THE EPISTLE OF JAMES: Chapter 1 Trials and Maturity


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James 1:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

James, a slave[1] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:[2] Greetings.

James 1:1a

This is one of at least four James’ who is mentioned in the Bible and is not to be confused with the other three James’ referred to in Scriptures in (Luke 6:12-16) and (Mark 6:1-7). Although nowhere in this book does James explicitly call himself the half-brother of Jesus, it is most likely that he is the half-brother of Jesus. James is not so much focused on letting people know how he is physically related to Jesus, but his spiritual relationship with Christ, and that of being a servant. One of the incredible realities in regard to James being the half-brother of Jesus is that the Scripture records that, at one point, he did not believe in the truth of his brother’s claims.  John writes in John 1:5 “For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”

Throughout Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year ministry, James was well aware of his brother’s ministry. (Lu 8:19; John 2:12) However, even though he was not opposed, he was not a believer and a disciple. (Matt 12:46-50; John 7:5) He was likely with his brothers when they were mocking Jesus in their unbelief on that day of the great feast. (John 7:1-10) James could also have been one of the relatives that said of Jesus, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21) After Jesus’ death and resurrection, but before Pentecost 33 C.E., James was with his mother Mary, his brothers, and the apostles in the upper room in Jerusalem. (Ac 1:13-14) It was then that Jesus personally appeared to his half-brother before he appeared “to all the apostles.” (1 Cor. 15:7) After that, James became a distinguished, eminent, well-known member and, seemingly, an “apostle” of the Jerusalem church. Paul wrote of James, “and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” – Galatians 2:9.

How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

A slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1b)

One of the characteristics that we can adopt from James in the first line of his letter is his humility. Because of his spiritual relationship with Christ, James calls himself a slave. The Greek word that James uses for “slave” is the word doulos, which means servant. A slave/servant in the days of James was “people [who] became slaves either as prisoners of war or because of economic debt. … Prior to faith in Christ, human beings are ‘slaves to sin’ (John 8:34; Rom. 6:16–17, 20), but Jesus Christ sets us free (John 8:35–36).”[3] This is an amazing change for James, who at one time in his life did not believe in his brother, but now he is calling himself a slave of the very one he had rejected. This is a very keyword that is used by many Biblical writers in the New Testament.

The foundation of our service is the example Jesus Christ has set before us, since he took on himself “the very nature of a servant” (Phil 2:7). The servant image of Isaiah 40–55 is an important backdrop to the role of Christ as a servant. As the servant of Isaiah lived in obedient and selfless devotion to the will of God, which led to his innocent suffering and death on behalf of others and in the place of others (especially Isa 49–53), so too does Jesus model a life of selfless devotion to the will of the Father, which lead to death, even the death of the cross.[4]

Paul used doulos as well when he wrote his introduction to his letters to the church at Rome and Philippi. Paul said in (Phil 1:1) “Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. Peter also uses a similar language when he wrote in (2 Peter 1:1) “Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Then there was also Jude, the other half-brother of Jesus, who penned the same type of thought when he wrote in Jude 1:1 “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.”

Similar to his brother, James was not seeking to draw attention to the fact that he was the brother of the Son of God but referred to himself as a slave (servant) of Christ, evidencing his humility. Jesus used his sacrifice and blood to purchase repentant humanity, meaning that they are to become slaves (servants) of Christ, not men. (1 Cor. 7:23; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 1:4) Paul informs his readers that God ‘has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.’ (Col. 1:13) In another letter, Paul says, “Christ is the head of the congregation, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (Eph. 5:22-24) As a result, all Christians are a slave of the Father and his appointed Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, James rightly begins his letter recognizing his accountability to Jesus Christ, and as a slave, he is required to carry out the will of the Father. – Matthew 7:21-23.

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: (1:1c)

The twelve tribes in the dispersion that James mentions are not the actual 12 tribes of Israel. We note in verse 2 James says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers,” and the tribes of Jewish Israel were not James’ brother, ‘who were holding their faith in their glorious Lord Jesus Christ, as natural Israel rejected Jesus Christ vehemently. (Jam. 1:2; 2:1, 5) During the last days of Jesus’ ministry, he explicitly stated what was to happen to natural Israel. Jesus said, “I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” (Matt. 21:43) A short time later, he said,

Matthew 23:37-39 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Lament over Jerusalem

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

In looking at verse 37 of Matthew 23, we see that Jesus’ words are not those of a harsh judge, who is looking ready to punish the Jewish people for their 1,500 years of rebelling and sinning horrendously against the Father. Rather, he has tried to be patient with them throughout his last three and half year ministry. When Jesus began his ministry, all Jesus wanted was nothing more than what his Father had wanted for 1,500 years, i.e., repentance for centuries of willful sinning, so that they could avoid the judgment that was coming. Well, over five hundred natural Israel responded to Jesus’ words, with thousands upon thousands more listening to the apostle Paul and other evangelists. They escaped the judgment that came upon Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Lu 21:20-22) In verse 38, Jesus indicated that very soon God was not going to accept the worship of the Israelites, at the typical temple in Jerusalem. (Matt 24:1-2) In verse 39, Jesus is saying; they will never see him with eyes of faith unless they accept him and his Father.


In other words, natural Israel lost its favored position as God’s chosen people, and this was to be given to another. Who? This new nation proved to be a spiritual Israel, which the apostle Paul referred to as “the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:16) It would be made up of fleshly Jews who accepted Jesus Christ and non-Jews. Entry into this “Israel of God” was not dependent on the natural descent, but rather on one coming to “know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3), In other words, it was a matter of ‘trusting in Jesus Christ.’ (John 3:16) Nevertheless, natural Israel was made up of 12 tribes, so James was merely drawing on the number 12, which carries the connotation of completeness. If a natural Jew or a non-Jew were to become a part of this spiritual Israel, the Israel of God, they would have to acknowledge, “Circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.” (Rom. 2:29) He must further understand “it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all …” (Rom. 4:16) There are many verses, which qualify what it means to be a part of this Israel of God. See also, Romans 4:17; 9:6-8; Galatians 3:7, 29; 4:21-31; Philippians 3:3.

These spiritual Israelites were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. Shortly after Pentecost 33 C.E., there were arrests, threats, and beatings. (Ac 4:1-3, 21; 5:17, 18) At that time, Stephen was seized and stoned to death.” (Ac 7:52-60) The murder of Stephen was only the beginning, as Saul of Tarsus was to become a great persecutor of the Christians in the Jerusalem area, which led to the dispersing of Christians throughout the then known world. (Ac 8:1-4; 9:1, 2) However, this really failed, as it was not long before Christian congregations were found everywhere, by the evangelism of none other than the very persecutor turned Christian, namely, the apostle Paul (formerly known as Saul). In fact, about 62-64 C.E., Peter writes, “To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” – 1 Peter 1:1.


Greetings (1:1d)

The word greeting is unique to James, as Paul does not use it in any of his letters. The word for greeting here in the Greek, chairo, means, “to rejoice.” This was a greeting by which James was expressing his desire for his readers to find joy and happiness that comes through obeying the commands of the Scriptures. Ones in the marketplace or village gave this familiar greeting. We might also note that the letter on circumcision suggested by James also contained this salutation. (Acts 15:23) Therefore, this only adds more credence to James being the author of this letter bearing his name.

Endurance Brings Happiness

James 1:2-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Consider it all joy, my brothers,[5] when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Consider it all joy (1:2a)

James starts his letter by asking that these believers consider the trials that they were currently going through. James wanted his readers to think about why they were having their trials, which referred to any trial that took place in their lives so that his readers would have the proper perspective of the trial before they can actually know how to handle them when they come. Once they had the proper perspective of their trials, they could consider it all joy. The Greek word for joy is chara, which means to have “joy or delight (Vine, 1996, pg. 335).” The joy is not in the fact that one is going through the trial, but rather in what that trial will be able to produce in their lives. James wants his readers to realize that if they can understand that God is the one who allowed imperfection to come into humanity for a particular reason, then they can consider any trial with a response of joy, that is, an opportunity for them to show an evident demonstration of their faith. Do not believe that God placed these trials here to grow their faith, but rather, because the trials (difficult times) are here because of human imperfection, here was their opportunity to grow from the difficult times.


my brothers (1:2b)

In the Scriptures, ‘brothers’ often refer to both men and women and is simply a convention of writing. James here is not referring to his physical family but rather to his spiritual family. Jesus says the same things in Matthew 12:50 “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

The Apostle Paul was very fond of using the word brother in his letters to the churches as well. The fact that James calls them brothers signifies that he is in a spiritual relationship with them through Jesus Christ, and they are bound together in the unity of Christ and part of a spiritual family. James uses the word brother in his letter 14 times and is writing with sincerity of heart to his spiritual family.

The Epistle to the Hebrews PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

when you encounter various trials (1:2c)

James makes an affirmative statement when he writes when you encounter various trials. This does not mean that these believers might face trials but rather that they currently were in the midst of trials. The Greek word that James uses here for trials is the word peirasmos, which means, “testing for proof or putting to the test.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 622) This word is often used in the scriptures to refer to testing or temptation, and the context upon which it is used tells which one it is. James makes mention of some of the trials that these believers were going through in that some were facing poverty (Jam. 2:15) and oppression from the rich. (James 5:1-5) James says the trials were various which signifies that the trials these believers were facing came in many different forms.

We will find nowhere in all of the Scriptures where the believers in the Lord were spared from having life difficulties, even extremely difficult times in life were common. So many of the holy ones faced difficulties. The Apostle Paul tells us that by faith Abraham when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac. The Israelites rejected Moses, who had specifically been sent by God, so Moses had to endure dealing with Pharaoh. Joseph had to face the trials of being blamed for a rape of which he did not do and then be put into prison unfairly for almost thirteen years. Nehemiah and Ezra suffered the agony of the moral decay around them, and their enemies constantly tried to destroy their work and instill fear in the people. Daniel was placed in the lion’s den and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego all had to face the fire of a great furnace for their remaining faithful. Isaiah had to deal with the fact that though he would preach his heart out that nobody would listen to his message. Jeremiah was put into stocks, jailed, tar pits and was rejected by his family because he preached the wrath of God to his people. Then there was the mighty prophet Ezekiel who when he confronted Ahab with the truth was sought to be killed and known as the “troubler of Israel.”

