Taming the Tongue
James 3:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. (3:1)
The Scriptures show that within the first-century congregation, Christians possessed different abilities, callings, and services. Some became capable teachers, serving remarkably in that capacity. (See Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 29) Right after Pentecost 33 C.E., the twelve apostles were the teachers, who got Christianity underway, in the beginning, bringing thousands into the Way. (Acts 2:42; 6:2-4) Paul tells us that after Jesus’ ascension “he gave gifts to men.” (Eph. 4:8) Jesus gave them the apostles, the prophets (Gr., prophetes primarily means explainer of God’s Word and secondary foreteller of events), the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers. (Eph. 4:11-16) At Acts 13:1, we read, “there were in the church at Antioch prophets (explained God’s Word and foretold events) and teachers (gave instruction in the Scriptures and in Christian living).” Because all overseers were teachers within the congregation, clearly these “teachers” were especially proficient and active in this service to God. (See Ac 15:35; 1 Tim. 4:13-16) The apostle Paul appointed three responsibilities: “preacher and apostle and teacher.” – 2 Timothy 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:7.
What we will be learning from James below is that teachers carry a heavier responsibility, as they are imperfect and prone to stumble in word. Herein lies the danger, as some sincerely sought to be teachers but was not qualified to teach. When a congregation receives an unqualified teacher, it can dramatically affect the spirituality of the congregation. Then, there were those, who sought to be a teacher because of self-importance and a desire for success. They pushed their way into the position of overseer because they were attempting to achieve power and importance as teachers. Paul writes,
1 Timothy 6:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the teaching according to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but has a sick interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,
This seeking power and position would be very attractive to “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion.” These were Jewish people scattered throughout Gentile lands, to which James wrote. (Jam. 1:1) In that ancient world, the Jewish people held teachers in high esteem, like that of a high governmental official would have been held. Within Judaism, the title “Rabbi,” which meant “teacher” was a highly respected and even feared position. (John 1:38; John 3:2) The Jewish Rabbis sought fame, adoration and preferential treatment, for which Jesus resoundingly condemned them. (Matt. 23:6-7) For this reason, Jesus cautioned his disciples against wrongly motivated desire for preeminence. In fact, he warned them, “you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers … Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:8-12; compare Luke 22:25226.
The reason for James’ counsel can be seen through the advice Paul gave to Timothy, who was assigned to appointing overseers. Paul warned him about false teachers,
1 Timothy 1:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain ones not to teach different doctrine, 4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than God’s plan that is by faith.
Paul went on to say,
1 Timothy 1:5-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 But the goal of our instruction is love out of a clean heart and out of faith without hypocrisy. 6 Certain ones, by deviating from these, have wandered away into futile talk, 7 wanting to be teachers of the law, without giving thought neither to what they say nor about what they firmly assert.
The “teachers of the law” that Paul spoke of were extremely rigid, unbending, and apparently impressed those who listened to them, by way of their belief in their own abilities and doggedness. However, if scrutinized by an accurate knowledge of God’s Word (Ac 17:11; Col. 1:9-10), these teachers were nothing but pretenders with their deception, i.e., false teachers. – Acts 15:1; 2 Corinthians 11:5, 12, 13; 2 Timothy 4:1-4.
Because of this heavy responsibility, therefore, anyone who desires to be overseer or deacon within the congregation, he should pause to contemplate his motives, while he also takes an honest look at his qualifications. (Rom. 12:3, 16) He needs to possess more than mere head knowledge, even though knowledge is a crucial part. Also, mere charismatic ability in communication does not alone make a good teacher, but rather a spiritual maturity and a love of God and neighbor are the most important factors. (Matt. 22:37-40; 1 Cor. 13:1-2, 4; 14:6, 26) One major indicator that this is his calling is not that he notices that he has a knack as a teacher, speaker, communicator, but others without prompting continue to tell him such things. – 2 Corinthians 10:12, 18; compare Proverbs 25:27; 27:2.
James 3:2-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot wills.
For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. (3:2)
James does not exclude himself from the rest of the Christian congregation, as all are prone to stumble while walking with God. James presents an obvious truth in that we all stumble in many ways. The fact we all stumble in many ways is confirmed in Romans 2:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because of human imperfection, weakness and leanings toward bad, all, including teachers, fall short or miss the mark of perfection. (Rom. 7:19-23; 1 John 1:8) In all likelihood, aside from thinking, what we say is the most frequent way we fall short, and the one way that will damage our relationship with God and our fellow humans. It is for this reason that teachers in the congregation and all Christians should be very cautious about the biblical truths that they share. Kurt A. Richardson makes this remark,
The standard for teachers disallows their failing in the matter of speech, and yet human nature is prone to violation of God’s standards. James added this confession for a dual effect: knowing that James himself stumbled in many ways puts the admonition to pursue perfection into perspective; because believers stumble in many ways, their teachers need to be particularly circumspect about their conduct, above all in the way they speak. (Richardson 1997, 148)
Even the best imperfect Christian teacher, the apostle Paul did not fail to stumble in word. (Ac 15:37-41) This should wake us up to the reality of the damage that we are capable of, even if we are quite competent and qualified. Stumbling in word will cause damage within the congregation. If the teacher has erred greatly, this will mean more severe the damage to his fellow brothers and sisters.
James informs his readers that only a perfect man can keep his words under complete control, never erring. If he can prevent himself from uttering wrong understandings, outlooks, feelings, and desires, then such a man has complete, perfect control over himself. At present, all of humankind is imperfect, so any who would claim they can go without erring in speech is a liar, “for we all stumble in many ways,” including with our words. The only man, who had complete, perfect control over himself, was Jesus Christ. (Heb. 7:26) However, we do not want to take on a fatalist attitude, saying, ‘well, we cannot get the tongue under control, and God is very forgiving, so why worry about it.’ No, Christians cannot have complete control, but they can strive to get as close to the goal as possible. Over time, they will make continued improvements as they grow spiritually.
We know that even having significant control is never going to be accomplished in our own strength, and as an evangelist of the good news, the option of remaining silent is on the table. We must apply the Spirit inspired Word of God in an accurate and balanced manner. We must have our minds molded by “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8) Richard L., Pratt Jr. writes, “As Paul traveled the world proclaiming the gospel of Christ, he encountered pretentious disbelief supported by clever arguments and powerful personalities. But through the “weakness” of preaching Christ, Paul went about taking captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (Pratt Jr 2000, 2 Cor. 10:5, 417) Jesus said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45.
There is little doubt in an entire human life that it will be his tongue, which will cause him the most grief. If that man could bridle his tongue, he would also be able to control his whole body.
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Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. (3:3)
Here James offers his readers an example or comparison that helps to clarify or explain that the gift to control the tongue is connected to the ability to achieve with difficulty, control of the entire body. With a set of leather straps fitted to a horse’s head, incorporating the bit in the mouth of the horse, and the reins, even a young child can control these powerful animals. Even a higher spirited horse can be controlled with a bridle. In fact, within the English language, we have the idiom of “reining someone or something in,” which means, “any means of guiding, controlling, or restraining somebody or something.” Of course, with such a powerful creature, it requires a firm grip on the reins that are attached to the bridle. In the same way, Christians can control their body, even with our leanings toward sin, if they can control the tongue. Within the boundaries of imperfection, this will require an accurate understanding of God’s Word, being applied in a balanced manner within our lives.
Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot wills. (3:4)
Look at the ships also; here James uses the second example to explain further his connecting the tongue with its need to be controlled. James illustrates by using another massive object, a ship. Ships in the days of James could be enormous, well over 100ft long. The ship that Paul would have taken in Acts 27:37 was big enough that it could have seated nearly 300 passengers. The fact that these vessels were big and powerful meant that it would also take a powerful wind to carry them along in the sea.
