James 1

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 18, 2001


The book of James is the first of what is called the “general epistles”.  Whereas the letters of Paul were addressed to individuals or specific churches, the “general epistles” were written to the church at large.

There has been some misunderstanding by some people over the book of James.  Martin Luther did not consider it a legitimate part of the New Testament.  He called it

"an Epistle of straw, and destitute of an evangelic character”

But this was based on his misunderstanding of James’ approach to faith and works.

Both Paul and James talk about the subject of being “justified”, but Paul says a person is justified by faith and James says a person is justified by works.  But as you begin to study these issues, you see that Paul is talking about being justified before God, which is only done through faith.  James is talking about how our faith is justified before men, that a person saying they have faith but not ever showing it through good works does not have real faith.

The letter is thought to have been written somewhere between 45-50 AD.

From Jamieson, Fassett, and Brown –

James was martyred at the Passover. This Epistle was probably written just before it. The destruction of Jerusalem foretold in it (Jas 5:1, etc.), ensued a year after his martyrdom, A.D. 69. HEGESIPPUS (quoted in EUSEBIUS [Ecclesiastical History,  2.23]) narrates that he was set on a pinnacle of the temple by the scribes and Pharisees, who begged him to restrain the people who were in large numbers embracing Christianity. “Tell us, “ said they in the presence of the people gathered at the feast, “which is the door of Jesus?” James replied with a loud voice, “Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He sitteth at the right hand of power, and will come again on the clouds of heaven.” Many thereupon cried, Hosanna to the Son of David. But James was cast down headlong by the Pharisees; and praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, “ he was stoned and beaten to death with a fuller’s club. The Jews, we know from Acts, were exasperated at Paul’s rescue from their hands, and therefore determined to wreak their vengeance on James. The publication of his Epistle to the dispersed Israelites, to whom it was probably carried by those who came up to the periodical feasts, made him obnoxious to them, especially to the higher classes, because it foretold the woes soon about to fall on them and their country. Their taunting question, “Which is the door of Jesus?” (that is, by what door will He come when He returns?), alludes to his prophecy, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh ... behold the Judge standeth before the door”(# Jas 5:8,9). #Heb 13:7 probably refers to the martyrdom of James, who had been so long bishop over the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem,

Heb 13:7  Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation.

James 1

:1  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

James – This is the man who was the “half-brother” of Jesus.  He and Jesus shared the same mother, but they had different biological fathers.  Jesus was the Son of God, James was the son of Joseph.  Paul refers to James this way:

Ga 1:19  But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem.  We see this as he leads the first church council when the problem comes up about what to do with Gentile converts (Acts 15).

servantdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

A bondslave was just that; one who lived completely for his master. He had no rights of ownership, could not hold title to anything, and everything he had belonged to his master. He was there only to serve.

This is an interesting way for James to refer to himself, since he could be saying something about his relation to Jesus.  But James just sees himself as a servant of Jesus.

scattered abroaddiaspora – a scattering, dispersion

These are the twelve tribes which were scattered abroad before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. James is writing to the Jews who were spread all over the trading world at that time

greetingchairo – to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly; to be well, thrive; in salutations, hail!; at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute

:2-4  Patience in trials

:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

allpas – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything

joychara – joy, gladness

count ithegeomai – to lead; to go before; to consider, deem, account, think

temptations peirasmos – an experiment, attempt, trial, proving; the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy; an enticement to sin, temptation.  The newer translations all translate this “trials”, but the word can be translated “temptations” as well.

fall into peripipto (“around” + “fall”) – so to fall into as to be encompassed.  Like falling into a pool of water, but here it’s falling into different kinds of trials.

Whether you choose to look at this as temptations or trials, the idea is that these are things that you couldn’t avoid.  These aren’t the temptations that you went looking for, these are the ones you stumbled into.  These aren’t the trials you brought on yourself, these are the trials you fell in to.

diverspoikilos – a various colours, variegated; of various sorts

Not all trials and temptations are the same.  There are lots of different kinds of trials.


