminent exercise of its powers. Patience will then come in as a necessary duty in common life. We need it almost every day on some occasion or other; and therefore should arm ourselves with such principles as may enable us to go through with innocence.—M.].
[That ye may be perfect and entire. Probable allusion to the sacrificial victims which must be without blemish. The sacrifice of body, soul and spirit with all we have and hold, as a reasonable service rendered unto God by His faithful servants.—M.].
[James 1:5. Dr. Jortin:—The wisdom of resisting any sort of temptation may very well be extended so as to mean pious wisdom in general, or a practical knowledge of our duty and true interest, by which we shall overcome every thing that opposes and endangers our salvation.—M.].
[Bede:—This text contains a warning against the erroneous notion of Pelagianism, that men may obtain wisdom by their own free will, without Divine grace. Cf. James 5:16-17.—M.].
[Wordsworth:—The description of the Divine bounty is like a summary of our Lord’s words, exhorting to prayer. Matthew 7:7-12.—M.].
[Bp. Andrewes:—This text presents the strongest motives to genuine liberality. See Wordsworth.—M. ].
[James 1:6. Bp. Sanderson:—A large and liberal promise; but yet a promise most certain and full of comfortable assurance, provided it be understood aright, viz., with these two necessary limitations: if God shall see it expedient, and if man pray for it as he ought. … To make all sure then here is our course. Wrestle with God by your fervent prayers: and wrestle with Him too by your faithful endeavours; and He will not for His goodness’ sake, and for His promise’ sake He cannot, dismiss you without a blessing. But omit either, and the other is lost labour. Prayer without study is presumption, and study without prayer is Atheism. James 1:8. Hermas says of the double-minded man: “Cast away from thyself double-mindedness; be not anywise two-minded in asking of God; say not, how can I ask of God and obtain it, when I have sinned so much against Him? Nay, but rather turn with thy whole heart to the Lord and ask of Him without hesitation and thou shalt feel the abundance of His mercy, for He is not like men, who remember injuries; but if thou doubtest in thy heart, thou wilt receive nothing from Him, for they who doubt concerning God, are the double-minded men and receive none of their requests.” Hermas, Pastor, Mandat. 9, p. 596 ed. Dressel. See also Wordsworth and Whitby, who produce other passages.—M.].
 Title. Eusebius ends his account of James the Just thus: τοιαῦτα καὶ τὰ κατὰ Ἰάκωβον οὖ ἡ πρώτη τῶν ὀνομαζομένων καθολικῶν ἐπιστολῶν εἶναι λέγεται. Hist. Eccl. ii. 23. A. C. Sin. omit the title.—M.]
James 1:1; James 1:1. ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ. In the dispersion.—M.]
James 1:1; James 1:1. χαίρειν. Lange “Freudengruss,” freude zum Gruss=Salutation of joy, joy the burden of his salutation; the English “greeting” is sometimes used in the same sense; so de Wette, van Ess etc.—M.]
[James 1:2. The Codex Colbertinus has ἡγεῖσθε. ποικίλοις, literally, versicoloured.—M.]
[James 1:2. The whole verse in Lange’s version, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into divers (variegated) temptations.”—M.]
[James 1:3. γινώσκοντες=since ye know. δοκίμιον=proof.—M.]
James 1:3; James 1:3. The omission of τῆς πίστεως according to Cod. B. has been dropped on good grounds by Tischendorf, according to the decided majority of MSS. A. C. G. etc. [It is inserted in A. B. C. K. L. Cod. Colb. Cod. Sin. Vulg. Syr. Copt. Aeth. Arm. etc.—M].
[James 1:3. ὑπομονήν=endurance. Lange’s version. “Since ye know that the proof of your faith worketh endurance.”—M.]
[James 1:4. ὑπομονή=endurance.—M.]
[James 1:4. ἔργον τέλειον=a perfect work.—M.]
[James 1:4. Lange’s version: “But let endurance have a perfect work (the perfect operation of Christliness) that ye may be perfect and entire people (Christians), in nothing deficient (verkuemmert, stunted).—M.]
[James 1:5. λείπεται σοφίας=falls short of wisdom.—M.]
[James 1:5. ἁπλῶς=a, liberally, b, sincerely.—M.]
[James 1:5. μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος=upbraideth not, i.e., who gives without exprobration.—M.]
[James 1:5. Lange’s version: “But if any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask it from the God who giveth to all men (also to the pagans) sincerely (without reservation and delusion) and upbraideth not with it (turns it not into the disgrace of the recipients, according to the notion of work-righteousness), and it shall be given to him.—M.]
[James 1:6. μηδὲν διακρινόμενος=nothing doubting, not in the least (Lange) doubting.—M.]
[James 1:6. Lange’s version: “But let him ask in faith, not in the least (faltering) doubting, for he that doubteth is like a wave of the sea, agitated by the wind and tossed hither and thither.”—M.]
[James 1:7. Lange renders γὰρ=also, but we prefer “nor let that man etc.”—M.]
[James 1:8. Lange’s version: “A double-minded (faltering) man: a seditious (excited) disturber of peace in all his ways.” But this rendering is too fanciful; we prefer therefore the strictly grammatical rendering: “A two-minded man, unstable in all his ways,” taking the verse in apposition with James 1:7.—M.]
[James 1:8. Lange’s version: “A double-minded (faltering) man: a seditious (excited) disturber of peace in all his ways.” But this rendering is too fanciful; we prefer therefore the strictly grammatical rendering: “A two-minded man, unstable in all his ways,” taking the verse in apposition with James 1:7.—M.]
[James 1:9. ὁ =the brother who is low.—M.]
[James 1:9. καυχάσθω=glory.—M.]
[James 1:9. ἐν τῷ ὕψει αὐτοῦ=in his exaltation. “But let the brother who is low glory in his exaltation.”—M.]
[James 1:10. ό πλούσιος=the rich man.—M.]
[James 1:10. Lange understands a second “glory,” mates the passage ironical, and renders “but the rich in his humiliation.”—M.]
[James 1:10. ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου=as a flower of the grass.—M.]
[James 1:11. The Aorist with its narrative force should be retained.—M.]
[James 1:11. καύσων may mean the dry parching East wind, Kadim, but “the burning heat” of E. V. is very felicitous.—M.]
[James 1:11. πορείαις. A. and several lesser MSS. read πορίαις, an orthographical blunder, according to Schneckenburger, because there is no noun πορία with a fixed meaning, [πορείαις is stronger than ways; it denotes the eager pursuit of some business or pleasure.—M.]
[James 1:11. Render the whole verse, “For no sooner rose the sun with the burning heat (wind) and dried up the grass and the flower thereof fell away and the beauty of its appearance perished; thus also shall the rich man wither in his ways” (journeyings something like Lange’s “Glücksfahrten”).—M.]
The Jews indeed had already before that time been deficient in the right comprehension of the Solomonic doctrine of wisdom, that is, of the universalism of the old Testament, and for this very reason they had misunderstood and misinterpreted the Davidic Messianism from a particularistic point of view; just as Evangelical theology for the same reason has fallen short of its task in consequence of not sufficiently appreciating Christian humanism.
II. THE THEME
THE BEATITUDE OF ENDURANCE IN TEMPTATION AS A WARNING AGAINST YIELDING TO IT
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
That this verse contains the proper theme of the whole Epistle and indicates tie dominant fundamental idea of the same follows from the twofold consideration that 1. the same thought comes up already in the Introduction James 1:2; James 1:2. that it is repeated in a corresponding final theme at James 5:7. It is a beatitude after the manner of the sermon on the mount and moreover the last of these beatitudes of our Lord, in which all the preceding ones blend (Matth. James 1:10-11), appropriately adapted to the situation of the readers in the time of James.
Blessed (is) the man.—ἀνήρ instead of ἄνθρωπος not only with reference to Psalms 1:1, for it occurs repeatedly (see James 1:5, here, James 1:20 and James 3:2) and we have already intimated that it may be accounted for by the temptations of the time, which James had in view, making the round especially among Jewish men. Thomas appears to have noticed, but not to have understood this characteristic, as would seem from his comment: “beatus vir, non mollis vel effœminatus, sed vir.”
Who endureth temptation.—[Bengel reads with K. L. ὑπομενεῖ, Future; but ὑπομένει is the ordinary reading and, the blessing being absolute, the tense is immaterial.—M.]. Although the proposition is valid and will be valid as a general dogma, the πειρασμός here does not primarily denote the concrete unity of all the πειρασμοί mentioned in James 1:2, for the reference to these very πειρασμοί runs through the whole Epistle. Therefore not: ὅταν περιπέσῃ (Wiesinger). Hence ὑπομένει like ὑπομονή in James 1:3 and μακροθυμήσατε James 5:7, etc.
Because when he has become approved. One who has become approved, not only proved: one who has become approved by the fact of proof. [He has stood the test of the δοκίμιον James 5:2 and thereby has become δόκιμος—M.]. The idea is identical with that expressed in James 2:23 : Abraham has become the friend of God by δικαιοῦσθαι. And here we see how James and Paul agree in their dogmatical views, for Paul also mentions the δοκιμή as the consequent of ὑπομονή Romans 5:3. But the subjective and inner side of this proof is σφραγίζεσθαι according to Ephesians 1:13. Krebs, Augusti and al., have found here an allusion to the trial preceding the contest of the athletes, but such an allusion is out of place, so is that of Gebser, Theile and al., to the refining of metals by fire, for that figure presupposes the idea of refining, which although involved in the trial or proof, is not identical with it. The same situation presupposes the certainty of success in refining, questions it in the trial and endangers it in temptation. De Wette and Wiesinger reject a figurative reference; but the crown of life, which is here promised, at least reminds us of the idea of the race-course also in Paul, 1Co 9:24; 2 Timothy 2:5.
He shall receive the crown of life; στέφανος, garland, chaplet of victory or honour in its fullest significance denotes a crown and in this sense we are warranted to take it here, according to Matthew 5:9 and Revelation 5:10.—Τῆς ζωῆς is explained by Huther as the Genitive of apposition: “The ζωή i.e. eternal, blissful life is the crown of honour wherewith he that endures is adorned.” But John 3:36 says: “he that believeth hath everlasting life”; does “the crown of righteousness” 2 Timothy 4:8 signify “righteousness is given me as a crown?” If the crown denotes the crown of honour of the finished proof, matured in the life of faith but also objectively awarded and glorified by God, it is the crown of life, i.e. the crown granted to a life which has developed itself into coronation, as life, the Summum of life as life’s prize of honour; our Genitive is consequently the Genitive of possession or dependence. Cf. 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 2:10. If the legal men [i.e. sticklers for the Jewish Law. M.] of that time were perhaps wont to say with reference to Psalms 1:0.: Blessed is the man that ever keeps to the law, he is the tree by the rivers of water, his leaves do not fade i.e. his life shall retain perpetual freshness, the beatitude of James expressing his continuance and promise of life would receive a peculiar significance. Although we cannot assert with Zwingli, Michaelis, Wiesinger and al., that the foundation of this figure is as in 1 Corinthians 9:0. the idea of the Grecian games, it may be shown that the Jews also regarded the crown or diadem not only as “a symbol of peculiar honour” (Huther referring to Psalms 21:4; Wis 5:16-17), but also of an honour accorded by God to a well-endured warfare of life. Both the Jews and the Greeks started with the presumption that persevering wrestling in a higher course of life constituted the condition of the diadem and that presumption repeats itself more or less among all mankind in the most diversified forms. This law of life was recognized in the Old Testament especially in the case of the typical Judah, of David, of the ideal man (Psalms 8:0), and of the Messiah (Psalms 110:0). The crown of believers is contrasted with the perishable garland of honour in 1 Corinthians 9:25 and it is also alluded to in 1 Peter 1:4; 1 Peter 5:4. Why is the antithesis here wanting? The Jews and the Jewish Christians of that time might readily remember it; all their visionists wanted to see the day of the kingdom of Zion, of the coronation of their chiliastic Messiah, the crowning of the Jewish rulers of the world. On this account Peter also points the suffering Christian pastors to the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:0) and the promise of the Epistle to the Hebrews also is the kingdom which cannot be moved (Hebrews 12:28).—
Which He (the Lord) has promised.—See Critical Note. “If ὁ κύριος is the right reading, it signifies not Christ (Baumgarten, Schneckenburger), but God (Gebser, Theile, Wiesinger [and Alford—M.].” Huther.—But that means nevertheless: God revealed in Christ. But might not James by this very omission have designed a supplying which he had prepared in James 5:1?—
To them that love Him.—James 2:5; Psalms 97:10; Psa 155:20; Romans 8:28; 2 Timothy 4:8. The love of the Lord, with James and Paul is consequently the real and eternal nature of faith, its root, its sap and its crown; and it is love which proves itself in endurance and by it attains to completion. Cf. John 15:0. [Amor parit patientiam. Bengel.—M.].
[In Shemoth Rabba, sect. 31, p. 129 and in Rab. Tanchum p. 29, 4, we read: “Blessed is the man, who stands in his temptation; for there is no man whom God does not try. He tries the rich, to see if they will open their hands to the poor: He tries the poor, to see if they will receive affliction and not murmur. If, therefore, the rich stand in his temptation, and give alms to the poor, he shall enjoy his riches in this world, and his horn shall be exalted in the world to come; and the holy blessed God shall deliver him from the punishment of hell. If the poor stand in his temptation, and do not repine, he shall have double in the world to come.”—M.].
For “doctrinal and ethical” and “homiletical and practical” see the preceding section.
James 1:12; James 1:12. The reading ἄνθρωπος in Cod. A. and several minuscule Mss., being a false correction, calls attention to the significant ἀνήρ.
James 1:12; James 1:12. ὁ κύριος is wanting in A. B. Cod. Sin., and rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf, (Alford—M.) and al. Theile retains it with G. K. (C. without the Article) and al. the Syriac, [Armenian—M.] and other versions. Several minuscule Mss. and versions [Vulg. Syr. Copt. Aeth. and al.—M.], read ὁ θεός. As the insertion is more readily accounted for than the omission, we may presume that the Apostle in λ ήμψεται reverts to λήμψεταί τι παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου [James 1:7—M.]. But summary sentences have generally a summary mode of expression. We follow therefore Bouman. p. 63.
James 1:12; James 1:12. Lange: Blessed (is) the man … for when he has become approved.…
III. FIRST ADMONITION WITH REFERENCE TO THE FIRST FORM OF TEMPTATION: VISIONARINESS
CAUTION AGAINST THE VISIONARINESS WHICH REPRESENTS THE TEMPTATION AS GOD’S CAUSE. THE HIDEOUS FORM OF THE SELF-TEMPTATION OF THE ERRING AND THEIR END, DEATH.—THE OPPOSING IMMUTABILITY OF THE FATHER OF LIGHTS IN HIS BLESSING RULE AND THE EXALTATION OF HIS PRINCELY CHILDREN BORN BY THE WORD OF TRUTH.
(VJames James 1:16-21. Epistle for Fourth Sunday after Easter.)
13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God:35 for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom Isaiah 36:0 no variableness, neither shadow of turning37 18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Analysis:—The first form of temptation—visionariness. The representation of the tempting thought as of God’s cause and caution against the deceptiveness of this temptation, James 1:13.—The hideous form of the self-temptation of the erring and their end,—death, James 1:14-16.—The opposing image of the true God in His blessing rule and His fixed immutability, James 1:17.—The exaltation of His princely children begotten by the word of truth, James 1:18.
The first form of the temptation—fanaticism, represented as a glorious cause of God, or a Divine admonition.
James 1:13. Let no one who is tempted say.—Caution against the deceptiveness of the temptation. It is incorrect to affirm that James opposes ὅς ὑπομένει πειρασμόν to ὅς πειράζεται, etc.; something like Huther, Pott, Olshausen, Schneck-enburger and al. For how could any one abide the temptation, without having first been tempted? James in this dehortation refers indeed to those who really say that they are tempted from God (which is also indicated by the forcible participial form) but even these he desires to reclaim while warning his better readers against their error. According to Calvin (and Wiesinger) James here treats de alio tentationis genere. But the matter is simply this; James now explains the one great πειρσμός according to the separate ποικίλοις πει ρασμοῖς and begins with the first form of the temptation.—[The force of the Participle should be brought out in the translation.—M.].
Shall Say,—λεγέτω according to Schneckenburger and al.=cogitet or sibi persuadeat, which is of course implied but not all, as Huther justly observes, [Bengel: corde aut ore—M.]. James connects this saying with the uncommonly much-saying of the Judaizing Jewish Christians and Jews, to which he alludes.