This example helps to emphasize the same point, but with something even greater in size. A ship is massive when we consider its steering mechanism, the rudder. Just as was the case within the Mosaic Law, having a matter be established with two witnesses, James develops his point with two illustrations. One can control his entire body if he could perfectly control his tongue. (2 Cor. 13:1; Deut. 17:6) A ship of even the most tremendous size is at the mercy of high winds and waves while at sea. Nevertheless, it is the tiny rudder under the control of a man, which will determine whether the ship stays on course. Thus, this same rudder, within the stable grip of the human hands, exercises control over the colossal ship. Even though mighty forces of sea and wind affect the ship, the somewhat small rudder will counterbalance these tremendous forces.
James 3:5-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by Gehenna.
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. (3:5a)
After giving two examples of powerful objects that can be controlled by small objects, James brings it back around now to show how the horse and the ship can be compared to the tongue. When James talks about the horse and the ships, he starts by talking about their power and then mentions how they are controlled by something small like a bit and a rudder. By James writing so also the tongue is a small member, he begins with how small it is first and then deals with the power of the tongue secondly. He argues from the lesser to the greater when dealing with the tongue. James says the tongue is a small organ of the body, and though the tongue is small it can be most powerful when it is used.
We must make clear that the tongue is a gift from God and can be used aright to accomplish great things, like the great commission of proclaiming God’s Word, teaching, and making disciples. (Matt 28:19-20) “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Prov. 18:21) In other words, the tongue has the power to help or heal. If we are to safeguard our life, the tongue must be kept under control. “With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.” (Prov. 25:15) Endurance, tolerance, persistence, and mildness, though not easy to show when living in an unjust world, can soften even the hardest of hearts, who is in opposition to us, like the strong construction of bones. However, when the tongue is not kept under control, it can do much damage, to oneself and to others. (Prov. 10:14; 17:4, 20; 21:6) James highlights that of all the ways the tongue can be used; it prominently loves more than others to boasts of great things. How often prides shows through by the words that one speaks of their great boasting. By nature, the heart of man is proud and expresses itself through the tongue and its boastful claims.
See how great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! (3:5b)
James continues with his description of the tongue and tells his audience to see how great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire. Often when there are uncontrolled wildfires, they are often started by just a little spark or small fire that was not contained. In the same way, James says the tongue though it is small can cause great devastation with the words that come out of it. It is through the tongue that children are destroyed by parent’s hurtful words and relationships broken because hateful things are spoken and can cause great destruction in the lives of others and in one’s own personal life.
And the tongue is a fire, the world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by Gehenna. (3:6)
James now makes a comparison of a forest being set aflame by a small fire stating the tongue is a fire. James adds that the world of iniquity among our members as that, which defiles the entire body, is quicker than any other part of the body. The tongue can actually set one’s life on fire in the way that it is used and that it can destroy families, marriages, children, and friendships. The tongue can destroy everything and everyone around if, not controlled. James also describes the tongue as being full of iniquity, and it can bring about a lot of sin and havoc into one’s life and the life of others. The tongue is full of evil through gossip, slander, lies, and manipulations. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 16:27 “A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire.” He also wrote in Proverbs 26:20-21 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”
In the original Greek, the expression “the course of our life” is, literally, “the wheel of birth.” The unbridled tongue can set afire the entire course of our lives, making the cycle of life a brutal circle, even to the point of ending in destruction as if by fire. (Eccl. 10:12, 13) It can also affect our neighbor as Proverbs 11:9 informs us, “With his mouth, the godless man would destroy his neighbor, but by knowledge, the righteous are delivered.” If one uses his tongue wrongly throughout the course of his life, he gives off destructiveness and may do much harm to those who encounter him. (Prov. 16:28; 6:12) In some cases, one person with an uncontrollable tongue has defiled an entire Christian congregation or even an entire denomination. (Heb. 12:15; Gal. 5:9; compare Ecclesiastes 9:18) What about Gehenna, how are we to understand it? Christian Publishing House writes,
Gehenna Hebrew Ge’ Hinnom, literally, valley of Hinnom appears 12 times in the Greek New Testament books, and many translators render it by the word “hell.” Most translations have chosen poorly not to use a transliteration, Gehenna or Geenna, as opposed to the English hell, ASV, AT, RSV, ESV, LEB, HCSB, and NASB. There is little doubt that the New Testament writers and Jesus used “Gehenna” to speak of the place of final punishment. What was Gehenna?
Gehenna: (Gr. geenna) (Gehenna) occurs 12 times and is the Greek name for the valley of Hinnom, southwest of Jerusalem (Jer. 7:31), where the horrendous worship of Moloch took place, and it was prophetically said that where dead bodies would be thrown. (Jer. 7:32; 19:6) It was an incinerator where trash and dead bodies were destroyed, not a place to be burned alive or tormented. Jesus and his disciples used Gehenna to symbolize eternal destruction, annihilation, or the “second death,” an eternal punishment of death.
According to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 632), Gehenna or the Valley of Hinnom was “the valley south of Jerusalem now called the Wadi er-Rababi (Josh. 15:8; 18:16; 2 Chron. 33:6; Jer. 32:35) became the place of child sacrifice to foreign gods. The Jews later used the valley for the dumping of refuse, the dead bodies of animals, and executed criminals.” We would disagree with the other comments by the Holman Illustrated Dictionary, “The continuing fires in the valley (to consume the refuse and dead bodies) apparently led the people to transfer the name to the place where the wicked dead suffer.” This just is not the case.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites did burn sons in the fires as part of a sacrifice to false gods, but not for the purpose of punishment, or torture. By the time of the New Testament period, hundreds of years later, the only thing thrown in Gehenna was trash and the dead bodies of executed criminals. For what purpose were these thrown into Gehenna? It was used as an incinerator, a furnace for destroying things by burning them. Notice that any bodies thrown in Gehenna during the New Testament period were already dead. Thus, if anything, these people saw Gehenna as a place where they destroyed their trash and the bodies of dead criminals. Thus, if Jesus used this to illustrate as the place of the wicked, it would have represented destruction as the punishment.
Gehenna was a garbage dump that was used as an incinerator, to destroy whatever was thrown in, and only bodies of criminals were thrown in after they were already dead. In other words, the fire was used as a symbol, not of torment, but rather of being destroyed, complete destruction, namely annihilation by fire.
James 3:7-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil full of deadly poison.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind. (3:7)
James makes a useful contrast, showing just how dangerous the tongue can be. James says every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed. The tiger is a powerful beast that is fierce, yet man can tame this savage beast. Elephants weigh more than a ton and can crush anything in its path and yet man can tame these large creatures. Falcons, hawks and even eagles in hunting can be trained. Parrots from the tropical forest can be taught by men to repeat every word that comes out of their mouths and cobras can be put into trances through the playing of a flute. Although there are many wild beasts and animals that can be tamed, that is not the central point that James is conveying. The reality that James is making in regard to these beasts and birds is that they have been tamed by mankind. However, man has something more dangerous than wild animals that he often cannot control and that is his tongue. The tongue can cause much more danger and destruction than any wild beast that man can tame.
But no man can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil full of deadly poison. (3:8)
Although man can tame all kinds of wild beasts that are fearful and dangerous, no man can tame the tongue. James describes the danger of the tongue in two distinct ways. James says that the tongue is a restless evil. Restless means that the evil that the tongue can bring out is an always-present continuing problem that must be kept in check, with us knowing that it is always poised to strike. Restlessness implies that something cannot remain still but must always be doing something. This is what the uncontrolled tongue does in that it is always restless wanting to spread another lie, to gossip, or to slander. The tongue often seems never to have its fill of gossip, slander, malice, lies, and accusations. It is a restless force that one must exert self-control over the body that nobody else can bring under control apart from the individual himself. James also describes the tongue as being full of deadly poison. Poison is meant to kill and cause harm to its victim. The tongue is full of poison in the fact that so often it is used as a means to destroy one’s character, ego, hopes, and self-esteem. David wrote this of his enemies in Psalms 140:3 “They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; poison of a viper is under their lips.”
James 3:9-12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in the likeness of God. 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a fountain send forth from the same opening both sweet water and bitter? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh water.