Rejoicing in the test

Sometimes the “temptation” we are tested with is a temptation towards sin.
Don’t misunderstand me here.  We are not to go looking for temptation.  In fact, we are to flee temptation every time it occurs.
(2 Tim 2:22 KJV)  Flee also youthful lusts …
Jesus also taught us to pray,
(Mat 6:13 KJV)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …
But we can rejoice in times of temptation because it is a chance to see God show us how to escape.
(1 Cor 10:13 KJV)  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Every time we are tempted, God will ALWAYS provide an escape.  There will always be a door marked “EXIT”.  The question is, will we take the exit?

We’ve been reading a book called “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson.  It’s about this short little passage in Chronicles where we catch a glimpse of one man’s prayer:

(1 Chr 4:10 KJV)  And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.

In talking about how we should pray that God would keep us from evil, Bruce shares a personal story (pg.65):

“Years ago, a cab had picked me up in downtown Chicago and was whisking me down the Kennedy expressway toward the airport.  I slumped in the backseat, exhausted from a week of special meetings at Moody Bible Institute.  God had moved in remarkable ways.  I had preached every day and counseled scores of students – seventy-six, to be exact (I kept a log).  Now heading home, I was physically and spiritually spent.  Staring blankly out at the traffic, I reached for the Jabez prayer.

O Lord,” I pleaded, “I have no resistance left.  I’m completely worn out in Your service.  I can’t cope with temptation.  Please, keep evil far from me today.

When I boarded the plane, I found I’d been assigned a middle seat – not a good start from my flight.  And things quickly got worse.  The man on my left pulled out a pornographic magazine.  “Lord, I thought we had a deal here!”  I groaned in my spirit, and I looked the other way.  But before the plane lifted off, the man on my right opened his briefcase and pulled out his own skin magazine.

At that moment, I didn’t have it in me to ask them to change their reading material.  I closed my eyes.  Lord,” I prayed, “I can’t cope with this today.  Please chase evil far away!

Suddenly the man on my right swore, folded up his magazine, and put it away.  I looked at him to see what had prompted his action.  Nothing, as far as I could tell.  Then the man on the left looked at him, swore loudly, and closed up his magazine, too.  Again, I could find no apparent reason for his decision.

We were over Indiana when I began laughing uncontrollably.  They both asked me what was so funny.

“Gentlemen,” I said, “you wouldn’t believe me if I told you!”

Sometimes we “fall into” a temptation.  We can’t avoid it.  We find ourselves surrounded with it.  We are facing a situation where we are being tested.  Will we pass the test?  Will we be ready?  Will we take the “exit”?
I think that sometimes I look at temptations as being things that I won’t be able to survive.  I pray that God won’t lead me into temptation because I’m afraid I’m going to fail every time.  But that’s not true.  God wants me to learn to pass the test.


Rejoicing in trials

Difficult times will mature us.
(Heb 12:11 KJV)  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

chasteningpaideia – the whole training and education of children.  We often think of this word in terms of the “spanking” a child receives from a parent, but it’s much more than this.  It’s all about GROWING UP.

When we make a decision in our lives that we are going to be “exercised” in our trials, we will find God producing a type of fruit in our lives, the fruit of righteousness.  God will be doing correct, righteous things in our lives.  All that God does will have a certain “peace” about it.

But it only works if you choose to say, “I want to be exercised by it”.


We have a treadmill at home.  It is a pretty neat treadmill.  It has some different kinds of training programs built in to it.  It can measure your pulse.  It tells you how far you’ve gone.  It tells you how many calories you’ve burned up.  I need exercise.  I need to get on the treadmill.

But the treadmill will NEVER do me any good unless the day comes that I decide to start being “exercised” by it.  I have to willingly get up on the treadmill, turn it on, and start moving in order to gain any benefit.

You may have plenty of difficulties in your life, just like my treadmill sitting in my house.  But you will gain no benefit from these difficulties until you choose to let God exercise you, to “stretch” you a little through the tough times. 

Will you trust Him in the tough times?  Will you let Him show you how you can be growing through the tough times?