In the New Testament, we read about John the Baptist, who was put in prison and eventually beheaded for confronting King Herod. Peter was put in prison for preaching the gospel and eventually killed on a cross for his faith. John was exiled to the island of Patmos for the word of God. Then, of course, the Apostle Paul was kicked out of many of the towns he went to for preaching the word of God. Paul makes mention of his trials in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10; 11:24-29.


Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (1:3a)

The word used here for testing is the Greek word dokimion, which means, “putting to proof.” (Mounce, 2006, Greek GK #1510) Now known from the papyri examples of dokimios as an adjective in the same sense (good gold, standard gold) as dokimos proved or tested (James 1:12).’ (Robertson 1933, 1997, Jam. 1:3) When a merchant proofs Gold, he is establishing whether it is genuine. In other words, when we face a trial or difficult time, and faithfully come through on the other side, our faith has been proofed or tested as being genuine. James was making it clear that God was allowing these trials, which were simply the result of imperfection entering into humanity, because of the rebellion in Eden. When these believers experienced trials (difficult times), their faith became one that was ‘put to the proof.’ It became a ‘proved’ or ‘tested’ faith that had survived a difficult time, with their approved relationship with God intact. When the believer’s faith was proofed, tested, by trials, it was developed so that it was strengthened, enabling them to possess the quality of endurance. This was no mere living through a difficulty, but rather one needed to possess such qualities as fortitude, resolution, strength, staying power, steadfastness, and integrity when tempted to take the easy way out of the affliction by abandoning the faith.

We see this happening in the life of Job when God allowed Satan to take Job’s livestock, servants, family, and his health. In all this, Job remained steadfast and never lost his faith in God; thus, he evidenced his faith. James wants his readers to understand that though God is not the cause of trials he is allowing the trials in their lives to proof the genuineness of their faith, which leads to endurance. James states that God could produce endurance in the believer’s life by allowing the trials.

And let endurance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect, complete, lacking in nothing. (1:4)

James here states as to why a believer can rejoice in his trials when he writes let endurance have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect. James uses the word perfect more than any other New Testament writer does. The perfection that James is talking about is not a moral perfection but rather has to do with wholeness or completeness in the believer’s spiritual walk with Christ. The trials can help produce the desired outcome that God has for the believer and be more complete in God. It is for this reason that God, although not the cause of the trials, would allow them to come about. James also adds that the trials be permitted by God to make one more complete. The trials make the believer complete in the fact that they serve to develop Godly character in the life of the one who is enduring them, producing greater holiness in the life of the believer, so that they are lacking in nothing and being content with and resting in God.

James 1:5-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproaching,[6] and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded[7] man, unstable in all his ways.


But if any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, (1:5a)

If there were any believers, who were having difficulty understanding their trials James tells them what they are to do. James says if any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God. When James refers here to wisdom he is not talking about a mere intellectual wisdom. It is wisdom, which comes from God and having a reverential fear of displeasing him, which is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7) The proper understanding therefore of Godly wisdom is that one then puts the wisdom in practical use in everyday life. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 2:6, “For the Lord gives wisdom, from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” When James says any of you in this passage, he is referencing specifically to the believers that God was allowing to go through trials. He is not talking to just anyone in general that they can ask for wisdom but in context those Christians that were enduring the trails. Nevertheless, all Christians are to ask God for wisdom. However, if undergoing a trial, we need to be specific in the wisdom that we are seeking.

James tells these believers if they lacked the wisdom to understand the trials then go to the one who could give them the discernment and wisdom in regard to the trial. God was sovereign over the trials in allowing the trial to happen, and then he would be the only one to go to for us to correctly understand as to the nature of the trial. The Greek word that James uses for “ask” is the word aiteo which means to “beg or request.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 40) The believers were to ask of God that they understand their trials for some insight and guidance to see how allowing the trial was a part of God’s plan and how it applied to their life.

We see from Scripture an example of God answering those in their trial with Solomon who asked God to help him to be able to lead the nation he had become the leader of (1 Kings 3:9). David, a man familiar with trials, wrote in (Psalms 55:22) “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you, He will never allow the righteous to be forsaken.” Peter also wrote in (I Peter 5:6-7) “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

who gives to all generously without finding reproaching and it will be given to him (1:5b)

Here James states an important, significant, and weighty promise that will happen to the believers that called upon God in the midst of the trial for wisdom. The promise he says is that God will give wisdom to those who seek the Lord for it. James assures that promise by stating that God gives to all generously without finding reproach. James makes it clear that not only will God give wisdom to those who ask but also he will do so with generosity. In other words, God desires to give believers wisdom and understanding to discern accurately the trials they were enduring. The word that James uses here for reproach is the Greek word oneidezo which means to “defame, reproach, or disgrace (Vine, 1996, pg. 526).” It did not matter the nature of the situation or the background these believers may have come from if they called upon God for wisdom, it will be given to him. We should not expect what Abraham David, Solomon, Elijah or Nehemiah received. Our primary wisdom for how to deal with trials is not going to come miraculously, but rather through the Word of God. If we do not take in that lifesaving knowledge, how can we make wise decisions, as it is the very knowledge of God?

Young Christians

But let him must ask in faith, without any doubting for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (1:6)

There is an approach to praying for wisdom that must be applied when coming to God in asking for wisdom, and that is the believer must ask in faith without any doubting. The Greek word used here for faith is the word pistis, and it means to be “confident of, fully assured or persuaded of.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 222) James is telling these believers that when they come to God to ask for this wisdom, they must be fully confident and convinced that God does hear. Faith gives sight to that which can’t be seen and be believed upon. James also indicates that one not only has faith but without any doubting as well. If these believers doubted God in what they were asking for, they would be negating the very thing the prayer is predicated upon, and that is faith. These believers were to pray in faith that God would give them the wisdom to understand their trial and help them to be able to endure.

James here provides his readers with an object lesson to show what it looks like when one claims to ask with belief and yet doubts at the same time. James states the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea. A wave of the sea is helpless in the fact that is directed in many different directions upon the sea and has not stability, due to the wind. A wave may start far off in the distance and then be lead to the shore in the next moment. The waves are helpless against the wind because the waves have nothing to stabilize them except to be helplessly driven and tossed by the wind. James is telling these believers that if they do not have faith in prayers for wisdom that they are asking God for helping them to understand their trials, then trials end up controlling the person’s life and taking them where they do not want to go. The prayer for wisdom gives the believers the understanding to remain steady amongst the trials.

For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man; unstable in all his ways. (1:7-8)

James here presents two realities for those believers that were not praying in faith that God could hear their prayers for wisdom and would answer. Certainly, when one prays, while he has a doubtful heart, he should not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. This one does not expect in his heart that he is going to receive divine help. He allows his doubts to impede him from placing his complete trust in the Father, failing to be guided in the way in which he should go. He does not have the genuine faith that is required by God, because “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he is and that is the rewarder of those seeking  him.” – Hebrews 11:6

James also presents the second reality, and that is the reason God will not answer the believer who doubts when he prays, and that is because he is double minded. The Greek word used for double-minded is dipsuchos, and it literally means “two-souled.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 181) James is the only New Testament writer to use this word.  James clarifies his point by stating the reason God does not answer a double-minded man, and that reason is that he is unstable in all his ways. An unstable person that is two-souled is often too unable to be trusted, because of the constant changing of his or her mind. A two-souled person is one who often has divided loyalties: in one moment, he or she desires God, and in the next moment, he or she is engaged in the acts of the flesh, and never decide between the two.


James Touches on the Shortness of Life

James 1:9-12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But Let the lowly brother boast[8] in his exaltation, 10 and the rich man should boast in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes; so too will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

12 Blessed is the man[9] who endures under trial; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord[10] has promised to those who love him.

But let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, (1:9)

Most Christians in the first-century up unto our day, come from a humble background. (1 Cor. 1:26) Most were poor before their finding and accepting Jesus Christ. (Jam. 2:5) The world tends to view such poor ones in a bad light, spurning them, feeling contempt for them. However, after they have come to know (in an experiential way) the Father, and the one he sent forth, Jesus Christ, they are exalted, elevated to a dignified standing with Jesus Christ. – John 17:3.

In addition, there were some in the congregation, who were rich before their finding and accepting Jesus Christ. However, they became poor through some form of persecution. (Heb. 10:32-34) While one might suspect that this would cause doubts, it enabled them to appreciate the precious relationship they had with Jesus Christ and the hope of eternal life that lay ahead. In a Christian congregation, unlike the world, poor Christians are on equal ground as to position and wealth (i.e., they are rich in Christ), suffering no shortcomings whatsoever. They have the same opportunity to possess the same amount of spiritual riches as anyone else.[11]

and the rich man should boast in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. (1:10)

When a wealthy person comes to an accurate or full knowledge of the truth, he will come to the realization that the wealth he had trust in, is fleeting. He will then clearly understand “the deceitfulness of wealth.” (Matt. 13:22) Now, this rich person must humble himself, as he is shown in the Word of God that he and his riches need to be placed in the right perspective. In other words, it is not the riches that are wicked, but rather the love of the riches. In addition, he must see that spending excessive time in the pursuit of further wealth is a waste. It will cause him to miss family time, personal Bible study time, preparing for Christian meetings, attending and participating in Christian meetings. Moreover, chasing after wealth will cut into the time he could spend sharing the good news with others. Namely, it will affect his spirituality. (1 Tim. 6:9-10) If he ponders the Scriptures, he will see that the spiritual blessings outweigh any material wealth that could be accumulated in multiple lifetimes. See Philippians 3:8.