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in the likeness of God. (3:9)
Every human that has ever lived owes his or her existence to God, the Almighty Creator. This is why we start our prayers with “Father.” In fact, the Model prayer that Jesus gave us starts with, Our Father in heaven, “hallowed be your name.” (Matt 6:9-13) and even the Son of God speaks of him as his Father. Jesus says, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” (John 3:35) Therefore, Paul could say in his evangelism, to those who studied Greek philosophy, “[God] himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind … ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ … ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” (Acts 17:22, 25-29) However, in a spiritual sense, he was the father of faithful patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob), followed by the nation of Israel, and finally is now the father only of the true Christian congregation. The true Christian congregation seeks to imitate their heavenly Father and his Son, by being a part of the world, but not using it to the full, while developing their qualities.
The counsel that James is giving to the first-century Christian congregation and every true Christian since is especially applicable to how he treats his brothers and sisters within the congregation. However, the implications that fall within the pattern of meaning is, this counsel is not restricted to how Christians interact with one another, but also those outside of the congregation. – See Matthew 5:43-48.
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27) Of course, God is a spirit person, so this text is referring to God’s qualities as a person, his moral standards, as laid out in the Bible. These qualities include love, wisdom, justice, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and honesty, which set us apart from the animals. All humans are born with a weakened, imperfect conscience that was perfect when God gave it to Adam and Even. Even in this weakened state, it enables humans to reflect the qualities of their Creator. However, if it is ignored to no end, it will grow calloused and unfeeling, failing to work as originally designed. Even the most faithful and devout Christians “fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) Nevertheless, if the Word of God, family, and the congregation cultivate the conscience, it can become quite strong even in this fallen condition. (See Romans 2:13-15; Acts 28:1-2.) Imperfection and human weakness are not a license for dealing harshly with anyone, especially our brothers and sisters in the faith. While those outside of the congregation is not in harmony with, but contrary to, God’s personality, standards, ways, and will, no one is inferior to another even if he or she is in the world. Thus, they should not be viewed with disdain or treated hatefully and abusively because they are not a part of the Christian congregation. (See John 3:16; Rom. 5:7-8; Acts 10:28-29) If we recall from our studies of the Gospels, the Pharisees were guilty of viewing anyone outside of themselves with disdain. In fact, they viewed their people as “accursed.” – John 7:49; Luke 18:9-14.
If we look throughout the whole of Scripture, we can see that the tongue is supposed to be used for praising God, not for demeaning those created in his image. Because of imperfection and human weaknesses, man has praised God out of one side of his mouth all the while cursing those in the image of God. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible says a “curse” is an “invocation of evil or injury against one’s enemies. As practiced in Bible times, cursing was the opposite of blessing and should not be confused with profanity in the modern sense.” (Elwell 1988, Volume 1, Page 560) At times, some of God’s servants were inspired to call curses against others in Old Testament times. There are some cases within the New Testament as well. The apostles were endowed with the power to make such curses on behalf of God, but Christians were not given this authority. Christians were actually encouraged to follow the example of the archangel Michael, “when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil … he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment.” (Jude 1:9) The counsel for Christians is “Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28) In fact, Paul specifically wrote,
Romans 12:14, 17-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 17 Return evil for evil to no one. Take thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: “‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord. 20 But “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
While the Holy Spirit, by way of the Word of God, guides Christians, they are not inspired as was true of the apostle and other servants used in Bible times. Therefore, they use their tongue to praise God and to evangelize but never to curse others. The apostle John wrote, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” If an uninspired person were to speak poorly of someone, to pronounce a curse, evil or injury on another, it would be an act of hatred, not love. Therefore, if we are uninspired and pronounce a curse on another our worship of God is empty and useless.
Even if we find ourselves having, success in keeping control over our tongue, remember that it is like a trained viper, in that it only takes one good strike to bring death and destruction. For this reason, we must be constant, incessant, and vigilant in keeping guard over our tongue. The greatest abuse by the tongue comes by way of anger; this is why Paul warned, “Be angry and do not sin.” (Eph. 4:26) In other words, have righteous indignation (anger) toward injustice, but do not be provoked into rage or wrath, or even aggressive anger.
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From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (3:10)
Yes, two things nothing like each other can come from the same tongue, one a blessing the other a curse. The primary point of James is that the Christian should not be praising God and then curse others who were in the likeness of God. The only curses that Christians should utter are those that have been recorded in his Word. Even then, we cannot direct those curses toward any person because there is but one judge, Jesus Christ. Even if Christians are alone with each other, they should not utter something evil toward another, or even in their own heart. Think of the hypocrisy of standing in a Christian service singing praises to God, then on the car ride home together, they say something evil, gossip, or revile, or slander someone. This will place the reviler in a bad standing with God, causing God to draw away from him.
When we think of cursing another, or calling down evil upon him, not to mention associated wrongs, such as badmouthing, hateful gossip, cruel criticism, and slander, would make known the presence of a depraved heart (inner person). As Jesus said, “How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34) If we are honest with ourselves, using the God-given gift of speech in such an unpredictable way is at odds with why God gave us the ability to speak in the first place. But also we would not only be at odds with this divine will of God to evangelize to everyone, to love our neighbor and to pray for our enemy, it would also be a blatant, glaring, grave absurdity.
Does a fountain send forth the same opening both sweet water and bitter? (3:11)
Clearly, the intended answer is, no. Water coming from a fountain can either be bitter or sweet but could never be mixed or one then another. This would actually be conflicting with nature. In the same way, it would be contrary to God’s intended purpose of the gift of speech to have both good and bad speech coming out of the same mouth. It is because of our sinful nature, our human weakness that this abnormal ability is even possible. God knows that he has given us the tools to gain a tremendous control over the tongue. For this reason, he also knows that he can rely on us in our imperfect condition to use our speech to carry out the proclaiming of biblical truths, the teaching of others, and the making of disciples. He has made allowances for those times that we do fall short. The sin-atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ will cover Adamic sin (i.e., inherited imperfection, human weaknesses, the committing of a sin), not the practice of sin. Thus, let us self-examine ourselves, as we need to make sure that we have not fallen into harmful practices with our speech.
Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh water. (3:12)
And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” (Gen. 1:11-12) On this Kurt A. Richardson writes, “Grapevines produce grapes, not figs; and fig trees produce figs, not olives … Back to the principle at hand, those who truly praise God do not curse their brothers. James did not refer to a thoroughly new constitution of the person but to true faith that does what is natural to it, both toward God and toward other human beings. Such faith praises and blesses.” (Richardson 1997, 160) The point that James is conveying is that if grapevines produced figs or fig trees produced grapes, they would not be producing what God had purposed. Therefore, the misuse of the tongue is contrary to its naturally intended purpose. Another aspect of this could be that the fruitage that comes from a person’s mouth will identify whether he is acting contrary to design or not. Jesus said,
Matthew 7:17-20 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruits.
The Wisdom from Above
James 3:13-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good behavior his works in meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, soulical, demonic. 16 For where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Who is wise and understanding among you? (3:13a)
James has just gotten through telling his Christian audience that their true nature shows by the way that they use their tongues, so now, in the same manner, he will address these Christians with the proper attitudes and actions that the Christian should have. He begins by asking another question, who is wise and understanding among you?
The question that James is asking is directed primarily to those who teach the congregation. Then, by way of implication, it can also apply to every Christian evangelist. Let us address the primary point, i.e., what James meant by the words he used. Those men taking the lead in the congregation as teachers need to inspect themselves by way of this question. If one is to be an effective teacher, it will require more than being a charismatic, moving, motivational type of person. Moreover, it also requires more than having a witty and crafty mind. It requires true wisdom and understanding. ‘The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.’ (Prov. 9:10) This fear is a reverential fear of displeasing God because the teacher’s love is so great for God and neighbor.
The teacher, who possesses understanding, will be able to see into life and the lives of those he serves, gaining a sense of it and being able to detect the relationships within their lives: God, congregation, family, friends, workmates, associates, and the like. The teacher’s ability to understand fully enables him to grasp fully the significance of what lies before him. The teacher takes in solid food, which makes him mature, as he has his powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.’ (Heb. 5:14) What he offers in his counsel to the congregation as a whole, as a Bible study group, in a private family, or in one on one session will accurately reflect the wisdom from above. His understanding of Scripture is accurate, giving his listeners what God said and meant by what he said, not what he thinks, feels, or believes he said. In other words, he does not interject his personal beliefs into (eisegesis) the Scriptures but rather takes the meaning out of (exegesis) the Scriptures.
