Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. The point James was making here is that a little rudder controls a great ship, there being no reference in this illustration to the damage caused by the tongue, that being outlined in the following illustration of the little fire out of control. can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine figs? James 3:1-18. One … 2 We all stumble in many ways. We will be judged by our words (Matt. How amazing it is that some commentators can see nothing here except James' alleged preoccupation with the law of Moses! James 1:3-4 Commentary. 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. James begins with a piece of general advice that leads to his main discussion of the use of the tongue. "[34] However, more is meant than merely contradicting the content of that which must be allowed as truthful. James 3:13-18. James was not here making some great confession of his own sins, but rather pointing out the universality of sin and error in all men, not excluding himself of course, nor meaning it as his "confession." 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. Who is wise and understanding among you? See exegesis of that in my Commentary on Luke, pp. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 45. There were many teachers or rabbins among the Jews, each affecting to have The truth, and to draw disciples after him. 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. When other sins are tamed and subdued by the infirmities of age, the spirit often grows more tart, nature being drawn down to the dregs, and the words used become more passionate. James 3:1. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary 3:1-12 We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. REGARDING THE KJV AND SUBSEQUENT VERSIONS. 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. [10] W. E. Vine, Expository Greek Dictionary, Vol. Cautions against proud behaviour, and the mischief of an unruly tongue. 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. V Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969 (reprint)), p. 372. Updated: Sat, 10/12/2019 - 09:25 By admin. (EntityRef: expecting ';' at line 49, ... More James commentaries. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. It was used to convey a very strong negative. In this illustration, James will show how fantastically overwhelming is the evil that can ensue upon a Christian's (or anyone's) failure to control his tongue. (3) Archeological discoveries, in a very few instances, have shed further light on the science of translation, which was not available to KJV translators. [38] Walter W. Wessel, Wycliffe New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 957. Motives for Works: The Place of Works: Outward Demonstration of Inner Faith: Outreach of Works: Jas 1:1-18: Jas … [40] E. C. S. Gibson, Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 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. Significantly, the thought here is not that of the damage which the tongue does to the body of Christ, or to the whole world of the social order, but the staining and defiling effect upon the uncontrolled tongue's possessor. 12:33-37; Luke 6:39-45) as well as our deeds (Matt. James 3:4. 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. These are: (1) the bit, James 3:3; (2) the rudder, James 3:4, and (3) the small fire, James 3:6. Bible Study Questions & Study Helps. As Lenski said, "James invented this figure, and there is nothing occult, Jewish or pagan about it."[25]. CHAPTER 3. 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. His purpose here, therefore, was not that of explaining how men could achieve perfection through bridling the tongue, but rather that of demonstrating the absolute inability of any mortal to attain perfection apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. (4) The Judaizers who attempted to graft the forms and ceremonies of Mosaic law upon the church were a particularly troublesome element of the church which sorely needed the caution here expressed by James. James 3 Commentary, One of over 110 Bible commentaries freely available, this commentary was written by Whedon, a central figure in the struggle between Calvinism & Arminianism Had not Christ himself said, "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned?" James 1 Resources. 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. In the admonition here and in the preceding verse (James 3:9) Macknight thought that James might have had reference to a widespread custom of early Christian times, in which Christians were "cursed bitterly in Jewish synagogues. 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. Click chart to enlarge Chart from recommended resource Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission See also Overview Chart by Charles Swindoll. "[6] Macknight also indicated that it is in this lesser degree of error that James, "in order to mitigate the harshness of his reproof, here ranked himself among the persons to whom he wrote."[7]. The character and fruits of true and false wisdom, James 3:13-18. Years ago I visited a college friend at his home... View the entire commentary. Chapter 3 1. [8] R. V. G. Tasker, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, James (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. We may indeed thank God who enabled this Christian writer to remember and expound so faithfully the precious words of Jesus himself. "Variance," the rendition here, means without inconsistency, vacillation or erratic changes. [12] Gerhard Maier, The End of the Historical-Critical Method (St. Louis: Concordia Press, 1977), p. 81. "[3] Paul likewise addressed stern words to this group, thus, "Some ... have turned aside unto vain talking, desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm" (1 Timothy 1:7). An uncontrolled tongue is closely allied with the inherent wickedness of unregenerated human carnality. See my Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians pp. [9] J. W. Roberts, The Letter of James (Austin, Texas: Sweet Publishing Company, 1977), p. 103. Despite the fact of there being nothing funny regarding the vicious sins of the tongue, men sometimes laugh at themselves for their gross conduct in this sector. God holds us all accountable for what we have learned as well as how we instruct others. Every conceivable form of lust, greed, deception, hatred, malignity and every evil, is aided, encouraged and propagated by means of the tongue. Their character denies any goodness that might otherwise have appeared in their pious talk. This disputed text is made the basis for all kinds of wild claims. As Ward said, "The we of pastoral tact shows how far James could go in his desire to win rather than repel."