I am tempted from God.—Grotius, Hottinger and al. have rightly felt that the word ‘tempt’ bears a somewhat different sense in the two places, while Huther asserts without sufficient reason that the sense in both cases must be identical, viz.: to be inwardly solicited to sin. Let no one say: I am inwardly solicited to sin of God; but with such an exhortation James could not possibly have warned the twelve tribes. Said expositors miss however the correct distinction by saying that in the one instance it denotes: adversa pati, and in the other malis ad defectionem sollicitari. It is a sententious oxymoron conveying the idea: Let no one say that the impulse, which to him is really a temptation, and in the end a devilish one (James 3:15), in which he is already entangled (πειραζόμενος), is a monition of God, a cause of God, an incentive to maintain His honour. For this the Jews at a somewhat later period did really say in their uprising against the Romans, this they said even then in their fanatical utterings against the pagans, and the Judaizing Jewish Christians said in a similar manner: It is the will of God that we maintain His law and therefore separate from the Gentile Christians, as far as they do not receive the whole law or only in part. But James doubtless chose this poignant mode of expression in order to reproach those sayers with their making, though unconsciously, God the Author of evil. But it cannot be absolutely assumed that he is here inveighing against an impertinence generally or variously current among Jewish Christians, which made them charge God with temptations to evil, of which they were conscious, for we have no data to warrant such an assumption. This was not the language of the Sadducees, nor of the Pharisees, or Essenes (as has been thought by Bull, Ittig and Schneckenburger with reference to their doctrine of the εἱμαρμένη), still less could he aim at Simon Majus (Calov); on the other hand the reference is not simply to the general bias of the natural man to charge God somehow with the πειράζεσθαι, which the Jews might strengthen by misinterpretations of the Old Testament (Huther; see also the Note p. 59; Proverbs 19:3; Sir 15:11-12); for our Epistle deals throughout not with mere generalities, but with concrete relations.—ὅτι is a much used formula of quotation; ἀπό, as Huther observes, is not as strong as ὑπό. [See Winer, p. 382, ἀπό= through influences proceding from God.—M.].
For God is not temptable.—The reasons for the foregoing in a twofold assertion respecting God. First, He is ἀπείραστος. This ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the New Testament must not be confounded with the classical ἀπείρατος (in the sense of inexperienced) as denoting: God has no experience of evil (Schulthess, de Wette, Huther). Equally objectionable is the active construction of the word (Luther following the Vulgate ‘intentator’), for its weak grammatical basis, the Genitive κακῶν, its tautology both with respect to what goes before and to what follows forbid the active construction. The passive-adjective construction, however, not tempted, not temptable, which is generally adopted is not only not against grammatical usage as Huther maintains, (see the adjectival ἀκατάστατος James 5:8), nor against the connection, as he thinks also. For James wants to strengthen the dehortation, “Let no man say, etc.” For this saying, like all fanaticism, was a tempting God, and therefore vain and impious, because God does not suffer Himself to be tempted. Hence we might feel inclined to take κακῶν in the Masculine and to denote evil men; but this would probably be expressed more definitely. To think of evils (Oecumenius) is somewhat far-fetched, but also the evil in the Singular would be too general; the Plural in the present connection points to concrete and intensively evil things. [But there is an insuperable objection to Lange’s derivation of the word from πειράζω; for ἀπείραστος=untempted, not temptable: but James argues not concerning God being tempted, but concerning God tempting. I therefore prefer the common usage of the word ‘inexperienced in’; so Alford, Winer and (in part at least) Wordsworth, who adds, “that James may perhaps refer to the false tenet of some of the heretics of the early Church, who said that it was the duty of men to have experimental knowledge of all evil, in order to the attainment of perfection.” See Palm and Rost’s Lexicon and Weststein for examples in favour of ‘inexperienced in’.—M.]. Secondly: But He Himself tempteth no one.—[Lange takes no notice of δὲ which has here adversative force and makes therefore against his rendering ‘not temptable,’ while it favours the rendering ‘inexperienced in;’ and δὲ here is=“not so, but” Alford.—M.]. Second negation aimed at the substance of the proposition “I am tempted from God”(Huther). Αὐτός is construed differently; Huther takes it as antithesis to what follows in the sense: it is not He who tempts, but every man is tempted etc. Theile and Wiesinger take it in contrast with what goes before: He Himself (self-active). And this is probably right; He suffers Himself not to be drawn by God-tempting fanatics into their unholy interests, but He Himself becomes tempter to no man; the solicitation to evil, in the trial which He appoints, is not from Him. Stress must therefore be laid on both—not He,—tempteth not any one. [Lange hardly does justice to Huther whose view is very lucid. “Let no one say when he is tempted to evil, from God I am tempted: for God has no part in evil: but as to the temptation, He tempts no man etc.”—M.].
[Wordsworth here quotes Augustine, Tractat. in Joann. 43 and de consensu Evang. ii. 30, who raises a question on this passage. If God tempts no one, how is it that He is said in Scripture to tempt Abraham (Genesis 22:1)? To which he replies that St. James is speaking of temptations arising from evil motives with a view to an evil end. No such temptations are from God. But God is said to have tempted, that is, to have tried Abraham, from a good motive and for a good end. He tried him, in love to him and to all men, in order that he might become the Father of the faithful and be an example of obedience to all ages of the world.” See also Tertullian de Orat. c. 8. “God forbid that we should imagine that He tempts any one, as if He were ignorant of any man’s faith, or desired to make any one fall. No, such ignorance and malice belong not to God, but to the devil. Abraham was commanded to slay his son, not for his temptation but for the manifestation of his faith, as a pattern and proof to all, that no pledges of love, however dear, are to be preferred to God.—Christ, when tempted by the devil, showed who it is that is the author of temptation, and who it is that is our Guardian against it.”—M.].
With reference to the seemingly contradictory passages Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 8:2 and others, it is first of all necessary to distinguish as much between temptation and obduracy as between Abraham and Pharaoh. According to the concrete expression of the Old Testament God tempts Abraham by subjecting him to a trial to which the popular idea, handed down by tradition, clings as an element of temptation. He tempts Pharaoh by subjecting him to a trial in which the judgment of his self-delusion must reach its consummation. God therefore has no part whatsoever in the temptation itself as a solicitation to evil but throughout concurs in it, in the beginning trying or proving, at the end judging, at the intermediate stages chastising and punishing. It is with reference to the punishing feature in temptation that we pray: lead us not into temptation. God, as Calvin remarks, is never the author of evil.
The hideous form of the self-temptation of the erring by evil concupisence and its fruit—death, James 1:14-16.
James 1:14. But every one is tempted.—Wiesinger wrongly insists upon the necessity of distinguishing the being tempted in this verse from the falling into temptation James 5:2, as an intrinsical occurrence. The representation of tempting lust under the figure of an unchaste woman rather shows that James thinks of the lust belonging to the person tempted objectively in some folly which he encounters extrinsically, just as in Proverbs 7:5, etc. But he is quite right in opposing the above drawn course of good demeanour in temptation to the now drawn course of misdemeanour. But this point we shall touch further on. The objective folly, therefore, encountered by the person tempted, is, according to the Apostle’s idea, really nothing else than his very own (ἰδία emphasized) lust; first, because it springs also, as the temptation of Satan and the world, from the same ungodly ἐπιθυμία, from the alter ego of his own sinfulness, and secondly, because his evil lust which has now become objective can only control him by his subjective evil lust. If, according to a well-founded distinction, we are tempted by the world, the devil and our own flesh and blood, we must further explain this thus: the temptation of the world and the devil also is in its nature uniformly homogeneous worldliness and selfishness and it is only in a man’s self-own and subjective evil lust that temptation is able to become to him an ensnaring temptation in a narrower sense. Thus the great temptation of that time was everywhere only one temptation both to the Jews and the Jewish-Christians; all those glittering, variegated visionary expectations which seductively met the individual, had sprung from the matter of the chiliastic, world-lusting, spiritual pride. It is on this property in the dazzling object that James lays principal stress, because every one must overcome the world and Satan in his own strength by overcoming himself. In the first place we have now to inquire why he renders the ἰδία ἐπιθυμία objective in the figure of the unchaste woman. According to Theile and Wiesinger the words: Every one, etc., should be construed thus: Every one is tempted by his own lust in that he is lured etc. The pure expression of the antithesis: “tempted from God,” “tempted by his own lust,” seems to favour it. But this construction wipes out the figure that follows in its very conception. The sense is rather: “Every one is tempted, in that he,” etc., according to the construing of Luther, de Wette and Huther; viz., his own inward concupiscence meeting him as a soliciting unchaste woman. For this image is immediately indicated by the verbs ἐξέλκειν and δελεάζειν. Schneckenburger observes on it: Verba e re venatoria et piscatoria in rem amatoriam et inde in nostrum tropum translata. ἐξέλκειν (in N. T. ἅπαξ λεγ.) and δελεάζειν are not synonymous (Pott: protahere in littus), in fact it has hardly a specific meaning in the res venatoria (Schultess: elicere bestias ex tuto); but in the res amatoria we may distinguish it from allurement proper in that it draws men from their intrinsicality and independence by dazzling interest (to draw off and to allure—Germ. ablocken and anlocken); δελεάζειν (from δέλεαρ=esca exposita ad capienda animalia) occurs also 2Pe 2:14; 2 Peter 2:18, and is used also by the classics metaphorically, always in a bad sense. Now we must not overlook the force of the Participles ἐξελκόμενος etc., they denote the process of development (becoming) in the course of which temptation becomes entanglement as far as man continues in it. He is first drawn out from his inward self-control and fortress and then attracted (drawn to) by the unchaste woman’s allurings. [This is the reason why I have retained the Participles in my translation.—M.]. But the intrinsical decision proper is further expressed by εἶτα συλλαβοῦσα. Ἐπιθυμία however does not denote “innocent sensuousness.” “The word occurs here, as it, always occurs in the N. T. (except where its specific object is indicated, as in Luke 22:15; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:17) also without the addition of κακή, σαρκική, or some similar adjective, in sensu malo.” Huther. Ἐπιθυμία is not, indeed, birth-sin per se (as Huther rightly observes), but just as little only an evil lusting for the commission of the deed springing from birth-sin, as he argues against Wiesinger, whose almost equivalent exposition he scruples to admit. It is birth-sin itself in its concrete activity (“prava concupiscentia”) viewed from its positive side as worldliness and selfishness, assuming in different situations innumerable variations. Maintaining with Pott the figurative description of different personifications, we find that the reference is not to four but to three generations. We have in succession the unchaste mother or the ἐπιθυμία, the unchaste daughter or ἁμαρτία in the narrower sense of deed-sin and the son and grandson of the voluptuous mothers, the murderer-son death. Man yielding with his will to the allurement of evil lust, his moral relations assume a kind of natural sequence and the rest follows of itself. Lust becomes impregnated and brings forth sin, while sin brings forth (as it were out of itself or pursuant to its essential connection with ἐπιθυμία—hastening along with its own maturity the maturing of the hereditary death-germ) death.
James 1:15. Then, when lust hath conceived.—This denotes man’s proper surrendering to his evil lust in a manner which indicates that it was to be expected because he kept standing (continued,) in the allurement (δελεαζόμενος). The evil lust is fecundated i.e. it has obtained the mastery over the will of man.
It bringeth forth sin. (וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֵד).—De Wette and al. make ἁμαρτία denote the intrinsical act of sin and ἁμαρτία the extrinsical deed-sin. But Wiesinger and Huther are right in saying that the intrinsical act is involved in συλλαβοῦσα. On the other hand Calvin, Schneckenburger, Wiesinger and al. take the ἁμαρτία to denote the whole sinful life. But Huther says that it denotes the equal deed-sin, yet, in its entire development passing through its different stages until it subjects man to itself so that all reaction is at an end. “For ἀποτελεῖν is neither =perpetrare (Pott), nor=operari (Laurentius), nor=τίκτειν (τεχθεῖσα, Baumgarten), but=to complete; hence ἡ ἁμαρτία =sin advanced to the completeness of its development. Now since sin makes its first appearance as a new-birth the allusion to the now matured unchaste young woman which several commentators have found in the ἀποτελεσθεῖσα, is not outside the cycle of James’s thoughts; the expression certainly brings out the idea that she did reach a false τέλος which is the opposite of the τέλος to which the believing Israelite attains in virtue of his well-demeanour. True Judaism has matured into Christianity, Judaizing into anti christian apostasy. In point of meaning the exposition of Wiesinger coincides pretty much with that of Huther, but the latter has the preference of firmly keeping up the image of sin itself in its process of completion.
Bringeth forth death.—“The word ἀποκύει (found in the N. T. only here and in James 1:18) differs from τίκτει only in that the former indicates more clearly that the ἁμαρτία is from the outset pregnant with the θάνατος.” Huther.—Huther and Wiesinger explain death both of temporal and eternal death, Romans 6:23. But between the two lies the historical, indeterminate (unabsehbar) death (which being indeterminate must therefore be distinguished from absolute death [Untergang]), and as soon as we consider the concrete import of this passage, this feature of death becomes of the utmost importance. And here we have to call attention to the antithesis which Wiesinger has found between James 1:3-4 and this passage. The first proposition that “the trial of faith by tribulation answers to the incitement of the will by lust” we consider to be false; to fall into temptation and to be tempted are identical. But the consciousness of the πειράζεσθαι and the ἐξελκόμενοζ and δελεαζόμενος in connection with the antithesis of operative πίστις there and operative ἐπιθυμία here, this is one real antithesis; the second is the ὑπομονή there and ἁμαρτία here. Again the ἔργον τέλειον there and the ἁμαρτία here; lastly the τέλειοι there (connected with the στέφανος τῆς ζωῆς James 5:12) and the θάνατος here. The last two antitheses Wiesinger has taken together. Applying now the whole passage to the circumstances peculiar to the time of James, the completed sin denotes the completed apostasy of the Jewish people and death their historical judgment (see James 5:0. and Romans 10:0). This of course does not exclude the more general meaning of our passage which opens the prospect of eternal death as well as the most specific meaning according to which every mortal sin is followed by spiritual death. We have still to notice the different dogma-tropes: sin brings forth death (James), sin is followed by death as its wages or punishment (Paul), sin is death (John).—Likewise we must guard our passage against the [Roman] Catholic inference that sin as such must be distinguished from evil concupiscence (lust) with Calvin: “Neque enim disputat Jacobus, quando incipiat nasci peccatum, ita ut peccatum sit et reputetur coram deo, sed quando emergat.” James, to be sure, and all Holy Scripture prompt us to distinguish intrinsical deed-sin or the evil counsel of the heart from the direct and natural motions of sinful desire. Lastly we must avoid the presumption that James by the use of this frightful image simply wanted to didactically prove that temptation does not come from God; he also wanted his readers to understand it as to its real nature, origin and working. Hence the further admonition: “Be ye not deceived.” [Alford develops another view of the above image. “The harlot ἐπιθυμία, ἐξέλκει and δελεάζει the man: the guilty union is committed by the will embracing the temptress: the consequence is that she τίκτει ἁμαρτίαν sin, in general, of some kind, of that kind to which the temptation inclines: then ἡ ἁμαρτία that particular sin, when grown up and mature—herself ἀποκύει, ‘extrudit,’ as if all along pregnant with it, death, the final result of sin. So that temptation to sin cannot be from God, while trial is from Him.”—He also recalls the sublime allegory in Milton’s Paradise Lost (Book II) where Satan by his own evil lust brings forth sin (“out of thy head I sprung”), and then by an incestuous union with sin
(——Back they recoil’d afraid
At first and called me sin, and for a sign
Portentous held me; but familiar grown,
I pleased and with attractive graces won
The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing
Becam’st enamour’d, and such joy thou took’st
With me in secret, that my womb conceived
A growing burden.—)
causes her to bring forth Death.—M.].
James 1:16. Be not ye deceived.—Although this sentence refers also to what follows (Theile) and not solely to what goes before (Gebser) the reference to the latter (Wiesinger) is greater than that to the former. The expression, moreover, has the full pregnancy of a warning against objective images and spirits of temptation, according to de Wette, “be not ye deceived,” and not with Gebser, “err not.” The warmth of this caution is heightened by the address:
My beloved brethren, although they were to find the means of strengthening and confirming this exhortation in the subsequent instruction concerning the true God of revelation. Huther: “The same formula is found in 1Co 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 6:7 (a similar one 1 John 3:7 [μηδεὶς πλανάτω ὑμᾶς.—M.], in all these passages it follows up a thought peculiar to the Christian consciousness, by which an antecedent statement receives its confirmation.” [Wordsworth: The formulas μὴ πλανῶ “be not thou deceived,” and μὴ πλανᾶσθε “be not ye deceived,” are the preambles used in Scripture and by ancient Fathers, in order to introduce cautions against, and refutations of some popular error, as here.—M.].
The opposing image of the true God, etc.