Let him show by his good behavior his works in meekness of wisdom. (3:13b)
We can see a person’s faith by his works because he who has faith cannot go without doing Christlike works. His works are “an evident demonstration of his faith.” The same holds true of those who possess wisdom and understanding, as they will produce evidence of those qualities, by way of the things they say and in their day-to-day actions. Everyone can make sensible decisions and judgments based on personal knowledge and experience every once in a while, but the man or woman of true wisdom and understanding does this so often it stands out, because, generally speaking, “in all that he [or she] does, he prospers.” (Psa. 1:1-3) We already know “the fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom,” which means that we reverentially fear displeasing God because of our great love for him and his creation. Therefore, “all those who practice it (i.e., fear of) have a good understanding.” (Ps. 111:10) In other words, we apply God’s Word with a full, accurate and balanced understanding. It is impossible to say that we are a good Christian teacher unless our wisdom and understanding is visually evident through our words and actions, recommending us to others.
One who is meek is mild, meaning he is showing mildness or quietness of wisdom, especially the man who is teaching the Christian congregation. In fact, Isaiah 30:20 tells us that God is “your teacher,” and the Psalmist informs us “he leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Psa. 25:9) Thus, God will only teach a meek one. A teacher must be mild, composed and peaceful, not unforgiving, loud and narrow-minded or haughty.
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. (3:14)
James asks his audience to take a personal inventory to see if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts. James points to the heart because so often, the outside can conceal these attitudes and emotions of the flesh but have a raging evil on the inside. James uses the word bitter in connection with jealousy. This is the kind of jealousy, which is not just a mere one-time feeling, but rather a deep-seated emotion firmly rooted in the heart. James is asking these believers to take inventory of themselves to see if this type of jealousy was residing in their hearts. Though man may be able to hide the bitterness that he holds in his heart for others, God sees all things even the very motives of the heart and the bitterness that can reside there.
James is primarily applying the words in verse 14 to those who were overly confident in their abilities as a teacher of God’s people. He is saying that these need to take an inventory of their hearts. Were they hiding bitter jealousy? One aspect of bitter jealousy is an excessive desire to exalt themselves and their personal view of things, as opposed to giving God the glory as they work on behalf of his people. They do not seek to build up the faith of others through an accurate knowledge of God’s Word. Some of “the works of the flesh are enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,” for which Paul warns us ‘not to envy one another.’ (Gal. 5:19, 20, 26) These qualities might bubble forth in an excessively enthusiastic beliefs and dogged fanaticism for one’s own views, as they interject their opinions into the Word of God, rather than taking what the author meant out of Scripture. Bible scholar F. J. A. Hort makes this insightful observation:
The mere possession of truth is no security for true utterance of it: all utterance is so coloured by the moral and spiritual state of the speaker that truth issues as falsehood from his lips in proportion as he himself is not in a right state: the correct language which he utters may carry a message of falsehood and evil in virtue of the bitterness and self-seeking which accompanies his speaking. (Hort 1909, 83)
This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, soulical, demonic. (3:15)
Wisdom of bitter jealousy and selfish ambition does not come down from heaven (i.e., from above), as “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” (Jam. 1:17) God tells us through the prophet Jeremiah, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am Jehovah who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for I delight in these things.” (Jer. 9:23-24) Some who profess to be teachers of God’s Word, yet they are looking out for themselves alone (self-seeking), they are not servants of God.
Earthly (Gr., epigeios) means that this wisdom is not from the Father in heaven, but rather from imperfect humanity, who is alienated from God. As Paul said, “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20) Such earthly wisdom may be the result of great learning, sharpness, skill and logical reasoning that appears on the outward to be reasonable and may be difficult to counter. However, let us keep in mind what Paul said,
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Soulical (Gr., psychikos, lit. “of the soul”) means that this wisdom is not spiritual. This wisdom belongs to the natural person, not the spiritual person. Wisdom derived from bitter jealousy and selfish ambition is not from one who is being guided in his life by God’s Spirit-inspired Word. “It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” (Jude 1:9) Therefore, in being denoted as “animal,” or soulical, this wisdom comes from fleshly feelings, cravings, and leanings.
Demonic (Gr., daimoniodes) signifies “proceeding from, or resembling, a demon, demoniacal” (Vine 1996, Volume 2, Page 158) In other words, this wisdom does not just come from humans that are a lower lifeform, but is directly from their being mentally bent toward evil, inundated and catered to by Satan’s rule over the earth, which is in opposition to God. So this wisdom comes from their “father the devil, and [their] will is to do [their] father’s desires.” (John 8:44) Of course, Satan and the angels, who rebelled and rejected the sovereignty of God have wisdom and believe in God as they were created by him and have seen him, truly knowing of his almighty power. However, the wisdom that they have is being guided by desires that are contrary to God’s will and purposes, so it must be avoided. – 1 Corinthians 10:20–21; 1 Timothy 4:1.
For where there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. (3:16)
James here presents the results of jealousy and selfish ambition. This is to say that the internal issues of the heart manifest themselves through disorder and evil practices. Anytime someone acts jealous or seeks his own selfish, ambitious interests; it will always result in evil every time. Cain was bitterly jealous of his brother Abel, and that led him to murder his own brother. (Gen. 4) King Saul was so full of jealousy against David because of how the people praised him, that he made it a life goal to kill David.
King Herod was so bent on his selfish ambition of the keeping the throne that his heart was filled with jealousy when he heard a new king had been born in Bethlehem. As a result, he sends out his soldiers to kill all the boys two years old and younger. The Pharisees hated Jesus and wanted him put to death on the cross. Christians would do good to heed the word of Paul in Philippians 2:3-4 “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.”
Jealousy and selfish ambition are two traits that lead to destructive behaviors. In their wake, we have volatility, self-doubt, disorder, conquest, removing any hope of happiness, confidence, harmony, and peace. Some evil practices might include offensiveness, disrespect, vulgarity, groundless suspicions, hurtful gossip, slander, verbal abuse, backbiting, hostilities, spite and malice, stubbornness, disloyalty, two-facedness, discord, fights, favoritism, even violence toward friends and family. In fact, the Scriptures are filled with examples of improper jealousy and the bad results. The first human death came about because Cain gave way to his improper jealousy. The Philistines envied the growing prosperity of Isaac, so they persecuted him. Rachel was jealous of her sister Leah’s fertility in childbearing. Jacob’s sons were jealous of their younger brother Joseph because of the favor shown toward him. (Genesis 4:4-8; 26:14; 30:1; 37:11) In contrast, ‘love binds everything together in perfect harmony.’ – Colossians 3:14.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 Love is long suffering and kind; Love is not jealous, it does not brag; it is not puffed up, 5 does not behave indecently; is not seeking its own interests, is not provoked, does not keep a record of wrong, 6 does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
But the wisdom from above is first pure (3:17a)
The first quality of wisdom is purity, which is especially vital. A person must possess it if there is any hope of the others existing. The Christian heart has to be pure. All who have wisdom from above will be able to know the difference between right and wrong, rejecting evil outright. On three occasions, weakened by hunger and thirst, Jesus rejected Satan’s misuse of Scripture. (Matt. 4:1-10) Joseph from the Old Testament did not even have the Mosaic Law to guide him, just the conscience that God gave him, and yet he still saw the evil proposition of Potiphar’s wife. In fact, Joseph wisely exclaimed, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9, 12) All of God’s teachers, those leading the congregation and those making disciples with their teaching, need this qualification overwhelmingly.
James began by saying that the wisdom that is from above is first pure. The word that James uses here for pure is hagnos which means “free from defilement or uncontaminated” (Vine 1996, 498). Jesus said something very similar in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This word expresses freedom from any defilement or impurity. James here states that heavenly wisdom starts with being pure towards God. If one’s heart is not set on God and serving Jesus Christ with full devotion, then he will not possess the next seven qualities of heavenly wisdom.