Tough times don’t seem “joyous” on the outside.  But if we will let God use them to help us, we can find ourselves rejoicing in them.

:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

knowingginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel; to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of

the tryingdokimion – the proving; that by which something is tried or proved, a test; it’s related to the word dokimazo, which means to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy


Tough times show how real our faith is.

Sometimes God allows difficulties in our lives to show us whether or not our faith is real.
It’s not that God doesn’t know how real our faith is.  It’s that we don’t always know how real our faith is.  When we fail the test at times, we haven’t disappointed God.  He already knew we weren’t trusting Him.  We’ve really failed ourselves.
The real value of your faith doesn’t show itself when life is easy, it’s when life is hard that you see how valuable your faith is.


The Best Position To Pray Is..
Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer.  A  telephone repairman who was working nearby happened to overhear the  conversation.  “Kneeling is definitely best,” claimed the first minister.  “No,” the second pastor contended.  “I get the best results standing  with my hands outstretched toward Heaven.”  “You’re both wrong,” the third preacher insisted.  “The most effective prayer position is lying prostate, face down on the floor.”  The repairman could contain himself no longer.  “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted, “the best prayin’ I ever did was  hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole after my safety strap broke.”

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

workethkatergazomai – to perform, accomplish, achieve; to work out i.e. to do that from which something results; of things: bring about, result in

Trials produce endurance.

patiencehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings; patiently, and steadfastly; a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance


Tough times produces endurance

Your ability to run depends on the kind of training you do.
If you never exercise, you shouldn’t expect to be able to run a marathon.
But if you want to learn to run long distances without getting tired, you’re going to need to exercise.

:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

patiencehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings; patiently, and steadfastly; a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

workergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind

perfect … perfect teleios – brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect; full grown, adult, of full age, mature

entireholokleros (“whole” + “lot”) – complete in all its parts, in no part wanting or unsound, complete, entire, whole; complete in all respects, consummate

wantingleipo – to leave, leave behind, forsake, to be left behind; to lag, be inferior; to be destitute of, to lack; to be wanting, to fail


Don’t run from growing up

Trials are God’s way of maturing us, growing us up.
We don’t like going through trials, but when we constantly run from our difficulties, we keep ourselves from growing up.
Listen to a teacup tell it’s story:
“There was a time when I was a red lump of clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out “Let me alone “ but he only smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around. “Stop it I’m getting dizzy,” I said. The master only nodded and said “Not yet” Then he put me in an oven, I’d never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said “not yet.” Finally the door did open  “whew”, and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. “That’s better” I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled , and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, “not yet, not yet . And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldn’t make it . I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out an he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said “Look at yourself”. And I did. And I said, “That can’t be me, I’m beautiful “

:5-8  Asking for wisdom

:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

lack leipo – to leave, leave behind, forsake, to be left behind; to lag, be inferior; to be destitute of, to lack; to be wanting, to fail

This is the same word used for “wanting” in verse 4.

Could this be one of the things that a person could be “lacking” or “wanting”, wisdom?

wisdom sophia – wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters.

Whereas “knowledge” tends to refer to facts, “wisdom” tends to refer to how you apply the knowledge you have.

It’s not that we necessarily need more “knowledge”, but we need more “wisdom”.  We don’t necessarily always need more facts, but we certainly need to gain more wisdom over what to do with what we already know.

let him ask aiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require.  It is a request of the “will”.

that giveth – in the Greek, the word order is, “let him ask the giving God …

liberally haplos – simply, openly, frankly, sincerely; from haplous, simple, single; literally spread out without folds, and hence means single, simple, without complexity of character and motive.

God doesn’t have some dark hidden motive in giving a person “wisdom”.

upbraideth oneidizo – to reproach, upbraid, revile; from oneidos, reproach, shame.

God does not heap shame on those who ask for wisdom.  He doesn’t respond by saying, “Well it’s about time you asked for wisdom, you idiot!”

it shall be givendidomi – to give; to give something to someone.  The verb is a future indicative, something that will definitely happen in the future.