Rather than an elevated belief in oneself, which is often a direct result of riches, the apostle Paul encouraged just the opposite. He wrote, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. Have this mind in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:3-8) The rich one must also consider that the world sees the wealthy man in an elevated position to everyone else. However, once he becomes a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, this may very well change as the world will begin to hate him due to his relationship with Jesus. (John 15:17-19; See also John 7:47-52; 12:42-43) Now, the rich man, who has become a disciple of Christ, possessing spiritual riches, he can rejoice in his humiliation. In the end, it must be remembered, the splendor of wealth is temporary, as the rich one will eventually grow old and die. Riches cannot add a single hour to his life. – Psalm 49:6-9; Matthew 6:27.


For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls, and its beauty perishes; (1:11a)

James adds a further illustration to expound his position writing the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass. James uses a concept that the Jewish believers would have been familiar with in the Palestinian landscape. The flowers in Palestine were abundant and beautiful, yet when the scorching wind from the sun would hit them, they withered, and the flower falls, and beauty perishes in just a short amount of time. James uses this illustration to make the point of the uselessness of putting one’s hope in riches, because of their insecurity. The riches may seem to be a security to the man who has them, and they may look good but who knows when the scorching heat of life death, disease, destruction comes, and the riches are destroyed.  (Compare Ps. 49:6-9; Matt. 6:27.) The rich man has no more control over his riches and what may happen to them, than does the flower that is scorched by the hot sun. As quickly as the man may have received his riches, they could be taken away. Solomon wrote, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” – Proverbs 23:4-5.

so too will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. (1:11b)

Just as the flower arises and is destroyed so also, the rich man will fade away in the midst of his pursuits. The point that James is trying to get across is that just as the flower is here one day and gone the next so riches are so uncertain because we may have it one day and then it be gone the next. Once an individual takes his last breath, all that he worked so hard to gain here in riches will be lost and done away with. Solomon wrote, “As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.” (Eccl. 6:15) Solomon also wrote, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” – Proverbs 11:4.

James is stressing the fact that a man does not have to wait until the time of his death for his riches to fade away, but they do so even in the midst of his pursuit of them. The trials that come to the rich can serve as an excellent reminder of how uncertain one’s riches really are, and they cannot save him. The trials of the man with riches serve to remind him of the fact life does not depend on the abundance of his possessions.[12]

Blessed is the man who endures under trial; (1:12a)

James here continues with his progression of the person who is undergoing the difficult trials in stating, blessed is the man who endures under trial. James calls the believers that endure the trial blessed. The word for blessed is not some joy that the world could offer to man, but rather it was a joy that only God could give to man. It is the highest good possible that only God is able to give man by his own spirit.  It is an inward peace and comfort of the soul that is not determined by outward circumstances but is a continuous inner joy through all the situations of life. This is the same word that Jesus used to describe the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. The word for endures is hupomone that means to “remain under.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 200) The blessedness that James talks about only comes to the one who remains firm in his faith in the midst of the trial.  James simply confirms what Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12.

Alternatively, those Christians who are wealthy can find joy in their wealth beyond the pleasures that it can provide, by using some of it to support the interests of Christianity and to spread the Gospel. (1 Tim. 6:17-19) Moreover, they can use some of their wealth to help their needy brothers and sisters within the Christian congregation. – Acts 4:32-37; James 1:27


Jesus also illustrated this point by the parable of the rich fool who rejoiced in his riches

Luke 12:16-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 And he reasoned to himself, saying, ‘What should I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night they are demanding your soul from you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life (1:12b)

The approval or acceptance comes from the fact that one’s faith has been tested and has been approved by God because of the way that he has persevered through it. James gives further motivation and encouragement for his readers in the fact that they are not only blessed in what they are going through if they persevere but that in the end, they will receive the crown of life. The crown of life is not a mere physical crown to wear but rather a spiritual reward of getting to abide in the presence of God for all eternity. God himself will give this crown in eternity for those who have remained faithful to him until the end. (Matt 24:13) This crown will be for those who have fought the battle against Satan, sin, as well as trials and have through Christ come out victorious. These victors did not gain their crown through fame, success, or accolades, but rather they gained their crown from what they suffered and overcame. The apostle Paul makes this clear at Hebrews 11:37-40. It should be explicitly stated that these ones did not earn eternal life through their endurance of trials, but rather they were privileged as with a “crown” by the gift of heavenly life. We cannot earn eternal life, as it is a free, undeserved gift from our heavenly Father through our faith in Jesus Christ. (Rom. 6:23) Christians who maintain their integrity through trial after trial has made an evident demonstration that their faith is genuine. The quality of their faith has survived the difficulties of this imperfect world and has been found complete.

which the Lord has promised to those who love him (1:12c)

James makes it clear about the crown of life the Lord has promised to those who love him. This would have been an excellent source of encouragement for those believers as they are going through their trials. We can see from the Scriptures that when God promises something, it is as good as done. In Genesis, God promised never to flood the entire earth again, and he never has since. God promised Abraham that he would have a son that would produce many nations, and he allowed Sarah to have Isaac. Numerous times in the Old Testament God spoke through the prophets promising to send the Messiah into the world. That promise was fulfilled in the New Testament with Jesus Christ. God makes this promise to those that love him because he is in a relationship with them and is their Father. God is always faithful to his promises and for those who endure trials they will indeed receive the crown of life.

James 1:13-15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted[13] with evil,[14] and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire.[15] 15 Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Romans 5:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned,

In addition, God had already informed us that we are mentally bent toward evil, that man’s mind is evil from his very youth.

Genesis 6:5 The American Translation (AT)

5 When the LORD saw that the wickedness of man on the earth was great, and that the whole bent of his thinking was never anything but evil, the LORD regretted that he had ever made man on the earth.

Genesis 8:21 The American Translation (AT)

21 I will never again curse the soil, though the bent of man’s mind may be evil from his very youth; nor ever again will I ever again destroy all life creature as I have just done.

Jeremiah informs us that,

Jeremiah 17:9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

The heart is more deceitful than all else,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?

The apostle Paul writes,

Romans 7:21-24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 I find then the law in me that when I want to do right, that evil is present in me. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and taking me captive in the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Notice in the above that Paul references “the law of [his] mind.” For a person who has a strong faith, that law of his mind is ruled by a phenomenon that he delights in, namely “the law of God.” Certainly, we see that “the law of sin” is waging war against the law of the mind. Nevertheless, the Christian can conquer ‘the law of sin’ with the help of God. Paul goes on to say in verse 25, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin.’”

Thus, the imperfect human, in his human weaknesses has the following stacked up against him, (1) he is missing the mark of perfection, (2) the whole bent of his mind leans toward evil, (3) his inner self is deceitful and sick, (4) which he cannot understand, and (5) the law of sin dwells in his members. Therefore, it is easy to see that if he dwells on, entertains, or cultivates wrong thoughts, as opposed to immediately dismissing them, it will lead to sin.

However, not all is lost, because Paul also tells us that we can ‘be renewed in the spirit of our minds.’ (Eph. 4:23) We can ‘put off the old person with its practices and have put on the new self. We will then be renewed in knowledge according to the image of our Creator.’ We will be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.’ – Colossians 3:9-10; Romans 12:2.


Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God.” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. (1:13)

Let no one say when he is tempted,[16] “I am being tempted by God.” If any Christian were under any kind of affliction or hardship, he would be wrong to attribute this to God, as though God were trying to tempt him into sinning. If he lets some aspect of the trial turn into a temptation for him (e.g., if he goes from a refusal to give in to the temptation, to giving in or bending under pressure because of some selfish gain, or because he is looking for a way to evade facing and enduring the trial), it is not God who deserves the blame. We need to understand that God will strengthen us to endure the trials of this imperfect word, only if we continue unwaveringly in our own heart. (Phil. 4:13) God will never carry out any action that would lead his servant to sin. While God permitted sin and imperfection to come into the world after the rebellion of Satan, Adam, and Eve, it was not to test or tempt humanity into sin, but rather to teach us the object lesson that we were not designed to walk on our own. We were designed to be under God’s sovereign rulership, which Adam rejected. The world under Satan’s rulership caters to the fallen flesh, not to God.

God is holy and pure so he cannot be tempted with evil. It is impossible for God to be tempted by evil of any kind or by any unacceptable situation, or by some condition that would motivate him to commit wrong. It is impossible to make something that is contrary to God’s standards and values attractive to the point that it would be trying him.

God himself tempts no one, just as he himself cannot be tempted into sin. God does not place alluring things before his creatures, to embolden them to transgress against him. He is not seeking to test their weaknesses or their steadfastness. He does not place things before us that we must have for survival, and the situation requires us to violate his standards to achieve it. However, God has allowed the trials of an imperfect world of humanity to continue, as he has “morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil and suffering in the world.” (William Lane Craig) God offers us nothing but good for our improvement, never for our impairment. The ruler of this imperfect world, Satan the Devil, has no qualms about using trials as a means of tempting us to violate God’s Word. This is not to say that God will not allow some trial that he could have prevented for the sake of disciple (i.e., correction), making his servants more complete. – Hebrews 12:7, and 11

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire. (1:14)

James states but each one is tempted, which signifies that temptation is on an individual basis. The temptation is not another individual’s problem but is an individual choice that one gives into or rejects. James also writes one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his desire, which exposes that the problem of temptation lies not with God, but rather it is in oneself. James says that temptation is always directed at the desire of one’s heart. Therefore, God is not the one who is causing the temptation, but the temptation comes through the enticement of one’s lust within his heart.

 The Greek word James uses here for enticed is deleazo, which means to “lure as bait.” (Vine 1996, 203) James tells us in the passage that the underlying motivation for all temptation is selfish desire, that all temptations spring from man’s desire to satisfy his own flesh and personal forbidden desires. This means the temptation that Satan offers to people always deals with that which is pleasurable to man and appeals to his desires. This is not to say that human desires in and of itself are wrong. Moreover, human pleasure is not bad in and of itself. Satan has corrupted the desires of the flesh, which was perfectly natural before the sin of Adam. For example, there was a natural desire for a physical relationship between man and woman. After the fall, Paul tells us that it has become a standard practice “For their women [to] exchange natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” i.e., homosexuality. (Rom. 1:26) Once the lust is manifested in the heart then the more it lingers there without being dealt with then it will begin to carry away the individual with the enticement of what that fulfilled lust can bring.

Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (1:15)


Temptation always begins with an enticement towards one’s lust or an unwarranted desire. If not cast down, one then is carried away by the bait of the enticement. Then soon after, one will take the bait, give in to the temptation, and satisfy the lust of his flesh. It is for this reason that James writes then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin. James continues with the progression stating sin when it is fully-grown brings forth death. Once the desire is conceived, or once the individual gives acts upon that temptation by giving into its evil desire, it gives birth to sin that can lead to death.

James is telling these believers that once sin is conceived and begins to take root in the heart if it is not dealt with, it will become full grown within the heart, to attain what their hearts desire. James makes it very clear that once we give in to the temptation of that lust, it will inevitably give birth to sin. What was meant to produce pleasure and satisfaction, now only causes chaos and devastation. James warns these believers that the only result of fulfilling their lust brought about death. This death could for some have led to physical death depending upon the lust they were giving into. James has a deeper meaning in the fact that it was causing spiritual death to these believers when they gave into sin.

Again, we can see from Adam and Eve that when they ate of the fruit, they did so out of their desire and pleasure for power and control that stemmed from their lust. When they ate of the fruit, the promise of fulfillment only resulted in death. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they faced spiritual death, in the fact that their sin had separated them from God. In turn, because of the curse, they would also suffer physical death due to their sin. James is warning these believers of the serious danger of temptation and the consequences if they were to give in to their lust. James wants his readers to understand that for the one who persisted in his temptation and living in that manner, and then, in the end, he would face eternal destruction. Paul wrote in Romans 7:20-21, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”


Every Good Gift is from Above

James 1:16-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.[17] 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Do not be deceived my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, (1:16-17a)

James did not want his fellow brothers and sisters to be deceived into the belief that God was their cause of trials. Such an idea would distort the character and person of the Almighty God as it would make him the author of evil, meaning that he willfully brought sin into the world. James’ Christian brothers cannot make the claim that any temptation is more than they can bear, as Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13) It would be harmful, damaging to the Christian, if he believed that God was behind his difficult times and such a view could contribute to his possibly, wrongly, taking offense against God.

As was true of James himself, his brothers were imperfect and missed the mark of perfection every day of their lives. So there was no good reason for James to take some superior position. Rather he sees them as his spiritual brothers, to whom he refers to as “beloved,” for he has affection for them. He now wishes to get their attention as he transitions to the important point he is about to make.

James describes these gifts as being good which God gives. Greek is the word agathos, and it means “profitable or useful. (Vine, 1996, pg. 273) What gifts is James specifically talking about when he calls the gifts good and perfect? In the Bible, several gifts are explicitly mentioned as coming directly from God. For instance, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 ‘God gives the gifts of the sun and rain on the wicked and the good.’ Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God gives spiritual gifts to those in the church to help build up the body. Jesus referred to in his parable in Luke 11:10-13 that God gives the Holy Spirit to those that ask of him. However, God gives many other good gifts such as food, clothing, freedom, joy, love, and much more. These gifts are good and perfect because they reflect the source from which they come. Only perfect gifts come from him. “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:25) God’s giving is always clean, wholesome and supports the well-being and contentment of mankind. (Acts 14:17) He supplies us all things “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17) In addition, God’s gifts are far-reaching, faultless, sound and unblemished. There is nothing deficient or missing in them.

coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (1:17b)

James writes that the gifts are coming down from the father of lights, which is the only time in the Bible where the term lights are used in connection with God.  By James calling God the Father of lights, he is referring to the fact that God is the author of all creation (e.g., the sun, the moon, and the stars). He speaks of himself as the one “who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; Jehovah of hosts is his name.” (Jer. 31:35, UASV) Nevertheless, he is not just the creator of the sun, the moon, and the stars; he is also the basis of spiritual illumination. The apostle Paul writes: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6) Therefore, God is not only good and perfect because he gives good gifts, but he is also the Creator of the lights and his sovereignty rules over all the stars, planets, and solar system.

In the sun’s rising and setting, it casts shadows of varying measurement and concentration. Contingent on the location of the earth in its rotation and its orbit, significant variation happens in the way that the sun is glowing, producing heat and light, to be dispersed over the surface. With this in mind, James writes that with God there is no variation or shifting shadow. James here is pointing out the fact that God does not change like the planets that are continually rotating causing different seasons. Rather God is always consistent with his nature, and he has never changed from the beginning of time and never will until the end of time. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” James is wanting his readers to understand that if God was the one who was tempting them, then why does he give good and perfect gifts and the very light which they need for daily existence on this earth. If God were the one doing the tempting all the time then surely God would not be so kind and gracious to his creation, but rather an evil tyrant.


Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (1:18)

It is his own will, working toward his purposes, one of which that he brings forth spiritual sons. Looking back at what he has already written, one of his greatest gifts to mankind was that we “have been born again, not from perishable seed but imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Pet. 1:13) We can contrast this with the fact that “sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) God did not cause Satan, Adam, or Eve to sin, nor does he cause us to sin. God’s born again sons are brought about by the Holy Spirit, by way of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit transforms a person, empowering him through the Word of God, and enabling him to put on the “new person” required of true Christians: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col. 3:12) This is the good news of the kingdom. The apostle Paul says of this, “In him [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14) So James again has proven his point that God is not a tempter in the fact that if God was nothing but a tempter, then why would he give humanity his written Word that mankind could have the knowledge of salvation.

It was God’s purpose for the first-century Christian congregation to bring about those, who was born again by the Holy Spirit. They were to be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. In other words, they were taken out of mankind at that time as firstfruits to God. Under the Mosaic Law, God received the firstfruits of everything. (Ex. 22:29-30; 23:19) In fact, “Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest.” (Jer. 2:3) We see, from the Apostle John’s words that these ones and others up unto our day were ‘made a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign over the earth.’[18] (Rev. 5:10) James could have also been thinking of the “Feast of Passover was to begin on the fourteenth day of the first month and was followed the next day by the Feast of Unleavened Bread (23:4–6).” “The next festive event in the Israelite calendar was the Feast of Firstfruits, which began the day after the Sabbath in the week of Unleavened Bread. On this day the Israelite presented a sheaf of the first grain of barley (23:9–11). The presentation of the first sheaf was representative of the entire crop, acknowledging that the yield came from the hand of God.” (Rooker 2000, 286-7) The barley firstfruits was on Nisan 16 in 33 C.E., which landed on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, with a sheaf of the first grain of barley on Pentecost day, the occurrence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Lev. 23:4-11, 15-17) If this were the case, Jesus Christ would be the “firstfruits that Paul spoke of, saying, “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:20, 23) Then, in a more general sense, Christians are a kind of firstfruits of his creatures who are important in God’s new created order. The apostle John tells us “It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb.” – Revelation 14:4.

Hearing and Doing the Word

James 1:19-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and abundance of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.[19] 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face[20] in a mirror.24 for he looks at himself and goes away, and immediately forgets what sort of man he was. 25 But he that looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, being no hearer who forgets but a doer of a work, he will be blessed in his doing.

Know this, my beloved brothers (1:19a)

James says know this, which is a reference to the fact that these Christians are “a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” ‘Knowing this’ is suggestive of action not so much awareness, which they had. Remember, Jesus said to his disciples that “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17) A Christian in a righteous standing with God will act on what he knows to be true about God. The apostle John tells us, “No one who abides in him [God] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:6) As he has done previously, he calls them “my beloved brothers,” (1) to draw their attention to an important point (2), and to let them know that this applies to him as well as them. In essence, James is saying; you know that God has made you a kind of firstfruits by the word of truth, meaning that you should feel privileged, by evidencing your new Christian personality, living up to being a disciple of Christ.

let every man be quick to hear (1:19b)

Just as ‘knowing’ in the above was suggestive of an action, so too, “hearing” is suggesting obedience. (John 8:37, 38, 47) In other words, ‘to hear is to obey.’ Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15) We should not fail to hear aright. It takes more than hearing the audio sound of what is being said, so as to hear with understanding. We are challenged to pay close attention to what the speaker has said and to ask ourselves what he meant by the words that he used. The apostle Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17) What did Paul mean? He meant that by taking in the Word of God, our faith and sureness grow in God, as we see the outworking of his promises. If we are not obeying the Word of God, then, apparently, we have not truly heard the Word of God. We want to move beyond being hearers to being doers as well. All self-importance, willfulness, preconception and personal opinion should be set aside as we humbly hear the Word of God. We should long for the Word of God, seeking it and being eager to obey.[21]

slow to speak (1:19c)

Slow to speak means that we should ponder what we are going to say. (Prov. 15:28; 16:23) This certainly does not mean that we can never speak. We are to proclaim the Word of God, as we are to contend for the faith and defend the Word of God and to speak the Word without fear. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; 1 Pet 3:15; Jude 1:3, 22-23; Phil. 1:14; 1 Thess. 5:14; Eph. 5:15-16) However, we should not use the Bible as a tool to help others until we have incorporated the Word of God in our lives first. Then we can more clearly see how we might use it to benefit another. (Rom. 2:17-24) Paul speaks to Timothy about those “desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.” (1 Tim 1:7) We do not want to use God’s Word to offer advice counsel, comfort, or even to console until we have first used the Word of God effectively in our lives. The reason for this is simple; the Bible is a book for all those things and more. However, it can be misused in the hands of anyone, who does not have a correct understanding of what it means and has not truly experienced its ability to transform by way of application.

slow to anger; (1:19d)