James 1:17. Every good giving (bestowing).—We ask leave to reproduce the Hexameter (see Winer, § 68, 5a, p. 663) because nothing but a close consideration of the text has led us to do so. [The German rendering is as follows: “Jegliche gute Bescherung und alle vollkommene Gabe”—the Greek original reads thus: πᾱσᾰ δῠ | σῑς ᾰγ̆α | θ̄η κᾱι | πᾱν δω̄ | ρ̄ημ̆α τ̆ε | λε̄ιο̆ν, the last syllable in the second foot σις being lengthened by the arsis.—M]. Standing by the side of δώρημα, δόσις can hardly have the same meaning as the former (as Huther maintains); δόσις rather denotes primarily the act of giving and secondarily the gift. But alongside of δώρημα, which denotes gift, donation, present, it becomes at all events the lesser giving, while δώρημα is the more weighty expression. To this must be added the gradation of the adjectives ἀγαθή, τέλειον. It is certainly unfounded to apply δόσις to gifts of nature and δώρημα to gifts of grace, but this does not involve an identity (so Huther) which is here very tautologically expressed. Τέλειου must be made the starting-point of the exposition. According to the New Testament idea of τελείωσις, τέλειονcorresponds with the ἔργον τέλειον and the Christians as τέλειοι, and with the ἁμαρτία , James 5:15. And just as the perfect work can only be understood as the consistent practical exhibition of the theocratical faith in Christianity, and as the τέλειος describes one who has decided for Christ, while sin completed denotes the sin of Christ-inimical apostasy, so also δώρημα τέλειου signifies the gift of God completed in Christianity. Our δώρημα reminds us of Christ as χάρισμα Romans 5:15; but here the reference is probably to the Christian revelation in the fulness of its gifts. This would make πᾶσα δόσις to denote everything which served to prepare this completed gift in the olden time, especially in the old covenant, according to the analogy of Hebrews 1:1. The readers here and there should know that the one and only God presides over the difference and antithesis between the Old Covenant and the New. It is not to be wondered at that several commentators (Raphelius, Augusti) were tempted to take πᾶσα and πᾶν in an exclusive sense, for the antithesis lay near: God tempts no man, nothing but good comes from Him. This would be a more distinct statement of the antithesis, but James wanted to present it in a richer form: not only does no evil come from God, nay rather all good comes from Him. It is moreover ἄνωθεν καταβαῖνων in uninterrupted permanence, a perpetual rain and sunshine of gifts. The Participle is to be duly considered and we ought really to render: it comes and comes. The word gift for δώρημα is rather weak and donating would be more weighty than donation. [Bengel renders δόσις datio and δώρημα donum. On the whole δόσις=datio=giving, and δώρημα=donum=gift, is probably the nearest rendering which the Latin and English tongues admit. Bp. Andrews, who has two sermons on this text, vol. iii. p. 36, and vol. v. p. 311 observes p. 313, that δόσις , donatio bona or good giving, represents rather the act of giving which bestows things of present use for this life, whether for our souls or bodies, in our journey to our heavenly country; but δώρημα τέλειον or perfect gift, designates those unalloyed and enduring treasures, which are laid up for us in eternity. I have retained the Participle in my translation.—M.].
From the Father of the lights.—Huther and Wiesinger agree with the majority of modern commentators that the lights here signify the heavenly bodies. But we do not believe that a single passage of Holy Writ can be produced in support of such an abnormal mode of expression, Psalms 136:0. the LXX. say concerning the stars τῷ ποιήσαντι φῶτα μεγάλα, Jeremiah 4:23 τὰ φῶτα αὐτοῦ. But Scripture as well as the Nicene Creed uniformly distinguish make from create and beget. Job 38:28 surely does not mean that God is the father of rain. Setting aside the following explanations of the lights: knowledge (Hornejus), joy (Michaelis), wisdom or goodness (Wolf), it is hardly necessary to think of the Urim and Thummim (Heisen) and even the reference to the angels (Kern and Olshausen) cannot be retained. But the reference to the Sermon on the Mount, with which James is so intimately connected, is less remote. In Matthew 5:14, the disciples are called τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου and in James 5:16, they are actually distinguished from their light as candlesticks or light-bearers. The Messiah is often called a Light in the Old Testament (Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 49:6, etc.) and in the New Testament it is an appellation by which He describes Himself (John 8:12; cf. James 1:4 and other passages). Also John the Baptist He calls a light John 5:35 and Philippians 2:15 Christians are referred to: ὡς φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ. If in favour of the aforesaid exposition it is alleged that God Himself is called φῶς 1 John 1:5 (cf. 1 Timothy 6:15) it is necessary clearly to distinguish that ethical idea from the physical. The subsequent metaphors: παρ’ ᾦ, are claimed in favour of the disputed exposition; but they constitute an antithesis between God, the Light without shadow and the symbolical bodies of light, which are not without casting their shadows. Besides all this, believers as God-begotten children are distinguished in James 1:18 as an ἀπαρχή from the κτίσματα. The Scholion ap. Matth; ἤτοι τῶν , ἤ τῶν πεφωτισμένων , seems accordingly to be right in the last clause in the sense that the whole line of organs of revelation from Abraham to Christ as the representatives of all good spirits is what is meant here, [Bengel: Patris appellatio congruens huic loco; sequitur ἀπεκύησεν. Ipse Patris, et matris, loco est. Est Pater luminum etiam spiritualium in regno gratiæ et gloriæ. Ergo multo magis Ipse Lux est, 1 John 1:5. Lucis mentione statim, ut solet, subjungitur mentio vitæ, ex regeneratione. James 5:18. There is no reason why the two interpretations should not be combined. God is the Father of all lights, the lights of nature and the lights of grace; the Father not only of the light of reason and conscience, the light of knowledge and goodness but also the Father of the children of Light. To enter in this connection upon hair-splitting distinctions between create, make and beget, seems hardly the thing. Whatever is gross and material is of course eliminated from the meaning of any of said three expressions, and if the spiritual conception of the Divine character as Maker, Creator and Father, has once been reached, metaphysical quibbles may well be dispened with.—M.].
With whom (as peculiar to whom) there is not existing.—We give this construction of the passage on account of ἔνι, without discussing the question whether ἔνι is a peculiar form (Buttmann, Winer), or an abbreviation of ἔνεστι (Meyer, Huther).
A change or a shadow-casting.—In the first place it is to be remembered that these words are ἅπαξ λεγ. in the New Testament. Then the first word, being the more general, must be explained by the second and more definite one. The Greek commentators limit the figurative to the ἀποσκίασμα (Oecumenius, Theophylact and al.): with God there is no mutation or a shadow (i.e. a trace or appearance of a change, or also of a reservation; they are followed among modern expositors by Morus, Rosenmüller, Hensler, Theile. The Latin commentators, on the other hand (Justinianus, Estius, a Lapide and al.) apply the expression ad solis vicissitudines et conversiones. Then also Luther (see the Translation), Grotius, Wetstein, Flatt, Schulthess. For a full treatment of the passage see Gebser, who explains it of the shadows cast by the solstice. Wiesinger suggests changes of the moon, solar and lunar eclipses and regards the shadow as the effect of τροπή; similar is the exposition of Huther: the shadow cast on the heavenly body, effected by its changing position. But solar and lunar eclipses are phenomena too rare and transient in order to give a pregnant expression to the idea in question. And although there may not be used here any termini technici of Astronomy (as Huther observes) in their strict sense, the contemplation of the world in every age led probably to a sufficient knowledge of astronomy in order to recognize in the diurnal phenomenal revolution of the sun, the moon and the stars the cause of all nocturnal obscurings of the earth. The sun has not only its annual but its diurnal solstice. In like manner the moon and the stars rise and set and leave us in absolute night. But God is in a very different sense the Light of the world, a Sun that never sets. To this refer Psalms 139:9; Psalms 139:12; Job 34:22; it was also symbolized by the pillar of fire in the camp of the Israelites. Now if the expression τροπῆς denotes such a phenomenal shadow-casting of the revolving heavenly bodies, we can hardly take παραλλαγή in a purely general sense (Huther)=mutation, but as a figurative description of a change of position (standing-place). This alternation is the first thing: the constant progression of the celestial bodies, the turning, follow as the result. Now if the heavenly bodies, as the created symbols of the Divine being of light, possess the property of being not without shadow and night we get the antithesis that God, the Father of the Lights is eternally the same, not only per se, but also in the phenomena of these lights: that is to say, He makes no revolution with the Old Testament which could cast a night-shadow on the New (as the Talmud at a later period attempted to make such a revolution), nor does He suffer the New Testament to cast a night-shadow on the Old (according to the later opinion of the Gnostics and of all rationalists). The Father of the lights remains unchanged even in this antithesis. [“God is always in the meridian.” Wetstein.—Bengel’s note will be found useful: “παραλλαγὴ dicit mutationem in intellectu; (vide LXX. 2 Reg. 9:20), τροπὴ mutationem voluntatis. In utroque vocabulo est metaphora a stellis, huic loco, ubi luminum mentio fit, aptissima. παραλλαγὴ et τροπὴ est in natura (vid. τροπὰς Job 38:33) quæ habet quotidianam vicissitudinem diei et noctis, et longiores modo dies modo noctes: in Deo nil tale est. Ipse est Lux mera, παραλλαγὴ et τροπὴ, si qua accidit, penes nos est, non penes Patrem luminum. ἀποσκίασμα interdum dicit ὁμοίωμα. Sic enim Hesychius, interpretatur. unde Gregorius Naz. τὸ τῆς tanquam synonyma ponit: et apud Tullium, Budæo observante, adumbratio rei opponitur perfectioni ejus; sed hoc loco opponitur luminibus, adeoque magis proprie sumitur, ut ἀποσκίασμα τροπῆς sit jactus umbræ primulus, revolutionem habens conjunctam. Idem Hebraismus genitivi mox, abundantiam malitiæ, ex quo colligere licet, τὸ transmutatio opponi τῷ datio bona, quemadmodum vicissitudinis obumbratio opponitur τῷ donum perfectum. παραλλαγὴ aliquid majus est. Hinc gradatio in oratione negante: ne quidem vicissitudinis adumbratio. Hoc demum efficit perfectionem; illud bonum est. Perfectior est, qui ne quidem vicissitudinis adumbrationem habet.”—M.].
The exaltation of the children of God begotten by the word of truth.
James 1:18. Pursuant to free decree hath He begotten us.—The connection of these words with what goes before is differently construed: 1. as coördination: God the Father of lights is also the Author of our regeneration (Theile); 2. as exemplification: generatio spiritualis, quasi exemplum aliquod donorum istorum spiritualium (Laurentius, de Wette); 3. as an inference drawn from the general idea of the former (Huther). But regeneration, as matter of experience, cannot be inferred from a dogma concerning God; 4. as proof or demonstration (Gebser, Kern). Wiesinger’s remarks are excellent: “The greatest δώρημα (James 1:18) which consists in the Divinely effected regeneration of man by the word of truth, is now mentioned by the author in lieu of everything else as the brightest actual proof that nothing evil, but all good comes from God. This act of His holy love is at once the strongest exhortation to a demeanour well-pleasing to Him. (James 1:19 etc.).” The Apostle shows therefore how the heaven-descended δώρημα τέλειον had evidenced itself as such by its effect, viz. the regeneration of believers. Now in thus laying the strongest emphasis on the exalted dignity, the ὕψος of Christians following from their regeneration, he also emasculates thereby the fallacy of that seductive fanaticism, which would fain mislead them to pursue a false phantom of this exaltation on chiliastic and revolutionary paths. At the same he presents to all Jews this true life-picture of their exaltation. Βουληθείς is the emphatic beginning of the sentence. “Pursuant to his established (Aorist) free decree.” The element of love (Bengel: voluntate amantissima) lies primarily not in the word itself but in its connection. The antithesis is (according to Bede, Calvin and al.) the meritoriousness of good works. It lies however nearer to see the primary reference to the Jewish claims to the kingdom (Romans 9:0), especially because the βουληθείς at any rate contains the element of voluntary determination. The verb itself, used here, shows plainly that reference is made not to natural birth, but to regeneration, for ἀποκύειν is the synonyme of γεννᾷν etc. (1 John 3:9; 1 Peter 1:23; 2 Peter 1:4).” So Huther rightly answers Pott, who wants to explain ἀποκύειν by facere, efficere.
Us, i.e., the Christians. But the objective regeneration of humanity in Christ was primarily also designed for the Jews as the regeneration of the nation and the theocracy, and to this teleological element the sequel constrains us to give a proper share of our consideration. Besides this objective element, subjectively realized by believers, We must also take cognizance of the emphasis: begotten by the Father of lights and thus destined to the enjoyment of the most exalted dignity. [Bengel, as usual, gives us the pith of the whole riches of thought in a nutshell and supplies commentators with mental food. Much of Lange’s view may be traced back to Bengel, and some of the beautiful reflections of Wordsworth, which we shall produce under Doctrinal and Ethical, seem to flow from the same source. He says: βουληθεῖς, volens, voluntate amantissima, liberrima, purissima, fœcundissima. Hebr. אב ab אבה voluit; cf. John 1:13. Congruit ἔλεος, misericordia, 1 Peter 1:3. Antitheton, concupiscentia cum conceperit.—ἀπεκύησεν. Antitheton, ἀποκύει, James 1:15 (cf. also what he says on James 1:17, Ipse (Deus) Patris et matris loco est.—M.].
By the word of truth.—The Gospel as the completion of the whole word of revelation. The word of truth regarded not only as opposed to the law as such, or even to the tradition of the law, but especially also as opposed to the lies and frauds of fanaticism which promised to make the readers of the Epistle sons of the kingdom. This also chimes in with the antithesis in time: what the temptation promises you in a phantom, the word of truth has already made us in reality. The word of truth, i.e., the word which is truth (Genit. Appos. [cf. John 17:17 : ὁ λόγος ὁ σὸς —M.)], but also the expression and life of truth (1 Peter 1:23; cf. Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5=εὐαγγέλιον; 2 Timothy 2:15). The whole Epistle shows that James meant the mediation of this word by Christ, but the idea is more general because by this completion he comprehends into one whole the entire old Testament as Christianity in process of being (or becoming). [These words are also susceptible of a different interpretation. According to it the λόγος is personal and denotes the Eternal Word, the Second Person in the Holy Trinity, by Whom we have been born again (cf. 1 Peter 1:23), “Who for our sakes became Incarnate and by being Incarnate gave “to those, who receive Him power to become sons of God,” who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God (John 1:13), and through whom we cry “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 3:26), and become “partakers of the Divine nature.” Wordsworth. The noble array of authorities, in favour of this interpretation, will be found under “Doctrinal and Ethical.”—M.].
That we should be; not that we should become. But the teleological mode of expression is probably chosen in order to indicate that the Jews should become what Christians already are.
A (kind of) first fruit.—Calvin: τινὰ similitudinis est nota; nos quodam modo esse primitias. So Huther, Wiesinger, Gebser and al. But James hardly needed to give prominence to this symbolical mode of speech in an Epistle, symbolical throughout. It was self-evident. But on that account we are hardly prepared to understand the reference in the word with Bengel: “quædam habet modestiam, nam primitiæ proprie et absolute est Christus.” Christ is here included as Mediator of the Christian first fruit. But James, using this expression, might well recollect that the angels of God are a different kind of first-fruit of the creation. It has been inferred from this passage that Christians are also superior to the angels; at all events they are coördinated with them as a different type of celestial first-born. The frequent occurrence of this word in a symbolical sense (Leviticus 23:10; Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 26:2) removes all doubt that ἀπαρχή alludes to the God-consecrated first-fruit in the Old Covenant (Laurentius: allusio est ad ritum legalem in V. T. de consecratione primogenitorum, frugum, jumentorum et hominum). The word therefore involves also the idea that Christians are a people consecrated to the service of God, even as the first-consecrated in relation to the future conversion of the Gentiles and “the glorification of the world.” (Huther.) But this does not warrant the inference drawn by Huther and Wiesinger that the first-born in point of time settles the idea of first-fruit in point of dignity. Even in the province of nature the idea of the first-born or matured is more or less connected with the idea of the excellent. In the New Testament, however, this idea of the word in a spiritual sense, is repeatedly made prominent (1 Corinthians 15:20; 1Co 15:23; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Revelation 14:4). But there is yet another element of the idea, which has to be decidedly held fast. As the first-fruit was at once the prophecy and surety of the whole subsequent harvest, so Christ as ἀπαρχή of the resurrection is surety for the subsequent stages of the resurrection, so the Holy Ghost in believers is surety for the subsequent glory (Romans 8:23); so the first believers of Israel in their unity are sureties for the future conversion of the whole nation, Romans 11:6. We see no reason for abandoning any one of these three elements, 1. The God-consecrated first-fruit people, 2. the first dignity of the real children of God involved in it, 3. the living security for future conversions, even for the glorification of the world. Huther ojects to the second element that instead of τινὰ we ought to have κτισμάτων followed by νέων or καινῶν. But the difficulty with regard to τινὰ has been settled above, and Huther’s exposition, not ours, would require a νέων. Even the taking of πρῶτοι in the sense of τιμιώτατοι or some similar word (in Oecumenius) is not against the Apostle’s idea; it only presents modifications and consequences of πρῶτοι.