How do you ask in faith if you aren’t sure of what you’re asking for?

1)  Is the request something that God wants you to have?

Is it something that you know is God’s will.
It is God’s will for you to have wisdom.

2)  If the request is something that you are not sure about, then you leave the decision up to God.

You ask for God’s will to be done.
Deborah Rau (Sunday Digest.  Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to Heart.") writes,

As I pulled my brimming shopping cart to a stop at the checkout counter, a toy truck caught my son’s eye.

“Mommy—a truck. Can we buy it? Please?”

With his fifth birthday only 11 days away, we had used our money to purchase his first bicycle, the one item he wanted more than anything else in the world. So I said no to the truck.

“You never say yes to anything,” he muttered dejectedly before retreating into silence.

As I reflected on his childish behavior, I cringed. I had acted the same way before God just a few days before. I had prayed for something he chose to withhold. I hadn’t stopped to think that his “no” today might be a prelude to unimaginable blessings tomorrow.


Ask for wisdom

Many successful people have acknowledged in their memoirs that whenever they came to an impasse in their work and were completely baffled, they sought wisdom from the Lord.
This was true in the life of the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel F. B. Morse.  In an interview, George Hervey inquired, "Professor Morse, when you were making your experiments at the university, did you ever come to a standstill, not knowing what to do next?"  "I've never discussed this with anyone, so the public knows nothing about it.  But now that you ask me, I'll tell you frankly -- I prayed for more light"  "And did God give you the wisdom and knowledge you needed?"  Yes He did," said Morse.  "That's why I never felt I deserved the honors that came to me from America and Europe because of the invention associated with my name.  I had made a valuable application of the use of electrical power, but it was all through God's help.  It wasn't because I was superior to other scientists. When the Lord wanted to bestow this gift on mankind.  He had to use someone.  I'm just grateful He chose to reveal it to me."  In view of these facts, it's not surprising that the inventor's first message over the telegraph was:  "What hath God wrought!"
Every time you face a perplexing problem, seek wisdom from above. And when the answer comes, always be sure to thank God and give Him all the glory.
A convention was called in 1787 in America to revise the Articles of Confederation.  For weeks delegates reviewed ancient history and analyzed governments of modern Europe in search of insights.  But nothing suited the circumstances of this infant nation. Finally, one of the distinguished gentlemen, Benjamin Franklin, addressed the group.  Referring to their meager progress, he said, "In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth and scarcely able to distinguish it when it is presented to us, how has it happened that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?"  Those early leaders were not all evangelical Christians, yet many of them believed in a sovereign God and sought His wisdom in the affairs of state.

:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

askaiteo – to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

wavering … wavereth diakrino – to separate, make a distinction, discriminate, to prefer; to be at variance with one’s self, hesitate, doubt

wavekludon – a dashing or surging wave, a surge, a violent agitation of the sea

seathalassa – the sea

driven with the windanemizo – to agitate or drive by the wind; from anemos – wind, a violent agitation and stream of air; a very strong tempestuous wind

tossedrhipizo – to raise a breeze, put air in motion, whether for the sake of kindling a fire or cooling one’s self; to toss to and fro, to agitate; of the wind; of persons whose mind wavers in uncertainty between hope and fear, between doing and not doing a thing

:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

thinkoiomai – to suppose, think

he shall receivelambano – to take; to receive (what is given), to gain, get, obtain, to get back


Faith leads to receiving

(Heb 11:6 KJV)  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

double minded dipsuchos (“two” + “soul”) – double minded; wavering, uncertain, doubting; divided in interest

unstable akatastatos (“not” + “according to” + “stand”) – unstable, inconstant, restless

(James 1:8 NLT)  They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.


Faith leads to stability

We might think that a person who tends to exercise faith, who is willing to trust in something they can’t see, is someone who is unstable and can’t be counted on.
But just the opposite is true.