Injustices surround us in this wicked world, filled with imperfect people, who lean toward sin and are mentally bent toward evil. Yet, James counsels us to work in harmony with Scripture and prayer to keep our anger under control. Because this is in context with our being obedient to the “word” of God, clearly any analysis of the Word of God must be treated with the correct mindset and heart condition. If we are upset to the point of being angry, he will likely be blinded to the value that lies in the Word of God. (Prov. 19:3) He will not see the light while in a provoked state of mind, let alone be able to apply the counsel in his life in a balanced manner. If another has made us angry by saying something inappropriate or mistreating us in some unjust way, we need to slow down, to avoid responding to them in kind, i.e., some vicious, hostile, spiteful comeback, which will only serve to escalate the anger and the void between them and us. There are times to be angry with righteous indignation, but after that Paul warns us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Eph. 4:26) This is why we combat the irrational thinking, which contributes to anger, with slowing down and rationalizing the situation before we respond.

for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God (1:20)

No one displaying a wrathful disposition can ever have a righteous standing before God. Wrathful ones will not see the wisdom of obedience to the Scriptures. When angry, we tend to make irrational decisions that will generally not be for the good of anyone, even creating long-lasting ripples within relationships. It could even be as simple as our destroying property in a fit of rage, irrationally not caring about the cost. However, once we are calm, the realization that those seconds of rage have cost us hundreds of dollars if not thousands, maybe even an irreplaceable family heirloom, can be very depressing. Our wrath also makes the righteousness of God difficult to accept by unbelievers who see our fits of rage, as opposed to seeing the qualities of God. If we are always angry, how are we projecting the image of God in giving a witness by our behavior? Can we imagine our stumbling someone out of seeking God because they question God based on our personality? Yes, a wrathful attitude from one who claims to be a Christian blocks the righteousness of God. It will cause the unbeliever to turn away from hearing the Word of God. Solomon writes, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” – Proverbs 14:29

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and abundance of wickedness (1:21a)


Here in these passages after James has told these believers the attitudes that they were to have when they come to the Word, he now tells them the behaviors that they must put away to be able to accept the word of truth.  James tells his audience that they are to be putting aside all filthiness and abundance of wickedness. Putting aside carries with it the idea of taking off filthy and dirty clothes and casting them to the side. In other words, they were to take off the old and put it out of the way to be done away with. Keep in mind, while not addressed here, it is important to replace the old with something new. If we do not fill a void, it will return to an unusual extent. If we remove unrighteous anger from our lives, it must be replaced with understanding, compassion, empathy, kindness, and things like these.

For this reason, it is important to note that James is making the point that it is a personal act of the will to do away with these things, and not God’s responsibility. The first thing that James tells his readers is that they are to put aside its filthiness. The word for filthiness is rhuparia and means “dirty or filthy.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 237) Things such as fornication, lust, adultery, immorality, and things like these would be included in the filthiness and wickedness that James is talking about. Also in the context of this verse, James could be specifically referring to the anger of which he just stated does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  The reason James tells them to put aside the filth is that as long as a person lives in filth, it will keep him away from the Word of truth because imperfect humans are naturally drawn to sin. If one is coming to the Word with the wrong attitudes or the bad behaviors, then he is nullifying that which he is reading or hearing from the Word of truth.

and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (1:21b)

After this, James describes the attitude we are to have when coming to the Word, and the behavior changes we must make, he now describes the manner with which we come to the Word of God. We are to receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Meekness is to have a teachable and willing spirit to be ready to submit to the commands that come with the Word of God. It is a condition of the spirit and heart, which means being willing to yield to the commands coming from the word of truth.

Meekness would be the key for these believers to be able to receive, understand, and apply the Word of God into their lives. James states that the Word was already implanted if they would just become humble enough to receive it. James was talking to believers who were living with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. With the inward law being already written upon their heart and the Holy Spirit dwelling within, these believers knew the Word God because it was already implanted. Edward D. Andrews writes about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,

The Holy Spirit, through the spirit inspired, inerrant Word of God is the motivating factor for our taking off the old person and putting on the new person. (Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:8-9) It is also the tool used by God so that we can “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may approve what is the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God.” (Rom 12:2; See 8:9)

Just how do we renew our mind? This is done by taking in an accurate knowledge of Biblical truth, which enables us to meet God’s current standards of righteousness. (Titus 1:1) This Bible knowledge, if applied, will enable us to move our mind in a different direction by filling the void after having removed our former sinful practices, and with the principles of God’s Word, principles that guide our actions, and especially ones that guide moral behavior.

 The Biblical truths that lay in between Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 will transform our way of thinking, which will in return affect our mood and actions and our inner person. It will be as the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, We need to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. . . .” (Ephesians 4:22-24) This force that contributes to our acting or behaving in a certain way for our best interest is internal.[22]

James here is telling his readers the reason they are to accept this Word of God in humility and why they needed to come to it with proper attitude and behavior, i.e., it contained the words of eternal life, it contains the words which places them on the path to salvation. Peter in writing of the power of the word of truth wrote,

1 Peter 1:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

23 having been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

In the Word of God, these believers learned of the salvation that came through Christ alone. It was the message that they, being wicked sinners at heart, can be saved through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. This was not just some ordinary book but the very book that leads to salvation and eternal life. It has practical benefits even now, as it will guide us through our daily life and then preserve us for all eternity.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome,

Romans 1:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Paul also said to the Christians in Corinth,

1 Corinthians 1:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

But be doers of the word, (1:22a)

James is telling his readers to be doers of the word as obedience to the Word is not optional, it is required if one is to walk faithfully with God. Jesus pointed out: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21, 24-27) He also said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28) The Greek verb (ginesthe) is an imperative in the present tense, “be you becoming,” which carries the force of an exhortation for a continuous action. James is not suggesting they become doers, but that they be doers, i.e., make sure that they are continuously doers. The expression doer of the word is a Hebrew idiom that literally means ‘makers of the word.’ It could mean a writer or speaker, but more likely carries the meaning of one who lives by the word, one who obeys the word, who practices the word.

and not hearers only, (1:22b)

It does not make one a Christian because they listen dutifully as one is sharing the Word of God. While it is great if a Christian attends Christian services and reads the Scriptures daily, but there is more to being a Christian. Literally hearing the Word, even understanding the Word, is not enough. In the early first century, Jews and Christians had similar services, wherein a lecturer would read from the Scriptures regularly while also explaining what had been read. However, this alone does not lead to faith. If one is to be the type of hearer that James is speaking of here, he would have genuine faith, meaning that his faith in what he heard would result in works. (Rom. 10:17; Jam. 2:20) In other words, a Christian, who was a hearer only, would be one who lacked faith.

deceiving yourselves (1:22c)

Over 41,000 different Christian denominations today are filled with dutiful persons who regularly attend Christian services, regularly read their Bibles, and involve themselves in the social actions of the congregation. In this, they all believe that they are fulfilling their Christian obligations. However, many of these people’s lives are no different from the atheist that is a good person, living by the laws, paying his taxes, and doing good to others. We are deceiving ourselves if our entire life is not inundated in our worship of God. We may not be aware of, or maybe we even block out the fact that obeying the Word of God is an unnegotiable requirement. What we may not realize is that this deceiving ourselves is like a roadblock on our path to salvation and harder to set aside than ignorance or skepticism itself. God expects exclusive devotion from his worshipers, which encompasses every aspect of the Christian life. (1 Cor. 10:31) If our worship is merely an outward display, a going through the motions, we are falling short. We were given the great commission of proclaiming and teaching God’s Word, as well as making disciples. If we are not regularly engaged in such work in our own communities, we are missing the most important act of obedience.


For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. (1:23)

When looking into a mirror, man has his image reflected back at himself, where he can see all of his flaws and faults. The purpose of looking into the mirror is so he can see if anything is out of place so that he can make any needed corrections. Can we imagine looking into a mirror, seeing a big stain on our shirt, our hair is completely disheveled, or that we have something on our face, but we ignore them and head off to work?

The image he sees in the mirror is sent to the mind, where it is evaluated, reasoned on, considered. For this reason, by looking at the Word of God, by hearing the Word of God, we are able to see our true selves. We can see all of our imperfections, character flaws, and human weaknesses. We can also see any wrongdoings, misdeeds, even thinking that is out of harmony with the Word of God.

We must keep in mind this analogy is a negative one that is looking at a person who looks intently at his natural face in the mirror, sees the things that need to be corrected, but walks away ignoring them. The same is true with the Word of God. He looks into the Word, listens to the needed corrections as he reads, ignores them, and chooses to remain inactive, and fails to respond.

For he looks at himself and goes away, and immediately forgets what sort of man he was. (1:24)

When a person looks into a mirror, he is good at quickly seeing what is out of place as to his appearance. Maybe he has been unable to sleep, so he sees the yellow skin and puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes. Maybe he sees that he has more gray hair coming in from increased age. When he looks intently into a mirror, he is aware of the things that should give him pause as to how he is living his life. Sleepless nights can cause high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, memory loss, diabetes, and lower libidos, and less interest in sex. Does it seem logical to ignore the physical signs of lacking sleep? Should we not consider how we could turn things around? Nevertheless, the man in James’ analogy quickly forgets, once he has turned away from the mirror. It is a case of, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ as he may want to forget some unwelcome features. Yes, once he has walked away from the mirror he allows the anxieties of the day to crowd out his appearance, forgetting what he may have needed to correct. (See 2 Pet. 1:9) However, the man who is a doer reacts quite differently as he looks into the perfect law.

