neither can salt water yield sweet.  Here is the key to understanding what was said a little later. Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed … The apostle does not represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. EXEGESIS: THE CONTEXT: James seems to be moving in a very different direction after his discourse on works, which concluded, “faith apart from works is dead” (2:14-26). " This indicates that the setting on fire of the "wheel of nature," mentioned in this connection, refers to the inflammation of the carnal passions within man himself. Updated: Sat, 10/12/2019 - 09:25 By admin. James 3:4. A great deal of the teachings of Christ himself, for example the parable of the good Samaritan, had exactly the same purpose as that in view here. This does not mean that mortals are directly inspired by such wisdom, but that God is the ultimate source from which their wisdom is actually received; and the means of their receiving it, while not in view in this text, must surely be allowed as the gospels and apostolic writings themselves, there being no other possible source of it. The word of God is not to be alloyed with human speculations, philosophy and opinions, the word itself taking precedence over everything else.  Gerhard Maier, The End of the Historical-Critical Method (St. Louis: Concordia Press, 1977), p. 81. One of the most astounding rebukes of gossip, for example, occurred half a century ago in San Augustine, Texas. Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that ye shall receive heavier judgment. Hypocrisy was a vice which Jesus exposed and denounced with all the vehemency of his being, the entire 23chapter of Matthew being given over to such a purpose, the conduct of those ancient Pharisees being the perfect example of what Christian teachers today ought not to be and ought not to do. Vine notes that the word here does not mean satanic, but demonic. And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell. DANGER OF EAGERNESS TO TEACH, AND OF AN UNBRIDLED TONGUE: TRUE WISDOM SHOWN BY UNCONTENTIOUS MEEKNESS. Once more, James used illustrations drawn from the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 12:34,35). It is not necessary to soften this to "judgment"; because such false teachers, because of their being unqualified, must be reckoned among the most vicious and destructive influences in the whole history of Christianity. It was the change in that usage which made "masters" archaic in the present era. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy.  William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene 1, Line 193. Full of mercy and good fruits ... Again, the Saviour's own requirement that those who would be forgiven must themselves be willing to forgive others inspires James' comment in his epistle (see Matthew 7,9 and Matthew 6:14,15). It was used to convey a very strong negative. These qualities, including that of purity just mentioned, are exactly those extolled by the Master in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount; thus James continues his fidelity to the teaching of the Lord. " This is the very opposite of the cold, haughty and unyielding hardness of some religious teachers. Our subject is not new to James; he spoke of the tongue in chapter 1: 19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire! Though the whole of James breathes deeply from the biblical wisdom tradition, today’s reading reflects that tradition as deeply as any part of the teacher’s address to the hearer. Bless we the Lord ... "The Jewish custom, whenever they named God, of adding, `Blessed be he,'" very likely lies behind this. It is a literal fact that mankind, in response to the original directive of the Creator for man "to subdue" the earth and the sea and everything in them (Genesis 1:28), has indeed done that very thing. Gentle ... Paul stressed this, notably in 2 Timothy 2:24. 130-133. Greater judgment ... (as in the ASV margin) is reminiscent of Jesus' declaration that hypocrites making long prayers for show, and at the same time devouring widows' houses, would also receive "the greater condemnation" (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). but the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. James 1:1-4 How to Profit from Trials. As Ward said, "The we of pastoral tact shows how far James could go in his desire to win rather than repel.". The need for a new version did not arise from any superiority of "modern" translators over those of the seventeenth century. Just as the tongue is a very small member, the rudder of a great ship is likewise a very small instrument in comparison with the whole ship; but the guidance of the entire vessel is accomplished by means of that tiny rudder. The Book of James – A Detailed Commentary Basic Training Bible Ministries Page 2 Introduction to James Background of the Book The Epistle of James is one of the general epistles, including 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude. 1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. In the introduction, it was noted that James is the most Christian of all the New Testament writings, in the sense of being based absolutely upon the declarations of the Master himself; and this chapter affords the most remarkable demonstration of that fact. This sevenfold description (taking mercy and good fruits as one quality) of the wisdom that is from above is most instructive. James 3:2. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. As Dummelow expressed the thought, "The wise man is the peacemaker who sows good seed that in God's time will bear precious fruit. PREVIOUS NEXT. Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed in sinful ways, they are set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things, and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind: Tamed ... Vine gives "subdued" as the first meaning of this word, and it would be better understood thus in this place, making it unnecessary to see the passage as hyperbolic. (EntityRef: expecting ';' at line 49, ... More James commentaries. Bible Study Questions & Study Helps. 21, James (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. As Lenski said: So the tongue also is a little member and boasteth great things. The true wisdom is found alone in those of moral and upright character. Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. There are many other such errors which flaw the work of "modern" translators. All other rights reserved. Because they have told others what is right and wrong, they will have no excuse before God. As Harper suggested, "His words were meant to remind us of our responsibilities, rather than to deter us from our duties." Behold how much wood is kindled by how small a fire ... And setteth on fire the wheel of nature ... Commentary Critical and Explanatory - Unabridged, Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible, Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. We are responsible for what we say (James 3:2-12). We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. (3) Some of James' readers, perhaps many of them, had come out of Judaism; and the characteristic of many of those was described by Paul in Romans 2:17-24, to the effect that their total lack of any true qualification did not deter their conceited and arrogant assumption of the office of "teacher" for all mankind! III (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1940), p. 174.  E. G. Punchard, Ellicott's Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. James 1:19-25 Qualities Needed in Trials. The essential difference in this third illustration is seen in the fact of the horse and the ship being under control; where here, the tiny fire that kindles a whole forest is out of control. 3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. It is spiritual wisdom and understanding that descend upon us directly from God above that empowers us to keep our tongue in check. But that shouldn’t distract preachers from the clear, strong, timely emphasis on the importance of considering the effects of what we say. Carson's observation that "Fortunately James did not say that God cannot control the tongue (or tame it)," while true enough, fails to touch the problem, namely, that the tongue is indeed out of control because of man's failure to exercise the dominion over it that God commanded. Every age of the world, and every condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this.  William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, Revised (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), p. 88. As Lenski said:  A. F. Harper, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. James 3 Commentary, One of over 110 Bible commentaries freely available, this highly respected and nearly exhaustive compilation, containing nearly 500,000 cross-references The apostle reveals here the nature of "the bit and the rudder" that control the horse and the ship. So, these Christians no longer had the day-to-day contact with theirleaders. JAMES Faith for Living.  R. V. G. Tasker, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, James (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. For example, this verse, using "masters" instead of teachers, derived from the exact meaning of "masters" in the year 1611, at which time it was understood throughout the English-speaking world as a short-form of "schoolmasters." Motives for Works: The Place of Works: Outward Demonstration of Inner Faith: Outreach of Works: Jas 1:1-18: Jas … However, as pointed out by Vine, the word here is that of Matthew 5:48; James 1:4 (2part) and James 3:2, meaning complete goodness, without necessary reference to maturity. James 1:5-8 How to Deal with Trials. There is tremendous power in human speech; the power to bless (Eph. However, it is deplorable that here, as in so many similar places, scholars go out of their way to condemn the inaccuracy of the King James Version; and this is as good a place as any to put such "errors" of the KJV in the proper perspective. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. The "truth" against which such evil strivings "lie" is the "truth of the gospel. Those who live in malice, envy, and contention, live in confusion; and are liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. This disputed text is made the basis for all kinds of wild claims. By such a vigorous address to this area of human behavior, in which the totality of all mankind is revealed as transgressors, either in small or in great degree, it must not be thought that James was requiring sinless perfection of Christians, his object being rather that of turning all men to Jesus Christ our Lord who alone is perfect, and in whom alone perfection is available for any mortal (see Matthew 5:48 and Colossians 1:28,29). Years ago I visited a college friend at his home... View the entire commentary. A pretended wisdom in one whose life and character are out of harmony with the Lord can never be the truth, even in areas where it might seem to coincide with it, the sum total of such a person's life being a lie against the truth. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 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