:9-11  Rich and poor

:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

rejoicekauchaomai – to glory (whether with reason or without); to glory on account of a thing; to glory in a thing.  NIV – “take pride”

low degree tapeinos – not rising far from the ground; metaph. as a condition, lowly, of low degree; brought low with grief, depressed; lowly in spirit, humble

In context (comparing to verse 10), this is talking about those who are poor.

exaltedhupsos – height; of measurement; of place, heaven; metaph. rank, high station

When you are a child of God, it doesn’t matter whether you are wealthy or not.  You have the true riches, being born of God.

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

the richplousios – wealthy, abounding in material resources; metaph. abounding, abundantly supplied; abounding (rich) in Christian virtues and eternal possessions

made low tapeinosis – lowness, low estate; metaph.; spiritual abasement, leading one to perceive and lament his (moral) littleness and guilt

floweranthos – a flower

the grasschortos – the place where grass grows and animals graze; grass, herbage, hay, provender

he shall pass awayparerchomai – to go past, pass by; metaph. to pass away, perish

A wealthy person can fall into a trap of thinking that they are better than others.  When a wealthy person comes to Jesus, they have to learn to become humble.  If they don’t learn to be humble, God has a way of humbling those who claim to know Him.  He does it because He loves them.  He is teaching us to not trust in our riches, but in Him.  Our riches will pass away.

(Psa 90:5-6 KJV)  Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. {6} In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

(Psa 103:15 KJV)  As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

(Isa 40:6-8 KJV)  The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: {7} The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. {8} The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, 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.

risenanatello – rise

burning heatkauson – burning heat; of the sun

it witherethxeraino – to make dry, dry up, wither; to become dry, to be dry, be withered; of plants

the graceeuprepeia – goodly appearance, shapeliness, beauty, comeliness

the fashionprosopon – the face; the outward appearance of inanimate things

waysporeia – a journey; a going, that is: purpose, pursuit, undertaking

fade awaymaraino – to extinguish (a flame, fire, light, etc.); to render arid, make to waste away, consume away, perish; to have a miserable end

:12-15  Anatomy of temptation

:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

blessedmakarios – blessed, happy

that endurethhupomeno – to remain; to tarry behind; to remain i.e. abide, not recede or flee; to preserve: under misfortunes and trials to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ; to endure, bear bravely and calmly: ill treatments

temptationpeirasmos – an experiment, attempt, trial, proving; the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy; an enticement to sin, temptation

trieddokimos – accepted, particularly of coins and money; accepted, pleasing, acceptable

In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honour who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called "dokimos" or "approved". (Donald Barnhouse)

promisedepaggello – to announce that one is about to do or furnish something; to promise (of one’s own accord) to engage voluntarily

loveagapao – to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

tempted … temptethpeirazo – to try whether a thing can be done; to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself; in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments; to try or test one’s faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin

cannot be temptedapeirastos – that can not be tempted by evil, not liable to temptation to sin


Don’t blame God for the temptation

You kind of get the idea that Adam was putting part of the blame for his fall on God:
(Gen 3:12 KJV)  And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

lust epithumia – desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

drawn away exelko (“away” + “drag out”) – to draw out; metaph. lure forth: in hunting and fishing as game is lured from its hiding place, so man by lure is allured from the safety of self-restraint to sin. In James 1:14, the language of the hunting is transferred to the seduction of a harlot.

enticed deleazo – to bait, catch by a bait; metaph. to beguile by coaxing, allure, entice, deceive


The problem starts with me.

Sin starts when I get myself carried away with my own lusts.
One of the steps of learning to deal correctly with my sins is coming to recognize that I can’t blame anyone else but me.  I need to take responsibility for my own actions.

:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

conceivedsullambano – to seize, take: one as prisoner; to conceive, of a woman; metaph. of lust whose impulses a man indulges

it bringeth forth tikto – to bring forth, bear, produce (fruit from the seed); of a woman giving birth; metaph. to bear, bring forth

it is finishedapoteleo – to perfect, to bring quite to an end; accomplish.  The ultimate result of sin is death.

bringeth forth apokueo – to bring forth; from the womb; give birth to; produce

When you get “pregnant” with “lust”, you will end up giving birth to sin.  Sin then turns around and gives birth to it’s own child, death.

:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

errplanao – to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way; to go astray, wander, roam about; metaph.; to lead away from the truth, to lead into error, to deceive; to be led into error; to be led aside from the path of virtue, to go astray, sin; to sever or fall away from the truth

:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

giftdosis – a giving; a gift

goodagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable

giftdorema – a gift, bounty, benefaction

perfectteleios – brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect; that which is perfect; consummate human integrity and virtue; full grown, adult, of full age, mature

variablenessparallage (“from ” + “change”) – variation, change

turningtrope – a turning; of the heavenly bodies

shadowaposkiasma – a shade cast by one object on another, a shadow

(James 1:17 NIV)  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

God doesn’t give temptation, He gives good gifts.

:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

willboulomai – to will deliberately, have a purpose, be minded; of willing as an affection, to desire

God gave us a new life.  It came through His Word.

begatapokueo – to bring forth; from the womb; give birth to; produce.  Same word as used in verse 15, how sin brings forth death.

God doesn’t give birth to death, He gives birth to live children.

firstfruitsaparche – to offer firstlings or firstfruits

creaturesktisma – thing founded; created thing

:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

whereforehoste – so that, insomuch that; so then, therefore, wherefore

swifttachus – quick, fleet, speedy

to hearakouo – to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf; to hear; to understand, perceive the sense of what is said; to get by hearing learn; to comprehend, to understand

slowbradus – slow; metaph. dull, inactive, in mind; stupid, slow to apprehend or believe

to speaklaleo – to utter a voice or emit a sound; to speak; to talk

wrathorge – anger, the natural disposition, temper, character; movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but esp. anger; anger, wrath, indignation; anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself


Slow down a bit

We get ourselves into much trouble by reacting out of anger too quickly.
I have heard that if a rattlesnake is cornered, it can become so frenzied that it will accidentally bite itself with its deadly fangs. In the same way, when a person harbors hatred and resentment in his heart, he is often hurt by the poison of his own malice.  He thinks he is injuring his enemies by displaying his wrath, but the real harm is inflicted deep within his own soul.
Anger can also cause us to do and say things we may deeply regret. George W. Martin tells the following true story:  "I remember a fellow who once wrote a nasty letter to his father.  Since we worked in the same office, I advised him not to send it because it was written in a fit of temper.  But he sealed it and asked me to put it in the mail. Instead, I simply slipped it into my pocket and kept it until the next day.  The following morning he arrived at the office looking very worried. `George,' he said, `I wish I had never sent that note to my dad yesterday.  It hurts me deeply, and I know it will break his heart when he reads it.  I'd give 50 dollars to get it back!'  Taking the envelope from my pocket, I handed it to him and told him what I had done.  He was so overjoyed that he actually wanted to pay me the 50 dollars!"

How is this connected with the previous verses?  Read on.

:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

wrathorge – anger, the natural disposition, temper, character; movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but esp. anger; anger, wrath, indignation; anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself

mananer – of a male; used generically of a group of both men and women

righteousnessdikaiosune – in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting

workethkatergazomai – to perform, accomplish, achieve; to work out i.e. to do that from which something results; of things: bring about, result in; to fashion i.e. render one fit for a thing

This is the same word used in verse 3, describing how trials produce patience.

Our anger does not produce God’s righteousness in us.


God isn’t pleased with your anger

Yes, God does get angry.
Jesus was angry at certain people, especially because of their hard hearts.

Mr 3:5  And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched [it] out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

But Jesus was perfect.  His anger was perfect.  His anger was God’s anger.
Be careful that you don’t deceive yourself by justifying your human anger by calling it a “righteous anger”.
I think there are going to be times when we’re clued in to the things that God is angry with.  I’m not saying that we’re not to ever be angry at things that God is angry with.
But sometimes we just want to be mad and we use God as an excuse for our anger.