But he that looks into the perfect law, (1:25a)

James now gives a comparison to the man who not only hears the Word but also actually applies that Word to his life. James says the man who applies the word is he that looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty. The Greek word used for “looks” is the word parakupto, which means to “bend inside, lean over, or stoop down to look into.” (Vine 1996, Volume 2, Page 378) The sense here is of one seeking to get a better look of something by leaning forward, peering at it. (See John 20:5, 11; 1 Peter 1:12) “The same verb—translated as bent over—pictures the apostle John staring into Jesus’ empty tomb (John 20:5). John’s look led to an obedient faith (John 20:8).” (Lea 1999, 267)

One, who is wanting to obey the law of Christ does just that, as he peers into the perfect law to inspect, examine and study it, with a heart motivated toward obedience. He is able to visualize himself as it relates to being a biblical father, husband, son, or to herself as a biblical mother, wife or daughter. The law is perfect in the sense that it is complete, everything we in our imperfect state need to walk with God, to have and maintain a righteous standing before the Father and the Son. It is a pathway to salvation through the grace of God. – Proverbs 30:5-6; Psalm 119:105, 140.

the law of liberty, (1:25b)

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) The Word of God frees his people from slavery to sin and death, putting them on the path of life. (Rom. 7:5-6, 9; 8:2, 4; 2 Cor. 3:6-9) This “law of liberty” is a reference not to the Mosaic Law, but to the new covenant, in which the Father declared, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:33) Christians are under the principles of the Mosaic Law, but not under some long code of rules and regulations but rather the inspired, inerrant Word of God, which enables them to know the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-23; 1 John 2:15-17; Gal. 5:1, 13-14) In other words, they have a developed fine-tuned Christian conscience, which leads them in the way that they should go, not because of some fearful dread of displeasing some all-powerful being. The Christian’s worship is out of love and is principally positive, not negative. – Matthew 22:37-40; see James 2:12

APPLYING GODS WORD-1 For As I Think In My Heart_2nd Edition Put Off the Old Person

and abides by it, (1:25c)

James also says that the doer of the word does not just obey it occasionally but abides in it. The Greek word for abide is parameno which means “to remain by or near” para, “beside,” hence, “to continue or persevere in anything.” (Vine 1996, Volume 2, Page 127) He is abiding in these things in the fact he is daily striving to live these truths out in a manner that is pleasing to his master who gave him these commands. This is moving beyond a mere examination of it. This one is different from the man who had looked into the mirror, being dissatisfied with what he saw, but nonetheless walking away forgetting or even losing interest in what he saw. The Christian perseveres and continues to pore over the perfect law with the mindset of keeping his life in harmony with it. (Ps. 119:9, 16, 97) We need to be immersed and engaged fully with the Word of God, as it guides us through this imperfect age.

being no hearer who forgets but a doer of a work, he will be blessed in his doing. (1:25d)

The Christian, who has moved over from being a forgetful hearer into the world of being a doer, is one who has a biblical mindset. This biblical mindset leads him to every decision he makes, no matter how great or small. Before, he had been one who may have sat listening respectfully but then failed to act on the insights he gained from the Word of God. Now, he takes everything that he hears from the Word to heart (his inner person), the seat of motivation, and puts it to work in his daily life. He now has an inner joy that he had never previously known. The Word of God proves to be beneficial in ways he had never imagined. (Ps. 19:7-11; see 1 Tim. 4:8.) He draws real comfort from the fact that he has a righteous standing before God, and that God finds him pleasing.


Clean and Pure Worship

James 1:26-27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

If any man thinks he is religious (1:26a)

A man may believe that he is religious, i.e., (1) belief in the faith, (2) belief in the teachings of the faith, and (3) living by those teachings in one’s daily life. He may believe that he is a devout person, completely dedicated to God. He may be attending Christian meetings, or he may be doing some religious works, which on the surface makes him come across as a genuinely committed worshiper. However, there may be something in his conduct, some flaw, which would cast doubt on the validity of his being a genuinely religious man. If he is truly a religious man his entire life will be in harmony with the Word of God. The Holy Spirit should lead his Christian conscience, the mind of Christ, and inner person by way of the inspired Word of God, not a mere observance of some formalities or ritualistic practices. We need to understand that it is how God perceives us, not how we perceive ourselves. – 1 Corinthians 4:4.

and does not bridle his tongue (1:26b)

James brings to his reader’s attention one of the most difficult tasks of the imperfect human, the failure to control the tongue, i.e., what one says, namely bad things. It is of such grave concern that James spends almost all of chapter 2 on this one issue. Not controlling one’s speech would include malicious gossip, slanderous talk, badmouthing, impulsive and reckless statements, flattery, using their tongues to deceive, and the like. While he may put on great airs or an appearance of being religious, his tongue (speech) convicts him of being one who pretends.

  • He pretends to have belief in the faith,
  • to have belief in the teachings of the faith,
  • and to be living by those teachings in his daily life but actually behaves otherwise when outside of the churches view.

In James’ day, the Pharisees were a self-righteous lot, who used their many words to flatter, to lie, to deceive, and to seek their own glory, while speaking ill of the common Jew as though he were less than human. – Mark 12:38-40; John 7:47-48; compare Romans 3:10-18.

but deceives his heart, (1:26c)

When one begins to think more of himself than he ought, he is surely hip deep in self-deception. Our relationship with the Father and the Son necessitates that we have control over our entire body, which includes the tongue. Paul told the Corinthian congregation that they needed to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5) Therefore, if any is living a life that seems to be religious on the surface, yet has not gotten control over the tongue that causes pain to others and to self, this is deception in the heart, i.e., inner person. Even if one has many Christian gifts that stand out, such as being a good speaker, having a warm and charismatic personality, and is generous but falls short in his speech, this is deception. This one has not realized what all is involved in truly being a religious person. (1 Cor. 13:1-3) We cannot practice any sin, and at the same time consider ourselves a genuine Christian. The apostle John makes it clear that Jesus’ ransom sacrifice covers the committing of a sin not the practice of sinning, i.e., living in sin. – 1 John 2:1; 3:6, 9-10.

40 day devotional (1) Daily Devotional_NT_TM Daily_OT

this person’s religion is worthless. (1:26d)

First, we should understand that James is not speaking about the religious organization, but rather, the type of worship that this person carries out. This one has a major flaw in his walk with God, his Christian conduct, and so he is not pleasing in the eyes of God who would view his worship (religion) as worthless. This is a case of a formalistic worship, not a true worship of God, as he has infected his relationship with his self-deception by way of his failure to control his tongue. It is worthless to the point that all he is doing is wearing out the floors of the church as he ritualistically enters and leaves each service. His worship is tainted and polluted and, therefore, pointless or useless.

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, (1:27a)

The word that James uses here for “pure” is the Greek word katharos, and it means “clean or unmixed.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 498) This is the kind of purity that is not mixed with anything nor tainted with anything but clear and clean. It would be like looking at a glass of water from an area that has unclean water, if one swirls the glass, he can see little particles floating around in the bottom, unlike bottled water that is pure and clean. Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure (katharos) in heart, for they shall see God.” James and Jesus are saying the same thing. In the Bible, “pure” can specify what is clean in a physical sense. However, the word in other contexts can apply to what is uncontaminated, i.e., not adulterated, stained or dirty, or corrupted, in a moral and religious sense. Jesus said in Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

The Greek word for undefiled is amiantos, and it means “undefiled, free from contamination.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 650) The word carries with it the idea that there is nothing within the inner person of a Christian, which defiles or stains him. Therefore, James is saying that the first criterion is to see if one’s worship is pure and undefiled, is in the way that they use their tongue. Then, the second criterion has to do not just with the tongue, but also with our actions toward people. Keep in mind, James is not giving an exhaustive list here of what pure worship should be. In other words, there are more requirements than just taking care of widows and orphans and keeping oneself unstained by the world. When listing things, no one ever gives an exhaustive list. It is usually three or four examples, and the inference is things like these. The point is pure worship is more than mere formalism, such as following some basic rules, or of attending meetings regularly. Rather, pure worship is that worship, which gets down to the inner person and encompasses his entire life, and which includes his love of God and neighbor. – 1 John 3:18.

James then gives what God would consider being pure and undefiled worship is to visit orphans and widows in their affliction. James here is showing that true worship is more than just living by some basic Bible rules and going to Christian meetings, but it involves actions. James mentions two particular groups of people who would have been very significant in his day. He specifically mentions the orphans and the widows who should be of particular interest for those who claim to have pure worship. It is the actions of Christians, who are willing to help those like orphans and widows, who are truly right in God’s eye because their actions show forth their true belief. It would have been the orphans and the widows, who would have been the most rejected, and most unlikely to survive the conditions in which they found themselves.

James specifically mentions that these people were to be visited in their times of distress. The word in Greek used here for distress is thlipsis and it means “pressure or a pressing together.” (Vine, 1996, pg. 17) James is not saying they were to be helped when they had no more troubles, but rather it was in the midst of their troubles. They were to be helped as they were going through the pressures of life that were coming against them. This could include clothing, feeding, and give them shelter, and show the love of Christ to them.  James echoes what John wrote in I John 3:16-18, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.  But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” Several Scriptures point to the fact that God has a great concern for the orphans and widows.[23]

and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (1:27b)

This is the third and final criterion, which James presents to Christians to see if their worship is true. The first criterion dealt with their speech, the second dealt with their actions, and now this third test deals with their integrity before God, in the fact that they were to keep oneself unstained by the world. The word “unstained” means “spotless” or “without spot.”  James is saying that the one who is truly religious, pure in worship, will keep himself from being spotted and tainted by the evil and the wickedness of this world. To be stained by the world would be to allow the sinfulness of the world to engage in the evil desires of the flesh. To be stained by the world is to engage in the wicked practices that it has to offer. The word “world” here is a reference to humankind that is alienated from God, who is “lying in the power of the evil one (i.e., Satan).” (1 John 5:19) A Christian should stand out from those using Satan’s world fully. (John 17:14) Are we truly separate from the violence and corruption of the world, which would also include our entertainment? Have we adopted any of its attitudes, speech or conduct that would not be in harmony with the will of God? (Matt 7:21-23) Paul warns Timothy,

2 Timothy 2:20-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

It is important to note that James says, “keep oneself” from being stained by the world, which signifies that sinning or being polluted by the world is always a personal act of the will. It is the personal responsibility to actively resist the evil desires of the flesh that the world has to offer. Paul said to the Christians in Rome,

Romans 12:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

1 Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.[24] And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable[25] and perfect.

The sacrifice that Christians regularly make would be beyond anything that unchristian people would usually consider. Yes, Christians evidence that gratefulness by a life of self-sacrifice. It is toward this that we have made our minds over.