If one’s motives or intentions in following Christ are mixed with any selfish gain or selfish ambitions, then the relationship is not pure, but rather mixed with selfish intentions. This was the problem with the Pharisees, who wanted to follow all the rules of religion without having a personal relationship with God. As a result, their religion became nothing more than just a show for men to see and to gain approval for, and so their worship of God was mixed with their desire to be noticed by men. It is impossible for one to claim Christ as his Savior and yet practice the world’s behaviors, attitudes, and actions. All of the other seven qualities, which James describes as being heavenly wisdom, will flow from purity.
then peaceable (3:17b)
Wisdom from above pursues peace. (Matt. 5:9; Gal. 5:22; Rom. 12:18; Eph. 6:15; Heb. 12:11, 14) Heavenly wisdom will make us a supporter or advocate of peace. Not only will we sidestep attacking or being confrontational, but we will also be a peacemaker, meaning that we will search out ways to get along with those who have difficult personalities. We will not even allow thoughts in our mind that could disrupt peace. We will be a good example to others within the congregation of how to avoid aggression and step in to find peace where there was none before. (Rom. 14:19; Heb. 12:14) Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”–Matthew 5:9
Heavenly wisdom will also give us the quality of gentleness. The saying is, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a painful word stirs up anger.” (Pro. 15:1) The apostle Paul told Titus, “to speak evil of no man, not to be fighting, gentle, showing all mildness toward all men.” (Titus 3:2) If we carry around wrath within us, there is no way that we will be able to carry out the will and purposes of God. Our greatest teacher and example, Jesus Christ, said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29) Regardless of whether we are the one doing the teaching or are the one being taught, there is no room for harsh words or holding anger within us until it bursts forth.
Heavenly wisdom will make us reasonable, ready to obey, long-suffering, not fanatical in our worship. (Phil. 4:5; 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2) If we recall early in the book of Acts before Paul was converted, when he went by his Hebrew name Saul, he was an overly zealous young Pharisee, who allowed his fanaticism to drive him to condone locking up and murdering Christians. This unreasonable spirit of radicalism was because of his earthly wisdom. (Acts 9:1-2; Gal. 1:13, 14) However, Saul would meet Jesus on the road to Damascus, where he would convert to Christianity, becoming one of the most reasonable men ever to live. He never insisted that it had to be his way or that it must be the letter of the law, rather he treated others, even enemies of Christ, with kindness, and understanding. We know Paul reasoned from the Scriptures, explaining and proving (Ac 17:2-3). Yes, he spoke boldly in the name of Jesus (Ac 9:27-28), following in the footsteps of Christ, as should we.
If we are to be God’s teachers, we cannot be dogmatic. We must treat everyone according to his or her abilities as well as their situations. We would never expect more from a person than he can carry. We may be teaching an unbeliever, and he accepts the truth after a few good conversations while another may take far longer based on his situations. Even after the apostles had spent over three years in ministry with Jesus, he said to them, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
When we first begin to teach a new one, he may come with decades of life experience and a worldview that is not biblical. He will have beliefs about the Bible, God, and Christianity that is unbiblical, and maybe even hatred toward God in some cases. He may have bad habits like smoking, drugs, abuse of alcohol, gambling, lying, and the like. He may have behaviors that are unscriptural like laziness, bluntness with his words, procrastination, no respect for authority, watching inappropriate movies, and so on.
However, over time, some more than others, will take off this old person and put on the new person. (Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:6-10) In time, they will acquire the mind of Christ, (1 Cor. 2:16) Yes, their mind will be renewed so they can know the will of God. (Rom. 12:2) Therefore, a good teacher will not make it about his rules and regulations but will allow God’s Word to guide and direct his steps. – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
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full of mercy and good fruits (3:17e)
The wisdom from above is evidenced by our actions, which stems from mercy and compassion. As Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7) Such a merciful man is one who cares for orphans and widows (Jam 1:27), as well as clothing the poor and feeding the hungry. (Jam. 2:15-17) Mercy, the result of heavenly wisdom, moves us to come to the needs of those we can help. We are not to mechanically go about helping the less fortunate merely because they are such. We use the Word of God to apply knowledge, insight, and understanding, along with justice. We must consider many factors when we give aid to another. Why? What if we used our last resources to help one who is in need, but he is there because of his abusing drugs like crack cocaine or heroin, and we could have used that aid to help a mother, who is homeless with three children. We must look at the backgrounds of these, their current situation, and the pressures they are facing if they are seeking to change their life or just seeking handouts because our mercy and compassion can be abused. Moreover, a person may need our assistance to get into some treatment place, not continue down the path of dependence.
We need to realize that we are of imperfect, sinful flesh as well. We also must realize that we live in an imperfect, wicked world; therefore, life can have us walking in the shoes of needing clothing, food, housing, and so forth. If we believe that because we are good Christians life cannot displace us from our comfort zone and believing that we are the exception to the rule because we are righteous, and God will protect us, remember 9/11, 2001 and the Twin Towers of New York. There were Christians who died that day from the evilness of Satan’s world. Christian wives or husbands sat at home that morning and watched those buildings crumble down on their loved ones.
The apostle Paul told the Ephesians, “For the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” (5:9) We need to be compassionately concerned about human life, especially for our brothers and sisters in the faith. (See 1 Tim. 5:9-10.) Christian leaders and teachers of the congregation and all Christians responsible for teaching unbelievers have to be declared righteous in their walk with God; must also have goodness about them. The apostle Paul writes, “For one will scarcely die for a righteous man; though perhaps for a good man one would dare even to die.” (Rom. 5:7) Paul seems to be suggesting that there is superiority to the good man. Goodness is an active, ongoing quality. God declares one as having a righteous standing before him if he lives according to an accurate understanding of the Scriptures (i.e., doing the will of the Father), is just in his dealings, impartial, honest and truthful, not guilty of serious sin or not living in sin; hence, he is pure and upright in all of his ways. Notice that a righteous man is obedient to the rules, principles, and laws of Scripture, which is excellent indeed, but a good man goes beyond obedience. The good man will seek out ways to do good for others, not just wait for it to come to his attention. He is driven by morally beneficial attention for others and the longing to assist and help them.
James has covered this quality quite extensively earlier in his letter, i.e., showing favoritism is a sin. (Jas. 2:1-9) The Christian possessing wisdom from above would not give special treatment to anyone based on his or her outward exterior, station, wealth or position in life, or his or her influence within the church. All Christians should endeavor to be impartial in his dealing with those inside and outside of the congregation.
without hypocrisy. (3:17h)
A Christian hypocrite is one who pretends to have a biblical worldview, beliefs, or love for God and neighbor but behaves contrary to God’s Word. A person who possesses heavenly wisdom has no need to impress others with an outward display of one’s life. Jesus regularly condemned hypocrisy by saying they had Godly wisdom but then failed to obey God when out of sight of human eyes. (Matt 6:2, 5, 16; 7:5; 15:7; Mark 12:15; Lu 12:56; 13:15) If one possesses wisdom from above, he will not be a hypocrite. He will want to live his life as he does in the congregation. The same holds true when he is outside of the congregation.