I’ve known people who have had severe problems with anger, who have refused to deal with their anger, and end up wondering why no one wants to be their friend.

God isn’t always mad at the same things that we are.


Moses didn’t go into the Promised Land because he misrepresented God before the people.  It appears that the problem was that he displayed anger before the people at a time when God wasn’t angry with them.  Earlier, God had been angry with the people, but this one time it seems that He wasn’t.

(Num 20:10-12 KJV)  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? {11} And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. {12} And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

Your anger can destroy you and those around you.
Solomon had a lot to say about how foolish our human anger is:
(Prov 14:17 NLT)  Those who are short-tempered do foolish things, and schemers are hated.
(Prov 14:29 NIV)  A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.
(Prov 15:18 KJV)  A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.
(Prov 16:32 KJV)  He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
(Prov 19:11 NLT)  People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.
(Prov 19:19 NLT)  Short-tempered people must pay their own penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.
(Prov 21:19 KJV)  It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
(Prov 22:24-25 NLT)  Keep away from angry, short-tempered people, {25} or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
(Prov 29:11 NLT)  A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.
(Prov 29:22 KJV)  An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression.

Our anger usually just gets us into trouble

Two moose hunters from Texas are flown into a remote lake in Alaska. They have a good hunt, and both manage to get a large moose. When the plane returns to pick them up, the pilot looks at the animals and says, “This little plane won’t lift all of us, the equipment, and both of those animals. You’ll have to leave one. We’d never make it over the trees on the take off.”   “That’s baloney”, says one of the hunters.   “Yeah,” the other agrees, “you’re just chicken: we came out here last year and got two moose and that pilot had some guts: He wasn’t afraid to take off!”   “Yeah”, said the first hunter, “and his plane wasn’t any bigger than yours!”  The pilot got angry, and said, “If he did it, then I can do it. I can fly as well as anybody!” They loaded up, taxied at full throttle, and the plane almost made it, but didn’t have the lift to clear the trees at the end of the lake. It clipped the tops, then flipped, then broke up, scattering the baggage, animal carcasses, and passengers all through the brush.  Still alive, but hurt and dazed, the pilot sat up, shook his head to clear it, and said, “Where are we?”   One of the hunters rolled out from being thrown into a bush, looked around, and said, “I’d say about a hundred yards further than last year.”

:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

lay apartapotithemi – to put off or aside or away

filthiness rhuparia – to make filthy, befoul; to defile, dishonour; to make filthy

superfluity perisseia – abundance, superabundantly, superfluously; Used by the Greeks to describe the excess wax in their ears.

naughtiness kakia – malignity, malice, ill-will, desire to injure; wickedness, depravity; wickedness that is not ashamed to break laws; evil, trouble

meekness prautes – mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness; Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (Isa 41:17, Lu 18:1-8) Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (Ga 5:23)

engraftedemphutos – inborn, implanted by nature, implanted by others instruction

is abledunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

to savesozo – to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction


The word works in the right heart

If the soil is right, the seed sprouts and flourishes.  If our heart is in the right place, God can do much through His Word.

:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

be yeginomai – to become, i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being

doerspoietes – a maker, a producer; a doer, performer

hearersakroates – a hearer

It’s not wrong to be a “hearer”.  It’s only a problem if that’s all you do, is just hear the word.

deceivingparalogizomai – to reckon wrong, miscount; to cheat by false reckoning; to deceive by false reasoning; to deceive, delude, circumvent

When you only hear or read God’s Word, and you don’t ever let it change you by obeying what it says, you are only fooling yourself.

There is a kind of peace and warmth that comes from reading or hearing God’s Word.

But there’s more to God’s Word than just making us feel good.  It was meant to do surgery on us.

(Heb 4:12 KJV)  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
When you only read God’s Word, but don’t do what it says, it’s like you’re taking the anesthetic, but not having the surgery done.  You may tell yourself that you’ve gone to the hospital and laid down on a hospital gurney and allowed the anesthesiologist to drug you, but you never gave permission for the surgeon to cut you open and remove the cancer.