Of His creatures.—This expression which relates generally to the whole creation but particularly to God’s moral institutions in mankind, brings out primarily the second sense of ἀπαρχή, as in Psalms 8:0.; Romans 8:0 :1 Corinthians 6:2-3; but also the third sense. Christians as God’s ἀπαρχή are not only superior to the doings of the moral world and to the propensities of the natural world, but they are also as God’s ἀπαρχή sureties for the glorification of the world. The κτίσματα τοῦ θεοῦ, although they are not really the καινὴ κτίσις (Olshausen), but the ἀπαρχὴ θεοῦ belongs also to them, as a surety that they will ripen into the καινή κτίσις, just as the first-fruits are an ἀπαρχή of the ripening fields. The depth of Christian knowledge contained in this passage has been admirably set forth by Wiesinger, p. 88, etc., to which the reader is referred. [We give it below under “Doctrinal and Ethical.”—M.]. Particular note should be taken of the striking accord of this passage in James with the fundamental ideas of the doctrine of Paul, in βουληθείς, election, free grace; in ἀπεκύησεν the doctrine of regeneration and the new creature, in the λόγος the antithesis of law and symbol, in the ἀπαρχή not only the relation of Christians to the world, but in particular the relation of the Jewish Christians to the Jews (Romans 10:0), and in the κτίσματα his doctrine of the glorification of the world by Christ, Romans 8:0.; Ephesians 1:0.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
If there is one question, which for centuries has engaged and exhausted the reflection of the most celebrated philosophers, it is this: whence is moral evil? Moral evil, disorder in the dominion of a God of order and justice, a discord in the harmony of creation, an ever-flowing spring of misery by the side of so many and copious fountains of happiness opened for us by a higher Love. Who is the author of its disastrous existence? Does it come from God? If so, how could God be just and holy? And if it does not come from Him, how could it originate, continue and rule from the world’s first dawn until now? There is no thinker who has not stood in silent contemplation of the riddle and there is also no thinker who has been able to resist the temptation of making at least an effort towards its solution. The various schools of Greek philosophy exhibit the most contradictory principles. The most different gnostic systems of the second century we see revolve round this problem as if it were their immutable centre. And even the speculative philosophy of our century, no matter how often its idealism departed from the maxims of experience, found it impossible wholly to overlook this dark back-ground of all human self-consciousness and had to include the investigation of evil in the course of its contemplations, if for no other purpose than that of denying the reality of sin as constituting the guilt of mankind. The most important efforts of human thought to explain the origin of moral evil have been discussed in a masterly manner by Julius Müller in his classical work, “Die Christliche Lehre von der Sünde” (new edition, 1844.)
2. The principal features of the doctrine, which James here presents concerning the origin of sin, may be compressed into one sentence, viz.: Sin is in no event God’s fault but altogether our own. Every explanation of the origin of sin which makes God directly or indirectly the causa efficiens mali, James condemns in toto (as to its inmost ground), as does also Paul, Romans 3:8.
3. Nothing is more common than the endeavour to charge God directly or indirectly with the guilt of our transgressions. Even the heathen sought shelter in the subterfuge that some divinity or irresistible demon had impelled them to evil and the Jews asked “Why does he yet find fault?” Romans 9:19. The most ancient art of sinful mankind was the sewing of fig-leaves (Genesis 3:7), and also the modern rationalism of our century in this respect seems neither to have learnt nor to have forgotten any thing. Sin, in the opinion of modern rationalists, is a relative, yet an altogether unavoidable evil. Is God not the Almighty who creates light and darkness, the Infinite from whom, by whom, and to whom are all things absolutely, the Omniscient, who foresaw the abuse of moral freedom and might easily have prevented it? It is therefore plainly thus: man could not but altogether fall and he falls not only with the high sanction but also according to the will and arrangement of God. Sin is a wholly indispensable part of our earthly plan of education just as a child would never have learned to walk without having previously stumbled. Sin is the inseparable shade-side of the light of perfection, which as it shines is inconceivable without a shadow. Sin is a want of development, an imperfection, grounded nolens volens in the organization of our race, for which we can no more be held accountable than for having feet but no wings. Thus sin, which is free choice and a daring opposition to God, is fundamentally made to be a rule and what might yet be wanting to the fair-seeming theory, appears in still more glaring colours in practice. Even the dullest mind becomes inexhaustible in wit and understanding if it is necessary to excuse the commission of evil. There is nothing more difficult even to infant lips than the admission of personal guilt. Now it is the fault of others or of circumstances in which we find ourselves placed, again it is the fault of our temperament or the natural infirmity of an originally excellent heart. Aye, how many a Christian seeks to lessen his guilt with the pious sigh that God had let go his hand for a moment, that the Lord had hidden His countenance from him so that now he could not evince himself as a child of light; that the flesh had proved too strong for him and it was really not he that kept on sinning, but the invincible principle of flesh within himself. If James were to revisit us, he would not have any occasion to withdraw his exhortation as superfluous: “Let no man, being tempted, say, I am tempted from God.”
4. It is only necessary to enter somewhat more profoundly into the idea that God in the most absolute sense of the word is ἀπείραστος κακῶν in order to perceive the infinite superiority of the Christian conception of God to the ethnical. James, in this respect, occupies not only a lofty religious but also a purely ethical standpoint. Just as the conception of God with many is obscured by sins, so on the other hand, the Christian conception of God corrects many confused or one-sided theories of the origin of sin.
5. In order that we may thoroughly understand the teaching of James respecting the origin of sin, we must in particular not lose sight of the point, that it is not so much his intention to account for the origin of sin among mankind as to describe it in the human individual: in other words that he here treats of the matter rather psychologically than metaphysically. Rationalistic commentators who consequently use James 1:14-15 as a weapon against Genesis 3:0 and John 8:44, act most arbitrarily. The matter has two sides only one of which is touched by James, while he does not invalidate the other, no matter how true it may be in itself. Cf. James 4:7. What he describes is the history of sin in every individual man, and that in three different periods: in its beginning, its progress and its end.
6. James in declaring that lust, having conceived, brings forth sin, does by no means imply that ἐπιθυμία per se is not altogether sin. The concupiscentia in this case is already prava, but it is here expressly set forth not as the mother of the sinful principle but of the sinful deed. The Protestant Church at every period has rightly opposed to the pelagianizing tendencies of [Roman] Catholicism the assertion that also the ἐπιθυμία of man, which eventually becomes deedsin, is sinful in itself (per se). Paul also denies that the law is sin, not that lust is sin, Romans 7:7. Besides the history of every more signal sin, e.g., that of Adam or Pharaoh, David, Ahab and many others furnishes the most striking proofs of the correctness of the delineation here given. “This passage is greatly abused if it is cited as a proof that evil desires are not sin, provided man withhold his consent. For James does not discuss the question when sin begins, when it is sin before God and imputed as sin, but when it breaks forth. Thus he gradually progresses to show that the completion of sin is the cause of eternal death, but that sin is rooted in a man’s own lust; whence it follows that men shall reap in eternal ruin the fruit which they themselves have sowed.” Chrysostom.
7. The idea of guilt, which is here so emphatically expressed by James, is of the utmost importance to the whole development of scientific theology. Not until sin in its true nature is acknowledged as guilt, are we able to appreciate the depth of the doctrines of the atonement and of redemption. But then it must be equally acknowledged that only a Redeemer, who was really God-man, was able to deliver us from eternal ruin. The right conception of Soteriology and Christology is thoroughly rooted in the deeper insight into Hamartology.
8. It is impossible that God should be at variance with Himself, that His holiness should conflict with His love. The same God whom James describes in James 5:17 as ἀπείραστος κακῶν he sets forth in James 5:17 as the eternal source (German primal source) of light from whom all gifts and only good gifts flow to us. This declaration also reminds us of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:11. God is here called the Father of lights, as elsewhere He is described as the Father of spirits, the God of the spirits of all flesh, Hebrews 12:9; Numbers 16:22. James describes the inexhaustible riches of the goodness and the glory of the immutability of God in a form at once poetical and metrical “πᾶσα δόσις , καὶ πᾶν δώρημα τέλειον,” in order to show also thereby that the inference “that such a God could yet be the cause of sin” contains the strongest contradictio in terminis. For it is impossible that the Father of lights should love darkness; He, with whom there is no change, cannot possibly cause to-day the evil which yesterday He did forbid or punish; detestable sin, so often condemned by Him, in no event can belong to His good and perfect gifts. “The New Testament positively opposes the repulsive assertion of a self-development of God.” Heubner.
9. The greatest proof of the absolute impossibility of God being the cause of sin lies in the opposite experience of believers themselves (James 1:18), where the greatest and most glorious of all good gifts (James 1:17), although stated in general terms, is yet specifically named. The history of the birth of sin (James 1:15) is opposed (James 1:18) to the spiritual history of the birth of Christians in order to shed thereby the brightest light on the fact that God who effects regeneration, cannot possibly be the author of its contrary—evil. Those who attach but little importance to the Epistle of James in a dogmatical point of view would do well to give their earnest and thoughtful attention to his dictum classicum concerning regeneration, James 5:18. We have here in fact the depth and riches of Paul in a brief compendium. See the exegetical notes on the passage. James’ mode of statement exhibits also a surprising agreement with that of Peter (1 Peter 1:23).
[James 1:15. The progressive development of temptation is thus stated by Bede: 1. Suggestio. 2. Delectatio. 3. Consensus. Suggestio est hostis, delectatio autem vel consensus est nostræ fragilitatis. Si delectationem cordis partus sequitur pravæ actionis, nobis jam mortis reis victor hostis abscedit. For further illustration see Wordsworth.
James 1:16. Bp. Andrewes [Sermons, 3, p. 374): “Though of man it be truly said by Job, “he never continueth in one stay” (Job 14:2); though the lights of heaven have their parallaxes; yea, “the angels of heaven, he found not steadfastness in them” (Job 4:18); yet for God, He is subject to none of them. He is “Ego sum quisum” (Exodus 3:14); that is, saith Malachi, “Ego Deus et non mutor (Malachi 3:6). We are not what we were awhile since, what we shall be awhile after, scarce what we are; for every moment makes us vary. With God it is nothing so, “He is that He is; He is and changeth not.” He changes not his tenor; He says not, before Abraham was, I was; but “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
Yet are there “varyings and changes,” it cannot be denied. We see them daily: True, but the point is per quem, on whom to lay them? Not on God. Seems there any recess? It is we forsake Him, not He us (Jeremiah 2:17). It is the ship that moves, though they that be in it think the land goes from them, not they from it. Seems there any variation, as that of the night? It is umbra terræ makes it, the light makes it not. Is there anything resembling a shadow? A vapour rises from us, and makes the cloud, which is as a pent-house between, and takes Him from our sight. That vapour is our lust, there is the apud quem. Is any tempted? It is his own lust doth it; that enticeth him to sin; that brings us to the shadow of death. It is not God. No more than He can be tempted, no more can He tempt any. If we find any change, the apud is with us, not Him; we change, He is unchanged. “Man walketh in a vain shadow.” (Psalms 39:6). His ways are the truth. He cannot deny Himself.
Every evil, the more perfectly evil it is, the more it is from below: it either rises from the steam of our nature corrupted; or yet lower, ascends as a gross smoke, from the bottomless pit, from the prince of darkness, as full of varying and turning into all shapes and shadows, as God is far from both, who is uniform and constant in all His courses.—The lights may vary, He is invariable; they may change, He is unchangeable, constant always and like Himself. Now our lessons from these are—
1. Are they given? Then, quid gloriaris? Let us have no boasting. Are they given, why forget the Giver? Let Him be had in memory, He is worthy so to be had.
2. Are the “giving” as well as the “gift” and the “good” as the “perfect,” of gift, both? Then acknowledge it in both; take the one as a pledge, make the one as a step to the other.
3. Are they from somewhere else, not from
ourselves? Learn then to say, and to say with feeling, Non nobis, Domine, quia non a nobis (Psalms 106:1).
4. Are they from on high? Look not down to the ground, then, as swine to the acorns they find lying there, and never once up to the tree they come from. Look up; the very frame of our body gives that way. It is nature’s check to us to have our head bear upward and our heart grovel below.
5. Do they descend? Ascribe them then to purpose, not to time or chance. No table to fortune, saith the prophet. Isaiah 65:11.
6. Are they from the “Father of lights?” (Jeremiah 10:12) then never go to the children, a signis cœli nolite timere: “neither fear nor hope for any thing from any light of them at all.”
7. Are His “gifts without repentance?” (Romans 2:29). Varies He not? Whom He loves, doth “He love to the end?” (John 13:1). Let our service be so too, not wavering. O that we changed from Him no more than He from us! Not from the light of grace to the shadow of sin, as we do full often.
But above all, that which is ex totâ substantiâ, that if we find any want of any giving or gift, good or perfect, this text gives us light, whither to look, to whom to repair for them; to the “Father of lights.” And even so let us do. Ad patrem luminum cum primo lumine: “Let the light, every day, so soon as we see it, put us in mind to get us to the Father of Lights.” Ascendat oratio, descendat miseratio; “let our prayer go up to Him that His grace may come down to us,” so to lighten us in our ways and works, that we may in the end come to dwell with Him, in the light which is φῶς , “light whereof there is no eventide,” the sun whereof never sets, nor knows tropic—the only thing we miss, and wish for in our lights here, primum et ante omnia. [A part of the above really belongs to “homiletical and practical” but I doubt not that the reader will be thankful to me for not having attempted to sever the practical element from the doctrinal—M.].
[James 1:18. Wordsworth:—With reverence be it said, in the work of our Regeneration, God is both our Father and Mother; and this statement well follows the declaration of the Apostle that every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. He is a Father, the Father of lights, and He is like a Mother also, and gives birth to us by the Word of truth.
Compare the use of the maternal word ὠδίνω, parturio, used by St. Paul in one of his tenderest expressions of affectionate yearning for his spiritual children, Galatians 4:19.
By this word ἀπεκύησεν, He brought us forth, St. James declares God’s maternal love for our souls. Isaiah 49:15.Psalms 27:12.
—The view which makes ὁ λόγος personal is not in conflict with the common view; it is based on the recognition of the two senses in which St. James and St. Paul use it. Cf. Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 1:3; Galatians 4:19. The comparison of this verse (James 1:18) with James 1:21 shows that James passes by a natural transition from the Incarnate Word to the reception of the Inspired Word.
Athanasius (contra Arianos iii. § 61, p. 483): “Whatsover the Father determines to create, He makes and creates by Him (the Word), as the Apostle says. By His Will he brought us forth by the Word. Therefore the will of the Father, which concerns those who are born again, or which concerns those things that are made by any other way, is in the Word, in whom He makes and regenerates what He thinks fit.”
Irenæus (James 2:25; James 2:3):—“Thou, O man, are not uncreated, nor wert thou always coëxistent with God, like His own Word, but thou art gradually learning from the Word the dispensations, of God who made thee.”
Tertullian (c. Praxean. c. 7) illustrating the word ἀπεκύησεν says: “Christus. primogenitus et unigenitus Dei proprie de vulva cordis Ipsius.”
Novatian (de Trinit. 31):—“There is one God, without any origin, from wham the Word, the Son was born. He, born of the Father, dwells ever in the Father.”
Theophilus of Antioch (§ 10): “God, having His Own Word indwelling in His own bowels (σπλάγχνοις), begat Him, having breathed Him forth before all things, and through Him He hath made all things; and He is called the Beginning, because He is the Principle and Lord of all things which were created through Him.”
Hippolitus (Philos. p. 334):—“The One Supreme God generates the Word in His own mind. The word was in the Father, bearing the Will of the Father who begat Him; and when the Father commanded that the world should be created, the Word was executing what was pleasing to the Father,—The Word alone is of God, of God Himself; wherefore He is God. The Word of God regulates all things, the First-born of the Father. Christ is God over all, who commanded us to wash away sin from man; regenerating the old man, and having called man His image from the beginning; and if thou hearkenest to His holy commandment and imitatest in goodness Him who is good, thou wilt be like Him, being honoured by Him, for God has a longing for thee, having divinized thee also for his glory.”
Bp. Bull (Def. Fid. Nic. III. James 2) says: “The Son of God, born from Eternity, is said by the Fathers to have certain other births in time. He was born into the world when He came forth to create the world. He was born again in a wonderful manner, when He descended into the womb of the virgin and united Himself to His creature. He is daily born in the hearts of those who embrace Him by faith and love.”
Bp. Pearson (p. 219) says: “This use of the term Word was familiar to the Jews, and this was the reason that St. John delivered to them so great a mystery in so few words.” Wordsworth adds that the same remark is applicable to the language of St. James.
Bp. Bull (Def. Fid. Nic. I. James 1. § 17–19, and Harm. Apost. Diss. 2. James 15). In the latter passage he declares the meaning of St. James to be that our Christian graces proceed from “the good pleasure of God through Christ, and from the regeneration which the Holy Spirit works in us through the Gospel.”
Wordsworth:—“They whom St. James addressed, being born again by adoption and created anew in Christ Jesus, the Eternal Word (Ephesians 2:10), might well be said to be designed by God to be a first–fruit of His creatures, for they were new creatures in Christ (Galatians 6:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17), who is the first begotten of every creature (Colossians 1:15), the beginning of the creation of God (Revelation 3:14), by whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16). By virtue of His incarnation and of their incorporation and filiation in Him, who is the first-born among many brethren (Romans 8:29), they were made the first-fruits of creation, being advanced to a high preëminence and primacy, beyond that which was given to Adam before the fall (Genesis 1:28) and even above the angels themselves. Cf. Hebrews 1:5-13; Hebrews 2:5; Hebrews 2:7-16.”—“This higher sense of λόγος includes also the lower one, God brought us forth by the Word of truth, preached to the world.”—M.].