While in some sense sin is sin and all sin results in death, the Bible does express itself as recognizing that some are more egregious than others are. Hypocrisy is one of the most serious sins because it enables one to hide other sins, one of which is the grieving of the Holy Spirit. The Pharisees were condemned for this. (Matt. 23:23-28) Ananias and Sapphira were also guilty of hypocrisy. (Acts 5:1-10) James’ words should be a warning for any seeking to be a Christian teacher. He needs to live by what he teaches. He knows God sees all, but there is the possibility of stumbling someone out of the faith based on his actions, for which he would be held accountable. The apostle Paul warns Timothy of this very danger of having hypocrisy in teaching. (1 Tim. 1:5-7) A hypocrite frequently is an exploiter, for he is typically directing events to obtain some integrity, position, prestige, benefit from others, or material gain. – See 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace. (3:18)
For those who make peace, it is more than acting peaceably, as he also endeavors to preserve and promote that peace. This peace is the opposite of jealousy and selfish ambition mentioned in verse 16. The one pursuing peace has a righteous standing before God. “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Gal. 5:25-26) While all Christians desire peace, this does not mean that we passively allow untruths to go by unchecked, or that we water down biblical truths to appease. All the same, the one making peace can respectfully share the biblical truth, but at the same time respectfully let others maintain their viewpoints. The primary concern for the teacher of the congregation is that the disciples within have a correct understanding of God’s Word, protecting them from being influenced by false teachers. (Rom. 14:1-4, 10; Tit. 3:9-11) The teacher of the Christian congregation would follow the apostle Paul’s counsel to young Timothy,
2 Timothy 2:23-26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they produce fights. 24 For a slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be kind to all, qualified to teach, showing restraint when wronged, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to accurate knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
A teacher such as this will make peace. The recurrence of different forms of “peace” shows that this is the essential quality of wisdom. Heavenly wisdom continuously endeavors for oneness within God’s congregation.
BIBLE DIFFICULTIES Chapter 3
No Bible Difficulties in chapter3.
[vs. 1] Why can we say that James was not discouraging ones from becoming teachers?
[vs. 1] What could be the result if an unqualified teacher were leading a church?
[vs. 2] Why can it be said that all humans stumble in many ways?
[vs. 2] Why can we say if no one stumbles in what he says, he is a perfect man?
[vs. 3] What does illustration mean?
[vs. 4] Why is this illustration even more powerful?
[vs. 5] Just how powerful is the tongue?
[vs. 6] How is it that the tongue can defile the entire body?
[vs. 7] What point is James making here?
[vs. 8] Just how difficult is it to tame the tongue? How much damage can an untamed tongue cause?
[vs. 9] What point is James making here?
[vs. 10] What polar opposites come from the same mouth? Explain.
[vs. 11] What point is James making here?
[vs. 12] What is James saying with this illustration?
[vs. 13] Who is truly wise? Why?
[vs. 14] What point is James making here?
[vs. 15] What is meant by earthly, soulical, and demonic?
[Vs. 16] How do jealousy and selfish ambition affect the church?
[vs. 17] Explain the qualities or characteristics listed here.
[vs. 18] How do we make peace?
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There is a genuine happiness, contentment, and joy, which come from reading, studying and applying God’s Word. This is true because the Scriptures offer us guidance and direction that aids us in living a life that coincides with our existence as a creation of Almighty God. For example, we …
THERE IS ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE between Christian living books by Andrews and those by others. Generally speaking, his books are filled with Scripture and offer its readers what the Bible authors meant by what they penned. In this publication, it is really God’s Word offering the counsel, …
A clean conscience brings us inner peace, calmness, and a profound joy that is seldom found in this world under the imperfection of fallen flesh that is catered to by Satan, the god of the world. Many who were formerly living in sin and have now turned their life over to God, they now know this amazing relief and are able today to hold a good and clean conscience as they carry out the will of the Father. WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD, has been written to help its readers to find that same joy, to have and maintain a good, clean conscience in their lives. Of course, it is incapable of covering every detail that one would need to consider and apply in their lives …
This book is primarily for WIVES, but wives will greatly benefit from it as well. WIVES will learn to use God’s Word to construct a solid and happy marriage. The Creator of the family gives the very best advice. Many have been so eager to read this new publication: WIVES BE SUBJECT TO …
This book is primarily for HUSBANDS, but wives will greatly benefit from it as well. HUSBANDS will learn to use God’s Word to construct a solid and happy marriage. The Creator of the family gives the very best advice. Many have been so eager to read this new publication: HUSBANDS LOVE …
Technological and societal change is all around us. What does the future hold? Trying to predict the future is difficult, but we can get a clue from the social and technological trends in our society. The chapters in this book provide a framework as Christians explore the uncharted territory in our world of technology and social change.
Government affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to politics and government. This book provides an overview of the biblical principles relating to what the apostle Paul calls “governing authorities” (i.e., government) with specific chapters dealing with the founding principles of the American government. This includes an examination of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers.
Economics affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to money, investment, borrowing, and spending. They also need to understand the free enterprise system and know how to defend capitalism. Chapters in this book not only look at broad economic principles, but a section of the book is devoted to the challenges we face in the 21st century from globalization and tough economic times. A section of the book also provides an in-depth look at other important social and economic issues (gambling, welfare) that we face every day
Christian Apologetics and Evangelism
Inside of some Christians unbeknownst to their family, friends or the church, they are screaming, “I doubt, I doubt, I have very grave doubts!” Ours is an age of doubt. Skepticism has become fashionable. We are urged to question everything: especially the existence of God and the truthfulness of his Word, the Bible. A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION of REASONABLE FAITH is on healing for the elements of emotional doubt. However, much attention is given to more evidenced-based chapters in our pursuit of overcoming any fears or doubts that we may have or that may creep up on us in the future.
How can you improve your effectiveness as teachers? Essentially, it is by imitating THE GREAT TEACHER: Jesus Christ. You may wonder, ‘But how can we imitate Jesus?’ ‘He was the perfect, divine, Son of God.’ Admittedly, you cannot be a perfect teacher. Nevertheless, regardless of your abilities, you can do your best to imitate the way Jesus taught. THE GREAT TEACHER: Jesus Christ will discuss how you can employ all of his teaching methods.
The King James Bible was originally published in 1611. Some have estimated that the number of copies of the King James Version that have been produced in print worldwide is over one billion! There is little doubt that the King James Version is a literary masterpiece, which this author has and will appreciate and value for its unparalleled beauty of expression. This book is in no way trying to take away from what the King James Version has accomplished. The King James Version is a book to be commended for all that it has accomplished. For four centuries, when English-speaking people spoke of “the Bible,” they meant the King James Version. The question that begs to be asked of those who favor the King James Bible is, Do You Know the King James Version? What do most users of the King James Bible not know about their translation? Whether you are one who favors the King James Version or one who prefers a modern translation, Andrews will answer the questions that have long been asked for centuries about the King James Bible and far more.
How true is the Old Testament? For over two centuries Biblical scholars have held to the so-called documentary hypothesis, namely, that Genesis-Deuteronomy was not authored by Moses, but rather by several writers, some of whom lived centuries after Moses’ time. How have many scholars …
Agabus is a mysterious prophetic figure that appears only twice in the book of Acts. Though his role is minor, he is a significant figure in a great debate between cessationists and continualists. On one side are those who believe that the gift of prophecy is on par with the inspired Scriptures, infallible, and has ceased. On the other side are those who define it as fallible and non-revelatory speech that continues today in the life of the church. Proponents of both camps attempt to claim …
People grow old, get sick, and die. Even some children die. Should you be afraid of death or of anybody who has died? Do you know what happens if we die? Will you ever see your dead loved ones again? “If a man dies, shall he live again?” asked the man Job long ago. (Job 14:14) Did God originally intend for humans to die? Why do you grow old and die? What is the Bible’s viewpoint of death? What is the condition of the dead? Are the dead aware of what is happening around them? What hope is there for the dead?