Jesus warned of only hearing and not doing –

(Mat 7:24-27 KJV)  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: {25} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. {26} And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: {27} And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

:23 For 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:

beholdingkatanoeo – to perceive, remark, observe, understand; to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon

faceprosopon – the face

naturalgenesis – source, origin; used of birth, nativity

a glass esoptron – a mirror; the mirrors of the ancients were made, not of glass, but steel

:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

he beholdethkatanoeo – to perceive, remark, observe, understand; to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon

goeth his wayaperchomai – to go away, depart

forgettethepilanthanomai – to forget; neglecting, no longer caring for; forgotten, given over to oblivion, i.e. uncared for

(James 1:23-24 NLT)  For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. {24} You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

looketh into parakupto – to stoop to a thing in order to look at it; to look at with head bowed forward; to look into with the body bent; to stoop and look into; metaph. to look carefully into, inspect curiously; of one who would become acquainted with something

This seems to be an even stronger word than “beholdeth” (vs. 23,24)

perfectteleios – brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect; full grown, adult, of full age, mature

libertyeleutheria – liberty to do or to omit things having no relationship to salvation; true liberty is living as we should not as we please

continuethparameno – to remain beside, continue always near; to survive, remain alive

forgetfulepilesmone – forgetfulness

doerpoietes – a maker, a producer, author; a doer, performer; one who obeys or fulfils the law

workergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied

blessedmakarios – blessed, happy

deedpoiesis – a making; a doing or performing; in his doing i.e. in the obedience he renders to the law

:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

seemdokeo – to be of opinion, think, suppose; to seem, to be accounted, reputed

religious threskos – fearing or worshipping God; to tremble; trembling, fearful; one who is diligent in the performance of the outward service of God. It applies especially to ceremonial worship.

bridleth chalinagogeo (“bridle” + “to lead”) – to lead by a bridle, to guide; to bridle, hold in check, restrain

tongueglossa – the tongue, a member of the body, an organ of speech

deceiveth apatao – to cheat, beguile, deceive

If you don’t think your relationship with God ought to affect how you talk to others, then you are cheating yourself.

vain mataios – devoid of force, truth, success, result; useless, of no purpose

religion threskeia – religious worship; esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies; religious discipline, religion


Being a “doer” means more than being religious

We can fall into a trap of thinking that being a “doer” of the Word means going to church, singing the songs, dropping a check into the Agape box, closing our eyes during the prayers, and stuff like that.
But there’s another level of reality to our relationship with God.
Does it affect how you speak to people?

I think that James could possibly still have the “anger” topic in mind here, among others.  Do you speak with anger to people?


God cares about what you say.

God desires that those who represent Him should speak the way He does.

:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

religionthreskeia – religious worship; esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies; religious discipline, religion

purekatharos – clean, pure; in a levitical sense – clean, the use of which is not forbidden, imparts no uncleanness; ethically – free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt; free from every admixture of what is false, sincere genuine; blameless, innocent; unstained with the guilt of anything

undefiledamiantos – not defiled, unsoiled; free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired; that which is far removed from every kind of contamination

to visitepiskeptomai – to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes; in order to see how he is, i.e. to visit, go to see one; the poor and afflicted, the sick; to look upon in order to help or to benefit; to look after, have care for, provide for: of God; to look (about) for, look out (one to choose, employ, etc.)

the fatherlessorphanos – bereft (of a father, of parents); of those bereft of a teacher, guide, guardian; orphaned

widowchera – a widow

In those ancient times, there were no people more hopeless and helpless than the orphans and widows.  There was no Social Security.  There were no government welfare programs.  There was no one to help.

afflictionthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

unspottedaspilos – spotless; metaph. free from censure, irreproachable; free from vice, unsullied

to keeptereo – to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard; metaph. to keep, one in the state in which he is

the worldkosmos – the world, the universe; the ungodly multitude; the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ


True religion changes your way of life.

It affects how you relate to people.  It will show in how you care for those who are struggling or less fortunate than yourself. It affects how you relate to the world.