[The Note of Wiesinger, referred to under “Exegetical and Critical” is as follows: “this passage is among those which reveal the depth of Christian knowledge in which the practical and moral exhortations’ of the writer are grounded: lying as it does expressly (διό James 5:19) at the basis of them. We will here bring together in a few words the teaching of the passage, for the sake of its important bearing on the rest of the Epistle. It teaches us.
1. As a positive supplement to James 1:14-15, that the life of man must be renewed, from its very root and foundation;
2. It designates this renewal as God’s work, moreover as an imparting of the life of God (ἀπεκύησε), as only possible by the working of the Spirit, only on the foundation of the objective fact of our redemption in Christ, which is the contents of the λόγος ;
3. It sets forth this regeneration as an act once for all accomplished (ἀπεκύησεν, Aor.) and distinguishes it from the gradual penetration and sanctification of the individual life by means of this new principle of life imparted in the regeneration.
4. It declares also expressly that the regeneration is a free act of God’s Love (βουληθείς) not induced by any work of man (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), so that man is placed by God in his right relation to God, antecedently to all works wellpleasing to God: for this the expression ἀπεκύησεν involves: cf. ἐξελέξατο, James 2:5, and in so far as this ἀπεκύησεν necessarily implies the justification of the sinner (the δικαιοῦσθαι of St. Paul), it is plain also, that St. James cannot, without contradicting himself, make this δικαιοῦσθαι, in the sense of St. Paul, dependent on the works of faith.
5. λόγος is specified as the objective medium of regeneration; and herewith we must have πίστις as the appropriating medium on the part of man himself: of the central import of which πίστις in St. James we have already seen something (James 2:5; James 2:14, etc.).
6. Together with this act of regeneration proceeding from God, we have also the high destination of the Christian, which the Apostle gives so significantly and deeply in εἰς τὸ εἶναι κ. τ. λ. And that which God has done to him, is now in the following verses made the foundation of that which the Christian on his part has to do: by which what we have said under 3, and 4, receives fresh confirmation. This passage is one to be remembered, when we wish to know what the Apostle understands by the νόμος τέλειος (James 1:25; James 2:12) and what he means, when (James 2:14, etc.) he deduces δικαιοῦσθαι from the works of faith. As regards the dogmatical use, which we make of this passage, wishing to show that regeneration is brought about by the word, as distinguished from the Sacrament of Baptism (Titus 3:5-7), we may remark, that seeing that λόγος designates the Gospel, as a whole, without any respect to such distinction, nothing regarding it can be gathered from this passage. The word of the Lord constitutes, we know, the force of the Sacrament also. “Accedit verbum ad elementum et fit Sacramentum.” And it is meant to be in ferred that the readers of this Epistle were not baptized.”—M.].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
It is impossible to pursue the course of life while we regard God in any way the cause of sin.—The attempt of charging God with the guilt of one’s transgression: 1, The traces of this perverseness: a, in the Jewish world, b, in the heathen world, c, in the Christian world. 2. The springs of this perverseness; a, in a darkened understanding, b, in a proud heart, c, in a sinful will. 3, The sad consequences of this perverseness; by it a, God is insulted, b, our brother offended, c, and our own sanctification and salvation opposed.—God in opposition to moral evil.—The ethical excellency of the Christian conception of God, also a proof of its heavenly origin.—No excuse for sin, cf. Genesis 3:12; John 15:22.—The history of the development of sin in every individual man: 1, beginning, 2, progress, 3, end.—How very different sin appears a posteriori from what it appears a priori.—Sin should never be contemplated in the light of speculative understanding only, but always in the light of conscience, the Bible and experience.—The erring Christian also should still be addressed as a beloved brother.—Error manifold, truth only one.—The errors of men in morals are mainly the effect of their not looking up sufficiently to the Father of light.—The riches of God: 1, all good lights come from Him; 2, only good gifts come from Him.—God cannot be tempted to evil but He is never supplicated in vain for good.—The exaltation of the Creator above the most exalted work of His hands.—The constant alternation in the natural world contrasted with the immutable order in the moral world.—The immutability of the Father of lights viewed 1, on its heart-stirring and consoling side, but also 2, on its solemnly-admonishing and warning side.—The miracles of regeneration: 1, God has begotten us, 2, according to His free decree, 3, by the word of truth, 4, that we should be etc.—On the whole lesson James 5:13-18. Sin not God’s fault but solely our own, a truth, 1, which man is only too prone to forget (James 1:13), 2, which confirms the history of the development of sin (James 1:14-15), 3, which a glance at the being of God (James 1:16-17) and at the work of God (James 1:18), removes beyond all doubt.—On the conclusion: “Do not err,” James 1:16. “Do not err,” how James here cautions us against a threefold error: 1, Do not err, ye who expect the highest good from beneath (the earth): all good giving is from above, 2, Do not err, ye who dwelling on the goodness of God, forget His holiness: the Giver of all good is also the Father of lights. 3, Do not err, ye who think that His holiness in your case would cease to be just: with the Father of lights is neither variableness, nor a shadow of turning.
Starke:—Man as long as he lives in time is liable to temptations.—Every man has a lust and bias peculiar to himself and carries the origin of all his temptations within himself, John 12:6.
Quesnel:—We ourselves are our own worst enemies by our own lusts, Proverbs 15:27.—Man becomes gradually sinful.—Whatever we receive from above should take us back from below upward to God.—The rivers of God’s grace flow from on high into the deep valleys; the lower the heart, the more gentle the supply [influx=the flow of God’s grace into the heart.—M.].—If God is the Father of light, then sin cannot be His child. For what communion has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14.—If believers are God-begotten, they are of Divine descent [a Divine race—M.]. O, what high nobility!
Luther:—The lying word of the serpent has corrupted us but the true word of God makes us good again, John 17:17.
Stier:—Nothing good comes from below; not even outward help for outward need (cf. Sirach 38, 8, 9).—Good gifts in general are of no avail without the perfect gift, which restores to us light and-life in a regeneration (out of) God.
Heubner:—Being tempted refers not only to solicitations to apostasy from Christianity, from religion by adversities, but James manifestly speaks of sin in general.—Desire remains barren without the will.—All the woe of mankind is the fruit of sin.—Deriving evil from the Being of God is much worse than Parseeism with its dualism.—
Porubszky:—The nature of temptation [i.e. its essence—M.], 1, lies not in the outward assault but rather within ourselves; 2, it should not be combated from without but from within.—Of the holy power needed for pious deeds: 1, of the necessity of this power; 2, of its communication.
[James 1:13. God permits and overrules the temptation, but is not the Author of it.—God is neither temptable by evil things, nor versed in evil things.—Lust, the enchantress and temptress, cf. Proverbs 7:5-27. See also the admirable portrait of the gossamer approaches of sin in Southey’s Thalaba, Book 8, 23–29.—God, the Father of lights is not the Author of evil; contrast “Father of lights” and “Prince of darkness.”—
James 1:14-15. The way to death. 1. Man drawn by his evil inclinations out of the safe asylum of virtue (ἐξελκόμενος); 2. entrapped by the fascinations of vice and evil (δελεαζόμενος); 3. into the commission of voluntary sin (ἐπιθυμία συλλαβοῦσα τίκτει ἁμαρτίαν), and 4. ripening in sin, hurried to ruin (ἡ δὲ ἁμαρτία ).—
James 1:16. The duty of Christian pastors to caution their flocks against error.—
James 1:17. God the Author of good—he cannot therefore be the Author of Evil.—God is the perennial fountain, whence gush in perpetual streams good gifts and perfect gifts.—Good living denotes not only temporal blessings but also spiritual—it comprehends the bestowal of every blessing accorded us by the munificence of our heavenly Father in this our imperfect state of existence; while perfect gifts are those eternal possessions laid up for us in heaven, of which regeneration is the beginning and pledge.—God is the Father of the lights, not only of heaven, not only of the lights of reason, wisdom, conscience, truth, inspiration and prophecy, but also the Father of the children of light (Luke 16:8; John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; cf. also Matthew 5:14; Matthew 5:16).—M.].
[Wordsworth: James 5:13.—St. James delivers a caution against errors, which afterwards showed themselves in the heresies of Apelles, Hermogenes, Valentinus, Marcion and the Manichæans, which represented God as the Author of evil, or as subject to evil, and unable to resist and overcome it.—James 1:14. Concupiscence is the womb of sin, and the offspring of sin is death. All these are evil and none of these are from God, who is the Author of all good.—M.].
[Didymus: James 5:16.—The ministry of good is directly and indirectly from God; but evil comes only per accidens, indirectly and mediately, for the correction of man, who is chastened by suffering.—M.].
[Wordsworth: James 5:18.—Here is an Apostolic protest against two errors prevalent among the Jews, 1. that men are what they are either by necessity, as the Pharisees held, or else 2, as the Sadducees taught, by the unaided action of their own will, independently of Divine grace. See Maimonides in his Preface to Pirke Aboth, and Josephus Ant. xiii. 5, 9; xviii. 1, 3. Bp. Bull, Harm. Apost. Diss. 2, James 15. Thus they disparaged the dignity of the Divine Will.
[Man in Christ is the wave-sheaf of the harvest. See 1 Corinthians 15:20-28—M.].
[Rabbinical: James 5:13.—This is the custom of evil concupiscence; to-day it saith, Do this; tomorrow, worship an idol. The man goes and worships. Again it saith, be angry.—Evil concupiscence is, at the beginning, like the thread of a spider’s web; afterward it is like a cart-rope.—M.].
[Macknight: James 5:15.—The soul, which the Greek philosophers considered as the seat of the appetites and passions, is called by Philo τὸ θῆλυ, the female part of our nature; and the spirit, τὸ ἄῤῥεν, the male part. In allusion to this notion, James represents men’s lust as a harlot, who entices their understanding and will into its impure embraces and from that conjunction conceives sin. Sin being brought forth, immediately acts, and is nourished by frequent repetition, till at length it gains such strength that in its turn it begets death. This is the true genealogy of sin and death. Lust is the mother of sin and sin the mother of death; and the sinner the parent of both.”—M.].
[Bp. Sanderson: James 5:13.—St. James therefore concludes positively, that every man’s temptation, if it take effect, is merely from his own lust. It is then our own act and deed, if we are Satan’s vassals: disclaim it we cannot; and whatsoever misery or mischief ensueth thereupon, we ought not to impute to any other than ourselves alone.—M.].
[Abp. Secker: James 5:14.—Temptation has no power, the great tempter himself has no power, but that of using persuasion. Forced we cannot be, so long as we are true to ourselves, our own consent must be our own giving; and without it the rest is nothing.—M.].
[Dr. Jortin: James 5:17.—The unchangeable nature of God suggests very powerful dissuasions from vice. The Scripture contains no decrees concerning the reprobation and salvation of particular persons, without regard to their moral qualifications. But there is a law which declares that obstinate and impenitent vice shall end in destruction. This law is as eternal and unchangeable, as the nature of good and evil, or the nature and perfections of God. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but this decree shall not pass away: and therefore a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the everliving and immutable God. Yet this unchangeable nature of our Creator, considered in another view, affords no less comfort and peace to the greatest offenders, if they will repent and turn to Him. Their offences cannot be greater than His mercy and goodness, which endures to all eternity, ready to receive those who by an effectual repentance and reformation, through the satisfaction of Christ, make themselves proper objects of His mercy.—M.].
[Sermons and Sermon themes:
James 1:13. Sharp, Abp.: How far God is concerned in temptations to sin. Works 6, 263.
James 1:13-14. Tillotson Abp.: The sins of men not chargeable to God.
James 1:13-15. Apology for Providence in sin.
Simeon, Ch. Sin, the offspring of our own hearts. Works 20, 27.
James 1:15. Saurin, La manière d’étudier la religion. Sermons 4, 1.
James 1:16-17. Simeon, Ch. God the only source of all good. Works 20, 32.
James 1:17. Blair, H. On the unchangeableness of the Divine Nature. Sermons 2, 85.
James 1:18. Charnock, Stephen, The instrument of regeneration. Works 5, 521.
Hall, Robert, The cause, agent and purpose of regeneration. Works 5, 186.
Doddridge. Phil., Address to the regenerate. Works 2, 536.—M.].
 James 1:13. Only several minuscules sustain the reading τοῦ θεοῦ. [τοῦ is omitted by A. B. C. K. L.—M.] Cod. Sin. reads ὑπὸ θεοῦ, but in James 1:17 erroneously ἀποσκίασματος. Lange: “No one, who is tempted [stands in temptation] shall say: I am tempted from God, for God is not temptable in respect of evil things, but He Himself tempteth [out of Himself] no one.
[Let no man, being tempted, say that (ὅτι recitantis) I am being tempted from God; for God is not experienced in respect of evil things, but He Himself tempteth no man.—M.]
James 1:14. Lange: … tempted in that he is drawn away [rendered an apostate] by his own lust and allured [by his evil inclination.]
[… being drawn away and lured by his own concupiscence.—M].
James 1:15. Lange: … conceived [is impregnated]…, but sin, when it is completed [has ripened] bringeth forth death.
James 1:16. Lange: M. Be not ye deceived, my beloved brethren.
James 1:17; James 1:17. [Cod. Sin. ἔστιν for ἔνι.—M.]
 James 1:17. [Cod. Sin. ἀποσκίασματος.—M.]
Every good giving and every perfect gift [donation] cometh [and cometh] down from above, from the Father of the lights [beings of light], with whom there is not existing a change, nor a shadow-casting of a turning.
[Every good bestowing and … coming down from … with whom there is [essentially] not a change or shadow of turning.—M.]
James 1:18. Lange: Pursuant to free decree hath He begotten us by the word, [of His own Will [because He willed it, Alford; by the act of His own will, Wordsworth.] etc.—M.].
IV. SECOND ADMONITION WITH REFERENCE TO THE SECOND FROM OF TEMPTATION—FANATICISM
CAUTION AGAINST YIELDING TO THE WARTH OF MAN (SEXUAL), WHICH THANKS ITSELF COMPETENT TO ADMINSTER THE JUSTICE OF GOD BUT IS INCOMPETENT TO DO IT. THE INSTRUMENT OF DELIVERANCE AND PRESERVATION FROM THIS ZEAL.: THE CULTURE OF INNER LIFE IN FAITH AND THE VERITABLE RELIGIOUS PROOF OF THIS FAITH IN ACTS OF MERCY.
(James 1:22-27. Epistle for 5th Sunday after Easter)
19 Wherefore,38 my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow 20, 21to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh39 not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only,40 deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work41, this man shall be blessed in 26his deed. If42 any man among you43 seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God44 and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from, the world.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Analysis. Caution against the second form of temptation—fanatical, angry zeal. The clemency of the man who is called to be the child of God or who is already begotten, should be in comformity to the clemency of God James 1:19.—The wrath of man [sexual] is not adapted So the ministering of the righteousness of God, James 1:20.—They were to purify themselves from this temptation, by acknowledging said sin as a pollution (not peradventure as zeal for Judaistic purity) and as natural maliciousness and putting it off, and on the other hand, by thoroughly appropriating with meekness the word of Christian truth unto the furthering of their salvation, James 1:21.—Such an appropriation of the word will be most readily accomplished by their becoming doers of the word and by ceasing to be mere hearers, James 1:22-24.—The real doer of the word has two distinguishing marks: he is absorbed with the eye of faith in the contemplation of the perfect law, the free law of Christian truth and proves his perseverance in this contemplation by the full consistency of Christian activity (as described more particularly). By such full energy of life he attains the enjoyment of blissful life James 1:25.—Whoever imagines that he is a real worshipper of God and a zealot for the honour of God and corrupts his heart in giving the reins (in fanatical zeal) to his tongue, his religious service is vain. But the counterpart, true worship of God corresponding to the true image-of-God-the-Father, is Christian care of the helpless members of the Church accompanied by a decided shunning of polluting worldly-mindedness. James 1:26-27.
The clemency which shuns fanaticism and conforms to the clemency of the Father in heaven.
James 1:19. Know however, my beloved brethren.—The connection indicated by the reading ὥστε (see App. Crit.) deduces from the clemency of God the exhortation that the Christian also should exhibit corresponding clemency. But that reading makes this verse dependent on what precedes, as if it were simply an application, which is not correct. On the contrary we have here the beginning of a new leading thought, viz.: the guarding of Christians against the temptation of fanatical zeal by fully yielding to the spirit of meekness and liberty in Christianity. Hence the reading ἴστε is also preferable on internal grounds. Huther’s observation is correct: “James 1:18, connects primarily with the exhortation to hear—and then with the further exhortation in James 1:22 to be not only hearers but doers of the word.” “But the hearing here insisted upon must evidence itself as decided, (according to Matthew 13:23) as a full and unreserved yielding to the word of truth and consequently as the foundation and not as the contrast of doing. Semler takes ἴστε as an Indicative; non ignoratis istud carmen Sir. James 1:11, but apart from the difference in expression there and here, the indicative sense weakens without reason the energetical tone of the exhortation. Huther remarks that ἴστε answers to the μὴ πλανᾶσθε James 1:16, which view is further confirmed by the use of the same address: ὰδελφοὶ μου here and there; of also James 2:5. [But it is not necessary to connect the ἴστε taken indicatively with the exhortation at all: it therefore cannot weaken its energetical tone, on the contrary it strengthens it by its very abruptness. Adopting the indicative sense of ἴστε I connect it therefore with the preceding, as follows: Ye know it, my beloved brethren, but let every man, etc.; or paraphrasing: Ye know that these things are so, but possessed of this very knowledge let every man, etc. ἴστε is used in this sense in Ephesians 5:5; Hebrews 12:17.—M.].