Islam is making a significant mark in our world. It is perhaps the fastest-growing religion in the world. It has become a major obstacle to Christian missions. And Muslim terrorists threaten the West and modern democracies. What is the history of Islam? What do Muslims believe? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Why do we have this clash of civilizations? Is sharia law a threat to modern democratic values? How can we fight terrorists in the 21st century? These are significant questions that deserve thoughtful answers …
…IS THE QURAN THE WORD OF GOD? Is Islam the One True Faith? This book covers the worldview, practices, and history of Islam and the Quran. This book is designed as an apologetic evangelistic tool for Christians, as they come across Muslims in their daily lives, as well as to inform …
If you have the desire to become better equipped to reach others for the lost or to strengthen your faith, Judy Salisbury’s guide—written specifically to meet the needs of Christian women today—offers you a safe, practical, and approachable place to start. In her lively, …
Historical Criticism of the Bible got started in earnest, known then as Higher Criticism, during the 18th and 19th centuries, it is also known as the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation. Are there any weakness to the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation …
Biblical criticism is an umbrella term covering various techniques for applying literary historical-critical methods in analyzing and studying the Bible and its textual content. Biblical criticism is also known as higher criticism, literary criticism, and historical criticism. Biblical …
APOLOGETICS: Reaching Hearts with the Art of Persuasion by Edward D. Andrews, author of seventy-two books, covers information that proves that the Bible is accurate, trustworthy, fully inerrant, and inspired by God for the benefit of humankind. The reader will be introduced to Christan …
REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is going to challenge your objectivity. Being objective means that personal feelings or opinions do not influence you in considering and representing facts. Being subjective means that your understanding is based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or ideas. If the reader finds these insights offense, it might be a little mind control at work from years of being told the same misinformation repeatedly, so ponder things objectively …
Use of REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES should help you to cultivate the ability to reason from the Scriptures and to use them effectively in assisting others to learn about “the mighty works of God.” – Acts 2:11. If Christians are going to be capable, powerful, efficient teachers of God’s Word, we must not only pay attention to what we tell those who are interested but also how we tell them. Yes, we must focus our attention on…
God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) God has assigned all Christians the task of proclaiming the Word of God, teaching, to make disciples. (Matt. 24:15; 28:19-20: Ac 1;8 That includes men and women who profess a non-Christian religion, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam to mention just a few. If there are Hindus, Buddhist or Muslims are in your community, why not initiate a conversation with them? Christians who take the Great Commission seriously cannot afford to ignore these religions…
Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the deeper message of biblical truths. Today the …
MOST Christian apologetic books help the reader know WHAT to say; THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST is HOW to communicate it effectively. The Christian apologist words should always be seasoned with salt as we share the unadulterated truths of Scripture with gentleness and respect. Our example …
…THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK is a practical guide (for real-life application) in aiding all Christians in sharing biblical beliefs, the Good News of the kingdom, how to deal with Bible critics, overturning false beliefs, so as to make disciples, as commanded by Christ. Matthew 24:14; …
The reader will receive eight small introductory books in this one publication. Andrews’ intention is to offer his reader several chapters on eight of the most critical subject areas of understanding and defending the Word of God. This will enable the reader to lay a solid foundation for …
…The Culture War. How the West lost its greatness and was weakened from within outlines how the West lost its values, causing its current decline. It is a forceful attack on the extreme liberal, anti-religious ideology which since the1960’s has permeated the Western culture and …
EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE FIRST CENTURY will give its readers a thrilling account of first-century Christianity. When and how did they come to be called Christians? Who are all obligated to be Christian evangelists? In what way did Jesus set the example for our evangelism? What is the …
Inside of some Christians unbeknownst to their family, friends or congregation, they are screaming, “I doubt, I doubt, I have very grave doubts!” OURS is an age of doubt. Skepticism has become fashionable. We are urged to question everything: especially the existence of God and the …
The intention of this book is to investigate the biblical chronology behind Jehovah’s Witnesses most controversial doctrinal position that Jesus began to rule invisibly from heaven in October 1914. This biblical chronology of the Witnesses hinges upon their belief that the destruction of …
Evangelist Norman Robertson claims that “Tithing is God’s way of financing His kingdom on the earth.” He asserts that “It is His system of economics which enables the Gospel to be preached.” Not bashful about telling his followers of their duty to give, he flatly states: ‘Tithing isn’t something you do because you can afford it. It is an act of obedience. Not tithing is a clear violation of God’s commandments. It is embezzlement.’ Most likely you accept that giving should be part of Christian worship. However, …
DECEPTION IN THE CHURCH by Fred DeRuvo asks Does It Matter How You Worship? There are 41,000 different denominations that call themselves “Christian” and all would claim that they are the truth. Can just any Christian denomination please God? Can all be true or genuine Christianity if they all have different views on the same Bible doctrines? DeRuvo will answer. He will focus on the largest part of Christianity that has many different denominations, the charismatic, ecstatic Signs and Wonders Movements. These ecstatic worshipers claim … DeRuvo will answer all these questions and more according to the truth of God’s Word.—John 8:31-32; 17:17.
Translation and Textual Criticism
…THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO BIBLE TRANSLATION (CGBT) is for all individuals interested in how the Bible came down to us, as well as having an insight into the Bible translation process. CGBT is also for those who are interested in which translation(s) would be the most beneficial to use.
There are more than 150 different Bible translations in the English language alone. Some are what we call literal translations, which seeks to give the reader the exact English equivalent of what was written in the original language text, thus allowing the reader access to the actual Word …
…THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT was copied and recopied by hand for 1,500 years. Regardless of those scribes who had worked very hard to be faithful in their copying, errors crept into the text. How can we be confident that what we have today is the Word of God? Wilkins and Andrews …
Edward D. Andrews boldly answers the challenges Bart D. Ehrman alleges against the fully inerrant, Spirit-inspired, authoritative Word of God. By glimpsing into the life of Bart D. Ehrman and following along his course of academic studies, Andrews helps the reader to understand the …
A comprehensive book on HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE by observing, interpreting, and applying, which will focus on the most basic Bible study tools, principles, and processes for moving from an in-depth reading of the Scriptures to application. What, though, if you have long felt that you are …
…the author’s intended meaning to his original readers and how that meaning can then apply to us. Marshall gives you what you need for deeper and richer Bible study. Dr. Lee M. Fields writes, “‘Deep’ study is no guarantee that mature faith will result, but shallow study guarantees …
The life of Christ is an exhaustless theme. It reveals a character of greater massiveness than the hills, of a more serene beauty than the stars, of sweeter fragrance than the flowers, higher than the heavens in sublimity and deeper than the seas in mystery. As good Jean Paul has …
Stalker’s Life of St. Paul became one of the most widely read and respected biographies of the Apostle to the Gentiles. As an insightful compendium on the life of Paul, this work is of particular interest to pastors and teachers who desire to add realism and vividness to their account of …
Delving into the basics of biblical interpretation, Edward D. Andrews has provided a complete hands-on guide to understanding what the author meant by the words that he used from the conservative grammatical-historical perspective. He teaches how to study the Bible on a deep, scholarly …
…Linguistic and literary factors are analyzed so that the various genres of Scripture are examined for their true meaning. The importance of having sound principles of interpretation cannot be overstated as to ignore them will result in all manner of erroneous assumptions. Beville presents …
Once upon a time, Postmodernism was a buzz word. It pronounced Modernism dead or at least in the throes of death. It was a wave that swept over Christendom, promising to wash away sterile, dogmatic and outmoded forms of church. But whatever happened to postmodernism? It was regarded …
…church. It offers an appointment with the Great Physician that no Christian can afford to ignore. Developing Healthy Churches: A Case-Study in Revelationbegins with a well-researched outline of the origins and development of the church health movement. With that background in mind the …
…liberties in a multi-cultural society that is becoming increasingly secular. This work provides an ethical framework in which euthanasia and assisted suicide can be evaluated. These issues are on the radar indicating a collision course with Christian values. It is time for Christians to be …
…Journey with Jesus through the Message of Mark is an insightful and engaging survey of Mark‘s Gospel, exploring each major section of the text along with key themes. It is a work that can be enjoyed by laypersons as well as pastors and teachers. Pastors will find the abundant use …
What are angels & demons? Can angels help us? What does the Bible say about angels? What is the truth about angels? Can Angels affect your life? Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2? Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:2? Who is Michael the archangel? Can Satan the Devil control …
An Encouraging Thought elucidates the ways in which Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are informed by and communicate a biblical worldview. This book will help readers appreciate the ways in which a biblical worldview informs Tolkien’s work, to the end that their own faith may be confirmed in strength, focused in understanding, deepened in joy, and honed in its ability to communicate the Gospel.