[28]. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion by the tongues of men. (Matthew 12:37); and did he not also caution his followers against seeking the adulation accorded teachers, saying, "Be not ye called Rabbi (teacher)," etc. © 2020 Christianity.com. James 3:1, ESV: "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." Bruce illustrated the meaning thus: There is no need to seek the basis of James' quite original and unusual figure in some ancient religion, nor in some pagan author. (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! "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Due to the Hebrew detestation of the place, the name came to stand for the idea of eternal punishment for the wicked, as taught in Deuteronomy 32:22; Leviticus 10:2; Isaiah 30:27-33; 66:24; Daniel 7:10; Psalms 18:8, etc. Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter? The town's most notorious gossip, who was also a religious leader, responded, saying: I apologize, Sister, our altar is only ten feet long; but whatever part of it you can get on there, go right ahead! "The magic of words has played an incalculable part in the long story of human endeavor and human suffering." The thought is that if one attains mastery over the tongue, which is the most unruly and rebellious member of the body, he should also be able to control all of the others as well. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. Roberts pointed out that: For comment on Luke's use of the term "rudders," see in my Commentary on Acts, pp. neither can salt water yield sweet. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary (concise), Matthew Henry Bible Commentary (complete), California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. The literal Greek in this passage means "the wheel of existence,"[22] or "the whole round of human life and activity,"[23] and has the obvious implication of being man's whole animalistic nature, which can be, and often is, inflamed and kindled into the most outrageous wickedness by the tongue. James 3. Paul also made use of the same metaphor: "The venom of asps is under their lips" (Romans 3:13). Now if we put the horses' bridles into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also. The apostle does not represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. but the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. In many things we all stumble ... We cannot agree with Lenski who labeled this "James' great confession of sin. Such persons are accustomed to speaking and having their words accepted; and their attitude tends to become like that mentioned by Shakespeare: And when I open my lips, let no dog bark[36]SIZE>. Having the official capacity of a teacher is serious and one should consider his motives very carefully. The great honor attached to the work of teaching, as indicated in 1 Corinthians 12:28, where teachers were ranked second only to apostles and prophets, naturally led self-seekers to attempt to teach, whether or not they were qualified. The stark enormity of the sins of the tongue was appropriately rebuked in such a remark.SIZE>. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 21, James (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. 3. Finding the new version too difficult to understand? 25:31-46). (13-18). 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Which defileth the whole body ... Jesus himself mentioned "railing," one of the sins of the tongue, as being among those things which proceed from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:23), and thus James is still inspired, as throughout the epistle, by the exact teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once more, James used illustrations drawn from the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 12:34,35). It was the change in that usage which made "masters" archaic in the present era. This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 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. Commentary on James 3:1-12 (Read James 3:1-12) We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. [10] It is exactly the same word and usage as in Jesus' reference to God as "perfect" (Matthew 5:48); and for this reason, James' words here should be referred to the New Testament theology of "perfection," unattainable by men, but receivable by them "in Christ," whose absolute and total perfection is available through sinners' believing and obeying the gospel, thus being united with Christ, in Christ, and "as Christ," therefore accounted perfect (Colossians 1:28,29). Thus is stressed the greater need for all who "contend earnestly for the faith" to do so in a manner becoming the meekness and modesty of truly Christian teachers. Every age of the world, and every condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. Biblical Commentary (Bible Study) James 3:1-12. Heavenly wisdom is But facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their tongues. Bitter jealousy and strife ... Oesterley and many others deduce from this that "The personal abuse heaped upon one another by partisans of rival schools of thought"[33] represents the type of sins condemned in this passage. It is like a caged beast, even under the best of circumstances, ever seeking an opportunity to break forth and set the whole world on fire. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. Another example of notorious mistranslation by the English Revised Version (1885) is Romans 10:16, which ought to read, "They have not all obeyed the gospel." So, these Christians no longer had the day-to-day contact with theirleaders. Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that ye shall receive heavier judgment. 3. James 1:1-4 How to Profit from Trials. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. [16] It is evident, then, that James here referred to the nearly incredible power of human speech to move men to either noble or destructive purposes. "[43] The behavior in view here "is the result of true wisdom,"[44] to which this paragraph is entirely related. 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). B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), p. 73. "If he could not, he would hardly be responsible for its vagaries; but in James 3:10, he said, `My brethren, these things ought not to be so.'"[27]. Our subject is not new to James; he spoke of the tongue in chapter 1: 19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! These letters were sent out as circular epistles to be passed around and read in several locations. [3] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary, Vol. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace. Just as, in nature, it is impossible for a fountain to be both salt and sweet, so it is with men. 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. The true wisdom is found alone in those of moral and upright character. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. But the *apostles and leaders of the church did notgo. 130-133. However, if James meant that Satan himself inspired such factious divisiveness, then "devilish" should be retained, contrary to the suggestions of so many translators. As Dummelow expressed the thought, "The wise man is the peacemaker who sows good seed that in God's time will bear precious fruit. (2) Three of the great uncial manuscripts, the Vatican, the Alexandrinus and the Sinaitic, were not available to the KJV translators; and in a few instances, their work needed correction in the light of the manuscript authority of those uncials. But his emphasis on consistently speaking blessings rather than mixing blessings and cursings grows naturally out of his concern about works. Carson's observation that "Fortunately James did not say that God cannot control the tongue (or tame it),"[26] 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. With his now familiar and kind address my brothers, James begins with a specific instruction that not many should become teachers... View the entire commentary . Pious and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart; and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another. Barclay, for example, thought James was influenced by the ancient Orphic religion with its false notions of reincarnation, seeing a possible reference here to "the weary treadmill of constant reincarnation. Note the use of "we" as in James 3:2; here again the use of it does not indicate any guilt on the part of James in this particular. The Lord and Father ... Scholars have busied themselves to find out where James got this expression, but as Lenski said, "He coined it! As Harper suggested, "His words were meant to remind us of our responsibilities, rather than to deter us from our duties." III (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1940), p. 174. James 3:2. True wisdom may be know by the meekness of the spirit and temper. For further comment on "hell," see in my Commentary on Matthew, pp. Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that ye shall receive heavier judgment. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion by the tongues of men. (Matthew 23:1-12)? James 3 Commentary, this verse-by-verse commentary contain gems of information found nowhere outside the ancient Jewish writings He wrote to encourage them to live asChristians should, i… Of course, such are included, but it is doubtful if the meaning may be thus restricted. James 3:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓] James 3:1, NIV: "Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Bibliography InformationCoffman, James Burton. 224-231. James does not mean here that a Christian cannot tame his tongue. PREVIOUS NEXT. James 3 Commentary, One of over 110 Bible commentaries freely available, this one volume concise commentary provides a condensed look at nearly every verse in the Bible Not for a moment should it be considered that the translators of the KJV were, in any sense, lacking in zeal, dedication, scholarship or intelligence, being in every such category fully on a parity with the scholarship of our own or of any other generation. As Punchard observed: the living Truth (John 14:6) ... All faintest shades of falsehood tend to the dark one of a fresh betrayal of the Son of man.[35]SIZE>. (1-12) The excellence of heavenly wisdom, in opposition to that which is worldly. Cautions against proud behaviour, and the mischief of an unruly tongue. [11] E. G. Punchard, Ellicott's Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. [20] T. Carson, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 577. James 3 Commentary, this commentary, with an easy to read style, is invaluable to Christians who seek to understand the Gods' word. Most present-day commentators change the meaning of "perfect" to that of "innocence,"[8] "perfect in comparison with others," "mature, full-grown, or complete,"[9] etc. Gibson says this means "forbearance, even under provocation. There are three comparisons introduced by James with this verse with reference to the tongue. JAMES Faith for Living. Without hypocrisy ... We are on firm ground for the meaning of this. 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). James 3:18. by Grant Richison | Nov 9, 2000 | James | 2 comments. 507-509. Words have the power to meet these needs in both positive ( II Tim. [21] William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, Revised (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969), p. 88. "[5] The "we" in this place is accommodative, through considerations of tact, and is used in exactly the same manner as Paul's frequent use of it in such passages as Hebrews 2:3; 6:3, etc. All other rights reserved. This Sunday’s passage involves one of the more peculiar passages in the New Testament. These verses show the difference between men's pretending to be wise, and their being really so. JAS 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 1 There is a certain irony in the teacher’s warning of course, in that the one who should know better dares to assume the stance of a teacher, and along with that role assumes the risk of the greater standards of judgment that await … The first two of these stress the importance and power of such a small instrument as the tongue, and the third stresses the astounding damage resulting from such a small beginning. Now if ... Punchard criticized this rendition of this introductory remark thus: It is high time that this kind of monkey business on the part of translators was rejected out of hand. 4 Or take ships as an example. James says they will face a stricter judgment than the average person. James 1:5-8 How to Deal with Trials. Heavier judgment heavenly wisdom, in opposition to that which is worldly tongue can no man can tame tongue. 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