Also let every man.—καί (see App. Crit.) indicates that the conduct of man should be in conformity to the conduct of God. It remains to be ascertained in what sense we are to take this sentence. Laurentius and al. make it a general direction; Gebser, Wiesinger and al. give it a distinct reference to “the word of truth;” Huther, Theile and al., say that the general direction had primarily the specific aim of inculcating upon Christians the right conduct also in respect of the word of truth. But all this hardly does full justice to the double antithesis in the words: slow to speak, slow to wrath. The Apostle indicates the point in which Christ and Christian religiousness should evidence itself as humanity, but true humanity also as piety—even the centre of faith and humanity as contrasted with inhuman and impious conduct. Hence the express declaration: πᾶς ἄνθρωπος. It is a fundamental law of humanity, which is here described by the antithesis ταχύς and βραδύς (found in Philo, but in no other place of the New Testament, and expressed by Rückert thus: “thou hast two ears and one mouth.”)—Being swift to hear denotes entire readiness, constancy and thoughtfulness of hearing (Matthew 13:23) and shows that such real hearing contains the germ of obedience to the truth, just as real “tasting and seeing” involves the experience “that the Lord is good.” Being slow to speak of course does not exclude all speaking but rash, immature, thoughtless and immoderate talking (λαλεῖν), especially dogmatical speaking James 3:1, although the expression is not confined to it (Pott and al.). The Apostle demands cautious, thoughtful speaking, a speaking flowing from an inward calling and therefore a weighty speaking. Being slow to wrath applies in like manner to anger, which is consequently not absolutely disallowed (as Hornejus has truly remarked). Eagerness in speaking by warmth leads one easily to eagerness of passion [Alford: The quick speaker is the quick kindler.—M.]. Huther justly rejects the reference of this wrath to God (Calvin, Bengel, Gebser: “impatience towards God on account of persecution”). For in that case James ought not to have allowed any slowness to wrath. Huther capitally explains this wrath of “carnal zeal aiming at the mastering of our neighbour, the fruit of which is not εἰρήνη but ἀκαταστασία James 3:16; the caution is directed against Christians, who—as did the Pharisees in respect to the law—instead of using the Gospel for their own sanctification, were abusing it in gratifying their love of condemnation and quarrelsomeness.” Thus our exhortation in its particular direction is addressed not only to the Jewish Christians but to all the twelve tribes, whose ancestors in fanaticism, Simeon and Levi (Genesis 34:0), disapproved by their father (Gen 34:49), were afterwards mentioned as patterns worthy of imitation (Judith 9).
The wrath of man not a suitable organ of the righteousness of God.
James 1:20. For the wrath of man worketh not.—Our verse gives the reason of the preceding one, but contrasts the two modes of conduct, the right one there and the wrong one here. We attach importance to the distinction that in the former verse reference is made to the wrath of man in general and here to the wrath of man sexually. Thomas perceives in the expression an antithesis between the man and the child, Bengel one between man and woman but neither does conform to or satisfy the historical significance of our expression. We agree with Huther that this sentence must not be referred to the state of being righteous before God (Gebser, Grashof), and with Wiesinger that it must not be to the personal doing of men which is well-pleasing to God (so Huther following Luther—δικαιοσύνη τὸ δίκαιον a meaning of frequent occurrence in both Testaments); but we cannot stop with Wiesinger at the interpretation of Hofmann that “the wrath (zeal) of man is unable to effect in others (i.e., as a zeal of conversion) the righteousness of God, i.e., that “state of being righteous” [Rechtsbeschaffenheit45], which God begets by this word of truth. For James evidently has respect to the fanatical delusion of wrath, which imagines to administer and work out in the world the righteousness of God especially with reference to unbelievers by passionate words and deeds, in that it only gives reality to its unamiable ebullitions. Such was specifically the Judaistic delusion, which begot Ebionism and the Jewish war and which also found afterwards its expression in Mohammedanism and even in the Christian crusades, in the ecclesiastical persecutions of heretics and also in several fanatical heretics (Eudo de Stella, Thomas Münzer, etc.). But that the subjects of this delusion at the same time believe that their wrath (zeal) is the true way of converting men, that thus they are doing a work well-pleasing to God and that thus they will become righteous before God are features which, although we cannot set them aside, must remain subordinate to the leading idea of passionate ebullitions in majorem gloriam Dei, i.e., here justitiæ Dei. Our translation would be more strongly expressed by the reading κατεργάζεται than by the better authenticated ἐργάζεται; but the latter taken in a pregnant sense, does also give the force of the former.
Shunning the temptation to unholy and hypocritical wrath (zeal) by means of true sanctification, negatively and positively.
James 1:21. Wherefore removing etc.—James bidding his readers purify themselves from the false zeal for their imaginary Jewish purity sounds like an oxymoron; for it is just their kind of zeal for purity which he characterizes as impurity and their imaginary piety as inhuman maliciousness. But true purifying is to him sanctification, that is, it is on the one hand the result of a negation (putting off impurity, etc.), and on the other, the result of a positive act, viz., the full receiving of the word of truth. However the two acts do not absolutely succeed one another (remove and receive), but with the removing of impurity (take note of the Participle) the real appropriating of the evangelical word of God is to take place. The negative element, however, has here a conditional precedence, repentance before faith (Mark 1:15); hence it is here subordinated by the Participle to the positive element on which it depends (cf. Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22-23). But the Participle must also be noted as enforcing constancy in purifying.—ἀποθέμενοι we cannot translate “putting off,” for the reference is not figuratively to the putting off of filthy garments and to the opposite putting on of clean ones. The antithesis is: to remove, do away with; and to acquire, appropriate (see Ephesians 4:25 and other passages).
All filthiness (impurity).—ῥυπαρία (in the New Testament only here) is doubtless a stronger expression than ἀκαθαρσία (Romans 6:19). It denotes filth in a religious, theocratical sense like the filthy garment James 2:2, like ῥύπος 1 Peter 3:21, and ῥυπαρός and ῥυπαρεύειν Revelation 22:11. To take the word in a general sense of moral uncleanness (Calvin and al.), is inadequate; still less apposite are the specific renderings “avarice” (Storr), “whoring” (Laurentius), “intemperance” (Heisen); but least of all its reduction to an attribute of the following κακία (Huther: putting off all uncleanness and abundance of malice; similarly. Theile, Wiesinger and al.). It is sufficiently manifest that James sees in the carnal wrath (zeal) exerted in the interest of piety an antithesis, viz., impurity towards God (on the Atheistical in the heart of fanaticism see Nitzsch System, p. 39), and malice towards man.
All out-flowing (communication of life) of malice.—Huther: περισσεία, foreign to classical Greek, denotes in the New Testament “abundance,” really superabundance. The substantive and the corresponding verb περισσεύειν signify in the New Testament the overflowing of a fulness of life, on the one hand as a development of life (a passing over into the life which continues to procreate itself Matthew 5:20; Romans 15:13, etc.), on the other hand as a communication of life (a passing over upon others, Romans 5:15; Romans 5:17; 2 Corinthians 8:2; James 5:15, etc.). Here the word is evidently used in the latter sense. This follows also from the proper definition of the term κακία, which here is not synonymous with πονηρία (1 Corinthians 5:8)=vitiositas (Semler, Theile and al.), but according to the connection as the opposite of ἐν πραΰτητι, as Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; Titus 3:3; 1 Peter 2:1. A more specific idea, namely the inimical disposition towards one’s neighbour, which we express by “animosity” (Pott)! Huther.—(Wiesinger: ὀργή, Rosenmüller: morositas; Meyer: malice). The overflowing of maliciousness is therefore the malicious, hateful communication which passes from the fanatical wrath (zeal) of the propagandists on those whom they influence, according to Matthew 23:15; Romans 2:24 and according to ecclesiastical history, especially the history of the persecution of the Donatists, the Paulicians and the Camisards, etc. The definition of περισσεία = περίσσωμα (Bede); outgrowth, efflorescence (Schneckenburger, de Wette);=the remnant surviving from former times (Gebser and al.=περίσσευμα), are thus set aside. [Alford joins ῥυπαρίαν with περισσείαν, as belonging to the Genitive κακίας and remarks that “it seems better for the context, which concerns not the putting away of moral pollution of all kinds, but only of that kind, which belongs to κακία. And thus taken it will mean that κακία pollutes the soul and renders it unfit to receive the ἔμφυτος λόγος. It is very possible that the agricultural similitude in ἔμφυτος may have influenced the choice of both these words, ῥυπαρία and περισσεία. The ground must be rid of all that pollutes and chokes it, before the seed can sink in and come to maturity; must be cleaned and cleared. περισσεία, if the above figures be allowed, is the rank growth, the abundant crop.”—M.].
Receive (acquire, appropriate) in meekness.—In meekness, in virtue of a meek disposition, and not only with meekness. Meekness stands first in a pregnant sense. In meekness acquire, i.e. a meek demeanour, the opposite of wrathfulness, exhibited towards their brethren of different opinions is not only the condition, the vital element of the reception of the Gospel on the part of the Jews but also of the right appropriation of the same on the part of the Jewish Christians. Although the word denotes not directly the docilis animus (Grotius, similarly Calvin and al.), yet the first condition and proof of the same. The reference, to be sure, is not to meekness as the fruit of the reception of the word (Schneckenburger), although the morally calm and gentle spirit engendered under the influence of Christianity must be manifested in its highest perfection as its fruit. Want of meekness destroys the power of the Gospel (Matthew 18:23, etc.); the fourth and the seventeenth centuries prove this in a remarkable manner Receive. δέξασθε is emphatic and denotes the right attitude under right hearing with right doing. The rooting and growing of Paul is here strikingly described as a fuller making one’s own [appropriation], because the Jewish-Christians were in great danger of again losing their own (property) and the Jews were on the point of losing their ancient title to it (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:6).
The word implanted in [and among] you.—This word is the objective Gospel (Huther: neither “innate or connate reason” [Oecumenius], nor the inner light of the mystics, for δέχεσθαι forbids that) as in James 1:18, but in its subjective form of life, as the spiritual and vital principle in believers or as the seed of regeneration (1 Peter 1:23). In this form it is implanted in believers but likewise implanted as a principle of conversion in the Jews as a whole; the latter meaning must not be not passed over. Hence the δέξασθε is relevant both with reference to the first reception and the further appropriation of it. In consequence of the difficulty arising from the idea of receiving a word already implanted, Calvin made ἔμφυτος proleptic and explained it “ita suscipite, ut vere inseratur;” and others similarly. But the word received subjectively does not thereby cease to be objective and to be received. [It is doubtful whether Lange’s solution of the difficulty will stand the ordeal of logical analysis. There is no such double sense in ἔμφυτος. Nor is the more clearly expressed exposition of Alford more satisfactory. He sees in ἔμφυτος an allusion to the parable of the sower and makes “the λόγος ἔμφυτος=the word which has been sown, the word whose attribute and ἀρετή it is to be ἔμφυτος, and which is ἔμφυτος, awaiting your reception of it to spring up and take up your being into it and make you new plants.” His exposition is open to the same objection that something which is already sown in another soil can be implanted in us, if he understands by λόγος ἔμφυτος the word written or preached. Adhering however to the real meaning ἔμφυτος=innate, τὸ ἐν φύσει (Hesych.) we may remove all difficulty. Then the λόγος ἔμφυτος is=the innate Word, that is, the Word which has been born in our nature, i.e. Christ. So Wordsworth who produces much illustrative matter of the use of ἔμφυτος and thus sums up the whole: While it is true, that Christ by his Incarnation is properly said to be ἔμφυτος innate, born in us, and to be indeed Emmanuel, God with us, God manifest in our flesh, God dwelling forever in the nature of us all; or, if we adopt the other sense of ἔμφυτος, while it is true, that Christ is indeed grafted in us as our Netzer or Branch (see Matthew 2:23), yet will not this avail for our salvation, unless we receive Him by faith. We must be planted in Him and He in us by Baptism (Galatians 3:27), we must dwell in Him and He in us, by actual and habitual communion with Him in the Holy Eucharist, we must, abide and bring forth fruit in Him, by fervent love and hearty obedience. Christ, who is the Branch (Zechariah 6:12), is engrafted on the stock of our nature; but a scion grafted on a tree will not grow unless it is received and take root in the stock; so His Incarnation will profit us nothing, unless we receive Him in our hearts and drink in the sap of His grace and transfuse the life-blood of our wills into Him, and grow and coalesce with Him and bring forth fruit in Him.”—M.].
Which is able to save your souls.—The idea of individual salvation is allied here with that of the national deliverance of the Israelites as in John 10:28. Hence stress is here laid not only on the salvation of the soul but also on the salvation of the life and τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμων is stronger than simply ὑμᾶς. [Alford says: “It is the ψυχή which carries the personality of the man; which is between the πνεῦμα drawing it upwards and the σάρξ drawing it downwards; and is saved or lost, passes into life or death, according to the choice between these two. And the λόγος ἔμφυτος, working through the πνεῦμα and by the Divine πνεῦμα, is a spiritual agency, able to save the ψυχή”—M.]. It is able (cf. Romans 1:16, δύναμις θεοῦ), but you are unable, incompetent for the carrying out of your judaistic plans of salvation. [Calvin: “Magnificum cœlestis doctrinæ encomium, quod certam ex ea salutem consequimur. Est autem additum, ut sermonem illum instar thesauri incomparabilis et expetere et amare et magnificare discamus. Est ergo acris ad castigandam nostram ignaviam stimulus, sermonem cui solemus tam negligenter aures præbere, salutis nostræ esse causam. Tametsi non in hunc finem servandi vis sermoni adscribitur quasi aut salus in externo vocis sonitu inclusa foret, aut servandi munus Deo ablatum alio transferretur. Nam de sermone tractat Jacobus qui fide in corda hominum penetravit: et tantum indicat, Deum salutis auctorem evangelio suo earn peragere.”—M.].
But you will really appropriate the word by becoming doers of the word and by ceasing to remain hearers only, James 1:22-24.
James 1:22. But become ye doers of the word.—γίνεσθε=be ye (Huther against Wiesinger, Theile and al.) who render=became ye. Huther refers to Matthew 6:16; Matthew 10:16 and other passages. We take it with Wiesinger, of course not in the sense of Semler, as if the word indicated perpetuam successionem horum exercitiorum, but in the sense of a perfect development of their Christian life. This demand on the Jewish Christians and the Jews was the cause of the martyrdom of Simon, the brother of James under the reign of Trajan; it was also the cause of the early martyrdom of James, not long after he wrote this Epistle, and this is just his idea of the deed, the doing and the work, as it here for the first time takes a distinct shape: you must become wholly consistent Christians, if Christianity is to effect your salvation. As the warning against apostasy forms the negative side of his Epistle, so this exhortation to consistency constitutes its positive side. For the word is more clearly defined in James 1:18; James 1:21 as the Gospel. They must become doers of the same in respect of its organic unity: this cannot be done by isolated acts, but only by one general act of practical life. Cf. James 4:11; Romans 2:13. The ποιητής, who as such is the real ἀκροατής, is contrasted with the μόνον . To the theocracy in its practical direction the ἀκροατής as such is insufficient, while the Greek school understood by ἀκροατής per se a praiseworthy hearer. Cf. Matthew 7:21; Luke 11:28; John 13:17.
As those who ensnare themselves.—See James 5:26; Colossians 2:4; Gal 4:3; 1 John 1:8; παραλογίζεσθαι—to reckon beyond the mark, to reason falsely, to use fallacies,—in its practical tendency becomes deceiving, cheating and ensnaring by fallacies. Thus the “hearer only” deceives and ensnares himself. Huther refers παραλογιζομένοι to γίνεσθε in opposition to Gebser and Schneckenburger who connect it with ἀκροαται; but the latter are right, because the imaginary merit of hearing is the fallacy whereby they deceive themselves and thus properly ensnare themselves.
James 1:23. For [because] if any is a hearer.—Demonstration of the preceding by means of a simile, which is not, however, a mere figure.
Is like to.—The οὖτος emphatically repeated.