What is the Bible’s viewpoint? Without delving into an endless stream of what man has said, Andrews looks at what the Bible says about death and the like. Why do we grow old and die? What happens at death? Is there life after death, or is this all there is? Do we have an immortal soul? …
Herein Andrews will give the reader exactly what the Bible offers on exposing who the Antichrist and the Man of Lawlessness are. If we look at the texts that refer to the antichrist and the man of lawlessness, we will have lines of evidence that will enable us to identify them. Why is it …
Throughout the Scriptures, God is identified as the Creator. He is the One “who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it.” [Isa 45:18] He is the One “who forms mountains and creates the wind” (Am 4:13) and is the One “who made the heaven and …
The information herein is based on the disciples coming to Jesus privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) What will end? When will the end come? What comes after the end? Who …
What Really Is Hell? What Kind of Place is Hell? What Really Happens at Death? What Did Jesus Teach About Hell? How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? Who Goes to Hell? What Is Hell? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment? Does God Punish People in Hellfire? Do the Wicked Suffer in …
Miracles were certainly a part of certain periods in Bible times. What about today? Are miracles still taking place. There are some very important subjects that surround this area of discussion that are often misunderstood. Andrews will answer such questions as does God step in and solve …
Today there are many questions about homosexuality as it relates to the Bible and Christians. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences justify homosexuality? What is God’s will for people with same-sex attractions? Does the …
Young ones and teens, you are exposed to complex problems that your parents may not understand. Young Christians, you are bombarded with multiple options for solving everyday problems through social media. Where do you turn to find answers? Where can you look to find guidance from Scripture? In order to provide a Christian perspective to problem-solving, the author of this devotional book decided to take a different approach.
This devotional book follows the author’s own faith journey back to God. Significant life events can shake our world and distort our faith. Following life’s tragedies, a common reaction is to become angry with God or to reject Him altogether. Examples of tragedies or traumas include life-changing events such as physical or sexual assault, destruction of one’s home, the tragic death of a loved one, diagnoses of terminal diseases, divorce, miscarriages, or being a victim of a crime. Tragedies or traumas can cause feelings of anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt.
Throughout the book, common themes emerge to support caregivers. The reader will find interesting Bible Scriptures, offering a Christian perspective, for handling issues that may arise. These inspiring passages will assist the caregiver in finding peace and faith as they travel their journey as a caregiver. Although caregivers may not know how long they will play this role, they take on the responsibility without any question. Taking care of others is often mentioned in the Bible and, as noted in this devotional, this self-sacrificing, highly valued, and often challenging service will ultimately be rewarded.
Humans must breathe in the air of our atmosphere to survive. Many cities because of pollution face a dangerous level of contamination in their air. However, an even more deadly air affects both Christians and nonChristians. Ordinary methods or devices cannot detect this poisonous air.
Paul counseled, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Col. 3:2) It is, for this reason, Marshall has penned the DAILY DEVOTIONAL: Daily Musings From the New Testament, which can help us be protected against Satan’s efforts at controlling our mind and heart. For each day of the year, DAILY DEVOTIONAL provides a Daily Bible Reading and comments for consideration.
BREAD OF HEAVEN helps the reader to have a greater understanding of the timeless truths of Scripture and a deeper appreciation of the grandeur of God. It offers meditations on selected Scriptures which will draw the reader’s attention upwards to the Savior.
…desert but none of such significance as a handful of scrolls retrieved from a buried Roman satchel (presumed stolen) at this site. The discovery has since come to be known as ‘The Diary of Judas Iscariot.’ In The Diary of JudasIscariot Owen Batstone relates the observations and feelings …
Rachael Garrison knows all the shrewd ways to successfully close multi-million-dollar real estate deals with her father’s famous New York real estate enterprise. But beyond her savvy to rake in huge deals is her premonition that an impending global takeover of the world’s financial wealth is on the horizon by evil leaders of The Great Ten Nations. From New York City to the Irish Hills of Michigan, and into the streets of Detroit her life takes on enormous purpose as
Kevin Trill struggles with the notion that he may have missed the Rapture. With nothing but the clothes on his back and a solid gold pocket watch, he sets off towards Garbor, a safe haven for those who haven’t yet taken the mark of thebeast. While on his way to Garbor, he meets up …
There grew an element in the valley that did not want to be ruled by the Light of the Word. Over time, they convinced the people to reject it. As they started to reject this Light, the valley grew dim and the fog rolled in. The people craved the darkness rather than the Light because they were evil. They did not want to …
When an ancestor saddles them with the responsibility to purge Australia of a demon threatening to wipe our humanity with black flames, fraternal siblings Amber and Michael Hauksby lay their lives on the line. As the world crumbles around them into chaos, and ancient marsupials wreak havoc in their hometown, they must journey into …
“Write Place, Right Time” follows the pre-apocalyptic misadventures of freelance journalist Don Lamplighter. While on what he expects to be a routine Monday night trip to a village board meeting, Lamplighter’s good nature compels him to help a stranded vehicle. Little does he know that by saving one of the car’s occupants, he sets forth a chain of what to him seem to be unrelated events where he must use his physical and social skills to save himself and others from precarious situations.
 After the completion of the entire Bible in 98 C.E., and the death of the last apostle, John, in 100 C.E., there was no longer a prophet in the sense of foretelling events, because the Bible was and is complete, all we need to get to the second coming of Christ. A prophet thereafter was and is an explainer of God’s Word.
 Or “make mistakes.”
 Lit., “word”
 Or “unrighteousness”
 Lit., “the wheel of birth (existence, origin).”
 geenna 12x pr. the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, once celebrated for the horrid worship of Moloch, and afterwards polluted with every species of filth, as well as the carcasses of animals, and dead bodies of malefactors; to consume which, in order to avert the pestilence which such a mass of corruption would occasion, constant fires were kept burning – MCEDONTW
 Or the cycle of life
 Lit., “nature”
 Gr., ton Kurion
 The first part of verse 28 comes from Cretica by Epimenides, and the second part of the verse from Hymn to Zeus, written by the Cilician poet Aratus.– (Gangel 1998, 290)
 See James 1:27; John 1:11-13; 8:42-44; Ephesians 5:1; 1 John 3:10-12
 Some might ask, “what about those that are clearly enemies of God, like an apostate, an atheist who evangelize against God, and persons such as Muslims who behead Christians?” Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:43-44) This does not mean that we love the terrorists, who behead Christians, as we would love our family or a Christian member. Rather, it means that we talk to enemies of God graciously and respectfully, and if an opportunity to share biblical truths with them arises, we take advantage of it. If ever they repent and accept Christ, we forgive and forget as God would.–See Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17; 55:7; Jeremiah 31:24; 50:20; Micah 7:19
 See Genesis 9:24-25; 2 Kings 2:23-24; Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 16:34.
 See Acts 5:1-10; 13:6-11; Gal. 1:8, 9; 2 Peter 2:14; 2 John 9-11.
 I.e. God’s wrath
 Or “natural, animalistic, unspiritual”
 Or “for”; or possibly “among”
 Warning: Many times religious leaders will downplay the importance of biblical knowledge, as though it were unnecessary. This just is not the case. Even though Paul said the above, he has the knowledge and the skill to debate, explain, reason and overcome argumentation from the leading Greek philosophers of his day.
 Yes, God created the spirit creature, who would rebel and become Satan (resister) the Devil (slanderer). However, God did not create this spirit creature evil or wicked, this is something that he become by entertaining wrong desires, until they became fertile, leading to the sin where he rebelled.
 Lit lowly mindedness
 Lit not the (things) of themselves each (ones).
 I.e., self-important or made proud
 Or is not rude
 I.e. harsh
 Not if it violates God’s Word.
 Of course, Christianity has one major priority before all else, which is the Great Commission of proclaiming biblical truths, teaching, and making disciples. We should never allow social ills of this world to sidetrack us from finding and saving souls.
 Lit uneducated or ignorant seeking; to disagree and argue about something; forcefully expressing different opinions without the desire of finding the truth.
 Epignosis is a strengthened or intensified form of gnosis (epi, meaning “additional”), meaning, “true,” “real,” “full,” “complete” or “accurate,” depending upon the context. Paul and Peter alone use epignosis.