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James 1:2a Why would any Christian consider it a joy when they are met with various trials?

James 1:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

Consider it all joy, my brothers,[26] when you encounter various trials,

James starts his letter by asking that these believers consider the trials that they were currently going through. James wanted his readers to think about why they were having their trials, which referred to any trial that took place in their lives so that his readers would have the proper perspective of the trial before they can actually know how to handle them when they come. Once they had the proper perspective of their trials, they could consider it all joy. The Greek word for joy is chara, which means to have “joy or delight (Vine, 1996, pg. 335).” The joy is not in the fact that one is going through the trial, but rather in what that trial will be able to produce in their lives. James wants his readers to realize that if they can understand that God is the one who allowed imperfection to come into humanity for a particular reason, then they can consider any trial with a response of joy, that is, an opportunity for them to show an evident demonstration of their faith. Do not believe that God placed these trials here to grow their faith, but rather, because the trials (difficult times) are here because of human imperfection, here was their opportunity to grow from the difficult times.

James 1:13 – If God doesn’t tempt anyone, then why did he tempt Abraham?

James 1:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted[27] with evil,[28] and he himself tempts no one.

The Bible difficulty is this: Jesus said for us to pray, “do not lead us into temptation.” (Matt. 6:13) The apostle James tells us, “he [i.e., God] himself tempts no one.” Yet, the Bible says, “God tempted Abraham” (Gen. 22:1, KJV), also rendered, “God tested Abraham” (Gen. 22:1, ESV, NASB, CSB, LEB, and others)

Whenever any follower of God is inflicted with any kind of pain, suffering, adversity, or difficult time, he or she would be very wrong to blame God, as though God were trying to tempt them into committing a sin. If any Christian is going through a trial, this is because God has allowed sin to enter the world, not because he placed that trial in front of his servant. If a Christian is going through a trial that God has allowed to happen, and they let something become a temptation to him or her because he or she is seeking a way out of enduring, it is not God’s fault. It is the Christian, who is seeking their own selfish advantage. It is God, who will strengthen one who is undergoing a trial but only if the Christian remains steadfast in his own heart. (Phil. 4:13) Nothing God has allowed in his effort to teach humanity an object lesson about his sovereignty should ever cause us to sin or making sin look attractive.

God will give strength to endure if the Christian remains steadfast in his own heart. (Phil. 4:13) The divine arrangement, God’s way of dealing with his servants, never leads to sin. Whatever God permits to befall us is in no way designed to cause us to transgress or to make wrongdoing look attractive. God is holy, pure, clean. It is impossible for God to be tempted by anything contrary to his moral values. There is no way that even Satan could make any undesirable situation or circumstance attractive to God. James says, “with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” God cannot be tempted into sin, so he does not place anything before us to tempt us into violating his Word, the Bible, or to weaken our resistance to wrongdoing.

Our heavenly Father does not place us in any situation or circumstance where we definitely need something, but it can only be obtained by violating God’s moral values or laws. Even though God has permitted sin (missing the mark of perfection) to enter into the world, resulting in wickedness, sickness, old age, and death to enter into humanity because of Adam’s rebellion and rejection of his sovereignty, God does not try his servants with evil intent. God is only interested in our good, our improvement, never our harm. It is Satan, however, who has gotten us here, who uses the trial as a temptation, trying to motivate us into wrongdoing. (Matt. 6:13) However, for the faithful Christian, God will prevail over Satan, and at the same time, God may choose not to intervene to remove any trial that Satan carries out, using it as a teaching and perfecting tool, which ends up as a blessing to the Christian. – Hebrews 12:7-11.

Jesus tells us to pray “do not lead us into temptation,” (Matt. 6:13) and yet right after his baptism in Jordan, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matt. 4:1) How do we reconcile that Jesus is being led “to be” tempted by the Spirit?

Matthew 4:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Gr, peirazo)[29] by the devil.

The Father does not tempt us, but he does allow us to go through temptations. As we know from Adam and Abraham, the Father can test us, but never tempt us with sin.

The text specifically states that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness “to be tempted.” How do we reconcile that Jesus is being led by the Spirit “to be” tempted? First, (Peirazo) can be rendered either as “tempted” (ESV, NIV, LEB) or “tested” (CEV, MSG), but seeing that Satan is carrying this out, it is best to be rendered “tempted.” This is not a literal versus a dynamic equivalent issue because almost all dynamic equivalents have “tempted.”

Second, the Father would have foreknown that Satan was going to tempt Jesus and that he would wait until his weakest moment to do so. What Satan would see as an opportunity to tempt Jesus, the Father may very well see as an opportunity to test Jesus, as he did with Abraham, establishing his faithfulness, which the Father was well aware was perfectly fine. Therefore, God allowed Jesus “to be” tempted, which he used as a test to confirm what he would already know to be true, an evident demonstration of Jesus faith. Jesus’ actions would establish or demonstrate God’s confidence in him. Jesus clearly revealed that his faith was a living faith. The apostle Paul wrote of Jesus, “Since he himself was tested in that which he has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tested.” (Heb. 2:18) Paul went on to write, “Although he [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered. And having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation.” – Hebrews 5:8-9.

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In addition, Jesus is called the “Son of Abraham” (Lu 3:34), concerning whom it is written, “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him.” Yes, God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son by Sarah. (Gen. 22:1) Moreover, when Satan challenged God, God allowed faithful Job to be tempted, if possible, even to the point of cursing God to his face. Lastly, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, he said to his eleven faithful apostles: “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials.” The American Standard Version reads, “ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations” (Job 1:1 to 2:13; Luke 22:28) How then, can we say that God does not tempt his servants and, how can we pray to the heavenly Father to deliver us from temptation, if it seems as though he is the one placing us in the tempting situations?

What we know for a certainty, God allows us to be subjected to trials that are a result of Satan and Adam’s rebellion, but he does not directly place us into temptation for the evil intention of getting us to sin. The key to understanding this is in understanding how God can be directly and indirectly responsible for things. More on directly and indirectly in a moment. Notice where the responsibility truly lies as we read the context of James’ words. “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted[30] with evil,[31] and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own desire.[32] Then the desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (Jam. 1:13-15) It is our free willed desires that lead us to sin. When God gave Adam and Eve the prohibition against eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he was not a tempting them with evil, for the tree itself was not evil, and they had thousands of trees to eat from.

Genesis 2:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,[33] for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”[34]

There were plenty of trees to eat from in the Garden of Eden, more than enough to satisfy the desires of the first human couple. However, there was the tree that they were forbidden to eat from, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen 2:17) This probation to not eat from that tree was so severe that Adam must have been very emphatic when he told Eve. How do we know that? We can infer it from Eve’s Response to the Serpent when he was tempting her. Eve not only said ‘you cannot eat from it,’ but also added, “neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”–Genesis 3:3.

Some have suggested that the prohibition against the fruit of this tree is symbolic, the fruit standing for sexual intercourse. Others have suggested that it stood for having a knowledge of or an awareness of right and wrong. Still, others have suggested that it stood for the knowledge that they would have attained upon reaching maturity, by way of experience, which could be used for good or bad. The sexual intercourse can immediately be dismissed, as they were commanded to, “be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.” (Gen. 1:28) The awareness of good and bad must be dismissed as well, because both had that capacity already, as it was good not to eat from the tree, and bad to eat from the tree. Lastly, the idea of it being a sin to acquire knowledge upon reaching maturity, as this would contradict the whole of the rest of God’s Word, not to mention the idea of expecting the human creation, He designed to grow and mature, to remain in an immature state, is illogical.

The Bible is silent as to the type of tree. However, the idea of the tree being symbolic is correct. The fruit had no intrinsic power to give knowledge, as was evidenced after their eating from it. It did symbolize God’s right of sovereignty, His right to set a standard of what is good and bad. To eat from the tree would have been a rejection of that sovereignty, a rebellion that said that could set their own standard of good and bad, independence from their creator. This was a simple test, for a couple that was to serve as the father and mother of a perfect human race. A footnote on Genesis 2:17, in The Jerusalem Bible (1966):

This knowledge is a privilege, which God reserves to himself and which man, by sinning, is to lay hands on, 3:5, 22. Hence it does not mean omniscience, which fallen man does not possess; nor is it moral discrimination, for unfallen man already had it and God could not refuse it to a rational being. It is the power of deciding for himself what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to recognize his status as a created being. The first sin was an attack on God’s sovereignty, a sin of pride.


Hence, it was when Eve gave into her desires and listened to the serpent’s deceptive talk that she became tempted. The warning from God did not instill any kind of desire or appetite for the tree within Eve or Adam. However, Satan by way of the serpent offered Eve lies, a false description of what she would gain by violating God’s command to not eat from the tree, so ‘when she was carried away and enticed by her own desire.  Then the desire when it had conceived gave birth to sin. (Jam. 1;14-15) Eve did not dismiss the desire that she had as being wrong and against God, but rather she entertained it until Satan’s temptation drew her into sin. God has a very good reason for allowing sin to come into the world, which has resulted in these tests that prove what and who we are, which highlights any weaknesses in our faith. Again, God does not tempt us with evil for the purposes of moving us to sin. Yet, like Eve, it is we ourselves, who fall victim to Satan’s influence by seeking our own self-desires of the fallen flesh, as opposed to not dismissing the desire created by this improper thinking, but rather considering it more and more. It is us, free moral agents, who are drawn out and enticed to God’s Word and warnings. It is we that enter ourselves into temptation.

Is God responsible for sin, old age, wickedness, suffering, and death entering humanity?

One thing that we will learn from this Bible difficulty is, there are a few things that will build us up spiritually and maintain our strength in these last days. Our relationship with fellow Christians, our regular attendance at Christian meetings, and our sharing our faith with others, will strengthen us, make us steadfast. These are provisions from God that will help us to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Eph. 6:10) Max Anders comments, saying, “Paul introduces his final subject by urging the Ephesian believers to be strong in the Lord. When it comes to spiritual warfare, we cannot be sufficiently strong by ourselves. If we are going to have adequate strength for the spiritual battles of life, it must be the Lord’s strength. Only he has the mighty power sufficient to win spiritual battles against the demonic enemy.”[35] As we grow in knowledge and understanding, our chief desire will be to share our faith.

While Jesus was referring to our giving to the poor, we learn an important message from his words, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6:4) He is well aware of any difficult times that befall us. Even though God’s “throne is in heaven; his own eyes see, his watchful eyes examine the sons of men.” (Ps. 11:4) We know that God never has to sleep, so he is ever watchful, having loving interest in the welfare of his people. God “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Ps. 91:11-12) Steven Lawson writes, “In part, this sovereign guardianship will be carried out by his angels whom the Lord will command and commission to guard you in all your ways. Satan quoted these verses to Christ in his temptation and shrewdly omitted this last phrase, “in all your ways” (Matt. 4:6; Luke 4:10–11). This divine protection extends only to the place of trusting and obeying God. The angels will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone (Ps. 34:7).”[36]

Remember the precious promise that God’s eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chron. 16:9) God is “is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the tired one, and full might to those lacking strength. (Isa. 40:28-29) Isaiah then promises that those who place their hope in God, they “will regain power; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not tire out. (Isa. 40:31) Contentment and peace belong to those, who accept that the Father’s power is always available to them, knowing that God is always interested in their best interests. We need to believe that “we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

We need to understand Roman’s 8:28 better as it is often misused. Many read into Paul’s words that God causes everything to happen both good or bad. This is certainly one reason that the subject of suffering and evil is often misunderstood. It is true that nothing happens outside of God’s plan for our good. God is responsible for everything, but not always directly. If he started the human race, and we end up with what we now have, in essence, he is responsible. Just as parents, who have a child are similarly responsible for the child committing murder 21 years into his life because they procreated and gave birth to the child. The mother and father are indirectly responsible. King David commits adultery with Bathsheba and has her husband Uriah killed to cover things up, and impregnates Bathsheba, but the adulterine child, who remains nameless, died. Is God responsible for the death of that child? We can answer yes and no to that question. He is responsible in two ways: (1) He created humankind so there would have been no affair, murder, adulterine child if he had not. (2) He did not step in and save the child when he had the power to do so. However, he is not directly responsible, because he did not make King David and Bathsheba commit the acts that led to the child being born, nor did he bring an illness on the adulterine child, he just did not move in to protect the child, in a time that had a high rate of infant deaths.

God is INDIRECTLY responsible for ALL things and DIRECTLY responsible for SOME things. When we attribute things to God we need to qualify (i.e., explain) them. Without explaining the directly or indirectly part of God being responsible, we would be saying God brought about Vlad Dracula, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler for our good. God is indirectly responsible for all even in human history because he allowed sin to enter the world, as opposed to just destroying Satan, Adam, and Eve and starting over. God is directly responsible for many human events because he directly stepped in miraculously and used a group, person, organization, or country to carry out his will and purposes. God is indirectly responsible for Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. God is directly responsible for Babylon conquering Jerusalem. God is directly responsible for helping William Tyndale bring us the first printed English translation of the Bible. E can only know afterward (sometimes) if God is directly or indirectly responsible, and then, it is still an educated guess. Overly attributing everything to God without explaining whether he is directly or indirectly responsible is why unbelievers sometimes see Christians as illogical and irrational. A four-year-old child was rescued from a surging river by a priest in 1894. If the child were rescued in the same manner today, the media would quote Christian leaders as saying God used the priest to save the child. However, only afterward do we know that this is not true. Why? Because that four-year-old child, who nearly drowned in that river in 1894 was Adolf Hitler. Hitler being saved by the priest can be indirectly attributed to God not directly.

The reason people think that God does not care about us is the words of some religious leaders, which have made them, feel this way. When tragedy strikes, what do some pastors and Bible scholars often say? When 9/11 took place, with thousands dying in the twin towers of New York, many ministers said: “It was God’s will. God must have had some good reason for doing this.” When religious leaders make such comments or similar ones, they are actually blaming God for the bad things that happened. Yet, the disciple James wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13) God never directly causes what is bad. Indeed, “far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should do wrong.” (Job 34:10 God has allowed sin, old age, wickedness, suffering, and death to enter humanity after the rebellion by Satan, Adam, and Eve. He did not cause Satan to rebel, Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, or Adam to join that rebellion but God had allowed them to exercise the free will that he gave them.


God allowed these things as an object lesson for his creation. What has this object lesson proven? God does not cause evil and suffering. (Rom. 9:14) The fact that God has allowed evil, pain, and suffering have shown that independence from God has not brought about a better world. (Jer. 8:5-6, 9) God’s permission of evil, pain, and suffering has also proved that Satan has not been able to turn all humans away from God. (Ex. 9:16; 1 Sam. 12:22; Heb. 12:1) The fact that God has permitted evil, pain, and suffering to continue has provided proof that only God, the Creator, has the capability and the right to rule over humankind for their eternal blessing and happiness. (Eccl. 8:9) Satan has been the god of this world since the sin in Eden (over 6,000 years), and how has that worked out for man, and what has been the result of man’s course of independence from God and his rule? – Matthew 4:8-9; John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 1 John 5:19; Psalm 127:1.

Review Question

[vs. 1] Which of the four men mentioned in the Greek New Testament named James was the author of this letter?

[vs. 1] Who are the “twelve tribes” to whom James writes?

[vs. 2] Why should we consider it all joy when we encounter various trials?

[vs. 2] What type of trial may we have to face?

[vs. 3] How does the testing of our faith produce endurance?

[vs. 4] How does endurance have its perfect work, and how may we be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing?

[vs. 5] What is wisdom? What kind of wisdom should we be asking for and where can it be found?

[vs. 6] What does it mean to ask in faith? What kind of condition is the one who doubts in?

[vs. 7] Why should no one suppose that he would receive anything from the Lord if he doubts?

[vs. 8] What does it mean to be a double-minded man?

[vs. 9] How is the poor person who becomes a Christian exalted?

[vs. 10] How does the rich man boast in his humiliation?

[vs. 11] How is it that the rich man will fade away in the midst of his pursuits?

[vs. 12] What does James mean here by the term “trial”?

[vs. 13] Why can we rightfully say that God cannot be tempted with evil?

[vs. 14] What is it when a person is undergoing a trial that causes him to sin?

[vs. 15] What brings a person to the point of sinning?

[vs. 16] How might a Christian while in the midst of a trial be deceived?

[vs. 17] How do we know that we can always completely rely on God?

[vs. 18] What is the word of truth? How are Christians first fruits of his creatures?

[vs. 19] What is involved in being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger?

[vs. 20] How is it that the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God?

[vs. 21] Why must we put aside all filthiness and abundance of wickedness? How is the implanted word able to save our souls?

[vs. 22] What does it mean to be doers of the word, and not hearers only, and how would we be deceiving ourselves?

[vs. 23] What does James mean when he speaks of a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror?

[vs. 24] What does a man who looks at himself and goes away, and immediately forgets what sort of man he was mean?

[vs. 25] What is the perfect law, the law of liberty?

[vs. 26] How can one’s form of worship become worthless?

[vs. 27] Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is what?

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[1] Or “servant

[2] Jewish people scattered throughout Gentile lands

[3] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 633.

[4] IBID, 633.

[5] Both brothers and sisters

[6] Without criticizing

[7] Or indecisive, i.e., wavering in mind

[8] Or “rejoice

[9] Literally “the man,” but here is referring to a man or woman

[10] i.e., God (the Father)

[11] 2 Cor. 6:10; 8:9; Gal. 3:28, 29; 1 Pet. 4:10, 11; Rev. 2:9; see comments on James 2:1-9.

[12] Let us not be unrealistic. Many people commonly say, “money cannot buy happiness.” While this is true, Satan’s world functions from one’s ability to be able to afford the necessities of life. Without money, one cannot pay for a home, transportation, medical services, medication, food, clothing, utilities, material that the children need, and so on. Yes, money can but a measure of happiness but not eternal happiness.

[13] Lit untempted

[14] That is evil persons, or evil things

[15] Or “own lust

[16] God does not tempt us, but he does allow us to go through temptations. As we know from Abraham, God can test us, but never tempt us with sin. God allows us to face the trials that the natural course of life takes within this imperfect age. He allows us to face the trials of our own free will decisions. Simply being steadfast to a Christian life that is counterintuitive to the wicked world that we live in can be a trial that God has allowed.

[17] Or “with whom there is not a variation or the turning of the shadow.”


[19] Or is able to save you

[20] Lit the face of his birth

[21] See Matthew 11:15; 13:43; Mark 4:9; 4:23; Luke 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 11; 3:6, and 13.

[22] The Holy Spirit and Jesus (

The Holy Spirit and the Apostles (

The Holy Spirit in the First Century and Today (

The Holy Spirit and the Apostolic Church (

The Holy Spirit and the World (

The Work of the Holy Spirit (

How Are We to Understand the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit? (

How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit Today?


Are Answers to Our Prayerful Requests Absolutely Guaranteed?​


Is Foreknowledge Compatible with Free Will?


[23] See Deuteronomy 10:18; 14:28–29; 16:11; 24:17; 26:12; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:8–10; Malachi 3:5; cf. Acts 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:16

[24] Lit the reasonable (or rational, logical) service of you

[25] Or well-pleasing

[26] Both brothers and sisters

[27] Lit untempted

[28] That is evil persons, or evil things

[29] “to obtain information to be used against a person by trying to cause someone to make a mistake, ‘to try to trap, to attempt to catch in a mistake.’” – Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 329.

[30] Lit untempted

[31] That is evil persons, or evil things

[32] Or “own lust

[33] Lit eat from it

[34] Lit dying you [singular] shall die. Heb. moth tamuth; the first reference to death in the Scriptures

[35] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 190.

[36] Steven Lawson. Holman Old Testament Commentary – Psalms 76-150 (Kindle Locations 2561-2564). B&H Publishing Group.

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