A man.—There must be some good reason for the recurrence of the specific man (sexual) and not only of man in general. Huther ought not to have despatched as curious the exposition [of Paes—M. ] “viri obiter tantum solent specula intueri” [muliebri autem est curiose se ad speculum componere.—M.]. The exposition of the word ἀνήρ is connected with that of κατανοεῖν which according to Rosenmüller, Pott and al. is here used in the secondary sense of hasty observation, but is disputed by Wiesinger and Huther. Now it is correct that in Luke 12:24; Luke 12:27; Acts 7:31-32; Acts 11:6, the word denotes attentive contemplation or consideration. Primarily it signifies simply, to observe, perceive, contemplate, understand, and if the expression is opposed, as is the case here, by the more important contemplation παρακύτειν, and we have in narrative form the statement, that the man observed himself, went away and forthwith forgot etc., the reference is only to a somewhat imperfect, momentarily-sufficient self-contemplating, such as before the mirror is rather peculiar to man than to woman. It is moreover to be borne in mind that the ideas “to hear the word,” and “to contemplate oneself in a mirror” do not exactly coincide; it is only in the moment of a knowledge of oneself, of an incipient repentance that the word, which per se however is a mirror throughout, becomes efficient as a mirror. The countenance or πρόσωπον, although it need not denote the whole figure (so Pott and Sckneckenburger), is not necessarily confined to the face (so Huther); the addition τῆν γενέσεως renders the word more expressive. Τένεσις denotes according to Wiesinger and Huther only the sphere of sensuous perception as distinguished from the ethical sphere, the face, such as a man has by natural birth. That is, James is again made to remind his readers that he only refers to a figure. We consider such an interposed explanation of the figure here also not only superfluous but inappropriate to symbolical diction, for what is the real meaning of τροχὸς τῆς γενέσεως James 3:6? According to Wiesinger, to be sure, “the wheel revolving from a man’s birth;” but that would be an unintelligible expression and the exposition of Grotius and al. “cursus naturæ” has more in its favour. For life is also a genesis in a higher degree, and the fluctuating πρόσωπον is just the signature of the stages and states through which this genesis runs. This would also enable us to fix the reference of αὐτοῦ here to γένεσις (Huther), as opposed to its reference to the general idea (Wiesinger). The Jews, as Jewish-Christians, for a while attained self-knowledge, in that they saw [knew, recognized—M.] themselves in the mirror of the Gospel according to their national and individual course of development, and thus they saw also the maculas of this development and appearance, hence the allusion to this circumstance (Wolf) must not be rejected with Huther. In a more general sense, πρόσωπον etc., can neither denote the natural corruption of man per se (Pott), nor the ideal form of the new man (Wiesinger). To stop at the figure itself (with Huther) would be tantamount to making the figure unmeaning. But it simply signifies the image of the inner man’s appearance as to his sinful condition modified now this way, now that way by his actual conduct. On the mirrors of the ancients see the respective article in Winer.
James 1:24. For he observed himself.—The narrative form represents as in James 1:11, an incident quickly accomplished in the rapid succession of the fleeting stages of its brief duration. The εὐθέως ἐπελάθετο is the most important point, as Huther remarks, but each separate stage has a meaning of its own. The stage of self-knowledge in the mirror of the word, believing hearing, is followed by speedy departing, the averting of the mind from the objective fulness and depth of the word (not only from what had been heard subjectively, as Huther explains); the departing is attended by the forgetting of the mirror-image, i.e., the loss of self-knowledge conscious of the necessity of salvation which would have impelled the man to the consequence of Christian renovation of life. The loss accruing from such a course, is referred to by James in James 5:26, but especially in James 5:0. [The Perfect ἀπελήλυθεν standing between the Aorists κατενόησεν and ἐπελάθετο is striking and imports that the departing denotes a permanent neglect and disuse of the mirror.—M.].
The real doer of the word according to his marks of distinction: his being absorbed in the contemplation of the free-making word, his constancy, the blessedness.
James 1:25. But he who became absorbed.—The pure antithesis of the former figure. Huther: “παρακύψας corresponds with κατενόησεν, παραμείνας with ἀπελήλυθεν, and οὐκ with ἐπελάθετο.” The Participles have the effect of strengthening the already strong expressions, especially in the Aorist, while taken together they indicate: γενόμενος, that it is only by constancy that a man becomes a real doer of the word. This passage must not be construed as if James wanted to distinguish the doing of the word as something separate from the looking into and abiding in it. The παρακύψας and παραμείνας, as such, is ποιητὴς ἔργου γενόμενος. This has an important bearing on the right understanding of the passage and is also very—Pauline. Constant looking into the word of salvation by faith is preëminently the doing which is followed by outward proof. This construction therefore must not be altered by resolving γενόμενος into γίνεται (Pott), or by saying with Wiesinger that right hearing and appropriating leads to doing and (thereby) to the blessedness of doing. Even Huther, who rejects Wiesinger’s exposition, does not strictly adhere to the full energy of the idea, for he says that the doing of the law is the necessary consequence of persevering looking into the same; although prominence must be given to the fact that he characterizes the consequence as necessary.—Παρακύπτειν to stoop aside, to stoop over a thing in order to examine it closely (Luke 24:12; John 20:5; John 20:11; 1 Peter 1:12); to sink into it, to be absorbed in its contemplation. Schneckenburger thinks: perhaps ad imaginem speculi humi aut mensæ impositi adaptatum. But this is not the most fitting way to look into a mirror. The remaining, persevering in it, Wiesinger explains as appropriating. But it is just the remaining in the yielding oneself to the object by contemplating it, whereby the appropriating of it is effected. [One of the best illustrations of the force of παρακύψας is given by Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, p. 15, note: “It signifies the incurvation or bending of the body in the act of looking down into; as, for instance, in the endeavour to see the reflected image of a star in the water at the bottom of a well. A more happy and forcible word could not have been chosen to express the nature and ultimate object of reflection and to enforce the necessity of it, in order to discover the living fountain and springhead of the evidence of the Christian faith in the believer himself, and at the same time to point out the seat and region where alone it is to be found. Quantum sumus scimus. That which we find within ourselves, which is more than ourselves, and yet the ground of whatever is good and permanent therein, is the substance and life of all other knowledge.”—M.].
Into the completed law.—We translate completed because of the weighty adjective τέλειος, which here again makes prominent the N. T. completion of the O. T. (cf. the τέλειοι and the ἔργον τέλειον James 5:4, and the ἁμαρτία James 5:7; the Sermon on the Mount, the πληροῦν Matthew 2:0, etc.). It is not therefore the lex naturalis (Schulthess), or in general the λόγος , inasmuch as it is the means of regeneration and the norm of the new life (Wiesinger, Huther: the norm of the new life), or on the one hand the O. T. law as simply perfect, or on the other the Gospel in a general sense; but it is the Gospel conceived as that completion of the law which transforms the outward, enslaving law into a new principle of life communicating itself to the inner man and absolutely liberating him. And just as the expressions of Paul: the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:2), the law of faith (Romans 3:27), always contain an oxymoron alluding to the higher unity of the antithesis: law and spirit, etc., so likewise in the expressions of James: the perfect law, the law of liberty, although an imitation of Pauline modes of expression is out of the question (Kern). The law as law made men servants (slaves); in its N. T. completion it makes them free. In the same sense it is also called the νόμος βασιλικός which is fulfilled by love (James 2:8), and again the law of liberty (James 1:12). The passages of the Old Testament, which speak of the glory of the law (Deuteronomy 33:2-3), or of its sweetness (Psalms 19:8), denote the prophetical transition from the Sinaitical standpoint to the Evangelical, which was decidedly foretold by the prophets (Jeremiah 31:33). Those who attribute to James an Ebionite glorification of the law, put him back behind Jeremiah or rather remove him even out of the Old Testament. But James had special reasons for calling the Gospel a law of (liberating) liberty inasmuch as his people were tempted to seek in their O. T. zeal for the law the means of chiliastico-revolutionary liberation (cf. John 8:32, etc.). The Gospel is moreover a law of liberty in that it asserts, along with the Christian’s liberty of faith, the liberty of conscience of those of a different mind and in this form also breaks the fetters of fanaticism.
Not a hearer unto forgetting.—Properly a hearer of forgetfulness (ἐπιλησμονῆς, ἄπαξ λεγ. in the N. T.), stronger than a forgetful hearer. The antithesis ποιητὴς ἔργου brings out the idea that forgetfulness was, as it were, the object of hearing (“in futuram oblivionem”). The expression “doer of the work” (as follows from the construction as stated above) cannot signify here a work-activity separated from, or only clearly distinguished from faith, but it denotes the perseverance of the life of faith, which owing to its oneness of energy leads of its own accord to a consistent exhibition of corresponding outward deeds.
The same shall be blessed.—See the beatitude James 5:12.
In his doing,—(ποίησις in the N. T. ἄπαξ λεγόμ., occurs only, besides here, in Sir 19:20), not in his deed. In the ever diligent (efficient) energy which is the soul of his deeds. Schneckenburger: “ut ipsa actio sit beatitudo.”—The striving spiritual life-motion or the doing becomes a, festive spiritual life-motion, perfect joy. This factual becoming blessed lies according to circumstances in confession, and Romans 10:9-10 exhibits a near affinity with this passage. It is noteworthy that Paul also in that passage was particularly referring to Jewish Christians and that James above all things felt anxious that the Jews should confess Christ and that the Jewish Christians should make full and common cause with their Gentile brethren.
False and true religious service or zeal for religion and the glory of God. James 1:26-27.
James 1:26. If any man fancieth himself.—Δοκεῖν denotes primarily to suppose with reference to appearance and without any higher ground of certainty (Matthew 24:44; hence 1 Corinthians 7:40, an expression of modesty), hence according to the connection also to imagine erroneously (Matthew 6:7) or as here to be spiritually conceited, [ i.e., the man thinks, fancies that he is religious.—M.].
To be a religious man.—Θρῆσκος is peculiar to James. The sense of the adjective is clear from Acts 26:5 and Colossians 2:18. James has formed the adjective in a masterly manner: one who plumes himself (seeks his being in) on his pretended serving of God. The word certainly implies the exhibition of a presumed εὐσέβεια in external acts of religious worship (Huther), not exclusively however in the outward observance of religion, but in the permanent soldier or knight-service for glory of god. so the Jews supposed that they the servants of God among the nations (Romans 2:17), so did the Mohammedans and Crusaders at a later period and so the Jesuits suppose now. But at that time the Jewish Christians, conceited of their God-serving, in various ways separated themselves from intercourse with Gentile Christians and in preparing for the Jewish war, the Jews supposed they were making ready for “the glory of God.” [There is no one word in English which gives the exact meaning of θρῆσκος and θρησκεία. The words religious and religion at one time were used in the sense of outward ceremonial worship. An example from Milton and another from the Homilies may prove serviceable. Some of the heathen idolatries Milton characterizes as being
With gay religions full of pomp and gold.”
Par. Lost. 61.
“Images used for no religion, or superstition rather, we mean of none worshipped, nor in danger to be worshipped of any, may be suffered.” Homily against Peril of Idolatry. See Trench, Synonymns of the N. T., p. 233. A propos of this θρησκεία, Coleridge (Aids to Reflection, p. 14) has these beautiful remarks: “The outward service of ancient religion, the rites, ceremonies and ceremonial vestments of the old law, had morality for their substance. They were the letter, of which morality was the spirit: the enigma, of which morality was the meaning. But morality itself is the service and ceremonial ( cultus exterior, θρησκεία) of the Christian religion. The scheme of truth and grace that became (ἐγένετο) through Jesus Christ, the faith that looks down into the perfect law of liberty, has light for its garment: its very robe is righteousness.”—M.].
Not bridling his tongue.—Not exempli causa (Rosenmüller); nor must we with the majority of commentators resolve the Participle into “although,” as Huther rightly remarks, adding: “James wants to censure those to whom zeal in talking was a sign of θρησκεία.” That is: those who by their fanatical zeal wanted to make good their pretensions of being the true soldiers of God. Χαλιναγωγεῖν, an expression found only in profane authors’ of the later period has been added by James to the fund of N. T. language (cf. Acts 3:2).
But deceiving his heart.—̓Απατᾷν καρδίαν αὐτοῦ is not exactly synonymous with παραλογίζεσθαι ἑαυτόν (Huther), but denotes the same act of self-deception in a much higher degree. From the inward self-deceit of the thoughts protrudes false zeal and this has the effect that the zealot completely deceives his heart by false self-excitement [échauffement and bad consequences). The fanatic, by false exaggerations outwardly, at last makes himself inwardly a false and bad character.
His religion (in the sense as defined above, his zeal for the imaginary cause of God) is vain.—The blinding effects of his blinding passion yield no fruit of blessing to himself and others and pass as follies (Quixotisms in a higher style) from history into the judgment.
James 1:27. Religion pure and unprofaned.—The two adjectives are not strictly synonymous (Theile, Huther), nor do they simply denote the contrast of the outward and the inward (Wiesinger and al.). The expression “pure” requires the Christian realization of the symbolical, theocratical purity; the sequel shows that it is to exhibit itself in the pious life of merciful love. The expression “unprofaned” (we supply this rendering in order to give more marked force to its literal meaning; the difference between ἀμίαντος and ἄσπιλος also must be brought out in the translation) requires in the same sense real preservation of purity and purifying. The legal Jew became unclean by natural and pagan uncleannesses, the Christian must keep himself clean and cleanse himself from worldly-mindedness and vain worldly doings. Such a Divine service, therefore, denotes here the true life and work for the glory of God.—
Before the God and Father.—This again lays stress on the Christian conception of God, as in James 1:5; James 1:17 and παρὰ τῷ θεῷ refers not only to the Divine judgment (Huther) but more especially to the attitude of the servant before the face and mouth of the commanding Lord. (Huther rightly observes concerning καὶ πατρί “God in virtue of His love can only consider pure that religious service which is the expression of love.” [Chrysostom in Catena says: οὐκ εἶπεν ἐὰν νηστεύητε, ὅμοιοι ἐστὲ τῷ πατρὶ ὑμῶν, οὐδὲν γὰρ τούτων παρὰ θεὸν οὐδὲ ἐργάζεταί τι τούτων ὁ θεός ̇ ἀλλᾶ τί; γίνεσθε οἰκτιρμονες ὡς ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς ̇ τοῦτο θεοῦ ἔργον ἐᾶν οὖν τοῦτο μὴ ἔχῃς, τί ἔχεις; ἔλεον θέλω, φησί, καὶ οὐ θυσίαν.—M.].
To be careful of the orphans and widows.—We translate thus because it brings out the antithesis to be careful of worldly affairs, which James has doubtless before his mind’s eye, like Peter in his ἀλλοτριοεπίσκοπος 1 Peter 4:15. Although the verb is frequently applied to visiting the distressed (Huther: Matthew 25:36; Matthew 25:43; Jeremiah 23:2 etc.), it has also in this form a wider meaning (Theile: the species pro genere). The wider sense: to be careful of, to care for, to protect one, is directly brought out in Acts 15:14; Hebrews 2:6 and elsewhere; Philo calls ἐπίσκεψις providentia. “The ὀρφανοί are named first as those in want of help, as in Deuteronomy 10:18; Job 29:12-13 etc.” Huther. This Divine service answers to the fatherhood of God; those who engage in it do His work in love and compassion, because He is a Father of the orphans and a Judge (a Protector of the rights of) the widows, Psalms 68:6 and other passages. Now according to the book of Tobit it was the ideal of a true Israelite to protect the distressed among the captives of his people and Tob 1:6-7 we read that it was an integral part of the religious service of Tobit that every third year he gave the tithe to the strangers, the widows and the fatherless. In this manner the Israelite of the New Testament was called upon to help his poor people especially the distressed in their affliction. The state of affliction in its concrete form is most frequently and most touchingly exhibited in the distress of widows and orphans. In this direction we may have to seek the sense of keeping oneself unspotted from the world; and this probably explains the asyndeton of the two sentences (cf. Huther). They are not strictly coördinate, but the second is the reverse or the sequence of the first, its pure antithesis. Hence ἄσπιλον comes emphatically first. Cf. 1 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 3:14. The expression ought really to be resolved into two ideas, firstly, to keep oneself from the world, secondly to keep oneself unspotted from the world, that is, from the world is connected with the two elements of the sentence: to keep oneself unspotted. The ethical idea of κόσμος is everywhere the personal totality of life converted into the Impersonal, i.e. mankind as to its ungodly bias. The peculiarity of this idea in James comes out more clearly in James 4:4. What heathenism was to the Jew, the antithesis of the holy people, to which it might apostatize by spiritual idolatry, such was to the apostolical mind, the ungodly doing of the world, whether manifested in Judaistic visionariness or in a heathen form. Oecumenius’s idea of the δημώδης καὶ συρφετὸς ὄχλος, ὁ κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς was consequently not far from the image of the excited condition of the world, which was floating before the Apostle’s imagination; but the Judaistic ὄχλος assumed a prouder and more spiritual shape. This specific reference, of course does not exclude the more general. [Alford: “The whole earthly creation, separated from God and lying in the sin, which, whether considered as consisting in the men who serve it, or the enticements which it holds out to evil lust (ἐπιθυμία) is to Christians a source of continual defilement.”—M.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The purity of the moral teaching of James also is conclusive from what he says concerning wrath. James is far from holding a quietistic or ascetico-rigoristic view which did approve of all anger absolutely, as unworthy of man or the Christian. He recognizes with Christ (Matthew 5:22; Mark 3:5) and Paul (Ephesians 4:26) lawful anger as opposed to unlawful. As in the case of the Master, so also in that of the disciple anger should be the extreme point of the flame, with which love strikes. But although anger is permitted up to a certain degree, it is nevertheless restricted within fixed limits by the limiting direction βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν. One has only to look at the deplorable mischief that may be produced by excessive anger in order fully to justify the necessity and wisdom of this precept. Peculiarly Christian is the triplex officium, which in James 5:19 is commanded in so brief and pithy a manner. The exhibition of such a frame of mind affords proof that the regeneration spoken of in James 5:18 is a reality. The natural man is the very opposite: he is slow to hear, swift to speak and swift to wrath. It is also note worthy that James 5:19 contains properly the text, the exposition and development of which are treated of in the remainder of the Epistle. The exhortation to be swift to hear is expounded from James 1:21—ch. James 2:26 with simultaneous reference to a fruitful hearing; the admonition to be slow to speak is emphatically urged in James 3:0 and that to be slow to wrath in James 4:5.
2. Because on the Israelite standpoint no justification before God was possible without the fulfilling of the law, the chief demand of which is love, while wrath is the very expression of the most unbridled selfishness, there are no ideas more decidedly opposed to one another than ὀργὴ and δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ.
3. Slowness of hearing was, it would seem, an evil not peculiar to the first readers of this Epistle, but also common to others, and particularly to Jewish Christians. Cf. Hebrews 5:11; Hebrews 10:25. The emphatic urging of the opposite quality is therefore not superfluous. Here also the words of James echo the words of Christ. Luke 11:28; Matthew 7:24-27; Matthew 13:23.
4. Real inward hearing is ever to receive anew the word, implanted and already extant within us as the seed of regeneration, which in an inexhaustible richness of forms is ever brought home to us as a new word of life. What would the preached word avail unless it had hidden points of contact in the hearts and consciences of Christians? cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:6. The forgetful hearer, whom James describes in James 1:22-24 fully corresponds with the second class of men depicted by our Lord in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:20-21).
5. James’ view of the connection of faith and hearing is identical with that of Paul. Romans 10:14-17.
6. The representation of the Gospel as the perfect law of liberty is as correct as it is important. Paul, who contrasts generally the law and the Gospel, acknowledges a law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:2. This law is perfect because it presents at once the most perfect and most judicious directory of the life of belivers; it is the law of liberty because the faithful practice of it leads men to true, moral liberty. Here the saying is fully valid legum servi sumus est liberi esse possimus. Cf. John 8:36; Matthew 5:17-20.
7. Care must be had that James be not misunderstood in the description of the pure and unspotted religious service (James 1:23), as if these words contained an exact definition of the inner side of true religious service in general. Any one somewhat philanthropically inclined and at the same time keeping himself outwardly free from worldly contamination is on that account far from being entitled to say that in so doing he is practising the pure and unspotted religious service in the sense of James. In order to prevent any possible misapprehension of his language we have to notice that he refers not indefinitely to the Divine service, but to a pure and unspotted service (θρηκεία without the Article) and states merely in a general way what is above all things essential to the being and efficacy of a practical religiousness in its outward manifestation. “As if one addicted to drink were to boast of his morality and were to be told in reply that a moral man does not get drunk, it would not be the latter’s purpose to represent thereby the sum-total of a Christian conversation.” Chrysostom. The great and principal condition is taken for granted, viz.: repentance and faith; besides, this exhortation is also addressed to Christians already regenerate, James 1:18. James insists upon the duty we owe to our neighbour, who is here represented by widows and orphans as those most in want of help, and upon the duties we owe to ourselves by the practice of self-denial and vigilance. These two points reveal at the same time the true disposition toward God. Besides James does not say that the man who applies himself to the discharge of these duties shall be blessed by this his doing but that he shall have even here a taste of bliss in this his doing (ἐν τῇ ποιήσει) so that this doing as such is to him the highest bliss. 5. Gerlach: “In this doing of the law he will feel himself truly blessed, as he must be esteemed blessed. To fulfil the commandments of God, to progress in holiness, is an ever-growing enjoyment of blessedness, granted more and more to the believer and the faithful already here on earth.”
8. Widows and orphans so highly favoured even by the Mosaic law (Exodus 22:22-24 and elsewhere), are also emphatically protected by Christian morality. The difference between the philanthropy of the Church and that of a mere humanism.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Christians are called constantly to adopt the prayer of David, Psalms 141:3.—It is impossible that the bitter root of wrath can produce the sweet fruit of righteousness.—Difference between holy and unholy anger.—Ira furor brevis.—The causes and excuses of the frequent dulness of hearing.—The development of spiritual life ever conditioned by the use of the means of grace.—The preaching of the Gospel a constant watering of the seed of regeneration already planted in us.—What we have to lay aside and what we have to bring with us in order to serve God in public (i.e., make a public profession of religion).—Many hearers put rigorous demands on the preacher but hardly any on themselves; it ought to be the reverse.—True meekness in the hearing of the word.—The Gospel a power of God unto salvation etc. Romans 1:16.—The self-deception of the hearer of the word who becomes not a doer, cf. Proverbs 16:25; 1 Corinthians 3:18.—Three classes of men: 1, those who neither hear nor do the word; 2, those who hear it but do it not; 3, those who both hear and do it.—Even Herod heard John the Baptist gladly and for his sake did many things, but not the one thing needful, Mark 6:20.—The word of God a bright mirror which must be attentively looked into, would we attain true self-knowledge. The true hearer of the Gospel looks as carefully into the mirror as do the angels into the plan of salvation, 1 Peter 1:12.—The Gospel 1, a law; 2, a perfect law; 3, a perfect law of liberty.—The blessedness of the doer of the word, Psalms 119:1 etc.—The absolute incompatibility of the service of sins of the tongue with a truly religious life.—The Christian life a service of love.—Only that Divine service is the true, which is a Divine service before “God and the Father,” 1 Samuel 16:7.—The practice of the duties of love must be joined with conscientious watchfulness of ourselves.—The Christian’s relation to the world: 1, to its distressed ones; 2, to its temptations.—The fruit of righteousness is a tree of life, Proverbs 11:30.—How eloquently James has recommended his instruction concerning active fear of God by his own example.—(James 1:19-27). A direction for and eulogy of the right hearing of the Gospel. James urges us 1, to devout hearing (James 1:19-20), 2, to meek receiving (James 1:21), 3, to active practice (James 1:22-24), and 4, to constant searching of the word (James 1:25-27).—(James 1:25-27) 1, What one enjoys (James 1:25), 2, avoids (James 1:26), and 3, practises in the way of active piety.—True Christianity the most practical matter in the world.
Starke:—Believers are more eager to learn than to teach, for the cause of regeneration makes us real hearers of the word. John 8:47.
Luther:—Blessed is the man whose mouth is in his heart and whose heart is not in his mouth; the one is wisdom, the other folly.
Starke:—He who along with other sins does not overcome his carnal anger, cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, Galatians 5:20-21.—Sins are also in believers, who must more and more cleanse themselves from them, Hebrews 12:1.
Quesnel:—He only loves the word of God in truth, who performs it by love, 1 John 5:3.
Langh Op:—To deceive others is bad, to deceive oneself worse, and the latter is more common than the first, Proverbs 24:8.
Starke:—The word of God is here compares with a mirror not only on account of its intrinsic brightness and purity, but chiefly because of its use and benefit. For it not only shows us (according to the law) the detestable and sinful form of our souls which we derive from the first Adam and wherein alas, we resemble Satan, but it shows us also (according to the Gospel) the beauteous, glorious and lovely form which we may receive from Christ, the second Adam, and His Spirit by means of the new birth and wherein we resemble Him.
Quesnel:—He that doeth not what he heareth, forgetteth more than he heareth and his latter end will be worse than the beginning, 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Peter 2:22.—Blessed is the man who receives his own testimony against himself. 1 Corinthians 11:31.
Starke:—Fear not, believers, if you hear the Gospel called a law and that it enters as much and more into hearts of poor sinners with lightning and thunder than the old law of Sinai; for it is a law of liberty. Such a liberty which is more valuable than all treasures, more pleasant than life itself and more precious than all the goods of the world; none know what it is worth but those who have lost it and those who have it, although they esteem it most highly, yet do they not esteem it according to its value, Galatians 5:1-13.—Whoso truly serves God in the spirit, his tongue also is governed by the Spirit of God, Psalms 39:2.—Many whose mouth is full of the praise of the truth and who are proud of their Divine service are their own worst deceivers and seducers, Romans 2:23.—Many a service is well-pleasing to God which is despised and even rejected by men, Acts 24:14.
Cramer:—Widows and orphans are privileged individuals before God.—He that keeps himself unspotted before the world, does the will of God and is greatly blessed, 2 Corinthians 6:17-18.
James 1:16-21. Epistle for the 4th Sunday after Easter (Cantate).
Luther:—Because the Epistle of James James 1:0 has been read from of old on this Sunday, being also good for instruction and exhortation, we will also retain it for those who would have it continued and say something concerning it, lest it be thought we wanted to reject it, although the Epistle has not been written by an Apostle nor does set forth everywhere the manner and stamp of apostolical teaching nor quite conformable to pure doctrine. Therefore James concludes: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” That is: be taught, admonished by God’s word, reproved and comforted, be swift in these things; but be not fluent in speech, in murmuring, cursing and railing against God and man. Hereby he does not forbid us all speaking, reproving and being angry, if the commandment of God or necessity require us so to do, but that we for ourselves shall not rashly and vehemently engage in it, although we be irritated thereto—and the rather hearken to and suffer us to be taught by the word; which is the true and real word, which we should ever let govern and lead us, and from which should flow whatsoever we say, blame and rebuke. Hence it is said soon afterwards to receive the word with meekness, that we may not be angry if it reprove us, or murmur if we have to suffer somewhat for it.
Heubner:—Talkativeness the mark of a weak mind.—The word of God the best bridle for the government of the tongue and the affections.—Never act while thou art angry.—(James 1:16-21.) The Christian’s belief in the presiding control of an all-good God. 1. Nature and reason, 2. Effects of this belief.—Self-deceit in the service of God.
Porubszky:—Of ungodly anger. 1. What is anger? 2. What does anger? 3. How is anger conquered?
Couard:—Contemplations on the precious gift of the Gospel.
Kapff:—Whereto we are impelled by the absolute perfection of God.
Palmer:—Good works: 1, their inward origin (James 1:16-18), 2, their outward form (James 1:19-21).
Souchon:—Receive the word daily.
Standt:—What we may expect from God: 1, what He gives (James 1:16-18), 2, what He removes (James 1:19-21).
Von Harless:—Who walks in the right way to the end of life?
Arndt:—The sins of the tongue.
Herberger:—Like as a wagon runs in two ruts, like as a man stands on two legs unless he be a cripple, like as he consists of two parts, body and soul, so Christianity also runs in two parts, in faith and works. 1. God the good gives good gifts, 2, and expects good to be returned to Him.
Lisco:—The fountain and the vessel of all good gifts.—Spring’s threefold address to us the children of God.—The holiness of God in its incompatibility with human sin.
Fuchs:—The word of truth as the perfect gift of God.
James 1:22-27. Epistle for 5th Sunday after Easter (Rogate).
Heubner:—Other laws bind and are often burdensome to us: the law of God delivers us from the bands of sin.—Those, otherwise free from gross sins, yet sin with the tongue.—Sefishness turns even religion into an instrument of self-sufficiency.—All religion must be moral.—We should take to the necessitous not only our gifts but ourselves.—Comparison of the true and false religious service as to 1, their nature, 2, their influence and 3, their relation to God.—Caution against the abuse of the doctrine of justifying faith.
Porubszky:—Be doers of the word and not hearers only !—Our Divine service is a surrender to God.
Löhe:—There is no doer but is also a true hearer. First a hearer, then a doer; true hearers, true doers.
Lange:—If the word seizes not thyself, it will be a burden to thy head.
Stier: James 5:27.—He refers less to the work itself than to the disposition and impulse of heart which impels us to the distressed in their affliction. Hence he says nothing of our feeding, clothing and providing for widows and orphans, but he specifies our visiting them in their affliction, protecting them, assisting them and carrying to them the best of our possessions, true consolation. We understand, it is to be hoped, how much this requires, how the duty of love drives us constantly into the world and among men, and how it is incompatible with pharisaic or pietistic separateness and monkish solitariness.—How the hearing of the word is to become saving work.
Von Kapff:—Who is blessed in his doing?
Florey:—How differently Christians use the mirror of the Divine Word!
Schmid:—The apothegm of wisdom concerning self-vigilance: 1. Mirror aright and see thyself; 2. See aright and know thyself; 3. Know (thyself) aright and think thee small; 4. Who thinks him (self) small is wise in all.
Herberger:—The keeping of God’s word makes it ours unto salvation.
Couard:—Caution against self-deceit in Christianity.
Souchon:—Be doers of the word.
J. Saurin:—An excellent sermon on James 5:25, entitled: Sur la manière d’étudier la Religion, Serm. Tom. 4. p. 1–48.
Lisco:—Of true religion.—Be doers of the word and not hearers only. 1. When we shall be it? and 2, Whereby is it seen that we are it.—Of the nature of true religion.
Ledderhose:—The right hearing of the word.
Neiling:—Ye shall be not only hearers of the word, but doers also [in a rhyme which hardly deserves reproduction.—M.].
[This section is already so full of homiletical matter that instead of supplying additional ones, I refer the reader to the new matter given under “Exegetical and Critical” and to the following standard works which will furnish him with much that is excellent and full of thought.
On James 1:22. The Sermon of Bp. Andrews, V. p. 195; also Bp. Sanderson, III. p. 366.
On James 1:26. Bp. Butler’s Sermon IV.; Dr. Barrow, Serm. XIII., Vol. I. p. 283.—M.].
 James 1:19. ἴστε is the most authentic reading. A. B. C. Vulg. al. ὥστε found in G. K. [Rec. L. Sin.] is evidently a correction designed to establish a clearer connections, which has however obscured the peculiar import of this section. De Wette and Wiesinger, indeed advocate the retention of ὥστε on internal grounds against Lachmann, Huther and al., but the internal grounds are also in favour of ἴστε and even Tischendorf’s reädoption of the reading of the Text. Rec. cannot affect the question. We also read with A. δὲ after ἴστε and καί before ἔστω. Tischendorf now decidedly favours ὥστε; so does Bouman p. 84 sqq.
Lange: Know however … also let every man etc. [ye know it … but let etc.—M.]
 James 1:20. ἐργεάζεται A. B. [C.3] Sin., Lachmann; κατεργάζεται C.* G. K. al. Tisch. The former seems to preponderate, but ἐργάζεται has here surely a peculiarly emphatic meaning.
Lange: For the man’s [vir] wrath doth not accomplish [execute] etc.
James 1:21. Lange: Wherefore, removing all filthiness and all out-flowing [communication of life] of malice [malignity] acquire in gentleness the word implanted in [and among] you, which etc.
Wherefore putting off all filthiness and superabundance of maliciousness, receive in meekness the innate Word, which etc.—M.]
 James 1:22. μόνον before ἀκροαταί Rec. A. C. K. L. Theile; after B. Vulg. Alford.—M.]
Lange: But become ye doers … as those who ensnare themselves. [But become ye … deceiving etc.—M.]
James 1:23. Lange: For if … this man is like to a man who observes the countenance [image of appearance] of his birth [of his development-image, of his life-form, the momentary formation of his continual development] in a mirror.
Because (ὅτι)… this man is like to a man considering the face of his birth in a mirror—M.].
James 1:24. Lange: For he observed himself and went away and forthwith forgot of what manner he was. For he considered himself and is gone away … what he was like (ὁποῖος ἧν’ i. e. how he looked in the mirror)—M.].
 James 1:25. A. B. C. Sin. and al. omit οὗτος before ἀκροατής, so Lachmann; Tischendorf following G. K. [and Rec.—M.] inserts it. The omission may have arisen from the supposition that the word was superfluous, its pregnant force having been misapprehended.
Lange: But he, who became absorbed in the completed law, that of liberty, and remained thus, who became not a hearer unto forgetting, but a doer of the work, the same shall be blessed in his doing.
But he who looked into the perfect law, that (τὸν) of liberty, and perseveres doing so, being … in his doing—M.].
 James 1:26, δὲ after εἰ, inserted by Lachmann following C, has the most important Codd. against it. It weakens also the recapitulatory character of the sentence.
 James 1:26. A. B. C. omit ἐν ὑμῖν.
Lange: If any man [among you] fancieth himself to be a religious man [one theocratically zealous of the honour of God] etc.
German for religious man, “Gottesdiener”=a servant of God, one observant of God’s outward service s religion “Gottesdienst”=outward service of God.—M.]
 James 1:27. τῷ before θεῷ recommended by A. B. C. * Sin. al. and Lachmann. This reading is also in consonance with the thought, the reference being to the God of the Christian revelation.
Lange: A pure and unprofaned religion [outward service—M.] before the God and Father is this: to be careful of the orphans and widows in their tribulation [to have the oversight of them, and not to be engrossed with politics], to preserve himself unspotted from the world.
… before our God and Father (τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ) etc.; παρά=with, in the estimation of Alford,—M.]
We consider this term, which through Hofmann has crept into theology, as an abortive improvement on the term “righteousness” (German: Rechtschaffenheit or Gerechtigkeit).
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on James 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter