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Westminster Commentaries 
Edited bt "Walter Lock, D.D. 








^<^ BY 

Ri^r.'XNOWLINa, D.D. 





Firtt Published . . ■ Octoberl904 
Second Edition . . . October mo 
Third Edition . . . -May lUii 


THE primary object of these Commentaries is to be 
exegetical, to interpret the meaning of each book of 
the Bible in the light of modern knowledge to English 
readers. The Editors will not deal, except subordinately, 
with questions of textual criticism or philology ; but taking 
the English text in the Revised Version as their basis, they 
will aim at combining a hearty acceptance of critical principles 
with loyalty to the Catholic Faith. 

The series will be less elementary than the Cambridge 
Bible for Schools, less critical than the International Critical 
Commentary, less didactic than the Expositor's Bible ; and it 
is hoped that it may be of use both to theological students 
and to the clergy, as well as to the growing number of 
educated laymen and laywomen who wish to read the Bible 
intelligently and reverently. 

Each commentary will therefore have 

(i) An Introduction stating the bearing of modern 
criticism and research upon the historical character of the 
book, and drawing out the contribution which the book, as a 
whole, makes to the body of religious truth, 

(ii) A careful paraphrase of the text with notes on the 
more difficult passages and, if need be, excursusea on any 


points of special importance either for doctrine, or ecclesi- 
astical organisation, or spiritual life. 

But the books of the Bible are so varied in character that 
considerable latitude is needed, as to the proportion which the 
various parts should hold to each other. The General Editor 
will therefore only endeavour to secure a general uniformity 
in scope and character : but the exact method adopted in 
each case and the final responsibility for the statements made 
will rest with the individual contributors. 

By permission of the Delegates of the Oxford University 
Press and of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 
the Text used in this Series of Commentaries is the Revised 
Version of the Holy Scriptures. 



IN preparing this edition of the Epistle of St James 
I have tried to keep in view the primary objects of 
the Westminster Commentaries, and the various classes of 
readers for whom they are intended. During the passing 
of these pages through the press, the recent attacks upon 
the Epistle have received a prompt and vigorous reply from 
the veteran Professor, Dr Bernhard Weiss, of the University 
of Berlin. The force and firmness of this reply (to which 
frequent reference will be found) and the fact that it comes 
from a scholar of such eminence may well administer a 
rebuke to those English writers who apparently think that, 
in their inconsiderate objections to the traditional views of 
the Church, they may claim the support of every German 
critic of learning and status. 

It is a pleasant duty to express my most grateful thanks 
to Dr Lock for his many and valuable suggestions, and for 
his ungrudging care in the revision of the proofs. 


Sept. 1904 


OINCB this Commentarv wss drst publislied two importAnt 
^ additions hare been made to the literaturej tix. a tliird edition 
of Prof. Mayor's volume, and a posthumous work of Dr Hort's (as 
£m as cL iy. 7), edited bv the Master oi Selwyn College ^1909). 
A criticism of Dr Horts work by Prof. Mayor will be found in the 
April and June numbers of the Exp-S'Ss'h^ 1910. 

Dr Hort in this tinal utterance regards 62 a. d. as the date and 
the writer as James the Just, head or bishop of the Chtirch at Jeru- 
sil^n, & Iwother of the Lord as being a son of Joseph by a former 
wife. This St James was not one of the Twelve, but probably became 
a behever by a special appearance of the Lord vouchsafed to bim, 

It may be added that the £rp:«.«iV<.>r, Feb. 1907, contains an 
article of interest by Prof. G. Currie Martin entitled '" The Epistle 
of St James as a Storehouse of the Sayings of Jesus.'' The writer 
regirds the work before us as not strictly an Epistle at aU, but as 
a work containing a collection of genuine Sayings of Jesus, around 
which otha sayings gathered a^ time went on. 


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VI. Recent advocates of a very early date xiiviii 

Objection that the sins of the Epistle denote a long 
period in the Church's growth. 

Evidence of early corruption in the Christian com- 

Practical bearing of the Epistle upon specifically 
Jewish sins. 

VII. This practical bearing of the Epistle enables us to under- 

stand ii. 14-26, and the meaning of St James's language xli 

Evidence of a controversy on Faith and Works in the 

Jewish Schools. 
Possible perversions of the teaching of St Paul or of 

St James. 
Zahn's view based upon a connection between Rom. iv. 2 

and St James's Epistle. 

VIII. Question of literary dependence between Romans and James 

discussed xlv 

James and 1 Peter. 
James and the Apocalypse. 
James and Hebrews. 

IX. Extra-canonical writings xlix 



Priority and originality of James. 

X. External evidence, why not more decisive , , . . liii 

Objections to it considered. 
Strength of internal evidence. 

XI. Reasons why the Epistle is still attacked .... Ivi 

Writings of adverse critics examined. 

Contradiction involved between the two extremes of 

adverse criticism. 
Brief reference to the position adopted in the present 


XII. Note on ' the Brethren ' of the Lord Ixiv 

XIII. Modem Criticism and the Epistle of St James . . . Ixviii 

XIV. Modern Life and some Aspects of the Teaching of St James Ixxii 


INDEX 159 


Special interest must always be felt in a book to which so many 
able critics assign the earliest place amongst New Testament 
writings, and in an author who possibly shared in the earthly life and 
home of our Lord. Such high claims, however, have naturally been 
subjected to a close examination, and often to a keen opposition, 
and it is not the purpose of the present Introduction to assume 
their validity. 

I. At first sight, indeed, it might seem that nothing could be 
more natural than the assumption that the author of this Epistle 
was a Jew, and that his readers were of Jewish nationality. But 
as even this assumption is refused to us by some phases of recent 
criticism, it may be well to note a few of the grounds upon which 
we believe it to be justified. Thus we might lay stress upon the 
difficulty in interpreting the address of the letter, ch. i. 1, in a 
symbolical or spiritual sense (see note in loco) ; or upon the expres- 
sions 'Abraham our father,' ii. 21, 'Lord of Sabaoth,' v. 4, comp. 
Isaiah v. 9 ; upon the knowledge which the writer presupposes in his 
readers of the history of Job and the prophets, v. 11, 17; and of 
Elijah's prayer as a type of successful prayer (see note on v. 17); 
upon his own knowledge of Jewish formulae in the use of oaths, and 
of the current disposition to indulge in reckless cursing and swearing, 
iii. 9, V. 12; upon his employment of the word 'synagogue' for the 
place of meeting for worship, ii. 2^; upon the emphasis with which 

^ Dr Grafe, Die Stellung und Bedeutvng des Jakohushriefes, 1904, maintains 
that the word was used for religious pagan associations in Greece, but according 
to Schiirer this was not strictly so, as the word was used rather for the yearly 
festal assemblies of such associations. But this usage does not alter the 
significance of the word by St James ; see note on ii. 2. 

Dr Grafe also tries to weaken the force of the expression ' Lord of Sabaoth ' 
on the ground that it would be known to Gentile as well as to Jewish Christians. 
But the point is that the expression is used only by St James in the N.T. In 
Bomana ii. 29 it is found in a quotation from Isaiah i. 9. 


he refers to the Jewish Law, ii. 9-11, iv. 11, 12, and to the primary 
article of the Jewish Creed, ii. 19 ^ 

But in addition to these instances, the cumulative force of 
which it is difficult to ignore, we may also lay stress upon the 
general representation which the letter gives us of the social 
conditions of those for whom it was intended. It is remarkable, 
for example, that no reference is made to the relationship between 
masters and slaves. A St Peter or a St Paul, on the other hand, 
in addressing mixed Churches constantly dwelt upon this social 
relationship. It is quite true that in a Jewish- Christian document, 
which is in many respects akin to this Epistle of St James, the 
Didache, reference is made to the bondservant and handmaid in 
iv. 10, 11, i.e. in a part of the work which may carry us back to a 
very early date^ But it is evident from the context that both 
masters and servants are regarded as servants of the One God, and 
that no relationship such as that of Christian servant and heathen 
master is contemplated. In this connection, too, we may note the 
vivid picture, iv. 13, of the eager life of commerce and gain, and yet 
of the comparative homelessness of the traders, a life so character- 
istic of the Jews always, and specially of those of the Diaspora, 
facilitated as it was by the easy means of communication throughout 
the Empire in the days of the early Church ^ 

1 On the force of the expression 'do they not blaspheme?' ii. 7, as pointing 
most probably to unbelieving Jews blaspheming the Name of Christ, see note in 

Beyschlap; draws attention to the fact that the expression ' Abraham our 
father,' ii. 21, is not explained in any spiritual sense as in Rom. iv. 1. See 
also on the possible Jewish liturgical formulae in i. 12, ii. 5, Dr Chase, The LorcCs 
Prayer in the Early Church, p. 18. 

* This document was first published in 1883, although it had been discovered 
in Constantinople some ten years earlier. In the first part, Ch. i-vi., in which 
it will be noted that most of the parallels to St James's Epistle are found (see 
note on p. xiv.), we have probably a series of moral instructions which were 
originally Jewish, but which with some additions were adopted for use in certain 
Jewish-Christian communities. The greater part of this portion of the work 
may have been in use probably in a written form as early as 70a.d. amongst 
Christians (Art. 'Didache' in Hastings' D. B. v. pp. 444, 448, by J. V. Bartlet, 
and Apostolic Age, pp. 515, 517, by the same writer). In any case there is good 
reason for placing the Didache in its present form at the close of the first 
century, see Bishop of Worcester, Church and the Ministry, p. 417. For English 
readers an article on the Didache by Dr Harnack at the end of vol. i. of Schaff 
and Herzog's Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge will be of interest. Although 
inclined to date the document in its present form as late as 120-165 a.d., Dr 
Harnack allows that some of its sources are very old, and he sees in the first 
part, Ch. i-vi., a catechism of Jewish origin for the instruction of proselytes, 
which passed over into the Christian Church, and was used as an address at 

* See Professor Ramsay, Expositor, 1903, on 'Travel and Correspondence 
among the Early Christians.' 


It is, again, remarkable that in a letter so practical, no warning 
is uttered against idol worship, and that no reference is made to 
such questions concerning it as those which agitated the Church of 
Corinth, or which were discussed at the Apostolic Council. No 
doubt it may be said that the Didache refers to such sins, but it is 
quite possible that some of its statements with regard to idolatry 
may be simply connected with the Old Testament^ and it would 
also seem that the same document refers to heathen sins of which 
St James knows nothing, and that in vi. 3 the contact with 
heathenism is clear, cf. Acts xv. 19 (although even here the rigidity 
of the Jewish-Christian is emphasised in comparison with 1 Cor. x. 
25)'. But it will be noted that in the Epistle of St James no 
allusion whatever is made, as is the case with other of the New 
Testament writings, to the former idolatries of the readers. More- 
over, in this same connection we may observe that no warning is 
uttered against sins of impurity and fornication, as is the case in 
those Epistles in which intercourse of the readers with the heathen 
world was part and parcel of their surroundings ^ If it is urged that 
here again the Didache takes note of sins of this character, it is 
evident that the list of such vices as are mentioned in that 
document marks a writer who had been brought into connection 
with the influence of Graeco-Roman civilisation. 

But whilst the Epistle is distinguished by these remarkable 
omissions, the sins and weaknesses which the writer describes are 
exactly those faults which our Lord blames in His countrymen, and 
especially in the party of the Pharisees. And even if we consider 
some of the faults specified as too general in their character to 
belong to any one party, yet some of them are certainly character- 
istic of the Jewish leaders whom our Lord condemned, e.g. the 
excessive zeal for the outward observance of religious duties, the 
fondness for the office of teacher, the false wisdom, the overflowing 
of malice, the pride, the hypocrisy, the respect of persons. In spite 

^ Cf. e.g. ' My child, be not an augur, for it leads to idolatry,' iii. 4, and Lev. 
xii. 26. 

' ' But concerning meats, bear that which thou art able ; yet abstain by all 
means from meat sacrificed to idols ; for it is the worship of dead gods ' ; vi. 3. 

* Mr Parry in his Discussion, p. 89, admits that this argument would be 
forcible if it could be shown that St James had any personal experience of the 
needs of his hearers. But if St James was writing, as Mr Parry thinks, more 
than ten or twelve years after the Apostolic Council, it would be strange that he 
should make no reference in his Epistle to the dangers which must have been 
involved in any contact between Jewish and Gentile Christians, viz. ' pollutions 
of idols, and fornication,' or these dangers would not have found a place in the 
decree of the Council. 


of all his zeal and scrupulosity the ' religious ' Jew had forgotten 
that the first and second commandments were fulfilled in the love 
of God and his neighbour, and had fallen back, as it were, upon a 
fatal trust in religious privileges, in the promises made to Abraham, 
a false confidence which the Baptist and our Lord had alike 
condemned, and which St James was called upon still to combat. 

And here we may pause to notice that one virtue upon which 
St James lays stress as indispensable for teacher and taught alike is 
the virtue of meekness, i. 21, iii. 13; the same virtue which is 
emphasised in Didache, iii. 7, 'be meek, since the meek shall inherit 
the earth ' (Ps. xxxvii. 11; cf. Matt. v. 8) '. In this latter docu- 
ment, as in the Epistle of St James, we have the picture of a meek, 
single-hearted, uncomplaining, and resigned piety. And this picture 
is drawn in that part of the Didache which is undoubtedly the 
oldest, which is marked by a Jewish tone and phraseology. If, 
therefore, we find a similar type and piety portrayed in St James, 
if we find similar thoughts and expressions, we may justly draw 
from this similarity an argument that both writings were designed 
for readers of Jewish nationality*. 

And whilst these points of contact are observable with the 
Didache (some portion of which in a Judaeo-Christian form may 
have been in current oral use much earlier than 70 a.d., see note 
above, p xii.), it is noticeable that our Epistle may also be connected 
in some thoughts and expressions with a Jewish document, dating 
some fifty years before our Lord's Advent, the Psalms of Solomon*, 

^ • In the Palestine of the first century there was no lack of religious teach- 
ing. The Scribe was a familiar figure in Galilee as much as in Judaea ; he was 
to be met everywhere, in the synagogue, in the market-place, in the houses of 
the rich. With him went a numerous following of attached scholars. The first 
business of the Rabbi was "to raise up many disciples," and the first care of the 
good Jew to " make to himself a Master." It is not without a bitter remi- 
niscence of the religious condition of Palestine that St James of Jerusalem 
counsels the members of the Christian communities to which he wrote, "Be not 
many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier Judgment."' 
Dr Swete, Expositor, Feb. 1903. 

' Attention is drawn to some of these in the notes, but the following may be 
given as allowed by von Soden: James iii. 3-6, 8, 9, and Did. ii. 4; James 
iii. 14, 18, and Did. ii. 5; James i. 8, iv. 8, and Did. iv. 3; James v. 16, and 
Did. iv. 14 ; Hand-Gommentar, in. p. 169, 3rd edit. A similar list is given by 
Mayor, and for a resemblance in the general picture of the pious Israelite drawn 
in James and the Didache, see J. V. Bartlet's Apostolic Age, pp. 250 ff., and also 
Hastings' B. D. v. p. 446. 

' These points of resemblance will be found in the notes, but they are 
referred to by Dr Moffatt in Exp. Times, Feb. 1902. God, in the Psalms of 
Solomon, is especially the protector and succour of the poor and lowly as in the 
Epistle ; cf. also James iii. 5, and Psalms xii. 2, 3 ; James iii, 18, and Psalms 
xii. 6 ; James iv. 1, and Psalms xii. 4. 


although the outlook in the Epistle is less narrow, and its teaching 
far deeper. 

This Jewish character of the Epistle is still further emphasised 
by the ingenious attempt of Spitta and Massebieau to discover in it 
merely a Jewish document Christianised by the interpolation of two 
or more words in i. 1 and ii. 1 (' and of the Lord Jesus Christ,' i. 1 ; 
'our (Lord) Jesus Christ,' ii. 1'). This theory of interpolation is so 
entirely arbitrary that it is severely criticised and condemned by 
critics who in many other respects differ widely from each other*. 
It is quite incredible for instance that anyone who wished to pass 
off a Jewish work as a Christian document should have contented 
himself with the introduction of the two passages and of the few 
words mentioned above. Moreover, the phraseology of v, 7, 8, in its 
reference to the ' coming ' or rather the ' presence ' of the Lord, is 
unmistakably Christian, and although passages in Enoch are cited 
as parallels, yet this terminology is not to be found in them. 

Spitta has certainly not proved his thesis, but he has helped to 
accentuate the fact that the writer of the Epistle was not only inti- 
mately acquainted with the Old Testament, and that in him the 
spirit of the old prophets, of an Amos or a Jeremiah, lived again, 
but that he was also acquainted with the Wisdom literature so well 
known amongst his countr)mien of the Dispersion. The points of 
contact between St James and Ecclesiasticus have been fully illus- 
trated by Dr Edersheim as also by Dr Zahn*. It is not too much to 

^ Spitta omits the words 'and of the Lord Jesus Christ' in i. 1, whilst 
Massebieau omits only ' Jesus Christ.' 

2 Amongst others by Zahn, Harnack, von Soden, Beyschlag, Belser, M<=Giffert, 
Adeney in Critical Review, July, 1896, O. Cone in Art. 'Epistle of James,' 
Encycl. Bibl., and Sieffert in the new edition of Herzog. It is only fair to say 
that Spitta and Massebieau arrived at their conclusion quite independently. 
Mr G. A. Simcox in the Journal of Theol. Studies, ii. July, 1901, p. 586, 
apparently approves of the violent method by which Spitta would get rid of the 
words so fatal to his thesis in ii. 1 ; and it is not at all surprising that the 
Church Quarterly Review, Oct. 1901, p. 8, should point out in reference to this 
approval that it is perfectly easy to evade and escape every difficulty, and to 
prove anything, if we are at liberty to treat any passage which conflicts with our 
own theories as a gloss. 

' Eeferences will be found to these in the notes, but for convenience the 
most important are given here : James i. 5 = Ecclus. xli. 22, cf. xviii. 17, xx. 14; 
James i. 6, 8 = Ecclus. i. 28, ii. 12, vii. 10 ; James i. 9, 11 = Ecclus. i. 30, 
iii. 18, xxxi. 5, 9 ; James i. 2-4, 12 = Ecclus. i. 23, ii. 1-5 ; James i. 13 = 
Ecclus. XV. 11-20; James i. 19= Ecclus. iv. 29; James i. 19= Ecclus. v. 
11; James ii. l-6 = Ecclus. x. 19-24, xiii. 9; James iii. 2 = Ecclus. xix. 16; 
James iii. 9= Ecclus. xvii. 3, 4 ; James v. 3-6 = Ecclus. iii. 10, xxix. 10; James 
V. 13 = Ecclus. xxxviii. 9-15. For a list see Zahn, Einleitung, i. 87 ; Edersheim 
in Speaker's Commentary, Apocrypha, ii. 22 ; Plummer, St James, p. 72 ; and 
references in Spitta. Dr Salmon thinks {Introd. p. 465) that the ooinci- 
dences are insufficient to prove that Ecclus. was used by St James. 


Bay that St James is so Judaic in his language, allusions, and 
modes of thought that we can in many cases find exact Rabbinic 
parallels to his words, although we must not forget that if the 
result of our inquiry is to prove beyond reasonable doubt the 
acquaintance of St James with a widely circulated Jewish book, 
like Ecclesiasticus, it also illustrates in the most decisive manner 
the difference in spiritual standpoint between the writer of that 
book and the writer of the Epistle of St James. 

If we turn to the Book of Wisdom it is quite possible to find 
many turns of thought and expression which seem to indicate an 
acquaintance with, and a high value of, this book by the writer 
of St James'; yet even in the Book of Wisdom, which is often 
regarded as in some respects the most valuable of the Apocryphal 
writings, we are again conscious of the same difference in spiritual 
standpoint noted above*. 

II. How may we account for this? The readers of the Epistle 
of St James are not only Jews, they are believing, i.e. Christian 
Jews. No one has accentuated more than Harnack the criticism 
that Spitta's theory, however tempting, does not cover all the facts 
of the case, and that some of the passages in the Epistle cannot 
be fairly referred to a Jewish document'. Amongst these he 
would include especially ch. i. 18, 25, 27, ii. 12, v. 7 ff., and also 
the use of the word 'faith' in ch. i, 3. To these we may add 
the phrase *my beloved brethren,' which occurs no less than three 
times, ch. i. 16, 19, ii. 5, a phrase to which Spitta can find no 
Jewish parallel except the formal word 'brethren,' whilst St James's 
language would naturally emphasise the intercourse of Christians 
'loving as brethren,' and amongst whom the title 'beloved brethren' 
was evidently in common use. But whilst we fully recognise the 

^ Cf. James i. 5, Wisd. viii. 21 ; James i. 17, Wisd. vii. 18 ; James i. 19, 
Wisd. i. 11 ; James ii, 6, Wisd. ii. 10, 19 ; James ii. lo, Wisd. vi. 6 ; James iV. 
13-16, Wisd. V. 8-14 ; James v. 4-6, Wisd. ii. 12-20. See Plummer, St James, 
p. 74; Fairar, Speaker^s Commentary, Apocrypha, i, 408; and the references in 

Both Dr B. Weiss and Dr Zahn are of opinion that the evidence is insufficient 
to prove that St James was actiuainted with the Book of Wisdom, whilst on the 
other hand von Soden allows a close acquaintance both with it and with 

' Another wide difference is St James's recognition of a conception wanting 
in the two Jewish books, that of a personal Messiah. 

' Harnack rightly emphasises the fact that we have not only to note what 
the Epistle contains, but also what it does not contain, Ghron. i. p. 490 ; and 
this is observable in an entire absence of the Babbinical conceits and puerilitiee 
BO characteristic of Kabbinical literature. 


difficulty of regarding the two unmistakable Christian references 
(i. 1, ii. 1) as interpolations, and of believing that a writer who 
wished to transform a Jewish document into a Christian one would 
content himself with these additions', we should also bear in 
mind how much these two statements presuppose and involve. Jesus 
of Nazareth is the Christ; in this the writer is at one with the 
earliest Christian preaching ; Jesus is Lord ; in this the writer is at 
one with the earliest form of baptismal confession, 1 Cor. xii. 3. But 
these claims so full of significance for a Jew could scarcely have been 
entertained without some full and definite acquaintance with the 
facts upon which they were based. Further, this belief that Jesus 
was the Christ involved for the writer not only the acceptance of the 
fulfilment of the splendid prophecies of his nation in a despised and 
crucified blasphemer, not only the admission of certain historical 
facts, but an obligation to entire service and devotion (i. 1). And 
the writer, who thus speaks of himself in the same breath as the 
bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, speaks of his 
readers as brethren, and not only so, but as brethren united with 
him not only in a common nationality but in a common faith ; cf. 
ii. 1, 7, V. 7. In the same manner, the phrase ' the Lord of glory,' 
ii. 1, not only invests Jesus Christ with a Divine attribute, but carries 
with it a belief in the Ascension, and in the triumph over death and 
the grave. St Paul in an Epistle in which he emphasises his 
agreement with the other Apostles in the great facts of the Christian 
Creed, as e.g. the Resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. 1-11, takes occasion to 
speak of Jesus by the same title, 'the Lord of glory' (or rather 'of 
the glory,' 1 Cor. ii. 8), and it is not unreasonable to suppose that the 
phrase might have become a recognised title (for St Paul like St James 
introduces it without any explanation as an expression well known) 
of the Incarnate, Risen, and Ascended Lord (cf. John xvii. 5 and 
note in loco). Moreover, as St Paul introduces the title, which he 
only once uses, to point a significant contrast between the philosophy 
of the world, the wisdom which he encountered in the schools of 
Greek and Jew alike, and the philosophy of God, so St James intro- 
duces the same title with an immediate and very practical purpose. 
He would thus mark decisively and unmistakably the pettiness of all 
distinctions of human and social life in presence of the fact that every 

^ The SihylUnes, e.g. are no true parallels, for in these cases, as Dr Moffatt 
points out, interpolations were made, not to give the writings a Christian 
appearance and colour, but to transform them into prophecies or corroborations 
of Christian truth. Historical I^.T. p. 7u5, 2nd edit. 


Christian was enlisted in the service of One Who shared in the 
Divine and eternal glory. Tlius the only two passages which contain 
direct Christian allusions help to remind us of a truth, which we 
should never forget, viz. that in the Epistle of St James we are dealing 
not with an elaborate argument, or with a philosophical treatise, but 
with a letter full of exhortations to meet practical needs and daily- 

From the same practical standpoint the writer plainly regards the 
future coming of the Lord, His 'Presence,' a word which we can 
scarcely hesitate to refer to Christ (v. 8, 9). In view of that event 
men were to gain both hope and patience. And not only is the 
Lord standing at the door ; He is amongst them, ready to heal and 
to save (v. 14, 15). And thus the writer delivers a counsel, specially 
adapted to the pressing needs of trial and persecution, whilst he 
would raise the daily burden of suffering and sin by recalling men to 
the abiding power of 'the Name,' which still conferred both forgive- 
ness and health no less than in the earliest days of the Church's 
life. Christ had promised to be with His Church 'all the days,* 
until the consummation of the age, when He would return as Judge ; 
and the faith of St James for things present and things to come is 
centred in a Divine Person, Jesus the Christ, in Whose presence there 
is neither rich nor poor. Who is the same Lord rich unto all who 
call upon Him; and that faith was not abstract or theoretical, it 
was not to be gauged by the number of times which its possessor 
named the name of Jesus, as if, as Reuss put it, his Christian con- 
victions were a matter of arithmetic*. 

Nor is there any occasion to affirm that in the Epistle before us, 
and in the Sermon on the Mount, the Son of God is concealed, as it 
were, in the Prophet of Israel. In that Sermon it is too often for- 
gotten that Jesus claims not only to be greater than Moses, not only 
to possess a supernatural power which He can impart to others, but . 
to be the future Judge of mankind (Matt. vii. 21, 22). And so 

^ Nosgen has well pointed out how much the references in St James, and in 
the other Epistles of the N.T., to the Gospels are evidently based upon practical 
motives, and introduced for practical purposes ; but he also shows, not only the 
fulness of these references, but how much they presuppose, when we consider 
the epistolary character of the writings in question : Neue Jahrbiicher fiir deutsche 
Theolofiie, 1895. 

' Even if there is no allusion to any of our Lord's miracles (see however note 
on ii. 19), the Epistle was undoubtedly written at a time when miraculous 
powers were still working in the Church, and these powers were the result of the 
Divine energy of Clirist, and successfully maintained in obedience to His 
oouuuauds, V. 14, lo. 



too, in this Epistle of St James, it is too often forgotten that while 
Elijah, the great prophet of the Old Testament, is 'a man of like 
passions with ourselves,' Jesus is the 'Lord of glory,' the arbiter of 
human destiny, the bestower of a Divine strength. 

It is sometimes urged that there is an almost total lack of the 
two controlling conceptions of our Lord's teaching, ' the fatherhood 
of God ' and ' the kingdom of God.' But surely it is enough to point 
out that even in this short Epistle God is spoken of twice as Father, 
i. 27, iii. 9, to say nothing of the expression 'Father of lights,' and 
that He is also represented as begetting us of His own will by the 
Word of truth, i. 17, 18, and that the teaching of St James presupposes 
the same Divine kingdom as in the Sermon on the Mount, ii. 5 '. 

A further objection to the Christian character of the Epistle is 
often raised on the ground that no connection is traced by the 
writer between conversion and forgiveness and the atoning death of 
Christ, if indeed any reference at all can be found to the fact of His 
death. But even so, it must be remembered that the practical 
nature of the Epistle may help us to account for this. For 
St James, at all events, salvation is not only a new life coming from 
God, but it is ' the word of truth ' grafted in our hearts which has 
the power of saving our souls ; and if St James is not as explicit as 
St John in his doctrine of the new birth, he plainly anticipates the 
declaration of St Paul, ' the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus 
hath made us free from the law of sin and death.' Nor does it 
follow that St James knew nothing, or recognised nothing, of the 
validity of the atoning sacrifice made by our Lord in offering up 
Himself. The earliest speeches of St Peter lay stress upon 
repentance and conversion, but whilst undoubtedly they mention 
the fact, they too lay no stress upon the doctrinal significance of the 
death of Christ; and yet when St Paul writes to the Corinthians 
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. xv. 
3), it is evident that he is not putting forward something new, but 
a statement in the acceptance of which both he and the earliest 
preachers of the Gospel were at one; he is only referring to an 
aspect of the death of Christ, which in his own earliest and 
undoubted Epistles he takes for granted as everywhere acknowledged 
and believed (cf. 1 Thess. v. 9, 10; Gal. i. 4). But if this Epistle 

^ Beyschlag, Netitett. Theologie, i. 344 (1891), rightly emphasises this 
fundamental conception common to St James and the commencement of our 
Lord's teaching. 



speaks less of Christ by name than any other Epistle, there is no 
Epistle which contains so many references to our Lord's teaching, 
and, one might fairly say, so many echoes of His words in the 
Gospels. That the Epistle is permeated with doctrine similar to 
that of the Sermon on the Mount is admitted without hesitation by 
Dr Schmiedel, but he proceeds to add that the parallels are closer 
to the Didache and to Barnabas, and draws a distinction between 
St Matthew's meaning in v. 37 and James v. 12, although he admits 
at the same time that the latter may be quoted from St Matthew. 
Spitta would attempt to explain these parallels by the fact that 
both the Gospels and Epistles are dependent upon older Jewish 
documents, but it cannot be said that this theory accounts for 
the close resemblance between James v. 12 and Matt. v. 34, 37, 
James v. 2, 3 and Matt. vi. 19, and the same might be said of other 
instances (see further below on list of resemblances between St James 
and our Lord's Sermon on the Mount) ; and Spitta is fairly exposed 
to the criticism that, whilst he weakens the force of the parallels 
between the Epistle and the Gospels, he eagerly clutches at any 
supposed or remote parallel between it and Jewish writings. Thus 
in James ii. 5, as compared with St Matt. v. 3, St Luke vi. 20, we 
are assured that there is no reminiscence of the words of Jesus, 
whilst every possible Jewish promise in favour of the poor may be 
cited as a likely origin for St James's language, even passages in 
which there is plainly no combination of the two conceptions of 
* the poor ' and ' the kingdom.' It is difficult too to see why Spitta 
should trace all kinds of verbal parallels between James and 1 Peter, 
and argue from them for the dependence of the latter Epistle upon 
the former, whilst he refuses to draw any conclusion of dependence 
from the number of obvious parallels between the Sermon on the 
Mount and the Epistle before us. 

But we may proceed further. Even if the Name of Christ was 
removed from the Epistle, yet His Spirit abides in it, and one 
might well say that if every conscious reference to any particular 
words of Christ on the part of the author was denied to us, the 
more striking becomes the connection between the teaching of the 
writer and the teaching of Christ, between the moral elevation of 
the Epistle and that of the Sermon on the Mount. 

Now these references which, as we believe, the Epistle contains 
to the teaching of our Lord, are undoubtedly of a marked and 
peculiar character. They are not in any case exact quotations, 


although one could write in the margin of the Epistle a very 
considerable number of parallels, say for example with the Sermon 
on the Mount; they are references of such a kind as might have 
come from the fulness of a faithful memory, a memory retentive not 
merely of oral tradition but of words actually heard from the lips of 
Jesus. This is admitted even in quarters where we might not 
expect it. 'When,' wrote Renan, 'James speaks of humility, of 
patience, of pity, of the exaltation of the humble, of the joy which 
underlies tears, he seems to have retained in memory the very 
words of Jesus' {V Antechrist, p. 54, 3rd edition). So again he 
speaks of 'this little writing of James as thoroughly impregnated 
with a kind of evangelical perfume ; as giving us sometimes a direct 
echo of the words of Jesus, as still retaining all the vividness of the 
life in Galilee' (uhi supra, p. 62). So too von Soden, although 
admitting the force of Spitta's strictures to some extent, is never- 
theless constrained to acknowledge that some passages at least in the 
Epistle can be best explained as reminiscences of the words of 

It is commonly said, and with truth, that these reminiscences 
are most striking in relation to that part of our Lord's teaching 
which we call the Sermon on the Mount'. And it is important to 
remember that this likeness extends not merely, as in some cases, 
to the letter, but to a general harmony between the Epistle and 
those principles of His Kingdom which our Lord proclaimed from 
the Mount in Galilee. In the Sermon and in the Epistle the 
meaning of the old Law is deepened and spiritualised, and the 
principle of love is emphasised as its fulfilment ; in each, righteous- 
ness is set forth as the doing of the Divine will in contrast to the 
saying ' Lord, Lord ! ' ; in each, divided service is condemned as 
inadmissible ; the choice cannot be God and the world, but God or 
the world ; so too in each, God is the Father, Who gives liberally 
every good and perfect gift, the God Who answers prayer, Who 

1 The following passages may be noted : Matt. v. 3, James ii. 5 ; Matt. v. 7, 
James ii. 13; Matt. v. 11, 12, James i. 2; Matt. v. 9, James iii. 18; Matt. v. '22, 
James i. 19 ; Matt. v. 34-37, James v. 12 ; Matt, vi. 16, James ii. 15, 16 (see 
Mr Mayor's note p. Ixxxil); Matt. vi. 19, James v. 2; Matt. vi. 24, James iv. 
4; Matt. vii. 1, James iv. 11, 12, v. 9; Matt. vii. 7, 8, James i. 5, iv. 3; Matt. 
vii. 12, James ii. 8 ; Matt. vii. 16, James iii. 11, 12 ; Matt. vii. 24, James i. 22. 
In addition to Mr Mayor's full and valuable list, Salmon, Introduction, p. 455, 
5th edit., C. F. Schmid, Biblical Theology of the N.T. p. 365, E.T., and Zahn, 
EinleituJig, i. p. 87, contain a helpful series of parallels; and instances hesi.ies 
those given above will be found in the notes. See also the valuable note in 
B. Weiss, Einleitung in das N.T. p. 390, brd edit. 


delivers ns from evil, Who would have men merciful as their 
Father is merciful; in each, Jesus is Lord and Judge; and in each a 
kingdom is revealed, in which the pure in heart draw nigh unto 
God, and a blessing rests upon those who are poor as to the world, 
and meek and lowly in spirit. 

But it has been further maintained that there are special 
hkenesses not only to St Matthew but to St Luke; St Luke, it is 
urged, may very probably have had access to an early tradition of 
the Jewish Palestinian Church, which he follows both in the parts 
peculiar to his Gospel and also in Acts i-xii. It is however very 
doubtful how far these alleged points of contact justify the conten- 
tion that the Epistle of St James and the Jerusalem source used by 
St Luke date from the same place and the same time. There is no 
difficulty in admitting a likeness between the teaching of St Luke 
and that of St James, but the parallels which are cited in support 
do not involve any literary dependence, and they may easily be 
referred to St James's knowledge of our Lord's teaching, and to the 
fact that he and St Luke would be opposing the same social 

The warnings e.g. against the rich, and the blessedness of men 
of low estate, so strongly emphasised by our Lord, may be accounted 
for by the social condition of Palestine in the days of His Ministry. 
And that teaching found a place, as we know, and a prominent 
place, in the Epistle of St James and in the Gospel of St Luke: 
cf. Luke vi. 24 ; James iv. 1 fif. 

Whilst then there is no reason to suppose that James iv. 14 has 
any special connection with the parable of the rich man who was 
not rich towards God, Luke xii. 16-21, or that any close parallel 
eidsts between James i. 17 and Luke xi. 13, or between James iii. 1 
and Luke xii. 48, there is much no doubt in the Epistle which shows 
how fully St James had caught the spirit of the Lord of glory, Who- 
was no respecter of persons. 

And may we not believe that St Luke would have gained some 
knowledge of this same Divine example and its influence from 
St James himself? At Jerusalem the two men had met, Acts xxi. 
17, 18, and the type of piety which we find presented to us in the 
earliest chapters of St Luke's Gospel is closely in accordance with 

^ ' Like the Epistle of James, Luke reflects the trading atmosphere of early 
Palestinian Christians ; the dangers presented by poverty and wealth to the 
faith are vividly present to his mind,' Art. ' Sermon on the Mount ' (Moffatt), 
Mncycl. Bibl. iv. 4379. 


that presented to us in the Epistle of St James. Amongst ' the 
quiet in the land,' St James himself in earlier days might have 
found a place, and it is noticeable that in his Epistle he holds up 
to us a character marked by meekness and endurance. 

The word, moreover, which he uses three times in his Epistle 
for patience and endurance is only found twice in the Gospels, and 
both times in our Lord's sayings as recorded by St Luke (James i. 
3, 4, V. 11; Luke viii. 15, xxi. 19). 

In the Didache, v. 2, we have a picture of the unjust judges of 
the poor, the advocates of the rich, from whom meekness and 
forbearance are far removed, not recognising Him Who made them, 
corrupters of the creatures of God. From such men deliverance 
was to be sought, for they were altogether sinful. And there may 
well have been many simple folk in the Christian Church who were 
learning, in the light of the Life of Jesus, the price which God set 
upon meekness and lowliness of heart, and who were striving to win 
their souls in patience. 

Space forbids us to enter more fully into this part of our subject, 
but it may be observed that von Soden, in allowing that some 
expressions in St James are most naturally explained as remi- 
niscences of the words of Jesus, makes reference to each of the 
three Synoptists; i. 5 and Luke xi. 9 = Matt. vii. 7; i. 6 and 
Mark xi. 23 = Matt. xxi. 21; iv. 3 and Luke xi. 10 = Matt. vii. 8; 
iv. 4 and Mark viii. 38 = Matt. xii. 39, xvi. 4; iv. 4 and Luke xvi. 
13 = Matt. vi. 24 {Hand-Commentar zum N.T., 1899, 3rd edit.). 
But von Soden would confine us most positively to the Synoptists ; 
and we naturally ask if the Epistle of St James has no point of 
contact with the phraseology of St John. It may seem, perhaps, 
that P. Ewald has overstated his case in claiming references in this 
one short Epistle to portions of St John's Gospel, differing so widely 
as the conversation of our Lord with Nicodemus, and the High- 
priestly Prayer {Das Hauptprohhm der EvangeUenfrage, pp. 58- 
68, 1890). But if the pillar Apostles were so closely associated in 
the early Church at Jerusalem as St Paul's statement. Gal. ii. 9, 
undoubtedly implies, such intimacy precludes any surprise at the 
acquaintance of St James with what P. Ewald calls the Johannean 
tradition. To these points of contact between the Gospel of St John 
and St James's Epistle both Zahn and Mayor draw attention \ and 
we may notice as the most important, James i. 17 and John iii. 3; 

1 Zahn, Einleitung, i. 88, and Mayor, St James, p. ixxziv. 


James i. 18 and John vi. 39, also xvii. 17; James i. 18, 25 and 
John viii. 31, 32; James i. 25, iv. 17 and John xiii. 17. 

But the likeness between St James and the Sermon on the Mount, 
which may be traced as we have noted in other respects, may be further 
seen in the frequent employment of imagery derived from the world 
of nature and of mankind. And in this way again we may draw 
the conclusion that the writer of the Epistle, if not a hearer of our 
Lord, was at any rate a Jew of Palestine. The fondness of the 
Galilaeans for teaching by imagery and parable^ has been often 
instanced in this connection, and reference may also be made to the 
local colouring with which the Epistle abounds. 

Some of these allusions may perhaps be regarded as too general 
for our argument, as e.g. references to figs, oil, wine; but on the 
other hand it may be fairly said of others that they belong more 
peculiarly to Palestine, e.g. i. 11; iii. 11, 12; v. 7, 17, 18. Possibly 
in iii. 12 we may find a reference to the Dead Sea, and in i. 6, 
iii. 4, a familiarity with a port like Joppa, although we need not 
adopt the solution that the Epistle was written there*. In addition 
to these local allusions we have seen occasion to note the probable 
fondness of the author for a Palestinian writer, Jesus the son of 

III. But can we go further in our identification of the writer 
of this Epistle ? He is a Jew, a Jew of Palestine, possibly a hearer 
of our Lord, or at least one who was closely acquainted with His 
teaching. He only styles himself 'James/ the servant of God and 
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and whilst this description may be said to 
stand in the way of positive identification, its very simplicity may 
at least intimate that we are dealing with some person of position 
and authority in the Christian community, and that this person 
stood in no need of any further title or higher recommendation. 
A forger would not have been content with such simplicity and 
humility. Fortunately we are able to put the matter to the test, 
for a spurious letter attributed to James commences thus : ' James, 

^ ' According to the Talmud (Neubaner, Geog. du Talm. 185, Stud. Bibl. i. 52) 
Galileans were noted as wandering teachers who excelled in expositions of the 
biblical text, couched in parabolic form,' Art. ' Sermon on the Mount,' Encycl. 
Bibl. IV. 4388. 

See also the remarks in Hastings' B. D. vol. v. pp. 9, 10, Art. 'Sermon on the 
Mount,' by Votaw ; Alayor, St James, p. xlvii. ; and Carr, Cambridge Gk. Tat. 
p. ilv. 

^ Tliese local allusions are dwelt upon by various writers ; e.g. Hug, Alford, 
Cell^rier, H. Ewald, Beyschlag, Salmon, Trenkle, Plumptre, Nosgen, Feine, 
Farrar, Zalm, Massebieau. 


bishop of Jerusalem'.' Certainly the fact that the author does not 
call himself an Apostle does not in itself forbid the supposition that 
he may have been one (cf. 1 Thess. i. 1 ; Phil. i. 1), but a fictitious 
writer would scarcely have chosen the modest title which commences 
this Epistle in the endeavour to recommend his exhortations. In 
the same opening verse we come across the word 'greeting' (or 
'wisheth joy'). No doubt it was a formal epistolary mode of address, 
but attention has been justly and frequently called to the similarity 
between this salutation and that in Acts xv. 23, contained in a 
circular letter issued, as we may well believe, on the motion of 
James of Jerusalem, to the Churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. 
It has of course been alleged that the same form of greeting occurs 
elsewhere in Acts xxiii. 26. But in this last-named instance we 
are dealing with an official letter written by one Roman to another, 
and the fact remains that no other Apostolic writer uses this 
formula in commencing a letter. Moreover, the coincidence marked 
by the use of this greeting by no means stands alone. Out of some 
230 words which are found in the circular letter written after the 
Council, Acts xv. 23 ff., and in the speech delivered by St James at 
the Council, Acts xv. 13 ff., a large number recur in the short 
Epistle attributed to the same person. For example, in James ii. 5 
we read 'men and brethren, hear,' and this form of expression 
occurs nowhere else in the Epistles, but it is found in Acts xv. 13; 
in James ii. 7 we have the remarkable phrase 'the honourable 
name which was called upon you,' and tliis phrase (Amos ix. 17) 
occurs nowhere else in the N.T. except in Acts xv. 17 ; in James i. 
27 we have the exhortation to a man 'to heep himself unspotted 
from the world,' the circular letter, Acts xv. 27, closes with the 
words 'from which if ye keep yourselves, it shall be well with you*.' 
It has indeed been further urged that the description of the 
state of feeling in Jerusalem, and of the action taken by St James 
with regard to it, Acts xxi. 18 ff., corresponds fully with the tone 
of St James's Epistle. And if this argument does not appeal 
to us so strongly as that derived from the similarity of language 
between the Epistle and Acts xv. yet it may be fairly maintained 

^ So too in the Clementines we come across such expressions as ' James, 
the brother of the Lord, and bishop of bishops ' ; Zahn, Einleituni/, i. p. 106. 

'^ These are perhaps the most notable instances, and they are given both by 
Mayor and Zahn. The former writer draws attention to other coincidences, as 
e.g. the use of the word 'beloved ' three times in St James's Epistle and its only 
use in Acts, in the circular letter, xv. 25, the stress laid by St James upon ' the 
I^ame ' and the same stress in Acts xv. 14, and again in v. 2ti. 


that both in the letter and in the history we may see the same 
spirit at work. For tlie writer of the Epistle the Mosaic Law is of 
binding authority, but with an attitude of sternness in this respect 
there is combined a recollection of the weakness of human nature, 
and that in many things we all stumble (iii. 2); just as in Acts 
(xv. 24, 25) there is consideration and forbearance for those who 
cannot conform to any greater burden than necessary things. In 
the letter there is the condemnation of the many teachers, but there 
is also the recollection that they too are brethren (iii. 1); just as 
St Paul is addressed by the same Christian and affectionate title, 
'Thou seest, brother,' Acts xxi. 20. But if we are at all justified in 
identifying the James of Acts xv. and xxi. with the James of the 
Epistle we have in this James a person who possessed such influence 
as to preside over the Church at Jerusalem, and at least to be 
associated in power with Peter, and to address with authority the 
twelve tribes of the Dispersion. 

Do we know anything further about him? It must be 
sufficient to say here that his early death of martyrdom pre- 
cludes James the son of Zebedee from the authorship of the 
Epistle we are considering*. We may further note that when 
James the son of Alphaeus is mentioned, the second member 
of the Twelve who bears the name of James, he is always 'James 
the son of Alphaeus,* that in Acts xii. 17, xv. 13, xxi. 18, we have 
simply 'James,' and so in Gal. ii. 9, 12; and in the former of these 
two passages this James is actually named before Peter and John, 
according to the undoubtedly correct reading. This passage, Gal. ii. 9, 
is most significant, for the James mentioned in it as one of the 
pillars of the Church at Jerusalem could not be James the son of 
Zebedee, since he was martj^ed, as we have seen, by Herod Agrippa I., 
who died 44 A.D., and this journey of St Paul to Jerusalem in Gal. ii. 

' The authorship of James the son of Zebedee has been supported in England 
by Mr Bassett m his Commentary on the Epistle, 1876, and two years later by 
a German writer, Herr Jager. A full examination of this hypothesis will be 
found in Dean Plumptre's Epistle of St James, pp. 6-10; and Farrar's Early 
Days of Christianity, p. 267, should also be consulted. It may be mentioned that 
in the oldest printed editions of the Syriac Peshitto Version we find a statement 
that the three Catholic Epistles — James, 1 Peter, 1 John — which that Version 
contains, were written by the three Apostles who were witnesses of the 
Transfiguration. But it cannot be said that there is any ms. support for 
identifying the James of the Epistle with the son of Zebedee. Probably the 
editor of the first printed edition, Moses of Mardin, is the sole authority, 
misled it would seem by the earliest mss. of the Syriac Version, which ascribed 
the Epistle to James the Apostle. Salmon, Introd. p. 469, and Plummei-, Epittle 
of St James, p. 30. 


took place according to the earliest chronology after that date. Nor 
is it probable that James the son of Alphaeus would be placed before 
Peter and John except upon one supposition, that he was James the 
Lord's brother, Gal. i. 19, and that that honour entitled him to 
the first place in the Jerusalem Church. Apart from this supposed 
identification we cannot say that we know anything of James the 
son of Alphaeus, but those who claim him as the author of the 
Epistle always regard this identity as a settled matter. But if 
James the son of Alphaeus vanishes from the New Testament after 
his mention in Acts i. 13 there would be nothing strange in the 
obscurity which he shares with the majority of the Twelve. The 
identification, however, which we are considering depends first of 
all upon the contention that 'brother' is equivalent to 'cousin.' 
And it may be admitted that the Hebrew word rendered ' brother ' 
may be used to cover various degrees of relationship, but after all 
that can be said for this, Bishop Lightfoot's remark has not lost 
its force: *It is scarcely conceivable that the cousins of any one 
should be commonly and indeed exclusively styled his brethren by 
indiff"erent persons ; still less, that one cousin in particular should 
be singled out and described in this loose way, " James the Lord's 
brother*.'" With this view of the meaning of the word 'brother' 
is closely united another, viz. the view which maintains the identi- 
fication of Alphaeus with Clopas (not Cleophas as in A.V.). But 
if we treat the two names philologically, it would seem that they 
must be regarded as distinct, or that at all events their identity is 
unproven' In the ancient Syriac Version not Clopas, but a word 
very different from it, Chalpai, represents Alphaeus, although it has 
been suggested that the Jew Chalpai might have had also a Greek 
name Clopas or Cleopas, according to a common custom of having 
two names. In this connection it may be further observed that in 
John xix. 25, the only passage in which Clopas occurs, it is very 
doubtful whether ' Mary, the wife of Clopas ' is identical with our 

^ Galatians, p. 261. Sieffert points out that in the N.T. two other words are 
found to denote relatives and cousins, ffvyyevrii and dve\l/L6s, Mark vi. 4, Luke i. 
36, ii. 44, Col. iv. 10, not d8e\<p6s, although we must remember that he is a 
supporter of the Helvidian view. Mayor, Art. 'Brother,' Hastings' jB. D., rightly 
draws attention to the way in which Hege>ippus applies the term cousin of the 
Lord to Symeon, who succeeds James the Lord's brother as Bishop of Jerusalem ; 
cf. Euseb. in. 22, and iv. 22. 

* See in this connection Zahn, Foritehungen zur Geschichte des neutett. 
Kanons, p. 343 ; SieSert, ' Jakobus,' in Herzog's EnoycL, Heft 77, p. 574, new 
edit.; Schmiedel, Art. ' Clopus,' Encycl. liibl. i. 851; and Art. 'Alphaeus' in 
Smith's B. i».» 


Lord's ' mother's sister.' It is quite possible that St John mentions 
four women as standing at the Cross (as we find in the ancient 
Syriac Version), so that Mary the wife of Clopas is to be distinguished 
from the sister of the Lord's mother. Moreover, the expression 
'wife of Clopas' might also mean in the original 'daughter of 
Clopas,' and in that case, as on the supposition that four women 
are intended John xix. 25, we should avoid the improbability that 
there were two sisters bearing the name Mary in the same family. 
It is also difficult to understand why St John should introduce into 
his Gospel the name Clopas at all, if he was writing for readers 
acquainted w^th the Synoptic tradition, in which Alphaeus, not 
Clopas, was found. But further, if Mary of Clopas is not related 
to Jesus, and yet is the same person as ' the mother of James the 
Less and of Joses,' as we gather from comparing Mark xv. 40 with 
John xix. 25, it follows that ' James the Less ' is not identical with 
James the Lord's brother. 

This title 'James the Less' reminds us that St Jerome, in his 
identification of James the Lord's brother with James the son of 
Alphaeus, argues that the epithet minor which he wrongly finds in 
Mark xv. 40 implies that there were only two persons, viz. the two 
Apostles, bearing the name of James. But the epithet in Mark xv, 
40 is simply 'James the Little ' which does not in itself imply com- 
parison with only one person. We must further take into account 
the improbability that in the earliest days of the Church any one 
of the Apostles would have been known by the epithet 'the Great,' 
as would seem to follow from the contrast suggested by the term 
'the Little'.' 

St Jerome, again, lays great stress upon Gal. i. 19 in this same 
attempt to identify James the Lord's brother with James the son of 
Alphaeus, inasmuch as James in Gal. is in his view evidently one of 
the Twelve. But it cannot be said that we are by any means shut 
up to this conclusion. For even if the words mean ' I saw no other 
Apostle but James' (Gal. i. 19), it does not follow that he is included 
of necessity among the Twelve, since the word Apostle may be used 
here, as it often is, in a wider sense ^ Or the words may mean 'I saw 

* St Jerome writes 'major et minor non inter tres, sed inter duos solent 
praebere distantiam,' c. Relv.xiii. See further Mayor, Art. 'Brethren of the 
Lord,' Hastings' B. D. i. p. 322, and Zahn, Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutest. 
Kanons, p. 346 ; 1900. 

* In 1 Cor. XV. 7 James is as little distinguished from all the Apostles as Peter 
from the Twelve ; but in distinction from the Twelve the former title Apostle can 


no other Apostle, but only James,' in which case there is no question 
of any inclusion of James among the Apostles, and the words in the 
first clause look back to Peter only. It is thus quite possible to 
endorse the interpretation attached to the words by Zahn and 
Sieffert, viz. that Paul intimates that although he saw no other 
Apostle, yet he had seen an illustrious personage, James the brother 
of the Lord. 

Another consideration of no little weight is found in the fact that 
the brethren of the Lord are so often mentioned separately from 
the Twelve: cf. John ii. 12 ; Acts i. 13, 14 ; 1 Cor. ix. 5. Moreover, 
whilst John vii. 5 marks the unbelief of the brethren in contrast to 
the preceding confession of the Twelve, the same attitude of unbelief 
on the part of the former is plainly implied in Matt. xii. 46 (Mark 
iii. 31; Luke viii. 19). 

But amongst these brethren there is one bearing the name of 
James, according to the two lists which are given in Matt. xiii. 55, 
Mark vi. 3, and in both cases his name stands first. We have, how- 
ever, seen that it is somewhat precarious to identify 'His mother's 
sister,' John xix. 25, with Mary the wife of Clopas, so that her sons 
need not be meant in the James and Joses of the two Synoptic passages. 
It is also very noticeable that these brethren are never found with 
Mary of Clopas, but always in company with Mary the mother of the 
Lord, or with Joseph His reputed father. If we ask why the name of 
James stands first of the four brethren mentioned in Matthew and 
Mark, it seems a natural explanation that the bearer of it was the 
eldest of the four, and that he thus stood in a peculiarly close 
personal relation to our Lord, which might well account for his 
significant title 'the Lord's brother.' 

It is sometimes urged against this that in the Acts we have two 
Apostles mentioned by the name of James, cf. i. 13, in the list of the 
Twelve, and that as, in xii, 2, one of these is put to death, it is 
obvious that by the name James alone, xv. 13, cf. xii. 17, the writer 
could only mean the other Apostle bearing that name. 

But the brethren of the Lord were evidently in St Luke's view 
prominent persons, Acts i. 14, and, as we have already noted, the 
fact that James the son of Alphaeus should not be specially mentioned 
in the later history of the Church is not more strange in his case 
than in that of the other members of the Twelve. If too, as we have 

only be used here in a wider sense; cf. Phil. ii. 25 ; Acts xiv. 4, 14. So Sieffert, 
• Jakobus,' in Herzog's EncycL, Heft 77, p. 578; I'JOO. 



every reason to believe, the James of Gal. ii. 9 is the same as the 
James of Gal. i. 19, and the James of Gal. i. 19 cannot be the son 
of Alphaeus (see above), it would seem that there was a third James 
occupying a prominent place in Jerusalem, who was known as James 
simply, or as James the Lord's brother. 

Now if these brethren were the sons of Joseph by a former 
marriage, and so half-brothers of Christ, this fact would entitle them 
to special regard. It may be added that their attitude in the Gospels 
towards our Lord has not unjustly led to the inference that they 
were elder brothers. We may note, e.g. a certain action and tone 
of authority in the manner in which the brethren are associated with 
the mother of our Lord, Matt. xii. 47 (cf. Mark iii. 21, 31), and so 
too in the notice John vii. 1-5 we have not only the fact of their 
unbehef, which might well characterise elder brethren in face of the 
claims of a younger man, but also their tone of command and 
superior wisdom. 

It has indeed been thought that it is inconceivable that one who 
shows himself so fully acquainted with the teaching of Jesus should 
have been amongst the unbelievers in His claim to be the Christ, and 
that the writer of the Epistle must have been an actual hearer of our 
Lord, and an Apostle. But if the writer was a half-brother of Jesus 
and brought up in a house where the head of the household could 
be described as 'a righteous man,' Matt. i. 19 (cf. Luke i. 6, ii. 25), 
it is surely not surprising that even as a believer in Jesus as the 
Christ he should show acquaintance with that side of His teaching 
which is so prominent in this Epistle, in which such stress is laid upon 
the 'fruit of righteousness' and upon its inward growth in the prayer 
of ' a righteous man,' and that he should still have regard to that 
aspect of our Lord's teaching in relation to the Law which would 
impress the mind of a pious Israelite'. Such a man might well find 
that his Christian life was no real contrast to his former state, and that 
all that he possessed in Christ was the perfecting of what he had 
before. Such a man might well present a picture of a piety to which 
both Old and New Testament contributed, and in him we might 
expect to find a wise scribe, instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, 
and bringing out of his treasury things both new and old. This too 

^ ' The echoes in the Sermon on the Mount have been often noticed ; but 
what especially concerns us to observe is how deeply St James has entered into 
that part of the Sermon on the Mount which we examined at the outset, the 
true manner of the fulfilment of the Law," Hort, JudaUtic Christianity, p. 151. 


might well have been the case whether he had actually heard our 
Lord or not. For in the writer of this Epistle we are not only 
concerned with James the ' brother ' of Jesus, but with James ' a 
servant of the Lord Jesus Christ/ with one who had joined the 
little band of the first believers (Acts i. 14), and to whom there is 
reason to believe that a special appearance of the Risen Lord had 
been vouchsafed, 1 Cor. xv. 7 (Lightfoot, Galatians, pp. 265, 274). 
* He shall take of mine and shall show it unto you ' ; in that promise 
St James could claim a share, whether with the Twelve he remem- 
bered the words of the Lord Jesus, or whether he heard them for 
the first time from the lips of others'. 

Men have sometimes contrasted the conversion of St James with 
that of St Paul — the sudden change of the latter from the side of the 
Pharisees to that of the Christians with the quiet passage of the 
former from the service of the old Covenant to that of the new. But 
in each case there was hostility and unbelief, and in each case there 
was a conversion. And as in the case of St Paul, so too in that of 
St James, we naturally ask ourselves what merely human influence 
could have sufficed to transform the unbeliever into the bondservant 
of Jesus, and the stern and rigid Israelite into a follower of the de- 
spised Nazarene? 'Take upon you the yoke of the Law,' said the 
Rabbis, 'and you shall be free from the yoke of the world'; but 
here was a man trained in the observance of all legal righteousness, 
who had found a freedom from the bondage of the world and sin in 
obeying the voice of a fellow-man. Who belonged to no religious 
sect, and boasted of no training in the schools, the voice of One 
Who was both the Brother of men and their Lord: 'Take My yoke 
upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart; and 
ye shall find rest for your souls.' 

As we thus picture to ourselves the position of St James, and as 
we study in his Epistle the further revelation of his character, we 
may trace in some respects at all events a likeness to the traditional 
view of 'James the brother of the Lord' in the well-known account 
of Hegesippus. There he is described as bearing the name of ' the 
Just' (righteous), as ever on his knees in prayer, worshipping God 
and asking forgiveness for the people, as converting many to Jesus 
as the Christ, as having no respect of persons, as looking to the 
coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven, and as fulfilling 

' See also the remarks of B. Weiss, Neue kirchliche ZeiUchri/t, June, 1904, 
p. 435. 


in his martyr's death of patience and forgiveness the prophecy of 
Isaiah, 'Let us take away the Just'.' 

It may of course be said that the more we emphasise the likeness 
in our Epistle to features which tradition might teach us to expect 
in St James, the easier becomes the possibility of a fictitious writing 
in his name. But anyone who wished to palm off an Epistle as the 
work of St James the brother of the Lord would scarcely have been 
satisfied with the Epistle as it is ; he would have placed the matter 
beyond doubt, so far as lay in his power. Would he not, for example, 
have introduced some reference to our Lord's Resurrection ? St Paul 
most probably connects this James, as we have noted, with the 
Resurrection, 1 Cor. xv. 7, and the Gospel according to the Hebrews, 
which is regarded as one of the earliest and most reputable of the 
Apocryphal Gospels, claims to give us an account of Christ's appear- 
ance to him after He had risen. 

IV. Objections have been, and are still, urged against this view of 
the authorship on the ground that the Lord's brother could not have 
written an Epistle in Greek. But the validity of such objections is 
very much lessened, if not altogether destroyed, by considerations 
which are increasing in weight and importance. Many years ago 
Professor Reuss of Strassburg met such objections by asking, 'But 
what do we really know of the means of culture of any particular 
Apostle ? ' We may, however, go further than this, and maintain 
that there is much evidence to support the belief that James the 
Lord's brother would be acquainted with Greek. 'The imperfect 
knowledge of Greek which may be assumed for the masses in Jeru- 
salem and Lystra is decidedly less probable for Galilee and Peraea. 
Hellenist Jews, ignorant of Aramaic, would be found there as in 
Jerusalem ; and the population of foreigners would be much larger. 
That Jesus Himself and the Apostles regularly used Aramaic is 
beyond question, but that Greek was also at their command is almost 
equally certain. There is not the slightest presumption against the 
use of Greek in writings purporting to emanate from the circle of the 

' This passage has been recently called an 'Ebionitish ideal picture,' but 
still the general description may be accepted as true, and St James stands before 
us as one who ceased not to pray for the conversion of his people, whose sanctity 
gained for him the regard of his countrymen and the title of the Just, and whose 
bold confession of Jesus as the Christ brought upon him the penalty of death. 
Dr Zahn points out that the manner in which the peculiarly Christian features 
in St James's character are in this account less prominent than the Jewish bears 
upon it the stamp of truth, Einleituju/, i. p. 73 ; see also Hort, Judaistie 
Christianity, p. 152 ; Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 367. 


first believers. They would write as men who had used the language 
from boyhood, not as foreigners painfully expressing themselves in 
an imperfectly known idiom \' We may even say that the proba- 
bilities are in favour of this knowledge of Greek existing among the 
poor and despised rather than among the Sadducees or the Pharisees. 
It would seem too from the Mishua that Greek loan-words were 
employed for the commonest things; and from the fact that, shortly 
before a.d. 70, Jewish fathers were forbidden to allow their sons 
instruction in Greek, the inference has been fairly drawn that such 
instruction had been in vogue before that date I 

If, moreover, we take into consideration the position occupied, in 
our belief, by St James as head of the Church at Jerusalem, con- 
stantly coming into close contact with Hellenistic Jews, we gain a 
further reason for the points of contact in the Epistle before us with 
the Sapiential books of the O.T. and the Apocrypha, although we 
may hesitate to go further and to find reminiscences of Stoic 
literature, or a dependence on the writings of Philo^. 

Moreover, there is every reason to suppose that such a man 
would be acquainted with the lxx translation, and that he would 
make use of it in writing Greek to those who knew Greek, although 
it is noteworthy that there are one or two passages in which the 
writer shows his knowledge also of the Hebrew text^ 

^ ' Characteristics of N.T. Greek,' in Expositor, Jan. 1904, Professor Moulton. 
The same writer points out how the good Attic interjection ' behold ' is used by 
the N.T. writers, as by St James no less than six times in his short Epistle, with 
a frequency quite non-Attic, because they were accustomed to the constant use 
of an equivalent interjection in their own tongue. And he adds that in this we 
have probably the furthest extent to which Semitisms went in the ordinary 
Greek speech or writing of men whose native tongue was Semitic. 

^ Art. 'Greece,' in Hastings' B. D., by P. C. Conybeare. The date for the 
authority quoted in the article in relation to the last statement is questioned by 
Zahn, Einleitung, i. 43, but this makes no difference to the general argument, 
and Zahn adduces evidence to show that Greek was widely known in Palestine, 
and that it is a mistake to suppose that svich knowledge was in any way confined 
to the upper and learned classes. Feine lays stress upon the fact that St James 
as head of the Church at Jerusalem would be constantly associating with 
Hellenistic Jews, Der Jakobusbrief, pp. 149, 150. See however the remarks and 
restrictions of Dr Buhl, Art. ' New Testament Times,' Hastings' B. D. v. p. 47. 

3 Dr Zahn, whilst pointing out that the instances of parallels from Philo 
collected by Mayor are of service for illustration, cannot find in them sufBcient 
proof that St James was acquainted with Philo's writings. In many cases the 
parallels may be explained from the use on both sides of the O.T. or of Jewish 
tradition, and in the instances of similar imagery employed by James and Philo 
we have to take into account the fact that the application is often very different. 
Still less will Zahn admit any knowledge of Stoical literature, and in his 
opinion the instances adduced by Mayor of parallels with Epictetus might 
rather go to prove that the Stoic had read St James : Einleitung, i. 87 ; Feine, Der 
Jakobusbrief, p. 142. 

* See e.g. the remarks of Zahn, Einleitung, i. 81, 86, and cf. James v. 20 



V. But if the Epistle is written by James the brother of the 
Lord it is evident that the latest limit for its date is the death of this 
James, which probably took place, according to Josephus, in 62 A.D., 
and according to Hegesippus a few years later, probably in 66 a.d.^ 
But in either case the destruction of Jerusalem had not as yet 
involved the Jews of the capital ai d of the Dispersion in an 
overwhelming calamity. No one has emphasised more strongly than 
Renan the fact that this calamity introduced such changes into the 
situation of Judaism and Christianity that one can easily distinguish 
between a writing subsequent to that great catastrophe and a 
writing contemporaneous with the third Temple. The social life 
depicted in the Epistle of St James fully corresponds with the state 
of Jerusalem before 70 a.d., with its glaring contrasts between rich 
and poor, and the growing insolence of the wealthy classes. If the 
Epistle had been written later than the year mentioned the writer 
could not have emphasised the social rank and riches which no 
longer existed ; and with the loss of Jewish position and wealth, 
there was also involved the loss of the influence and means to 
persecute {L Antechrist, Introd. xii., 3rd edit.)\ 

According to a large number of commentators the picture of 
these social conditions represents the state of things within a few 
years of the destruction of Jerusalem. And no doubt so far as the 
social conditions alone of the Epistle before us are concerned such 
a date for its composition might be justified. But it would seem 
that these or similar conditions prevailed within the last half- 
century before the fall of the Jewish capital, and other considera- 
tions must also be taken into account in connection with this 
question of date. If the Epistle was written so late, let us suppose, 
as 60 A.D., to Jewish-Christian communities, it is very strange that 
no reference should be found in it to the conditions of relationship 
between these communities and their Gentile neighbours on every 
side of them, no reference to the question of the obligatory nature of 
the Mosaic Law, which caused a long-enduring friction between Jewish 
and Gentile Christianity. It does not really touch the question to 
maintain that in purely Jewish-Christian communities no such 

•with the Heb. of Prov. x. 12, and Sieffert, Art. 'Jakobus' in new edition of 
Herzog, 1900, p. 583. 

1 On the uncertainty as to the exact date see Sieffert, ' Jakobus,' in Herzog's 
Realencyclopddie (1900), p. 580; Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 148. Zahn 
incHnes to accept the date of Hegesippus, but a full discussion of the argument 
in favour of Josephus will be found in Belser, Einleitung, 667, 668. 

^ Cf. also Mayor, p. cxx. 


question could arise, for where are we to find such communities in 
the Diaspora of the date supposed ? The entire silence of the letter 
as to the binding character of the Mosaic Law for all Christians 
certainly seems ' historically inconceivable ' (as Zahn describes it), 
after a time when a section at least of Jewish-Christians had sought 
to make the observance of the Mosaic Law obligatory upon the 
newly-organised Gentile Churches. 

But if we are justified in attaching such importance to this 
omission as to find in it a decisive indication of date before the 
Council of Jerusalem, do the circumstances portrayed in the 
Epistle bear out this conclusion? It is clear that the persons 
addressed are exposed to trials and persecutions, and that these are 
of two kinds, social and judicial. But if it is admitted that we are 
dealing with readers who are Jewish- Christians, these circumstances 
of trial in no way militate against an early date, and there is no 
occasion whatever to refer them to the organised persecutions of 
Domitian or Trajan. A passage in Professor Ramsay's Church in 
the Roman Empire, p. 349, is peculiarly helpful in reminding us of 
the possibility of legal persecution of Jew by Jew up to the year 
70 A.D. (see note on ii. 6, 7). The notices in the Acts of the 
Apostles, brief though they are, help us to gain further intelligence 
as to this possibility. Immediately upon the death of St Stephen 
persecution breaks out against the Church, viii. 1, and the trouble 
spreads to Damascus and to foreign cities, ix. 2, xxvi. 10, 11. The 
letters from the high-priest enabled Saul to act with authority, to 
shut up the saints in prison, and to punish them in all the 
synagogues, whilst on the other hand the blood of the martyrs was 
thus early the seed of the Church, for they that were scattered 
abroad after Stephen's murder preached not only in Samaria and 
Judaea, but ix, 31 intimates that there were communities of believers 
in Galilee also, and xi. 19 enables us further to learn that Jews who 
accepted the word of the Christian teachers were early to be found 
in Antioch, as also in C3^rus and Phoenicia. There are then, it 
may be said, notices both in the Gospels (cf. Matt. iv. 24) and in 
the Acts which point to numerous Jewish residents in the land of 
Syria. In Syria, no less than in Galilee, the Greek language was 
current, and even to the time of Titus the local synagogues appear 
to liave preserved their judicial powers. It may well be that other 
countries were included in the writer's thoughts'; but whether this 

1 It is of course difficult to say bow much would be included by the writer in 



was so or not, he evidently has ever in view his countrymen 
pursuing their enterprise and commerce, in some cases buying and 
selHng and getting gain, in others eating the bread of carefulness, 
and tempted to murmur against God for the cruel injustice which 
their rich Jewish neighbours and countrymen were inflicting upon 

And if from the earliest days of the Church's life the rich Jews 
figure as her persecutors, cf. Acts iv. 1, v. 17, and the high-priestly 
party, the wealthy Sadducees (Jos. Ant. xviii. 1. 4, xx. 9. 1), take 
proceedings against the Apostles, it is also significant that in the 
days of Nero the Jews in Damascus not only numbered ten 
thousand, but that by that time they had obtained such influence 
as to cause Josephus to remark that nearly all the married women 
of the place had become addicted to the Jewish religion (B. J. ii. 
20. 2). Such a fact testifies to the possibilities of social bitterness 
and cleavage, which must have long existed in so large a Jewish 
community, between the Jews who accepted and the Jews who 
denied the claims of Jesus to be the Christ. 

It is of course evident that no particular Church is addressed 
(a fact which may help to explain the absence of any personal 
references). But it is equally evident that the writer represents 
current conditions, and would no doubt have argued from what he 
saw around him in Jerusalem or its neighbourhood to the situation 
of Jewish- Christians elsewhere\ 

Moreover, there was a further and a more universal social evil, 
close at hand and all around him, against which the writer of the 
Epistle we are considering would no doubt have set his face like 
a flint. Not only was the Name of Christ blasphemed, but His 
Presence in the poor was forgotten, 

the term Diaspora; IVfayor thinks it probable that the term wonld be nnderstood ■ 
to refer to the original Eastern Diaspora, settled in Babylon and Mesopotamia, and 
extending as far as the eastern and northern borders of Palestine. But whether 
Asia Minor e.g. would be included would depend, as Beyschlag thinks (Meyer's 
Commentar, p. 25, 6th edit.), upon whether at the time of the composition of the 
letter not only individual Christians but Christian communities were to be found 
in that country. See also the important note in Carr, Cambridge Greek Testa- 
ment, Epistle of St James, p. xxix. 

1 Feine, Jakohmhrief, p. 86, argues with considerable force and interest that 
the conditions described suit especially the Churches of Palestine, but that the 
writer under the conviction that the same dangers threatened the Churches of 
the Diaspora addressed the letter to them also as a circular letter of exhortation. 
Originally it had been a homily addressed by James to the members of the 
Churches close at hand, and hence the fact that the letter contains no personal 
allusions, and that it is not strictly systematic in arrangement. 


The Gospel from the first had numbered amongst its adherents 
a Nicodemus, a Joseph of Arimathaea, a Joanna, and many others 
who ministered to our Lord of their substance, Luke viii. 2, but still 
its appeal would be felt most of all by the poor and simple folk, who 
were waiting in patient hope for the consolation of Israel. And 
dark days had fallen upon the poor in Palestine when the Epistle of 
St James was written, days in which the peasantry were distressed 
and the labourer oppressed in his wages'. It may be that social 
distress had been aggravated by the famine which was felt so 
severely in Palestine about 46-47 a.d,, but Psalmist and Prophet 
had spoken for centuries of the wrongs of the poor*, and our Lord's 
own words in the Gospels reveal to us a terrible picture of the wrong 
and robbery practised by the rich "and the governing classes upon 
the needy and humble men of heart. 

So far then as the social phenomena are concerned there is 
nothing to compel us to place the Epistle after the Apostolic 

Dr Zahn, who places the Council about the beginning of 52 a.d., 
would date the Epistle about the year 50 at the latest, before the 
first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. At this period 
almost all the Churches would be composed of converted Jews and 
Jewish proselytes'. In his argument Dr Zahn considers that the Acts 
afibrds many indications that a need was felt to unite these scattered 
communities, which all derived their origin from the mother Church 
at Jerusalem, by some firm and lasting bond, and that the Epistle 
written by St James was itself meant as a means to secure this end. 

^ Reference may be made to the graphic description in Zahn's Skizzen aus 
dem Leben der alten Kirche, pp. 42 ff., and J. V. Bartlet, Apostolic Age, pp. 232 ff. 

2 An interesting Rabbinical illustration of Jas. ii. 3 and the relative 
treatment of rich and poor is given in the Expository Times, April, 1904 ; ' B'nei 
Joseph on Deut. i. 19 says " ye shall not respect persons in judgment ; when there 
Cometh a rich man and a poor man to the Beth Din do not say to the rich man 
' Sit on the seat,' whilst thou dost not lift up thine eyes on the jjoor man to look 
in his face, for then is thy judgment not a righteous judgment, and for this 
perverted judgment it is said a sword cometh upon the people."^ 

* Dr Zahn admits that there were, even before the first missionary journey, 
not a few Gentile Christians in the Syrian Antioch, cf. Acts xi. 20. But even if 
there were many hun<lreds, he regards them in proportion to the many myriads 
of Jewish-Christians, Acts xxi. 20, as only 1 : 100, and he thinks that the way in 
which James incidentally considers these Gentile Christians, as in the introduc- 
tion of the example of the faith of the Gentile Rahab, whilst on the whole he 
does not take them into account, corresponds exactly to the conditions up to 
50 A.D. See also J. V. Bartlet, Apostolic Age, p. 233, on the position of Antioch. 
Before the first missionary journey it would seem that the Antiochene Church 
was a mere ' congregation,' btit in Acts xiii. 1 a new stage in its development 
is marked ; it became ' frhe Church ' in Antioch (Ramsay, St Faul, p. G4). 


While the Christian Church was thus composed, and before 
Antioch had become a second and independent metropolis of the 
faith, the president of the Church of the capital would naturally 
hold a position of high authority throughout all the Christian 
Churches, and such an authority this Epistle presupposes. This 
authority is wielded, as we have seen, by someone who was sufficiently 
well known by the name James, and that, too, in spite of the frequent 
use of that name. 

But at what precise date this position of authority was accorded 
to the person thus spoken of we cannot say. Dr Zahn is prepared 
to follow Eusebius, H. E. ii. 1, 2, and to place the appointment of 
James as president of the Church of Jerusalem soon after the death 
of St Stephen, as early as 35 a.d.^ At all events in Acts xii. 17 
the words 'James and the brethren' would certainly seem to involve 
an allusion to a James who was then the head and representative 
of the Church in Jerusalem. James the son of Zebedee had been 
put to death shortly before the Passover of 44 a.d.. Acts xii. 1, 2, 
and we have seen reason to believe that a James known as the 
Lord's brother, although not one of the Twelve, occupied a prominent 
place in the Jerusalem Church at St Paul's first visit to the Jewish 
capital after his conversion. After the death of James the son of 
Zebedee nothing was more probable than that this James, as the 
Lord's brother, should preside over the Church at Jerusalem ; and 
if this was so, we may fairly suppose that the Epistle, which in the 
position of authority he might fitly issue, dates between 44 and 
50 A.D. It could not have been later than the latter date for reasons 
mentioned above. 

VL Amongst recent English writers Professor J. V. Bartlet has 
advocated with much force and learning a similarly early date. 
Viewing St James as more Jewish than St Peter in the manner of 
his piety, although not more attached than Peter to the Law, as 
the Law was esteemed by men who regarded ' the tradition of the 
elders,' Professor Bartlet sees in St James a representative, and in his 
Epistle a Hterary monument, of a liberal Palestinian Christianity, 

^ FonchungenzurGcic'hichted.esneutest.Kanons^-^-^.Zo'd^Z^I; 1900. 'James,' 
says Hegesippus, Euseb. H.E. ir. 23, 'receiver the Church in succession with the 
Apostles.' On the force of the words see Bishop of Worcester, The Church and 
the Ministry, p. 273. Dr Zahn, u.s. p. 361, insists that none of the Twelve 
Apostles could have been head of a local Church, as the Apostolic office was 
wider and more of a missionary character. But this is not in itself decisive, as 
the Church of the Metropolis could scarcely be placed on a level with a mere 
local Church. See further, however, the Journal of Theological Studies, July, 
1900, rp- 635, 530, 


liberal i.e. in comparison with the teaching of the legahsts and 
Judaisers. Such a man distinguished both by his piety and by 
his position, and sharing with St Peter the attitude to Israel 
marked in such passages as Acts ii. 40, iii. 19-21, 26, v. 30-32, 
might well have written to his countrymen, whose needs he so fuUy 
knew, in preparation of the way of the returning Lord; and to Jews 
and Jewish-Christians ahke he might well seem to speak in the 
Name of God, In the history of Israel a crisis was impending ; the 
death of Herod, 44 a.d., was followed by a renewal of a strictly 
Roman government, and by the revolts under Theudas and the sons 
of Judas of Galilee. The bitter stress, moreover, which prevailed 
in social life, and the grievous recurrence of the sins condemned 
by the last of the prophets, Mai. iii. 5, 15, iv. 1-3, would indicate 
to a man like St James the approach of the Messianic kingdom, and of 
the Judge Who was even now at the doors. In such circumstances 
we can hnd an excellent situation for the Epistle of St James, and 
we can imagine that it might be sent by the hands of believing 
Jews, as they returned from the Passover, to other Jewish com- 
munities in Syria and in the adjacent regions\ But if 44 a.d. 
marks the terminus a quo, 49 (50) a.d. marks the terminus ad quern 
for the letter, since it could hardly be later, if that year saw the 
question of the Gentiles' position definitely raised and decided in 
the New Israel. 

A date almost equally early is advocated still more recently by 
Dr Chase (Art. 'Peter,' Dr Hastings' B. D. m. 765). Dr Chase 
would hazard the conjecture that the messengers of James, Gal. ii. 12, 
were the bearers of his Epistle, and in this supposition he claims to 
find an adequate explanation of their mission*. In his opinion, 
it would be very natural that after the Council of Jerusalem 

* At an earlier date Professor Bartlet thinks that believing Gentiles could still 
be ignored as simply a handful adhering to the skirts of the true Israel within 
Israel, Apostolic Age, p. 233 ; see also previous note on the position of Autioch, and 
Zabn, Einleitung, i. pp. 64, 72. 

' Dr Chase does not mean that these messengers who are described as 
coming ' from James ' represented the views of James. Perhaps in Jerusalem, 
as he thinks, the strong rule of the head of the Church had caused them to hide 
their discontent, but the spirit which they manifested at Antioch was disastrous 
in its efiect on St Peter's conduct, and St Peter's example reacted disastrously 
upon the Jewish-Christians at Antioch (u.s. p. 705). The expression in Gal. 
ii. 12, 'certain came from James,' may possibly mean 'certain came from 
Jerusalem,' or that they were members of the Church at Jerusalem who came 
invested with powers from James which they abused. This was Bishop 
Lightfoot's view, but Dr Hort thinks that the language suggests some direct 
responsibility on St James's part, and that he may have sent cautions to Peter 
to guard against offending the susceptibilities of the Jews, a message conveyed 


St James as the president of the Church there should send a letter 
to the Jewish converts in the Dispersion, and that he should speak 
of a recent trial of their faith without making any direct allusion to 
the cause of such trial. Two points in the Epistle are believed by 
Dr Chase to have an indirect reference to the temptations and 
anxieties of this particular time. The Epistle (1) has a special 
bearing upon sins of temper and speech, and these sins are specially 
characteristic of a keen controversial crisis. (2) In the Epistle we 
have a condemnation of a perversion of St Paul's doctrine of faith. 
St James, whilst refraining from touching on personal matters, would 
be anxious to reassure Jewish converts that to accept St Paul's 
position with regard to the Gentiles did not involve the acceptance 
of doctrines, which mistakenly had become associated with St Paul's 

It must, however, be remembered that sins of speech were 
generally characteristic of the Jews, and that the famous passage 
on faith and works in the second chapter of the Epistle is variously 
interpreted (see further below). 

But against the acceptance of the early date, suggested by 
the three writers named above, the prevalence of vice and 
worldliness which the Epistle emphasises as existing within the 
Christian community is still strongly urged. The picture, 
however, which Acts gives us of the life of the Jerusalem 
Church in its earliest days, is quickly marred by the selfishness 
and hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira, v. 1 ff. ; there is a mur- 
muring, even while the roll of the disciples is increasing, of the 
Grecian Jews against the Hebrews, vi. 1 ff. ; and if we are asked 
to believe that the writer of the early chapters of Acts was idealising 
the virtues of the early community of believers, it must at least be 
admitted that he was singularly honest in marking such flagrant 
corruptions of an ideal love and holiness. And if we may refer to 
the Churches founded by St Paul, e.g. the Church in Corinth, which 
was undoubtedly very mixed in its composition, we find that within 
a few years of their conversion all the sins mentioned by St James 
were rife amongst the Corinthian converts, combined with others 
of a more specifically heathen character ; in the Roman Church the 
same character depicted by St James may be seen in Romans ii. 
iii., and xiv. ; and if it be urged that this is one of the later 

by the people mentioned in Gal. ii. 12. But we cannot suppose that James 
would go further than this, or would sanction any violation of the Jerusalem 


Epistles, it must not be forgotten that in an Epistle, which is still 
commonly accepted as the earliest of all, 1 Thess., the Thessalonian 
converts, soon after their conversion, are exhorted to be at peace 
among themselves and to admonish the disorderly, whilst if, with 
some recent writers, we regard the Galatian Epistle as the earliest, 
it is evident that recent converts had incurred the severe rebuke 
and censure of St Paul. 

If then we find these faults and failings in mixed Churches it 
may at least be urged that we should not be surprised to find them 
in Jewish Churches also, although we have no other example of an 
Epistle written to communities purely Jewish with which we can 
compare this Epistle of St James. But we have already seen reason 
to believe that the writer was placing his finger directly upon those 
faults, which were so notoriously characteristic of his nation, and 
so fatal, if continually indulged in, to the spiritual health of all 
who named the Name of Christ. Like the Baptist, and like One 
greater than the Baptist, he would warn his countrymen of the wrath 
to come, and his message like the message of the Baptist and of the 
Christ insists upon the doing of the will of God, and the exclusion 
of mere boastful acquiescence in an inherited privilege. 

VII. But if we rightly keep in mind this practical bearing of the 
Epistle, then we can understand, as it seems to the present writer, 
the true meaning of the much controverted passage ii. 14 if., although 
it is an impossible task to put into a few words the contents of 
a whole literature. 

It is significant to note, in the first place, that St James never 
uses St Paul's favourite phrase 'works of the law,' and from this 
omission alone it would be possible to infer that he is not writing 
in the interests of a legal Christianity, or instituting a polemic 
against Paul, but rather that he is opposing a tendency characteristic 
of the persons whom he was addressing, and condemned alike by 
our Lord, the Baptist, and St Paul — cf. Matt. iii. 8, 9, vii. 21 ; 
Rom. ii. 17-24 — a tendency to rest upon a faith which was a mere 
acquiescence of the lips, or at the best of the intellect, not a faith 
which worked by love: 'can that faith, such a faith as that,' asks 
St James, ' save a man ? ' cf. ii. 14 ^ The wise man of our Lord was 
he who not only hears but does His sayings, cf Matt. vii. 21 ff., and 

^ It is tempting to find here, with Zahn, a reminiscence of our Lord's 
familiar ' Thy faith hath saved thee,' but in this passage the thought is rather 
eschatological, of salvation from the impending Messianic judgment. 


the wise man of St James shows his works by a good life, and his 
wisdom is full of mercy and good works ; he is not only a hearer 
but a doer of the word. And by these works, and not by faith only, 
a man is justified. Again it is significant that St James does not 
speak, with St Paul, of being justified by faith in Christ, and his 
language may well have had its roots in the Old Testament, and in 
our Lord's own words. Matt. xii. 37, Luke xvi. 15, xviii. 14. 

It may be further noted that, at least in the passages before us, 
the ' faith ' of St James is faith in God, a faith shared by Jew and 
Christian alike that God, the God of Israel, is One, ii. 19; a belief 
expressed in the primary article of the Jewish Creed, Deut. vi. 4-9, 
which every adult male in Israel repeated twice a day (Schiirer, 
Jewish People, Div. n. vol. ii. p. 84, E. T.). Here too we find that 
we are not dealing with the ' faith ' of St Paul in his teaching on 
justification, and if St James had been opposing that teaching, it 
is inconceivable that he should have made no reference to such 
a passage as Rom. iv. 23-25. The picture of a Jew drawn in 
Rom. ii. 17 by a Jew, as also in our Lord's vehement rebukes of 
the scribes and Pharisees, is exactly that which forms the back- 
ground of the Epistle of St James, a confident boasting of belief 
in God, coupled with an utter want of the spiritual and moral 
earnestness which should be engendered by that belief. And if the 
illustrations of this failure of practical belief in the simplest deeds 
of mercy and good works do not carry us back to our Lord's own 
words. Matt. xxv. 34 fF. (words also spoken in anticipation of a 
judgment), yet at least we cannot help seeing how thoroughly in 
accordance with Jewish ideas is the stress laid upon works of mercy 
and pity in view of the coming judgment, and the practical kind of 
works which St James evidently has in mind'. 

Moreover, Jewish literature affords us reason to suppose that 
the question of justification by faith or works may have claimed 
attention in the Jewish Schools, even if we cannot lay our hands 
upon any instance of the precise phrases 'to be justified by faith,' 
'to be justified by works.' We may take for instance such a passage 
as that in the Testament of Abraham, xiii. (a document in many 
respects intensely Jewish, although probably in its present form the 

1 Cf. e.g. Tob. Tii. 9, Eeelus. xxviii. 1 ff., and Testament of Abraham, x. B, where 
the soul of a woman is brought before the heavenly judge, 'and the soul said. 
Lord, have mercy on me. And the judge said, How shall I have mercy upon thee, 
•when thou hadst no mercy upon thy daughter, the fruit of thy womb?' Other 
instances are given by Spitta, and see further commentary on ii. 14. 


work of a Jewish-Christian^), where we read 'But if the fire approves 
the work of anyone, and does not seize upon it, that man is justified, 
and the angel of righteousness takes him, and carries him up to he 
saved in the lot of the just.' Or we may turn to the Apocalypse of 
Baruch and note how 'those who have been saved by their works' 
are elsewhere described as 'those who are justified' (ii. 7 and v. 1). 
Certainly in 2 Esdras we meet with passages, cf. ix. 7, xiii. 23, in 
which the thought of ' salvation by works ' is modified by the 
addition of the words * and by faith^' However this may be, 
it would certainly seem that both Baruch and Esdras help us to 
draw the same inference, viz. that the question of salvation by 
faith or works was not raised for the first time in the New Testa- 

But further, if we have to look to the writings of St James and 
St Paul for the occurrence of the exact phrase 'to be justified by 
faith' or 'by works,' it may still be fairly urged that not only do both 
writers seem to regard these phrases as aheady quite familiar, but also 
that Jewish literature furnishes evidence that the value to be assigned 
to the faith of Abraham was a topic already claiming Jewish thought 
and attention. Thus in 1 Mace. ii. 52 we read, 'Was not Abraham 
found faithful in temptation, and it was imputed unto him for 
righteousness ? ' and it is noteworthy that Abraham's faith is 
mentioned first amongst 'the works of the fathers,' ih. 51. In 
Ecclesiasticus xliv. 20 we again read of Abraham ' and in temptation 
he was found faithful ' (a repetition of the first clause in the former 
passage quoted). In view of such references it is quite possible that 
St James might have been following Jewish tradition, and that he 
might have found in 1 Mace, a precedent for applying the words 
quoted there from Gen. xv. 6 in a similar manner, viz. by finding 
their fulfilment in Gen. xxii. 1 IF. It may also be observed that Gen. 
XV. 6 was frequently commented upon by Philo, and that if we turn 

^ For the Christian elements in this work, probably of a Jewish-Christian 
writer of the second centnry, see Texts and Studies, ii. 2, Cambridge, 1892, p. 50. 
An English translation of the Greek of both of the recensions may be found in 
the Ante-Nicene Library, additional vol., T. and T. Clark, 1897. 

* See these and other passages quoted by Spitta, u.s. pp. 72, 73, 207, also 
by Mr Mayor, and Mr St John Thackeray, St Paul and Jewish Thought, p. 95. 
Dr Charles maintains that the doctrine of salvation by works, as it is found in 
Apoc. of Baruch, can hardly be said to exist in 2 Esdras, and he notes how in 
the latter book the doctrine is carefully guarded by the addition of the words 
mentioned above. But Mr Mayor's comments on the passages in Esdras 
(Exporitor, May, 1897) should be read, and also Speaker's Commentary, in which 
2 Eadraa viiL 33 is compared with the apposite passage Apoc. of Uaruch, ziv. 12. 


from Alexandrine to Rabbinic theology, in the Mechilta on Exod. xiv. 
31 we find the same verse expounded at lengths 

But whilst the evidence seems to show that the passage Gen. xv. 
6 may have been a subject of frequent discussion, it is still urged that 
the same thing cannot be said of the antithesis between faith and 
works. If, however, direct evidence is not forthcoming, it is very 
natural to suppose that the reconciliation of the claims of faith and 
works would afford a frequent topic of discussion in the Jewish 
Schools, when we bear in mind that on the one hand texts like Psalm 
Ixii. 12, Prov. xxiv. 12, Jer. xxxii. 19 affirmed that God's judg- 
ment would l:>e according to a man's works, whilst on the other hand 
Gen. XV. 6, Hab. ii. 4 declared that faith was reckoned for righteous- 

But it has been maintained that if St James is not directly 
opposing St Paul, he is nevertheless attacking perversions of Paul's 
teaching. It may, however, be fairly asked why St James in writing, 
as we believe, to Jewish-Christians should be careful to guard them 
against perversions of the teaching of Paul? They were scarcely 
the persons to be influenced by, least of all to be seduced by, teaching 
connected with the name of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Jiilicher 
{Einleitung, p. 143) urges that the Epistle presupposes the misuse 
of Paul's teaching as to faith. But we may fairly ask what part of 
that teaching? Surely not its chief part, viz. the teaching of justi- 
fication by faith in Christ Jesus, for if so we are again met by the 
strange circumstance that there is no reference whatever to the facts 
upon which that peculiar teaching was based ; cf. Bom. iv. 25, x. 9 *. 
If, again, St James was trying to guard against perversions of St Paul's 
teaching, it is strange that he should quote the same passage Gen. 
XV. 6 which St Paul employs, Rom. iv. 1-8, and that he should 
simply content himself with drawing from it his own conclusion, 
without seeking to invalidate St Paul's deductions by any expla- 
nations. There would also still remain the strange fact that in 
writing to Jewish-Christians on such a subject as the possible 
perversions of St Paul's teaching, St James should make no refer- 
ence to those 'works of law' which played so prominent a part in 
St Paul's own exposition of his doctrine. 

1 Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 162, 10th edit. ; Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 
p. 105. 

2 It is noticeable that St James mentions as the object of the vaunted faith 
of his converts not the fundamental fact of the Gospel, ' Thou believest that God 
raised Christ from the dead,' but the fundamental axiom of the Law, ' Thou 
believest that God is One.' Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 370. 


It is of course possible, as some notable critics have maintained, 
that St Paul is answering perversions which might have occurred of 
the teaching of St James, and no doubt some points in that teaching 
might have been perverted by the Judaisers. When e.g. St James 
wrote 'whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one 
point, he is guilty of all,' ii. 10, what was easier than for the 
Judaisers to assert that St James demanded that the whole Mosaic 
code should be strictly observed? But apart from these possible 
perversions, there was nothing in the actual Epistle which St Paul 
could not have endorsed, although he himself was called to propound 
a wider and a deeper teaching, to show how God would 'justify the 
circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith' (Rom. 
iii. 30), and to point to the faith of Abraham as a type of the faith 
of every Christian, Rom. iv. 16-25. 

It is of interest to note that a view differing from those already 
mentioned is adopted by Dr Zahn, Einleitung, i. p. 190. He con- 
siders it probable that St Paul derives the statement that Abraham 
was 'justified by works and hath whereof to glory,' Rom. iv, 2 (a 
statement which is introduced, he thinks, quite unexpectedly), not 
from the Old Testament, but from St James, and that whilst St Paul 
does not directly oppose St James's interpretation of Gen. xv. 6, he 
develops his own teaching as to justification by faith from the same 
passage, and that too much more thoroughly than he had done in his 
earlier Epistle, Gal. iii. 5-7. 

Zahn then in adopting this view maintains strongly a connection 
between Rom. iv. 1 £f. and James ii. 21, 23. In this, as he himself 
allows, he agrees with Spitta, inasmuch as he considers that Paul 
writes with reference to James, although of course he differs altogether 
from Spitta's main position, and rightly urges that if the Epistle 
bearing the name of James had been merely a Jewish document, it 
is quite impossible to see why St Paul should have troubled to refer 
to the production of an unknown Jew. 

VIII. But there is another reason why it is of interest to note 
this view of Dr Zahn's. In his exposition of it, he lays stress upon 
the fact that of all St Paul's writings, only Romans shows traces of 
the influence of St James's Epistle. 

The passages upon which Dr Zahn lays special stress, Rom. v. 3 = 
James i. 2-4, Rom. vii. 23 = James iv. 1, are also emphasised by 
Drs Sanday and Headlam {Romans, p. Ixxvii.) as those which bear 
the closest resemblance, whilst Dr Salmon (Introd. p. 463) regards 


them with the addition of Eom. ii, 13 = James i. 22 as pointing to 
a verbal similarity which is more than accidental. But it may be 
fairly questioned whether these resemblances, and others of a less 
striking character, may not be accounted for by remembering that 
both St James and St Paul would have access to a common stock of 
language in use in Christian circles, or whether they are really more 
strange than many other coincidences in literature. The question 
therefore of any direct literary dependence between the two documents 
may be considered an open one, whether we approach it from the 
point of view of an alleged identity of phraseology, or, as we have 
already seen, of a controversial relationship'. 

If we turn to another N.T. book, 1 Peter, it can scarcely be said 
that the evidence warrants the very confident tone of Dr Moflfatt, 
or that 'in spite of Beyschlag, Spitta, Schmiedel, and Zahn' it is 
sufiicient to affirm that the priority of 1 Peter must be allowed on 
the ground that St James gives the impression of having quoted and 
adapted sayings from a previous wi-iter^ A different view of this 
alleged priority is at all events formed by one of the ablest of recent 
writers on St Peter, Dr Chase (Hastings' B. D. in. 788, 789), and 
Dr Zahn {Einleitung, i. 95) has also subjected the supposed depend- 
ence of St James to a close and rigorous examination^ He joins 
issue with the above assertion in the plainest manner, as, according 
to him, it is St Peter who has softened the bold and rugged thought 
of St James, and expanded his terse language. If we compare e.g. 
James i. 18 with 1 Pet. i. 23 we find in St Peter what certainly 
looks like an expansion of the words of St James, and, in the same 
manner, the teaching of Isaiah xl, 6-8 which is only touched by 
St James in i. 10 is employed far more explicitly in 1 Pet. i. 24. So 
again the simpler expressions of St James in i. 21 are much more 
fully given in 1 Pet. ii. 1, 2, and, in the same manner, the command 

1 See to the same effect Sanday and Headlam, Romans, p. 78, and Salmon 
Introd. p. 463. 

2 Historical N.T. p. 578, 2nd edit. Dr Grafe in his recent work on St 
James's Epistle can only speak, p. 27, of St Peter's priority as probable. 
Dr Hort and Professor Mayor agree with the Germans mentioned above, whUst 
it should be remembered that Dr B. Weiss, who is quoted on the other side, 
advocates the priority of 1 Peter on the ground that it is one of the earliest 
books of the N.T. 

^ Amongst the advocates of the priority of 1 Peter, we must now place Dr Bigg, 
St Peter and St Jnde, p. 23, 1902, International and Critical Commentary ; but 
on the other hand, and with reference to the two passages upon which most 
stress is laid by Dr Bigg, see Mayor, p. xlviii., Spitta, Der Jahohushrief, pp. 190, 
199, and also comments above. 


to resist the devil, James iv. 7, is given more explicitly and with a 
description of the spiritual adversary in 1 Pet. v. 8, 9. 

The passage which is perhaps most often dwelt upon is the likeness 
between 1 Pet. i. 6, 7, and James i. 3. No doubt the fact that the 
phrase 'the proof of your faith' (R.V.) occurs in both is remarkable. 
But even if we admit that the phrase is used by both writers with 
the same meaning ^ the context in which it is placed is very different; 
in St James the thought of the writer is fixed rather upon the present, 
while in St Peter it is directed rather towards the future. But, 
without dwelling upon this, why should it be thought impossible 
that such a phrase should have been used by two Christian writers, 
who must have been at one time in each other's company (cf. Gal. i. 
19) as teachers of the Christian Church, and who were also familiar 
with such words as those in Prov. xxvii. 21, to say nothing of other 
O.T. passages? In this connection it may be observed that while the 
similarity between James i. 3 and 1 Pet. i. 6, 7 is undoubtedly very 
striking both in thought and language, we may have here a remi- 
niscence of one of the 'faithful sayings' in use among the early 
believers, since the language employed is to some extent the same 
not only in two but in three Epistles, James, 1 Peter, and Romans, 
cf. V. 3=". 

It has indeed been recently maintained that some points of 
resemblance between James and 1 Peter may be accounted for by a 
common spiritual atmosphere, or by nearness of time in composition. 
But the same writer, Dr Peine, who thus views the matter, admits 
that in some cases there is a literary dependence between the two 
writings, and that the only difficulty is to determine on which side 
to place the priority. He maintains e.g. that in James v. 20 and 
1 Pet. iv. 8 we have an instance of an O.T. passage which had come 
to be used proverbially, so that neither writer gives an exact 
quotation, although both might make such reference to it as we find 
in the two Epistles. At the same time it is noticeable that St Peter 
uses the phrase 'to cover a multitude of sins ' in a much closer con- 
nection with Prov. x. 12 than St James, whilst the latter writer may 
be simply employing the familiar phrase just quoted from the O.T. 
in a general way; cf. for instance, in this connection, Ps. xxxii. 3, 

1 This is doubtful, as Feine, Ber Jakobusbrief, p. 128, and Spitta, u.s. p. 190, 
both indicate. 

2 Plummer, Epistle of St James, p. 59, but this must depend at least to some 
extent as to the previous meaning attached to the words rendered ' the proof of 
^our faith. ' 


Ixxxv. 2 ; Ezek. xxviii. 18 ; Ecclus. v. 6. But, at all events, it is a 
somewhat summary conclusion that James in v. 20 is necessarily 
borrowing from 1 Pet. iv. 8, although this is one of the alleged 
dependences which is most often cited. 

Dr Bigg in his Commentary on St Peter and St Jude, p. 20, has 
argued that the resemblances between Romans and Ephesians may 
all be covered by what we may call the pulpit formulae of the time. 
Why should it be thought fanciful to maintain that such a phrase as 
'the proof of your faith' (or 'that which is genuine in )'^our faith^') 
might become a common formula, if not in the pulpit, yet at least 
on the Hps of the early believers in a time of trial and suffering, 
such as the Epistles of James and 1 Peter both presuppose " ? 

Much has been made of the relation, or supposed relation, between 
St James and the Apocalypse. In the Encycl Bihl. the writer of 
'James (Epistle)' speaks of the relation as at least probable, but how 
warily we should proceed is shown by his own subsequent remarks, 
viz. that whilst Rev. ii. 10 is supposed by Pfleiderer to be the ground 
of James i. 12, another German critic, Dr Volter, reverses the rela- 
tion of the two passages. 

It has been suggested that much of the language common to the 
two writings may be easily accounted for by intercourse between St 
James and St John as members of the Church of Jerusalem. But if 
we are not prepared to accept this solution, many points of similarity 
may be fairly credited to the common fund of Christian thought 
and life ; the stress e.g. laid in each upon compassionate love, and 
the endurance which proves itself in trial. At all events there is 
nothing in the language of the two books which may not be accounted 
for quite apart from literary dependence. It is absurd e.g. to suppose 
that St James must have borrowed the thought of v. 17 from Rev. 
xi. 6, and it is to be observed that von Soden refuses to admit the 
probability of any literary dependence in the alleged instances 
between two books of Scripture which in many respects are so widely 

With regard to the Epistle to the Hebrews, no literary depend- 
ence can be proved, and the most recent critic, Dr Grafe of Bonn, 
frankly admits that the two examples of Abraham and Rahab, 
common to Hebrews and James, had manifestly occupied a large 

1 See note on James i. 3. . , . ^ »t 

2 In this connection the recent remarks of B. Weiss are of interest, Neue 
kirehliche Zeitschrift, June, 1904, p. 428. 


place in the thoughts of Jewish as also of early Christian circles '. 
Pfleiderer in his new edition* still maintains that these two examples 
go to prove an acquaintance on the part of 'James ' with the Epistle 
to the Hebrews, and he quotes in addition James iii. 18 which he 
regards as showing a verbal parallel with Heb. xii. 11. But it is 
noticeable that von Soden regards this and the other instances, not 
as marking any literary dependence, but as simply showing that the 
two writings were the product of the same spiritual atmosphere. It 
is, moreover, begging the question at issue to assume that James is 
dependent on Hebrews, as the reverse may have been the case, if 
there is dependence on either side. 

IX. When we pass to extra-canonical writings, points of contact 
between our Epistle and the Epistle of St Clement of Rome are 
admitted by the most conservative critics, but it does not by any 
means follow that priority is to be claimed for St Clement, On the 
contrary there is much that makes for a reverse dependence. It is 
very difficult to believe that St Clement, as one who reverenced St 
Paul, would have used such expressions as 'being justified by works 
and not by words,' xxx. 3, cf. James ii. 14-17, 21, 24, unless he 
had some high authority behind him, to say nothing of the fact that 
the whole context in St Clement reminds us of words and expressions 
in St James's letter. There are also passages in St Clement's Epistle 
which point to attempts on his part to balance the teaching of St 
Paul and St James. Thus he asks, xxxi. 2, 'wherefore was our 
father Abraham justified? was it not because he wrought righteous- 
ness and truth through faith?' (cf. James ii. 22), whilst a little lower, 
xxxii. 3, he adds of the good of all time that they were justified not 
through themselves, or their own works, or the righteous doing which 
they wrought, but through God's will, and finally, xxxiv. 4, after urging 
the necessity of good works concludes that the Lord exhorteth us 'to 
believe on Him with our whole heart, and to be not idle or careless 
with every just work.' In this connection we may also note the 
significant words 'for her faith and hospitality Rahab the harlot was 
saved,' where the faith of Heb. ix. 31 is combined with the works 
of James ii. 25^. And if we have solid ground for supposing that 
St Clement was thus acquainted with the teaching of St James, and 

^ Grafe, Die Stellung und Bedeutung des Jakohusbriefes, p. 35; 1904. See also 
the admirable remarks of B. Weiss, Einleitwifj in das N.T. p. 385, 3rd edit. 

^ Pfleiderer, Urchristentum, u. p. 541 ; 19(l2. 

^ Lightfoot, St Clement, ii. p. 100 ; Zahn, Einleitung, i. 97 ; Mayor, St James, 
p. U. 

K. d 


that he attached such importance to it, other parallels between the 
two writings may fairly tell in favour of the inference that St James's 
Epistle was known to St Clement'. In some cases no doubt the 
similarity of language may be accounted for apart from literary 
dependence, as we have seen in other cases, but it is difficult to 
suppose that St Clement in xxxviii. 2 was not acquainted with 
James iii. 13, and xlvi. 5 in its interrogative form and mode of 
expression might well be a reminiscence of James iv. 1, It is also 
noticeable that St Clement lays great stress upon the sin of double- 
mindedness, and that he uses the same word as St James, of. e.g. 
xi. 2, xxiii. 3, in which the thought of God's judgment is closely 
associated with this sin. 

The large number of pnrallels between James and Hermas 
'necessitates the conclusion that one of the writers is dependent 
on the other,' and so far there is no difficulty in agreeing with 
Dr 0. Cone, Encycl. Bihl iv. 2323. 

But it is somewhat bold to add that it is not clear to which 
writer the priority should be assigned, and bolder still to maintain 
with Pfleiderer the priority of Hermas (Holtzmann thinks it 
'probable'). A study of the two writers supplies the best answer 
to this question of priority, and it is not too much to say with 
Mayor and Zahn that it would be as reasonable to affirm that a 
modern sermon is older than its text as to maintain that the comments 
of Hermas are older than the parallels in St James^. The terse 
sentences of James are expanded by Hermas in a manner which 
cannot be said to confer upon them either freshness or strength, and 
if a writing is any index of a writer's character it is difficult to 
suppose that the personality presented to us in the Epistle of St 
James could be dependent upon the fantastic production of Hermas*. 

1 Mr Parry, St James, p. 73, remarks with great force, ' St Clement is the 
disciple ; the imitator ; he refers at every point to the Apostles for example, 
authority, and even for the substance of his teaching ; he is in no sense and in 
no point original or independent. On the other hand, who is this tremendous 
personality who speaks to the whole Church with a voice that accepts no 
challenge or dispute ? who appeals to no authority but that of God, knows no 
superior but the Lord Himself, quotes examples only from the great ones of the 
Old Dispensation, instructs, chides, encourages, denounces with a depth, an 
energy, a fire, second to none in the whole range of sacred literature?' 

2 The most receut writer on St James, Dr Grafe, inclines to agree with this 
judgment of Dr Zahn as against Pfleiderer, Die Stellung des Jalwbiisbriejes, p. 40. 

^ The rare words common to St James and Hermas are referred to in the 
notes; see e.g. James ii. 6, v. 11, and the constant use of 8i\(/vxos with its cognates 
in Hermas compared with its use in James as e.g. in i. 8. Dr C. Taylor, Art. in 
Journal of Philology, xviii. pp. 297-325, on ' The Didache compared with The 


Moreover, if St James had Hermas behind him, it is still more 
difficult to understand his omission of any definite reference to the 
suffering and work of the Son of God'. Jiilicher speaks of the 
Epistle of St James as the least Christian book of the N.T., Christ 
is scarcely ever mentioned, and the picture of the Messiah has alto- 
gether disappeared ; and he asks, could such a document have come 
to us from the days of primitive Christianity ? But this difficulty 
is not removed, and to many minds it would rather seem to be 
increased, by placing the book about the same period as Hermas, or 
subsequent to him. It is surprising that Harnack should argue 
that the circumstances of persecution referred to in James ii. 6 
demand a date shortly before the time of Hermas (see note m loco), 
and it is equally surprising that amongst the most recent critics 
Pfleiderer and Grafe should still maintain, in their endeavour to 
support a similar date, that technical Gnostic terms are to be found 
in the frequently recurring 'wisdom,' and in such words as ' sensual,' 
* the wisdom that is from above,' ' perfect,' ' father of lights.' There 
is not one of these expressions it may be safely said which requires 
any such explanation (see notes in Commentary). But even the testi- 
mony of these two supporters of Gnostic influences does not always 
agree together, for we find that Grafe is not prepared to endorse 
Pfleiderer's view that in the expression 'judge of the law' in iv. 11 
we have a reference to the heretic Marcion^ Harnack quotes 
Jiilicher with approval in his assertion that the moral and religious 
state of the Christian community in St James shows such degeneration 
that we can scarcely credit its existence before the time of Hermas, 

Shepherd,' gives some interesting examples, p. 320, of adaptations by Hermas 
from the Epistle of St James, and of the way in which Hermas was accustomed 
to use his materials. 

1 ' Hermas tells of the toil and suffering which the Son of God underwent 
to purge away the sins of His people, and of the reward which He receives in the 
exaltation of His human nature and in His joy at receiving His purified people 
into union with Himself,' Art. ' Hermas,' Diet, of Chr. Biog. u. 920. 

In Vis. ii. 2, 5, 8, God is said to swear by His glory and by His Son. On the 
Person and work of the Son the passages which should be consulted are Sim. 
V. 2. 4-6, ix. 1. 12-18, 24, 28, Dr Taylor, Shepherd of Hermas, p. 49; 190.3. 

2 Pfleiderer, Urchristentuvi, p. 546; 1902. Pfleiderer still persists in placing 
the Epistle of St James far down in the second century, but the trenchant 
criticism of his endeavours by Professor Mayor has not been in any degree 
refuted : ' Would the thoroughly Hebraic tone of the Epistle. ..the stern censure 
of landowners who withheld the wages of the reapers, suit the circumstances of 
the Christians of Kome in that age ? Where were the free labourers referred to ? 
The latifundia of Italy were worked by slaves. The writer looks for the 
immediate coming of the Lord to judgment (v. 7-9). Do we And any instance 
of a like confident expectation in any writer of the latter half of the second 
century?' Epistle of St Javies, p. cxlvii. 



but unfortunately the vices of worldliness and lax living censured 
by Hermas have been common faults in all ages of the Church, and 
we have already seen how quickly they gained an entrance into the 
circle of Christian believers. 

Reference has already been made to the parallels between Philo 
and our Epistle, but it cannot be said that they prove any acquain- 
tance with Philo's writings on the part of St James. In many cases, 
as we have noted, the likeness consists in the use of a number of 
common figures and imagery, and often enough this imagery is 
employed in a totally independent manner by the two writers. 
Moreover, much of this common language may be fairly explained 
by a mutual acquaintance not only with the Old Testament, but 
with the Jewish Wisdom-literature, and all the tenets of Jewish 
theology, as e.g. the unity of God, and the value attached to 
wisdom, as a gift from above to be specially sought in prayer. 

It would at least seem that the greatest caution should be used 
in deducing a dependence upon Philo, even when his language 
closely reminds us of St James. Philo e.g. says, * but as many as 
live in harmony with law are free' {Quod omnis prohiis liber, Mang. 
n. 452), cf James i. 25, ii. 8, 12. But Philo is thinking of the Stoic 
view that he who follows his fancies is a slave, while he who lives in 
obedience to law is free; St James on the other hand has in mind 
a law, which is not regarded as a yoke as the O.T. law was regarded 
in Rabbinical literature, but which is fulfilled freely and joyfully'. 

In the Pseudo-Clementine literature we do not find perhaps so 
many points of contact with our Epistle as we might expect, when 
we consider the high and authoritative place assigned in that 
literature to St James of Jerusalem, the Lord's brother. But 
references may fairly be found to James i. 13, v. 12 (and perhaps to 
i. 18, ii. 19), in spite of the bold assertion of Pfleiderer that James 
is unknown even to the Clementines. The Ebionite tendency 
which, as we have seen, was attributed to St James, is said to be 
supported by the Clementines, but the alleged parallels rather show 
how widely separated St James was in his point of view from any 
Ebionite tendency. In Clem. Horn. xv. 9, e.g., we read that for all 
men possessions are sins^ but there is nothing of such teaching in 
the Epistle of St James. 

^ Grafe, Bie Stellung des Jakobusbriefes, p. 18 ; 1904. 

' Zahn, Eiiileitung, i. p. 105. No parallels are examined in the case of the 
Testaments of the Tivelve Patriarchs owing to the uncertainty of the date of that 


In the same manner with regard to the alleged Essene colouring 
in the teaching concerning mercy, oaths, riches, trade, the government 
of the tongue, which is so much emphasised by many writers (see e.g. 
Art, 'Epistle of James,' Encycl. Bibl. ii. 2325), we must be careful not 
to exaggerate such general points of contact. Thus W. Bruckner ' 
would have us believe that the Epistle proceeded from a little con- 
venticle of Essene Christians at Eome not earlier than 150 a.d. (in 
accordance with the late date which he assigns to 1 Peter). No 
doubt an Essene might have spoken much as St James has spoken 
on the subjects just mentioned, but on the supposition that St James 
was acquainted with the Sermon on the Mount, or with the general 
spirit of our Lord's teaching, there is no need to have recourse to 
Essenism. Moreover, whilst there is nothing strange in the fact 
that the teaching of the Essenes and that of St James should have 
some points in common, seeing that they both had their origin in 
Jewish sources and in the life of a Jewish community, the stress 
laid upon silence and upon poverty, to say nothing of other matters, 
is unduly accentuated by the former. St James, on the other hand, 
is not teaching these points as part of a religious system, but is rather 
endeavouring to check special faults of his countrymen around him. 

As we look back over the various points of contact existing 
or supposed to exist between our Epistle and the writers we have 
mentioned, we may at least conclude that in no one instance has the 
literary dependence of St James been proved, even if we are not 
prepared to endorse the judgment of Reuss, viz. that the numerous 
cases of use of the Pauline Epistles, of the Hebrews, of Hermas, of 
Philo, exist only in the imagination of the critics, and wholly over- 
look the highly unique personality of the writer of this Epistle 
{Geschichte der N.T. p. 233, 6th edit.). 

X. But if the priority and the originality of the letter may be 
affirmed, it is no doubt surprising that the evidence on the whole 
as to its early existence and authorship is not more decisive. In the 
first place, however, it may be fairly urged that in the West at all 
events there may have been special reasons for the obscurity attach- 
ing to the letter and for its omission in the Muratorian Fragment. 

The fact that the Epistle is addressed to Jewish-Christian circles, 
and that the circumstances with which it is concerned relate to 
Churches so composed, to say nothing of the fact that the writer, 
whoever he was, does not claim Apostolic authority, may have con- 

1 Die chronolo gische Beihenfolge, p. 295. 


tributed to this. Nor is the evidence of its use by the early fathers 
so small, or so entirely wanting, as is sometimes maintained. 
TertuUian's use of it is doubtful, but although Irenaeus does not 
mention the Epistle, we are told from a somewhat unexpected 
quarter that ' the earliest trace of an acquaintance with it is found 
in Irenaeus, who refers to Abraham as '* the friend of God'" {Encycl. 
Bihl. 'Epistle of James,' n. 2326), cf. Adv. Haer. iv. 13, 14, and 16\ 
No doubt it is true that Origen is the first writer to refer to this 
Epistle by name, and he speaks of it in one place as 'the Epistle 
current as that of James,' in Johann. xix. 6, as if, although aware of 
its currency, he was himself uncertain as to its authorship. But in 
another place, in P sal. xxx., he speaks of James as the author without 
expressing any doubt, and in the Latin translation of some of his 
other works we find the term Scriptura divina used of the Epistle, 
and that it is referred by Origen to James, who is spoken of as an 
Apostle, and once definitely as James the brother of the Lord^ The 
evidence might possibly be carried further, but it seems very arbitrary 
that without any reference to the above facts Pfleiderer should still 
persist in saying that Origen expressly regards the Epistle as doubt- 
fuP. Dr Grafe sides with Pfleiderer on equally precarious grounds. 
He refers to Origen's Commentary on Matt. xiii. 55, in which it is 
said that Jude (the brother of James) wrote a letter, while of James 
it is merely said that he is mentioned in Gal. i. 19. From these 
remarks Grafe concludes that Origen does not seem to have ascribed 
our Epistle to James. But Origen, in the above comments on 
Matthew, is speaking of the four 'brethren of Jesus' in relation to 
their general bearing and character, as the whole passage shows us. 
He treats e.g. at some length of the righteousness and reputation of 
James, and then adds, 'And Jude, who wrote a letter of few lines, 
it is true, but filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace, said 
in the preface, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of 

1 Dr Zahn considers that whilst James was probably known to Irenaeus, and 
perhaps also to Hippolytus in the West, it appears to have been regarded amongst 
the Greeks of the East as belonging to the most generally recognised writings. He 
considers that it was undoubtedly known to Clement of Alexandria, who saj's, e.g., 
of Abraham, that he is found to have been expressly called the friend of God 
(James ii. 23), and that the Epistle could not have been placed first amongst the 
three recognised Catholic Epistles, or first amongst the seven recognised in the 
West, unless it had gained an assured place of regard ; see further below, and 
also for the testimony of Origen and Eusebius, Zahn, Grundriss der Geschichte 
des neutest. Kanong, p. 21, and Plummer, St James, p. 21. 

' Mayor, St James, p. cxlv., and Zahn, Grundriss der Geschichte des 7ieutest. 
Kanons, pp. 42, 56; 1901. 

3 Pfleiderer, Urchristentum, ii. p. 540 ; 1902. 


James.'" He next passes to the other 'brethren' and says, 'with 
regard to Joseph and Simon we have nothing to tell : but the saying 
"and His sisters are they not all with us?" seems to me to signify some- 
thing of their nature — they mind our things, not those of Jesus, and 
have no unusual portion of surpassing wisdom as Jesus has.' In a 
consideration of the whole passage it would seem that there is nothing 
to justify Dr Grafe's inference from statements which ought not 
to have been unduly separated from the whole context ; and it must 
also be remembered that Grafe makes no reference whatever to the 
counter-testimony mentioned above. 

But whatever doubts may be raised against the testimony which 
we have been considering, it is most significant, as Ritschl long ago 
pointed out {Die Enstehung der altkatholischen Kirche, p. 109), that 
the Epistle should have a place in the Syrian Peshitto, because in 
Syria we have specially to seek for the readers, in a country, that is, 
where numerous Jews dwelt, whose intercourse with Jerusalem must 
have been very close'. Further significance is added to this fact 
■when we remember that only three of the Catholic Epistles find a 
place in this version, James, 1 Pet., 1 John. The other four Cathohc 
Epistles are still excluded from the Canon of the Syrian Church. 
So far back as this version can be traced, the Epistle of St James 
is included in it, although it would appear that there is an earlier 
stage in the history of the Syriac Canon when none of the Catholic 
Epistles were included ^ 

The testimony of Eusebius, like that of Origen, has been much 
exaggerated in its supposed bearing against the Epistle. Eusebius 
speaks of certain writings, and the Epistle of St James amongst them, 
as 'disputed,' but he does not mean that these writings were universally 
regarded with suspicion ; on the contrary he distinctly asserts that 
these 'disputed' books were nevertheless familiarly known to most 
people although denied by some {H. E. iii. 25. 3). Moreover, he 
distinctly speaks of this Epistle as Scripture in his Commentary on 
the Fsalms, and as written by 'the holy Apostles ' 

1 With these remarks of Kitschl we may compare those of Beyschlag to the 
same effect in Meyer's Commentar, p. 22, 6th edit. 

2 Dr Sanday, Studia Biblica, in. p. 245 ; Nestle, Textual Criticism, p. 321, 
E.T. ; and Can's note, Cambridge Greek Test. p. xlvi. Dr 0. Cone, Encijcl. Bibl. 
II. 2326, refers to the admission of the Epistle in the Peshitto, as also to its 
acceptance by Ephrem as the work of James the Lord's brother. 

3 Zahn, Grundriss der Geschichte des neutest. Kanons, p. 56, IHOl ; and 
Encycl. Bibl. ii. 2326. The Epistle with the other 'disputed' books won its way 
to general acceptance, and we tind it accorded its rightful place iu the Council of 
Laodicea, c. 363, and the Third CouncU of Carthage, 397. 


If, however, the external evidence was less weighty than it is, this 
could not fairly counterbalance the internal evidence in favour of the 
early date of the Epistle and of its authorship as the work of James 
the brother of the Lord. Ritschl laid stress upon this consideration 
in the reference just given, and it has been strongly enforced by more 
recent writers of various schools of thought. 

XL We naturally ask for what reasons the Epistle is still so per- 
sistently attacked \ Some of these reasons have been already noted 
in the foregoing remarks, but it may be well to dwell a little more 
fully upon some of the most important of them in current literature. 
Pfleiderer in the recent new edition of his Urchristentum still stands 
out as one of the most strenuous advocates of a late date for the 
Epistle. He cannot allow that it belongs to the Pauline times, and 
he finds it equally difficult to assign it to a pre-Pauline date; the 
only question in his mind is how far down in the Apostolic age we 
can possibly place it. How late this would be from Pfleiderer's 
point of view we have already seen, but it is quite evident that he 
ignores in his anxiety for a late date very obvious difficulties which 
the contents of the Epistle raise. He admits e.g. that no Epistle in 
the N.T. is less dogmatic, and that the special contents of the 
Christian revelation which exist in contemporary literature are 
altogether wanting. This lack of dogmatic interest points in 
Pfleiderer's judgment, not to a time when the Church was concerned 
in laying firmly the foundations of its faith, but to a time when a 
firm foundation was already assured. 

But why should this Epistle of St James be the one exception, 
as Pfleiderer admits, to all other literature which he considers as in 
any way associated with it in point of time ? To this question no 
answer is given. Pfleiderer and Grafe with him lay great stress upon 
the expression iii. 6, which they connect with Orphic beliefs. And 
we are then asked to explain how it is conceivable that the traditional 

It is noticeable tliat in the Canon of the latter Council the Catholic Epistles 
are placed immediately after the Acts and before the Pauline Epistles ; and this 
is the place assigned to them in most ancient ms. versions and catalogues. 

1 Amongst older questionings as to the Epistle its rejection by Luther as ' a 
right strawy Epistle ' demands a word. It is quite true that the preface to his 
translation does not now contain this statement, although it would seem that 
Luther himself remained firm in his rejection. Calvin refused to follow Luther 
and acknowledged the Epistle, and the Lutheran Church has restored it to its 
proper place in the N.T. 'But Luther not only started from the mistake that 
the Epistle was the work of James the son of Zebedee, but that every N.T. book 
was to conform to his standard of Apostolic teaching.' Plummer, St James 
p. 23 ; Beyschlag, Der Brief des Jakobus, p. 22, 6th edit. 


James, the brother of the Lord, the Galilaean, and the Jerusalem 
Zealot for the Law, could have gained such an acquaintance with the 
wisdom of the Orphic mysteries. But the expression 'the wheel of 
nature' may be fully and fairly explained without having recourse 
to any such needless supposition, or to an acquaintance with any 
such wisdom ; see note below in loco. 

Moreover, this obscure 'James,' even if he could have carried 
weight in his own neighbourhood, as Pfleiderer apparently supposes, 
must not only have been 'a great unknown,' but it is difficult to 
believe that when, as time went on, it was desired to bestow upon his 
Epistle further authority, no title should be fixed upon for its author 
more illustrious than that of 'James the servant of God and of the 
Lord Jesus Christ.' Attention has already been drawn to the 
recurring difficulty which meets us in this modest title. It has 
indeed been recently suggested by Grafe, in criticising Pfleiderer, 
that this title may have been assumed out of pure modesty, just 
as the writer of Jude calls himself 'Jude, the brother of James.' 
But the natural and simple explanation is that Jude could so style 
himself, because there could be no doubt as to the personality 
and authority of the brother whom he named. 

Von Soden seems doubtful as to date, but he is inclined to 
adopt a period after the Domitian persecution, or possibly a period 
•within the first thirty years or so of the second century. But 
even in von Soden's remarks we may notice that he not only 
admits the high value and excellent tact of our Epistle, but that 
he also inclines to account for the opening words by supposing 
the existence of some kind of affinity between the unknown 
author and the head of the Church at Jerusalem. In this con- 
nection we naturally pass to von Soden's own hypothesis of the 
origin of St James's Epistle. He regards this unknown writer 
as a Jewish-Christian, fully acquainted with Jewish literature and 
thought, and anxious to help to rectify by his letter the improprieties 
existing in the Christian circles known to him. For this purpose he 
calls chiefly to his aid reminiscences of his own Jewish period, while 
in ch. i. and ii. there are also reminiscences of Jewish and Christian 
influences. Thus, out of the whole Epistle, only i. 2-4, 12, 18, 21, 
ii. 1, 5, 8, 14-26, iv. 1-6, 10, remain as the writer's own, all the rest 
is of Jewish origin. Two sections, iii. 1-18, iv. 11-v. 6, are complete 
in themselves, and have no point of agreement with Christian ideas 
or writings {Hand-Commentar, 3rd edit. p. 176). In all this von 


Soden, who, as we have seen, dismisses Spitta's hypothesis, adopts 
one no less arbitrary. No one has pointed this out more clearly than 
Grafe', as also the unlikelihood that a man of such marked culture 
as 'James' should issue such an extraordinary compilation as that 
which tills hypothesis demands. It is e.g. very difficult to suppose 
that in a perfectly coherent section such as ii. 1-13, those verses 
1, 5, 8, are to be ruled out as foreign elements. 

Not less arbitrary than von Soden's is Harnack's description of 
the Epistle. It is, according to his account of it, wanting in all 
arrangement, it is a disconnected collection of prophecies, exhortations, 
instructions ; the images follow each other in a kind of kaleidoscope ; 
it is full of paradoxes from beginning to end ; in some parts it reads 
like the very words of Jesus, deep and profound, in others it breathes 
the spirit of the old prophets ; now it is written in the style of classical 
Greek, now in the style of a theological combatant. But in spite of 
all this it exhibits, like certain Old Testament prophetical books, a 
marked unity amidst so much diversity. The writer of all these 
different addresses originally composed them in no way with a view 
to the connection in which they are now found. He wrote about 
125 A.D., and then, after his death, these addresses were edited, and 
finally published under the name of James at the end of the second 
or the beginning of the third century {Chron. i. 487). 

But in the first place this account of the letter is as paradoxical 
as its contents are affirmed to be, since it attributes to the same 
document both unity and the utter want of it. In the second place 
we have to imagine some teacher of the second century who com- 
bines within himself all that Harnack requires ; the unknown teacher 
is described as a powerful personality, bringing out of his treasures 
the old and the new, and deriving his homiletical addresses not less 
from Jewish adages than from the discourses of Jesus and the wisdom 
of the Greeks. He must indeed have been a wonderful personage 
who united in himself all the varying and often dissimilar elements 
of culture which Harnack's hypothesis demands. Once more, 
Harnack entirely fails to account for the ascription of the letter to 
'James the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ' (see 
further below). 

Jiilicher speaks more positively than von Soden for a late date, 
viz. 125-150 A.D., while he admits that there is much in the letter 

1 Die Stellung des Jakobusbriefes, p. 45, and for further criticisms see 
Encycl. Bibl. ii. 2325, and Theologische Rundschau, i. 1901. 


which points to James 'the first bishop of Jerusalem ' as the author. 
But when Jiilicher, following Pfleiderer, proceeds to describe the 
Epistle of St James as the least Christian document in the N.T. and asks 
how such a writing could have been a product of primitive Christianity, 
we may fairly answer, how could such a document have been a 
product of any later period? {Einleitung, p. 143). The more we 
prove the absence of Christian phraseology or allusions, the more 
difficult does it become to suppose that a writer, who had behind 
him the Gospels, as Jiilicher admits, would have contented himself 
with such scanty references to the Person and Work of the Lord. 
St Clement of Rome writes his letter to Corinth at the close of the 
first century. He too appeals like 'James' to the Old Testament 
examples of piety and endurance, but he refers in the same breath, 
and ever and again, to the blood of the Lord as the means of re- 
demption ; he refers definitely to the words of the Lord Jesus, and 
he speaks definitely of the same Lord as being made the firstfruits 
of the resurrection when God raised Him from the dead. We have 
already seen how Hermas, writing later, and it would seem in a 
document which clearly belongs to the same Roman Church, makes 
repeated references to the work of the Son of God. 

But it may be further noted that while von Soden is inclined 
to regard Rome as the place of composition, Jiilicher inclines 
against the claims of Rome, and expresses himself as entirely in the 
dark', while both critics are united in condemning the theory of 
Harnack, viz. that in the case of the Epistle bearing the name of 
James, and in the Epistles bearing the names of St Peter and St Jude, 
the name of an Apostle was interpolated in the opening words of the 
address to give prestige and authority to the writing. It is sufficient 
to remark as against this hypothesis that at least one other Catholic 
Epistle, the First Epistle of St John, was accepted by the Church 
without the recommendation of any name at alP. And the more we 
emphasise the desire of the Church to bestow authority upon the 
document, the more inexplicable becomes its contentment with 
interpolating the simple title 'James.' 

The most recent German critic of the Epistle of St James is 

1 Grafe and others fix upon Eome because they assume that a likeness of 
spirit exists between the Epistle of James on the one hand, and Hebrews, the 
Pastoral Epistles, Clement of Eome, Hermas on the other, and that therefore all 
these writings were composed in the same place. 

* Dr Sanday, Inspiration, p. 381, and to the same effect von Soden, Hand- 
Commentar, ui. (2nd part), p. 176, 3rd edit. 


Dr Grafe, of Bonn', His work has gained the high praise of Schiirer, 
and some references have already been made to it. 

Dr Grafe does his best to minimise any indications of Jewish 
Christianity in the readers of the Epistle, and we have seen how he 
deals with the word 'synagogue,' and the expression 'Lord of hosts' 
(p. xi.). He is also at pains to minimise any references to our 
Lord, and even in v. 7 he declines to say whether ' the coming of 
the Lord ' refers to God or to Christ. One would have thought that 
the phraseology in v. 7 and 8 was 'unmistakably Christian,' 'the 
coming,' i.e. ' the presence of the Lord,' as Dr 0. Cone frankly admits, 
Encycl. Bihl. ii. 2325. Grafe asks how the name ' James ' became 
attached to the Epistle, and he cannot get away from some associa- 
tion in the choice with James, the brother of the Lord, the head of 
the Church at Jerusalem. The other personages bearing the name 
of James cannot be considered, because they so quickly vanish out 
of the history. It is not so inconceivable, however, that a later 
writer should prefix the name ' James ' to his letter, since his strong 
moral spirit had a certain affinity to that of the famous James. But 
in what this affinity could consist it is somewhat difficult to see 
when Dr Grafe tells us in the same breath that the letter is in 
no way animated by a Jewish or Jewish-Christian spirit. It can 
scarcely be affirmed that such a spirit was wanting in the illustrious 
James of Jerusalem, rather was it one of his chief characteristics. 
In this writer, according to Grafe, we have a man who does his best 
to warn his fellow-Christians at a time when the Church was 
becoming a Catholic Church against growing worldliness and laxity, 
and throughout his writing he breathes the spirit of Jesus, Who 
demanded of His disciples not the saying 'Lord, Lord,' but the 
doing of His will. And so although the writer preaches to us 
nothing of the work of salvation wrought by Christ, and has no word 
to say as to the significance of the blood of Jesus, his Epistle still 
edifies the Church to-day. 

But if this is to be taken as an account of the writer's object, it is 
difficult to see why such a short Epistle full of earnest exhortation 
should not have met a practical need of the Christian life in the 
first century no less than in the second. In every age the Church 
has had need to ' remember still the words, and from whence they 
came, "Not he that repeateth the name, but he that doeth the will."' 

1 Die Stellung und Bedeutung des Jakobiisbriefes, in der Entwickelung des 
Urchristentums ; 1904. 


Grafe would place the Epistle possibly as late as the second or third 
decade of the second century, and he would do so mainly because he 
holds that Hebrews, Clement of Rome, the Pastoral Epistles, and 
Hermas, are all the product of the same spiritual atmosphere. This 
conclusion cannot be said to be very satisfactory or illuminating, 
although it is a short and easy way of getting rid of difficulties 
raised by evidence of priority or of dependence. 

We cannot pass from Dr Grafe's name without noting that his 
statements have received a prompt reply from the veteran B. Weiss in 
the Neue Mrchlicke Zeitschrift for May and June, 1904. Dr Weiss 
points out how frequently the expressions used in our Epistle can 
only be explained of unbelieving Jews, e.g. ii. 7 (cf. v. 3, 5). In this 
connection he lays stress upon the concrete relations of life which 
the letter presupposes, upon the peculiar faults which it blames, upon 
its vivid representation, so true to our knowledge of the social life 
of Palestine, of the strife between the rich and the poor, and he 
further shows that the judgment-seats, ii. 6, are not those of 
Gentile but of Jewish courts. As in his Introduction to the N. T. 
Dr Weiss strongly defends the address, i. 1, against any symbolical 
interpretation, and he urges the unfairness of supposing that we 
have no knowledge of any Jewish- Christian communities in the 
Diaspora, and that no such communities existed, in face of such 
a statement as 1 Cor. ix. 5, according to which Peter and the other 
Apostles and the brethren of the Lord made missionary journeys, in 
which it is absurd to suppose that their own countrymen were 

In dwelling upon the Christology of the Epistle Dr Weiss rightly 
emphasises how much is presupposed in ii. 1, and how arbitrary it is 
of Dr Grafe to insist upon retaining this passage as against Spitta, 
whilst at the same time he refuses to refer v. 7 to Christ as the 
Judge. The force of such passages as i. 18, 25, is also dwelt upon, 
and Dr Weiss rightly refuses to depreciate the Christianity of a 
writer who could so express himself. 

Other references to these valuable articles will be found else- 
where, and it must be sufficient to add that they present us with an 
admirable summary of the reasons for attributing a very early date 
to the Epistle before us'. 

The objection that 'a simple Galilaean' could not have shown 
such a knowledge of Greek as the author manifests is fairly met 
by Dr Weiss, and attention is drawn to the fact that the love 

^ The reply of Dr Weiss may now be obtained in a cheap and separate form. 


of imagery and the moral pathos so characteristic of the Epistle 
may well have been derived from a close acquaintance with those 
prophetical books which every pious Jew knew so well. 

The honour in which James the brother of the Lord was held 
on all sides might well have inspired the hope that a letter from 
him would impress even unbelievers of status amongst his fellow- 
countrymen. But this points, as Dr Weiss urges, to an early date, 
when Christianity was threatened not by Gentile but by Jewish 
authorities, and this date is confirmed by the fact that the Epistle 
shows no trace of the questions which arose when Gentile and 
Jewish Christians were brought into immediate contact. 

But one further objection is common to all the adverse critics 
whose writings we have been considering. They all urge a second- 
century date for the Epistle of St James on the ground that the 
author, whoever he may have been, represents Christianity as a nova 
lex, a new law. It is difficult to understand the exact point of this 
objection, which is so persistently urged, and it is altogether mis- 
leading to assert that Christianity here appears quite in the second- 
century manner as a law, 'the perfect law,' i.e. the fulfilment of 

It would be more true to say that it does nothing of the kind. 
In chap. i. 25, cf. ii. 8, 12, the perfect law is not contrasted with 
Judaism as a religion, but the Jewish- Christian readers, to whom St 
James was addressing himself, are reminded of the royal law, the 
law of love, the fulfilment and not the abrogation of the Mosaic 
code (cf. Matt. xxii. 40, vii. 12; Bom. xiii. 8-10; and notes in 
commentary on James i. 25, ii. 12). The conception of the 'new 
law ' in the so-called Epistle of Barnabas ii. 6, is quite different, as 
the context shows ; it is opposed to the Mosaic law, which is 
regarded as antiquated, with its offerings and ceremonies. No doubt 
Justin Martyr, Dial. c. TrypJi. xi. (cf. Hermas, Bim. v. 6. 3), speaks 
of a ' new law,' but the sense in which he employs the expression 
differs again from the language of St James ; for the Mosaic law is 
declared to be abrogated, Christ Himself being given to us as the 
eternal and perfect law. Harnack alleges as a special point against 
the pre-Pauline authorship of the Epistle that the writer, when he 
speaks of law, never means the Mosaic law in the concrete, but a 
law which he had ' distilled ' for himself. But what evidence of this 
do we derive from the Epistle? If a conception of law which 
regards the Decalogue, and the religious and moral contents of law 
as alone essential, is a ' distillation ' of law, then we may fairly ask if 


the same conception may not be found in St Paul, nay in our Lord's 
own teaching ; and if so, why not in the teaching of St James ? (see 
further note in commentary on 'the perfect law,' James i. 25)'. 

But if there is no need to transfer to the second century St 
James's conception of law, the same remark may be made with 
regard to his treatment of faith and works. 

Something has already been said as to the practical bearing of 
St James's remarks, in proof that his opposition is probably not to 
Paulinism, but to a Jewish acceptance of faith as purely intellectual, 
and to an antinomianism which might at any time invade the 
Church, and which St Paul, nay our Lord Himself, rebuked and 
condemned. Jiilicher, however, insists that such a discussion of 
faith and works in relation to salvation could not have found any 
place before the time of St Paul's wide activity. But if St James's 
Epistle is not a document of primitive Christianity, then we are not 
in a position to say whether such a discussion could find any place 
or not, for we have no other writing of this early period to help us to 
an answer, since St Paul's earliest Epistles were addressed not to 
Jewish, but to mixed Churches. It is therefore difficult to see from 
what source Jiilicher could obtain the information which would 
justify his assertion, and we have already seen that there is some 
reason to suppose that such a discussion might well have found 
a place in the Jewish schools before St Paul's day. 

But Jiilicher is not content with such arguments in proof of his 
theory that the Epistle before us dates from the second century. 
He characterises the attempt to assign it the earliest place in the 
New Testament as still more laughable than the attempt (that of 
B. Weiss and Kiihl, amongst others) to place 1 Pet. before St Paul's 
writings. But we may be pardoned for thinking that it would be 
still more ridiculous for an unknown writer to attempt to pass 
himself oft' as James of Jerusalem, without making the slightest effort 
to claim the title of Apostle or Elder, or in any way of a leader of the 
Church, and to address from his obscurity an Epistle to the twelve 
tribes of the Dispersion. It has well been pointed out by Zahn that 
•whilst the hostile critics differ amongst themselves as to the date of 
the Epistle, they nevertheless agree in one particular, viz. that the 
author wished that his writing should be taken for the work of the 
illustrious James, the head of the Jerusalem Church. But, if so, it is 
strange, as we have already seen, that no attempt is made by this 

^ See further Weiss, Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, May, 1904, p. 417. 


unknown writer to assert his assumed dignity in an unmistakable 

A further consideration may be fairly urged in view of this 
second-century theory. Any endeavour to assign the Epistle of 
James to such a late date is directly at issue with another phase of 
modern criticism, upon which we have already commented, that 
which is represented by Spitta and Massebieau. An Epistle cannot 
be a document of the second century, it cannot come to us from the 
reign of Hadrian, or even later, with nothing to indicate Jewish 
Christianity either in writer or readers, and at the same time be 
a product of the Judaism of the first century B.C. with nothing 
Christian in the writer or in those to whom the letter was addressed. 

In contradistinction to these two extremes an endeavour has 
been made in the above pages to show that the Epistle bearing 
the name of St James is a document which comes to us from a very 
early date in the history of the Christian Church, and that it cannot 
at all events be placed after the death of James the Just, the 
brother of the Lord. Any theory which dates the Epistle after that 
event raises greater difficulties, not only as to authorship, but 
as to doctrinal and social questions, than those which it purports 
to remove. 

Note on 'the Brethren* of the Lord. 

XII. Of the different views as to the exact relationship between our Lord 
and His 'brethren,' that which regards the latter as the sons of Joseph by a 
former marriage has much in its favour. This view cannot be said to 
be inconsistent with the language of the New Testament, and in some 
degi'ce it affords a good explanation of it. The attitude e.g. of the 
'brethren' towards o\xr Lord is certainly that of elders to one younger 
in years, see above p. xxx. The fact, moreover, that our Lord commits His 
mother to St John and not to the 'brethren' is more easily accounted for, 
if we suppose, with good reason, that Salome was the sister of the Virgin 
mother, and that St John was thus the Virgin's nephew. A nephew might 
well be preferred to stepsons on the natural ground of closer relationship, 
to say nothing of the unbelief of the latter at the time of the Crucifixion. 
Professor Mayor who holds strongly the H el vidian view, viz. that the 
'brethren' were the sons of Joseph and Mary, is also careful to point out 
how easily even in that case St John might have been preferred in the 
Saviour's choice of His mother's earthly horned Mr Mayor supposes that 

1 Art. ' Brethren of the Lord,' Hastings' B. D. i. 324, Dr Zahn, who holds 
■with Mayor the HelviJian view, considers that the preference of St John is 
accounted for not on the ground of relationship, but because of the unbelief of 
the ' brethren.' 


our Lord's 'brethren,' that is to say, in his view, the younger sons 
of Joseph and Mary, were very probably married men with their own 
homes, and much more likely is it that if the 'brethren' were the stepsons 
of Joseph, and thus older than Jesus, they would have their own separate 
households. Moreover, this latter view gives a perfectly adequate account 
of the employment of the word 'brethren' in the Gospels, for if Joseph 
could be regarded popularly as the father of Jesus, it was not unnatural 
that the sons of Joseph should be regarded popularly as His brethren, and 
it must not be forgotten that the Virgin herself gives the title 'thy father' 
to Joseph, Luke ii. 48, although she knew the whole secret of the Lord's 
Birth. Moreover, the half-brothers of Jesus might well have been called 
dSfX^oi (although if cousins, there was no reason why they should not have 
been called dve'^ioi), just as in the O.T. we find the twelve patriarchs 
so called, although born of different mothers. 

But this Ei)iphanian view, which we are now considering, can appeal 
also to the voice of tradition, and that too to tradition probably reacliing 
back to the middle of the second century. It is no doubt quite true that 
the earlier sources of the tradition known to us are derived from two 
apocryphal books referred to by Origen, Comm. in Matth. xiii. 55, viz. 
the Gospel of Peter, and the Protevmigelium Jacohi (this latter book being 
the oldest and apparently the most influential of the apocryphal Gospels)'. 
It would seem that Origen favoured this view himself, that the 'brothers' of 
Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, and if Epiphanius mainly 
derived his information from Hegesippus (as Bishop Lightfoot urges), 
then the testimony of the latter may also be cited for the Epiphanian view, 
that is to say, the testimony of an early writer dating from Palestine about 
160A.D. and himself a Hebrew Christian. But on the other hand it must 
be remembered that Dr Zahn thinks it 'more than improbable' that 
Hegesippus shared the view afterwards associated with the name of 
Epiphanius, and he points out that in all the fragments of Hegesippus 
which he cites there is no evidence that the terms brother, cousin, uncle's 
son, grandson, are used in any but their natural sense. Quite apart, 
however, from the testimony of Hegesippus, it would seem that the 
Epiphanian view may at least claim the sanction of early tradition, a 
tradition which by no means necessarily has its base in a false asceticism, 
or in a depreciation of married life 2. And if we cannot say, with Lightfoot, 
that this view prevailed chiefly in Palestine, where such depreciatory views 
of the married state were not so acceptable as elsewhere in the Church, 

' This is the opinion of Dr Zahn, who regards this apocryphal Gospel as the 
oldest document containing the view advocated by Epiphanius. Dr Zahn 
apparently quite admits that the same view may have been held by Justin 
Martyr, but that he was influenced by the apocryphal Gospel just mentioned: 
Forschungen zur Geschichte des neutest. Kanons, p. 308 ; 1900. 

* It is of interest to note that Ephrem, althougli he maintains elsewhere the 
virginity of Mary, in the Armenian Version of his Commentary on Acts i. 13 
plainly regards James and Jude as sous of Joseph: J, Beudel Harris, Foar Lectures 
on the Western Text, p. 37. 


Epiphanius, it should be noted, claims to give us as his authority *the 
traditions of the Jews.' 

A writer in the Guardian, June 7, 1899, after stating very strongly his 
objection to a view based upon apocryphal Gospels, which places us 'in the 
region of pure romance' (Zahn speaks of 'the legendary theory'), admits at 
the same time that the Hieronymian and Helvidian views are open to 
greater objections, and that it might even be necessary to fall back 
upon the Epiphanian if there was no other alternative to these three views. 
He therefore argues with great force for a modification of the Hiero- 
nymian theory, and represents James the brother of the Lord, and James 
the son of Alphaeus, as the same person, being the cousin of Jesus on the 
paternal side, while on the Hieronymian view he was a cousin on the 
maternal side. He believes that the only difficulty is to be found in 
the fact that we are obliged to make the word for 'brother' mean 'cousin.' 
But some objections to the identification of the two terms, especially in the 
present instance, have been already mentioned, see p. xxvii., and no adequate 
reason has yet been alleged as to why the Evangelists did not use the word 
dveyl^ioi if they meant 'cousins^' This modification of the Hieronymian 
view also finds favour with Canon Meyrick in his able discussion of the 
whole question in Dr Smith's B. D. n.^ p. 1516, and he calls it the 
Hegesippian theoi-y, whilst the writer in the Guardian prefers to call 
it the historical tradition of Hegesippus. But it may be fairly said that the 
passages in Hegesippus are open to a very different interpretation, and it 
seems strange that the theory associated above with his name should 
have obtained no hold in the Church if Hegesippus, in Canon Meyrick's 
words, is our earliest witness, being born about the year 100, and if his 
means of information, as a Palestinian converted Jew, were thus infinitely 
superior to those of others. 

The Hieronymian view, to which reference has just been made, owes its 
origin to St Jerome^. But it must always remain a serious obstacle to its 
acceptance that until the days of its author it never seems to have occurred 
to anyone ; indeed St Jerome never attempts to claim any traditional 
support for it^, and even he himself is inconsistent in his own want 

1 See also Zahn, Forschungen zur Geschichte der neutest. Kanons, p, 360, and 
Farrar, Early Days of Christianity, pp. 273, 274. 

' Dr Plummer in a most interesting note, St James, p. 30, points out that Dr 
Dollinger in earlier days supported the identification of James of Alpliaeus with 
James the Lord's brother, but in June, 1877, he told Dr Plummer that he 
regarded his former opinion as mistaken, and that he was convinced that the 
Apostle James of Alphaeus was to be distinguished from James the Lord's 
brother. The Eastern Church, he added, had always distinguished the two, and 
he considered that their identification in the West was due to the influence of St 

» Dr Zahn examines at length, u. s. pp. 235, 320, the attempt to claim Hegesip- 
pus as a supporter of this view, but not only would it be strange that Hegesippus 
should advocate a view of which there is no trace in literature until 383 a.d. but 
he names James the first bishop of the Church of Jerusalem as the ' brother of 
the Lord,' and his successor Symeon as the 'cousin of the Lord.' Of. Eus. H. E. 
II. 23, and iv. 22. 4. Could Hegesippus have written thus, asks Dr Plummer, 
if James was really a cousin ? 


of adherence to it (Lightfoot, Galntians, p. 260). Moreover, whateyer may 
be said of other theories, this theory at all events avowedly had for its 
object the assertion of the virginity of Mary^ 

Of this Hieronymian view, or rather of a modification of it, Mr Meyrick 
(see u. s.) has been the most conspicuous defender. But we have already 
seen how difficult it is to substantiate one of his main arguments, viz. that 
Alphaeus and Cleophas are the same name (see p. xxvii. above). It may also 
be urged that if on the Hieronymian view we identify James the son of 
Alphaeus with James the brother of the Lord, it is very difficult to account 
for St John's statement that even His brethren did not believe on Him, 
vii. 5, since in that case one of the 'brethren' and possibly two others were 
already Apostles ; and if the writer of the Epistle of St James was an 
Apostle, as the theory before us also supposes, we are not only at a loss to 
accoxmt for the absence of any claim in the Epistle to Apostolic authorship, 
but also for any hesitation as to the reception of the letter by the Church 
if there was any valid ground for regarding it as of Apostolic authorship. 

In favour of the Helvidian view, i.e. the view advocated by Helvidius 
about A.D. 380, the earliest reference is made to the testimony of Ter- 
tullian, who plainly regarded the ' brethren ' as uterine brothers of Jesus, 
Adv. Marc. iv. 19; De Came Christi, 7; De Monogam. 8. 

But it can scarcely be said that the Helvidian view gained any 
wide adherence in the Church, although Zahn would claim for it the 
support not only of Bonosus and Jovinianus, who seem to have used it for 
controversial purposes, but also of Victorinus of Pet taw. St Jerome, 
however, although not prepared to deny the testimony of TertuUian, 
questions the validity of the attempt to claim Victorinus as an adherent of 
Helvidius. Additional support for the Helvidian view is also found in the 
tenets of the sect called the Antidicomarianites, i.e. adversaries of Mary, 
Epiphan. Haer. Ixxix., who were contemporary with Helvidius and 
Bouosus. This sect adopted the Helvidian view, and thus claimed to cut 
away the ground from the Collyridian superstition, which paid honour 
to Mary as the Virgin. 

In modern days a number of distinguished names may no doubt be 
quoted in favour of this Helvidian view, e.g. Alford, Edersheim, Farrar, 
Mayor, Plummer, and amongst German writers, B. Weiss, Meyer, Beyschlag, 
SieflFert, Zahn. But it must in all fairness be acknowledged that so far as 
the interpretation of the language of Scripture is concerned we are not 
shut up of necessity to the Helvidian view, nor is the use of the term 
'firstbora' so 'obvious' as it seems to the writer (Dr O. Cone) of the 
Art. 'James' in the Encycl. Bihlica. Of the three (or four) views put 
forward we prefer to adopt with Bishop Lightfoot the Epiphanian view, 
not only because of its probable antiquity, but also because, without any 
depreciation of marriage, it answers to our feelings of reverence and 
reserve in relation to the Virgin mother of the Lord*. 

^ See also Mayor, Art. 'Brethren,' u.t. p. 322. 

* Amongst the more recent literature bearing on the subjoct we may 
mention the valuable articles * Brethren of the Lord,' ' Jamea,' and ' Mary,' by 



XIII. Modern Criticism and the Epistle of St James. 

In the preceding pages we have already dealt to some extent 
with recent literature connected with this Epistle. For convenience, 
in our further treatment of the subject, it may be well to divide the 
various writers with whom we are concerned into three groups : 
(1) those who accept a very early date for the Epistle, (2) those 
who prefer a later date, although still regarding James the Lord's 
brother, or James the son of Alphaeus, as the author, (3) those 
who place the Epistle at the end of the first, or in the second 
century, and ipso facto refer it to some unknown writer. 

It has been said of the first view that in this country it has 
always been a favourite (Moffatt's Historical N. T. p. 577). But, 
with the frequent assumption that German criticism is altogether 
hostile to conservative views of date and authorship, it is entirely 
forgotten that some very distinguished names in German theological 
literature may be quoted in favour of the view in question, e.g. 
Neander, Ritschl, Lechler, Mangold, Beyschlag, and amongst living 
scholars B. Weiss, Zahn, Nosgen and Belser. In face of such 
testimony it is very puzzling to know why Harnack should tell 
us that the advocates of an early date, which would place the 
Epistle in the Apostolic age, are becoming more and more dis- 
regarded {Chron. i. p. 486). 

It is no doubt true to say that since Alford this early date has 
been advocated by many English scholars, but it is surely somewhat 
arbitrary to affirm that 'there is little pith or moment' (Moffatt, 
u. 5. p. 577) in a theory supported, not only by the names to which 
we have already referred, but also by Plumptre, Mayor, Chase, 
Fulford, Carr, Pullan, and Bartlet. 

We must also not forget that many English scholars find a place 
in our second group, e.g. Hort, Salmon, Sanday, Farrar, Bennett, 
Parry (Plummer is undecided between the two early dates), and 
that in Germany Feine and Sieffert are in accordance with them. 
These writers would apparently date the Epistle within a short 
distance of the death of James the Lord's brother. The Romanist 

Professor Mayor in Dr Hastings' B. D.; the lengthy and important examination 
of the diSerent theories by Dr Zahn, Forschimgen zur Geschichte des ntuteat. 
Kanom, pp. 225-363 (1900); Sieffert, Art. ' Jakobus ' in the 3rd edition of 
Herzog'B Realencyclopadie ; and the treatment of the question by Mr Goudge, 
1 Corinthian*, ia the Westminster Commentaries. 


writer Trenkle adopts the same date, but he agrees with his fellow- 
Romanists Schegg and Belser in regarding James the son of 
Alphaeus as the author, and in identifying him with James the 
Lord's brother. 

Those who thus adopt an intermediary date do not get rid 
of considerable difficulties. If it is allowed that the controversy as 
to the obligation of the Mosaic Law had cooled down, and that there 
was no need to refer to it, we must not forget that it is one thing to 
omit a reference to a subject of a controversial character, but another 
thing to write throughout as if the controversy had never occurred. 
St Paul in the Epistle to the Ephesians, which could not be far 
removed from the intermediary date for our Epistle, cannot forget 
the controversy, although no doubt he looks back upon it as upon a 
battle already won. But in St James there is no hint that the 
controversy had ever taken place, and it is difficult to believe that 
if he was writing at the date supposed he should have omitted to 
take any notice of the new relationship established between Jew 
and Gentile, and of the changed conditions thus involved. 

Another difficulty in the way of this intermediary date is the 
assumption that the Epistle presupposes a later and not a very early 
stage of Christian development, and that its conceptions represent 
the results of a considerable period of Christian activity and thought. 
But if we turn to 1 Thess., a letter addressed to a mixed Church, we 
find that in its pages a very considerable stage of Cliiistian growth 
and doctrine has been reached ; and yet the Epistle was written 
much closer to the earliest date demanded for the Epistle of 
St James than to the intermediary date required by the view which 
we are considering. How much e.g. of Christian teaching is con- 
tained and presupposed in such words as these, 'remembering 
without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love and patience 
of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father,' 
1 Thess. i. 3. 

Moreover, on the theory that St James was writing in the early 
sixties, it becomes very difficult, as we have already maintained, to 
explain his position with regard to St Paul in the famous passage 
ii. 14-26. If St James is not opposing St Paul, but some per- 
version of St Paul's teaching, we must remember that from the 
time of Gal. ii. 1-10 St James would have had some definite 
knowledge of St Paul's teaching, and if in his Epistle he is opposing 
perversions of that teaching, he does so in a most extraordinary 


manner, as he makes no effort to explain St Paul's true position, 
which he must have known. We have already expressed the 
opinion that any direct polemic is out of the question, but the 
explanation of the passage ii. 14-26 becomes much more easy 
on the supposition of a very early date\ and in the belief 
that St James and St Paul were evidently concerned with very 
different meanings of 'faith' and 'works,' when the former was 
writing the Epistle which bears his name, and the latter was writing 
his Epistle to the Romans'. 

Some of the views characteristic of the third group of critics have 
been already discussed, and those who desire a further criticism of 
Pfleiderer, Jiilicher, Harnack, von Soden, will find it in the two 
editions of Professor Mayor's invaluable work. 

More recently these German critics have been supported by 
the American writers McGiffert, Bacon, 0. Cone, and in England 
by Dr Moffatt. 

But there are variations in date amongst the American as 
amongst the German writers, and the same unsatisfactory solutions 
of the difficulties of the letter. Dr Cone e.g. thinks it far more 
probable that the writing is the product of the second century than 
of the Apostolic age, Encycl. Bibl. ii. 2326 ; McGiffert inclines to 
the belief that the letter was written before the end of the first 
century by some Jewish-Christian 'to whom Paul meant no more 
than any other travelling Apostle or Evangelist ' {Apostolic Age, 
p. 584). But this latter date brings the Epistle perilously near the 
date of the Epistle of St Clement of Rome (a document which in 
spite of some recent objections we are fully justified in placing 
within a few years of the close of the first century), in which St 
Clement could wiite from Rome to the Corinthians and bid them to 
take up the Epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul {Cor. xlvii. 1). But 
if the conclusions which we have previously affirmed are correct, 
it is difficult to suppose that St Clement would have balanced the 
teaching of some unknown and obscure writer against the teaching 
of 'the blessed Apostle' (see page xlix.). In one point, however, 

^ An article appeared in the Expository Times, April, 1903, by the Eev. 
T. A. Gurney, who makes another recent advocate of the intermediary date. But 
it is interesting to note that his paper produced a reply in the same magazine for 
June in which Mrs Margaret Gibson inclines strongly to the very early date for 
the Epistle, and for its priority to Romans and 1 Peter. 

* The point is very clearly drawn out by M6n6goz in Die Rechtfertigungslehre 
tiaeh Paulus und nach Jakobus (translated from the French), 1903. 


we can heartily agree with McGiffert as against his two fellow- 
countrymen, viz. in the belief that the Epistle bearing the name 
of James was not written in Rome. 

The most recent German writer on the Epistle of St James 
is Dr Grafe, of Bonn. References will be found to his work in the 
preceding pages, and as it has gained the high praise of Schiirer 
some little time has been spent upon it. But the reply of B. Weiss 
in the Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, May and June, 1904, should also 
be studied (see above p. Ixi.). 

There is, however, one point on which Dr Grafe and the most 
extreme advocates of a later date for St James are in agreement 
with those who advocate the earlier dates mentioned above, viz. 
in their rejection of the theory proposed by Spitta and Massebieau 
as to the origin of the Epistle. This ingenious theory fails to com- 
mend itself to writers who are in many respects far removed from 
each other's standpoint. Thus in Germany, Harnack and Zahn, 
in America McGiffert and Cone, in France M^n^goz, in Holland 
van Manen, in England Mayor and Moffatt, all agree in this rejection 
(see also p. xv.)\ 

It would be an easy, although a somewhat profitless task, to 
show how the various German writers who advocate a late date for 
the Epistle contradict one another in points of detail. 

But it is more important to observe how signally this third 
group of critics fail to explain why the title ' James ' should have 
been bestowed upon the author or reviser of the letter, or why the 
reference to persecutions should be taken to mean the organised 
persecutions of the Roman power, or why the mention of elders of 
the Church should indicate a late date of ecclesiastical development, 
or why words and phrases capable of a simple explanation should be 
supposed to contain a reference to the tenets of Gnosticism or to 
the Orphic mysteries, or why the absence of references to the facts 
of the Life of our Lord should be more intelligible in the middle of 
the second than in the middle of the first century. 

On the other hand it may be fairly urged that there is much in 
recent literature which makes a helpful contribution to the many 
varied questions connected with this Epistle. 

Thus e.g. it has enabled us to realise more fully the Jewish 
background and allusions of the letter on the one hand, and its 

^ Dr Moffatt, while rejecting Spitta's theory on the whole, still regards the 
words * our Jesus Christ ' as a gloss : Historical N. T. p, 706, 2nd edit. 


definite Christian tone and teaching on the other ; it has reminded 
us that the social persecutions to which reference is made may be 
fairly regarded as Jewish in their character, as inflicted by Jews 
upon Jews ; it has furnished us with a valuable and fresh proof from 
the papyri of the widespread knowledge of the Greek language, and 
of the likelihood of the possession of such knowledge by St James ; 
it has shown us this Epistle standing as it were between pre- 
Christian and Jewish literature on the one hand, and the post- 
Apostolic Christian writings on the other', occupying a position 
unique in the commanding personality of its author, and in the 
originality and weightiness of its contents ^ 

XIV. Modern Life, and some Aspects of the Teaching of St James. 

It is customary to speak of the practical morality of St James, 
and to note this as one of the chief characteristics of his Epistle. 
What is the bearing of this practical tone upon our modern social 
surroundings ? A very close one ; and this closeness may be seen 
to be none the less important whilst we fully recognise at the same 
time the social conditions in which St James actually wrote. 

We have already described (Introd. p. xxxiv.) the nature of these 
conditions, and there is no difficulty in supposing that St James 
from his position in the metropolis knew what was going on in the 
various Churches of Palestine and Syria, and that the peculiar 

1 Dr Eric Haupt, in a review of Spitta's book which has attracted much 
attention, Stndien mid Kritiken, 1896, confesses himself at a loss about our 
Epistle. He cannot agree with Spitta, although he is much inclined to do so, 
nor can he adopt the early and pre-Pauline date for the letter which he had 
formerly advocated. His reason is that some of the expressions cannot, in his 
opinion, be ascribed to St James, the Lord's brother. Amongst these he notices 
the whole of v. 6 in ch. iii. and such phrases as ' the engrafted word,' and ' the 
wheel of nature.' To these expressions special attention is directed in the notes 
of this commentary, as also to others upon which Dr Haupt dwells, e.g. ' the 
face of his birth,' 'variation,' and 'shadow cast by turning.' Feine, Jakohushrief, 
p. 142, well points out how many of the haimx legomena in St James, so far as 
the N.T. is concerned, are found also in the lxx, and he gives us a list of some 
fifteen words which may be thus explained. 

2 Amongst the older commentaries which have been found useful in prepara- 
tion those of Schneckenburger, Kern, Theile, Schegg, Cellerier, Gebser (valuable 
patristic references), and of Euthymius Zigabenus, may be mentioned. The prac- 
tical lessons of the Epistle are well drawn out in Dr Dale's Epistle of St James ; 
in a series of articles by Dr S. Cox in the Expositor, i. p. 65, iv. p. 441, 4th 
series ; by Mr Adderley in his Notes for General Readers ; by Ethel Komanes, 
Meditations on the Epistle of St James, 1903 ; and by R. Kogel, Der Brief des 
Jakobus in fiinfundzwanzig Predigten ausgelegt, 2nd edit. 1901. The Bishop 
of Eipon's Wiidom of James the Just contains many striking and interesting 


Jewish sins which St James condemns could scarcely fail to appear 
wherever Jewish communities were formed or existed^ 

With St James's knowledge of his countrymen and of the social 
life of the Jewish capital it is no wonder that he speaks in tones of 
indignation against the rich and their misuse of wealth, and the 
words which describe the estimation of poverty and riches current 
amongst the Hebrew people in the days of Jesus may be employed 
no less forcibly of the social environment of St James. 'There 
came to exist among them what has been called a "genius for hatred" 
of the rich. "Woe unto you," says the Book of Enoch, "who heap 
up silver and gold and say, We are growing rich and possess all we 
desire." " Your riches shall not remain for you, but shall suddenly 
disappear ; because you have gained all unjustly, and you yourselves 
shall receive greater damnation" {Enoch, xcvii. 8 ff.)': Professor 
Peabody, Jesus Christ and the Social Question, p. 206. 

But it may be doubted whether this writer does not go too far in 
describing St James's language as that of unsparing attack and bitter 
irony and of positive indictment against the prosperous as sinners. 
It may be rather said that his remarks on the teaching of Jesus are 
singularly applicable to the teaching of St James : ' The desire of 
the nation should be turned altogether away from the thought of 
wealth as a sign of piety, or of poverty as a sign of divine disfavour. 

There is but one supreme end for the life of rich and poor alike 

— the service of the kingdom ; and there is but one fundamental 
decision for all to make — the decision whether they will serve God 
or Mammon ' {u. s. pp. 207, 221). The truth is that St James like 
his Lord refuses to lay down any social plan, or to draw up any 
definite programme, or to say a word to alter the existing conditions 
of society by any violent or revolutionary scheme'. 

But if it be correct to say that the Gospel takes what is best in 
socialism and individualism alike, this is also a correct estimation of 
the social teaching of St James. No one is more sensible of the evils 
arising trom respect of persons, and of the hollowness of a faith 

1 Zahn, Skizzen aus dem Lebeii der alten Kirche, pp. 44, 45. 

2 ' Jesus laid down no social programme for the suppression of poverty and 
distress, if by programme we mean a set of definitely prescribed regulations. 
With economical conditions and contemporary circumstances He did not inter- 
fere. Had He become entangled in them, had He given laws which were ever so 
salutary for Palestine, what would He have gained by it ? They would have 
served the needs of a day, and to-morrow would have been antiquated. To the 
Gospel they would have been a burden and a source of confusion' — Harnack, 
What i$ Christianity f p. 97; and Zahn, u. s. pp. 50-58. 


claiming reality without the love which is * life's only sign' ; no one is 
more keenly alive to the need of embracing rich and poor alike in a 
common brotherhood ; but no one is less * careless of the single life ' ; 
philanthropy does not exhaust ' religion ' ; the ' religious ' man must 
fulfil, it is true, the royal law of love, ii. 8, but he must not forget 
the virtues which concern so intimately his own inmost life ; love, 
for example, cannot survive the loss of purity, for impurity is 
selfishness. St James no less than St Peter would have us honour 
all men, and that honour must be extended even to those who 
provoke us and stir our anger, since in each fellow-mortal we see 
not merely a man taken from the same common clay, but a man 
made in the image of God, iii. 9. 

Again, it is noticeable that whilst St James is not writing to 
Churches in which organisation was unknown, whilst he is not 
writing to feUow-countrymen who were unacquainted with organised 
charity and practical relief ^ he lays stress upon personal service as 
due from all alike within the Christian community'^ ; and here again 
St James catches the spirit of his Master, for He too in His relations 
with the poor teaches us the method and the blessing of individual- 
ised charity : ' it is difficult to overestimate the significance of the 
fact that in the relation of Jesus to the poor He deals almost 
exclusively with individuals.' 

The socialism then of St James is a Christian socialism, not only 
because it regards men's social instincts in the light of 'the faith of 
our Lord Jesus Christ,' but also because it takes account of each 
man's worth, of each man's responsibility, in the sight of God, The 
Christian life is not only social, it is personal; the Christian is to 
visit the fatherless and widow, but he is also to keep himself unspotted 
from the world. In days when men are tempted to think lightly of 
what are sometimes called the self-regarding virtues, it is well to 
remember that both St James and St Paul enforce this same practical 
combination, and that the earliest Epistle of St Paul, like this Epistle 
of St James, lays the same stress upon social morality and personal 
purity ; Christians were to support the weak, and to be long-suffering 

^ ' The Hebrew race, throughout its entire history, has been endowed with 
a peculiar sense of responsibility for its weaker brethren, and in modern life is 
excelled by no element in any community in thoroughness and munificence of 
organised charity,' Peabody, u. s. p. 228. 

2 On the importance of this factor of personal service see the remarks of 
President Roosevelt, Contemporary Review, Nov. 1902; and on the danger of 
losing it if social settlements become nothing more than ' centres of organisa- 
tion,' see Mr C. F. Masterman's Essay in The Heart of the Empire, 1901. 


towards all men, but each one of them was to know how to possess 
himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honour, 1 Thess. iv, 

But, further, the socialism of St James is a Christian socialism, 
not only because it would have us act in the spirit of Christ, but 
because it would have us remember Christian, supernatural motives, 
and because it appeals at every turn to a supernatural life. The 
wisdom which men are to seek is derived not from man, but from 
God ; it is gained by prayer ; it is not of the earth, earthy, but from 
above, iii. 17; not only the poor, but the rich are to seek the honour 
which Cometh from God only, i. 9, cf. ii. 5 ; endurance of temptation 
is to be rewarded not by earthly success, but by the crown of life 
promised to those who are lovers not of themselves but of God ; by 
the word of truth we are begotten to a new and divine life, and the 
salvation of our souls is wrought by this engrafted word; pure 
'religion' is to consist in the visitation of the fatherless and the widow, 
but the 'religion' of the Christian is not exhausted by the practice 
of morality, it is a religion which binds us to a Person, 'our God and 

' There is a vastly prevalent idea,' says a recent writer in a widely 
read journal, ' that the chief good thing in connection with religion 
is "Christian work," this distinctly lessens any interest in religion, 
being really a mere patting of religion on the back on the score of 
its philanthropic appendages^' But, however this may be, one thing 
is certain that the Epistle of St James, while it insists so strongly 
upon practical Christianity, never allows us to forget that religion 
is the root, of which morality and philanthropy are the fruit, and that 
Christian work is the outcome of faith and prayer. Moreover, the 
exhortation to the simplest duties of brotherhood, ii. 1, is based upon 
words which remind us irresistibly of the grace and the beauty of 
Him, Who although rich, yet for our sakes became poor, 2 Cor. viii. 
9; the entire surrender of self which God demands is to be gained, 
and can only be gained, by fresh bestowals of a supernatural gift, 
' He giveth more grace/ iv. 6 ; far above the reference to any earthly 
tribunal ranks the appeal to the one Judge and Lawgiver, iv. 12; 
God rules the world, not chance; a will, a Divine will directs the affairs 
of men, the will of the Lord and Father, iii. 9, iv. 13; the motive to 
patience lies in the recollection of tlie future coming of the Judge — 
an appeal to that side of the teaching of Jesus, in which modern 

1 Hibbert Journal, Jan. 1900, p. 245. 


socialism only sees an attempt of the Christian Church to cajole the 
poor into contentedness with the poverty and sufferings of this 
present evil Avorld ' — the Judge standeth at the door, the coming of 
the Lord draweth nigh, v. 8, 9. Whatever else criticism may effect 
it cannot rob the Epistle of the appeals to these supernatural 
elements ; they are bound up with it, they are apparent throughout 
it ; their constraining power is involved from first to last ; the 
presence of God, the love of God, the judgment of God; these three 
thoughts are to pervade and sanctify all human life, in its seasons of 
crisis and peril, but no less in the daily round and common task; 
trial is to be welcomed and rewarded, selfishness is to be expelled, 
and murmurings are to cease, v. 9 ; the inequalities of life, its poverty 
and wealth, its joys and sorrows alike, are to be viewed in the lead- 
ing and in the light of God ; and lo ! the crooked will be made smooth, 
and the rough places plain; ' is any suffering? let him pray; is any 
cheerful? let him sing praise' ; 'give what Thou wilt, without Thee 
we are poor ; and with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away.' 

And in these three characteristic thoughts of St James we may 
further see the foundation and strength of the virtue which is also so 
characteristic of him, the virtue of patience. If St John may be called 
the Apostle of Love, and St Peter the Apostle of Hope, St James 
may be called the Apostle of Patience. He would have us learn 
patience in temptation, in good works, under provocation, in per- 
secution, in waiting still upon God. And here again he has a word 
of exhortation to which a modern world might well give heed. St 
James's outlook was very different from our own, but whether we are 
studying the world of nature, or the world of history, we have need of 
this same virtue of patience. The words of Bishop Butler have certainly 
not diminished, but have rather gained in strength since he wrote 
them, and they may still be of use to those who are tempted to wonder 
that if Christianity comes from God, its progress should be so slow : 
' Men are impatient, and for precipitating things, but the Author of 
Nature appears deliberate, accomplishing His natural ends by slow, 
successive steps.' Or we turn to the world of history, and even 
where we can only see a part of His ways, we may learn a lesson of 
faith and trust that God's own patience will also have its perfect 
work : 'Small as our subject was (the history of Cyprus and Armenia) 
it was a part of that which touches all, the world's government and 

1 See the valuable paper ou the ' yocial Teaching of Jesus,' Dr Stalker, 
Expositor, Feb. 1902. 


the long patience of Providence. "And I said, It is mine own 
infirmity, but I will remember the years of the right hand of the 
Most Highest." ' Bishop Stubbs, Lectures on Mediaevctl and Modern 
History, p. 207 (see also on ch. v. 7, in commentary). 

There are many other ways in which the stern and practical 
words of St James have a special message for our own day, and some 
attempt has been made to show this in tlie notes on the text. 

We can scarcely fail, for example, to see how he would rebuke 
the common tendency to throw the blame of sinful action or moral 
failure upon our circumstances, our heredity, our weakness of mind 
or body, upon anything or anyone except ourselves. And so here, 
as elsewhere, we may mark the practical character of St James's 
teaching. He deals with temptation not merely as a philosopher, 
but after the manner of one of the old prophets, a preacher of 
righteousness. At the same time he gives us what we may perhaps 
call the first attempt at an analysis of temptation as a Christian 
moralist would view it; outward circumstances alone cannot become 
an incentive to sin, unless there is in the man's own heart, in the 
man himself, some irregular, uncontrolled desire, his own lust, as 
St James calls it, by which he is enticed to a love altogether alien 
from the love of God (see notes on i. 13). 

Or, again, we may see how in an intellectual age, in an age 
which boasts itself in ' the irresistible maturing of the general mind,' 
St James would recall men to the knowledge that true wisdom is 
first of all pure; not primarily intellectual, or metaphysical, but 
spiritual and moral. And if we ask from what source St James 
derived these qualities of wisdom, it is not unreasonable, in view of 
his Christian experience, to answer from the life of Christ, ' Learn of 
Me ; for I am meek and lowly of heart.' Our Lord had spoken of 
a wisdom revealed to those who had taken upon them His yoke, and 
so St James could speak of the 'meekness of wisdom.' Our Lord 
had spoken of a vision of God which was granted to the pure in 
heart, and so St James could speak of a Divine wisdom which was 
not sensual or earthly, but first of all pure. Our Lord had spoken 
of the peacemakers as the sons of God, and so for St James the 
wisdom of the Christian was pure, then peaceable. Our Lord had 
warned men against a divided heart, *Ye cannot serve God and 
Mammon,' He had condemned the religious teachers of the day as 
hypocrites, and so St James exhorts to the possession of a wisdom 
free from doubtfulness and hypocrisy. Our Lord had called him 


a wise man who heard His words and did them, and so St James in 
answer to the question 'Who is wise and understanding among you?' 
makes answer, ' Let him show by his good life his works in meekness 
of wisdom.' 

And this same question and answer of St James may be of further 
and w'ider import in our own day, when we are so repeatedly told that 
the lives of professing Christians, of those who are hearers only and 
not doers of the word, present the greatest obstacle to the spread of 
Christianity, when the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ is tested by its 
power to guide and influence human conduct. A few months before 
the war broke out with Russia the leader of the Progressive party 
in Japan, speaking to a society of young men in the capital, main- 
tained that the new education had left the moral evils of Japan 
untouched, and that development had been intellectual, not moral. 
' But,' he added, ' the efforts which Christians are making to supply 
to the country a high standard of conduct are welcomed by all right- 
thinking people. As you read your Bible you may think that it is 
out of date. The words it contains may so appear. But the noble 
life which it holds up to admiration is something which will never be 
out of date, however much the world may progress. Live and 
preach this life, and you will supply to the nation just what it wants 
at the present juncture.' It is no wonder that the attitude of Japan 
towards Christianity is stated to be one of keen and yet respectful 
sympathy, and what men are chiefly looking for in Japan, as 
everywhere, is the evidence of Christianity in conduct. And in this 
Epistle of St James we may hear from end to end not only the 
bracing call of duty, but the call to go on to perfection : 'ye shall be 
perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.' We have been well 
reminded that the word 'perfect' occurs more frequently in this 
short Epistle than in any other book of the New Testament ; before 
the Christian there is set the standard of a 'perfect law' and the 
character of a ' perfect man.' 

With this ideal before him, we cannot wonder at the indignant 
protest of St James against the servile fawning upon the rich and 
the studied disregard of the poor, a protest loud and deep against 
the temper of mind which prompts men to estimate everything not 
by moral but by material wealth and worth, a temper which injures 
rich and poor alike, engendering intolerable arrogancy in the one, 
and envious dissatisfaction in the other. In the manifestation of 
this temper men become not only judges, but judges 'with evil 


thoughts/ ii. 4; in this respect of persons they cannot preserve 
the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom even His enemies 
witnessed that He 'regarded not the person of men.' 

We see further how this same disposition of mind leads men to 
take a wrong estimate not merely of their relationship to their 
fellow-men, but of their relationship to God, how the passionate 
pursuit of pleasure and gain overrides the claims of God and 
banishes the thought of God ; and those who best know the sorts 
and conditions of life characteristic of our great cities also know that 
in the love of money and the restless craving for amusement the 
moral and spiritual energies are exhausted, and that covetousness is 
idolatry, whether the lust of impurity banishes the vision of God, 
or the greed of gain rules the heart and mind. We may be sure 
that in days characterised not always by high thinking, but in every 
grade of life by much talking, St James would point us not merely 
to the moralist who regards speech as of silver, and silence as 
golden, but to the judgment of a greater than any moralist, of One 
before Whom we must one day be made manifest and stand to be 
judged, *By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words 
thou shalt be condemned ' ; he would remind us that however widely 
man has been enabled to replenish the earth and subdue it, however 
loudly he may boast of his increasing knowledge of himself, of his 
moral and mental powers, one little member of the human body, the 
tongue, is still untamed ; and if St Paul bids men to speak the truth 
because of their membership one of another in the One Lord, St 
James would warn them against hasty judgments and intemperate 
speech by the constant reminder of their brotherhood in Christ. 

In that word 'brother,' so often repeated, St James declares 
himself 'a man of like passions,' v. 17, with those whom he would 
help to save, and in its utterance mercy rejoiceth against judgment. 

St James in his love of man and of nature has recently been 
compared in some striking words to St Francis of Assisi, whilst his 
sternness and insistence on the moral law suggest a comparison with 
another great teacher of Italy, Savonarola (Bartlet, Apostolic Age, 
p. 248'). 

But the Epistle of St James presents not only, as we might 
expect, points of Hkeness to the lives of great Christian teachers of 

1 Dean Plumptre sees in Macarius of Egypt, in Thomas a Kempis, in Bishop 
Wilson the same ideal of life, the aim at the wisdom which is from above, pure, 
peaceable, and carrying with it the persuasive power of gentleness, St Jumes, 
p. 34. 


a later date, it is in itself an Imitatio Ghristi. The tenderness, 
and yet the severity of St James, his sympathy with nature and 
with man, and yet his hatred and denunciation of man's sin, his 
sense of man's supreme dignity, and yet of his entire dependence 
upon God, as we note all this in the pages of St James are we not 
reminded of the human life of Him iu Whom St James had learnt 
to see his Master and his Lord ? 

But the Master and Lord of men was also their servant, ' I am 
amongst you as he that serveth ' (Luke xxii. 27), and for St James 
the Christian life is a life of service ; in his opening sentence he 
proclaims himself as the bondservant of Jesus Christ, ' the greatest 
servant in the world,' as Lacordaire was wont to call Him ; his 
closing exhortation bids a man to be ready to do a service for his 
brother-man which most resembles the work of Him Who came to 
seek and to save ; he is the servant of Christ ; but as such he is also 
*servus servorum Dei,' of men made in the image of God. 


Contents of the Epistle. 

It is not easy to make an analysis of the contents of this Epistle, and 
the varied nature of the attempts to do so may be seen by a comparison 
of the elaborate table of Cellerier, UEpitre de St Jaques, pp. xxiii-v. (1850), 
with the few lines given to the subject in more recent Commentaries. The 
terseness and abruptness which characterise parts of the letter sometimes 
seem to lend countenance to the view that we are dealing with what was 
originally a homily, full of earnest exhortation to newness and perfection 
of life, and of wholesome warning against worldliness and degeneracy. 
This view that the Epistle was in the first instance a homily, delivered 
perhaps primarily to the Jerusalem Church and then circulated in its 
present form amongst the Churches of the Jemsh Diaspora (Sieffert speaks 
of it as a circular pastoi-al letter), is held to account for the want of close 
systematic constraction in the letter. Harnack, indeed, would see in the 
Epistle not one homily but a collection of homilies, but even if we admit 
the lack of continuous argument, there seems to be no need for such an 
elaborate hypothesis. 

But those who adopt an earlier date for the compilation of the 
Epistle also justly lay stress upon the moral advice and hortatory form 
of its pages, as contrasted with some of the more dogmatic of the New 
Testament books, and they see in it, as noted above (see Introd. p. xxxiv.), 
references not only to the duties of daily Christian life, but also to the 
special features of a life lived amidst the religious, social and commercial 
surroundings of the Jewish Diaspora, in the first half of the first Christian 
century. And this consideration may help us to see that the \vriting before 
us is not merely an 'Ej)istle,' not merely a piece of literature containing a 
purely ideal address and dealing with nothing but general questions; it is 
rather characterised by some, at least, of the personal and intimate relation- 
ships of a 'letter'; it treats of special circmnstances, and by no means of 
vague generalities, it is not the product of art and of man's device, but of 
stern and actual experiences of life (on the distinction between an 'Epistle' 
and a 'letter,' see Deissmann's Art. 'Epistolary Literature,' Encycl. Bibl. ii.y. 

It is of course quite possible that one of the most marked features in 
the writer's style of repeating a leading word of a sentence, or one allied 
to it, in the sentence which succeeds, may also have influenced not only the 

^ In his valuable and suggestive Jesus Christ and the Socinl Question, 
Professor Peabody is perhaps also open to the charge of forgetting that the 
strong denunciations of St James were prompted by the special social conditions 
around him, pp. 197 ff. 

K. 1 


emphasis or definiteness of the wilting, but also the sequence of the writer's 
thoughts. But however this may be, the main subjects and divisions of the 
Epistle may perhaps be paraphrased as follows in their practical bearing K 


1 — 12. Trials (temptations) from without, to be received with joy. In 
the proof, the testing which they bring, patience (endurance) is worked out, 
i.e. completed, and in that A\orking out, pei'fection is gained. But this 
perfection cannot be attained to without wisdom, and wisdom cannot be 
attained to vdthout faith ; lacking faith a man does not endure, he has no 
stedfastness, but is unstable in all his ways. This joy, this exulting in trial, 
may be the lot of rich and poor alike : for the latter learns that having 
nothing he is, nevertheless, an heir of the kingdom of God ; the former 
learns that while earthly riches cannot last, endurance of trial brings the 
true riches, blessedness and the crown of life. 13 — 15. Temptation from 
within. While the Christian should rejoice in trial, i.e. the external circum- 
stances of temptation, the inner side of temptation must not be referred 
by a common but fatal mistake to God ; for as God, who is absolute goodness, 
cannot be tempted by evil, He tempts no man to sin. The tempter is the 
man's own lust, and lust begets sin, and sin when it has reached maturity 
brings forth death. 16 — 18. The mistake of regarding God as a tempter 
is enforced from the positive side. God is light, wath Him is no darkness 
at all ; God is the same, He changes not ; and so, while man's wilful and 
fitful desires result in sin and death, the Divine will begets men, not for 
death, but for life by the Word of truth, the instrument of a new birth. 
The Divine purpose sees in those who are thus begotten, not the whole 
of a new creation, but the firstfruits of it ; in us as Christians God makes 
manifest to the world what He desires that all men should become. 
19—21. What is to be our attitude towards this Word of God, by which 
we are thus born again to newness of life ? For the reception of this Divine 
Word we must prepare to be ready hearers, and refrain from hasty speaking 
and unruly passion ; all that is impure and malicious must be stript off ; we 
must be clothed instead with meekness. 22 — 25. But receptivity must 
be succeeded by activity, and hearing by doing ; unlike a man who looks at 
his face in a mirror, and with a glance is gone, forgetting what he looked 
like, it is needful for us to stoop do^vn and gaze into the heavenly mirror, 
the perfect law of liberty, and to make that law our bounden duty and 
service ; thus we shall be blessed in our doing. 26. A man may seem to 
be 'religious,' he may observe the outward ceremonial and the ordinances of 
' religion,' but if he offends in his tongue, his religion is vain. 27. With 
God and the Father — the God of the fatherless, and the defender of the 
cause of the widow — the ritual which is pure and undefiled is the imitation 
of His own mercy, and the endeavour to walk in love, with watchful care 
against the evil world. 

^ For a recent attempt to trace a poetical structure in this Epistle and in 
that of St Jude see the Journal of Theol. Studies, July, 1904. 



I. James, a ^servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion, ^greeting. 

^ Gr, bondservant. ^ Gr. wishethjoy. 

I. 1. James. See Introd. p. xxiv. 

a servant. So A. and R.V., but 
the latter in marg. bondservant 
(Greek) ; the same word is used 
Phil. i. 1, Jude 1 (cf. Philem. 1), 
without any official or additional 
title. The i^hrase 'a servant of God' 
might well have been derived by 
St James from the O.T., where the 
same or a similar title is applied to 
the prophets from Amos onwards. 
But in the first recorded hymn 
of the assembled Church, the 
Apostles and their company had 
prayed to God as His bondservants 
(Acts iv. 29, the same word in Gk.), 
and in that little company St James 
may well have been present. And 
as on that occasion, so here, the 
expression carries with it the con- 
sciousness of absolute dependence, 
and the conviction that the will of 
God was the only rule of life for 
every member of His Church ; for 
those in authority, as for those under 
authority. The simplicity of the 
title stands out in marked contrast 
to the way in which men of the 
world lay claim in their correspond- 
ence to the current titles of honour 
and distinction (see also iii. 1 and 
the comment of Euthymius Ziga- 
benus in loco). This humility, by 
which the writer disclaims any de- 
sire to emphasise his knowledge of 
Christ 'after the flesh,' is a proof 
not only of the genuineness of the 
letter, but also of the real greatness 
of St James, since he is not con- 

cerned to assert himself as 'the 
brotlier of the Lord ' ; see further 
Introd. p. XXX. 

and of the Lord Jesus Christ. 
If the Greek word here used for 
'Lord,' a word so frequently found 
in the lxx for Jehovah, does not in 
itself assert in this passage the di- 
vinity of Jesus Christ, yet its as- 
sociations would be unmistakable ; 
it cannot denote in this place a mere 
earthly Master, the obligation of 
service to Christ being conjoined 
with that of service to God, as equally 
binding and imperative. Moreover, 
the word is used by St James in this 
Epistle with reference both to God 
and to Christ. This union of the 
service of God and of Christ thus 
expressed by the same word of 
absolute submission is found only 
in this passage in the N.T., but there 
is nothing strange in this fact, for if 
the phrase ' a servant of God,' Tit. L 
1, and 'a servant of Christ,' Gal. L 
10, could be interchanged, it is 
difficult to see why they should not 
be conjoined. We may further note 
that the human name Jesus is here 
associated with the official name 
Christ in this, probably the earliest 
book in the K.T., and that the 
Messianic title is thus recognised 
not only by a Jew, but by a Jew 
who had known, as we believe, the 
earthly home of this same Jesus Who 
was made both Lord and Christ^ 

to the twelve tribes tchich are of 
the Dispersion. Cf. Psalm cxlvlL 2 

1 Spitta maintains that the words under discussion are an interpolation, 
because in this connection they are unique, and he would omit them 
altogether ; ' a short and easy mt^thod ' of dealing with an inconvenient pas- 
sage, but see Introd. to this Epistle, p. iv. 




(lxx); 2 Mace. i. 27; John vii. 35; 
1 Pet. i 1. In Psalms of Solomon, 
viii. 33, 34, we read : '0 God, turn 
thy mercy upon us and have com- 
passion upon us. Gather together 
the dispersed of Israel with mercy 
and lovingkindness.' The R.V. takes 
'the Dispersion' as a technical term 
used of the Jews outside the Holy 
Land, dispersed amongst foreign 
nations, a point missed in A.V. 

It is difficult to suppose that the 
words under discussion are employed 
by the writer symbolically or figur- 
atively, or to regard them as parallel 
with such passages as 1 Pet. ii. 9, 
Rev. vii. 4, xxi. 12. Here we are 
dealing with the address of a practi- 
cal, matter-of-fact letter, concerned 
throughout with the concrete rela- 
tions of social life, and it may be 
fairly urged that whilst Jewish- 
Cliristians might be spoken of siS 
banished or exiled from their hea- 
venly home, such a separation 
would scarcely be expressed by the 
technical term 'Dispersion.' That 
such a technical term would lie ready 
to the hand of the writer is plain 
enough, but there is no need to 
connect its use with such passages 
as Gen. ix. 19, or to say that the 
word as used by St James is an 
imitation of 1 Pet. i. 1, and that the 
local designation added there is 
omitted here, the term ' Dispersion * 
being thus used of Christians scatter- 
ed over a world to which they did 
not belong. All such explanations 
seem rather to beg the question at 
issue (see further Introd. p. xxxv.). 

The expression of belief in an 
imdivided Israel, ' the twelve tribes,' 
is intensely Jewish, and may be com- 
pared with Acts xxvi. 7 ; cf. also 
1 Esdras vii. 8 ; Orac. Sibyll. ii. 170 ; 
Apoc. of Bariich, Ixxxiv. 3 ; 'and truly 
I know that, behold, all we in the 

twelve tribes are bound by one chain, 
inasmuch as we are born from one 
father,' ihid. Ixxviii. 4. The advo- 
cates of the early date of the Epistle 
maintain that the address in St 
James, couched in this Jemsh form, 
points to a very early period, when 
no special name was as yet given to 
the Christian believers in Israel, and 
when the hope was still cherished 
that the whole people would believe 
in the Christ ; to a period when those 
who believed in Him had not yet 
broken away from the connecting 
bands of the synagogue. The vpriter 
in his prophetic words of warning 
and reproof is then not forgetful 
even of his unbelieving countrymen, 
amongst some of whom he might 
perhaps anticipate that his letter 
would find its way. And if St James 
of Jerusalem is the writer, his 
character and influence, and his 
devotion to the Law, might well 
justify such an anticipation. 

the Dispersion. The term 'Dia- 
spora' was of course a vride one, 
and it is possible to give it here a 
wide inclusion if we regard the 
Epistle as ' sent forth with believing 
Jews, as they returned from the 
Passover any time between 44 and 
49 A.D.,' and St James might well 
suppose that the conditions and 
temptations of Jewish communities 
would be much of the same character 
everywhere {v. Bartlet, Apostolic 
Age, p. 233). But at the same time 
there is much to be said for the 
view which regards Syria, and more 
especially perhaps the southern parts 
of it, as the primary destination of 
the letter. See further Introd. p. xxxv. 
Josephus, B. J. VII. 3. 3, speaks of 
Syria as the country most largely 
mingled with the Jewish race, on 
account of its nearness to Palestine, 
and of Antioch the capital this was 

I. 2] JAMES 5 

2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into mani- 

specially the case, whilst in other 
cities also the Jewish inhabitants 
were counted by thousands : Schiirer, 
Jewish People, Div. n. vol. ii. p. 225, 

greeting, R.V. marg. wisheth joy, 
thus expressing the full force of the 
Greek, and showing too how the 
word 'joy' is probably taken up by 
the writer in the sentences which 
follow in a way characteristic of 
him (see for other instances p. 9). 
Precisely the same formula of epi- 
stolary greeting is found in the en- 
cyclical letter, which may well have 
emanated from James, Acts xv. 23 (a 
coincidence pointed out by Bengel), 
but it is not employed elsewhere by 
the N.T. writers ; though it occurs in 
the letter of Lysias to Felix, Acts 
xxiii. 26. It frequently finds a place 
in the Books of the Maccabees, where 
it is used by Gentiles to Jews and 
by Jews to Gentiles ; twice in the 
Lxx it is an equivalent forthe Hebrew 
salutation 'Peace,' Isaiah xlviii. 22, 
Ivii. 21, and in the Syriac version of 
this Epistle it is rendered by the 
same word of salutation. There is 
certainly nothing strange in its use 
here, for it could be used by a Jewish 
high-pi'iest, 1 Mace. xii. 6, and by 
Palestinian Jews in addressing their 
brethren in Egypt, 2 Mace. i. 10 ; 
and 2 John 10, 11, points to its early 
adoption in Christian circles. On 
the other hand, there is force in the 
consideration that the employment 
of this simple formula indicates an 
early date, for otherwise the fuller 
Christian salutations of other Epistles 
might have found a place here. 
Zahn gives someinterestingexamples 
of its use in the papyri {Einleitung, 
I. 55). 

2. Count it all joy. Sometimes 

rendered 'pure joy,' i.e. nothing but 
joy, merum gaudium (Wetstein) ; 
sometimes as expressing the highest 
degree, the maximum of joy (Beza, 
Grotius). Possibly the words may 
mean '■every kind of joy' (Bengel), 
so as to balance exactly '■manifold 
temptations.' 'Joy,' i.e. cause for or 
ground of joy : cf. Luke ii. 10 ; 2 Cor. 
i. 1 5, W. H. ; see R. V. marg. With the 
words before us cf. 1 Pet. i. 6, 7, iv. 13. 

count, i.e. consider ; the Greek 
verb is not in the present, but in the 
aorist tense, with reference that is to 
each single temptation as it occurs. 

my brethren. As in the lxx, so in 
the N.T. the word was used of bro- 
ther, neighbour, member of the same 
nation, but also in the latter of 
fellow-Christians, members of the 
same spiritual community. Acts ix. 
30 ; 1 Cor. i. 1. The frequent re- 
currence of the word in this Epistle 
shows not only the stress laid by 
St James upon this national and 
religious bond, but also the affection 
and humility of the writer ; it may 
also in this context be in itself an ex- 
hortation to manliness and courage ; 
St James calls them not children, 
but brethren. 

wlien ye fall into. The form of the 
word in the original denotes a falling 
into, so as to be encompassed and 
surrounded by (the trials are ' mani- 
fold'), and it is used in classical 
Greek as here with the idea of 
falling into sufferings and calamities; 
so in 2 Mace. vi. 13 the word is used 
of Israel falling into troubles which 
are the chastening of God, and in 
2 Mace. X. 4, of falling into persecu- 
tions inflicted upon Israel by the 
heathen nations. The word may 
here denote not only the external 
nature of the temptation, in contrast 



[I. 2, 3 

3 fold ^temptations ; knowing that the proof of your faith 

^ Or, trials 

to V. 13, but also its unexpected- 

temptations, R.V. marg. trials; 
cf. 1 Pet. i. 6, V. 13, below, and 
see especially Ecclus. ii. 1 flf. : ' My 
son, if thou come to serve the Lord, 
prepare thy soul for temptation. 
Set thy heart aright, and constantly 
endure, and make not haste in time 
of trouble.... Whatsoever is brought 
upon thee take cheerfully, and be 
patient when thou art changed to a 
low estate. For gold is tried in the 
fire, and acceptable men in the 
furnace of adversity.' The word is 
used in a general sense of proving, 
trial (cf. Ecclus. xxvii. 5, 7), and 
also of adversity, affliction sent to 
prove or test a man's character ; 
cf. our word trial. ' Said Rab, Never 
should a man bring himself into the 
hands of temptation ; for behold 
David, king of Israel, brought him- 
self into the hands of temptation, 
and stumbled : he said. Examine me, 
O Lord, and prove me' (Sanhedrin 
107a) : Sayings nf the Jewish Fathers 
(Taylor), p. 127, 2nd edit. 

In the verse before us the word 
may be used of outward persecu- 
tions (cf. ii. 6, 7, V. 4-6 ; 1 Thess. 
ii. 14), which the Jewish believers 
suflFered from their unbelieving 
countrjTnen, and if the word is 
restricted to this meaning, the ex- 
pression 'manifold' may refer to the 
varied sufferings which the Christians 
experienced in different cities. But 
V. 10 would seem to indicate that 
riches no less than poverty might be 
a 'trial.' The rendering 'manifold' 
is given by A.V. here and in 1 Pet. i. 
6, iv. 10, and so by R.V. (also in 
Heb. ii. 4) : elsewhere rendered 
'divers,' i.e. of divers sorts; cf. 3 Mace. 

ii. 6 ; Psalms of Solomon, iv. 3 ; Matt, 
iv. 23. And in this manner the 
word might include both the trials 
of external conditions and the allure- 
ments to evil. 

An attempt has been recently 
made to show that the latter is the 
dominant idea of the word here, as 
in vv. 12-14, and that all allusion to 
external persecution is ' merely inci- 
dental.' But even if this could be 
urged of such a passage as ii. 6, it 
could scarcely be said of v. 10 (see in 
loco), not to mention the tragic issue 
involved in v. 6. 

3. knowing. Only in this confi- 
dence of knowledge could St James 
exhort his believing countrymen to 
rejoice in trial ; otherwise his greet- 
ing 'joy to you ' would have sounded 
like a mockery, as also his exhorta- 
tion 'count it all joy.' But the 
manifold suffering of these Jemsh 
Christians was a proving, a testing 
of faith, a discipline of character, 
which would bring with it something 
higher than happiness, even blessed- 
ness, i. 12; something superior to 
riches, the heirship of a king- 
dom, ii. 5. 

The hostility of the world or 
the synagogue might ridicule the 
Christian life as madness and its 
hopes as vanity, but St James, if he 
had not heard the counsel spoken by 
the lips of Christ, had cauglit the 
spirit of his Master's teaching : — Re- 
joice (the same word in the Greek) 
and be exceeding glad ; persecutions 
for My sake bring blessedness and 
enduring reward ; cf. Matt. v. 10-12. 

the proof of your faith. The 
word translated by R.V. ' proof,' and 
so also in 1 Pet. L 7, occurs only in 
these two passages in the N.T. (cf. 

I. 3, 4] 


4 worketh patience. And let patience have its perfect work, 
that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing. 

Hermas, Vis. iv. 3). It is taken by 
many commentators (e.g. by Zahn) to 
mean instrument or means of proving, 
and these means would be the mani- 
fold temptations just mentioned. 
Thus in Rom. v. 4, where St Paul 
says ' knowing that tribulation work- 
eth patience,' we have really what 
St James says. Others would render 
the word hei'e as = explot^atio, pro- 
batio, in an active sense, i.e. the 
trying, proving, testing. But a fresh 
and illuminative rendering has lately 
been given to the word by Dr Deiss- 
mann {Neue Bibelstudien, p. 86, 
see also E.T.). It would seem that 
the Greek word for 'proof is not a 
substantive but an adjective, in 
support of which statement Deiss- 
mann adduces many instances from 
the papyri, where the word is used 
in the sense of valid, genuine, and so 
of articles of gold, as of the worth 
of ornaments in a bride's dowry, etc. 
He would therefore render the 
phrase here, as in 1 Pet., 'that which 
is genuine in your faith ' ; cf. 2 Cor. 
viii. 8, and Luther's translation, euer 
glaube, so er rechtschaffen ist, i.e. 
' your faith, so it be true, genuine,' 
etc. (It is highly probable that the 
Greek commentator Oecumenius 
took the word as an adj.^) 

This early mention of and promi- 
nence given to faith is rightly re- 
garded as an indication that St 
James was not likely to depreciate 
its proper use ; see further v. 6. ' In 
the Epistle of St James "faith" is 
twice applied to prayer (i. 6, v. 15), 
where it means faith that God will 

grant what is prayed for. Twice it 
means " Christian faith " (so here and 
in ii. 1). In the controversial passage, 
ii. 14-26, where faith is contrasted 
with works, the faith intended is 

"faith in God." Faith with St 

James is more often the faith which 
is common to Jew and Christian ; 
even when it is Christian faith, it 
stops short of the Christian en- 
thusiasm ' : see The Meaning of 
Faith in the N.T. (Sanday and 
Headlam, Romans, p. 31). 

worketh, lit. 'works out' (Lat. 

patience, rather 'endurance,' with 
not merely a passive but an active 
side ; ' a noble word,' Trench calls 
it ; 'it does not mark merely the 
endurance... but the brave patience 
(perseverantia) with which the 
Christian contends against the 
various hindrances, persecutions, and 
temptations that befall him in his 
conflict with the inward and out- 
ward world,' Synofiyms, ii. 3 ; see too 
Speaker's Commentary on 2 Cor. 
vi. 4 : 'perseverantia quod majus est 
quam patientia ' (Theile) : cf. Matt. 
X. 22, xxiv. 13. 

4. have its perfect work, i.e. have 
its full effect, attain its end, accord- 
ing to the derivation of the word ; 
see further below. 

perfect and entire. Both adjec- 
tives are used in the lxx in a moral 
and religious sense, the first of Noah 
in Gen. vi. 9, and Ecclus. xliv. 17, 
and the second of the knowledge of 
God, which is 'perfect righteousness,' 
Wisd. XV. 3, and of 'perfect piety,' 

1 Zahn, whilst accepting Deissmann's solution for 1 Pet., prefers his own 
rendering as given above for the passage before us, but Deissmann's translation 
makes excellent sense in both places (see further Expository Times, June, lyOl). 




4 Mace. XV. 17. The first adj. is 
variously employed, but always with 
reference to the idea of the attain- 
ment of an ' end,' the meaning of 
the noun from which it is derived ; so 
of full-grown men in a physical sense, 
so too in an ethical and spiritual 
sense, 1 Cor. ii. 6; Phil. iii. 15; Col. i. 
28, etc. : cf. its use of religious growth, 
Lxx 1 Chron. xxv. 8, where the 
teachers (the ' perfect ') are set over 
against the scholars. The second 
adj. according to its derivation would 
mean that which is whole and entire 
in all its parts, complete ; so the 
cognate noun denotes physical whole- 
ness, both in the 0. and N.T., Isaiah 
i. 6 ; Acts iii. 16. But, as in the case 
of the former adj., the transition was 
easily made to the meaning of mental 
and moral entireness ; see instances 
above, and in the N.T., 1 Thess. v. 
23. We may thus fairly say that in 
the 'perfect' character no grace is 
merely in its weak imperfect begin- 
nings, but all have reached a certain 
ripeness and maturity, whilst in the 
'entire' character no grace which 
ought to be in a Christian man is 
wanting ; so Trench, Synonyms, L 
xxii., and Hastings' B.D. in. Art. 
' Perfection.' The first adj. with its 
cognate words is used in the lxx as 
in classical Greek with reference to 
sacrifices, and also of the priests by 
Philo, and the second adj. in a similar 
way by Philo, both of priests and 
sacrifices, but not so in lxx. On this 
account some commentators think 
that the term may be introduced here 
owing to this sacrificial import, and 
with the thought that Christians 
should present themselves as perfect 
sacrifices to God (compare the lan- 
guage in V. 18), but it can scarcely 
be said that there is any definite 
hint of this in the text. It is of 
interest also to note that this word 

'perfect' is found more frequently 
in this Epistle than in any other N.T. 
book. The whole level of life seems 
lifted even in these early days of the 
Church's history, and if we ask the 
reason, the best answer has been 
found in the reminder that the 
Sermon on the Mount with its call 
to perfection (Matt. v. 48) had in- 
tervened between the Old Testament 
and the New. 

lacking in nothing, i.e. in no 
respect lacking this perfectness and 
completeness, although in many 
things we all stumble, cf. iii. 2. Only 
One can be strictly called 'perfect,' 
whilst we are encouraged to aim at 
peifection, even as children ever 
setting before them, and striving to 
attain to, the likeness of their Father. 

On the stages of Christian growth 
here, and their resemblance to Rom. 
V. 4, see Mayor, pp. 35, 178. The 
rendering above in v. 3 would require 
a somewhat difi"erent, but no less 
valuable order. 'That which is 
genuine in your faith ' produces en- 
durance ; thus Moses endured be- 
cause by faith he saw Him who is 
invisible, Heb. xi. 27, and this 
endurance, if abiding and lasting, 
has for its resvdt a Christian charac- 
ter thorough and complete. 

If men who have worked amongst 
the poor can tell us that this Epistle 
with its demand for what is practical 
in our religion has a special message 
for our oviw day (see Introduction 
to Mr Adderley's St James), it is 
significant that the writer places in 
its forefront ' that which is genuine 
in your faith' as the source and 
sustainer of an endurance capable of 
bearing not only the tribulation and 
persecution, which may arise because 
of the Word, but also the daily toil 
and labour, the daily trials of the 
Christian life. 




5 But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, 
who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not ; and it 

5. {lackivg etc.)... But if any of 
you lacketh. The R.V. rendering of 
the participle in the previous verse 
enables us to note another character- 
istic of St James already mentioned 
in V. 2, viz. his method of passing 
from one paragraph or sentence to 
another by the repetition of a word ; 
cf. w. 6, 13, 14, 24, ii. 2, iii. 2, 4, 8, 
iv. 8, 11, V, 8, 17 (a usage also noted 
as frequent in Plato). 

wisdom. St James does not refer 
merely to practical wisdom in meet- 
ing the various ' trials ' of daily life, 
although he knew how necessary 
that was in the circumstances of 
those around him ; but he assigns 
this high place to wisdom as he had 
learnt to know it not only in the 
Book of Wisdom, in Bcclesiasticus, 
in Proverbs, but in men ' full of the 
Holy Ghost and wisdom,' Acts vi. 3, 
as he may have seen it in Him, ' a 
greater than Solomon' (cf. I Kings 
iii. 9-12), Who is described as ' filled 
with wisdom,' Luke ii. 40. Beysch- 
lag speaks of it as, in the thought of 
St James, that gift of God which 
makes a man ready for every good 
work (see further on iii, 15-17), as 
not essentially different from that 
which is called in a parallel passage 
the gift of the Holy Spirit, Luke xi, 
13, although he adds, in his last 
edition, Mayor's words : ' the prayer 
for wisdom takes a more definitely 
Christian form in St Paul's prayer 
for the Spirit ' ; cf. Col. i. 9 ; Bphes. i. 
17. It is because we do not possess 
this Divine gift of wisdom that our 
modem life lacks dignity, force, con- 
sistency, while its possession would 

transfigure life, showing us what it is, 
and how to make the best of it : see 
Dale's practical comments, Epistle of 
James, p. 12. 

Spitta refers to Wisd. ix. 6, where 
the word 'perfect' is used in close 
connection with the possession of 
'wisdom,'butalthough the collocation 
of the two words is striking, 'for 
though a man be never so perfect 
among the children of men, yet if 
thy wisdom be not with him, he 
shall be nothing regarded,' it may 
be fairly urged that the exhortation 
to pray for wisdom was so natural 
in the province of the religious life 
that it need not be referred to the 
passage cited ; nothing indeed was 
more likely than that St James 
should introduce such an exhorta- 
tion in view of the special circum- 
stances of his readers without any 
recurrence in thought or word to 
this one particular passage. 

let him ask of God. Cf Matt, 
vii. 7 (Luke xxi. 15). For the 
prayer to God for wisdom cf Prov. 
ii. 6; Ecclus. i. 10; Wisdom vii 7, 
ix. 4; also 1 Kings iii. 5-15, iv. 29-34. 
Two of the leading words of St James 
are found together in Epist. of Bar- 
nabas, xxi. 5, 'And may God, Who is 
Lord of the whole world, give you 
wisdom. . .patience^.' 

who giveth to all, not only to a 
Solomon. Cf Matt. vii. 1 1 : the words 
may be taken in a wider sense to 
refer not only to the gift of wisdom, 
but to all the good gifts of God ; 
' giveth,' i.e. giveth continually. 

liberally. So A. and R.V. ; cf A. 
and R.V. in 2 Cor. viii. 2, ix. 11, and 

1 An interesting illustration trom Plato, Leyg. iii. (687 ic), is given in the 
Journal of Theol. Studies, vol. ii. p. 432. 



[i. 5, 6 

6 shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing 
doubting : for he that doubteth is like the surge of the 

R.V. in Rom. xii. 8, in each case 
simplicity or singleness in margin. 
The Greek use of the adverb would 
rather justify the rendering simply, 
and this rendering fits in better 
with the following description ' and 
upbraideth not,' the gift being un- 
conditional, and without any of the 
imperfections which stain human 
gifts. The rendering liberally for 
the adverb seems to have arisen 
from the fact that ' simplicity,' dis- 
interestedness in giving, is nearly 
allied to liberaUty (Vulg. affluenter). 
The cognate adj. = lit. without folds, 
and so of that which is single, simple ; 
of Sanday and Headlam's Romans, 
p. 357, and the description of Issachar 
as the ' simple ' man. Test. xii. Patr. 

and upbraideth not, i.e. in con- 
trast to the behaviour of men (as 
perhaps is further indicated in ». 10 
and V. 9), who cast favours bestowed 
in one's teeth, Cf. Ecclus. xx. 15, 
xii. 22. Others take the word to 
mean that God does not reject or 
repel men, or treat them abusively, 
whilst others again would take the 
word in the most general sense to 
mean that God does not upbraid 
with any kind of reproach, although 
we are so unworthy to make any 
request of Him ; but see Mark xvi. 

and it shall he given him. Matt, 
vii. 7 ; Luke vi. 38. A reminiscence 
of the words of Jesus. 

6. But let him ask in faith. To 
St James also, says Bengel, faith is 
prora et pujyjiis, prow and steni. 
With the whole of the verse, cf. 
Ecclus. i. 28, ii. 12, vii. 10, and 
xxxiii. 2, XXXV. 16, 17; 'faith,' trust 
in God that the request will be 
gi-anted according to His will : cf. 

Mark xi. 22 ff., and the expression 
V. 15, 'the prayer of faith.' The in- 
fluence of the whole passage on 
Hermas is very marked, cf Mand.\\. 
6, 7 ; Sim. v. 4, 3. In this verse we 
again note the writer's characteristic 
of ' catching up ' a preceding verb. 

nothing doubting. The 'wavering ' 
of A. v., so Tynd., may have been 
introduced on account of the word 
'wave' following. In Matt. xxi. 21, 
although not so foimd in profane 
writers, the word is used in the sense of 
doubting, hesitating ; so too in Mark 
xi. 23, Rom. iv. 20, xiv. 23 (Jude 22, 
R.V.) as the opposite of faith: this 
practical doubting which shows that 
a man is divided between God and 
the world St James reproves else- 
where, cf ii. 4, iv. 3, 4. 

the surge of the sea, the Greek 
word suggesting size and extension 
(often in the Lxx) as compared with 
the usual word for ' wave ' — the vio- 
lent agitation of the sea ; only once 
elsewhere in N.T., Luke viii. 24, of 
the tempest on the Lake of Gennes- 
aret. Such a storm St James might 
often have seen ; see also note on 
iii. 4. The same noun in its meta- 
phorical use also denotes 'storm' 
rather than 'wave' (see Dean of 
Westminster on Ephes. iv. 14). 

driven by the wind and tossed, in 
A.V. 'with' for 'by.' The first par- 
ticiple in the Greek may perhaps 
have been coined by the writer, since 
it does not occur in the lxx or 
classical Greek, although a verb 
very similar in form is found in the 
latter. St James seems to have had 
a special liking for verbs with the 
particular termination of the verb 
before ns. 

tossed, only here in the N.T. but 

I. 6-8] 



7 sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man 

8 think Hhat he shall receive anything of the Lord; a 
doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways. 

^ Or, that a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways, shall receive 
anything of the Lord. 

used by Pbilo of water agitated by 
winds, so by Dio Cass, of the surge 
of the sea tossed to and fro, and by 
Dio Chrys. of the demos, compared 
to a sea agitated by the wind. This 
second participle is apparently em- 
ployed to strengthen the first as a 
stronger expression, and there is no 
need to regard the former word as 
denoting external, and the latter 
internal agitation (Bengel). The 
Divine wisdom cannot dwell in a 
mind thus tossed hither and thither, 
and never continuing in one stay. 
The verb in the text is referred to 
two derivations, (1) a noun meaning 
a bellows or fan used with reference 
to kindUng a flame (or to cooling 
with a fan), and (2) a noun denoting 
the rapid movement of wind or waves, 
etc. (used also of a storm), a deriva- 
tion which is undoubtedly the more 
probable ; cf the word Eu-ripus (from 
the same deriv.), where, so it was 
said, the tide ebbed and flowed seven 
times a day ; hence used proverbially 
of an unstable, wavering man, as by 
Aeschines and Aristotle, and here by 
St James. With this verse cf. Bphes. 
iv. 13, 14, where the 'perfect' are 
contrasted with children 'tossed to 
and fro ' by every wind of teaching. 
7. For let not that man think. 
The 'for' is perhaps best taken as 
giving the reason for the exhortation 
' let him ask in faith.' ' Faith docs 
not think,' says Bengel truly; 'fides 
non opinatur.' The verb for 'think,' 
seldom found in the Greek of the 

N.T. (John xxi. 25 ; Phil. i. 17), ex- 
presses a judgment which has feeling 
rather than thought for its ground 
(Grimm-Thayer), 'fancy ' ; 'that man,' 
the whole expression in the Greek 
would seem to indicate something 
of contempt. 

fA^Z ore?, usually taken as referring 
to God the Father, and possibly the 
context which is concerned with the 
gifts of God in answer to prayer de- 
mands this, but, on the other hand, 
it would certainly seem that in v. 
14, 15, Christ is thought of as answer- 
ing ' the prayer of faith,' and it may 
be so here. 

8. a doubleminded man, un- 
stable in all his ways, in apposition 
to 'that man' (see Mayor, Weiss). 
A.V. inserts 'is' before 'a double- 
minded man' with all other E.V. 
and Vulg., but the connection with 
the former clause is quite plain as 
above. W.H. and R. V. marg. render : 
' For let not that man think that a 
doubleminded man etc. shall receive 
anything of the Lord^' 

doubleminded. The man is re- 
garded as having two minds, the one 
set on God, the other on the world 
(cf iv. 8), and so the character is en- 
tirely opposed to the single-hearted 
and entire devotion claimed by 
Christ, Matt. xxii. 37. In modern 
life the career and character of 
a 'doubleminded' man has been 
forcibly portrayed in Arthur 
Clough's famous poem Dipsychus, 
and more than one recent writer 

^ So far as textual authorities are concerned, it may be noted that B and the 
Syriac support the rendering adopted in the text. 




9 But let the brother of low degree glory in his high 

has emphasised 'doublemindedness' 
as a characteristically modem fault. 
But 'that which is genuine in our 
faith ' can save us from it ; therefore 
let a man pray ' in faitli ' : ' St James 
does not charge us with hj'pocrisy, 
with pretending to a goodness we 
do not possess, or with feigning a 
desire for goodness we do not feel. 
He simply charges us with vacilla- 
tion, with inconsistent aims and 
desires.... Alas ! we ask for decision 
itself with an undecided heart, not 
expecting, not altogether wishing to 
receive, a full and immediate answer 
to our prayer.' Dr S. Cox, Expo- 
sitor, ni. 40, 4th series. 

The actual Greek word here used 
may possibly have been coined by St 
James, as it does not occur in the 
N.T. except in his Epistle, and not 
at all in lxx, although we may 
compare with the thought expressed 
by it Ps. xii. 3 (lit. 'a heart and a 
heart'), Ecclus. 1. 28, Book of Enoch, 
xci. 4 (cf. Taylor, Sayings of the 
Jewish Fathers, p. 148, who finds a 
possible reference here to Pro v. xxi. 8, 
and see Rabbi Tancliuma on Deut. 
xxvi. 17, 'Let not those who wish 
to pray to God have two hearts, one 
directed to Him and one to some- 
thing else'). 

But it is noteworthy that in 
Diddche, iv. 4 (cf. ii. 4 and v. 1 where 
'doubleness of heart' is mentioned 
amongst the sins of the 'way of 
death ') we have a strikingly similar 
compound word, not found in lxx or 
in classical Greek, 'Thou shalt not 
doubt whether a thing shall be or 
not be,' i.e. whether thy prayer shall 
be granted or no ; cf. Barn. xix. 5 
(and see Introd. for the similarity 
between the language of the Didache 
and this Epistle). In early Christian 

literature the word became very 
common ; it was used e.g. some 40 
times by Hernias (cf. Mand. ix. 4 ff. 
in connection with the present 
passage); Clem. Rom. Cor. xi. 2, 
xxiii. 3 ; Const. Apost. vii. 1 1. Sanday 
and Headlam, Romans, p. 115, have 
some important remarks on this 
early Christian use of the expression. 

unstable. The Greek word does 
not OCCU-' in the N.T. except in this 
Epistle, cf. iii. 8 (but see note on the 
reading); and with this expression 
2 Pet. ii. 14 may also be compared. 
It is found in lxx, Isaiah liv. 11. In 
classical Greek it often occurs, and 
it is employed by Polybius of fickle 
men. St James in his frequent use 
of the Apocrypha may have been 
thinking of Ecclus. ii. 12, 'Woe 
be... to the sinner that goeth two 
ways!' lit. 'upon two ways,' where 
however the words seem to refer 
not so much to uncertainty as to 
want of decision, and to the attempt 
to keep in with both sides. 

in all his ways, taken quite 
generally as in Hebrew of a man's 
way of life, habits, actions ; cf. Ps. 
xci. 11; Prov. iii. 6; Jer. xvi. 17. 

9. But let the brother; ^ hut' re- 
tained by R.V. may be used to 
introduce a piece of advice in 
sequence to that already given, or 
to contrast the confident exultation 
of the Christian with the indecision 
of the faithless doubter. The word 
'brother' should be taken quite 
generally (W.H. bracket tlie article 
before it) as applying to both classes, 
the rich and those of low degree, 
for both should be taken literally. 
Would there not be in the Christian 
Church rich men like Joseph of 
Arimathaea, Nicodemus, Zacchaeus ? 
We can scarcely suppose that there 

1. 9, 10] JAMES 13 

10 estate : and the rich, in that he is made low : because as 

were no well-to-do adherents of a 
religion which had attracted a Bar- 
nabas and a John Mark. 

of low degree. Cf. Luke i. 52. In 
the Lxx the word is used in some 
cases of those literally poor, e.g. 
1 Sam. xviii. 23, Pro v. xxx. 14, Isaiah 
xxxii. 7, but the word came to signify 
very frequently the 'poor' in the 
spirit of resignation and humility, as 
in the Psalms, Prov. iii. 34, Ecclus. 
xiii. 20, Book of Enoch, xxv. 4, 
eviii. 7-9, as contrasted with the 
selfish and proud, 'the rich'; see on 
iv. 4 and cf Psalms of Solomon, ii. 
35, iv. 28, xvii. 46, Luke i. 51, 52, 
and Introd. p. xxxvi., on the social 
cleavage between the rich and the 
poor in Jewish life. 

glory in. So R.V. hei^e and 
elsewhere; cf. Rom. ii. 17 etc. The 
word is a favourite with St Paul, but 
it is only used elsewhere in the N.T. 
in this passage and in iv. 16, generally 
in a good sense. It is also frequent 
in the lxx, and with the present 
passage the following may be com- 
pared: 1 Sam. ii. 10 (not in Hebrew), 
Jer. ix. 23, Ecclus. i. 11, ix. 16, 
X. 22, and in the N.T. especially 
Rom. V. 3. The construction 'glory 
in' is not found in classical Greek, 
but it is frequent in lxx and N.T. ; 
cf also Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 1. 

his high estate, lit. ' in his height.' 
Cf Luke i. 52. For the metaphori- 
cal use of the word cf Job v. 11, 
1 Mace. i. 40 (Ecclus. xi. 1), and 
a similar use is also found in classical 

The 'high estate' includes both 
the present and the future dignity 
of the Christian, his heirship to the 
kingdom (ii. 5), and the glory which 
cometh from the only God (John v. 
44). The believer in Christ could 
'take joyfully' the want or loss of 
earthly possessions, knowing that he 
had his true self for a better and 
abiding possession, Heb. x. 34, cf 
Luke xxi. 19 ^ On the reference of 
the words to the Christian's exalta- 
tions and spiritual wealth in this 
present life, it is of interest U) com- 
pare the remarks of Ritschl on the 
same passage. Justification and Re- 
conciliation, pp. 458, 505, E.T. 

In Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 7, the 
writer, speaking apparently of the 
Sadducees who preferred a worldly 
kingdom to the kingdom of God, 
says 'they pi-eferred a kingdom to 
that which was their excellency,' 
where for 'excellency' the same 
Greek noun is used as here. The 
words truly represent what St James 
saw all aromid him ; the rich un- 
believing Jews making choice of the 
things seen and temporal, in pre- 
ference to a kingdom which was 
righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy 

10, and the rich, in that he is 
made low. Are we to understand this 
of a rich Christian, or of a non-Chris- 
tian ? By most commentators the 
former view is adopted as above, but 
on the other hand it is maintained 
that the whole context is against 
this interpretation, inasmuch as the 

1 Spitta maintains that the exhortation to ' glorying ' is introduced quite 
unexpectedly, and that the thought is so strange that it can only be accounted 
for because the writer has before him Jer. ix. 23. But if we compare this verse 
with vv. 2, 12, we see that the dominant thoui;;ht throughout is that of the right 
relation of the Christian to ' trials.' At the same time the passage in Jer. may 
well have suggested some of the language. 



[i. 10 

entire section 1. 2-12 is concerned 
with the 'trials' of Christians, 
amongst which the prosperity of 
some Christians could find no place ; 
but prosperity and riches might be 
a temptation no less than poverty 
and misfortune (1 Tim. vi. 9 ; Matt. 
xiii. 22). It is further urged that in 
t). 11 it is said that the rich man, not 
his wealth, shall fade away, and that 
this could only be said of one who is 
opposed to the Christian brother of 
low estate, whilst it is quite arbitrary 
to introduce a distinction between 
the 'rich man' qua rich and qua 
Christian, for if this had been in 
his thoughts St James would have 
written 'so also shall his riches fade 
away.' But it is quite possible that 
in «. 11 St James uses the words 'the 
rich man' of the rich qua rich, as 
the immediate context may imply 
(see below), and that in v. 10 he is 
enforcing a warning common to the 
teaching of the prophets and to that 
of our Lord and His Apostles, not 
only against the misuse of riches, but 
as to their transitory nature; cf. 
Matt. vi. 19; Luke xii. 15-21 ; 1 Cor. 
vii. 30, 31. In Ecclus. xiii. 3, to 
which reference is sometimes made, 
the context shows that it is the rich 
man, not qua rich, but qua unjust, 
who is censured ; and so in this 
Epistle where the rich are spoken 
of, as in ii. 7, v. 1-6, the context shows 
that they are condemned for their 
arrogance and extortion. But in so 
far as the rich man failed to glory in 
that he was made low, in so far that 
is as he failed to become one of the 
'little ones,' great in the kingdom 
of God, Luke ix. 48, and one of 'the 
chief, who served,' Luke xxii. 26, he 
knew nothing and had gained nothing 
of the true riches committed to his 
trust when the Name of Christ was 
called upon him. As a Christian, 

the rich man would possess ipso 
facto 'the high estate' which his poor 
Christian brother enjoyed, but he 
must be prepared to take the lowest 
place in the kingdom, and to enter 
into the joy of a Lord, who, though 
rich, became poor (Zahu, Einleitung, 
I. p. 70). It is of course a possible 
view that St James had in mind the 
sufferings to which Christians, both 
rich and poor, might be exposed from 
their unbelieving fellow-countrymen, 
and that his words were meant to 
strengthen rich and poor alike, if 
the former wei*e tempted by the 
loss of their wealth, or the latter 
by the chance of bettering their 
fortunes, to renounce their Christian 
faith. But whilst this thought 
may be fairly associated with the 
passage, the words, as we have 
already seen above, need not be 
so limited. Or we may take the 
words ' in that he is made low ' 
to refer to the trials which would 
come to a rich man, if by some 
sudden stroke of fortune he suddenly 
found himself poor in this world's 
goods. Certainly Ecclus. ii. 4, 5 
quoted above in v. 2 might seem to 
support this view, and it is notice- 
able that w. 1 and 12 of the same 
chapter afford very probable points 
of contact with vv. 2 and 8 of this 
first chapter of St James. 

Those who would limit the words 
under discussion to non-Christians 
are obliged to regard the language 
with reference to the rich as ironical, 
since the verb to be applied with 'the 
rich ' can only be the same as that 
v.hich is used with ' the poor.' This 
is sometimes supported by our Lord's 
use of irony in such words as Matt. 
vi. 2, 5, 16 ; the only thing in which 
the rich can boast is in the certainty 
of his being brought low, or in his 
humiliation at the coming judgment. 

I. 10, 11] 



11 the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun 
ariseth with the scorching wind, and withereth the grass ; 
and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion 
of it perisheth : so also shall the rich man fade away in his 

But this is not a very satisfactory 
account of the word 'humiliation' 
here, nor is it demanded, as is some- 
times urged, by the immediate 

because as the flower of the grass 
he shall pass away. Cf. 1 Pet. i. 24 
where the words of Isaiah xl. 6 are 
quoted more fully ; see also Ps. 
xxxvii. 2 ; Job xiv. 2 ; Ecclus. xiv. 
17, 18. 

The writer is here asserting a 
general truth, cf. 1 Cor. vii. 31, and 
not introducing a special threat 
against the rich, although the bear- 
ings of such a truth might more 
easily be forgotten by the rich. In 
accepting the 'humiliation' of a 
Christian, the rich man would receive 
from God 'according to the riches 
of His glory' an exaltation divine 
and lasting (Matt, xxiii. 12) ; for 
all human glory was doomed to pass 
away (cf. lxx of Isaiah xl. 6). 

11. For the sun ariseth. So R.V., 
omitting 'no sooner' of the A.V., 
words not found in the Greek, and 
not needed. The tense (aorist) of 
the verb and of the three following 
verbs depicts the events as actually 
before the eyes and yet as past 'in 
the very moment of describing them.' 
Others take this tense of the verb 
as implying what usually happens 
in all such cases; hence the term 
' usitative ' or ' gnomic ' aorist i. The 
four verbs thus succeeding each 
other present a pictorial vividness 

characteristic of the writer ; cf with 
this passage 1 Pet. i, 24 ; Isaiah xl. 
7 in LXX. 

ariseth, a verb constantly used 
in LXX of the sun arising ; c£ with 
the language of the text Jonah iv. 8. 

with the scorching wind, but A.V. 
takes the word as signifying the 
heat, the burning heat of the sun. 
In the rendering of R.V. it is, how- 
ever, often found in lxx ; cf Hos. xii. 
1 ; Ezek. xvii. 10 ; Jonah iv. 8 ; and it is 
so taken by some in Matt. xx. 12; 
Luke xii. 55. On the other hand, 
Isaiah xlix. 10, Ecclus. xviii. 16, 
and the N.T. places cited above, are 
sometimes held to justify rendering 
of A. v., since the destruction is 
effected by the sun itself, and not 
by the 'heat' as distinguished from 
the sun ; cf. Ecclus. xliii. 3. The 
latter translation also points more 
emphatically to one of the local traits 
with which this short Epistle abounds 
(see Introd. p. xxiv.), the sirocco or 
the scorching S.E. wind of Palestine 
(although no doubt by either render- 
ing the excessive heat of an Eastern 
sun might be vividly depicted). 
Mayor inclines to this latter render- 
ing from the fact that the article 
is found with the Greek word under 
dispute, cf R.V. ' with the scorching 
wind,' and see as above Jonah iv. 8. 

falleth. Cf Isaiah xl. 7. The verb 
80 translated as in A. and R.V. of the 
N.T. expresses the actual falling otF 
of the llower, as of the petals from the 

1 On the use of this tense both in classical examples and in the N.T. it may 
be of interest to refer to Burton, New Testament MooiU and Tenses, p. 21. 



[l. 12 

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation : for when 
he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, 

calyx ; the same verb is found in 
Isaiah xx\iii. 1, 4, rather in the sense 
of decaying, withering ; cf. Job xiv. 2. 

the grace of the fashion of it; 
'the grace,' cf. the cognate adj. in 
Ecclus. xxiv. 14 of a fair olive- 
tree ; only twice in N.T. but often in 
liXX, and also in Psalms of Solomon, 
ii. 21, xvii. 47. 

of the fashion, lit. ' of its coun- 
tenance,' i.e. of its outward appear- 
ance, cf. Ps. civ. 30; Luke xii. 56; 
Matt. xvi. 3; also of the outward 
appearance of inanimate things, cf. 
the Latin fades ; not merely as a 
Hebrew pleonasm, although the word 
may be said to be used Hebraisti- 

the rich man, i.e. qtia rich; see 

fade away, only here in N.T., a 
word probably suggested by preced- 
ing simile, cf. its use of withering 
roses, Wisd. ii. 8 ; Job xv. 30. A 
similar metaphorical use of the word 
in relation to boastfulness in riches 
is found in Philo, De vict. p. 855 A, 
and \vith this use cf. Apoc. of Baruch^ 
Ixxxii. 7, where of the Gentiles we 
read: 'and we meditate on the beauty 
of their gracefulness, though they 
have to do vpith pollutions, but as 
grass that withers will they fade 
away.' In the same passage we have 
other parallels to St James's imagery 
elsewhere in this Epistle : the Gen- 
tiles will be 'as vapour,' 'as sunshine 
will they pass away,' ihid. m. 3, 6. 

in his goings. So R.V. because the 
word is different from that translated 
'ways' in v. 8 (although sometimes 
the two words are regarded as syn- 
onyms, cf Prov. ii. 9). 

This word may either express 
quite literally the jourueyings, cf iv. 

13, Luke xiii. 22, or perhaps the 
projects and adventures of a man in 
the pursuit of wealth. The plural 
may indicate the troublesome and 
varied nature of the man's various 
engagements. The attempts to sub- 
stitute other words which might 
mean 'in his gettings' or 'in his 
property' are not warranted by any 
sufficient evidence. 

12. Blessed is the WAin. Cf. v. 11; 
1 Pet. iii. 14, iv. 14. This teaching 
as it were by beatitudes may remind 
us of our Lord's own teaching in the 
Sermon on the Mount, but the same 
mode of expression is frequent in 
the O.T., as in the Psalms, and so 
too in Ecclus. 

If we regard both rich and poor 
of the preceding verses as those 
tried by temptation, the blessing 
may of course be taken as meant for 
both ; each has been put to the 
proof, and for each there is the 
crown of life ; thus the verse closes 
the paragraph from v. 2. On the 
other hand, those who hold that the 
rich previously referred to are not 
membere of the Christian Church 
take the blessing as of the poor only. 

Spitta would understand the words 
of the rich man, who is 'blessed' 
because he preserves himself safely 
amidst his severe testing, and he 
quotes a striking passage from 
Ecclus. xxxi. (lxx, xxxiv.) 8 ff., 
'Blessed is the rich that is found 
without blemish, and hath not gone 
after gold. Who is he ? and we vrill 
call him blessed ; for wonderful 
things hath he doneamonghis people. 
Who hath been tried thereby, and 
found perfect? then let him glory.' 
The same writer also quotes from 
Midr. Shemoth r. par. 31, where 

I. 12] 



the rich who is tested, and shows 
himself open-handed towards the 
poor, is said to enjoy his gold in this 
world, and to keep his capital for 
the world to come. 

But it may be fairly held that 
there is no occasion to confine the 
tliought here to the rich, and Spitta's 
limitation seems only to be warrant- 
ed by a misunderstanding of the 
previous verses. 

that endureth temptation^ not 
merely who falls into it, v. 2, or suffers 
it. The active side of the virtue of 
patience (cf v. 3) is here clear 
enough. But the endeavour is main- 
tained not in the man's own strength, 
in self-righteousness, or Stoical self- 
sufficiency, but in the love which 
waxeth not cold, Matt. xxiv. 12, 13 ; 
see also below. 

when he hath teen approved, not 
simply 'when he is tried' as in A.V. : 
the trial has been made and the 
result has been favourable. In all 
other passages of the N.T. the word 
is rendered 'approved' in A.V. as in 
R.V. For its use in the N.T. see 
Rom. xiv. 18, xvi. 10, 2 Tim. ii. 15, 
and for the cognate noim Rom. v. 4, 
Phil. ii. 22, and for the cognate 
negative adjective, in a bad sense, 
2 Tim. iii. 8, Tit. i. 16, 1 Cor. ix. 27, 
2 Cor. xiii. 7. The word has been 
sometimes taken here as referring to 
the testing of athletes for the games 
(cf the possible metaphorical use of 
the negative adj. in 1 Cor. ix. 27, and 
see also below), but both the positive 
and negative adjectives are used 
strictly of metals and coins, tested 
and proved or the reverse (cf. in 
O.T. Gen. xxiii. 16; 2 Chron. ix. 17), 
and here the words might easily be 
extended in a wider sense to the 
proving or testing of character. 

With these words Resch comi)ares 
those of Tertulliau, De Bapt. c. 20, 

where he cites apparently as a saying 
of the Lord, 'No one un tempted 
shall attain to the heavenly king- 
dom,' Agrapha, p. 187, and in view of 
Luke xxii. 28, 29, some such sa)nng 
may well have been in vogue, although 
it may have been merely proverbial 
and not actually derived from Christ 
(see the comments of Mr Ropes, Die 
Sprilche Jesu, p. 124). 

the crown of life. It is doubtful 
whether there is any reference in 
this expression to the prizes of the 
arena. It must be remembered that 
amongst the Jews a crown or a 
diadem was used to signify a special 
honour, or as a representation of the 
highest happiness and prosperity: 
cf Ps. xxi. 3, Ixxxix. 39 ; Prov. iv. 9 ; 
Ezek. xxi. 26; Zech. vi. 11, 14. 
Amongst the Rabbis too we find such 
sayings as the following: 'There are 
three crowns : the crowTi of Thorah, 
and the crown of Priesthood, and the 
crown of Royalty (Ex. xxv. 10, xxx. 
1, 3, xxv. 23, 24); but the crown of a 
good name mounts above them (Bccl. 
vii. 1),' Taylor, Sayings of the Jewish 
Fathers, iv. 19 (cf vi. 5), pp. 72, 101, 
2nd edit. 

At the same time in some of the 
N.T. passages, as e.g. 1 Cor. ix. 25 
2 Tim. iv. 8, and see ii. 5 above, the 
reference to the games seems un- 
mistakable, and the same conclusion 
is derived from the consideration of 
the imagery in such passages as 
Wisd. iv. 2, 4 Mace. xvii. 15, and 
Philo, Legg. All. ii. 26, M. p. 86, 
where he speaks of a beautiful and 
glorious crown different from that 
of any festival assembly of men, and 
employs the word used of the festival 
of the Olympian games. 

The question has been raised as 
to whether the notion here is that 
of sovereignty or of victory, but the 
meutiou of a kingdom in ii. 5, and 




[l. 12 

some of the passages cited above in 
O.T., together with 2 8am. xii. 30, 
1 Chron. xx. 2, might well lead us to 
regard tlie former thought as pro- 
minent here, whilst it may be admit- 
ted that in the closest parallels of the 
N.T., e.g. 1 Pet. v. 4, 2 Tim. iv. 8, Rev. 
ii. 10, the leading idea is rather that 
of victory 1. 

A further question arises as to 
whether the expression refers only 
to the future life, or to the present 
life also: if we compare ii. 5, such 
expressions as 'rich in faith' and 
'heirs of the knigdom' indicate a life 
which is at all events commenced 
for the Christian, cf Rom. v. 17, and 
of which he is already in possession 
at least in germ (cf. also Ritschl, 
Justification and Reconciliation, p. 
500, B.T.). 'The crown which consists 
in life eternal' is the rendering 
adopted by Mayor (and so to the 
same effect Beysclilag); cf. 1 John ii. 

As the undoubted source of the 
passage before us Spitta (and so von 
Soden) points to Zech. vi. 14, and it 
is certainly noteworthy that the lxx 
of that verse reads, 'The crowTi shall 
be to those who endure,' etc., the 
noun and verb being identical with 
those in the verse of St James. But 
it must be remembered that the 
Hebrew text is quite different, and 
that Spitta's attempt to discount this 
fact is not very successful, whilst a 
passage like "Wisd. v. 16 also presents 
a very close parallel ; and the imagery 
was very common: cf. Ecclus. xv. 
6 ; Wisdiv. 2; Ps. viii. 5; and Aristeas, 

which the Lord promised. So A. 
and R.V., but in the latter 'the Lord' 
is printed in italics, indicating that 

no such subject is expressed in the 
Greek, according to the reading 
adopted by W.H. and Weiss. If we 
are justified in taking 'the Lord,' v. 7, 
to apply to Christ, or if the verse 
before us is an unrecorded saying of 
Jesus, we are of course justified in 
inserting 'the Lord,' i.e. Christ, as 
the subject here. On the other hand, 
iL 5 seems rather to point to 'God' 
as the subject, and so also does 
the fact that so many of the O.T. 
promises are made to those who love 
God (this is the view adopted by 
Zahn and Beyschlag, no less than 
von Soden, and the same subject of 
the verb is found in the Syriac 
Version and in the Vulg.). 

to them thai love him. Cf. Rom. 
viii. 28 ; 1 Cor. ii. 9; 2 Tim. iv. 8. In 
the O.T. the phrase was very fre- 
quent: cf Ps. xcvii. 10, cxlv. 20, and 
also see Ecclus. 1. 18, xxxi. 16 ; 
Tob. xiii. 14, xiv. 7 ; 1 Mace. iv. 33 ; 
Psalms of Solomon, iv. 7, vi. 9, 
X. 4, xiv. 1 ; and Book of Enoch, 
cviii. 8. 

'Amor parit patientiam,' writes 
Bengel in his comment on this verse, 
' Love begets patience (endurance) ' ; 
the love of God is the motive power 
which works patience, and patience 
strengthens the conviction that 'all 
things work together for good' 
(Rom. viii. 28) for those in whom 
that love is being perfected. 

There is some reason for supposing 
that in this verse we have an Agra- 
phon of our Lord, i.e. a saying of his 
unrecorded in our Canonical Gospels. 
That such sayings were current we 
learn from Acts xx. 28, and in the 
Acta Philippi we read, 'Blessed 
is he who hath his raiment white, 
for it is he who receiveth the crown 

1 On the word 'crown' as distinguished from the word ' diadeiu, ' a distinction 
apparently emphasised too much by Trench, see Mayor in loco. 

I. 12, 13] 



13 which the Lord promised to them that love him. Let no 
man say when he is tempted, I am tempted ^of God : for 

^ Gr. from. 

of joy.' Many English scholars regard 
the words in this light, and Resch, 
Agrapha^ p. 253, argues at length for 
this same view. He points out, e.g., 
(1) the non-existence of any corre- 
sponding promise in relation to the 
word ' crown ' in the O.T. ; (2) the 
coincidence of several N.T. passages, 
1 Cor. ix. 25, 1 Pet. v. 4, Apoc. ii. 10, 
iii 11, 2 Tim. ii. 5, iv. 8, and the 
striking parallel in Acta Philippi 
with reference to the crown ; (3) the 
phrase used in 2 Tim. iv. 8 which 
closely resembles that in James i. 
12; cf. ii. 5. 

On the other hand, it is ui-ged 
that this recurring phrase ' to those 
that love Him ' must not be referred 
to a word of the Lord, but perhaps 
to some liturgical formula, or some 
current mode of expression, and 
that the imagery of a crown as the 
reward of victory was too common 
and too frequently in vogue to 
justify Resch's conclusions (Ropes, 
Die Sprilche Jesu, p. 38). 

13. A serious question arises as 
to whether the verb translated 
'tempted' is to be taken in the same 
sense as the cognate noun rendered 
'trials' in v. 2, and 'temptations' 
in V. 12, R.V. 

Probably from the close connection 
of the words, and from the writer's 
characteristic of taking up, as it 
were, a word from a preceding 
word, both noun and verb are used 
with reference to each other, but in 
vv. 2 and 12 the noun signifies rather 
the objective circumstances of the 
temptation, while the verb in v. 13 
relates to the subjective yielding of 
the man to enticement. 

/ am tempted of God. Cf Eccle- 
siasticus xv. 11, 12, 20, 'Say not thou. 
It is through the Lord that I fell 
away : for thou oughtest not to do 
the things that he hateth. Say not 
thou, He hath caused me to err : for 
he hath no need of the sinful man.... 
He hath commanded no man to do 
wickedly, neither hath he given any 
man license to sin.' 

In the original the words ' of God ' 
stand first, emphatically. Probably 
the Greek preposition would be better 
rendered 'from God' as in R.V. 
marg., for it signifies the remoter 
rather than the immediate agent. 
The man would scarcely dare to 
stamp God as the immediate tempter, 
but, as in the passage of Eccle- 
siasticus quoted, he might be seduced 
by the praise of the ungodly to a 
fall which he would attribute to God. 
In one sense no doubt 'temptations' 
have their origin from God ; He 
ordains them (cf Gen. xxii. 1 ff.), but 
He also overrules them, and He 
' will with the temptation make also 
the way of escape,' R.V. 1 Cor. x. 13, 
i.e. the way suitable for each tempta- 

There is no occasion to find a 
reference here to any definite philo- 
sophical teacliing, such as that of the 
Pharisees or Bssenes, still less to that 
of Simon Magus, or to that of the 
Gnostics. The words do but give 
expression to the inclination so con- 
genial to man to shift the blame by 
some or any moans from himself to 
God ; cf Gen. iii. 12 ; Prov. xxx. 8, 9. 
So too in Psalms of Solomon, v. 8, 
we read, ' Make not thy hand heavy 
upon us, that we sin not by reason of 




[l. 13, 14 

God ^cannot be tempted with ^evil, and he himself 
14 tempteth no man : but each man is ^ tempted, when he is 

^ Or, is untried in evil * Gr. evil things. 

' Or, tempted by his own lust, being drawn away by it, and enticed 

our sore necessity'; and Philo refutes 
the idea that Moses in his teaching 
had 2:iven occasion to the falsehood 

that God compelled men to sin, as 
some impious persons afBrm (Philo, 
Quod deter, pot. 177 d). 

The same human tendency may be 
amply illustrated from classical 
literature, as e.g. Iliad, xix. 86, where 
Agamemnon excuses his injustice 
towards Achilles by saying, ' I am not 
to blame, but Jove and Fate,' although 
from other passages it would seem 
that the ancients themselves regarded 
such assertions as rash and impious : 
of. Aesch. Agam. 1474, where Clytem- 
nestra tries to throw her guilt on 
the e\i\ genius of the family, and the 
Chorus refuse the plea. 

cannot be tempted; one word in 
the original, a word not found in 
Lxx or N.T. Very similar phrases 
are used in relation to God by Philo, 
Plutarch, M. Antoninus. God in His 
absolute purity is 'untemptable of 
evil ' ; man is tempted by his own 

In marg. R.V. we have the render- 
ing 'is untried in evil,' i.e. is un- 
versed in, has no experience of evil 
(or, evil things), but although the 
word may be so rendered, it seems 
best to take it as above. 

The active sense 'God does not 
tempt to evil' is now generally 
abandoned, as it would reduce the 
words which follow to mere tauto- 

evil. R.V. marg. 'evil things'; 
but there is no occasion to restrict 
the words, in accordance with some 
interpreters, to the evils of aflBiction 
or persecution. The whole context 

seems to imply that moral evil is 

Resch {Agrapha, p. 233) quotes 
an interesting passage, Clem. Horn. 
iii. 35, which correctly interpreted 
runs, 'But to those who think that 
God tempteth, as the Scriptures say, 
He (i.e. Christ) saith. The Evil One is 
the tempter,' and in these latter 
words he would see another un- 
recorded saying of our Lord. But 
it is quite possible that the writer 
cited may have had in mind the 
passage before us in St James, or 
some reminiscence of our Lord's 
words. Matt. v. 37, xiii. 19, 25. 

and he himself tempteth no man. 
So R.V. with emphatic rendering of 
the pronoun ; in A.V. simply 'he.' 

14. hut each m,an ; contrast marked 
in these words. There is a tempt- 
ing—not from God, but from a man's 
own lust (although Mayor marks the 
opposition differently, see in loco). 

The words as rendered in R.V. 
emphasise not merely the universa- 
lity of temptation as in A.V. but 
rather its special peculiarity in the 
case of each individual man. 

is tempted, when he is drawn 
away by his own lust, and enticed, 
R.V. (and so A.V. with exception 
noted below) ; see marg. ' is tempted 
by his own lust, being drawn away 
(by it) and enticed.' 

Dr Plummer urges that both in A. 
and R.V. the punctuation and order 
of the words are faulty ; both verbs 
belong to ' by his own lust,' and ' the 
metaphor is not seduction from the 
right road, but alluring out of 
security into danger.' The Greek 
participle rendered 'drawn away' 

I. 14, 15] 



15 drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, 

should thus rather be 'drawn out,' 
like game from a covert or fish from 
a hiding nook into some place ex- 
posed to nets and hooks ; and so the 
man is represented as drawn out 
from his security, which is effected 
by his own desire ('his own,' i.e. 
emphatically in contrast to God, 
V. 13) enticing him as with a bait. 
Both the participles might be trans- 
ferred from their Hteral use in appli- 
cation to hunting or fishing to a 
metaphorical use of alluring to 
sensual sin, and thus desire entices 
the man from his self-restraint as 
with the wiles of a harlot, a metaphor 
maintained by the words which fol- 
low, 'conceived,' 'beareth,' 'bringeth 
forth'; cf. 2 Pet. ii. 14, 18, where the 
same verb is found, and Philo, Quod 
omn.proh. lib. 22, 'driven by passion 
or enticed by pleasure' (see further 
Mayor's note and its strictures). So 
again in Testaments of the Twelve 
Patriarchs, Jos. 2, Joseph says of 
Potiphar's wife, 'she pressed and 
drew me on to fornication,' where the 
same verb is employed as in St James, 
although compounded with another 
preposition. The drawing out can- 
not have the force of drawing out 
as to the shore of a fish caught, as 
in Herod, ii. 70, for this would de- 
mand that theenticingshouldprecede 
the capture, whereas the Greek gives 
the reverse order, but possibly this 
must not be pressed, as the words 
may be given, not in the order of 
action, but in the order of thought 
(see Carr's note). Tlie latter verb is 
used only twice elsewhere in N.T., 
cf. 2 Pet. ii. 14, 18, and not at all in 
Lxx, and the former five times in 
Lxx in different senses, also in 3 Mace. 
ii. 23. 

by his own lust, ii.V., the Greek 

preposition implying direct personal 
agency. In this connection we may 
compare Sayings of the Jewish 
Fathers, v. 4, 'with ten temptations 
was Abraham tempted,' not 'God 
did tempt Abraham,' cf. James i. 13; 
see Dr Taylor, p. 130, and also his 
comment on the expression before 
us. I.e., 'the evil nature seduces a 
man in this world, etc., cf. Sukkah 
52 b.' With this again compare 
the famous passage. Apocalypse of 
Baruch,liv. 19, where, after speaking 
of Adam's fall and its results, the 
writer adds, 'Adam is therefore not 
the cause (i.e. of spiritual bliss or 
torment) save only of his own soul, 
but each one of us has been the 
Adam of his own soul.' ' The real force 
of this verse,' wi-ites Dr Charles, 
'is that a man's guilt and sin are not 
derived from Adam, but are due to 
his own action. The evil impulse 
does not constitute guilt or sin unless 
man obeys it. As the Tahnudists 
say, it was placed in man to be 

In the present day this assertion 
of St James strikes at the root of 
all attempts to shift the blame and 
responsibility of wi'ong-doing from 
ourselves to outward circumstances, 
to the working of natural laws, to the 
bias of inherited tendencies. And 
the consciences of mankind ratify the 
plain and direct indictment of St 
James, if such words as repentance, 
remorse, and sin are to retain any 
force and meaning. 'He speaks of 
sin, of salvation, of redemption, and 
conversion, as if these things were 
realities. He aaks me. What docs 
M. Renan make of sin? "Ah well, I 
suppose I supi)ress it,"' Amiel, JMir- 
nal Intirne, E.T., i. Ixvi. If, indeed, 
it had been possible, men would long 



[i. 15, 16 

when it hath conceived, beareth sin : and the sin, when it 
16 is fullgrown, briugeth forth death. Be not deceived, my 

ago have 'suppressed' both the fact 
and the sense of sin, and the most 
popular interpreters of the deepest 
voices of humanity, the poets and the 
dramatists, not of one age but of all 
times, do but repeat, more or less 
distinctly, the confession of the 
Hebrew Psalmist, 'I acknowledge 
my transgressions, and my sin is ever 
before me'; see Plummer, p. 91, on 
this bearing of the teaching of St 
James, and the various testimonies 
quoted by Maclear, Introduction to 
the Greeds, p. 250, and by Mozley in 
his famous Essay on Original Sin 
asserted by Philosophers and Poets 
in 'Essays and Papers,' p. 148. 

15. the lust. So R.V. (translating 
the article), the lust, as if personified. 

when it hath conceived, beareth. 
Cf. the constant Hebrew expression. 
Gen. iv. 1, 17, xxx. 17, etc., rendered 
by the Lxx as here in St James. 
The same metaphor is continued : lust 
is united with the man's will, which 
has been ensnared by her, and the 
offspring of the union is sin, 'sin' in 
general, without the article in the 
Greek. ' Beareth,' R. V., as in distinc- 
tion from the other Greek word 
rendered ' bringeth forth ' below. 

and the sin. So II.V. because the 
article is here expressed in the 
Greek, i.e. the particular sin result- 
ing from the unresisted temptation 
of the individual man. Mayor, how- 
ever, regards the article as simply 
taking up the same preceding noun ; 
see above, v. 4. 

when it is fullgrown, thus con- 
tinuing the metaphor (A.V. with 
Tyndale 'finished'). Sin all along 
had carried in itself the germ of 
death, and so when it has come to 
maturity, death is the result, unless 

the power of sin is previously broken 
by a higher power of life. There is 
no need to suppose that the purpose 
of the verse is to furnish any technical 
instruction as to the origin and scope 
of sin, but rather to show us how 
temptation could not come from God, 
since its fruit was so terrible. 

bringeth forth. It is doubtful how 
far we need press the reference of 
the verb to any monsti'ous or unusual 
births, as do some commentators; 
the word occurs again in v. 18, and 
although not found in lxx may be 
illustrated from its mention in 
4 Mace. XV. 17 ; see further Lightfoot, 
Revision of N.T. p. 77, and Didache, 
iii. 2, 3, for somewhat similar meta- 
phorical language. 

English readers will compare 
Milton's allegory. Par. Lost, ii. 745- 
814 (so Alford, Plumptre, Farrar), 
in which Satan by his owni evil lust 
begat sin, and then by an incestuous 
union with sin, death results. 

deatli. Cf Rom. vi. 23; Didache, 
V. 1 ; used here in all its undefined 
terror, not merely of bodily death, 
although that might well be included 
as so often the issue of vice and 
transgression, but rather of spiritual 
death, as in contrast to the life be- 
stowed by God on those who love 
Him. There is no need to define 
it as eternal death, since a soul, if 
converted, may be saved 'out of 
death,' v. 20. 

16. Be not deceived; a warning 
against the suspicion cast upon God's 
character, cf 13, but a warning 
tempered and softened in its earnest- 
ness by the affectionate 'my beloved 
brethren.' The words refer not only 
to what precedes, but also to what 
follows, inasmuch as the leading 

1. 16,17] 



17 beloved brethren. Every good ^gift and every perfect 
boon is from above, coming down from the Father of 

^ Or, giving 

thought is to guard against any 
representation of God which would 
make Him, the source of all good, the 
source of temptation to sin; of. for 
similar formulae, 1 Cor. vi- 9, xv. 33 ; 
Gal. vi. 7 ; 1 John iii. 7. 

17. Every good gift and every 
perfect boon. It is difficult to dis- 
tinguish between the two nouns in 
English, but it is well to remember 
that a contemporary writer Uke Philo 
has made a special distinction between 
them, inasmuch as the latter noun is 
much stronger than the former, and 
contains the idea of gi'eatness and 
perfection which is lacking in the 
former; PhUo, De Cherub. 25; and 
so De Leg. Alleg. iii. 70, where he 
applies to the latter noun the same 
epithet ' perfect ' as in the Greek of 
the verse before us. See Lightfoot, 
Revision of N.T. p. 77. This being 
so, 'boon,' Lat. bonum, is perhaps 
the best rendering we can get 
Beyschlag, without however referring 
to Philo, sees an advance in the 
latter noun upon the former, inas- 
much as the latter expresses some- 
thing greater, and he compares the 
way in which it is employed Rom. 
V. 16 as a free gift (see also Sanday 
and Headlam, Romans, I.e.). In both 
nouns he sees the thought of some- 
thing given, and therefore not de- 
rived from the man himself, in 
contrast to v. 14. Others distinguish 
the two nouns by describing the 
former as the act of giving, and the 
latter the thing given, and largitio, 
donatio are quoted as the equi- 
valents of the former, donum ipsiiin., 
munus., as of the latter. It is 
doubtful how far the whole verse 
can be compared with Jolm vi. 32 ; 

we should rather illustrate it by Matt, 
vii. 11, Luke xi. 13. 

Evidently there is a marked con- 
trast intended between God as the 
source of all good and as, in the false 
conception of ». 13, a tempter to evil, 
and this is sufficient for the practical 
purpose of the writer. Jewish 
theology emphatically asserted that 
only good things were bestowed by 
God. Thus Philo asserts, De Covf. 
Ling. p. 346 c, that God is only the 
cause of good things, and see also 
for a similar confession Tob. iv. 19 ; 
Wisd. i. 13; Ecclus. xxxix. 33. The 
words of St James seem to have 
been a kind of proverbial saying 
among the Jews; see Exp. Times., 
April, 1904. 

It is of further interest to note 
that the words form a hexameter 
line, and that they may possibly be 
a quotation from some unknown 
Greek poet (so among recent wi-iters 
von Soden, Spitta, and Mayor). 
Beyschlag however attributes the 
rhythm to chance, following some 
of the other commentators. A 
similar explanation may be given of 
Ileb. xii. 13, where Bishop Westcott 
remarks that tlie commonly received 
reading forms an accidental hexa- 
meter. Others again have seen in 
the words a fragment of some early 
Christian hymn, or even, although it 
cannot be said with much support, 
an imrecorded saying of the Lord. 

is from above., i.e. from heaven 
as the dwelling-place of God, cf. Acts 
xiv. 17 (xxvi. 13); John xix. 11, 
iii. 31 ; or the words perhaps are more 
properly explained by what follows; 
cf. iv. 1. 

coming down. So 11. V., W.H., 

24 JAMES [I. 17 

lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow 

Vulg. (von Soden, Mayor), separating 
the verb copula from the participle. 
But others refer to iii. 15 and take 
the verb and participle together 
as = 'comes down,' and they have 
apparently the support of the Syriac 
Version and of the older interpreters. 
It may however be fairly alleged 
against this view that it makes 'from 
above' less connected, and, one might 
almost say, superfluous. The words 
thus combined may further imply 
that these good and perfect gifts 
come down from heaven to earth in 
a constant stream, giving this force 
to the present participle. 

the Father of lights. The title 
suggested primarily, it may be, the 
thought that God was the creator of 
light, of the luminaries, the stars 
and heavenly bodies, and their ruler 
and upholder : cf Gen. i. 14 ; Jer. iv. 
23, xxxi. 35 ; Ps. cxxxvi. 7 ; Apoc. of 
Bariich, liv. 13 ; Book of Enoch, 
Ixxv. 1-3 ; Ecclus. xliii. 1-10 (cf. Job 
xxxviii. 28). In Job xxxviii. 7, the 
two expressions ' morning stars ' and 
'sons of God' appear as 'two 
parallel conceptions,' but here ap- 
parently a reference may fairly be 
foimd to the Jewish conception that 
the heavenly bodies were the angels 
or hosts of God (in lxx ' sons of God ' 
is translated 'angels'). This exact 
expression 'Father of lights' is not 
successfully paralleled by Spitta, and 
he admits that both of his main 
instances are unsatisfactory, since in 
the one the expression is only found 
in the text adopted by Ceriani of 
Apoc. of Moses, xxxvi., and in the 
other the expression 'Father of 
light,' wliich he cites from the 
Testament of Abraham, vii., is only 
found in the later recension, and is 
there applied not to God but to the 

angel of light. But the language of 
Philo may be compared with the 
thought expressed here by St James, 
as he regards God not only as light 
but as the archetype of every other 
light, and constantly interchanges 
the words 'father' and 'creator' of 
all things. 

But we must not suppose that 
St James would thus limit the 
thought of God as the Father of 
lights. If it be said that the im- 
mediate context appears so to limit 
it, it may be fairly urged that the 
subsequent words carry us on to the 
thought of God as the source of all 
spiritual and moral light; cf. 1 John 
i. 5 and marginal references in R.V. 
The writer of the Book of Wisdom 
had spoken of Wisdom as the 
brightness of the everlasting light, 
as being more beautiful than the 
sun ; being compared with the light 
she is found before it, Wisd. vii. 
25-29. And St James would not 
only remind his readers that if the 
lights of heaven, sun, moon, and 
stars, brought such blessing to men, 
how much more He Who made them ; 
but he would again enforce the 
truth that if God was the source of 
all light, then we cannot refer sin to 
Him, the darkness which blinds the 
eyes of the soul and of the under- 

can he. So R.V. (but A.V. simply 
'is'), i.e. it is not possible in His 
nature, cf. Gal. iii. 28, 'there is no 
room for, no place for,' negativing 
not the fact only but the possibility 
(Lightfoot), although it is doubtful 
how far we can always press this 
idea of impossibility in the word. 

no variation, neither shadotc that 
is cast by turning. The first noun, 
not found elsewhere in N.T. (but cf. 

I. 17] 



liXX, 2 Kings ix. 20), is translated 
' variation,' not ' variableness,' by the 
Revisers, for it expresses actual 
■change, not the abstract quality. 
The noun in question has the sense 
of variation from a set course or 
rule, and in fact it might be used of 
change or difference quite generally, 
e.g. of the changes of the seasons, 
•or of the difference between beauty 
and deformity. Mayor takes the 
word here of the contrast between 
the natural sun, changing its position 
in the sky from hour to hour and 
month to month, and the eternal 
som'ce of all light (see further below). 
neither shadow, etc. The words 
thus rendered in R.V. have been 
taken to refer to the shadow cast by 
the daily and yearly apparent re- 
volutions of the sun. But it is quite 
possible to take the noun translated 

* turning' in the sense of change in 
general, not, that is, of the heavenly 
movements as in lxx, Deut. xxxiii. 
14, Job xxxvii. 33, and specially 
cf. Wisd. vii. 18, but as it is used 
frequently in Philo, to contrast the 
changeableness of all that is created 
with the immutability of the Creator 
(see instances of this use of the 
word in Philo given by Mayor and 
Schneckenburger as expressing in- 
constantia naturae). If we adopt 
this meaning, the word rendered 

* shadow ' may be taken as referring 
us back to the thought of God as 
'the Father of lights' upon whom 
(carrying on the imagery) no change 
in this lower world can cast a 
shadow. So Mayor would render 
*overshadovnng of mutability,' and 
takes the whole passage to mean 
that God is alike incapable of change 
in His own nature {n-apaWayri) and 
incapable of being changed by the 
action of others (dnoaKiaa-na). Or 

we may take the noun rendered 
'turning' as a qualitative genitive, 
and render 'shadow of change' 
as = changing shadow, i.e. an over- 
shadowing which changes the face of 
the sun; but this rendering would 
not in any way interfere with the 
interpretation of the passage given 

The rendering in A.V. 'shadow of 
turning ' is no doubt ambiguous, and 
it might be taken as expressing the 
Old Latin modicum obumbrationis, 
as if the first Greek noun was 
= shade, trace, small amoimt. This 
meaning certainly makes good sense, 
but it is very doubtful how far it can 
be applied to the rare Greek noun 
here employed. Oecumenius and 
Theophylact both take the word in 
this sense here ; and if we cannot 
follow them in this, their preceding 
words emphasise the general mean- 
ing of the passage already adopted, 
'for He Himself crieth by the pro- 
phet, "I am the Lord, I change not,'" 
Mai. iii. 6. 

Spitta refers the terms under dis- 
cussion to the stars, their changes in 
place and the times of their setting 
and rising : cf. Job xxv. 5 ; also Bcclus. 
xvii. 31, xxvii. 11 ; Enoch, xviii. 
15, and Ixxiii. 3, Ixxiv. 4. Such 
passages may help to show us that 
the language of St James and the 
contrast which he institutes would 
not be foreign to Jemsh thought, 
and that there is no need to take 
his words here as technical astro- 
nomical terms. In Wisd. vii. 18 we 
have a striking approach to the very 
words of St James, where the writer 
speaks of 'the alterations of the 
turning of the sun,' lit. ' the changes 
of the solstices,' the two terms being 
nearly identical \vith those in St 
James, and also of 'the changes of 



[l. 17, 18 

18 that is cast by turning. Of his own will he brought 
us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of 
firstfruits of his creatures. 

seasons' (see Speaker's Commen- 

We read in his biography that 
these words 'with whom can be no 
variation ' etc. were constantly upon 
the lips of one of the most eminent 
of modern scientific men, James 
Clerk Maxwell. But it was not 
merely upon the thought of the 
immutability of God as contrasted 
with the mutability of phenomena 
that James Clerk Maxwell rested 
his highest hopes in life and in his 
last hours on earth — a Theist might 
have found satisfaction in dwelling 
upon the same contrast — but it was 
upon the thought (as his biography 
further teaches us) of a Father of 
lights, revealed in His Son, the giver 
of the true light, the light of life and 
the light of the world. 

18. Of his own will. In contra- 
distinction to ». 13 and to the notion 
that God could be a tempter of men. 
His will is shown not by tempting 
them but by conferring upon them 
the power of a new birth. The will 
of man could be perverted, and his 
lust could bear sin, and sin death, 
but God's will could not be perverted 
or changed from its purpose, and 
His action in accordance with the 
purpose is showTi us in the statement 
which follows. 

he brought us forth hy the word 
of truth. Sin brought forth death 
(the same word is ased in v. 15), 
God, the Father of lights, could only 
beget life. ' Us,' i.e. not us as men, 

but us as Christians (see further 
below), born not of the will of the 
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of 
God (John i. 13). With these words 
Ephes. i. 13, 1 Pet. i. 23 and v. 3, 
John iii. 7, 1 John iv. 7, should be 
compared, and whilst to the expres- 
sion ' the word of truth ' we cannot 
attach the high personal sense which 
we find attaching to the Word in 
John i. 1, yet we cannot forget that 
our Lord (John xvii. 17-19) speaks 
of 'the word' which is truth, that 
by it the disciples are to be sancti- 
fied, and that it might be justly 
called ' at once the element in which 
the Christian lives and the spring of 
his life' (Westcott on John viii. 31). 
Others however take the words as 
simply referring to the Gospel, be- 
cause it has for its contents the 
truth revealed to us from God. 

In his desire to eliminate every- 
thing specifically Christian from the 
Epistle, Spitta has contended that 
reference in this verse is made by 
the writer not to the Christian new 
birth, but to the natural creation by 
God in Genesis i. 26. It is no doubt 
true that the phrase 'word of truth ' 
may be paralleled from the Psalms, 
e.g. cxix. 43, 160, but this does not 
in the slightest degree involve the 
exclusion of any Christian sense in 
the phrase before us, especially in 
face of the frequent parallels in the 
New Testament, with which we may 
compare in part iii. 14, v. 19, in 
this same Epistle. Moreover, if the 

^ On the use of the words as technical astronomical terms Carr's notes in 
Cambridge Greek Testament may be consulted. The latter noun translated 
' shadow that is cast by turning ' is not found elsewhere in Greek, although a 
cognate noun is found in Plutarch and a cognate verb in Plato. 

I. 18] 



phrase is referred to the creative 
word and act of God, it is ditiicult 
to see why this creative 'word' 
should be styled here 'the word of 
truth' (see further below, on the 

A fui-ther and thoughtful attempt 
however has been recently made to 
find in this phrase ' word of truth ' 
particular reference to the creation of 
man 'according to our image and like- 
ness,' God's creation of man being 
the result of this purpose, enforcing 
the truth about man, revealing 
man's true nature and life^ And so 
too 'the implanted word is to be 
regarded as the same active principle 
which St James has thus already 
named as used in creation, but it is 
no longer the external fact of creation 
declaring the truth about human 
nature, it is now represented as an 
active principle within the man 
which has the power of saving him, 
and this can be nothing else than 
the new principle of hfe, given in 
Christ Jesus.' In this way the ex- 
pression ' the truth ' in iii. 14 
and V. 19 is related to 'truth' of 
i. 18, as the ideal of regenerated 
human life is to the ideal of created 
human life. But as against this 
view there is much to be said for 
the interpretation of the phrase 
' word of truth ' adopted above (and 
see further on the expression ' first- 
fruits of his creatures '). 

that we should he a kind of first- 
fruits. As Israel, Jer. ii. 3, could be 
spoken of as 'holiness to the Lord, 
andthefirstfruits of His increase,' and 
as Philo could speak of Israel as the 
firstfruits of the whole human race 
(see reference in Wetstein in loco), 

so St James might well see in the 
Christian Church, although a small 
part of his nation, the firstfruits 
destined to include not only Israel 
(i. 1), but the residue of men, the 
ingathering of the Gentiles into the 
Kingdom of Christ ; cf the words of 
St James, Acts xv. 16-18, For the 
employment of the same noun else- 
where in a specifically Christian 
sense see 2 Thess. ii. 13 ; Rom. viii. 23, 
xvi. 5 ; 1 Cor. xv. 20 ; Rev. xiv. 4. 

a kind of, because the tei-m is 
used with a metaphorical meaning. 
So Calvin comments on the words 
in the original : we are in a certain 
measure the firstfruits. 

of his creatures. The same word 
is found Wisd. ix. 2, xiii. 5, xiv. 11, 
Ecclus. xxxviii. 34, 3 Mace. v. 11, 
and also in one significant passage 
Ecclus. xxxvi. 20 (15), where it is 
apparently used of the Israelites. 
The word as employed here may be 
interpreted in the widest sense, as 
the language of St James quoted 
above from Acts xv. indicates, ' the 
residue of men, all the Gentiles upon 
whom my Name is called ' ; cf also 
Mark xvi. 15 ; Rom. viii. 20, 21 ; Col. 
i. 23 ; the Christian Church, the 
spiritual Israel, being the firstfruits 
of the new creation. Spitta here 
again would refer the whole phrase 
to the lordship of man over creation, 
but, as we have seen, St James is 
speaking figuratively, and there can 
be little doubt that he had in mind 
the O.T. conception of the ofi'ering of 
the firstfruits to God (cf Exod. xxii. 
29 ; Deut. xviii. 4, xxvi. 2), and that 
the Jewish-Christian Church is con- 
ceived of as the firstfniits of the 
world which .should be won to Christ. 

^ Parry, St James, pp. 20 ff. Amongst other recent writers Mr Fulford in hia 
Commentary also takes ' the word of truth ' of the Divine fiat which brought ubout 
the creation of man, and refers to Dr Hort's Judaistic Christianity, p. 151, as 
perhaps indicating a somewhat similar view. 



[I. 19, 20 

19 ^Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every 

20 man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath : for 
the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 

^ Or, Know ye 

But if so, tliere is no need to confine 
this reference with Spitta to the 
relationship of man to the other 
creatures, since the oflfering in 
question is always concerned with 
the relationship of man to God ; and 
even if the word 'firstfruits' could 
be used of those ' first in honour,' the 
whole verse is marked by Christian 
phraseology, and the expression 'the 
word of truth' is sufficient, according 
to the view taken above, to exclude 
any limitation to the natural creation. 

19. Ye know this. ..But, R.V. 

If we follow R.V. with Wycl., and 
so Westcott and Hort, we may ex- 
plain : 

ye know this, viz. all that I have 
said as to the goodness of God and 
His favourable kindness towards us. 
But be not content with theoretical 
knowledge ; those begotten of the 
Word sliould be swift to hear, slow 
to speak, etc. The 'wherefore' of 
A.V. might easily have been substi- 
tuted for ' ye know ' in the original, 
so as to make the verse follow closely 
from the preceding, 'but' being 
omitted ^ 

my beloved brethren. Cf. v. 2, and 
for the full phrase as here 1. 16, ii. 5 ; 
1 Cor. XV. 58. The note of warning 
deepens the note of affection. 

swift to hear. With these words 
we may compare various similar in- 
junctions in the Jewish Sapiential 
books, and esp. Ecclus. v. 11, 'be 
swift to hear,... and with deliber- 
ateness (or, forbearance) give answer' 
(see too iv. 29, xx. 7), and Taylor, 

Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, 
p. 25, 2nd edit. The two clauses 
' swift to hear, slow to speak,' may be 
connected with the attitude of the 
man towards 'the word of truth, 
the attitude which should be recep- 
tive rather than critical. 

slow to wrath. With this we 
may compare Eccles. vii. 9, ' be not 
hasty in thy spirit to be angry,' and 
see also Taylor, u. s. pp. 64, 90, 101. 
The wrath denotes the angry, resent- 
ful temper, showing itself not only 
in grumbling against God in the face 
of trial or temptation, but also in 
fanatical and overbearing speech, 
the opposite of the meekness of 
V. 21 ; comp. esp. iii. 13, and the 
sequence in v. 14. 

20. for the torath of man work- 
eth not the of God : 
cf Rom. xii. 18-20. In view of the 
early date of the Epistle (see Intro- 
duction), we cannot find here any 
reference to the state of righteous- 
ness before God in a Pauline sense, 
nor is there any strict connection 
with the passage so often associated 
with the words 'unrighteous anger 
shall not be justified' (the better 
reading), Ecclus. i. 22. 

To work the righteousness of God 
means to do what God wills, that 
which is right in His sight : cf. Matt 
vi. 33 ; Acts iv. 19 ; and for the 
phrase 'to work righteousness' 
cf Acts X. 35 ; Heb. xi. 33 ; Rom. ii. 
10 (2 Cor. vii. 10); so we have the 
opposite phrase ii. 9 ; Matt. vii. 23 ; 
and so too 1 Mace. ix. 23. 

1 The Greek mss. vary here between two words, the one expressing ye know, 
the other wherefore. 

I. 21] 



21 Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of 
^wickedness, receive with meekness the ^implanted word, 

1 Or, malice ^ Or, inborn 

of man. Without laying any stress 
upon the word used here for ' man ' 
in the original, it would certainly 
seem that a contrast is marked 
between human and Divine, as if 
man by his fitful passion coiild 
expect to work the righteousness of 
Him Who is 'righteous in all His 
ways.' On the other hand St James 
would emphasise the fact that it is 
the work of the Christian, of one 
begotten of the word of truth, to 
carry out God's righteousness on 
earth. We cannot limit the reference 
of the verse to the Jewish zeal and 
fanaticism in making proselytes, or 
in maltreating fellow-countrymen 
who had accepted the Messiah, 
although no doubt St James would 
have endorsed St Paul's words, Rom. 
X. 2, 'they have a zeal for God but 
not according to knowledge.' There 
is much indeed in the history not 
only of the Jewish Church in the 
days of St James, but also of the 
Christian Church in each succeeding 
century, which reads as a sad com- 
mentary upon the truth here stated 
so decisively. And St James and 
his fellow-Christians had seen in the 
Cross of Christ the infinite distance 
which separates the judgment of 
human passion from the judgment 
of Him Who judgeth righteously ; 
and that shameful travesty of justice 
in the condemnation of their Lord 
had shown them what the ' wrath of 
man' could do in its attempt to 
work 'the righteousness of God 
(see a Sermon on this text by E. De 
Pressense, The Mystery of Suffering 
and other Discourses, p. 184). 

21. putting atcay, aorist parti- 
ciple, because ' the previous putting 

oflF is the condition of the subsequent 

Cf. for the phraseology and thought, 
Ephes. iv. 25; 1 Pet. ii. 1 ; Heb. xii. 1. 

all filthiness and overfiowing of 
wickedness, R.V. The A.V. trans- 
lation 'superfluity of naughtiness' 
according to modern usage would 
seem to indicate that a certain a- 
mount of naughtiness was good. The 
word 'filthiness' apparently continues 
the previous metaphor taken from 
the putting off" of clothes: see e.g. 
Isai. Ixiv. 6, Zech. iii. 4, and in the 
N.T. 1 Pet. iii. 21, Col. iii. 8, 
Ephes. iv. 25 ; and cf ii. 2, below. 

receive, not merely 'hear' (cf Luke 
viii. 13; Acts viii. 14, xvii. 11 ; 1 Thess. 
ii. 13), and with meekness, because 
that which is opposed to meekness, 
wi-ath, is first ' put away,' R.V. 

A further question arises as to 
whether 'filthiness' is to be taken 
alone, or with ' malice,' as the other 
noun rendered 'overflowing.' The 
latter seems best, as the context is 
not concerned with uncleanness in 
general, or with the special sin of 
impurity, as perhaps in iv. 4, 8, 
but with 'filthiness' as connected 
with ' malice.' 

Or perhaps it may be best to give 
the conjunction an explanatory force, 
and to render ' all defilement caused 
by the overflowing malice of the 
heart.' The rendering ' overflowing ' 
is justified by the meaning attached 
to the same noun elsewhere in the 
N.T., cf Rom. v. 17 ; 2 Cor. viii. 2, 
X. 15 ; but there is something to be 
said for the rendering 'what is left 
over' (cf the cognate noun, Mark 
viii. 8), i.e. of old inherited faults 
which remain even in those who are 

30 JAMES [I. 21, 22 

22 which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the 

born again, i. 18, with special refer- 
ence here to the old Jewish sins of 
his countrymen which St James 
rebukes in other parts of his Epistle ; 
of. Introd. p. xiii.^ 

wickedness, but 'malice' R.V. 
marg., and so other E. Versions, 
'malice' or 'mahciousness': cf. Rom. 
i. 29; Ephes. iv. 31 ; Col. iii. 8; Tit. 
iii. 3 ; 1 Pet ii. 1 (margin). 

This meaning fits iu well with the 
context, whilst 'wickedness' is too 
general, and 'naughtiness' in its 
modern use too restricted to the 
faults of children, although Latimer 
and Shakespeare employ it as 
= wickedness. In classical Greek 
the word translated ' malice ' is often 
used for vice in general, but it is 
evident that it cannot be so employed 
in the N.T. since it appears as one 
vice amongst many, see refs. above. 
Lightfoot takes it of the evil, vicious 
habit of mind. Trench, Synonyms, i. 
41 ; but for a full understanding of 
the word see Mayor in loco, and 
Grimm-Thayer, Synonyms. 

the implanted word. ' The word ' 
is identical with ' the word of truth,' 
v. 18. It may perhaps seem strange 
at first sight that Christians are 
bidden to receive a 'word' which 
has already been implanted ; and so 
it is sometimes explained that 'the 
word ' which is the agent of the new 
birth must ever be received anew 
that the new life may be retained 
and progress. The same objection 
may of course be equally raised 
against rendering the adjective 
'innate' as in Wisd. xii. 10; and so 
some writers regard 'implanted' as 
expressing a constant quality of ' the 

word,' i.e. 'whose property it is to 
root itself like a seed in the heart'; 
cf. Matt. xiii. 21-23, xv. 13. But for 
a further examination of the deeper 
meaning of the phrase see also below. 

which is able to save your souls. 
It is remarkable that this language 
is addressed to those who had been 
already described as begotten by the 
word of truth, so that salvation is 
regarded by the writer as in a sense 
still in the future, although it may 
be also a present possession : cf. 
1 Thess. V. 23. 'Able,' magna effi- 
cacia, Bengel; with the language 
cf. John V. 24; Rom. i. 16. 

The same expression 'able to 
save' is used below, iv. 13, of God, so 
that as the same Divine power is 
here ascribed to 'the implanted 
word ' it has been well observed that 
'the word' so described is scarcely 
distinguishable from the indwelling 
Christ. And this teaching would be 
very natural on the part of a Jew 
like St James, when we remember 
how often in Jewish thought 'the 
word ' suggested the closest intimate 
relation between the substance and 
the agent of revelation : cf. Art. 
'Logos,' Hastings' B. D. 

your souls. St James might 
have written ' you,' the personal pro- 
noun simply, but he uses what has 
sometimes been described as a He- 
braism, although in view of his 
solemn language in v. 20 it is much 
more likely that here also he is 
emphasising the thought of a salva- 
tion Avith eternal issues : cf. our 
Lord's words in Matt. x. 28, xvi. 26. 

22. he ye. So R.V. and AV. 
Sometimes the verb in the original 

^ Zahn, Einleitmig, i. 68, amongst recent writers may be noted as a strong 
advocate for this rendering. 

1. 22, 23] 



23 word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. For 
if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is 
like unto a man beholding ^his natural face in a mirror : 

^ Gr. the face of his birth. 

has been pressed to mean 'become 
doers' as of a process continually 
going on, representing true Christian 
practice as a matter of gi-o\vth, but 
here, as so often, it is best to take it 
as meaning 'show yourselves in 
action as being.' If in the previous 
verse we see a reference to the 
parable of the Sower, we recall how 
the same parable vividly marked the 
•distinction here emphasised by St 
James between hearing and doing, 
and it is significant that in St Luke's 
narrative our Lord's declaration, 
'My mother and my brethren are 
those which hear the word of God 
and do it,' Luke viii. 21, follows 
closely upon the interpretation of 
the parable of the Sower. 

But in any case we have in this 
verse what may well be a remi- 
niscence of the teaching of Jesus : 
cf. Matt. vii. 21, 24 ff. ; Luke vi. 46 
{John viii. 31, xiii. 17); and a leading 
characteristic of the teaching of 
St James is the stress laid upon 
practice and conduct, cf. ii. 14-20. 
Indeed the word translated 'doers' 
is itself a characteristic word of the 
Epistle, in which it occurs no less 
than four times, and only once else- 
where in the N.T. in the same sense, 
Rom. ii. 13 (see also for the same 
phrase 1 Mace. ii. 67). 

and not hearers only. It seems 
best to join the adverb closely with 
the noun, ' be not such as are hearers 
merely.' The Jewish Rabbis were 
themselves wont to emphasise this 
warning against hearing and learn- 
ing without practising; see e.g. 
Taylor, Sayings of tlie Jewish 
Fathers, p. 91 (cf. p. 25): 

'There are four characters in 
college-goers. He that goes and 
does not practise, the reward of 
going is in his hand; he that 
practises and does not go, the reward 
of practice is in his hand ; he that 
goes and practises is pious ; he that 
goes not and does not practise is 
wicked.' In the first character we 
have St James's ' hearer of the word, 
in the second the ' doer of the word,' 
the third character combining the 
two, and the last being neither. 

It is very possible that both St 
James and St Paul, Rom. ii. 13, had 
in mind the besetting sin of their 
countrymen to rest satisfied with 
the hearing of the Law and its ex- 
position in the synagogues : cf. Acts 
XV. 21 ; Rom. ii 17. The word 
translated 'hearers' is found three 
times in this Epistle, vv. 23, 25, and 
only once elsewhere in the N.T., 
Rom. ii. 13, and it is of interest to 
note that it is used with its cognate 
verb in classical Greek of attending 
a discourse or lecture. 

deluding your own selves, R.V. 
Other E.W. render 'deceiving.' In 
N.T. only elsewhere in Col. ii. 4. 
The word is properly used of de- 
ception by fallacious reasoning, but 
also of deceiving or deluding gene- 
rally, as often in lxx, Gen. xxix. 25 ; 
Lam. i. 19. In Psalms of Sol. iv. 
14 the same verb is also found, 'he 
deceiveth with his words,' and twice 
in the same Psalm, vv. 12, 25, the 
cognate noun is used of deceit and 
craftiness. In v. 26 St James ex- 
plains its meaning. 

23. like unto a man. Tliere 
seems no occasion to emphasise, as 



[l 24 

24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway 

some wi-iters have done, the word in 
the Greek for ' man ' ; it may be 
used quite genemllr as in rr. S. 12. 

beholdiiip, used often of consider- 
ing attentively, both in lxs and 
X.T., but here rather in contnxst to 
the continuous gaze of r. 25. 

his natural face, lit 'the face of 
his btrtL' The words have been 
very ditierently interpreted. On the 
one hand, the noun rendering 'birth' 
has been taken to denote fleeting, 
earthly existence : c£ Judith xiL 18, 
20 ; Wisd. viL 5 ; Pso.Ims of Sduinon, 
m. 11; and in this case a contrast 
could be drawn between the reflexion 
in the mirror of the natural face, the 
face belonging to this ti-ansitory life, 
and the reflexion in the Word of the 
true ideal of human character. But 
on the other hand, the same expres- 
sion has been taken to refer to the 
man's true individuality, to his 
creation in the image of God (c£ 
ui 9) and to the clause which 
follows, 'for he beheld himself; and 
then a contrast is drawn between a 
man beholding in each case his true 
self, but in the former case only 
momentarily, as he listens to God's 
Word and forgets it, in the latter 
case fixedly, as he contemplates and 
never loses sight of the ideal self 
revealed in the perfect law. But 
although this latter rendering has 
given occasion to some beautiful 
thoughts ^ yet the former is to be 
preferred l>ecause of the usual mean- 
ing of the word translated 'birth,' 
cf. its use in iiL 6, below. It is also 
noticeable that in Philo we have 
examples of its employment to ex- 
press the seen and temporal as 

contracted with the unseen and 

in a mirror. For the use of the 
same word figuratively a few in- 
stances may be cited, Wisd. vii. 26 ; 
Ecclus. xiL 11; and in the X.T., 
1 Cor. xiii 12 (2 Cor. iiL IS). Tlie 
same figurative use is frequent in 
Philo. The mirrors of the ancients 
were metallic, made most frequently 
of an alloy of copper and tin. although 
there were mirrors of sUver, and 
mention is made of mirrors of gold ; 
Art, 'Mirror,' Hastings' ^.Z>. voL m. 

24. for he behold eth h imself more 
precisely 'he beheld himself.' Oa 
the tense ^aorist) see note r. 1 1 above. 
We may note again a favourite 
characteristic of the writer in taking 
up, as it were, a word just employed : 
'beholding... beholdeth'; cf. r. 4. 

and gjeth aicay, more precisely 
' has gone away,' the tense (perfect) 
denoting the suddenness of the action 
and also the permanence of the re- 

and straighticay forgetteth, more 
precisely 'forgat'; here also we have 
a permanent state expressed, but the 
writer uses the aorist to emphasise 
the act itself as immediate and 

25. hut he that looketh. The verb 
tised denotes more even than the verb 
for ' beholdhig,' which may have the 
meaning of looking or considering 
attentively. It expresses that one 
stoops to a thing in order to look at 
it, to stoop and look into, and so to 
look carefully into, or our desire 
to know anything ; cf. John xx. 5, 
'and stooping and looking in, he 
seeih the linen clothes lying,' and so 

1 Reference may be made to Adderley's St James, p. 35, and to the substance 
given of the remarks in the Bishop of Oxford's Sermon ' The Virtue of Self- 
assertion in the Life of the Intellect ' (FacuUiet and D'Jkulties, Longmans). 

L 24, 25] 



25 forgetteth what manner of man he was. But he that 
looketh into the perfect law, the laic of liberty, and so 

and meaning of the Mosaic law, Matt. 
T. 17, cf. Jer. xxxi 33; because it 
sums up all commandments in the 
one command and principle of love : 
'he that loveth his neighbour hath 
fulfiUed the law,' c£ Rom. xiiL 8 ff ; 
GaL vi 2. ' The law of liberty ' has 
been called one of the paradoxes of 
St James, because it is of the essence 
of law to impose prohibition and 
restraint. But the law of love which 
St James identifies, IL 8, 12, with 
the law of liberty is a law of con- 
straint rather than of restraint ; it 
imposes it is true a bounden duty 
and serrice, but it inspires a motive 
which makes the burden light ; in its 
fulfilment men become sons of their 
Father in heaven, Matt v. 4-5, they 
delight in the law of God : ' Only 
love, and do what thou wilt' 

Our Lord Himself, cf. John viii. 
31 flF., had contrasted the slavery of 
sin with the freedom of sons which 
He as the Son conferred, the freedom 
which resulted from abiding in His 
word, and St James may well have 
been acqiiainted with this or similar 

There is no need to find in this 
expression 'the new law' of the 
second century, Le. Christianity as 
opposed to Judaism (see Introduc- 
tion, p. Ixii.), although of course it may 
be most truly maintained that this 
Epistle teaches ns how one great 
truth of Judaism, vii the truth of 
laic, found its expansion in Chris- 
tianity, just as the truth of the 
kingdom, mentioned in every Jewish 
prayer, found its real and spiritual 
meaning in the universal Christian 
Prayer : ' Thy kingdom come.' 

and so continneth, i.e. continues 
to look, in contrast to the man who 


m r. 11, *as she wept, she stooped 
and looked into the tomb.' In the 
T.YTj the word occurs Cant iL 9; 
Ecclus. xiv. 23, xxi 23. In the 
Oxyrhynchus Papyri, 2nd cent. A.D., 
an instance is found of the same 
verb in the same sense of ' looking 
down ' from an upper room into the 
street below, ExpoHtor, Dec. 1903, 
Dr Moulton's notes from the Papyri. 

tfie perfect law, the law of 
lihfrty, R.V., thus expressing the 
reiteration which is demanded by 
the original 

As a pious Jew St James would 
have known of the willing obedience 
with which each true Israelite would 
have rejoiced, to keep the law; c£ 
Psahn cxix. 32, 111, 1-59. So too 
Philo, Quod omnis probiLs liber sit, 
871 A, in a striking passage speaks 
of men who are governed by anger 
or desire or any other passion as 
altogether slaves, whilst as many as 
live in accordance with Divine law 
are free men. The same thought is 
emphasised stiU more precisely in 
Sayings of the Fathers, vi. 2 (c£ 
iii 8) : ' And the tables were the 
work of God, and the writing was 
the writing of God, graven upon the 
tables,' Exod- xxxii 16 ; read not 
Charuth, graven, but Cheruth, free- 
dom, for thou wilt find no freeman 
but him who is occupied in learning 
of Thorah.' But if the Epistle of 
St James is no mere Jewish docu- 
ment, the words before us may well 
be referred to a higher source than 
that of Psalmist or RabbL 

This Law is 'perfect,' not only 
because it may be contrasted with 
the biirden and yoke of the Law in 
its Pharisaic observance, but because 
it completes and realises the object 



[l. 25, 26 

continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth, but a doer 

26 that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing. If 

any man Hhinketh himself to be religious, while he 

1 Or, seevieth to be 

takes a glance and is off (see above). 
A.V. renders 'continueth therein,' 
i.e. in the law of liberty, but this is 
not in the Greek, although the 
earnest gaze results in adherence to 
the bidding of the Law ; cf. for tlie 
phraseology John viii. 31, but this 
reference is connected rather with 
A.V. than with the rendering of 

being not a hearer that forgettefh, 
but a doer that worketh, R.V. The 
two clauses are thus symmetrical in 
ti'anslation, as they stand in the 
original. Literally ' a hearer of for- 
getfulness,' which may be explained 
as aHebraisticidiom, or simplyas due 
to the vividness of phraseology com- 
mon to Oriental lang-uages. The 
only once elsewhere, Ecclus. xi, 
27, and it may therefore be a further 
indication that that book was known 
to St James. A doer that worketh, 
literally 'a doer of work,' emphasising 
the thought of habitual activity. 

blessed. With this beatitude we 
naturally compare Psalm i. 1, 2; and 
our Lord's own words as to the 
blessedness and happiness of doing, 
Luke xi. 28 ; John xiii. 17. His 
own promulgation of the new law of 
His Kingdom had also commenced 
with a series of blessings. Matt. v. 
3 ff"., and ' to look into that law and 
to continue in it was to share the 
beatitudes with which it opened.' 

in his doing. The blessing comes 
not only upon patience and endur- 
ance (i. 12, V. 11, 7), but it is found 
also in the exercise of daily duty. 

in his doing, R.V., not 'his deed' 

as A.V. as if of an accomplished 
work. The noun here refers to his 
obedience rendered to the Law ; it is 
only found elsewhere in Ecclus. xix. 
20 (li. 19), in a passage which affords 
a somewhat close parallel to the 
thought of St James : ' All wisdom 
is fear of the Lord, and in all wisdom 
there is doing of the law.' 

26. If any man thinketh him- 
self, i.e. supposes, fancies. The 
rendering of A.V. and R.V. marg. 
'seemeth to be ' is misleading ; it is 
not the hypocrite, but the self-de- 
ceived, of whom St James is WTiting, 
as the context shows. For the verb 
and its meaning here, cf. 1 Cor. iii. 18, 
X. 12, xiv. 37; Gal. vi. 3. 

religious. So A. and R.V. Tlie 
adj. is only found here in N.T., and 
nowhere in lxx, but the cognate 
noun rendered in this and the follow- 
ing verse 'religion' also occurs in 
Acts xxvi. 5 ; Col. ii. 18. This cog- 
nate noun is found twice and the 
cognate verb twice in lxx ; Wisdom 
xi. 15, xiv. 16, 18, 27; and in each 
case with reference to superstition 
and the service of false gods ; and if 
this does not indicate that the words 
were generally used in a bad sense, 
it indicates that they might easily 
degenerate into a use which was 
more concerned vnth the form than 
with the essence of piety. 

In Josephus the noun is used of 
the public worship of God, of religion 
in its external aspect, cf. e.g. Ant. 
IX. 13. 3, and B. J. vii. 3. 3 ; and this 
is apparently its meaning in the N.T., 
whilst by Philo it is directly con- 
trasted with the piety and holiness 

I. 26, 27] 


bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man's 
27 religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before our 

which claims to be such on the score 
of divers washings and costly offer- 
ings. The renderings ' religion ' and 
'religious' in our translation may be 
illustrated by the use of the word 
'religion' in Milton, Par. Lost, i. 372, 
where he describes some of the 
heathen idolatries as ' adorned with 
gay religions, full of pomp and gold,' 
and in Shakespeare, As You Like It, 
V. 4. 166, we read 'where meeting with 
an old religious man,' i.e. belonging 
to a religious order, and so making 
an outward profession of religion 
{^\ie2it,Glossary). See further Trench, 
Syn. I. p. 196 ; Hatch, Essays in Bibli- 
cal Greek, p. 55. There is no reason 
to see in the word a reference to the 
lustral observances of Jews or Jewish- 
Christians, a view derived, it would 
seem, from the close connection in 
the text between ' religion ' and the 
two adjectives 'pure' and ' undefiled.' 
But at the same time we must not 
forget that St James is writing to 
men who were still observing the 
Jewish ceremonial law, and so, in the 
spirit of the O.T. prophets, he warns 
them that no such observances would 
be acceptable with God, if breaches 
of the law of love in word or deed 
were committed. Cf. Titiis i. 15, 
and see further on v. 27. 

while he hridleth twt his tongue 
hut deceiveth his heart, all forming 
the protasis ; the words look back to 
t?. 19 and forward to iii. 1-18. 

hridleth. The verb only here and 
in iii. 2 in the N.T., but found in 
later Greek, and similar metaphori- 
cal expressions with reference to the 
mouth are of frequent occurrence in 
classical writers and so too in Philo. 
But in early Christian writers the 
same verb may be very strikingly 

illustrated from Hermas, Mand. xiL 
1 : 'For clothed with this desire (the 
good and holy) thou shalt hate the 
evil desire, and shalt bridle and 
direct it as thou wilt.' With the 
language of St James we may com- 
pare Ps. xxxii. 9, xxxix. 1, cxU. 3. 

deceiveth his heart; generally 
taken as equivalent to 'deluding 
your own selves' in 22 sujira. 
But in the latter passage the verb 
employed might refer merely to an 
error of the understanding, whilst 
here the whole expression emphasises 
the moral nature of the error ; ' the 
heart' would be a natural expression 
for St James, as throughout the Bible 
the word is used of the moral 
character to denote the seat and 
centre of personal life. 

vain, used frequently in the O.T. of 
heathen deities and their worship 
(cf. Acts xiv. 15), and perhaps here 
^\ith the thought of a ' religion ' as 
unprofitable in its nature as that 
associated with the idols of the 
Gentiles. The adjective is also used 
of faith, 1 Cor. xv. 17, when useless 
and unprofitable : cf. also Matt. xv. 8 ; 
Tit. iii. 9. 

27. Pure religion and undefiled, 
in contrast to a 'religion' which values 
too highly lustrations and external 
cleansing. The adjectives are often 
found together as in Hernias, Mand. 
ii. 7 ; Sim. v. 7. 1 ; so too in Philo. An 
attempt has been made to distinguish 
between the two adjectives, as refer- 
ring the former to the outward, the 
latter to the inward, but it is very 
doubtful whether such a distinction 
can be maintained In liormas in 
the first quoted passage, 'that thine 
own repentance and that of thy 
household may be found to be sincere, 




[I. 27 

God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows 
in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the 

and thy heart pure and undefiled,' 
the two adjectives are used together 
of the heart, and in the second of the 
flesh, although the context shows 
that the cognate noun of the latter 
adjective may be used of the spirit 
as much as of the flesh. The distinc- 
tion is sometimes drawn by regarding 
the former adjective as relating to 
others, and the latter to the man 
himself (Wetstein). In classical 
Greek both words are also employed 
in an ethical sense. 

tefore, i.e. in His judgment. He 
being the judge. Of. Rom. ii. 13 ; 
Gal. iii. 11 ; 1 Pet. ii. 20. 

our God, R.V., giving the force of 
the article which ought to be retained 
in the original before ' God.' 

Father. Of. Psalm Ixviii. 5, cxlvi. 9 
(see below, iii. 9). 

It has been thoughtfully suggested 
that the two following clauses may 
balance the two titles : before our 
Father = to visit the fatherless and 
widows ; before God = to keep himself 
unspotted from the world. 'A 
father of the fatherless, and a judge 
of the widows is God in his holy 
habitation,' Ps. Ixviii. 5. 

to visit. Cf Matt. xxv. 36, 43. 
The same verb is used in Ecclus. 
vii. 35 (cf. Jer. xxiii. 2), in the same 
sense, and almost always in classical 
lit. of visiting the sick; in modern 
Greek, also with the meaning of 
' visiting.' 

the fatherless and widows. The 
combination is found only here in the 
N.T. but it is frequent in the O.T. as 
a kind of proverbial expression for 
those most in need of help and 
sympathy; cf. also Ecclus. iv. 10, 

XXXV. (xxxii.) 14; 2 Mace. iii. 10, 
viii. 28. In the former of the two 
passages in Ecclus. God Himself 
is represented as not despising the 
supplication of the fatherless and 
widows, and in the latter the man 
who is as a father unto the fatherless, 
and a husband unto their mother, is 
described as being ' the son of the 
Most High." The same verb is used 
by Hernias, Mand. viii. 10, where the 
servant of God is bidden to minister 
to widows, to visit the orphans and 
the needy, and so too by Polycarp, 
Phil. vi. 1, in exhorting the presbyter 
to visit all the sick, not neglecting 
the widow or the orphan, In one of 
the earliest scenes of Cliurch life 
^^idows have a place in the daily 
ministration, Acts vi. 1, and vdth all 
its limitations the picture stands 
in marked contrast to that of the 
outwardly 'religious' Pharisees de- 
vouring widows' houses, Matt, xxiii. 
1 9. For notice of the special care be- 
stowed by the early Christians upon 
the widows and orphans see Uhlhorn, 
Charity in the Ancient Church, 
E.T., 45, 90, 184, 321, 323, 361, 

The early Church could never 
forget that in His care for the widow 
and the orphan the Incarnate God 
had 'visited' His people, Luke vii. 

in their affliction, to mark the 
necessity and the aim of visiting. 
Upon the comfort of mourners in 
their aflBiction the Law and tradition 
laid great stress, and it was said that 
there was a special gate in the 
Temple, the entrance for mourners, 
that all who met them might dis- 

I. 27] 



charge this duty of love ; Edersheim, 
Jewish Social Life^ p. 172. 

In the consideration of this passage 
we must always remember that St 
James is not herein affirming, as we 
sometimes hear, these offices to be 
the sum total, nor yet the great 
essentials, of true religion, but ' de- 
clares them to be tlie body (the 
6pTj(TKfla) of which godliness, or the 
love of God, is the informing soul,' 
Trench, Syn. i. pp. 196 ff., and cf. 
Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, Aph. 
xxiii., and also above on the word 

to keep himself. As in the earliest 
Epistle of St Paul, 1 Thess., so here, 
while the duties of Christian social 
life are enforced, the obligation of 
personal moral purity is never for- 
gotten. There was indeed a Divine 
presence to be seen in the charities 
which heal and soothe and bless, and 
in men who were made in the image 
of God (iii. 9), but a clearer vision 
still was for 

*Tlie soul pure-eyed that, wisdom led, 
E'en now His blessed face shall see.' 
Cf. Introduction, p. Ixxiv. The lan- 
guage of St Paul, 1 Tim. v. 22, at 
once suggests itself as a parallel ; but 
a closer parallel to the thought and 
context in St James may perhaps be 
found in the langxiage of St John, if 
we adopt the R.V. marg., ' He that is 
begotten of God keepeth himself 
(same words in the original), and that 
wicked one toucheth him not,' 
1 John V. 18. It is noteworthy 
that a very similar phrase ' to keep 
yourselves' occurs in the circular 
letter, Acts xv. 29, which may well 
have been drawn up by St James. 

unspotted. Here again the lan- 
guage may have been suggested by 
the Jewish ritual; in 1 Pet. i. 19, 
the same adjective is used of a lamb 
described as 'without blemish and 

without spot'; the former adjective, 
although sometimes used of persons, 
being frequently applied in lxx to 
the sacrifices of the Law. The same 
two adjectives are also found in 
2 Pet. iii. 14, and the word in the 
text occurs again in 1 Tim. vi. 14 
(in LXX (Sym.) Job xv. 15). In 
Hermas, Mand. viii. we find a lengthy 
insistence upon personal purity and 
social activity in the Christian life, 
which may well have been suggested 
by this verse in St James. 

from the world. Cf. 2 Pet. ii. 20. 
The word used by St James here and 
in iv. 4 is the same as is used in 
Wisdom, cf. vii. 17, xi. 17, and also 
by the Greek philosophers, of the 
world as a universe of order, and it 
is noticeable that the only time the 
word occurs in St Paul's addresses 
in Acts is in his address before the 
l^hilosophers of Athens, xvii. 24, in 
speaking of 'God who made the 
world.' But this ' order,' as the word 
means, might be considered without 
any direct connection with God, and 
so apart from Him, as concerned en- 
tirely \ni\\ the sphere of human life, 
and thus not only as apart from God, 
but as separated from Him, an order 
which has become disorder, because 
no longer the expression of God's 
will, but of a thousand dilferent wills 
fighting for the mastery, and so the 
scene of 'confusion and every vile 
deed,' iii. 16; sec below on iv. 4, 
Wcstcott, Add. Note on John i. 10, 
and Mayor, St James, conuuent on 
'the World,' p. 210. 

The use of the word by St James 
in these two passages is fully 
accounted for by its similar employ, 
ment elsewhere in the N.T. ; it is 
frequent in St John, and we may 
also have recourse to parallels of 
some little interest from the Book 
of Enoch, in wliich the righteous 

38 JAMES [I. 27 

are described as those who have 1-2, 5) asks, 'What is your Kingdom, 

hated and despised this world of O Mazda?' It is no ritual or 

unrighteousness, and have hated all material splendour but charity — 'to 

its works and ways, xlviii. 7 ; who care for your poor in their suffering,' 

loved God, and loved neither gold and also, from a sense of gratitude, 

nor silver nor any of the goods of to consecrate one's soul and body to 

the world, whose spirits ^^cre found God and to God's purposes. Yet 

pure, so that they should bless His this Zoroastrian religion, as the same 

name, cviii. 8. vrriter reminds us, however much it 

DrMoSaitiHibbo-t Journal, J aM. might possess in some respects a 

1904) speaks of 'the felicitous anti- finer spirit, was burdened with 

cipation of James i. 27,' in a passage superstitions and fettered by cere- 

in which Zarathustra(yrtSJia, xxxiv. monial purity and externalism. 


1 — 4. The consideration of religion in its external aspect leads naturally 
to the warning against the worldly spirit which in its respect of persons en- 
tered even their assemblies for worship. By preferences ostentatiously shown 
to the rich the divided heart is again made manifest ; they were receiving 
from men in place of the glory which cometh from the Lord of glory ; they 
were not judging righteous judgment, their judgment was determined by 
appearances. 5 — 7. How different the judgment of God Himself! He 
had chosen not the rich but the poor, for the poor of this world are rich in 
faith, wliile the rich of this world oppress and wrong, and blaspheme the 
Name of Christ. 8 — 13. If, however, this regard for the rich is actuated 
by a desire to fulfil the royal law of love, embracing rich and poor alike, ye 
do well ; but if you are prompted not by love but by respect of persons, for 
the rich because they are rich, the law is broken equally as if your 
neighbour had been injured by the wrong of adultery or murder: for the 
Law is one and the Lawgiver is one ; the Law is the expression of one will, 
the will of a Father "Who is love. All our words and deeds vsdll be judged 
by a law of the spirit, not of the letter, a law of liberty, a law which takes 
cognisance not merely of external acts, but of temper and motive. To 
have no mercy for the poor is to be condemned by this law, for mercy is 
the law of Him Who is merciful ; and yet, since it is a law of hberty, 
God accepts what is done in a merciful spirit, and thus mercy rejoiceth 
against judgment. 14. But someone may be thinking, mil not faith, 
no less than mercy, cause us to rejoice in the judgment of God? but 
the question is what kind of faith? certainly not a faith mthout works ^ 

1 Or the connection may be somewhat ditf erently expressed, ' At this point 
James imagines the man of orthodox belief but disobedient life, turning to 
defend himself with the plea that there is more than one way of pleasing God. 
One he urges is strong in "faith," another in "works." Let each cultivate his 
own talent, without insisting that his neighbour should possess it likewise, on 
the principle of live and let live.' J. V. Bartlet, Apostolic Age, p. 241. 

II. 1] 



15—20. A homely, practical test applied ; to express a wish that a brother 
or a sister should be warmed or clothed without an eflFort for their benefit, 
what shall it profit ? so a faith which is mere assent to the first article of the 
Creed is no profit to anyone ; unless it is translated into action it remains 
profession without practice ; such a 'faith' is in some sort shared even by 
the demons, nay, upon them it exerts a certain eflfect, it makes them shudder 
with fear. 21—26. But the faith of Abraham, yea the faith of Kahab, 
how different from this useless barren thing ! these examples prove that a 
faith worthy of the name is an active principle; faith wrought with, 
energised with works, and by works faith wjis perfected. 

II. My brethren, ^hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus 

■^ Or, do ye, in accepting persons, hold the faith... glory f 

II. 1. My brethren ; very appro- 
priate here, after the duties of the 
Christian brotherhood and of true 
religion which have just been urged, 
and in view of the following exhor- 
tation to brotherly kindness. 

hold not t/t^ faith, in R.V., but 
in marg. 'do ye, in accepting persons, 
hold the faith etc.?' so W.H. and 
some of the older commentators. 
But the imperative best suits the 
immediate context ; the ' for ' e.g. in 
V. 2 is not so easily explained if the 
previous words are interrogative. 
Moreover, the interrogative word in 
the original, although not always 
found in questions presupposing a 
negative answer would be used to 
imply that the questioner, although 
inclined to believe a thing true could 
scarcely credit it, whereas here the 
'respect of persons' is admitted, v. 6. 

the faith of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, objective, i.e. the faith which 
has our Lord for its object; cf. Mark 
xi. 22, Acts iii. 16, for a similar use 
of the genitive. If we cannot say 
positively that the expression ' faith 
of Jesus' in the N.T. never means 
the faith which Jesus gives, but 
always the faith directed towards 

doubt that the latter signification is 
the more usual. See further Introd. 

p. XV. 

tlis Lord of glory. So R. and 
A. v., and it seems best to adopt this 
rendering. For the expression cf. 
Acts vii. 2; John i. 14; 1 Cor. ii. 8; 
Ephes. i. 17. The same title is also 
found no less than some nine times 
in the Book of Enoch, so that it may 
fairly be considered as a not milikely 
expression from a Jewish writer. 
The majority of moderns render 'our 
glorious Lord Jesus Christ,' regard- 
ing the genitive as qualitative, but 
Bengel's suggestion to take the 
genitive ' the glory' as in apposition, 
and to render 'the faith of our Lord 
Jesus Christ who is the glory,' hixs 
commended itself to others^ 

Our Lord speaks of Himself as 'the 
Truth,' 'the Life'; and in John xvii. 
5 we read, 'And now, O Father, 
glorify me with Thine own self with 
the glory which I had with Thee 
before the world wsis'; cf St Paul's 
remarkable expression 'the Father 
of the glory,' Ephes. i. 17. The 
rendering therefore which Bengel 
suggested must at least connnand 
attention. It is urged indeed that 

Him as its object, there can be no the passages which he cites are 

So Mayor, and earlier Bassett ; Plummer too inclines to this view. 



[II. 1,2 

2 Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if 

insufficient in proof — Luke ii. 32; 
Ephes. i. 17 ; 1 Pet. iv. 14; Isaiah xl. 
5 — but other passages may be added 
to them, e.g. John xvii. 5, 22 ; Rom. 
ix. 4 ; 2 Pet. i. 17 ; and it is note- 
worthy that the term (the) 'glory' 
would seem to be employed as an 
equivalent for Immanuel ; of. the lxx 
use of the same noun for the Sheki- 
nah, and Dr Taylor's Sayings of the 
Jewish Fathers, pp. 43, 44, 2nd edit 
Deficiency of proof may perhaps be 
more fairly alleged against the pas- 
sages 2 Cor. iv. 4, Col. i. 27, 1 Tim. i. 
11, cited to support another render- 
ing 'the faith of (in) the glory of our 
Lord Jesus Christ,' the rendering of 
the Syriac and Vulgate ^ but the 
phrase ' faith in the glory ' would be 
a very strange one. 

It has been recently maintained 
that the Avords under discussion 
should be rendered ' our Lord Jesus 
Christ, our glory,' and that this 
rendering best suits the context^ 
In this interpretation the words 
would correspond with the phrase 
'the implanted word.' The Lord 
Jesus, the Son of Man, is in a 
true sense, it is urged, the glory of 
man, and especially the glory of 
Christians, and the active principle 
referred to in the phrase 'the im- 
planted word ' is in fact the commu- 
nication of the life of the risen Son of 
Man, Ascended Lord of all human 
life, and revealer in His own Person 
and Character of its duties and 
destinies. But this rendering, sug- 
gestive as it is, requires first of all 
that the genitive of the personal 
pronoun should be taken with both 
the words qualifying the personal 

name, '■our Lord,' ' our glory,' which 
hardly seems quite natural, and in 
the second place it can scarcely be 
considered necessary in view of the 
many jjassages cited above and of the 
Jewish usage which some of them at 
all events support. 

The bold assertion that the words 
' Jesus Christ ' are interpolated is 
fully met by pointing out that if the 
text had at first stood simply 'the 
Lord of glory ' no Christian interpo- 
lator would have broken up these 
words, and inserted between them 
the name of Jesus Christ : he would 
rather have inserted ' Jesus Christ ' 
before or after the Jewish phrase 
'the Lord of glory,' and we should 
have had 'the faith of Jesus Christ 
our Lord of glory,' or ' the faith of the 
Lord of glory, Jesus Christ.' In this 
passage the difficulty of the text as 
it stands becomes no small proof 
of its originality ; but see further 
Introd. p. XV. 

It has been said that the phrase 
'the Lord of glory' is the one express 
Christological phrase of the Epistle, 
but whilst this is so, it must not be 
forgotten that it has been also said 
that such a phrase involves a belief 
in the Resurrection and Ascension 
and even in the Divinity of Christ. 

with resjject of persons. The 
noim, here in the plural to intimate 
the various ways in which partiality 
might show itself, is derived from 
the Hebrew phrase to accept, or 
rather, to raise the face, used in the 
Lxx generally in a good, althoiigh 
sometimes in a bad sense. But in 
the N.T. the noun ^vith its com- 
pounds {v. 9) is always used in the 

1 Zahn has recently supported this rendering, Einleitung, i. 108, 
^ Parry, St James, pp. 24, 36. 

II. 2] 



there come into your ^synagogue a man with a gold ring, in 

Or, assembly 

latter sense, of the partiality which 
has respect to mere outward circum- 
stances and not to intrinsic merit ; 
of. Rom. ii. 11 ; Ephes. vi. 9 ; Col. iii. 
25; Acts X. 34; 1 Pet. i. 17; and 
Lightfoot's note on Gal. ii. 6. The 
Hebrew phrase was sometimes varied 
in the original, as in N.T., Jude v. 16, 
on which the remarks of Ryle and 
James, Psalms of Solomon, ii. 19, 
should be consulted. Twice in Apoc. 
of Baruch God is spoken of as One 
"Who is no respecter of persons, xiii. 
7, xliv. 4 ; cf. Jubilees, v. 15 ; and in 
Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, iv. 
31, He is described as a Judge with 
Whom there is no respect of persons. 

It may be also noted that this 
same phrase to accept the face or 
the person occurs in Didache, iv. 3, 
'thou shalt not show respect of 
persons in rebuking for transgres- 
sions'; and it is closely followed by 
the expression of another charac- 
teristic thought of this Epistle, 'thou 
shalt not be of two minds,' etc. On 
the connection between the Didache 
and this Epistle of St James see 
Introd. pp. xii., xiv. 

A suggestion has sometimes been 
made that the words before us, 
whether in any way related to John 
xvii. 1, 5, or not, remind us involun- 
tarily of the saying in John v. 44, 
' How can ye believe, which receive 
glory one of another, and the glory 
that Cometh from the only God ye 
seek not ? ' At least we may admit 
that here as there a marked contrast 
is made between the regard for 
earthly glory and substance, and the 
seeking after the glorj' which comes 
from Him Who is 'the glory.' In 
' the glory as of the Only-begotten of 
the Father,' as in the Father Himself, 

there could be no respect of persons, 
and St James may well have known 
how even the enemies of Jesus 
acknowledged in this respect at least 
His likeness to God ; cf. Matt. xxii. 
16 ; Mark xii. 14 ; Luke xx. 21. 

2. For if there come into. The 
scene here so vividly depicted may 
often have presented itself to the 
eyes of St James, and there is no 
occasion to suppose that it was 
derived from the language of Ecclus. 
xi. 2-6 (cf. X. 22-24) as has recently 
been maintained. The aorist in the 
original may perhaps be best ex- 
plained by the characteristic of St 
James to express by it that which is 
constantly rectirring as one definite 
past fact ; cf. i. 11, 24. 

your synagogue, R.V. text: 'as- 
sembly,' marg. 

If too much may sometimes have 
been made of this word as a decisive 
argument for the early date of the 
Epistle and its address to Jewish 
readei-s, it must remain a significant 
fact that this is the only place in the 
N.T. in which the word ' sjTiagogue ' 
is used instead of the usual word 
'church' for assemblies, which evi- 
dently claim to be gathered for 
Christian worship. Even if it is to 
be maintained that some of the con- 
gregations to which the Epistle was 
addressed might be called 'churches' 
and not ' sjaiagogues,' stress might 
still be laid upon the naturalness of 
the expression from St James writing 
from Jerusalem, with his own Pales- 
tinian experiences before him. 

Great importance has been attach- 
ed to the fact that Hernias and others 
have used the same word 'synagogue' 
of Christian assemblies, but it nmst 
not be forgotten, (1) that whilst this 



[ll. 2 

fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile 

may be admitted, there is also evi- 
dence of the use of the word as a 
specifically Jewish-Christian word, 
since Bpiphanius,i/ 18, refers 
to Jemsh-Christians of Palestine who 
were wont to speak of their assembly 
as a 'synagogue' and not 'a church' 
{(Tvvaywyrj, not fKK\r](Tta), and that in 
the Testainents of the Twelve Patri- 
archs the term 'sjiiagogue' although 
applied to churches of the Gentiles 
is introduced to give a Jewish colour- 
ing to the work; (2) that St James 
does not hesitate to use the word 
* church ' where he is speaking of the 
' church ' as a body, cf. v. 14, and the 
fact that he uses another word in the 
description of a single incident like 
that in the text, where the whole 
context points not to the act of as- 
sem\Aingh\i.ttoi\\Q place of assenibly, 
suggests that we are still on Jewish 
soil or in its neighbourhood I See 
further Introd. p. xi. 

yoMr5«//^«gro^M^. The pronoun seems 
to forbid the supposition that a syna- 
gogue of Jews could be meant, and 
St James woiild scarcely have blamed 
Christians for the manner in which 
different classes of people were treat- 
ed in a Jewish synagogue, nor in the 
latter would Christians have been 
able to assign the places to the 
worshippers. At the same time it 
is evident that this Jewish-Christian 
assembly is open to non-Christians. 

with a gold ring, or as the adj. 
might perhaps be rendered ' golden- 
ringed ' ; for this custom of adorning 
the fingers with a number of rings 

many illustrations are cited b\ 
Wetstein and other commentators 
cf Lucian, Tim. 20 ; Nigrin. 21 
Pliny, N.H. xxxiii. 6; Martial, v. 11 . 
Juvenal, vii. 139, etc. Familiar pas- 
sages illustrate the wearing of the 
ring amongst the Jews for ornament, 
or favour : cf. Gen. xxxviii. 18, 25, 
ill. 42; Isaiah iii. 21; Luke xv. 22; 
and they would no doubt imitate in 
many respects the fashion of the 
period. It is interesting to note 
that while in Const. Apost. i. 3, a 
warning is uttered against the wear- 
ing of rings by Christians, Clement 
of Alexandria makes an exception 
of the ring amongst articles of luxury 
forbidden to Christians, because of 
its use for the purpose of sealing. 

in fine clothing. Cf. Luke xxiii. 
11 ; Acts X. 30; 2 Mace. viii. 35: and 
Philo, M. 2, p. 56. The Vulgate in 
this passage, as also in Acts x. 30, 
Apoc. XV. 6, renders the adjective 
employed here in the Greek by the 
Latin Candidas, white, because it 
was often used of brilliant and 
glistering whiteness. In this pas- 
sage this colour would be in marked 
contrast with the soiled clothing of 
the poor, and it was also the colour 
usually worn amongst the Jews, the 
finest white garments being adopted 
by the rich. 

and there come in also. The en- 
trance of each is vividly depicted as 
actually taking place before their 

in vile clothing. Cf. Zech. iii. 4; 
Apoc. xxii. 11; and for a good in- 

1 Amongst recent German literature Feine's note, p. 85, Dcr Jakohuxbrief, 
should be consulted as against Harnack. See also Hort, Judaistic Christianity, 
p. 150; whilst Sanday, Inspiration, p. 346, speaks of the description of the Church 
as a 'synagogue' in which it is assumed that all the members are not 
Christians as 'the most significant proof that the Epistle really belongs to the 
Apostolic age ' ; see Introd. p. xi. The same point is well illustrated by Dr Chase, 
TJie Lord's Prayer in the Early Church, p. 2. 

II. 2, 3] 



3 clothing ; and ye have regard to him that weareth the fine 
clothing, and say, Sit thou here in a good place ; and ye say 
to the poor man, Stand thou there, or sit under my foot- 

stance of a similar use of the word 
of sordid clothing, see Josephus, 
Ant. vn. 11. 3. Here in opposition 
and contrast to the fine clothing of 
the ricli. 

It would seem from the whole 
description that both rich and poor 
are not Christians ; if they had been 
members of the Church they would 
already have had their places in the 
assembly, and there would have been 
no need for places to be assigned to 
them. Verse 6 makes this view 
conclusive as regards the rich. St 
James would have seen in the action 
of those same rich a matter for still 
further reprobation, if they had been 
guilty of oppressing poor fellow- 
Christians. Moreover, the expres- 
sion ^your synagogue' points to the 
same view. In 1 Cor. xiv. 22, 23, it 
is evident that non-Christians came 
into the Christian assemblies, and in 
the circumstances of the Jewish 
Diaspora it was only probable that 
non-Christians should enter the as- 
semblies of their Christian fellow- 
countrymen to see and to hear. 

3. and ye have regard. The verb 
means to look upon, but it is often 
used of looking upon with favour 
(1 Kings viii. 28; Ps. xxiv. 16; Ec- 
clesiast. xi. 12; Luke i. 48, etc.), 
frequently in a good sense, as of 
God looking upon man with pity, 
but the state of mind is determined 
by the context, as here of looking 
upon with admiration. All eyes are 
turned to the entrance of the rich. 

to him that weareth the fine 
clothing; a graphic touch : note the 
repetition of the phrase, only the 
outward and the perishing attract- 
ing attention. The noun ' clothing ' 

which occurs no less than three 
times in this passage, is uniformly 
rendered in R.V. by the same word 
'clothing,' whereas in A.V. it re- 
ceives three different renderings. 
This is quite misleading and is 
rightly noticed by Lightfoot, On a 
Fresh Revision, etc. p. 39. 

A sharp contrast is evidently 
marked in the words which follow, 
a contrast emphasised more point- 
edly in R.V. by the omission of the 
second ' here' : sit — stand ; here — 
there; in a good place — under my 
footstool. See also Introd. p. xxxvii. 

in a good place. There is reason 
for this translation from the em- 
ployment elsewhere of a somewhat 
similar Greek expression for a good 
place. The word here is an adverb, 
and might in itself imply either 
honourably or comfortably. Aelian, 
V. H. IL 13, Alciph. Ep. iii. 20, use 
the cognate adjective to express a 
good place in a theatre (Field). 

Stand thou there, or (if you prefer 
to sit) sit, etc.; emphasising still more 
the contempt for the poor. In this 
text W.H. read simply 'stand, or 
sit there etc.,' marking sharply the 
contrast with the preceding ' sit.' 

under my footstool, i.e. on the 
floor close to ray footstool. The 
passage is noted as the only one in 
the Bible in which the word is used 
literally (Hastings' B. D.). 

The practices winch our Lord 
condemned in the Jewish assemblies. 
Matt xxiii. 6, seem to have passed 
into the Christian Church, and to 
have fostered the same Pharisaical 
pride and haughtiness; Edersheim's 
Jewish Social Life, p. 263. How 
keenly the opposition between this 



[ll. 3-5 

4 stool ; ^are ye not divided ^in your own mind, and become 

5 judges with evil thoughts ? Hearken, my beloved brethren ; 

^ Or, do ye not make distinctions ^ Or, among yourselves 

spirit and the spirit of true Christian 
brotherhood and the honour of all 
men, in public worship, is often felt 
in modern days by shrewd observers 
may be seen by the remarks of 
W. Macready in his letter quoted 
in Pollock's Life of the actor. 

4. are ye not divided in your own 
mind. So R.V, text, divided as 
it were between pi-ofcssion and 
practice, between the profession of 
Christian equality and the deference 
to rank and wealth, and so becoming 
amenable to that sin of double- 
mindedness which this letter so 
sharply rebukes, 1. 8. But when we 
remember how often the verb is 
used in the N.T. to enforce the 
opposite of faith and belief — Matt, 
xxi. 21; Mark xi. 23; Acts x. 20; 
Rom. iv. 20, xiv. 23 (Jude ». 22 
probably) — there is much to be said 
for the rendering ' did ye not doubt 
in yourselves ? ' The context speaks 
of faith in Jesus Christ, and this 
faith they were not keeping whole 
and entire ; He was not for them 
'the Lord of glory,' Who regarded 
not the person of man, whilst they 
drew such distinctions between rich 
and poor. In adopting this view it 
must be remembered that in i 6 
the participle of the same verb is 
found, ' let him ask in faith nothing 
doubting,' and as there it was a 
question of undivided faith in God, 
so here it is a question of undivided 
faith in the Lord Jesus. See note 
on i. 6. 

Moreover, this rendering makes 
the verb though passive in form 
retain the force of the middle voice 
in accordance with Matt. xxi. 21 ; 
Mark xi 23; Rom. iv. 20. This 

usage of the verb in the N.T. seems 
in itself to forbid the active render- 
ing 'are ye not partial?' A.V., to say 
nothing of the ambiguous word 
' partial ' in its modern employment. 
The R.V. marg. renders 'do ye not 
make distinctions among yourselves,' 
but here again the Greek may well 
be interpreted otherwise, and it may 
be fairly urged that, although this 
rendering makes perfectly good 
sense, there does not seem to be 
much force in such a query, since it 
is so obvious from the preceding 
words that distinctions had been 
already drawn. 

The sense of the passage would of 
course be niaterially altered if we 
rendered with some authorities the 
whole of the two clauses as stating 
a fact: 'ye did not hesitate about 
making these distinctions, and thus 
ye became evil judges.' 

W.H. read the sentence in marg. 
as a statement of fact, but as they 
omit the negative (oi5) the sense is 
not really affected : 'ye are divided... 
and have become' etc. 

judges icith evil thoughts. The 
genitive is one of quality: cf. i. 25; 
Luke xviii. 6. By so acting, by thus 
despising the poor and deferring to 
the rich, they became wrong-con- 
sidering judges, judges with evil 
thoughts, or the words may possibly 
refer to their thoughts of doubt and 
unbelief, which thus possessed them. 
The word for 'thoughts' generally 
refers to bad, perverse thoughts, 
both in N.T. and Lxx. In the latter 
it appears to be used most frequently 
of the thoughts of sinners, as in 
several passages in the Psalms, and 
Isaiah lix. 7 ; Jer. iv. 14 ; 1 Mace. iL 

11. 5] 



did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to 
he rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised 

63; and cf. in N.T. Matt. xv. 19; 
Luke V. 22; Rom. i. 21. The same 
proneness to usurp the office of 
judge is censured in iv. 11. 

5. Hearken., placed first as a 
demand for attention, in the desire 
to show the folly of their thoughts 
and behaviour. It has been called 
one of the rousing words of St James : 
cf. i. 16, iv. 13. 

my helcmed 'brethren. Cf. 1. 16, 19, 
for a similar affectionateness of tone 
in pressing home a warning as a 

choose. The verb is used of God's 
choice of the Israelites, Acts xiii. 17, 
and here of the choice of Christians ; 
cf. Mark xiii. 20, and especially 
1 Cor. i. 27 flf., a passage often com- 
pared with the language of St James 
before us. 

poor as to the world, R.V., i.e. 
in earthly goods, or 'poor to the 
world,' i.e. in the judgment of the 
world : cf. Acts vii. 20, 2 Cor. x. 4, 
for a similar use of the dative. 
The former perhaps better em- 
phasises the contrast between the 
poverty of earthly goods and the 
true riches. For 'the poor' and 
the Jewish social life of the time see 
Introd. pp. xxxvi. flf. 

Such passages as 1 Sam. ii. 8, and 
the constant reference to the care of 
the poor and needy by God in the 
O.T. prophets, in the apocryphal 
books, and in contemporary litera- 
ture, e.g. Psalms of Solomon, v. 13, 
xv. 2, are relied upon by those who 
can see in the Epistle nothing but 
a Jewish document. But our Lord's 
own words, Luke vi. 20, might well 

suggest the language in this passage 
(see further below), and St James 
had before him the life of Christ, Who 
became one of the poor, and the life 
of His followers, who were for the 
most part poor men. It is interest- 
ing to note that the term ' Ebionite' 
adopted by a sect of Jewish-Chris- 
tians, towards the close of the first 
century, was chosen by them because 
in thus calling themselves the 'poor' 
they claimed to strive to follow the 
Master's precept, Matt. x. 9 ; Acts iv. 
34 ; cf Bpiph. Haer. xxx. 17. 

to be rich, thus taking the adj. 
'rich' not in apposition to 'the poor' 
but as an oblique predicate after the 

in faith. The prep, is not instru- 
mental, but expressing the sphere 
in which they are regarded as rich : 
cf. 1 Tim. i. 2, vi. 18. We may note 
here, as above in i. 6, the stress laid 
upon faith by St James. The same 
kind of contrast between outward 
poverty and inward spiritual riches 
may be abundantly illustrated; cf. 
e.g. Testaments of the Twelce Patri- 
archs, Gad 7, where the poor who 
gives thanks in all things to the Lord 
is said to be enriched with all things. 
But our Lord's own teaching had 
emphasised the thought that there 
were higher and truer riches than 
the abundance of wealth, Luke xii. 
21; Matt. vi. 19. Plato too could 
speak of the wise man as the rich 
man, and Philo could speak of the 
true wealth laid up in heaven by 
wisdom and holiness. The Rabbis 
spoke of a man as rich or poor in the 
Law ('dives in lege, pauper in lege,' 

* So Mayor and Beyschlag. 



[II. 5,6 

6 to them that love him ? But ye have dishonoured the 

Wetstein), but no exact parallel is 
found for the expression in St James. 

heirs of the kingdom. The lan- 
guage would be natural upon the lips 
of a Jew, since he associated the 
thought of inheritance, originally 
applied to the Holy Land, with the 
possession of all the Messianic bless- 
ings, Isaiah Ix. 21, Ixi. 7, and these 
blessings would be enjoyed through 
a King and in a kingdom ; cf. Psalms 
of /Solomon, xvii. 4-6, 23-51. In one 
of the earlier of these Psalms, xii. 8, 
we have language very similar to that 
of St James in this passage : ' and 
let the saints of the Lord inherit the 
promises of the Lord,' the first 
instance perhaps in which the ex- 
pression ' the promises of the Lord ' 
is found in extant Jewish literature 
to sum up the assurances of the 
Messianic redemption (so Ryle and 
James's edition, p. 106). But when 
we remember how our Lord had 
openly spoken of the kingdom of 
heaven as the possession of the poor 
and of those persecuted for right- 
eousness' sake, Matt. v. 3, 10 ; how 
He had cheered His disciples with 
the good pleasure of the Father to 
give the kingdom to the little flock, 
Luke xii. 31, 32 ; how He had closed 
His ministry with the solemn promise 
of a kingdom, the inheritance of the 
blessed ones of His Father, Matt. 
XXV. 34, it does not seem improbable 
that such teaching would gain cur- 
rency amongst His followers, and 
that St James should be acquainted 
with it. 

which he promised. The same 
verb occurs in i. 12. It is used in 
classical Greek of voluntary offers, 
and so is fitly used here and else- 
where in the N.T. of the Divine 
promises ; and twice in the Psalms 

of /Solomon, vii. 9, xvii. 6, the 
promises of God (see also above). 

to thetn that love him. See above 
on i. 12, where we have the same 
phrase. In the precetling passage 
the promise consists in the crown of 
life. Here too it may be noted that 
the Psalms ofSolomo)i speak of life, 
xiv. 6, 7, as an inheritance in the 
Messianic consummation : sinners 
have for their inheritance darkness 
and destruction, 'but the saints of 
the Lord shall inherit life in glad- 
ness.' Such words remind us of the 
question asked of our Lord by the 
rich young man, Matt. xix. 16, and in 
our Lord's answer 'if thou wilt enter 
into life keep the commandments' 
we may see an intimation that ' life ' 
like ' the kingdom ' is not only a 
future but a present possession for 
those who obey God. 

The words further remind us that 
St James does not wish us to suppose 
that the destitution of poverty is in 
itself a virtuous condition, or the 
possession of riches a vicious one ; he 
would have said with St Paul 'that 
all things work together for good to 
those who love God,' whether they 
be rich or poor. But St James, as 
we have had occasion to note, was 
guarding against a flagi-ant form of 
a sin common in every age, and 
grossly so in his own, 'respect of 
persons,' and forgetfulness of the 
judgment of Him Who regarded not 
the rich more than the poor, for they 
were all the work of His hands : Job 
xxxiv. 19 ; Psalms of Solomon, v. 13, 
14; Introd.p.xxxvii. At the same time 
none had spoken more emphatically 
of the danger of riches than Christ 
in so far as they led men to set their 
heart, their love upon them and not 
upon God; Matt, xiii 22; Mark x. 23. 

II. 6, 7] 



poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and themselves 
7 drag you before the judgement-seats? Do not they blas- 

The poor, it miglit be fairly said, have 
more opportunities of trusting not 
in wealth but in providence, and of 
practising the virtues which keep 
men close to the life of Christ, but 
still it must be never forgotten that 
'opportunities are not virtues, and 
poverty is not salvation.' 

6. But ye, in strong contrast to 
God, who had chosen the poor, hatie 
dishonoured the poor man, R.V. 
The rendering 'despised,'A.V. (which 
seems to be given to no less than 
seven different Greek verbs), does not 
represent the force of the original. 
The same Greek verb is found in 
Ecclus. X. 23, 'it is not meet to 
dishonour the poor man that hath 
understanding,' and also in Prov. xiv. 
21 (cf xxii. 22), 'he that dishonoureth 
the poor sinneth,' language to which 
St James's words aiford a close 

The aorist may refer to the par- 
ticular case just mentioned (so 
perhaps the sing, is used in this 
verse, 'the poor man,' R.V.), or it 
may be an instance of what is called 
the gnomic aorist; see above on L 11. 

Do not the rich oppress you ? i.e. 
the rich Jews, their own fellow- 
countrymen, these very men to 
whom they paid such servile defer- 
ence. If St James had meant rich 
Christians he surely would not have 
refrained from pointing out the 
glaring contrast between their bear- 
ing towards the poor and their 
Christian calling. For the verb 
rendered ' oppress ' and its use here 
a striking parallel is afforded by 
Wisd. ii. 10 (cf. 19), 'let us oppress 
the poor righteous man.' The verb 

is frequently used in the Lxx of the 
oppression of the poor and needy: 
cf. Amos iv. 1 ; Zech. vii. 10; Jer. vii. 
6; Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 46. 
There could have been no question of 
rich Jeics if the city and the temple 
had fallen, as such a reference could 
not have been consistent with the 
social conditions. 

and themselves. So R.V., empha- 
sising the fact that these very men to 
whom they pay court do not hesitate 
to employ violence ; cf. Acts viii. 3, of 
Saul it is said that ' haling men and 
women he committed them to prison.' 

drag. The verb is used elsewhere 
in N.T. of dragging with force, as in 
classical Greek ; cf. Acts xxi. 30. 

the judgement-seats; here Jewish 
tribunals, certainly not Christian. 
The word might include Gentile 
tribunals ; cf. 1 Cor. vi. 2 (in the lxx 
it is used of a Je\vish place of judg- 
ment, Hist of Sus. V. 49), There is 
however no reason to think of 
Roman tribunals and so to argue 
that the letter could not have been 
composed before Domitian or Trajan. 
'James wrote to Jews, who were not 
governed solely by Roman law, but 
who, down to a.d. 70, administered 
justice to a certain extent among 
themselves, according to their own 
sacred law, even in Roman cities of 
the Eastern provinces. Of course 
the most serious penalties, and 
especially death, were beyond the 
independent Je\vish jurisdiction ; but 
still much suflering could be legally 
inflicted by Jews on other Jews, 
unless the victims possessed the 
Roman citizenship' (Ramsay, C.R.E. 
p. 349) ^ The oppression would in- 

^ Cf. Schiirer, Jewish Feople, ii. 1, 185, E.T. ; and see also Zaiin, Einleitung, 
I. 63, 70. 

48 JAMES [ii. 7 

pheme the honourable name ^by the which ye are called? 

^ Gr. which teas called upon you. 

elude both social and legal persecu- 
tion, and we can well suppose how 
bitter and aggravating it would be : 
see Introd. p. xxxv. 

7. do not they blaspheme ? (per- 
haps 'is it not they who V marking 
the pronoun which is here emphati- 
cally repeated). If we remember 
that it is 'the rich' who are thus said 
to blaspheme, it is much more natm*al 
to see here again rich, unbelieving 
Jews. Not only is blasi)hemy fre- 
quently mentioned in specific con- 
nection with the Jews, Acts xiii. 45, 
xviii. 6, xxvi. 11 (cf. 1 Tim. i. 13), and 
their hostility to the Christian faith, 
but rich Jews led the early opposition 
to the Apostles ; cf. Acts iv. 1-3, v. 
17, xiii. 50. It is quite conceivable 
that their blasphemy might be 
uttered in the Jewish law-courts, or 
that it would intensify the hostility 
of a Jewish judge to find that the 
accused belonged to the hated sect 
of the Nazarenes. But the utterances 
of the blasphemy need not refer to 
judicial courts at all, and certainly 
not to trials before Roman tribunals. 
On the other hand, the words cannot 
be explained to mean that Christ 
is blasphemed by the evil deeds of 
Jews or Gentiles ; this thought would 
be expressed by the passive and not 
the active of the verb, and if by the 
latter it could be signified in so 
many words, as Eusebius, H.E. v. 1, 
speaks of those who blaspheme the 
Way by their mode of life. 

the honourable name, i.e. of Christ. 
As He is called the Good Shepherd, 
John X. 11, so here He bears. 

according to the Greek, the good, 
the beautiful Name ; cf Ps. cxliii. 3, 
where the same adjective is used of 
the Name of God ; the Name of Christ 
came to be specially spoken of as the 
Name, Acts v. 41. Whether it was 
in existence or not, it is not likely 
that the name 'Christian' can be 
here meant, since Jewish opponents 
would not be likely to use in obloquy 
a title so closely connected with their 
dearest hopes : moreover, they could 
scarcely be said to blaspheme a title 
such as this, or 'the poor' or 
'brethren.' At the same time it may 
be noted that St James as a Jew 
would not be likely to associate 
blasphemy with any name less than 
a Divine Name, and just as tlie Jews 
regarded punishment as following 
upon profanation of the Name, i.e. of 
Jehovah {Sayings of the Jewish 
Fathey^s, pp. 66, 88), so it is signifi- 
cant that St James speaks here of 
profaning the Name of Christ. 

hy the which ye are called, but in 
R.V. marg. the rendering of the 
Greek 'which was called upon yoxi,' 
i.e. in Baptism, Acts ii. 38, viii. 16, x. 
48. The phrase is taken from the 
O.T., where it is frequently said of Is- 
rael that the Name of God was named 
upon them, Deut. xxviii. 10 ; 2 Chron. 
vi. 33, vii. 14; Jer. xiv. 9; Amos ix. 12; 
and such a phrase implies a declar- 
ation of dedication to the service of 
God. So Christians are dedicated to 
Christ in Baptism ; cf Hermas, Sim. 
viii. 6. 4, where the same phrase is 
used of those who had been baptised 
into the Christian Church ^ It is 

^ In this connection, and for this view, Heitmiiller's recent treatise, Im 
Namen Jesu, p. 92 (1903), may be consulted. 

II. 8] 



8 Howbeit if ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scrip- 
ture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well : 

evident that His Name, and not that 
of Jehovah, is here meant, in spite of 
attempts to prove that the latter is 
intended, for the Name is said to be 
called ' upon you,^ not ' upon' them' 
so that no reference can be made to 
a God acknowledged by both classes 
alike. It is therefore nothing to the 
point to quote, with Spitta, passages 
from Enoch, e.g. xliv. 8, in which the 
rich are said to trust in riches, to 
forget the Most High, and to commit 
blasphemy and unrighteousness. 

In the N.T. this phrase is only 
once used elsewhere, and there in 
words quoted by St James ; of. Acts 
XV. 17. 

8. Howbeit if, R.V., thus express- 
ing the Greek particle which A.V. 
does not notice. St James is sup- 
posing that his readers may justify 
their action by referring to the law 
of love of neighbours and enemies 
alike ; and in so far as they keep that 
law from good motives they did well, 
but if they respected the rich merely 
for their riches, they sinned. 

fulfil, i.e. by avoiding any respect 
of persons, and thus showing love 
and honour to all alike; a similar 
phrase only in Rom. ii. 27. 

according to the scripture ; best 
taken as referring simply to the 
passage in Lev. xix. 18, quoted here 
from Lxx. It is unnatural to take 
the words closely with 'fulfil,' as if 
to show that there is a fulfilment 
of the law in its Scriptural meaning 
and sense. 

the royal law, perhaps so called 
as being the supreme law ; all other 

laws are contained in it : cf. Mark 
xii. 28; Rom. xiii. 8; Gal. v. 14. But 
others take it to mean that this law 
is so called because given by God, 
the King Supreme, or by Christ, 
Matt. xxii. 37, to Whom Christians 
belong, and Whose Name has been 
called upon them. In either case 
we may see how closely St James 
approaches to the teaching of our 
Lord. To explain the epithet as 
meaning that this law is valid also 
for kings, or as indicating a royal 
way, direct and plain, is scarcely 
satisfactory. But St James may well 
mean a law which is a law for 
kings and not for slaves ; the heirs 
of the kingdom, ii. 5, are not in 
bondage to any man, for they had 
been made free ; let them therefore 
act not as those subject to fear, but 
as those who are themselves kings, 
who would then be ashamed to 
respect persons by cringing to the 
rich or dishonouring the poor. This 
or a somewhat similar meaning may 
be enforced by two passages from 
St Clement of Alexandria, Strain, vi. 
164, vii. 73, in which he speaks of 
those who do not actively love and 
benefit their neighbours as not being 
' royal,' and also of the ' royal ' road, 
by which those of royal descent 
travel, as consisting in justice done 
not from fear or constraint but by 
free choice. In a striking passage, 
De creat. princ. 4, Mang. ll. 364, 
Philo also uses the expression 'a 
royal road' to signify the way and 
mode of life befitthig a king^ 

ye do well. It is again noteworthy 

1 Cf. 1 Pet. ii. 9 (Exod. xix. 6). Both Mayor and Zahn (Einleitung, i. 82) 
regard this view as making excellent sense. A strikingly similar use of the 
adjective in connection with law is found in pseudo-Plato, Minot, 317 c. Its 
use is frequent in the Lxx; cf. 4 Mace. xiv. 2. 



[ii. 9, 10 

9 but if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, being 

10 convicted by the law as transgressors. For whosoever 

shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point. 

that a similar phrase occurs at the 
close of the circular letter, Acts xv. 
29. At the same time it will be 
noted that the words also occur else- 
where in the N.T., of. 2 Pet. i. 19; 
they are found too in 1 Mace. xii. 
18, 22, 2 Mace. ii. 16, and in classical 

9. but if ye have respect of 
persons. Closely preceding the law 
of love in Lev. xix. 18 we read, v. 
15, 'ye shall do no unrighteousness 
in judgment ; thou shalt not respect 
the person of the poor, nor honour 
the person of the mighty ' (cf. Deut. 
xvi. 19), and St James may well have 
had such a charge in mind, especially 
as below, v. 4, we have another 
parallel to the language of Lev. xix. 
9, 13. 

ye commit sin, a strong phrase, 
lit ye work sin : cf. i. 20; Acts x. 35 ; 
Heb. xi. 33, etc. ; and in lxx, Ps. v. 5, 
xiv. 2; Zeph. ii. 3, etc. 

being convicted by the law. Here as 
elsewhere in the N.T. (and probably 
so in the O.T. instances) the verb is 
best translated 'convicted,' not 'con- 
vinced.' In John viii. 46 (cf. xvi. 8) 
it is evident that its force and 
meaning are thus properly brought 
out ; cf. Jude ». 15 ; Tit. i 9 (Hastings' 
B.D., 'Convince'). The law may 
refer to the law of love, the royal 
law, or it may refer to the law 
cited above from Lev. xix, 15, but 

either law would obviously be vio- 
lated by respect of persons. 

as tran sgressors. The word would 
be fitly used here, as lit. it meant 
those who overpassed or stepped over 
a hue, and so those who violated a 
code or law: cf Rom. ii. 25, 27, iv. 15, 
and see Ecclus. x. 19, xix. 24 ; 
2 Mace. vii. 2 ; 3 Mace. vii. 12, etc.^ 

10. shall keep the whole laic. 
Here the context points a reference 
to the whole Mosaic Law, — shall keep 
the Law as a whole. 

and yet stumble in one point, 
R.V. The verb is rendered 'oflFend' 
here and in iii. 2 by A.V., which also 
has 'fair for the verb in 2 Pet i. 10. 
But in Rom. xi. 11 A.V. has 
'stumbled' (cf for the use of the 
same verb Deut vii. 25, in Lxx). 
The A.V. rendering 'offend' is 
connected vdth the Lat. offendere, 
to strike against; see further Art 
'Offence,' Hastings' B.D. 

in one point. This is better than 
to render 'in one law,' although 
this would be quite admissible in the 
original (Grimm-Thayer gives both 
renderings). For a similar phrase 
with reference to the law a parallel 
may be found in 4 Mace. v. 17, 18. 
St James is laying down a genei'al 
principle, the truth of which he 
proves by what follows ; and thus 
'the respect of persons' which he 
has condemned is shown to be a 

* It is an interesting suggestion that the phrase ' a transgressor of the law,' 
which thus occurs both in Paul and James, may have been borrowed by them 
from the remarkable addition to Luke vi. 4, given in Codex D, where precisely 
the same phrase occurs : ' On the same day, seeing a certain man working on 
the Sabbath, He saith to him, "0 man, if thou knowest what thou art doing, 
thou art blessed ; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor 
of the law." ' (Cf. Plummer's St James, p. 56, and Kesch, Agrapha, p. 189.) 

II. 10-12] 



11 he is become guilty of all. For he that said, Do not 
commit adultery, said also. Do not kill. Now if thou dost 
not commit adultery, but killest, thou art become a trans- 

12 gi-essor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as men that 

precepts, and tliis perverelon may 
be in the minds of St James and the 
other Apostles in their protest, Acts 
XV. 24. 

1 1 . For he that said, i.e. God, with 
a solemn reference to Exod. iii. 14. 
But see also Parry, St James, p. 32, 
where the possible reference to the 
words of the Lord Jesus is mentioned. 

Do not commit adultery, etc. The 
best reason for the introduction here 
of these two commandments may 
be found in the fact that they are 
placed first amongst those which 
relate generally to our duty towards 
our neighbour, and that they are the 
most weighty of such ; or possibly it 
was felt that the injunction against 
adultery, the destruction of family 
life, might fitly follow upon the 
injunction to honour one's parents 
{Encyd. Bihl. L 1050), or there may 
well have been some traditional 
order varying from that in the 
Hebrew of the Pentateuch. For 
a similar order see also Luke xviii. 
20 ; Rom. xiii. 9 ; and Lxx, Exod. xx. 
Cod. 13, and Deut. v. 17-19 ; Philo, 
M. 2, p. 189. 

a transgressor of the law. A law 
is the expression of the will of him 
who ordains it, so that he who 
violates the law in any particular 
sins against the same will, and 
therefore becomes a transgi-essor of 
the whole law. St Augustine was 
so exercised as to the meaning of 
this piissage that he wrote specially 
upon it to St Jerome {Epist. \Q1)\ 
He maintains that as all other corn- 

violation not of one law only, but of 
all laws. Various illustrations have 
been given of similar teaching among 
the Rabbis ; cf. two sayings of 
R. Jochanan, Sabbath, fol. 70. 2, 
'But if a man does all things, but 
omits one, he is guilty of each and 
all,' and Pesikta, 'Everyone who 
says I take upon myself the whole 
law except one word, he has de- 
spised the word of the Lord and 
made all His commandments vain ' ; 
so also Bemidbar Rob. ix. on Numb. 
v. 14, ' our teacher has taught us how 
adulterers and adulteresses trans- 
gress the Ten Commandments.' On 
the other hand all kinds of extra- 
vagances seem to have found their 
way into Rabbinical pages, as e.g. 
that the Sabbath weighs against all 
precepts ; if a man keep that, he has 
kept all : Shemnth Rabb. 25. With 
the principle laid down by St James 
we may compare our Lord's own 
teaching, Matt. v. 19 (Rom. xiv. 23). 

he is become guilty of all, i.e. liable 
to be convicted of transgressing all 
the commandments. For the word 
rendered 'guilty' see 1 Cor. xi. 27, 
and in lxx, Isaiah liv. 17, 1 Mace. 
xiv. 45, also found in Psalms of 
Solomon, iv. 2. 

It is quite possible that this 
teaching of St James might have 
been perverted by the Judaisers, 
and that they might have appealed 
to him as insisting on the observance 
of the whole Mosaic Law, and pla- 
cing circumcision etc. on the same 
level as the violation of great moral 

^ ' Intermiugling many remarks about the Stoics, who taught that all sins 
are equal, and that whoever possesses one virtue possesses all.' For English 
readers Dr Plummer in loco gives a good account of St Augustine's letter. 




[ll. 12, 13 

13 are to be judged by a law of liberty. For judgement is 
without mercy to him that hath shewed no mercy : mercy 
glorieth against judgement. 

mandments hang upon the law of 
love to God and to man, he who sins 
against love is guilty of violating all 
the commandments, for no one sins 
without breaking this law of love; 
murder, adultery, theft, covetousness, 
all violate it; but love worketh no ill 
to his neighbour, love therefore is 
the fulfilment of the law. Thus not 
only is each law the expression of 
one will, but the whole law may be 
so regarded. 

12. So speak ye, and so do. The 
repetition of the adverb emphasises 
the earnest exhortation of the vsriter, 
and the laying stress upon word and 
deed alike is characteristic of him : 
of i. 26, iii. 1 flF., ii. 2flF. 

as men that are to be judged, 
R.V., lit. 'as those about to be 
judged,' the verb in the original 
used in classical and Biblical Greek 
of things which will come to pass by 
fixed necessity or by Divine appoint- 
ment: cf. Matt XXV. 31 ; 2 Cor. v. 10. 
In anticipation of the final judg- 
ment, judge yourselves by the same 
law day by day. Vulg. renders 
incipientes judicari, 'beginning to 
be judged.' 

by a law of liberty. See note oni. 25. 

13. For judgement is without 
mercy, ht. ' the judgment is merci- 
less'; 'the judgment,' i.e. of God. 
Our Lord's teaching. Matt. v. 7, vii. 1, 
xviii. 28 etc., naturally occurs to the 
mind, and may be said to give the 
key to our verse. In the O.T. 
parallels may be found, cf esp. 
Ecclus. xxviii. 2 (although for this 
passage reference should be made 
to the strictures of Dr Edersheim in 
the Speaker's Commentary), Tob. iv. 
7-12. In the Testaments of the 
Twelce Patriarchs, Zab. 8, we read : 

And do you, my children, have 
compassion in mercy towards every 
man, that the Lord also out of 
compassion may have mercy upon 
thee ; for God also in the last days 
sends his compassion upon the earth, 
and where he finds a compassionate 
heart there he makes his dweUing, 
for in proportion as a man feels 
compassion towards his neighbour, 
the Lord has compassion upon him.' 
And with this compare also, 'Every 
time that thou art merciful, God 
will be merciful to thee, and if thou 
art not merciful God will not show 
mercy to thee ' ( Jer. Babha Q. viii. 
10), or again, 'To whom is sin 
pardoned ? to him who forgiveth 
injury' (Rosh Hash. 17a). 

to him. that liath shewed no mercy. 
The phrase to show or do mercy was 
quite common in the lxx, and there 
seems no reason to suppose that 
St James had in mind Luke x. 36. 

mercy glorieth against judgement. 
So R.V., which makes the force and 
terseness of the words more emphatic 
by the omission of any connecting 
particle. The verb which stands 
first, also for emphasis, brings mercy 
before us as if in a vivid and strong 
personahty. The sentence no doubt 
means that the mercy shown by the 
mei'ciful, as in contrast to him who 
shows no mercy, enables him to 
stand in the judgment which other- 
wise would overwhelm him ; so mercy 
is full of glad confidence and knows 
no fear in view of the hoiu* of judg- 
ment ('tanquam victrici insultat'). 

For the verb see iii. 14; Rom. xi. 
18; and in lxx, Jer. xxvii. (1.) 11, 
38; Zech. x. 12. (The Syriac has 
'ye shall be exalted by mercy over 

II, 14, 15] 



14 What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath 

15 faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? If a 

But the form of the sentence as 
given in R.V. asserts a universal 
truth, and the mercy of God is 
represented as 'glorying against' a 
judgment which may seem to be 
merciless, Matt. ix. 13; Hos. vi. 6: 
'earthly power doth then show 
likest God's, when mercy seasons 
justice,' Shakespeare, Merchant of 
Venice, iv. 1. In the Speaker's 
Commentary on Wisd. ix. 1, a 
striking passage of the Talmud is 
referred to, which gives the story of 
Rabbi Ishmael ben Elishah, who, 
entering into the Holy of Holies, 
saw the Lord of Sabaoth sitting 
on a throne, and prayed : ' May 
it please Thee to cause Thy mercy 
to subdue Thy anger; may it be 
revealed above Thy other attributes ; 
and mayest Thou deal with Thy 
children according to the quality of 
mercy.' And it seemed as though 
God was pleased at the prayer. 
'Berakhoth,' p. 7. 1. In the same 
comment a traditional saying of 
Mohammed's is given : ' When God 
created the creation He wrote a 
book which is near Him upon the 
sovran throne, and what is vrritten 
is this : Verily m.y compassion over- 
cometh my wraths 

14. For the paragraph that fol- 
lows see Introd. p. xli. 

The whole of it may be closely 
connected with the thought of the 
judgment, and of that which alone 
will stand in the judgment, and save 
from the judgment ; the ' works ' 
carry us back to the 'mercy' of 
V. 13, and the 'save him' to the 
judgment of vv. 12, 13. 

The 'faith' which admits respect 
of persons and disregards the poor 
must be quite incompatible with the 
faith which is centred on Jetius 

Christ, Who although the Lord of 
glory regarded the person of the 
least of those brothers and sisters 
whom St James had in mind, ». 15; 
cf. Matt. XXV. 40. There are no 
doubt passages in Jevdsh literature 
(see Introd. p. xlii.) in which faith 
and works are contrasted, in which 
calling upon the Lord is regarded 
as securing safety in the Messianic 
judgment, Psalms of Sol. vi. 2, but 
St James had before his mind the 
words of a greater than any human 
teacher, Who had taught men that 
saying. Lord, Lord, was valueless in 
comparison with doing the will of 
the Father, Who had warned men 
that 'in that day' many would 
fail, in spite of their pretentious 
claims to gain recognition from the 

What doth it profit? R.V. In the 
original, the words may be almost 
colloquial, and somewhat more abrupt 
(as A.V. indicates). In the N.T. the 
phrase recurs in 1 Cor. xv. 32; cf. 
Job XV. 3; Ecclus. xli. 14; Matt. xvi. 
26 ; 1 Cor. xiii. 3. 

m,y brethren. The expression em- 
phasises not only tenderness and 
sympathy of the writer, but also the 
fact that he is thinking here of the 
faith of Christians ; cf. v. 15. 

if a man say. The phrase is not 
*if a man has faith,' so that stress 
may perhaps be laid upon ' say,' and 
if so we may explain that as in what 
follows mere empty words are con- 
trasted with needful deeds, so an 
inoperative faith can only testify to 
itself by saying, not by doing. 

faith. On the place of faith in 
questions similar to those raised by 
St James, which wore apparently 
occupying the Jewish schools, see 
Introd. p. xlL St James in writing 

54 JAMES [II. 15, 16 

16 brother or sister be naked, and in lack of daily food, and 

to Jewish-Christians might well use 
the word with reference not only to 
the fundamental doctrine of the 
Jewish Creed, cf. v. 19, but also with 
reference to specific Christian doc- 
trine. But it could not at all events 
be a mere theoretical or intellectual 
faith in which we ought to pray, 
1. 6, in which the poor are rich, ii. 5, 
and which cannot coexist ^rith 're- 
spect of persons.' 

can that faith save him? R.V., 
i.e. such faith as this (article before 
the noun in the original). But 
others take the article not as having 
the force of a demonstrative pronoun, 
but as simply referring to that which 
has been already mentioned, 'if a 
man say that he has faith.' 

save him, i.e. in the final judg- 
ment ; cf. V. 13. See also note on 
i 21. 

15. If, R.V. The worthlessness 
of a faith without works is compared 
with a pity which consists in mere 
words without corresponding deeds, 
and this connection is brought out 
by the omission of the conjunction 
'but' retained by A.V. at the be- 
ginning of the verse ; if the con- 
junction is read, we should simply 
have a parallel case of the difference 
between profession and reality, and 
not an illustration of the principle 
stated in the preceding verse. 

'brother or sister, reminding them 
of their relationship in Christ, and 
of the claims made upon them 
through their union in Him ; cf. i. 2. 

Such a scene may have actually 
passed before St .James's notice, or 
he may according to his wont be 
enforcing his teaching by some vivid 
and imaginary picture. 

naked. The word is used both in 
Biblical and classical Greek of those 
ill-clad, as well as of those literally 

naked (cf. nudus in Latin) ; here 
perhaps the context r. 16 may point 
to the former meaning. In the O.T. 
the phraseology of Job xxxi. 19, 20, 
Isaiah Iviii. 7 recurs to the mind in 
connection with the picture given 
by St James. In the latter passage 
the prophet describes the fulfilment 
of the true fast acceptable to God, 
viz. by works of mercy, in feeding 
the hungry and clothing the naked. 
A striking passage, Testaments of 
the Twelve Patriarchs, Zab. 7, af- 
fords a similarity in its phraseology, 
but a contrast in its contents, to the 
picture here drawn by St James : ' I 
saw a man in distress naked in the 
winter, and being moved with com- 
passion towards him I stole a gar- 
ment out of my house secretly and 
gave it to him. And do you, my 
children, have compassion upon all 
without distinction, and give to each 
with a good haart of that which God 
gives to you. But if ye have 
nothing on occasion to give to the 
needy, sympathise with him in heart- 
felt compassion.' So ibid. Iss. 7, 
'With every sufferer I sighed, and 
gave my bread to the poor; I eat 
not alone.' 

Both our Lord's words. Matt. xxv. 
36, 43, and the solemn scene of the 
Last Judgment may well have been 
present to the mind of St James, 
especially when we remember that 
his thoughts were dwelling upon 
mercy and judgment. 

in lack of. Cf. i, 4, 5, where the 
same Greek is so translated. A.V. 
follows Tyndale. 

daily food ; better of the day's 
supply of food, indicating more 
sharply the indigence which failed 
to obtain a supply for even a single 
day. So in Dion. Hal. Ant. vin. 41, 
we have the picture of a wretched 

II. 16] 



one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and 
filled ; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the 

brother, or perhaps a wish that the 
poor might be clothed and fed, al- 
though it is no doubt possible to 
take them as in the middle voice 
and to reuder 'warm yourselves, 
feed yourselves.' 

In either case the point of com- 
parison with what follows about 
faith and works is marked if we 
remember that the words doubtless 
expressed advice excellent in sound, 
but that there was no corresponding 
effort to make it effectual. 

It has been well said that there 
is plenty of this 'be ye warmed' 
now-a-days, plenty of theoretical and 
excellent advice, but no correspond- 
ing effort to translate theory into 
practice, if trouble or effort of any 
real kind is involved. 

filled, in earlier Greek of feeding 
or fattening animals with fodder, 
in comedy and in colloquial Greek 
of men feasting or eating ; in N.T. 
always of eating or satisfying with 
food, without the earlier associations; 
cf. Matt. V. 6 ; Mark vii. 27, 28 ; so 
in Lxx and modern Greek (Ken- 

and yet ye give them not ; second 
person plural, perhaps from the 
preceding 'of you' also in the plural, 
or because the plural is often used 
after an indefinite singular ; in thus 
generalising his words St James 
would remind his readers that the 
poor and needy belonged to the 
Church, that they were the brethren 
of all. 

the things needful. Only here in 
N.T., but used in classical writings ; 
in 3 Mace. vi. 30 the word is used of 

man who from his own wealth can- 
not procure provision for even a 
single day (Wetstein). The render- 
ing needful, necessary, adopted by 
von Soden, is too general for the 
thought which the word would em- 
phasise. Reference may also be 
made to Nestle's Art. 'Lord's Prayer,' 
Encycl. Bibl. in. 2820 ^ 

16. and one cf you say; quite 
generally, and not to be limited as 
if spoken only by those who thought 
faith sufficient for salvation ; lit. 
'some one from among you.' The 
words may help to mark the fact that 
the person represented as speaking is 
thought of as belonging to the circle 
of believers. Cf. 1 John iii. 17, 18. 

Go in peace; Judg. xviii. 6; Acts 
xvi. 36 (2 Kings v. 19); cf Tobit x. 
13. This and the following verbs may 
be used in contempt or in mockery 
and insult, although we are not 
bound to suppose that James would 
have pictured Christians as so ut- 
terly hard-hearted and impervious 
to pity ; the expressions are rather 
formulae of good wishes and well- 
meaning, but merely phrases and 
nothing more, phrases which amount- 
ed to a cold and selfish rejection, 
although couched in words which 
sounded warm and considerate ; 
St James was a master of irony. 

he ye warmed and filled. So A. 
and R.V., corresponding to the two 
above-mentioned wants and needs, 
V. 15. If the verbs are thus con- 
strued as in the passive (cf. Job 
xxxi. 20 ; Hag. i. 6), they express as 
it were a command, issued in the 
haste to be rid of this troublesome 

1 Dr Chase makes the interesting suggestion that we have here a reminiscence 
of the petition for ' the bread of the day ' in the Lord's Prayer, and in the words 
•the things needful to the body' a very early comment on the scope of that 
petition, The Lord's Prayer in the Early Church, p. 48. 



[II. 16-19 

17 body ; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it have not 

18 works, is dead in itself. ^Yea, a man will say, Thou hast 
faith, and I have works : shew me thy faith apart from thy 

19 works, and I by my works will shew thee my faith. Thou 
belie vest that ^God is one: thou doest well: the ^devils 

^ Or, But some one will say 

* Some ancient authorities read there is one Ood. 
* Gr. demons. 

things needful for feasting; here the 
food and raiment referred to; cf. 
1 Tim. vi. 8. 

tchat doth it profit? repeated 
perhaps for emphasis, and to arrest 

1 7. Eeen so faith dead in itself, 
RV. The A.V. 'dead being alone' 
does not express the true significance 
of the Greek. Such faith may be 
present like the corpse of a man, but 
it haa no life, it is inwardly dead as 
well as outwardly inoperative. 

18. Yea, a man will say, R.V., 
and in marg., but some one will say. 
Often explained as marking even 
more definitely the introduction of 
an objector (cf. Rom. xi. 19 ; 1 Cor. 
XV. 35), who maintains that both 
faith and works represent forms of 
pure religion each of which may be 
acceptable with God. But if this 
was the force of the words the 
objector would naturally say to 
St James, 'I have faith and thou 
hast works,' instead of saying as in 
the text, * thou hast faith and I have 

Another suggested explanation is 
that a note of interrogation should 
be placed after the first clause which 
would then read ' hast thou faith ? ' 
'thou who thus speakest so slight- 
ingly of it?' and then this objector 
is answered in the following words 
' but at any rate I have works,' and 
he is called upon to show the faith 
to which he lays claim in the ques- 
tion ' hast thou faith ? ' In this view 

the objector is the same person 
who is signified in ». 14 as saying 
that he has faith and not works. 

But on the other hand it is m-ged 
that no objector is introduced, but 
that the writer puts himself into the 
background, or in accordance with 
the dramatic vividness of the letter, 
as we sometimes avail ourselves of 
a similar turn of speech, supposes 
another to speak, 'Nay (or. Yea), one 
may say,' etc. — faith without works 
has been shown to be profitless; but 
it is possible to go even further 
than this and maintain that even its 
very existence stands in need of 

apart from. The meaning is made 
much plainer by this rendering here 
and vv. 20, 26. The same may be said 
of several other passages where the 
R.V. translates the same adverb in 
a similar manner ; see e.g. John xv. 
5 ; Rom. iii. 21, 28, iv. 6; Ephes. ii. 12; 
Heb. xi. 40. A.V. reads in the marg. 
' by thy works ' ; but this is not well 
supported, and if retained must be 
taken of course ironically. It is also 
to be noted that the personal pro- 
nouns are omitted in R.V. text, 
although retained in italics in the 
English, ' apart from thy works, and 
I by my works will show thee Tny 

19. 77iou believest that God i» 
one, R.V. text, in marg. 'there is 
one God' as A.V. The former ren- 
dering seems best as expressing the 
primary article of the Jewish Creed; 

II. 19, 20] 



20 also believe, and shudder. But wilt thou know, vain 

cf. Deut. vi. 4; Mark xii. 29 ; and also 
Herraas, Aland, i, 1, 'First of all 
believe that God is one ' (Dr Taylor's 
edit, in loco, S.P.C.K. 1903). In 
the Mss. there is considerable vari- 
ation in the order of the words, but 
ia some of the most important the 
word for 'one' stands first, apparently 
so Indicating that the unity of God 
is the chief point to be emphasised. 
For Christians too, ' I believe in one 
God,' is the first truth of revealed 
religion, and it stands first in the 
Nicene Creed ; cf. I Cor. viii. 6 ; 
Ephes. iv. 6. 

On the primary and vital import- 
ance attached by the Jew to this 
declaration of belief, see Taylor, 
Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, 
pp. 38, 116, and c£ Philo, Leg. ad C. 
M. 2, p. 562. Thus, e.g., ' Whosoever 
prolongs the utterance of the word 
One (Deut. vi. 4) shall have his days 
and years prolonged to him ' (Bera- 
khoth, f. 13 6); so too Josephus, 
Ant. ni. 5, remarks that the First 
Word teaches that God is One. Of 
the famous Rabbi Akiba it is related 
that when undergoing the extreme 
tortures of a martyr's death he be- 
gan reciting his last prayer, and as 
he reached the closing word in the 
distinguishing formula of the O.T. 
religion, ' Hear, O Israel, the Lord 
thy God is one,^ he yielded up his 
breath. His tormentors were amazed 
at his constancy, and it is no wonder 
that in Jewish legend a voice from 
heaven was heard, ' Blessed art thou, 
for thy soul and the word One left 
thy body together ' (Edersheim's His- 
tory of the Jewish Nation, p. 220). 

In writing to Jewish-Christians 
there is nothing strange in the fact 
that St James should thus refer to a 
belief which was the great pride and 

confidence of the Jew, and should 
thus rebuke a reliance on mere 
orthodoxy. If it is urged that it is 
impossible to suppose that amongst 
Jewish-Christians monotheism would 
be referred to as a prominent article 
of their specific Christian belief, we 
may well ask whether the same 
article would form among Gentile 
Christians a more significant tenet 
of Christian belief. It is best to 
take the words as uttered by the 
same interlocutor as in v. 18, and 
they are introduced to show that 
the existence of 'faith' without 
'works' is not only reproveable, 
but that even if it exists, so far from 
being a possession which confers a 
blessing, it may be productive of a 
reverse result. The construction in 
the original seems to show that re- 
ference is made to the mere accept- 
ance of an intellectual belief, and 
not to a belief denoting loyalty and 

By some editors, as by W.H., the 
words are pointed interrogatively, 
'Thou believest that there is one 
God ? ' well and good. 

thou doest well. So far, so well ; 
not necessarily an ironical phrase (cf. 
V. 8, Mark xii. 32), but the context, 
with its sarcasm in the words 'be- 
lieve' and 'shudder,' may point to 
an ironical meaning here. 

the devils also believe. The word in 
the original is rendered in R.V. 
marg. 'demons.' In classical Greek 
the word might be used of spiritual 
beings who were inferior to God and 
yet superior to men, and that too in 
both a bad and good sense ; cf. 
Acts xvii. 18. In the LXX the word 
is used generally for the demons re- 
garded as deities of the heathen, 
and in support of this meaning here 



[II. 19, 20 

it is urged that such demons would 
know well that there was only one 
true God and that they were no tnie 
deities. But it is best to take the 
word in its usual N.T. sense of evil 
spirits subjected to Satan who enter 
into and possess men ; and thus we 
may connect this passage ^vith the 
passages in the Gospels which tell us 
not only of the belief but also of the 
terror of the demons, in the presence 
of the Son of God: Mark v. 7; 
Matt. viii. 29 ; Luke iv, 41 (cf. Acts 
xix. 15) ; see further Introd. p. xviii. 
According to some statements of 
later Jemsh theology the fallen 
angels and the daughters of men 
begat giants from whose souls the 
spirits went forth to destroy without 
incurring condemnation mitil the 
great judgment over the fallen angels 
and the godless, Enoch, xv. 9-12, 
xvi. 1 ; cf Book of Jubilees, x. 5^. 

shudder. This belief in the exist- 
ence of one true God only begets 
fear and trembling and a horrible 
dread The word is properly to 
bristle, to stiffen, as of the hair 
standing on end, Job iv. 15, but also 
used to express awe or terror in a 
high degree, Dan. vii. 15; 4 Mace. 
xiv. 9, xvii. 7. It is used in classical 
writers exactly as above in Job, so 
by Hesiod and PlutarcL The Testa- 
ment of Abraham, xvi. affords a 
striking instance of this employment 
of the word ; ' Michael said to Death : 
Come hither, the Lord of creation, 
the immortal King calls thee, and 
Death when he heard shuddered... 
and came in great fear and stood 
before the invisible Father, shud- 

dering and groaning and trembUng.' 
Josephus using the cognate verbal 
adjective speaks of 'the dreadful 
name of God,' B. J. v. 10. 3; and the 
same word is found on a papyrus of 
the fourth century a.d. in which a 
demon is invoked 'by the dreadful 
names,' Deissmann, Bible Studies, 
p. 288, E.T. What an impression 
this verse of St James made upon 
early Christian literature is seen by 
the reference to it in Justin Martyr, 
Try/j/tOjXlix., where he speaks of even 
the demons ' shuddering ' at Christ ; 
in Clem. Alex. Strom, v. p. 724, 
where the demons and a company 
of gods are said ' to shudder at ' and 
fear God ; in Lactantius, De Ira, 23, 
where earth and heaven and sea and 
the infernal realms ' shudder at ' God, 
the King and Creator of all. 

The word may well refer to the 
demons in the narratives of the 
Gospels and their fear of immediate 
torments — they cried out. 

St James does not work out the 
comparison between the 'faith' of 
the demons and that which he is 
considering, but he says enough to 
show that the fruit of the faith of 
the demons is only fear, they are not 
urged by their belief in God to trust 
or service or thanks, their knowledge 
of God's existence and presence does 
not influence them to enter into a 
right relationship with Him ; so too 
for the Christian a bare faith, a mere 
acknowledgment of the truth of the 
first article of the Creed, leads to 
nothing and profits nothing. At the 
same time it is of course quite 
possible that St James may intend 

^ A striking parallel to the thought expressed in Matt. viii. 29, ' to 
torment us before the time.' Thus in Enoch, xvi. 1, we read, ' in the days of 
murder and of destruction and of the death of the giants when the spirits have 
gone forth from the souls of their flesh, in order to destroy without incurring 
judgment — thus will they destroy until the day when the great consummation 
of the great world be consummated over the watchers and the godless.' 

II. 20, 21] 



21 man, that faith apart from 

his reference to the 'faith' of the 
demons to show that 'belief could 
exist without being of such a kind 
as to save, v. 14 ; or that as the 
demons tremble at the thought of 
judgment to come, so for the Chris- 
tian a mere intellectual belief will 
result in fear and trembling and 
nothing more — a poor result indeed ! 

It may be fairly said that if 
St James had in mind St Paul's 
doctrine of justification it would be 
a strange way to meet it mth the 
argument before us — the Pauline 
conception of justifying faith had 
its object, not in the unity of God, 
but in Christ, His Death and Re- 

20. A third ground of support 
for this view of the uselessness of 
faith without works. The question 
may be referred to the interlocutor 
of the previous verses, or St James 
may speak again from this point in 
his own name. 

wilt thou know? lit. dost thou 
wish to know ? the question is best 
taken as expressing a correction, or 
perhaps to arrest attention, or in- 
troduce a new argument (cf. 2 Cor. 
viii. 1), at the same time perhaps 
intimating a certain perversity or 
reluctance on the part of the person 
addressed ; on the part of the ques- 
tioner the words express both con- 
fidence, 'dost thou wish for a decisive 
proof?' and at the same time in- 

O vain man; in lxx the adjec- 
tive is used of worthless persons, 
and of vain, worthless words ; here 
of a man who makes great claims to 
the possession of faith and yet is 
void of all that follows from a true 

works is barren? Was not 

faith, like the Latin vanus. The 
word is often taken as an equivalent 
of Raca, Matt. v. 22 (in the Syriac 
it is simply debilis), and if so it is a 
proof that the early Christians did 
not regard themselves bound to keep 
the Sermon on the Mount in the 
letter, whilst they would of course 
guard against the spirit of hatred. 

O, sometimes of admonition, but 
more frequently of reproof 

that faith apart from works is 
barren ? On ' apart from ' see above, 
V. 18. Barren, lit. idle (without 
work), doing nothing^; and this 
meaning is most frequent in the 
N.T., but in 2 Pet. i. 8 the word is 
rendered 'barren' in A.V. It is 
often used of things from which no 
profit is derived, although they 
should be productive, cf. Wisd. xiv. 5 
so here faith without works is de- 
scribed as unproductive. Possibly 
the word may have here the meaning 
of idle, i.e. shunning the work which 
it ought to perform. It is suggested 
that there may be a play on words, 
'apart from works' — 'without work' 
(von Soden). 

It is also urged with much plausi- 
bility that James is not maintaining 
that an inoperative faith produces 
no works (for this would need no 
proof), but no salvation, and such a 
faith could not save, cf v. 14, and 
thus in this sense he describes this 
' faith ' as barren. 

Such a thought may well have 
been connected with the word, but 
primarily the context seems to con- 
nect it with deeds and actions. 

21. The example first chosen was 
at once the most familiar and the 
most authoritative ; Rom. iv. 1 ; Gal. 

1 This is the best supported readinp;. ' Dead ' A.V, might easily have been 
introduced for conformity with 17 and 26. 



[ll. 21 

Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered 

iii. 6; Heb. xi. 17; and especially in 
relation to the present passages, 
1 Mace. ii. 52 ; Eccliis. xliv. 20; Wisd. 
X. 5 ; Book nf Jubilees, xvii-xix. 

Abraham our father. The title at 
least suggests that the readers were 
Jews; Introd.pp.xi.,xii.; of. Matt. iii. 
9; Sayings of the Jeicish Fathers, 
V. 4. 9, where the same title is thrice 
given to Abraham. The thought of 
Abraham as 'the father of believers' 
is specifically Pauline. The form of 
the question as given in the original 
would seem to indicate that an anti- 
Pauline polemic could not have been 
intended ; if so, it would have been 
necessary to prove as against Rom. iv. 
that Abraham was justified by works, 
whereas here this is taken for granted 
even by opponents. 

justified. The simplest plan is to 
consider this much discussed term 
in the light of the usage of the verb 
'to justify' in the O.T. and other 
Jewish literature. This is the usage 
which, we may well believe, would 
have been present to the mind of a 
man like St James, and which would 
be likely to commend itself to the 
intelligence of his Jewish readers. 
Considered from this point of view 
it would seem that the word in the 
O.T., Lxx, and Apocr. does not mean 
' to make righteous,' any more than 
it does in classical usage, but to 
declare, or to show to be righteous. 
It may be further said to have a 
forensic or judicial sense in that it 
is used of declaring righteous by the 
recognition of a man's innocence or 
liis absolution from guilt ; cf. Deut. 
XXV. 1 ; 1 Kings viii. 32. The same 
force and meaning attach to the 
verb in other Jewish literature; cf. 
Wisdom vi. 10, ' they that keep holi- 
ness shall be judged holy,' i.e. shall 

be regarded as holy ; cf. also Exod. 
xxiii. 7 ; Ecclus. xiii. 22 ; xlii. 2 
(2 Esdras iv. 18, xii. 7). In the Psalms 
of Solomon the verb frequently 
occurs, but with the meaning of ' to 
vindicate as just' the character of 
God ; so too in 2 Esdras x. 16, Apoc. 
Baruch, Ixxviii. 5 (cf. Ps. li. 4), the 
same application of the verb is found. 
The form of the verb in Greek might 
seem at first sight to reqiure the 
meaning 'to make righteous,' as in 
the case of verbs of similar ending, 
'to make blind,' 'to make golden.' 
But it is to be noticed that this 
efficient signification belongs to this 
class of verbs when they are derived 
from an adjective with a physical 
meaning, and not, as in the case 
before us, from an adjective with a 
moral meaning. 

When we turn to the N.T. we find 
that the meaning of the verb is still 
determined to a large extent by its 
employment in the lxx. As instances 
we may take Matt. xii. 37, 'for by 
thy words thou shalt be justified 
and by thy words thou shalt be con- 
demned ' (cf. Deut. XXV. 1 ; 2 Chron. 
vi. 23) ; or Luke vii. 29, 'they justified 
God,' i.e. acknowledged, or declared 
God to be righteous ; and for similar 
undoubted uses of the verb in the 
same sense as is advocated above we 
may instance Matt. xi. 19 ; Luke vii. 
35, X. 29, xvL 15, xviii. 14 ; Rom. ii. 13 
(marg. R.V. 'accounted righteous'); 
1 Tim. iii. 16 (the apparent exception 
in the use of the verb by T.R. in 
Rev. xxii. 1 1 is rectified in the proper 
reading). Whether St James has in 
view the future judgment, when 
sentence will be passed by God upon 
a man's conduct as a whole, or 
whether he views the two instances 
which he adduces in relation only to 

II. 21, 22] 



22 up Isaac his son upon the altar ? ^Thou seest that faith 

^ Or, /Seest thou... perfect} 

their immediate effect, the meaning 
of the verb is still the same; i.e. 
'was not Abraham declared, or 
shown to be righteous?' (see further 
Hastings' B. D., Art. 'Justification'; 
Sanday and Headlam, Romans, de- 
tached note on i. 17 ; and Beyschlag 
in Meyer's Commentary on the pas- 
sage before us). 

by works. The context confines the 
phrase to one specific act, but the 
plural is used as signifying the cate- 
gory which is here under considera- 
tion — ' faith ' . . . ' works ' ; cf. for the 
construction Matt. xii. 37. Others 
take it as including those other works 
of faithful Abraham, which reached 
their highest point in the sacrifice 
of Isaac. 

in that he offered up., causal par- 
ticiple; the word is used of presenting 
as a priestly act, cf. Isaiah Ivii. 6; 
Heb. vii. 27, xiii. 15 ; 1 Pet. ii. 5; 
and sometimes with the words ' upon 
the altar' added, e.g. Gen. viii. 20; 
Lev. xiv. 20; 2 Chron. xxix. 27, 
etc. With the language here cf 
Gen. xxii. 9. The word here em- 
ployed for 'altar' is not found in 
classical writers, but it is used in lxx, 
Philo, Josephus. In the lxx it is 
characteristically the altar of God, 
although sometimes used of idol 
altars. For the word see Westcott, 
Hebrews, p. 453, and for the word 
for offering up cf the same writer 
on Heb. vii. 27. The phrase here 
may mean simply to bring as an 
oSering to the altar. 

Isaac his son; Isaac named to 
show and to emphasise the greatness 
of the sacrifice. St James may here 
be toUowing a current Jewish view 
contained in the remarkable passage 
1 Mace. iL 62, *was not Abraham 

found faithful in temptation, and it 
was reckoned to him for righteous- 
ness?' as in Gen. xxii. nothing is 
said of the justification of Abraham, 
whilst in Gen. xv. 6 his belief in the 
Divine promise of a countless seed 
is reckoned for righteousness (see 
below on v. 23). But there are ex- 
pressions in Gen. xxii., e.g. vc. 12, 16, 
18, which may well be regarded as 
a 'justification' of Abraham before 
God, although as in the case of Rahab 
no verbal declaration of his being 
justified is needed (see below also 
in V. 23). Here again it has been 
well pointed out that the passage is 
evidently not concerned with justi- 
fication as in Rom. iv. 5, where God 
is spoken of as justifying the ungodly 
by something which the man has not 
in himself, but with the simple pre- 
Pauline sense of the word, a decla- 
ration of what the man actually 
is : 'he that doeth righteousness is 
righteous.' Such usage is neither 
Pauline nor anti-Pauline; but rather 
stands outside any conscious relation 
to the teaching of St Paul. What 
St James is concerned to show is 
that the faith of Abraham is no mere 
barren profession, but an active prin- 
ciple, as against the perversions of 
the Rabbis and the religious eiter- 
nahsm of the Pharisees. 

22. Thou seest, R.V., better per- 
haps than a question as in marg. and 
A.V. Either reading makes good 
sense. If the question form is re- 
tained it is quite in accordance >vith 
the stii-ring lively manner of tlio 
whole paragraph. But if R.V. text 
is retained, the words form an answer 
to the preceding verse, and the 
positive assertion here and in v. 24 
follows naturally upon the 'wilt thou 



[ll. 22, 23 

wrought with his works, and by works was faith made 
23 perfect ; and the scripture was fulfilled which saith. And 

know ? ' of V. 20. This very plainly 
shows that St James had no intention 
of depreciating the faith of Abraham 
which was testified to alike by Scrip- 
ture and by tradition. Neither faith 
nor works alone justified Abraham 
but the cooperation of the two ; this 
is the point upon which St James 

Th'M seest that, R.V., not ' how ' as 
in A.V. It is not to the method as 
A.V. might suggest but to the fact 
of the cooperation that attention is 

wrought with, rather, 'was all 
along cooperating with, imperf. tense, 
' cooperabatur ' Vulg. The verb oc- 
curs not only in the N.T. and lxx, 
but in two instances in Test, of the 
xii. Patriarchs, Iss. 3, Gad 4^ 

In ». 21 a belief without works was 
characterised as ' idle,' i.e. doing no 
work, because it could not save ; so 
here the thought is emphasised that 
the belief of Abraham is not idle, in- 
active, but active for his justification 
(in the original the two words idle, 

without works wrought with, 

worked with are contrasted). 

and hy works was faith made 
perfect; cf. i. 3, 15. It has well been 
urged that on the one hand St James 
cannot mean that the previously im- 
perfect faith is perfected by works, 
as by something added to it from 
■without, since faith is the motive of 
works; nor on the other hand can 
he mean that faith is already per- 
fected before works, and merely 
shows itself by works; but that since 

Abraham's faith in God and his active 
obedience went hand in hand, the 
former was strengthened by each 
new test to which it was exposed in 
the exercise of the latter, until in 
the final test of obedience in the 
offering of Isaac, and in the en- 
durance of that 'trial,' it attained 
its due perfection (Beyschlag)'-. 

23. and the scripture was fulfil- 
led; cf. Gen. XV. 6, lxx Thefulfilment 
lay in the fact that in Abraham's 
offering up of Isaac there was the 
supreme act of a faith, which had 
at first been imperfect; cf. Gen. xv. 8, 
'And he said, O Lord God, whereby 
shall I know that I shall inherit it ? ' 
This sacrifice of Isaac had apparently 
been connected already in Jevrish 
thought with Gen. xv. 6, in 1 Mace, 
ii. 52. St Paul in using the same 
quotation in Rom. iv. 2 places it in 
connection with the birth and not 
with the sacrifice of Isaac, Rom. iv. 
16-22, as in the original passage in 
Genesis. St Paul also uses the same 
passage in apparent contradiction to 
St James, when he writes Rom. iv. 2, 
Tor if Abraham was justified by 
works, he hath whereof to glory; but 
not toward God.' But St James no 
less than St Paul would have con- 
demned ' a boasting ' on the part of 
those who claimed to be justified by 
works, Rom. iv. 2, and St James no 
less than St Paul would not have rec- 
koned a faith for righteousness which 
was the mere barren profession of 
orthodoxy, in the way that the mere 
citation of Gen. xv. 6 was apparently 

* The other reading, in some mss., the present tense, was probably introdaced 
for conformity with the present ' seest.' 

2 Bengel's words are to be noted, 'Abraham returned from the sacrifice much 
more perfect in faith than he had approached it.' 

II. 23, 24] 



Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for 
24 righteousness ; and he was called the friend of God. Ye 

often employed amongst the Jews, 
but a faith in which a man waxed 
strong and gave glory to God, being 
fully assured that what He had pro- 
mised He was able also to perform : 
Rom. iv. 21 ; see also Introd. p. xlv. 

believed God, not simply believed 
that God existed, as a mere intel- 
lectual tenet; cf. v. 19 (Abraham's 
faith led him not simply credere 
Deum but credere Deo). 

and it was reckoned unto him for 
righteousyiess. The same phrase is 
found in Psal. c\i. 31 of the zeal of 
Phinehas, and also, as we have seen, 
in 1 Mace. ii. 52 of the faithfulness of 
Abraham under temptation ; see also 
the references to Book of Jubilees 
below. The translation 'reckoned' 
gives correctly the force of the verb 
which is often used in Lxx to express 
what is equivalent to, having the like 
force and weight as something men- 
tioned. The word 'righteousness' 
is used as it is used by our Lord in 
the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. v. 
20, and by St John, 1 John iii. 7. 

St James may well have known 
of the ten temptations of Abraham 
which are mentioned in Jewish tra- 
dition (cf. Numb. xiv. 22), but it 
cannot be said that such knowledge 
is certainly intimated in our text, 
although according to one list, and 
that the most general, of these temp- 
tations the sacrifice of Isaac as the 
supreme test stood tenth and last. 

It is however worth noting that 
twice in the Book of Jubilees Abra- 
ham is described as faithful, and of 
an enduring spirit at the close of the 
description of his ten temptations, 
and that it is further said that he 
was called, as a result of this proba- 
tion, the friend of God (see ch. xvii. 
and xix.), and was so designated on 

the heavenly tablets. Further, in 
this same Book of Jitbilees (ch. xxx.), 
Simeon and Levi are praised for 
their slaughter of the Shechemites, 
Gen. xxxiv., and of this action it is 
said that 'it was reckoned to them 
for righteousness,' and Levi is de- 
scribed as written, like Abraham, on 
the heavenly tablets, as a righteous 
man and a friend of God. If there- 
fore Jewish tradition laid stress upon 
the faith of Abraham (see above, and 
Lightfoot, Gal. p. 162) there is also 
evidence that it was not forgetful 
of the actions of Abraham, and St 
James might well say that Gen. xv. 
6 was fulfilled in a faith which was 
not merely a belief of the intellect, but 
which worked by love, a faith made 
perfect by the self-sacrifice of love in 
obedience to a higher love; cf. 'with 
ten temptations was Abraham our 
father tempted, and he withstood 
them all : to show how great was 
the love of Abraham our father'; 
see Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, 
V. 4. 

and he was called, etc. The words 
do not of course belong to the quo- 
tation, but they are added to the 
argument, as if the speaker would 
add 'and on this account he was 
called,' etc. The verb translated 
'called,' has sometimes been taken 
to indicate here prestige, recognition 
by others, as e.g. in Luke L 32, 76. 

the friend of God. The title is 
not found in Genesis, either Heb. or 
LXX, but in 2 Chron. xx. 7, Isaiali 
xli. 8, and LXX of Dan. iii. 35 we 
have a word, which is used to 
denote a more intimate relation- 
ship than the ordinary word for 
companion, translated by ' friend ' 
in A. and R.V. (Vulg. amicus), with 
reference to Abraham's relationship 



[ll. 24 

see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. 

to God ; in lxx 'thy beloved,' 2 Chron. 
XX. 7, Dan. u.s.; 'whom I loved,' 
Isaiah xli. 8. 

But in Gen. xviii. 17, 'Shall I hide 
from Abraham?' etc., the lxx add 
after 'from Abraham' the words 'my 
son,' and this verse is quoted by 
Philo in one place as if it so ran. 
Yet in another place Philo in quoting 
the same passage has 'from Abraham 
my friend.' It would therefore seem 
likely that this latter title was a 
familiar one amongst Jews ; of. Book 
of Jubilees, xix. 9 (xxx. 20, 21), where 
Abraham is said to be inscribed in 
the heavenly tablets as a friend of 
God*. It is also plain that the title 
is to be explained as of one ' whom 
God loved,' not as one 'who loved 
God.' In Wisdom vii. 27 it is likely 
enough that the writer is using the 
expi-ession 'friends of God' in the 
same manner as it is used by Plato, 
Legg. iv. 8, and other philosophers, 
and by Philo, Frog. ii. p. 652, where 
he writes that every wise man 
is a friend of God (cf Sayings of 
the Jewish Fathers, vi. 1, where of 
the man busied in the Law it is said 
that 'he is called friend, beloved: 
loves God, loves mankind '). In Clem. 
Rom. the phrase is foimd twice. Cor. 
X. 1, xvii. 2, and once in Iren. Adv. 
Haer. iv. 16. 2, where in each place 
the reference is probably to this 
passage in St James; Jerome also, 
on Judith viii. 22, uses the same 
expression of Abraham, how he was 
made the friend of God. The familiar 
use of this same title in the East has 
often been commented on, and a 
striking instance of its employment 
is given by Dean Stanley in connec- 
tion with the visit of the present 
King, Edward VII, then Prince of 

Wales, to the Shrine of Abraham, 
Jewish Church, i. 430. 

A valuable note on 'The Friend 
of God' by the German writer 
Dr Nestle will be found in the Ex- 
pository Times, Oct 1903. 

24. Ye see that by works a man 
is justified; ' ye see,' best taken as 
indie, (and not imper. or interroga- 
tive), as affinning a conclusion from 
the previous argument ; the plural 
is used because no longer is any 
'vain man' addressed as an oppo- 
nent, but the Christian brethren. 

If the exact phrases ' to be justi- 
fied by works ' or ' by faith ' are not 
found previous to St James and St 
Paul, yet there are passages in Jewish 
or Jewish-Christian literature which 
may suggest that such language was 
in use. With regard to the doctrine 
of justification by works, a notable 
passage meets us in The Testament 
of Abraham, xiii. : 'After death 
the archangel tests men's works by 
fire, and if the fire burns up a man's 
work, the angel of judgment carries 
him away to the place of sinners ; 
but if the fire does not touch his 
work, then he is justified, and the 
angel of righteousness carries him 
to be saved in the lot of the just.' 
So too in a remarkable passage in 
2 Esdras ix. 7, a passage possibly 
dating some quarter of a century or 
so before the birth of Christ, we 
find that a man is described as 
able to be saved 'by his works 
or by the faith with which he be- 
lieved' (although elsewhere, xiii. 7, 
salvation appeai-s to depend on 
works and faith combined). And 
in the Apocalypse of Baruch, 
representing the standpoint of 
orthodox Judaism in the first 

1 The words ' my friend' or ' thy friend ' (i.e. God's) occur again and again 
in the Jewish- Christian Testament of Abraham. 

11. 25] 



25 And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified 

century of our era, the righteous 
are represented as saved by their 
works, li. 7, as justified by the law, 
li. 3, and righteousness is described 
as 'by the law,' Ixvii. 6^ 

But with this close connection 
between works and the righteous- 
ness of the law, which is so character- 
istic of Baruch, it may be justly 
held that St Paul would be at home, 
whilst on the other hand St James, 
although no doubt familiar with the 
teaching, seems to have had some- 
thing much more simple in mind. 
He is not thinking of the works of 
the law as such ; in other words he 
is not writing 'in the interests of 
Judaism but of morality ' ; and 
St Paul no less than St James could 
speak of a 'faith working through 
love,' Gal. v. 6 ; ' these words bridge 
over the gulf,' wTites Bishop Light- 
foot, 'which seems to separate the 
language of St Paul and St James. 
Both assert a principle of practical 
energy, as opposed to a barren 
inactive theory' (cf. also St Paul's 
language, Rom. ii. 13 and 17fF.)- 

is justified {ci. v. 21), i.e. is declared 
or accounted righteous. 

and not only hy faith, R.V. The 
stress is on the word 'only.' St 
James by no means denies the value 
of faith, as we have seen throughout, 
nor could he vrith Gen. xv. 6 before 
him have refused to recognise it; 
nor does he deny that faith contri- 
butes to justification ; but it must 
be a right faith, not a faith apart 
from works, but a faith combined 
with works, as in 2 Esdras xiii. 23, 
'God will guard those who have 
works and faith in the Most Mighty.' 

Nor is there any contradiction be- 
tween this passage and Rom. iii. 28 
for St James is speaking here of 
works, and not of 'works of the law' 
as St Paul there ; St James is con- 
sidering faith as concerned with the 
recognition or practical denial of 
one God, St Paul is considering it 
as the highest motive-principle of 
the spiritual life 2. 

25. And in like manner, R.V. 
Not contrasting the second example 
with that of Abraham, but showing 
that equally in this case justification 
was the result of works and not only 
of faith. The further connecting 
'also' indicates an advance in the 
argument by the production of a 
still more decisive proof; cf v. 21. 

Eahah the harlot. There is no 
occasion to take the word in other 
than its ordinary sense, although 
not only Josephus, Ant. v. 1. 2, 7, 
describes her as an inn-keeper, but 
St Chrysostom and other writers, as 
e.g. Grotius, have tried to give a 
milder interpretation to the word 
(Lightfoot, Clement of Rome, App. 
p. 413). 

Not only is a woman named be- 
longing to an alien race, but a weak 
and erring woman {mulieris crimi- 
nosae, mulieris alienigcnae, Bcde; 
see also Ambrose on Psalm xxxvii.3). 
And although the same law prevailed 
in her case as in Abraham's, viz. 
that of justification by works, yet 
St James mny well have chosen her, 
both as a woman and as an alien, as 
a9"ording the most telling illustration 
of the breadth of the law in question. 
No doubt in Jewish tradition Rahab 
was highly celebrated. She was one 

1 Apocalypse of Baruch, Ixx., Ixxxi., and pp. 20, .SI, edit. Dr Charles. 
* Cf. Dr Charles, u.s. p. 26, and Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 164, on 'The faith 
of Abraham.' 


66 JAMES [ii. 25 

by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent 

of the four great beauties, classed 
with Sarah, Abigail, Esther; accord- 
ing to one tradition she became the 
wife of Joshua, according to another 
the ancestress of eight prophets and 
ten priests, Huldah the prophetess 
being ranked amongst her descend- 
ants, Megillah, 6. 14. 1. Moreover, 
the incident referred to here by 
St James had a place also in Jewish 
literature, as e.g. where Rahab prays 
for forgiveness for three sins because 
she can name three good works, in 
that she had let down the spies at 
her own risk by a cord through the 
window, on the wall, Mechilta on 
Exod. xviii. 1. All this may fairly 
help to show that St James might 
easily have selected a person so 
celebrated, and there is certainly 
no need to suppose that the wi'iter 
of our Epistle must have bor- 
rowed from Heb. xi. 31. In this 
latter passage she is also described 
as ' Rahab the harlot,' and as there 
the title seems to magnify the 
triumph of faith, so here the ad- 
dition magnifies its working by 
marking the distance between a 
sinful woman and the father of the 
faithful. It is not therefore neces- 
sary to suppose that St James has 
chosen Rahab to be an illustration 
for Gentile Christians, who might 
possibly read his circular letter, 
while Abraham is chosen as an 
illustration appealing to Jewish 
Christians. In his selection of this 
particular illustration it is quite 
possible that we may see an indica- 
tion of the Jewish and Rabbinical 
training of the writer, who thus like 
the Jewish doctors introduces the 
name of a famous woman to show 
that the woman shared in the same 
conditions as those required from 

the man ; Philo, e.g., mentions in 
connection with Abraham the strange 
illustration of Tamar as also striving 
after nobility {De nobilitate, p. 108e). 

Justified hij works, i.e. shown to 
be righteous ; see above on v. 21. 
Rahab appealed to her 'works,' 
Joshua ii. 12, and the force of her 
appeal was recognised, Joshua vi 
17, 25 ; so Josephus, Ant. v. 1. 7, 
refers Rahab's safety to her good 
deed. She too had heard of 'the 
works of the Lord,' Josh. ii. 9-11, 
and this hearing was no mere ac- 
quiescence that such a powerful God 
existed, cf. tJ. 19 above, but begat 
a faith and a conviction (cf. Heb. xi. 
31) that He was God in heaven 
above and on earth beneath, and 
that what He had promised to do 
He would also perform ; like Abra- 
ham Rahab too ' believed God,' and 
there is no contradiction when 
Heb. xi. 31 refers the same action 
as is mentioned here to Rahab's 
faith, for it is said that by faith she 
' perished not with them that were 
disobedient,' i.e. her faith prompted 
her to right action, to an obedient 
recognition of the claims of God. 
I^Ioreover, in the passage before us, 
V. 26 would imply that faith also 
was present in Rahab, and that that 
faith was not inactive. It is inter- 
esting to note how Rahab's faith in 
the God of Israel led to the mercy 
and kindness towards her neighbours 
upon which St James has so insisted ; 
cf. ii. 13, iii. 17, and Lxx, Josh. ii. 
12, 14. 

in that she received the mes- 
sengers. The verb is only used else- 
where in the N.T. by St Luke, and 
in each case as here with the idea of 
receiving as a guest : cf. Luke x. 38, 
xix. 6; Acts xviL 7; cf. lxx, Tob. vii. 

II. 25, 26] 



26 them out another way ? For as the body apart from the 
spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead. 

8 ; Judith xiii. 13. It is sometimes 
held that the idea of receiving 
secretly is contained in the word, 
but it is not necessarily so, although 
it might be implied from the cir- 
cumstances as here ; in Heb. xi. 31 
the simple verb is employed in the 
sense of receiving. In Heb. xi. 31 
the messengers are called spies as in 
Josh. ii. 1, and in two or three mss. 
and Versions of St James they are 
so called, but evidently the altera- 
tion has been made to accord with 
the other passages named. 

sent them; rather 'thrust them 
out,' signifying the hastiness of the 
act: cf. John ii. 15; Acts ix. 40, 
xvi. 37. The word may also be 
introduced not only to portray the 
action with characteristic vividness, 
but the zeal of Rahab and the 
danger connected with it. But it 
is of course quite possible that the 
verb may be used with the same 
simple significance as in Mark v. 40; 
Matt. ix. 25. 

another way, i.e. than that by 
■which they had come, where danger 
lay, Josh. ii. 15, 16, 22. 

26. For as the body apart from 
the spirit. On the rendering ' apart ' 
see ii. 18, 20 above. The comparison 
at first seems strange, as one would 
have expected that the comparison 
would be inverted and that works 
would coi-respond to the body and 
faith to the spirit (cf. Heb. ix. 14, 
where we read of 'dead works'). 
But St James is combating the faith 
which was a mere profession, a mere 
external thing; and this could only 
be moved and quickened into some- 
thing better by works, which might 

here be fairly identified with the 
animating principle, the love from 
which they sprang. Others have sug- 
gested that 'spirit' should be trans- 
lated 'breath,' as if the words meant 
that as a body is dead without any 
animating breath, so is faith which 
does not pass into action. But 
though the word is so used in 
Gen. vi. 17, Psalm cxlvi. 4, etc., it is 
maintained that its N.T. usage would 
not altogether warrant this inter- 
pretation (cf. however 2 Thess. ii. 8 ; 
Rev. xiii. 15); on the other hand, 
St James does not use the word 
elsewhere, and we must also re- 
member his familiarity with O.T. 
phraseology. Still more recently a 
word signifying 'movement' has 
been suggested as a conjectural 
reading instead of ' spirit,' but even 
if such a reading could be supported, 
the sense would not be improved, 
for a body 'without movement' is 
not necessarily dead, since it might 
be asleep or benumbed. 

Perhaps, however, it is better on 
the whole not to press the particular 
members of the comparison, as if 
the writer compared body and faith 
on the one hand with spirit and 
works on the other, but the relation 
which exists between body and spirit 
is compared with that between faith 
and works ; if body and spirit are 
separated death results, and so if 
faith is separated from works it has 
no life, it is 'dead in itself.' The 
particle 'for' at the beginning of the 
verse is retained by R.V. as in A.V., 
but omitted by W.II. Tlie abrupt- 
ness of its omission would be quite 
characteristic of the writer. 


68 JAMES [III. 1 


1, 2. Another evil characteristic of the Judaism of his day and against 
which St James warns his brother Christians is the desire to become 
teachers, without facing with any seriousness the tremendous responsibihties 
involved. In many things all err, but in nothing more than in speech ; to 
be free from error in this respect would be a test of perfection and a 
mastery of self. 3 — 6. As tlie horse is controlled by the little bridle 
in his mouth, as the great ships are turned by a small rudder, so the man 
who has command of his tongue controls, it is true, a little member, but one 
which is strong enough to affect his whole nature. Like a spark which 
inflames a whole forest, so the tongue can set on fire the whole round of 
human life ; amongst our members it constitutes as it were a world of 
imrighteousness, set on fire by Gehenna. 7 — 12. Every kind of animal 
man has been able to tame, but the tongue is untameable, a restless evil 
full of deadly poison. And yet with this same tongue we bless God, and we 
curse men made in the image of God ; herein is a grave moral inconsistency, 
and nature rebukes it on every side ; can a vine yield figs ? like root like 
fruit. 13, 14. If you would be teachers be wise, and the proof of true 
wisdom, like the proof of true ' religion,' is found in a man's conduct, and 
in each case meekness is required ; for with bitter jealousy and faction 
in the heart, a man is not helping the truth but is exalting himself. 
15, 16. This means a false wisdom, a wisdom of the flesh, of the world, 
of the devil, from below, not from above ; and this envying and strife issue in 
confusion and every vile deed. 17, 18. Contrast with this pretentious 
wisdom the true wisdom of God ; it is first of all pure, because its own 
object is God, not the gratification of passion and wrath, and so it is 
peaceable, gently reasonable, persuasive, winning its way because of mercy 
and good works, without partiality in its favours, vrith singleness of motive 
and aim ; and those who thus sow in peace, those who possessing the true 
vdsdom make for peace, will have as their reward a harvest of righteousness. 

III. Be not many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we 

III. 1. Be not many teachers, threatened the common life of the 
R.V., i.e. Rabbis. A.V. 'masters,' Christian brotherhood. Perhaps it 
whicli formerly = teachers (cf Mai. ii. may be fairly said that nowhere was 
12); cf. Hastings'/).^., 'Master.' 'Do the separation of faith and works 
not become many (of you) teachers ' likely to be more frequent or more 
is perhaps best. The excessive eager- ofl"ensive than in that arising from 
ness to gain the office of teacher or vain and empty speech on the part 
rather Rabbi may be connected with of men who, while claiming to be 
the same excessive estimation of instructors of the foolish, 'say and 
mere external orthodoxy above moral do not.' It should also be borne in 
practice. In i. 19, 26, the danger mind that the wi-iter had just been 
had been referred to, and the author speaking of some glaring evils con- 
now proceeds to enlarge upon it in nected with the religious life of the 
estimating the various sins which 'assembly,' ii. 2, and it is therefore 

III. 1, 2] 



2 shall receive ^heavier judgement. 

1 Gr. greater. 

For in many things we 

reasonable to suppose that the dis- 
cussion of a further and a kindred 
evil would follow, an evil rife in the 
Jewish synagogues, the eagerness to 
be called of men Rabbi, If we re- 
gard them from this point of view 
the words may become a testimony 
to the early date of the Epistle, and 
to the likelihood that the writer not 
only had Jewish-Christians in mind, 
but also our Lord's words in Matt. 
xxiii. 8, or some similar warning. 
Jewish literature itself contains pas- 
sages in which, whilst the excessive 
honour paid to the Rabbi is recorded, 
there is also evidence that the 
warning of St James was not out 
of place : the fear of the Rabbi was 
sometimes placed on a level with the 
fear of God ; the scholar who con- 
troverts his Rab is as if he contro- 
verted the Shekinah ; he who engages 
in strife with his Rab is as if he 
engaged in strife with the Shekinah ; 
but Abtalion said, 'Ye wise, be 
guarded in your words ; perchance 
ye may incur the debt of exile, and 
be exiled to the place of evil waters ; 
and the disciples that come after 
you may drink and die, and the 
Name of Heaven be profaned' 
(Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, 
Dr Taylor, cf. pp. 14, 19, and 71 )^ 
The picture of the ideal repre- 
sentative of the study of wisdom 
is drawn for us in Ecclus. xxxix. 
1-11, and the honour with which 
such study was rewarded : cf Testa- 
ments of the xii. Patriarchs, Levi 13, 

wliere the man who teaches and 
practises wisdom is described as a 
sharer in the throne of the king. 
'Teachers' are mentioned early in 
the Church, and the title may have 
passed into it from its earlier Jewish 
use : cf. Acts xiii. 1 ; 1 Cor. xii. 28 ; 
Eph. iv, 11 ; Didache, xiii. 2, xv. 1. 

weshallreceiveheamer judgement, 
R.V., and in A.V. marg. 'judgment.' 
The word translated 'judgment' is 
in itself a neutral word, but it is 
used for the most part in the N.T. 
to express an adverse judgment : cf. 
Mark xii. 40 ; Luke xx. 47. In these 
two passages in the Gospels the 
form of the phrase is very similar to 
that employed here by St James, 
and we may have again as it were 
an echo in the Epistle of our Lord's 
words. There is of course no need 
to find here any more than in 
Rom. xiii. 2, or in 1 Cor. xi. 29, any 
reference to eternal punishment. 
The gi-aver the responsibility as a 
teacher, the heavier the judgment 
incurred before God, i.e. in com- 
parison with those who were only 
hearers 2. Although St James as- 
sociates himself with other teachers 
as one of themselves, and although 
his exhortation is marked by the 
affectionate recollection that he was 
writing to his brethren, yet the 
severer aspect of the subject is not 
forgotten, and here as in ii. 12, 13, 
v. 9, 12, the sterner issues of judg- 
ment follow upon failure in duty. 
In this verse the Vulgate apparently 

1 See further Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, pp. 127, 137, for the high 
estimation in which both Rabbis and teachers in achools were regarded, and 
Weber, Judische Tlieologie, pp. 125 £f. 

2 The Century Bible (Bennett) refers to Portia's words, ' I can easier teach 
twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to foUow mine own 
teaching,' Merchant of Venice, Act i. 2. 



[ill. 2, S 

all stumble. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is 

3 a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. Now if 

we put the horses' bridles into their mouths, that they may 

as an emendation reads the second 
person instead of the first person 

2, For in many things tee all 
stumble, R.V.; cf. ii. 10. The verb 
has sometimes been taken to denote 
the lesser sins, the weaknesses of 
daily life, since the Apostle in his 
humility of mind does not hesitate 
to acknowledge such offences in 
himself. But it is not necessai7 to 
press this, and we have here pro- 
bably a truth witnessed to not only 
in heathen literature, but in the 
O.T. and other Jewish writings : cf 

1 Kings viii. 46 ; Prov. x. 19, xx. 9 ; 
Eccles. V. 1, vii. 20. Reference may 
be further made to such passages as 

2 Esdras viii. 35, ' For in truth there 
is no man among them that be born 
but he hath dealt wickedly.' Taking 
the words thus generally, the writer 
means that as in any case we are 
guilty of so many stumbles it is 
specially inadvisable to strive am- 
bitiously to enter upon such a pro- 
vince as that of teaching, in which it 
was most of all difficult to keep free 
from guilt. That the Jews were 
themselves aware of this danger is 
plainly seen : ' Simeon his son (i.e. 
of Gamaliel I.) said. All my days I 
have grown up amongst the wise 
and have not found ought good for 
a man but silence ; not learning but 
doing is the groundwork ; and whoso 
multiplies words occasions sin.' So 
too R. Akiba could write 'a fence 
to wisdom is silence,' Sayings of the 
Jewish Fathers, i. 17, and iii. 20. 

If any stumbleth not in word, i.e. 
not only the word of teaching and 
exhortation, but in the sense of 
i 19 J cf. vv. 9, 10, of speech in 

general. In Ecclus. xix. 16 we read 
'and who is he that hath not sinned 
with his tongue V 

a perfect man. See note on i 4. 
The same word was used of Abraham, 
Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 10; of Noah, 
Gen. vi. 9, vii. 1, Ecclus. xliv. 17, 
where he is called 'perfect and 
righteous'; of Moses, Philo, Leg. 
Alley, i. 23 (Mang. r. 83). Here the 
man may be described as perfect 
inasmuch as he has accomplished 
the most difficult moral task. Bishop 
Westcott after pointing out that the 
full-gi'own man is 'perfect' as com- 
pared with the child, the disciplined 
Christian is 'perfect' as compared 
with the uninstructed convert, adds 
that 'there is also an ideal com- 
pleteness answering to man's con- 
stitution in his power of self-control, 
James iii. 2, in his love for his fellows, 
Matt. V. 48,' Hebrews, p. 135. 

able to bridle the whole body also. 
See i. 26. The verb suggests the 
succeeding comparison, quite in the 
author's cliaracteristic manner; able 
etc. because he who has accomplished 
the most difficult task can accom- 
plish all others, i.e. can bridle all 
other members of his body since he 
has bridled his tongue; cf. v. 6, where 
the tongue is mentioned ' among our 
members.' Other interpretations, 
which would regard the words ' the 
whole body' %?,=tota vita, the whole 
hfe, or = the company of believers, 
are quite beside the mark. 

3. Now if we put obey us, etc. 

In R.V. these words mark the pro- 
tasis, and then follows the apodosis 

we turn about also: 'if we put 

the bridle into the horses' mouths to 
make them obey us, by so doing we 

III. 3, 4] 



4 obey us, we turn about their m hole body also. Behold, the 
ships also, though they are so great, and are driven by 
rough winds, are yet turned about by a very small rudder, 

obtain the obedience not of their 
head only, but of their whole body ; 
in the same manner, he who can rule 
his tongiie can rule his whole self.' 
In some such way as this the meaning 
of the writer maybe fairly expressed, 
and there is no need to make the 
whole verse into the protasis and 
then to suppose an aposiopesis (i.e. 
a breaking off of the sentence as in 
Luke xix. 42 ; Mark vii 1 1 ; Acts 
xxiii. 9), as if the wi-iter would say 

'now if and so rule their whole 

body ' — so we must also do the same, 
ie. place a bridle upon our tongues 
and so morally control our whole 
body. Such an aposiopesis does not 
seem at all natural, and the instances 
cited above are certainly not similar 
to the supposed instance in the 
passage under consideration. The 
reading of A. V. (with which cf. vv. 4, 5) 
undoubtedly makes very good sense, 
' Behold, in horses we use the bit for 
the purpose of making them obey, 
and thus control their whole body,' 
but not only ms. authority but also 
its difBculty would seem to decide 
for the reading in R.V.^ 

the horses' bridles, etc., R.V. This 
rendering follows the connection of 
the Greek words, but in all other 
E.V. we have 'the horses' mouths': 
cf. Psalm xxxii. 9, 'bridles'; in A.V. 
'bits' (Vulg. frena). R.V. is more 
natural as taking up the word of the 
preceding verse 'to bridle.' The 
noun rendered 'bridle' is used es- 
pecially for the bit of a bridle, but 
sometimes also for a bridle or rein. 

A very similar phrase to that here 
used occurs in Aelian, Var. Hist. 
IX. 16, and for the thought see further 
next verse, and cf. Soph. Antig. 483. 

Philo speaks of the easy way in 
which the horse, the most spirited of 
animals, is led when bridled, De 
Mundi Opif. p. 19 e. 

4. Behold. The word perhaps 
marks little more than a vivid trans- 
ition, but its frequent use in this 
short Epistle (cf. v. 6, v. 4, 7, 9, 11) 
is characteristic of a Hebrew vvTiter 
familiar with the O.T., where a word 
of the same meaning so often com- 
mences a sentence. 

also, or perhaps 'even.' It is 
simpler perhaps to regard this verse 
as continuing the thought, and not 
introducing a fresh comparison, al- 
though it is sometimes maintained 
that in v. 3 the writer by the imagery 
of the bridle in the mouth points to 
the tongue as the member which the 
teacher ought to control, whilst here 
and in vv. 5, 6, he points rather to 
the terribly destructive power of the 
tongue, and to the destructive might 
of the small over the great. 

so great, opposed to ' a very small 
rudder.' For the general imagery 
cf. Enoch, ci. 4, ' And see ye not the 
sailors of the ships, how their ships 
are tossed to and fro by the waves, 
and are shaken by the winds, and 
are in sore trouble ? ' 

rough ninds, R.V. ; 'fierce,' A.V., 
so Tynd. (seems applicable rather to 
persons and as if the word had an 
ethical meaning). Vulg. has validi, 

^ In this verse the reading! of A.V. is strongly supported by Mayor, but R.V. 
can refer to W.H., and amongst recent commenutors to von Soden and 

72 JAMES [III. 4, 5 

5 whither the impulse of the steersman willeth. So the 

'strong winds.' For the adj. as ap- 
plied to winds parallels may be found 
in Aelian, De Animal, v. 13, ix. 14, 
and possibly in lxx. Pro v. xxvii. 16, 
but the meaning there is doubtful 
The difficulty of ' turning about ' the 
ships is thus indicated by their great- 
ness and by the kind of winds neces- 
sary to turn them ; and so the might 
of the small rudder is doubly em- 

are yet turned about. St James in 
his characteristic manner takes up 
the same verb as he used in o. 3; 
cf. i 13, 14, ii. 14, 16, 21, 25. 

rudder, R.V., andso generally here. 
In A.V. 'helm,' so Tynd., but in Acts 
xxvii. 40 'rudder' as here. The 
helm, although properly only the 
handle of the rudder, was often used 
as in poetry for the whole. 

the impulse of the steersman. The 
word translated 'impulse' is often 
found in classical Greek of the im- 
pulse or eagerness to do a thing, so 
too in Stoic phraseology of the move- 
ments of the mind. Probably in 
the only other passage in which the 
word occurs in the N.T., Acts xiv. 5, 
it should be similarly taken of im- 
pulse or eagerness to assault, not of 
the assault itself, as it is clear that 
this did not actually take place. So 
here it signifies the desire or eager- 
ness of the steersman. Others how- 
ever would take it of something 
external, of the pressure of the hand 
on the tiller, on the ground that it 
is only by this external pressure that 
the steersman actually 'turns about' 
the ship. For the former meaning see 
especially Trench, Syno7iyms, ii. p. 
162. In A.V. the word is altogether 
omitted. It is possible to take the 
word ' impulse ' as referring both to 
the external and internal (as Corn, 

k Lapide appears to have taken 

the steersman, R.V. ; in A.V. with 
Genev., so Tynd., Cranm., Rhem., 
'governor,'which meantin itsprimary 
sense the pilot or steersman of a ship. 
In the two passages where ' rudder ' 
occurs Wycl. has 'governayle.' 

In the original the word for 'steers- 
man' is not the word used specially 
for the professional steersman, but 
simply a participle 'he who directs,' 
indicating that anyone who has com- 
mand of the rudder can influence 
the movement of the ship. So in 
Philo the same verb is used of 
directing a ship. 

With regard to the imagery of 
the verse, the two figures of the 
horse and the ship and of their con- 
trol by the bit and the helm are 
found closely combined by Philo, De 
Agricult. 15 (Mang. i. 311); so too 
in Flaccum, 5 (Mang. ii. 521); cf. 
passage in Soph, above, Antig. 332ff. ; 
Plutarch De Poet. aud. p. 33 ; and 
Theoph. Simoc. Ep. 70. In the last- 
named passage the bridle and whip 
in the one comparison, and the sail 
and anchor in the other, are likened 
to the means taken to direct the 
tongue by speech or by silence. 

In this connection reference may 
be made to a passage in Arist. Quaest. 
mech. 5, wherein the writer speaks 
of the rudder, which is small but has 
such great power that by its little 
helm and by the gentle pressure of 
one man the great bulk of the ship 
can be moved (cf. Lucret. iv. 899). 

5. The tongue is a small member, 
the rudder is a very small part of the 
ship, but as the latter controls the 
whole vessel, so the tongue though 
small can control the whole nature 
of the man. The epithet 'little' 

III. 5, 6] 



tongue also is a little member, and boasteth gi'eat things. 

Behold, ^how much wood is kindled by how small a fire ! 

6 And the tongue is ^a fire : ^the world of iniquity among 

^ Or, how great a forest ^ Or, a fire, that world of iniquity : the tongue 

is among our members that which dc. * Or, that world of iniquity, the tongue, 
is among our members that which d'c. 

refers back to the preceding 'very 
small rudder.' 

boasteth great things; not meant 
to express an empty boast, as the 
whole passage is intended to empha- 
sise the reality of the power pos- 
sessed by the tongue. The tongue 
though 'little' boasteth 'great' things 
— the contrast is again marked. If 
the expression is read as two words 
in the original, as in R.V. and W.H., 
the verb is only found here in the 
N.T. It does not occur at all in the 
Lxx. But as one word it is found 
four times in the lxx, of haughtiness 
of character and bearing; cf. Psalms 
xii. 3, Ixxiii. 8, 9. 

hoto much wood is kindled by 
hoiD small a fire ! R.V. text. This 
rendering, or the marg. how great a 
forest etc., gives a better and clearer 
meaning to the original word than 
'matter,' A.V., for the latter term 
as probably used here by our trans- 
lators must be regarded as archaic. 
Bacon advises to 'take away the 
matter ' of seditions, ' for if there be 
fuell prepared, it is hard to tell 
whence the spark shall come that 
shall set it on fire,' Essay 15 (Skeat, 
'Glossary of Bible Words'); in Ec- 
clus. xxviii. 10 the word 'matter' is 
similarly used, 'as the matter (i.e. 
fuel) of the fire is, so it burneth,' 
A. v., although it is of course possible 
that the word may be used to denote 
materials of any kind (cf. the Latin 
materia which primarily = timber). 
The rendering 'matter' is also liable 
to be mistaken for one of the deri- 

vative meanings of the original Greek 
word, viz. the subject-matter of an 
argument or discussion. On the 
whole it seems best to retain the 
primary sense of the original noun 
and to translate it 'forest' with RV. 
marg. The vivid and graphic imagery 
of the fire consuming the forest is 
quite characteristic of St James, and 
it may have been suggested by such 
passages as Psal. Ixxxii. 14 ; Isaiah 
ix. 18, X, 16-18; Zech. xii. 6 (cf 
also Psahns of Sol. xii. 2 ; Apoc. of 
Baruch, xxxvi. 10, xxxvii.). The 
contrast between the smallness of a 
spark and the greatness of the confla- 
gration which it caused was common 
both in Jewish literature (cf its use 
in Philo) and in classical, both Greek 
and Latin : cf. e.g. Phokylides, 144, 
'from a spark a vast wood is set 
on fire.' According to the reading 
adopted both by R.V. and W.H. the 
same word is rendered in this verse 
in two different ways, 'how great,' 
'how small,' but the change in mean- 
ing is determined by the context, 
and, like the Latin word quantus, 
the Greek word may have both mean- 
ings. The Vulg. translates 'how 
great' in each place, but the verb 
'kindles' shows that the smallness 
of the fire in its beginning is referred 
to, and not the greatness of it in its 
ultimate spread. 

6. The two punctuations should 
be carefully noted. If we render 'the 
tongue is a fire, a (that) world of 
iniquity,' so A.V. and R.V. marg., 
the expression 'world of iniquity' 



[III. 6 

may be taken to mean the sum total 
of iniquity. The passage often quoted 
in support of this explanation, Prov. 
xvii. 6, is however of doubtful mean- 
ing, although it is remarkable that 
the expression 'the whole world of 
wealth' is found with the mention 
of sins of speech in the immediate 
context. A clearer parallel may be 
found in the use in Latin of such 
words as mare, oceanus, to express 
the totality of anything. If we adopt 
the punctuation of R.V. and W.H. 
we may render 'the tongue is a fire ; 
the world of iniquity among our mem- 
bers is the tongue,' etc., i.e. among 
our members, in our microcosm, the 
tongue represents, or constitutes, the 
unrighteous world, just as in Luke 
xvi. 9 we have 'the mammon of 
unrighteousness ' = the unrighteous 
mammon ; and the tongue may well 
be called 'a world of iniquity,' be- 
cause it defiles 'the whole body.' 
If the words are thus explained 
there does not seem to be any force 
in the objection that a confusion of 
metaphors is introduced, inasmuch 
as there is no world among our mem- 
bers ! Moreover, this interpretation 
would be quite in accordance vdth 
the language of St James elsewhere. 
He tells us here that the tongue, 
the world of iniquity, 'defiles' the 
whole body ; so in i. 27, ' the world ' 
(the same word in the Greek, cf. iv. 4) 
is represented as that which 'defiles' 
a mau\ 

An attempt has been made, both 
in ancient and modern times, to 
render the word ' world ' by another 

meaning which sometimes attaches 
to it, viz. ornament, embellishment ; 
as if the tongue decked out iniquity 
by its words, and so concealed the 
real grossness of evil. But in the 
passage which is often cited for 
this rendering, 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4, the 
context supports it, whilst here it 
cannot be said to do so with the 
same clearness, and the usage of 
St James elsewhere (cf. i. 27, iv. 4) 
points to the meaning adopted botli 
in A. and R.V. Grammatically the 
word when rendered 'adornment' 
never expresses that which adorns 
in an active sense (the meaning 
required here) but rather that by 
which a person or thing is adorned^. 
In Jewish literature as indeed in 
most literatures, the tongue and its 
words were often likened to a fire, 
Psalm cxx. 4 ; Prov. xvi. 27 ; 
Ecclus. xxviii. 10-15, 21-23. There 
is also a striking passage in Psalms 
of Solomon, xii. 2-4 (Ryle and 
James's trans.) : ' The words of the 
tongue of the evil man are for the 
accomplishment of frowardness: even 
as fire in a threshing-floor that burn- 
eth up the straw thereof, so is his 
sojourning among men : that he may 
set fire to houses vA'da. his lying 
tongue, and cut down the trees of 
gladness with the flame of his wicked 
tongue, and put to confusion the 
houses of the wicked by kindling 
strife with slanderous lips.' And in 
a Rabbinical passage, cited amongst 
others by Spitta, from Midr. Vay- 
yikra r. par. 16, we have a very 
close likeness to the words of St 

^ The Syriac Version renders ' the tongue is the fire, the world of iniquity is 
as the wood,' the forest which the fire consumes; but this is quite inconsistent 
with the general thought of the passage. 

2 For an able defence of this rendering, which is that of Oecnmenius and 
Wetsteiu amongst others, see Carr, ' Cambridge Greek Test.' in loco. Other 
commentators, amongst whom Spitta may be mentioned, would dismiss 'the 
tongue is a fire' etc. as not genuine, but there is no tenable ground for this 
arbitrary omission of the words. 

III. 6] 



our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole 
body, and setteth on fire the wheel of hiature, and is set on 

^ Or, birth 

James, 'what mighty fires the tongue 
kindles ! ' 

is afire; better perhaps 'maketh 
itself a fire ' ; it was not so ' made ' 
by God; cf. iv. 4, where the same 
verb occurs in the original. 

the wheel of nature. If we could 
take the word rendered ' nature ' in 
the sense of 'birth' (cf.i.23), we might 
render ' the wheel of human origin,' 
which as soon as men are bom begins 
to run, i.e. the course of human life ; 
so apparently R.V. marg., and from 
this point of view parallels to the 
words of St James have been found 
in Greek and Latin literature. Thus 
Anacreon, iv. 7, speaks of life rolling 
on Uke the wheel of a chariot, and 
Silius Italicus, vi. 120, describes the 
wheel of life rolling down the steep 
descent. It is not therefore surpris- 
ing that in what has been called the 
earliest extant commentary on this 
verse of St James, Isidore of Pelu- 
sium, ii. 158, should explain the 
words before us of the temporal 
course of life which is likened by 
St James to a wheel because like a 
wheel it revolves in a circle. So again 
elsewhere, iv. 1, in commenting on 
the same expression, Isidore remarks 
that the shape of a circle, of a crown, 
of a wheel is the same, and the Scrip- 
ture speaks in one place of the crown 
of the year, and in another passage 
of the wheel of life. Others however 
would interpret the words of the 
endless succession of men as they 
are born one after another, an inter- 
pretation similar to that of the Syriac 
which renders ' tlie succession of our 
generations, which nms as a wheel.' 
But this explanation appears to be 
foreign to the context in which the 

wi'iter speaks of 'the whole body' 
as if he had in mind not so much 
generations as the individual life. 
Another explanation which is per- 
haps more worthy of consideration 
would take the words of the circle 
of creation, the orb or totahty of 
creation ; cf. Gen. ii. 4 ; Wisd. i. 14, 
xiii. 3, 5 ; and also Plato, Tim. 29, 
where the word is apparently used 
of all created things. This rendering 
may receive support from the pos- 
sible translation of the same word 
in i. 23, ' the face wherewith he was 
created,' and also from the context 
here, as in the connecting particle 
' for ' the writer takes up as it were 
the details of creation, arguing that 
all are tameable except the tongue. 
But, as was pointed out above, the 
context seems to be concerned, not 
with the details of creation, but 
rather with the sphere of the indi- 
vidual human life. Moreover, the 
word under discussion need not be 
confined in meaning to the inani- 
mate creation, as it is undoubtedly 
used in a more general sense. Thus 
in Plato, Rep. viii. 525 b, the same 
word is used when the philosopher 
is bidden to rise above the changing, 
and to cling to that which is real. 
In Philo the word is of frequent 
occurrence, sometimes no doubt as 
meaning the creation, but sometimes 
as expressing human existence in 
general. So in Wisd. vii. 5, the same 
word is used of 'life' in general, and 
in Judith xii. 18 of the entire life. 
With these considerations before us, 
the word ' wheel ' in this connection 
may be used to emphasise the in- 
cessantly changing nature of this 
human existence, the mciaphor be- 



[HI. 6, 7 

7 fire by hell. For every ^kind of beasts and birds, of creep- 

1 Gr. nature. 

ing taken fi-om the thought of a 
■wheel in motion ; or reference may be 
made merely to the shape of a wheel 
at rest, as denoting the circle, the 
sphere of human life ; the tongue 
would then represent the axle, from 
which as from a central fire the whole 
wheel is set in a blaze. But it is 
perhaps allowable to combine the 
two thoughts, and to regard human 
existence with all its constant move- 
ment as compared to a revolving 
wheel set on fire from the axle, i.e. 
by the tongue \ 

It seems quite fanciful to see in 
the phrases before us a knowledge 
of, or a reference to, the Orphic 
mysteries, and to Orphic views of 
metempsychosis. The whole context 
is against any such notion, and it is 
impossible to trace any connection 
between the Orphic doctrines and 
the destroying power of the tongue. 
Both words were in use in Jewish 
literature. It has been recently 
suggested, Century Bible, in loco, 
that the phrase ' the wheel of nature ' 
may possibly be an awkward attempt 
of St James to represent in Greek 
some Aramaic phrase for 'natural 
impulses' or 'passions,' but in view 
of the use of the words as traced 
above, it hardly seems necessary to 
fall back upon this supposition. 

setteth on fire... and is set on fire. 
In each case the present participle 
is used in the original, as of pei-petual 
action. We may note again the 
characteristic of St James in taking 
up as it were and repeating the 

same word. The verb is foimd only 
here in the N.T. but it occurs in 
Exod. ix. 24 ; Ps. xcvii. 3 ; Ecclus. 
iii. 30 ; 1 Mace. iii. 5 ; and similarly 
in classical writers. The word is 
also used in Psalms of Solomon, 
xii. 3, of the flame of a wicked 

hy hell, i.e. by Gehenna ; only here 
outside the Gospels in the N.T. The 
word and the thought mark a 
Jewish writer. In Ecclus. xxviii. 
10 fi"., often referred to in connection 
with the present passage, and in 
which the same two similes of fire 
and water are found in relation to 
disputes, we read, v. 23, ' Such as 
forsake the Lord shall fall into it 
(the flame), and it shall bum in 
them, and not be quenched.' And 
if we entertain some of the sus- 
picions which have sometimes been 
raised against this part of the verse 
in Ecclus., as by Dr Edersheim in 
the Speaker'' s Commentary, refer- 
ence may be made to the language 
of Isaiah Ixvi. 24, concerning the 
unquenchable fire of Gehenna, and 
to the language of Psalms of Solo- 
mon, xii. 5, 'let the slanderous 
tongue perish from among the saints 
in flaming fire.' 

In Ecclus. xxviii. 13 the Syriac 
has ' Also the third tongue let it be 
cursed, for it has laid low many 
corpses,' and Dr Edersheim, in com- 
menting on the verse, points out 
that the expression 'the third tongue' 
is of post-Biblical Jewish usage, and 
that its designation is expressed by 

^ It should be noted that iu the original the same word may be rendered 
either course or xvheel according as the accent is placed on the tirst or second 
syllable. In the present case there can be no doubt as to the predominance of 
authorities in favour of the second rendering, but sometimes the two renderings 
run into one another, as in the former part of the above comment. 

III. 7] 



ing things and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been 

this, that it kills three, the person 
who speaks the calumny, the jjerson 
who listens to it, and the person 
conceniing whom it is spoken. The 
same wi-iter recalls the Talmudic 
legend, with which we may compare 
the language of St James in v. 8 
below; according to it, in reply to 
a question by R. Samuel b. Nachman, 
the serpent explains that if its 
poisonous bite in one member ex- 
tends to all the members, a calum- 
nious tongue speaks in one place 
and its killing stroke falls in Rome, 
or else it speaks in Rome and its 
stroke falls in Syria. 

It is noteworthy that whilst in the 
passages from the O.T. and Apocry- 
pha the injury done by the tongue 
to others is insisted upon, the repre- 
sentation of the tongue as defiling 
the man himself, his whole body, is 
peculiar to St James, although he 
does not forget the other mischievous 
eflFects of the felon tongue. 

Wetstein tells the stoi-y of the 
servant who was bidden by his 
master to procure, in the first place, 
good food from the market, and, 
in the second place, bad food. On 
each occasion the servant brought 
back a tongue. And when his master 
asked the reason, the servant re- 
plied : ' From the tongue both good 
and evil results to man. If it is 
good, nothing is better ; if it is evil, 
nothing is worse.' 

7. It is perhaps best, and at all 
events simplest, to see in these words 
a proof adduced by the writer in 
support of his statement as to the 
exceeding mischief emanating from 
the tongue, a mischief begotten of a 
more than human agency. 

every kind, A.V. and R.V. text ; 
'kind' in its old meaning, 'nature,' 

cf. R.V. marg., and this may well 
have been intended by our trans- 
lators. Wycl. had 'kind' in this 
archaic sense, and A.V. followed him 
here; other intermediate English 
Versions rendering 'nature.' So 
too below, ' by mankind' - ' by the 
human nature,' R.V. marg. We may 
compare the expression of the Litany, 
'kindly fruits ' = natural, and for a 
similar use of the word 'kind,' Shake- 
speare, Tempest, ii. 1. 167. 

For the classification which follows, 
cf. Lxx, Gen. i. 26, ix. 2; 1 Kings 
iv. 33 ; and a similar classification of 
living creatures is given by Philo, 
M. 2, pp. 352 foil. The nearest parallel 
is that of Gen. ix. 2, where the same 
Greek word, which is here rendered 
' beasts,' seems to be used for quad- 
I'upeds in what evidently purports 
to be an exhaustive classification. 
It was to be expected that of the two 
words commonly translated ' beasts ' 
in A.V. (but not in R.V., cf. Rev. iv. 
6-9) St James would use in the 
present connection the one most 
expressive of the mischievous and 
brutal element. With the O.T. p;\s- 
sages cf. Ecclus. xvii. 4, 'and he 
put the fear of man upon all flesh, 
and gave him dominion over beasts 
and fowls,' and also Acts x. 12, xi. 6 
(but in the latter 'the wild beasts' 
appear to be distinguished from ' the 
quadrupeds ') ; see Trench, iSyn. ii. 
p. 142. 

creeping things, R.V. ; this is the 
literal trans, of the Greek word 
which through the Latin serpo is 
rendered in A.V. and so in the 
Vulg. by 'serpents.' In classical 
Greek the word is no doubt liscd 
chiefly of serpents, althougli also of 
any sort of animals, but in Biblical 
Greek it is opposed to quadrupeds 



[in. 7-9 

8 tamed ^by ^ mankind : but the tongue can no man tame ; it 

9 is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. Therewith 

1 Or, u7ito 2 Gr. the human nature. 

and birds (Acts x. 12, xi. 16 ; Rom. i 
23), and here also to marine animals. 

things in the sea; not found in 
Lxx, and only here in N.T., often in 
classical Greek with the same mean- 
ing. We may include in this passage 
not only fish but all that live in the 
waters, and thus it may be joined to 
'creeping things,' because some of 
these are amphibious, beasts and 
birds being coupled together as the 
nobler orders. 

is tamed; only once elsewhere in 
the N.T. of the demoniac, whom no 
man had strength to tame, Mark v. 4. 
The verb is used of horses in classical 
Greek, and so too by Galen, and by 
Strabo of elephants. And hath been 
tamed. The two tenses should be 
noted ; man's dominion was no new 
fact although it was freshly illus- 
trated day by day. 

by mankind^ R.V., or better still, 
by the human nature^ if we may 
combine text and marg., i.e. in con- 
trast to the nature of the animal 
world (cf. Xen. Mem. i. 4. 14, where 
the same Greek word is used of man 
excelling in nature, in body, in soul). 
For this dignity of man's nature in 
exercising such control we naturally 
refer to Gen. i. 26, ix. 2; Psalm 
viii. 6-8 : with these we may com- 
pare Philo, De Mund. Opif. M. i. 
p. 20, where we read that all things 
whatsoever in the three elements, 
earth, water, air, are subjected to 
man. From classical writers parallels 
are cited in abundance ; the most 
striking is tliat in Soph. Antig. 332ff., 
where in one or two verses a verbal 
likeness to the passage before us 
may be found; cf also Seneca, De 
Benef. ii. 29, where the strongest 

animals and everything mortal are 
described as under the yoke of man ; 
and to the same effect Cicero, De 
Nat. Deorum, ii. 60, 61. 

8. hut the tongue can no man 
tame; the same verb repeated in 
accordance with the characteristic 
style of the writer, lit. 'no one of 
men can tame, not even one.' 

The comment of St Augustine is 
to be remembered, ' for he does not 
say that no one can tame the tongue, 
but no one of men ; so that when it 
is tamed we confess that this is 
brought about by the pity, the help, 
the grace of God,' De Nat. et Grat. 
c. 15. The words of St James here 
help us to understand more clearly 
what is meant in v. 2, and on the 
other hand the remarkable expres- 
sion ' the third tongue ' quoted above 
enables us to realise how the results 
of a man's speech cannot be esti- 
mated by the man himself, and that 
words once uttered pass beyond 
human control. 

it is a restless evil, R.V. In A.V, 
we have 'an unruly evil,' but this 
is a translation of another Greek 
word. The reading ' restless ' is now 
generally received, and it fits in no 
less well with the context, as if the 
tongue resembled in its restlessness 
an untameable beast; cf Vulg. in- 
quietum. The same adj. is also used 
by the wi-iter in i. 8 (and the cognate 
noun iii. 16), although somewhat 
diflFerently rendered in the transla- 
tion. In Hermas, Mand. ii. 3, the 
same word occurs, 'slander is evil; 
it is a restless demon, never at peace, 
but always having its home among 

In Isaiah liv. 11, where alone it is 

III. 9] 



bless we the Lord and Father ; and therewith curse we men, 

found in Sept., it is rendered ' tossed 
with tempest.' 

it is full of deadly poison^ R.V. 
The adj. 'deadly' only here in N.T., 
lit. 'death-bringing'; it occurs in 
Numb, xviii. 22; Job xxxiii. 23 
(doubtful meaning); 4 Mace. viii. 
18, 26, XV. 26; and so in classical 
writers. The comparison used of 
the tongue here may be illustrated 
from Pss. Iviii. 4, cxl. 3 ; Bccles. x. 11 ; 
and so too, Philo, De leg. ad Cat. 
p. 1016 B, it is said of the Egyptians 
that they mingled in their tongues 
the poison and anger of their native 
crocodiles and snakes. 

In Testaments of the xii. Patri- 
archs, Gad 6, we have the expres- 
sion 'the hatred of a diabolical 
poison fiUeth the heart,' and it is of 
interest to note that in Sib. Orac. 
proemium 70, we have a mention of 
the worship of snakes and creeping 
things as gods, ' out of whose mouth 
flows deadly poison,' where the same 
adjective is used and the same word 
for poison as in St James. Didache, 
ii. 5, also speaks of the double tongue 
as a snare of death. In classical 
writers similar thoughts often find 
expression, e.g. Lucian, Fugit. 19, 
speaks of false philosophers as having 
their mouths full of poison. 

It will be noted that R.V. twice 
uses the copula 'it is,' and this is 
bonie out by the original, where the 
change in the gender and tlie case 
in the clause ' full of deadly poison ' 
make it simpler to understand the 
word ' the tongue ' as the subject of 
both clauses. 

9. therewith, lit. ' in it,' signifying 
the instrument and means ; cf Matt. 
V. 13, ' wherewith shall it be salted ? ' 
By the repetition of the expression 
in the following clause the contrast 

here expressed is accentuated ; and 
no contrast could illustrate more 
pointedly the inconsistent nature of 
the tongue, or the vain 'religion,' 
i. 27, of the man who fails to bridle 
it. .On the evils of the double tongue 
Ecclesiasticus dwells repeatedly ; cf. 
xxviii. 9, 14, 26, and more especially 
perhaps v. 12, where the same 
twofold simile of fire and water, as 
in St James, has been noted ; in the 
same book, xxxiv. 24, the same sharp 
contrast as in the verse before us 
finds a place (although the general 
lesson is difl"erent), 'when one prayeth 
and another curseth, whose voice 
will the Lord hear ? ' In Sib. Orac. 
iii. 36, the same woe is pronounced 
upon the liars and double-tongued 
as upon those guilty of the most 
heinous offences, while Testaments 
of the Twelve Patriarchs, Benj. 6, 
describes the good mind as not 
having two tongues, one of blessing 
and the other of cursing. 

hless tee; in relation to God the 
word means to praise, to celebrate 
Him; cf Psal. cxlv. 21, where the 
same verb is used in lxx. The 
prayer which every Israelite, inclu- 
ding even women, slaves, and chil- 
dren, was called upon to repeat three 
times a day, was called the Eighteen 
Benedictions, in which each 'bene- 
diction' ended with 'Blessed art 
Thou, Lord,' etc. The word then 
was a very likely one for St James to 
use in reference to God, and more 
especially so if we adopt the reading 
' the Lord and Father,' since in this 
Jewish prayer, God is not only 
addressed in each Berachah as 
' Lord,' but three times as ' Father.' 
The Jewish-Christians whom St 
James was addressing might well 
retain their Jewish customs of 

80 JAMES [m. 9, 10 

10 which are made after the likeness of God : out of the same 

prayer, as there can be no doubt 
that the groundwork of the Eighteen 
Benedictions was of very considerable 
antiquity; see Schiirer, Jewish 
People, Div. ii. vol. ii. pp. 85, 87 ; 
Edersheim, Jewish Nation, p. 340. 
At the same time it must be re- 
membered that the Jews on uttering 
the name of God always added 
'Blessed be He.' 

It is noteworthy that St James 
in his reproof still associates himself 
with his brothers and uses the first 
person, not simply with reference to 
the teacher, cf. v. 1, but quite gene- 

the Lord and Father, R.V. (so 
W.H. wdth strong support). For the 
language, see above, and in O.T. 
1 Chvon. xxix. 10; Isaiah Ixiii. 16. 
We have also in Ecclus. xxiii. 1, 4, 
the prayer 'O Lord, Father and 
Governor of all my whole life,' where 
the writer has just been speaking of 
sins of the tongue, and we may 
ventm-e to compare the words of the 
Divine Teacher, jMatt. xi. 25. Here 
God is thought of in His sovereignty 
and in His love. 

curse tee men; commonly con- 
trasted in the original with the word 
'to bless,' Psalm Ixii. 4, cix. 28; 
Luke vi. 27; Kom. xii. 13, etc.; and 
see also above. The verb need not 
be confined in its scope to literal 

which are made after the likeness 
of God. The truth was insisted 
upon in Jewish literature, both in 
and outside the O.T. Cf. Gen. i. 26, 
27, V. 1, ix. 6 ; Ecclus. xvii. 3 ; 
Wisd. ii. 23; 2 Esdras viii. 44. The 
same teaching is found in Philo, M. i. 
pp. 16, 35, where after referring to 
the words that man was made ' after 
the image and likeness of God' he 

points out that this 'image' con- 
sisted not in external form, but in 
the possession of 'reason.' But 
perhaps the most striking commen- 
tary on the words of St James, and 
one Avhich helps us to understand 
most fully the contrast in the texts, 
is to be found not only in the words 
of R. Akiba on Gen. ix. 6, 'Whoso 
sheddeth blood, they reckon it to 
him as if he diminished the likeness,' 
Bereshith Kabbah xxiv., but also 
in the passage in which the same 
Rabbi refers to Lev. xix. 18, 'Thou 
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,' 
and adds, ' Do not say : after that 
I am despised, let my neighbour also 
be despised.' R. Tanchuma said, 
'If you do so, understand that you 
despise him of whom it was written 
"in the likeness of God made He 
him."' The lesson would therefore 
be that he that curseth curseth not 
man but God. 

This same truth that man is made 
in the image of God finds also an 
important place elsewhere in the 
N.T.; cf. 1 Cor. xi. 7; Col. iii. 10; 
Ephes. iv. 24; in each passage there 
is apparently an allusion to Gen. i. 
26, 27. Moreover, in the Didache, 
which presents so many points 
of similarity to the Epistle before 
us, in the stress laid, e.g., upon 
the thought of God as the Creator, 
we read, v. 2, of those who follow the 
way of death as 'not recognising 
Him that made them... corrupters 
of the image of God.' 

But further ; it would seem that 
Jewish literature was not forgetful 
of the additional and most important 
truth, implied in the words of St 
James, viz. that this Divine likeness 
was perpetuated, not destroyed, a 
truth emphasised in the oft-quoted 

III. 10] 



mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, 

words of Bengel, * We have lost the 
likeness of God, but an imperishable 
nobility still remains.' Thus in the 
' Book of the Generations of Adam ' 
we read : ' God created man in the 
likeness of God.... Adam begat a son 
in his own likeness after his image,' 
Gen. V. 1, 3; and then follow the 
remarks of Ramban : ' It is known 
that all that are bom of living beings 
are in the likeness and image of their 
parents ; but because Adam was 
exalted in his likeness and his image, 
for it is said of him that in the 
likeness of God made He him, it 
says expressly here that his offspring 
likewise were in that exalted like- 
ness, but it does not say this of Cain 
and Abel, not wishing to dilate upon 
them, etc' (on the whole subject, see 
Taylor, Sayings of the Fathers, 
pp. 56, 122, 158, 2nd ed.). The 
honour of humanity could thus have 
been taught by the N.T. writers as 
Jews, but as Christians theirteaching 
would be deepened and ennobled by 
the realisation of a humanity, re- 
generated by the word of truth, and 
glorified by the faith of our Lord 
Jesus Christ (i. 18, ii. 1). If that 
faith is a reality it says to us to-day, 
''Despise none; despair of none.^ 
' The Jews would not willingly tread 
upon the smallest piece of paper in 
their way, but took it up ; for possibly, 
said they, the name of God may be 
on it. Though there was a little 
superstition in this, yet truly there 
is nothing but good religion in it, if 
we apply it to man.' 'Trample not 
on any ; there may be some work 
of grace there that thou knowest 
not of. The name of God may be 
written upon that soul thou treadest 
on ; it may be a soul tliat Christ 
thought so much of, as to give His 


precious blood for it: therefore 
despise it not ' : Coleridge, ' Aids to 
Reflection,' Aphor Ixvi For classi- 
cal parallels to the assertion of the 
truth of man's likeness to God we may 
quote Xen. Mem. i. 4. 14, where men 
in comparison with all other living 
creatures are said to live as gods : 
cf. Ovid, Met. i. 82; Cicero, Tusc. 
V. 13. 

10. out of tlie same mouth, etc. 
The fatal inconsistency is again 
emphatically marked. Jewish lite- 
rature bore constant testimony 
against the evil inconsistencies of 
the tongue and their inevitable 
results ; cf Pro v. xviii, 21 ; Jalk. 
Rub. f. 120, 'whoever has a reviling 
tongue, his prayers do not ascend 
to God.' St James bids us lay stress 
upon the word the same. No man 
could be sincere in praising and 
blessing God, while he failed to 
recognise in his fellow-man the 
image of God; cf. 1 John iv. 20. 
The Apostle no doubt saw around 
him in Jerusalem those who claimed 
to be 'religious' thanking God that 
they were not as other men, while 
all the time they regarded those 
who knew not the law as ' accursed,' 
St John viL 49 (see further Introd. 
p. xxxvii.). And within the fold of 
Christ St James may have seen the 
same spirit at work, the spirit which 
broke out in tones of bitter contempt 
against those whom Peter had 
evangelised. Acts xi. 2, 3 ; the spirit 
which not only refused to tolerate, 
but which even excluded from the 
pale of salvation those who were 
uncircumcised. Acts xv. 1. 

My brethren. The familiar word 
comes in here with fresh force and 
fulness of affection — God is the 
Father, and men made in His 




[ill. 10-12 

1 1 these things ought not so to be. Doth the fountain send 

12 forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter ? can 

likeness should remember that they 
are also brothers, Mai. ii. 10. 

oxight not. The Greek word occurs 
only here in the N.T. It may be 
said to denote fitness or congruity — 
it was abnormal that a man should 
bless God in his prayers or creed, 
and yet should despise or speak 
evil of members of his own family, 
inasmuch as he and his fellow-men 
were the offspring of a common Fa- 
ther. It is significant that in Ps. cxli., 
which was sung every evening by 
the early Church, the desire of the 
Psalmist that his prayer shall be set 
forth in God's sight as the incense, 
and that the lifting up of his hands 
shall be an evening sacrifice, is 
closely followed by the petition ' Set 
a watch, Lord, before my mouth, 
and keep the door of my lips.' 

11. Doth tlie fountain. The 
article may be used for vividness, 
or to emphatically generalise the 

from the same opening, R.V. ; 
A.V. and Tynd. ' at the same place.' 
As in the verse preceding stress 
should be laid on the word Uhe 
same opening.' 

In the N.T. the word occurs only 
elsewhere in Heb. xi. 38, where 
the heroes of faith wander in caves 
and '■holes of the land.' In dis- 
cussing this latter expression Bishop 
Westcott has the interesting con- 
jecture that this may be a quota- 
tion from some familiar desciiiition, 
and he points out that the word so 
rendered as above occurs again in 
James iii. 11, with reference to 
another feature of the limestone 
rocks of Palestine; see further 
Introd. p. xxiv. 
sweet water and bitter: in the 

original the word for water is omit- 
ted, and perhaps in this way the 
contrast is even more sharply in- 
dicated, although for the general 
sense of the passage the word may 
be fairly understood. 

The word rendered * bitter ' is only 
found here in the N.T. and in v. 14, 
but it is found twice in lxx, in the 
same sense, of vdne and of water, 
Isaiah xxiv. 9, Jer. xxiii. 15, and often 
in a figurative sense. If St Jame.; 
is here alluding to the Dead Sea (see 
V. 12), its water might be described 
as really bitter, and the Greek word, 
in this verse, as well as the more 
usual word in v. 12, was sometimes 
employed of such water, as in Hero- 
dotus VII. 35 of salt water, opposed, 
as here, to sweet. 

To mark the unnaturalness of 
blessing and cursing from the same 
mouth St James is illustrating from 
monstrosities in nature which could 
only occur in the last days, the 
days of the sinners, when every- 
thing was disordered and ripe for 
destruction. Thus we read, 'And 
salt waters shall be found in the 
sweet,' 2 Esdras v. 9 ; 'And in those 
times the fruits of the earth will be 
backward and not grow in their 
season, and the fruits of the trees 
will be withheld in their season... 
and all things on earth will alter 
and not appear in their season,' 
Enoch, Ixxx. 3. 

12. The comparison of the fig- 
tree and of the vine will be familiar 
to those who thought of every Jewish 
home as having its vine and its fig- 
tree, and such illustrations would be 
quite natural to a man writing in a 
country where the fig-tree, the vine, 
and the olive abounded- 

III. 12, 13] 



a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine figs? neither 
can salt water yield sweet. 
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? let him 

But the parallel afforded to our 
Lord's own words, Matt. \ai. 16 (xii. 
33-36), Luke vi. 44, is very striking, 
and St James may well have had 
these utterances in mind. There is 
therefore no reason to suppose that 
he is borrowing from some classical 
proverbial saying, although no doubt 
some close parallels may be foimd to 
this teaching in ancient authors, as 
e.g. Arrian, Epict. ii. 20; Plut. Mor. 
492 f. So Seneca, Epist. 87, writes 
that evil is not derived from good, 
any more than a fig-tree from an 
olive. It is of course quite possible 
that our Lord Himself may have 
been employing some proverbial 
figure in common use to bring home 
His Divine teaching. 

can a Jig tree ? i.e. is it able ? It 
has sometimes been supposed that 
St James, having first expressed 
something unnatural, would now 
express something impossible. But 
the general lesson in each case is 
the same, viz. that nothing can 
produce anji,hing contrary to its 
nature; 'like root, like fruit,' this 
was for St James a fundamental 
law, as it has been called, of nature 
and of grace. 

neither can salt water yield 
su-eet, R.V.^ The sentence reads as 
if a negative clause not only in 
meaning but in form had preceded. 
The words of blessing and of cursing 
could proceed out of the same mouth, 
but if so, the former would in such a 

case be only vain and unmeaning, 
while bitterness was nourished in 
the heart. Everything in nature 
continues this day according to God's 
ordinance, and all things serve Him; 
man alone would pervert that order 
in the endeavour to unite what God 
and nature had put asunder. 

It is noticeable that the Greek 
word rendered 'salt' is frequently 
used in the O.T. for the Dead Sea, 
which is never so called in the Bible, 
but most frequently (nine times) the 
'Sea of Salt.' 

13. Who is wise and under- 
standing, etc. The words might 
naturally be referred to the re- 
quirements and qualifications of a 
teacher, but at the same time the 
wisdom to be aimed at is not 
regarded as the possession of the 
teacher alone but of every true 

For a similar combination of the 
two adjectives see Deut. i. 13, iv. 6; 
Hosea xiv. 9. 

St James is writing to men who 
placed a high value upon wisdom, 
while they were in danger of for- 
getting its true worth and meaning. 
More wisdom more scholars, said 
Hillel {Sayings of the Fathers, ii. 8), 
but there are passages in the same 
collection which may fairly represent 
dangers similar to, if not the same 
as, those with which St James was 
conversant. Such sayings, e.g., as 
'whosesoever fear of sin precedes 

1 This more conoise reading appears to be that from which other readings 
like that of A.V. are derived. It is adopted by nearly all modern editors, 
and is supported by Old Latin and Vulgate, as well as by the weight of 
Greek mss. But the passage presents such difficulties that Blass regards it 
as corrupt. 




[ill. 13 

shew by his good life his works in meelniess of wisdom. 

his wisdom, his wisdom stands,' or 
' whosesoever works are in excess of 
his wisdom, his wisdom stands,' u. s. 
iii. 12-14, show that 'the wise,' to 
whom reference is so constantly 
made, might forget the foundation 
of their wisdom or allow it to be- 
come barren and void. But our 
Lord's own words, Matt. xi. 25 (cf. 
St Paul's warning in 1 Cor. i. 18), 
in which He thanks His Father for 
revealing unto babes what He had 
hidden from ' the wise and prudent,' 
are sufficient to show that St James 
may have been well aware of a danger 
which Christ so clearly recognised, 
and the words before us read as 
an echo of the phrase used by our 
Many attempts have been made 
to distinguish between the two words 
'wise' and 'understanding.' The 
former word is used of those who 
are skilled and expert, of those who 
are wise in the sense of learning, like 
the Jewish theologians ; St James 
if he has this latter sense in mind, 
as is probable, explains the word on 
its practical side, as of one whose 
life is ruled by the time wisdom: 
'understanding' in classical Greek 
is used of one having the knowledge 
of an expert, a specialist, so that the 
former word may relate to the pos- 
session of wisdom as such, and the 
latter to its ai^plication to the 
practical details of life ; but it is 
very doubtful how far any precise 
distinction can be maintained, or 
how far it was intended by the 

by his good life. The word trans- 
lated 'life' as in R.V. is in A.V. 
'conversation,' a term which in its 
primary sense meant conduct, man- 
ner of life (Ut. a turning hither and 

thither, a turning one's self about, 
so in Vulg. conversatio, from which 
the A.V. rendering may be derived). 
The translation 'conversation' is never 
used in A.V. to express conversation 
in its limited sense amongst our- 
selves, but as the wider sense has 
become archaic the R.V, render- 
ing is fully justified ; cf. amongst 
other passages Ps. 1. 23 ; Job iv. 14 ; 
Gal. i, 13; 1 Pet. i. 15. In Bunyan's 
Pilgrimls Progress we have an 
illustration of the word in its 
primary sense, 'your conversation 
gives this your mouth-profession 
the lye ' (Hastings' B. D. ; see 
also Smith's B. D.\ 'Conversation.' 
The word rendered ' good ' is rather 
'beautiful, noble'; cf. ii. 7, iv. 17; 
1 Pet. ii. 12 ; it is expressive of that 
which is ideal, perfect, or, at least, 
attractive to others; cf. John x. 11. 
his works in meekness of wisdom, 
R.V. St James does not say simply, 
'let him show his wisdom,' but he 
introduces two of his favourite tenns, 
'works '...'meekness,' not words but 
deeds, and deeds done in meekness 
of wisdom, not as in A.V. '■with 
meekness,' as if of some quality in- 
serted over and above, but as of 
that which is characteristic of true 
wisdom, and the possession of which 
is a proof of the existence of such 
vdsdom. St James may well have 
had in mind Ecclus. xix. 20 (especi- 
ally as the same passage affords a 
somewhat close likeness to the teach- 
ing of i. 22, 25 supra), 'all wisdom 
is fear of the Lord, and in all 
wisdom there is doing ; and wisdom 
is not knowledge of wickedness' 
(the word for 'knowledge' being 
the cognate noun of the adjective 
translated 'understanding' in the 
opening question of this verse). With 

III. 14] 



14 But if ye have bitter jealousy and faction in your heart, 

the teaching of St James here it is 
interesting to compare Ecclus. iii. 
17 flF., Didache, iii. 2, 5, 7-9, for 
some closely similar thoughts. 

'Life '...'works,' in the former the 
general manifestation, and in the 
latter the particular results. 

14. But if ye have. Probably St 
James had in mind members of the 
Church who showed themselves with- 
out wisdom, inasmuch as they were 
without the meekness which was an 
inseparable attribute of it. 

jealousy. Here as often in the N.T. 
the Greek word is used in a bad 
sense (cf. Acts v. 17, xiii. 45; Rom. 
xiii. 13 ; Gal. v. 20), although it is 
capable of a good significance (cf. 
e.g. 2 Cor. xi. 2), and so generally in 
classical Greek and sometimes in 
the O.T. That it is used here in a 
bad sense is evident from the word 
' bitter 'joined with it, with reference 
apparently to vv. 11, 12, and also 
because it is associated with the 
word 'faction' as in Gal. v. 20; 
2 Cor. xii. 20 ; and also with ' strife ' 
in Rom. xiii. 13; 1 Cor. iii. 3. St 
James knew well what this zeal and 
jealousy meant in its bad sense, and 
what it was working in his own 
fatherland. There had been from 
the times of the Maccabees men 
who made it their aim to defend 
the Jewish law, 'Zealots' as they were 
called, but this spirit of zeal and 
jealousy for the law, which on its 
good side was characteristic of a 
Phinehas, 4 Mace, xviii. 13, or of an 
Elijah, 1 Mace. ii. 58, was liable to 
be perverted by unrighteous violence 
and excess. 

St Paul describes himself as 'ex- 
ceedingly zealous ' for the traditions 
of his fathers, Gal. i. 14, and wo know 
to what lengths his 'zeal' carried 

him ; St James truly described the 
JcTvish-Christians as 'zealous for the 
law,' Acts xxL 20, and we know how 
this zeal took the form of a bitter 
and fanatical opposition to St Paul. 
In the political world St James would 
have known how this same degene- 
rate spirit prompted the formation 
of the fanatical sect 'the Zealots' 
under Judas of Galilee, with a cer- 
tain Pharisee named Sadduk, and 
he woiild live to see how this same 
fanaticism became the instigator of 
every kind of cruelty and violence, 
as the pages of Josephus testify. In 
the Didache it is noticeable that we 
read the following: 'Be not angry, 
for anger leadeth to murder, nor 
jealous nor contentious (where we 
have the two cognate adjectives of 
the nouns "jealousy" and "strife" 
which are associated as above in the 
N.T.) nor wrathful; for of all these 
things murders are engendered,' 
iii. 1. On the word ' zeal ' or 
'jealousy' see Trench, Synonyms, 
I. 99, and below. 

/action, R.V. here and elsewhere. 
The word is joined sometimes with 
'jealousy' as above. It is connected 
with a noun which means a man 
working for hire, a hireling, and 
hence it is used as a political term 
for the canvassing of hired partisans, 
and so for the promotion of party 
spirit, factiousness (Arist. Pol. v. 2, 6, 
III. 9). It is noticeable that it is em- 
ployed by St Ignatius just as here by 
St James, Phil. viii. 2, 'do ye nothing 
after a spirit of factiousness, but after 
the teaching of Christ.' 

in your heart, R.V. and W.H. In 
Vulg. and Syriac we have 'hearts,' 
but sing. best. ' The heart' (see note 
on i. 2t)) was regarded as the source 
of moral action among the Hebrews; 



[ill, 14, 15 

15 glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom is 
not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, 

and as our Lord (St Matt. xv. 19) 
had taught that no ceremonial clean- 
ness could compensate for inward 
impurity, so St James would teach 
the same principle, and would have 
men understand that no loud and 
pretentious claim to the possession 
of 'wisdom' could avail while 'out 
of the heart proceeded evil things.' 
On 'Heart' see Art. in Hastings' 
B. D. vol. II. 

glory not and lie not against the 
truth, R.V. In this rendering both 
the verbs seem to be connected with 
the words 'against the truth.' St 
James might of course mean that in 
thus giving themselves out to be wise, 
while strife and bitterness were in 
their hearts, there was a manifest 
contradiction to the conditions of 
the attainment of wisdom, and so a 
contradiction of Divine truth ; cf. 
e.g. Wisd. i. 4, 'for into an ill-devising 
soul wisdom shall not enter'; vi. 23, 
'neither will I go with consuming 
envy ; for such a man shall have no 
fellowship with wisdom.' But when 
we remember his use of the word 
'the truth' elsewhere (cf. i. 18, v. 19), 
the words gain a still deeper mean- 
ing, and men are warned against 
expressions and deeds which contra- 
dicted 'the faith of our Lord Jesus 
Christ,' ii. 1, which knows no respect 
of persons, and against the violation 
of the law of love, which was impera- 
tive upon the heirs of the kingdom 

of heaven, ii. 5, 8; cf. i. 12 (see also 
1 John i. 6)1. 

15. This wisdom, i.e. of the man 
who has bitterness and faction in his 

is not a wisdom that cometh down 
from, above. The participle is used 
as an adjective, thus marking a 
characteristic of the wisdom which 
is truly wisdom ; cf. i. 5, 17. The 
thought expressed in the words would 
have been familiar to a Jew : cf. Prov. 
viii. 22; Ecclus. i. 1-4, xxiv. 4, 7; 
Wisdom vii. 25, ix. 4. Passages to 
the same effect may be quoted from 
Pliilo; so too Enoch, xlii. 2, 'Wisdom 
came to make her dwelling among 
the children of men and found no 
dwelling-place ; thus Wisdom re- 
turned to her place and took her 
seat among the angels'; cf. Ixxxiv. 3. 

earthly. The three adjectives 
form a climax ; the first is in direct 
antithesis to the previous words, in- 
asmuch as this false wisdom belongs 
not to the heaven above, but to the 
earth beneath ; and those who possess 
it have their wisdom set on ' earthly 
things,' Phil, iii, 19; John viii. 23. 
The word does not occur in the lxx, 
but it is used in classical Greek from 
Plato downwards, whilst in Plut. 
Mor. 566 D, we have the remarkable 
expression ' that which is earthly of 
the soul.' In Hermas, Mand. ix. 11, 
and again in xi. 5, we have ex- 
pressions which certainly seem to be 

1 Mayor and Beyschlag apparently prefer to take the expression 'against 
the truth' to mean 'against the facts of the case,' i.e. the claim to a wisdom 
apart from gentleness was in reality a claim to a wisdom which was of the 
devil, and not of God. It has very recently been urged that 'the truth' here 
as in V. 19 means the ideal of regenerate human life. But it is allowed at the 
same time that such an ideal is closely related to the words 'the faith of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, our glory ' ; in Him was embodied a fresh revelation of the 
glory of man's nature, and a fresh principle of life working within. Parry, 
St James, pp. 21 ff. 

III. 15, 16] 



16 ^sensual, ^devilish. For where jealousy and faction are, 

^ Or, natural Or, animal * Gr. demoniacal. 

reminiscences of the passage before 
us. In the former, after condemning 
doublemindedness, the writer pro- 
ceeds, '"Thou seest thus," saith he, 
"that faith is fi-om above from the 
Lord, and hath great power ; but 
doublemindedness is an earthly spi- 
rit from the devil, and hath no 

sensual, in A.V. and R.V., but the 
latter in marg. 'natural' or 'animal,' 
and the former in marg. 'natural.' 
To understand the word we must 
remember the trichotomy of 1 Thess. 
V. 23 (cf. Jos. Ant. L 1, 2, where 
man is represented as composed of 
body, soul, spirit), with which we 
may compare for the use of the 
adjective before us as connoting 
opposition to the highest part of 
man's nature, 'spirit,' 1 Cor. iL 14, 
and Jude ??. 19 (where R.V. renders 
the word as here with same marg. 
alternatives). This 'sensual' or 
'natural' man may be described as 
higher than the 'carnal' man {car- 
nalis, Vulg.), who is enslaved by his 
fleshly appetites, yet he is ruled, 
not by that part of his natiire by 
which the Spirit of God enters into 
communion with the spirit of man 
{spiritalis, Vulg.), but by that which 
is in comparison the lower (although 
not the lowest) part of his nature 
{animalis, Vulg.), the part which is 
'unspirituaV the part where human 
feeling and human reason reign su- 
preme i. It is impossible to express 

the Greek adjective by one unam- 
biguous word in English, as the 'soul' 
is so often used to signify man's 
spiritual nature, and the distinction 
between it and 'spirit' is thus 

devilish, A.V. and R.V., but latter 
marg. ' demoniacal.' The latter ren- 
dering is best, because in the N.T. as 
in the O.T. 'demons' are evil spirits, 
the ministers and messengers of the 
devil, whereas Satan is never spoken 
of as a 'demon,' and his ministers 
are never called by his name 'the 
devil' or 'a devil,' for the Greek 
word for the latter is an adjective 
and not a noun wher applied to men. 
As Dr Plummer points out, it is a 
misfortune that our R.V. has not 
taken the opportunity of distin- 
guishing sharply between 'the devil' 
and 'the demons' which are subject 
to him, in accordance with the sug- 
gested correction of the American 
Revisers. If we compare ii. 19 (see 
note) the word here used by St James 
would seem to describe a fanatical 
and desperate malignity, like that 
inspired by the 'demons' in their 
votaries. No wonder that St James 
thus characterises this false wisdom 
after he had written v. 6. The 
editors of the marginal references in 
our R.V. apparently lay stress upon 
the lying nature of the pseudo- 
wisdom, and its false teaching : cf. 
1 Kings xxii. 22; 2 Thess. ii. 9, 10; 
1 Tim. iv. 1. 

1 The term is sometimes taken as almost equivalent to 'carual' (see 
Art. 'Psychology,' Hastings' B. D. iii. p. 167), or at all events to 'deshly,' 
2 Cor. i. 12, 'fleshly wisdom,' and so perhaps here, of a wisdom which depends 
entirely upon human reason, a wisdom of this world, cf. 1 Cor. u. 14. 
Although the word does not occur in the canonical lxx it is used in a philosophical 
sense in 4 Mace. i. 32, where desires are divided into 'mental' and 'bodily, 
while reason reigns over both; see further Trench, Hyn. u. p. 94, and 
Plummer in loco. 



[ill. 16, 17 

17 there is confusion and every vile deed. But the wisdom 
that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, 

16. confusion. Cf. v. 8 and i. 8. 
In the Lxx the word is found in Prov. 
xxvi. 28, 'a flattering mouth worketh 
ruin,' and in Tob. iv. 13, in a sense 
similar to that in the passage before 
us. In the N.T. God is said to be 
the author not of 'confusion' but 
of 'peace,' 1 Cor. xiv. 33 ; with this 
the language of St James may be 
compared, in which 'the wisdom 
which is from above' is characterised 
as 'peaceable' and contrasted with 
that which comes not fi'om God, but 
from those opposed to Him. In 
2 Cor. xii. 20 the same word is 
joined with jealousy and faction, as 
in this passage, with the apparent 
meaning of disorders, and in the 
same Epistle, 2 Cor. vi. 5, it is found 
possibly in the sense of seditions, 
but in both these passages R.V. has 
' tumult ' in the text (cf also Luke 
xxi. 9, of the tumults of war). In 
Clem. Rom. Cor. xiv. 1, the same word 
is joined with jealousy and arrogance 
in the sense of unruliness, as mark- 
ing those in the Church who are 
disobedient to God, probably with 
this passage in mind. There is no 
need to suppose that St James is 
referring to any divisions between 
Jewish and Gentile Christians ; but 
he saw plainly enough much in 
Jerusalem to justify his warning. 
The great Jewish teacher Hillel had 
exhorted men to be 'loving peace, 
and pursuing peace,' and another 
great teacher Rabban Shime'on ben 
Gamliel taught 'on three things the 
world stands ; on Judgment, and on 
Truth, and on Peace' {Sayings of 
the Fathers, p. 25). 

and every vile deed, R.V. All 
E.VV. have 'work,' but the Greek 
implies a thing done, as often in 

N.T.; cf. Luke i. 1 ; Acts v. 4; 2 Cor. 
vii. 11; Heb. vi. 18. 

vile (cf. John iii. 20, v. 29 ; 2 Cor. 
V. 10 ; Tit. ii. 8), evil in its good-for- 
nothingness, as if no good could ever 
come forth from it, and so opposed 
both in the N.T. and in classical 
Greek to 'good.' Trench, Syn- 
onyms, II. p. 151. Antithesis, says 
Bengel, to ' full of mercy and of good 
fruits ' (see below). 

17. first pure. The order has 
been called one of thought and not of 
time, and the writer evidently places 
first the 'pureness' of wisdom, be- 
cause this ' wisdom from above ' had 
its origin vpith God, and came out 
of His holy heavens and from the 
throne of His glory, Wisdom ix. 
4, 9; Enoch, Ixxxiv. 3, etc. 

In the famous passage Wisdom 
vii. 7 ff., which was plainly before the 
mind of St James, a dififerent ad- 
jective in Greek is used to describe 
wisdom as 'pure'; cf. vii. 25. But it 
is said by Philo, De Opif. Mund. 8, 
that this word cannot be applied to 
any things of sense, so that St James 
although by a dififerent word may 
here imply, and deepen the same 
thought, and denote by ' purity ' the 
Divine essence of the true wisdom, 
as contrasted with the false wisdom 
which is ' earthly,' wholly engrossed 
in sense and time ; the words of the 
Lord are 'pure' words, Ps. xii. 6. 
God Himself is 'pure,' 1 John iii. 3 
(in each case the same word in the 
original as in St James). 

In this Divine 'purity' the single- 
heartedness which has sometimes 
been regarded as its equivalentwould 
be comprised, a sincerity which would 
exclude all doublemindedness, the 
divided heart, i. 8, iv. 8, the eye not 

m. 17] 



single, Matt. vi. 22, all hypocrisies 
(see Trench, Syn. ii. 157, 169); which 
would proclaim Christ, not of faction 
but with pure unsullied motives (see 
esp. Phil. i. 17). We note as quite 
characteristic that St James in his 
picture of wisdom is primarily prac- 
tical, a contrast, it has well been 
noted, with the picture in the Book 
of Wisdom, where the interest is 
primarily intellectual. 

then peaceable. The preceding 
epithet characterises wisdom as it 
were from within, whilst the epi- 
thets which follow regard it as it 
were from without. The first three 
adjectives employed are opposed to 
the jealousy and faction mentioned 
above. As impurity is in reality 
selfishness, so the temper of the 
possessor of the true wisdom, which 
is centred not in self but in God, is 
peaceable ; to see God, as the pure 
in heart see Him, is to love God, 
and he that loveth God will love 
his brother also. On the close con- 
nection between love and peace we 
may compare Ephes. iv. 3 ; Col. iiL 
14 ; and in the Talmud Peace is a 
Name oiGod{Saying$ o/the Fathers, 
p. 26). 

It has been well pointed out that 
whilst no less than twenty-one epi- 
thets are applied to wisdom in the 
famous passage Wisd. vii. 22 flF. 
mentioned above, not one of them 
makes reference to its peaceable and 
placable character. In Prov. iii. 11 
we read that 'all her paths are 
peace,' but nothing further is said to 
develop the thought; but on the 
lips of Christ the peacemakers are 
reckoned as 'sons of God,' and in 
His teaching the temper which loves 
peace follows closely upon the purity 
which sees God ; cf. Matt. v. 8, 9. 

In Ecclesiasticus iv. 8, the only 
place in which the same adjective 

occurs in the Sapiential books of the 
Apocrypha, we read, 'Incline thine 
eye to the poor, and answer him 
peaceful things in meekness,' where 
the same word for meekness is also 
used as by St James in i. 21 and 
iii. 13. 

gentle. The adjective employed in 
the original is connected primarily 
with a word implying what is fit and 
reasonable, but in its later meaning 
it is evidently associated with a verb 
which means 'to yield,' and so the 
cognate noun has been taken to 
mean a yieldingness which does not 
insist upon the utmost tittle of one's 
rights, which prefers equity to strict 
justice, and which can even put up 
with injurious treatment. But it 
must not be supposed that the virtue 
in question is a weak one, since it is 
not only described in terms of com- 
mendation by Greek philosophers, 
but is ascribed to God by Philo, and 
in Psalm lxxxvL5, also Psalms of Sol. 
V. 14, 2 Mace. X. 4. Thus too in 
Wisdom xii. 18, it is said of God, 
'but thou, mastering thy power, 
judgest with equity' (A.V.), and as 
'the archetype and pattern of this 
grace is thus found in God,' what 
wonder that we should read of the 
meekness and gentleness of the only- 
begotten Son Who declared God to 
the world, 2 Cor. x. 1. Perhaps 
some rendering such as 'gently- 
reasonable' is most suitable here, 
as combining the thought of tender 
and unselfish, but not weak con- 
sideration, of fairness, but not mere 

As compared with the virtue of 
'meekness' cf. i. 21, iii. 13. This 
'gentleness' belongs rather perhaps 
to matters of outward bearing and 
action in relation to man, as we can 
see by its association with benevo- 
lence, humanity ; cf. 3 Mace. iii. 15, 

90 JAMES [ill. 17 

easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without 

vii. 6 ; whilst ' meekness ' belongs 
rather to a temper of mind, a meek- 
ness, primarily in respect of God, 
although also such in respect of our 
fellow-men (but it is doubtful how 
far this distinction can always be 
maintained). In this 'meekness' we 
see (1) how the teaching of the N.T. 
is rooted in the O.T. ; the character 
of the meek often finds a place in 
the Psalms; meekness in Ecclus. 
is extolled by the writer throughout 
the book, cf. i. 27, faith and meekness 
are God's delight, xlv. 4 ; Moses is 
sanctified in his faith and meekness ; 
whilst it has been truly said that 
the Christian Beatitude, Matt. v. 5, 
almost literally translates Psalm 
xxxvii. 11, and in both passages the 
meek are promised the possession of 
the earth : (2) how Christianity, as 
in the case of other 'passive' virtues, 
not only confers a higher place and 
dignity upon this virtue than it had 
ever gained in the scale of pagan 
ethics, cf. Arist. Ethic. Nic. iv. 5, 
but also reveals the character of an 
ideal meekness and gentleness and 
of a Person in Whom that ideal was 
embodied, and from Whom men could 
learn and find rest for their souls. 
Matt. xi. 29 ; 2 Cor. x. i. See, further, 
' Meekness,' Hastings' B. D. vol. iii., 
and Trench, Synonyms, i. pp. 173 fi". ; 
Lightfoot on Col. iii. 13. 

easy to he intreated, i.e. open to 
persuasion, conciliatory, compUant, 
ready to be guided. But the word 
may possibly be active, 'winning its 
way by gentleness, persuasive.' In 
the one passage to which reference 
can be made in the lxx, 4 Mace, 
xii. 6, there is some doubt as to the 
reading, but in the same book the 
noun is used three times of obedience 
to law. 

full of mercy and good fruits. 
The whole clause contrasts with the 
every vile deed above. St James, 
as is characteristic of him, insists 
upon the practical nature of the 
true wisdom; faith to be of any 
avail must clothe the naked and feed 
the hungry, and so too wisdom must 
concern itself not merely with matters 
of criticism or with causes of provoca- 
tion, but with the charities whichheal, 
and soothe, and bless (cf. the fruits 
Gal. V. 22). In Wisdom vii. 22, 23, 
Wisdom is described as not only pure 
and undefiled, but 'as ready to do 
good, loving mankind ' ; cf. i. 6. With 
reference to this description Wisdom 
has been called 'the sole true Euer- 
getes'(cf. Luke xxii. 25); but the full 
realisation of the virtue which pro- 
phets and kings desired to see was 
only found in the Incarnate Wisdom 
of God, 'Who went about doing 
good' Acts X. 38. 

without variance, R.V. text, but 
marg. doubtfulness, partiality, so 
A.V. text (but A.V. marg. wrang- 
ling). The choice seems to lie be- 
tween doubtfulness and partiality, 
as the rendering variance is not very 

If we translate 'without doubtful- 
ness ' the Greek word is rendered on 
the analogy of the corresponding 
verb as in i. 6, and in contrast to the 
doubleminded man, the possessor 
of the true wisdom possesses that 
which is stedfast and unwavering, 
a simple, absolute trust in God. 
St Ignatius twice uses the word 
in the sense of 'stedfast,' as he writes 
to the Magnesians (xv.), that they 
should possess 'a stedfast spirit which 
is Jesus Christ,' and to the Tral- 
lians (i. 1) that they had 'a mind 
unblameable and ttedfast in pa- 

III. 17, 18] 



18 ^variance, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteous- 
ness is sown in peace ^for them that make peace. 

^ Or, doubtfulness Or, partiality 

tience'; so again St Clement of Alex, 
speaks of ''stedfast faith,' Paed. ii. 
iii. p. 100^. The thought contained 
in the rendering Svithout partiality' 
would of course befit a stedfast, 
singleminded wisdom which would 
make no distinction between rich 
and poor, but if we adopt this latter 
rendering it would seem to confine 
us chiefly, if not entirely, to a warn- 
ing against the danger of respect of 
persons, which St James condemns 
in ii. 1 ff. (with which compare 
Didache, iv. 3), or of the rivalries 
which he saw around him. 

without hypocrisy. Cf. i. 22, 26, 
ii. 1 : of the epithets applied to 
wisdom in the passage Wisdom vii. 
22, we may compare the epithet 
rendered 'plain,' i.e. 'whether in 
essence or in undeceiving mani- 
festations ' (cf Thuc. L 22, where the 
neuter of the same adjective in 
Greek is rendered 'the truth,' and 
the verb cognate to it is used often 
of truth opposed to falsehood). The 
one Greek word rendered 'without 
hypocrisy' is found twice in the 
same book of Wisdom, but nowhere 
else in lxx. But such a character- 
istic may well have been emphasised 
by one who remembered that the 
true Wisdom from above had taught 
the way of God in truth, not regard- 
ing the person of men. Matt. xxii. 16. 
It is noteworthy that whilst the same 
adjective is applied not only by 
St James but by St Paul and St 
Petertosomecharacteristic Christian 
virtue, it is not found in pagan 
ethics, although the cognate adverb 

2 Or, hy 

is used by M. Antoninus, vrtL 5. 
Our Lord repeatedly warned His 
disciples against the leaven of the 
Pharisees, 'which is hypocrisy,' and 
in the Didache special warnings are 
directed against the same faiilt; cf. 
ii. 6, iv. 12, V. 1, viii. 1. 

18. tJie fruit of righteousness, 
i.e. the fruit which is righteousness, 
that wherein the fruit consists; cf 
Heb. xii. 11 (although it is some- 
times taken to mean the fruit which 
righteousness produces; cf Ephes. 
V. 9). The verse gives us the result 
of the true wisdom, just as r. 16 
had described the results of the 
false vpisdom. There are several 
places in the O.T. with which the 
present passage may be compared, 
e.g. Amos v. 7, where, as here, 'the 
fruit of righteousness ' is opposed to 
'bitterness'; Hos. x. 12; Pro v. xi. 
21 ; so too Isaiah xxxii. 16, 17. 

is sown; a pregnant expression, for 
not the fruit but the seed is sown. 
We may compare with the thought 
here such passages as Prov. xi. 30, 
and Apocalypse ofBaruch, xxxii. 1, 
'but ye, if ye prepare your hearts, 
so as to sow in them the fruits of 
the law,' etc. 

in peace. The words are to be 
taken with the verb, and can only 
mean 'in peace,' i.e. the spirit in 
which, and the conditions under 
which, alone the seed sown ripens 
to the fruit of righteousness. The 
thought and language are quite 
characteristic of a man who knew 
the Beatitudes, Matt. v. 8, with their 
blessing on those who work peace, 

1 The passages are referred to by Dr Plummer ; see also Mayor in loco. 



[ill. 18 

with their stress upon the acqui- 
sition of righteousness, not only in a 
future world, but in the practical 
daily life of a kingdom in which no 
evil deed or confusion could have 
place (cf. 1 Cor. xiv. 33). 

for them that make peace; better 
perhaps 'that work peace,' as the 
words thus embrace a voider range 
than that of the mere reconciling of 
persons at variance. The phrase is 
found in 2 Mace. i. 4; 3 Mace. ii. 20; 
and also in Bphes. ii. 15. But the 
closest parallel x^Psalms of Solomon, 
xii. 6, where it occurs closely con- 
joined with a warning against a 
slanderous tongue : ' the Lord direct 
the man that worketh peace in his 
house.' ' For them,' but R.V. marg. 
'by them.' The dative is taken 
sometimes as a dative of the agent, 
sometimes as a dativus commodi, 

but in either case the peacemakers 
are those who sow the seed and 
those who reap this fruit of right- 
eousness. The verse has been well 
described as a characteristic and 
most suggestive apothegm : ' How 
are we to get from human life a 
harvest of righteousness ? James 
answers that this harvest must be 
sown in peace, and it will be reaped 
by those whose spirit and temper 
make peace. Not through a fierce 
and angry temper, by which we 
ourselves are liable to be betrayed 
into gross injustice and into many 
other sins, but by gentleness, kind- 
ness, peaceableness, will righteous- 
ness at last come to prevail : the 
wrath of man worketh not the 
righteousness of God.' Dr Dale, 
Epistle of St James, p. 120. 


1 — 3. The Divine wisdom produces peace; from whence then come 
wars, whence come fightings among you ? come they not from the 
pleasures which wage war against all that checks their gratification ? you 
desire, but the desire remains unsatiated ; fighting, war, leaves you still 
lusting, yet not obtaining ; even in your prayers you pray amiss, because 
your heart is set not upon God but upon self. 4 — 8. But in so doing 
you break your vows to God, you choose a love which is enmity against 
Him, and He is a jealous God, and longs for the whole undivided afi'ection 
of the heart. If this seems too great a demand, He giveth more grace, and 
that to those who are humble. The proud are wilful, but the humble seek 
not their own will, but that of God ; resist the devil, who opposes that holy 
will, and he vnll flee from you, for temptation comes not from God ; by that 
very act of resistance you are the moi*e fit to draw nigh unto God, Who will 
Himself draw nigh unto you. But this approach to God must be made with 
hands cleansed from evil, for how else can they be raised in prayer ? and 
with hearts purified from every debasing desire ; and thus in thought and 
deed, doubleraindedness will be put away. 

9, 10. This approach to God will teach you to express your repentance 
both inwardly and by outward signs; your laughter must be turned to 
mourning and your rejoicing to heaviness, in so far as merriment and 
joy have been the joy not of the Lord but of the world ; but in thus 
humbling yoiu-self before God you will realise the promise that he that 

IV. l] 



humbleth himself shall be exalted. 11, 12. But this spirit of humility 
could not coexist with the spirit which speaks against the brethren ; such 
censoriousness in speech leads in itself to one of the worst forms of pride ; 
the man who is guilty of it sets himself not only against his brethren, but 
against the law of love and Him who gave it ; to God alone, as the source 
of all law, belong the issues of judgment ; who art thou that presumest to 
judge? 13 — 17. This same spirit of presumption and self-assurance, 
this same want of humility and dependence upon God, is at work on every 
side. Instead of reckoning upon time and getting gain, you ought to 
consider that your life is fleeting, that you yourselves are a vapour, and 
that the truly religious man would say in view of the future ' if God will ' ; 
but ye glory in your boastful talk, and so, knowing and not accepting 
that good and perfect will of God, ye sin. 

IV, Whence come wars and whence come fightings among 

IV. 1. Whence come wars and 
whence come fightings among you ? 
The two words for 'wars' and 
' fightings ' are sometimes said to be 
employed just as we distinguish 
between 'war' and 'battle,' the 
former denoting the whole course of 
hostilities, the latter no more than 
the actual encounter of armed forces 
(Trench, Syn. ii. p. 157). 

The latter word is frequently used 
with a secondary meaning, as e.g. in 
Prov. XV. 18; Ecclus. xxviii. 8; 1 Tim. 
vi. 4 ; Tit. iii. 9 ; and so in classical 
Greek, So, though less frequently, 
is the former word, not only in 
classical Greek, but in Psalms of 
Solomon, xii. 4, a Psalm which is 
entitled 'concerning the tongue of 
the wicked' (see above on iii. 6), 
we read of the evil man that by 
his words he would set fire to 
houses with his lying tongue, 'and 
put to confusion the houses of the 
wicked by kindling strife with slan- 
derous lips,' where 'strife' is the 
same word as St James employs and 
which is translated here 'wars.' (Of. 
with this 'Psalm of Solomon,' Ps. cxx. 
V. 2 and v. 7.) See for similar use 
Testaments of the Twelce Patri- 

archs, Dan 5, Gad 5, Sim. 5, 
where in each case 'war' is used in 
connection with the results of envy 
and hatred as above. No doubt 
both words might be used of the 
strifes and disputes of the Jewish 
sects and Rabbis, the former word 
denoting perhaps a lasting state of 
hostility, the latter a sharp out- 
burst of passion, but as St James 
wrote he had before him the state 
of society in Jerusalem and Pales- 
tine, wherein righteousness had once 
dwelt, but now robbers and murder- 
ers ; cf Matt. xxi. 13 ; Luke xiii. 1 ; 
Acts xxi. 38 ; Jos. B. J. n. 1. 3 ; A7it. 
XX. 8. 5, XVIII. 1. 

The repetition of the word 
'whence' in R.V. is indicative of 
the strong intensity and passion of 
the writer. With the language here 
and the question, cf Clem. Rom. 
Cor. xlvi. 5, where the similarity 
is clear: 'Wherefore are there strifes 
and wraths and factions and divisions 
and war among you ? ' you. The expression may 
indicate that the writer passes as it 
were beyond the circle of ' teachers,' 
and has in view the community aa a 



[IV. 1, 2 

you ? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war 
2 in your members ? Ye lust, and have not : ye kill, and 

even of ynnr pleasures, R.V. 
The word 'lusts' in A.V. is in the 
original simply ' pleasures,' but this 
latter word, although seldom used 
in the Greek Test., is always found 
there in a bad sense : cf. Luke viii. 
14; Tit. iii. 3; 2 Pet. ii. 13. 

As the German Lust so the Greek 
word is used of the desire for the 
pleasure, and for the pleasure itself. 

Sometimes in philosophical lan- 
guage, as in Xen. Mem. L 2. 23, the 
Greek word for 'pleasures' is used 
for evil desires, and in 4 Mace. 1. 
20flF. the same word is used of 
different desires of the soul and 
body which lead to sin unless 
governed by 'pious reason,' and 
again, 4 Mace. v. 23, wisdom is said 
to teach temperance, so as to control 
pleasures and desires ; cf. the lan- 
guage of Plato, Symp. 196 c, and his 
definition of temperance. So Philo 
speaks of 'the unreasonable plea- 
sures,' and often joins together 
' pleasures and desires ' of evil things. 
A further parallel may be found in 
the Letter of Aristeas, 277, 'Why,' 
asks the king, 'do not men receive 
virtue?' And the answer is 'be- 
cause by nature all are incontinent 
and are inclined to pleasures. From 
this results unrighteousness, and an 
abundance of selfishness.' 

that war in yoar members. 
Carrying on the metaphor these lusts 
are described as having their camp 
in the members of the body, in the 
sensual man; there they encamp, 
not for rest, but to make war against 
all which interferes with, and against 
everyone who crosses, their gratifica- 

tion. This seems best on the whole, 
and fits in well with the follovring 
verse, so that there is no need to 
supply the words ' against the soul ' 
as is sometimes proposed (cf Rom. 
vii. 23; 1 Pet. ii. 11), although the 
very fact that the 'pleasures' thus 
war is a proof that they are not 
subject to the law of God, or to the 
higher nature of the man. 

A remarkable passage in Plato, 
Phaedo., 66 c, 'wars and factions and 
fightings have no other source than 
the body and its lusts,' has often 
been compared with the words of 
St James : but whereas in the words 
which follow Plato speaks of getting 
rid of the body as that which 
prevents us from seeing the truth 
and attaining to the heavenly wis- 
dom, St James would teach us that 
now, in this life, the wisdom from 
above may be enjoyed by the pure 
in heart, that now, as peacemakers, 
we are the friends and sons of God, 
not slaves to the service of the body^ 
From this point of view a strik- 
ing passage may be quoted from 
Testaments of the Twelve Pa- 
triarchs, Dan 5, 'Keep, my chil- 
dren, the commandments of the 
Lord and obey his law... speak the 
truth every man to his neighbour, 
and ye shall not fall into pleasure 
(same word as here used by St James) 
and turmoil, but ye shall be in peace, 
having the God of peace, and no war 
(same word as in St James) shall 
overcome you.' 

2. The punctuation of R.V. as in 
W.H. leaves what has been called 
the extraordinary anti-climax '■ye 

1 The passage from Plato is quoted in full by Plummer, p. 218, and the 
contrast drawn out between his teaching and that of St James. For parallels 
in the language of Philo to the metaphor of St James see Mayor in loco. 

IV. 2j 



kill and covet,' marg. R.V. 'are 
jealous, as the Greek may be used 
in either sense (of. iii. 14, 1 Cor. xii. 
31); so too A.V. text has 'ye kill and 
desire to have.' 

But in A.V. marg. we have 'ye 
envy' instead of 'ye kill' by the 
adoption of another reading. This 
makes very good sense ; desire, envy, 
jealousy insatiate, result in wars 
and fightings, but it cannot be said 
that there is the least manuscript 
authority to support the proposed 

Another suggested change of im- 
portance is to place a colon, or a 
full-stop, after 'ye kill,' and in this 
way we have two sentences of similar 
meaning, exactly balancing one an- 
other, whilst no violence is done to 
the Greek. Thus ' ye lust and have 
not' corresponds with 'ye covet and 
cannot obtain,' and 'ye kill' vrith 
'ye fight and war,' and thus too 
the abrupt collocations 'ye kill,' 'ye 
fight and war,' the abruptness being 
quite characteristic of St James, 
express in each case a result of what 
precedes; so Mayor and W.H. marg. 

If therefore we read 'ye kill' it 
may be fairly urged that there was 
quite enough of violence and fa- 
naticism in the social life around 
St James to justify even this charge 
of murder against his fellow-country- 
men, and that in such a state of 
society murder might often be re- 
garded as an expedient always ready 
to hand, and not only as a last 
and final resource. And upon such 

fatal violence insatiable covetousness 
might well follow and fresh deeds of 
blood ensue. 

It has indeed been suggested 
that the verb translated 'covet' 
in this verse might be rendered ' ye 
act as zealots,' as if the ^vriter had 
in mind the men who called them- 
selves by this name, and gloried in 
the most atrocious acts. If this 
technical name was not in existence 
at the early date to which we may 
refer the Epistle, yet St James must 
have seen in the followers of Judas 
the Gaulonite, in their reckless 
violation of law and order, in their 
utter disregard of the value of life, 
the immediate precursors of the 
Zealots, whilst he would have known 
something of the anarchy which 
prevailed through the country at a 
still earlier date when Varus was 
prefect of Syria, in days when deeds 
of murder were rife amongst the 
Jews and were committed not only 
against the Romans but much more 
frequently against their own country- 
men : Jos. A7it. XVII. 10. 4, 8, xviii. 1 ; 
B.J.u,8. 1, VII. 8. 1 (see also above, 
iii. 14). 

How atrociously the Jews on 
occasion could anticipate the de- 
cisions of law and judgment w© 
very plainly see in the conspiracy 
related in Acts xxiii. 12, 13. 

Certainly in face of the use of the 
same verb in v. 6, cf ii. 11, and the 
striking passage in Didac/ie, iii. 2, 
'be not angry, for anger leadeth to 
murder, nor jealous, nor contentious, 

^ The reading was adopted by Erasmus and others, and so earlier by 
Oecumenius in his text but not in his note ; bo too by Tyiidale and Cranmer 
amongst E. Versions. Mayor supposes that in the Greek the word for 'ye envy' 
was carelessly written and was then corrupted into a somewhat similar Greek 
word ' ye murder,' and on this occasion he is in agreement with Spitta. But 
would a reading which makes the sense more difficult have been introduced 
from the easier ' ye envy ' ? and would not the latter easily suggest itself 
from the frequent collocation of the nouns ' envy ' and ' zeal ' ? 



[IV. 2, 3 

^ covet, and cannot obtain : ye fight and war ; ye have not, 
3 because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye 

^ Gr, are jealous. 

nor wrathful, for of all these things 
murders are engendered,' there can 
be no decisive reason against a literal 
rendering here, and St James might 
well have feared that even Jewish- 
Christians might be tempted perhaps 
by a perverted view of the Messiah's 
kingdom to join in deeds of selfish 
extortion and murderous violence. 
On the other hand the expression 
still presents such difficulties to many 
minds that it has been maintained 
that there is no alternative but to 
take the verb as used to denote that 
hatred of his brother which makes a 
man a murderer, Matt. v. 22, 1 John 
iii. 15^; but if this interpretation is 
admitted it still remains strange 
that such a strong word should 
precede 'covet,' as we should have 
expected a reverse order. 

One other explanation, connected 
to a certain extent with the foregoing, 
may be mentioned. In Ecclus. xxxiv. 
21, 22, we read: 'the bread of the 
needy is the life of the poor : he that 
defraudeth him thereof is a man of 
blood. He that taketh away his 
neighbour's living slayeth him (the 
same word as is used in the passage 
before us for " to kill "), and he that 
defraudeth the labourer of his hire 
is a bloodshedder' ; cf. Deut. xxiv. 6. 
This meaning, half literal, half meta- 
phorical, as it may be fairly described, 
is commended by the fact that St 
James so clearly shows his acquaint- 

ance with Ecclesiasticus elsewhere, 
and also because such an explanation 
fits in well with the rest of the 
picture of Jewish social life as St 
James presents it^ 

Perhaps, however, the best solution 
of the passage is to be found in 
adopting the punctuation of W.H. 
marg. (see above), and with this 
sequence of the clauses the passage 
in the Didache above is in accord- 
ance, where jealousy and wrath en- 
gender murder, and so too is the 
passage Clem. Rom. Cor. iv,. 7, 9, 
where jealousy and envy are de- 
scribed as working a brother's mur- 
der, and causing persecution \mto 
death ; so too vi. 4, where it is said 
of jealousy and strife that they have 
overthroAvn great cities and uprooted 
great nations. 

ye fight and war ; ye have not, 
because ye ask not. So R.V. but A.V. 
renders ' ye fight and war, yet,' etc. 
But 'yet' should be omitted, not 
only because it has so little support, 
but because even without the punc- 
tuation suggested above, it is not 
needed^, as the terseness of the 
sentence is quite characteristic of 
St James. 

ye have not. The repetition of a 
preceding clause is again character- 
istic of the writer ; cf. i 6. 

ye ask not. It may be observed 
that in the original the verb is in 
the middle voice, and so too in the 

1 So Estius, and amongst recent commentators von Soden and Beyschlag. 

2 Among recent commentators both Dr Zahn and Dr Plummer favour this 

3 It is omitted by W.H Von Soden retains the word ' and ' before < ye 
have not,' for which there is certainly more authority than for the adversative 
copula expressed in A.V. 

IV. 3, 4] 



4 ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures. Ye 
adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world 

murder ; a Russian peasant can tuni 
the face of his eikon to the wall, 
whilst he violates some command of 
God's law. The words of Seneca, 
JSjnst. X. (the first half of the 
passage being quoted by him from 
Athenodorus), stand out still as a 
rebuke to the failures of Christians : 
' Then know that you are freed from 
all evil desires, that you ask nothing 
of God except what you could ask 
openly. So live with men as if God 
sees ; so speak with God, as if men 

that ye may spend it, viz. what 
you thus dare to ask from God. 
'Consume,' A.V., is used for another 
word in the original elsewhere. For 
the verb here cf. Luke xv. 14. One 
important MS. has a compound of 
the same verb which expresses even 
more strongly the entirety of the 
expenditure; it occurs in Wisd. v. 13 
of men ' utterly spent ' in their own 
wickedness : cf. also below, v. 5. 

in your pleasures; the preposition 
marking the realm in which (not the 
object on which) the expenditure is 
made, viz. in the kingdom of the 
senses, in the lower part of the man's 

4. Ye adulteresses. The authori- 
ties may be fairly called absolutely 
decisive for this reading, and its diffi- 
culty is also in its favour. It is very 
probable that the masculine was 
inserted, as in A. V. ' adulterers and 
adulteresses,' because it was thought 
that the word was to be taken 
literally, and it seemed strange that 
St James should refer only to the 
weaker sex. But the context in v. 5 
shows that the language is iigurativo 
(while no doubt the mention of 
sensual pleasures in v. 3 would natu- 


second clause of v. 3, whereas in the 
first clause of the verse the same 
verb is used in the active voice. 
No very satisfactory explanation of 
this is forthcoming, and it is very 
doubtful how far we can make any 
precise distinction, or how far any 
such distinction was in the mind of 
the wTiter. It is indeed contended 
that, as in the case of some other 
verbs, the active and middle voices 
may be used indiscriminately. It is 
also very doubtful how far the word 
employed here expresses, as many 
writers have held, the request of an 
inferior to a superior, whereas it 
would rather seem that the verb in 
question denotes a request for some- 
thing to be given, not done, empha- 
sising the thing asked for rather 
than the person (Grimm-Thayer). 

3. because ye ask amiss; they 
pray, but in vain, because whilst 
their words fly up their thoughts 
remain below, fixed solely on the 
acquisition of some material gain 
and pleasure : ' In church thou shalt 
confess thy transgressions, and shalt 
not betake thyself to prayer with an 
evil conscience,' Didache, iv. 14. And 
so the essential condition of all ac- 
ceptable prayer was omitted, 1 John 
V. 14, 'if we ask anything according 
to His will he heareth us.' 

The history of Christendom is, alas! 
full of instances of the manner in 
which men can 'ask amiss,' even 
when they retain the formality of 
prayer as the outward aid to wor- 

St Augiistine would ask God to 
give him continence and chastity, 
but not yet, Conf. viii. 1 7 ; a Cornish 
VFi'ecker could pass from church to 
his fiendish work of plunder and 



[IV. 4 

is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a 

rally suggest the thought of estrange- 
ment from God's love). God is con- 
ceived of as in O.T. language — e.g. 
Ps. Ixxiii. 27 ; Isaiah liv. 5 ; Jer. 
iii. 20 ; Hos. ii. 2 — as the husband of 
Israel vphich is bound to Him by a 
marriage tie ; of also our Lord's o^vn 
words, Matt. xii. 39, xvi. 4 ; Mark 
viii. 38. The American Revisers thus 
add suitably in the margin after 
the word 'adulteresses,' 'that is, 
who break your marriage vow to 

It has been sometimes suggested 
that the feminine noun is used here 
with a touch of scorn as well as of 
indignation : of. Horn. Iliad, ii. 225, 
' women, not men, of Achaia.' 

One or two passages from Jewish 
writings may be cited in connection 
with the above. In the Jerusalem 
Talmud, in commrnts on the Ten 
Words, andamongstthem our Seventh 
Commandment, 'Said R. Levi, It is 
written (Prov. xxiii. 26), My son, 
give me thine heart, and let thine 
eyes observe my ways : the Holy 
One, blessed is He, saith, If thou 
bast given me thy heart and thine 
eye, I know then, thou art Mine.' 

In the Mechilta it is asked, ' How 
were the Ten Words given ? five on 
this Table and five on that... It was 
written. Thou shalt have no other 
etc., and it was written opposite to 
it, Thou shalt not commit adultery. 
The Scripture shows that whosoever 
practises strange worship, the Scrip- 
ture imputes to him as if he com- 
mitted adultery fi'om God, for it is 
said (Ezek, xvi. 32), As a wife that 
committeth adultery, which taketh 
strangers instead of her husband, 
and Hos. iii. 1.' It would therefore 
seem quite plain that the spiritual 
adultery might be attributed not 

only to the Jewish Church, but to 
each individual member of it. 

knoic ye not. The writer appeals 
to the Christian consciousness of his 
readers: cf. 1 Cor. iii. 16, vi. 9, 19; 
Rom. vi. 16. 

the friendship of the world. The 
whole context vv. 5 and 6 seems to 
show that the relationship of the 
soul to God — 'thy Maker is tliy 
husband' — is inconsistent vrith the 
introduction of a friendship with 
that which is opposed to Him. The 
appeal of St James comes naturally 
from one who had heard and no 
doubt enforced our Lord's own 
warning. Matt. vi. 24; Luke xvi. 13; 
cf. John XV 19. The word is best 
taken actively as 'friend' (cf. 'enemy' 
just below), although it might include 
the being loved as well as the loving. 
The noun itself is found only here iu 
the N.T. but it is frequent in lxx. 
Our Lord's words, referred to above, 
speak of wealth, Mammon, as that 
which is loved, or clung to, in pre- 
ference to God, and so some have 
taken this word here to mean the 
love of worldly goods, and others of 
earthly lusts, Tit. ii. 12, but the word 
'friendship' may well include the 
love of sinful companions as well as 
of things sinful ; see note on i. 27. 

is enmity with God. The Greek 
word is best taken as a noun, so in A. 
and R.V. (as an adj. by the Vulgate) ; 
and thus the contrast is marked 
between the two opposites, hatred 
and friends] lip. There is no need 
to suppose that the words are a 
quotation from some other source 
imknown to us. 

Whosoever therefore would be, 
R.V., 'will be,' A.V. Stress is some- 
times laid upon the verb in the 
original, as indicating that this 

IV. 4, 5] 



5 friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. Or 
think ye that the scripture ^speaketh in vain? ^Dqi^Jj ^^e 
spirit which ^he made to dwell in us long unto envying? 

^ Or, saith in vain, ^ Or, The spirit which he made to dwell in us he 

yearneth for even unto jealous envy. Or, That spirit which he made to dioell 
in us yearneth for us even unto jealous envy. ' Some ancient authorities 
read dwelleth in us. 

man's choice of friendship is de- 
liberately made with all his mind 
and will, a choice again emphasised 
by the rendering 'maketh himself 
the enemy' (see below), or as mean- 
ing that where a man cannot from 
circumstances be the open enemy 
of God, he has yet the wish to be, 
and so is equally guilty of enmity 
against God. 

maketh himsel/{cf. iii. 6), is there- 
by constituted, Vulg. constituitur, 
so in iii. 6; Rom. v. 19 (2 Pet. i. 8)^. 
The words again recall oui" Lord's 
saying, Matt. vi. 24. 

5. Or think ye; cf. i. 26: he will 
show by means of the question how 
utterly incompatible the two things 
are — love of God and love of the 

in vain. Cf Deut. xxxii. 47 ; Isaiah 
xlix. 4, Lxx. 

the scripture speaketh; cf 2 Cor. 
vi. 17, as here in R.V. marking a 
reference to the general sense rather 
than to the actual words. It is 
sometimes urged that the word 
'scripture' when used in the N.T. 
in the singular always refers to a 
particular passage of Scripture, and 
that in most cases there is no diffi- 
culty in fixing the particular passage 
referred to^. But it cannot be said 
that there is no such difficulty in 

this verse, and a consideration of it 
would rather lead us to refer the 
expression here, not to any one 
passage, but to the general sense of 
several passages ; cf e.g. John vii. 38, 
where our Lord Himself apparently 
applies the words ' the scripture 
hath said' not to any one passage, 
but to the thought expressed in 
several O.T. passages. The difficulty 
Avas evidently felt so much by the 
Revisers that in distinction to A.V. 
they break up the sentence into 
two questions (cf W.H. marg.), 'Or 
think ye that the scripture speaketh 
in vain ? Doth the spirit which he 
made to dwell in us long unto envy- 
ing ? ' The difficulty is thus avoided 
of regarding the words 'the scripture 
saith' (A.V.) as introducing a passage 
from the O.T. which does not occur 
there. But it is very doubtful 
whether the Revisers have adopted 
the best explanation by their second 
question, if, that is, it is understood as 
an inquiry whether the Holy Spirit 
so longeth for us as to be an example 
of envy and jealousy, the implied 
answer being No ; He is a Spirit of 
gentleness : see further below. 

lotig unto envying? The A.V. by 
its rendering 'lusteth to envy,' i.e. 
to a degree bordering on envy, gives 
even more positively a bad sense to 

1 See Mayor's note on the many instances of the verb in the passive voice; 
on the other hand Grimm-Thayer take it here and in iii. 6 as middle. 

* See however Art. 'Scripture,' Hastings' B. D., where Dr Hort (1 Pot. ii. 6) 
is quoted as saying that in St Paul and St John the expression 'the Scripture ' 
'is capable of being understood as approximating to the collective sense.' 




[IV. 5 

the original word, a sense which is 
by no means necessary. For this 
verb, rendered 'to long' or 'to yearn,' 
is frequently used elsewhere in the 
N.T. and always in a good sense, as 
also its cognate substantive and ad- 
jective; cf. Rom. i. 11, XV. 23; Phil. 
1. 8, iv. 1 : in lxx it also frequently 
occurs, and rarely with a bad mean- 
ing. It seems best therefore to 
translate, with the second marginal 
rendering of R.V., 'That spirit 
which he made to dwell in us yearn- 
eth for us even unto jealous envy.' 
The first marginal rendering of the 
Revisers is not so good, for if God 
is taken as the subject of both verbs 
He is represented as yearning for 
His own Spirit in us (a view, how- 
ever, to which Mr Mayor now 
inclines), although it is of course 
possible to take 'the spirit' as 
meaning the human spirit ; cf Gen. 
ii. 7 ; Zech. xii. 1 ; Eccles. xii. 7. And 
this makes perfectly good sense \ the 
main objection being that the human 
spirit would scarcely be spoken of as 
the spirit which God 'made to dwell 
in us' (see the passages in Hermas 
quoted below). 

If therefore we adopt the second 
marginal R.V. the thought is in 
reahty a sequel to that which has 
preceded; no adultery, no alien 
friendship, can be tolerated by the 
Spirit, Who claims from us and in us 
an undivided affection. In adopting 
this interpretation the Scripture 
reference is not to any one passage, 
but rather to a combination of 

passages, or at any rate to their 
collective sense, as e.g. Deut. xxxii. 10, 
11, where we have the tender care of 
God for Israel described, and the same 
verb used as is here rendered 'yearn- 
eth,' and 19, 21, where we have 
the thought of God's jealousy ex- 
pressed in view of the nation's 
unfaithfulness; cf Zech. i. 14, viii. 2; 
see also Isaiah Ixiii. 8-16; Ezek. 
xxxvi. 17; Gen. vi. 3-5. 

It has indeed been further sug- 
gested that if the words before us 
are compared with Gal. v. 17, as 
affording a parallel to the words 
there used, 'the Spirit lusteth against 
the flesh,' so here 'the Spirit lusteth 
against envy,' there may be a common 
Hebrew original, a Hebrew gospel 
now lost to us, behind the two texts I 
But whilst it is no doubt trae that 
the preposition employed by St 
James, and in Gal., can well be 
rendered 'against' (as Luther, Ben- 
gel, and others have taken it here), 
yet such a rendering, allowable if 
hostility was implied, would be 
obviously out of place if we attach 
to the verb 'to yearn' its usual 
meaning of strong affection. A 
similar explanation has been at- 
tempted for the other part of the 
verse, 'the spirit which dwelleth in 
us,' by citing as parallels Rom. viii. 
9; 1 Cor. iii. 16. But if the differ- 
ence in reading between the expres- 
sion used by St James Tnade to dwell 
and that in Rom. and 1 Cor. dwelleth 
might be passed over, the difliculty 
in the above interpretation of the 

^ Amongst recent commentators von Soden and the Eomanist Trenkle, and 
in England Parry, St James, pp. 39 ff. The solution proposed by Weiss, viz. to 
regard the words after 'speaketh in vain' to 'grace' parenthetically, and to 
regard the interrupted quotation as taken up again in ' wherefore the scripture 
saith,' seems forced and not very natural. It is equally unsatisfactory to refer 

the words 'Or think ye saith in vain' to the latter part of v. 4, as not 

only is there no quotation in that verse, but the formula 'the scripture saith' 
refers more naturally to what follows than to what precedes. 

2 Resch, Agrapha, pp. 131, 256. (For the recent conjecture that the words 
irpbs Tbv 6tbv should be substituted for the words rendered 'unto yearning,' irpds 
<pd6vov, see Studien %md Krltiken, 4, 1904.) 

IV. 6] 



6 But he giveth imore grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, 

^ Gr. a greater grace. 

other part of the supposed quotation 
still remains. With regard to the two 
readings made to dwell (adopted 
here by nearly all modern editors) 
and dwelleth a striking passage in 
Hernias, Mand. iii. 1, may be 
quoted in connection with the verse 
under discussion ; ' again he saith 
to me, " Love truth, and let nothing 
but truth proceed out of thy mouth, 
that the Spirit which God made to 
dwell in this flesh may be found 
true in the sight of all men ; and 
thus shall the Lord who dwelleth in 
thee be glorified." ' Lightfoot appar- 
ently takes the word ' the Spirit ' as 
referring here to the Holy Spirit; 
and in Hermas, Sim,, v. 6. 5, we have 
' the Holy Preexistent Spirit which 
created the whole creation, God 
made to dwell in flesh that He de- 

6. But he giveth m,ore grace, or 
R.V. marg. 'a greater grace.' Adopt- 
ing the interpretation of the previous 
words as above, the best meaning 
appears to be that the Spirit of God 
bestows upon those who submit to 
the Divine will, and surrender them- 
selves to it entirely, richer supplies 
of grace to effect that complete sur- 
render to the yearnings of the Divine 
love, and to count all things as loss 
in re^^ponse to it. 

The words are sometimes taken 
as part of the quotation, but as the 
wi'iter at once supports the state- 
ment by a definite passage of Scrip- 
ture, it is best to regard this sentence 
in question as a complement to the 
preceding verse made by the writer, 
'the more we suirender, the more 
He bestows' (cf Mark x. 29, 30) ; and 
the greater our weakness, His grace 
is still sufidcieut. In a somewhat 

similar manner St Paul after a 
quotation from Gen. ii. 7, in 1 Cor. 
XV. 45, adds a complement in his 
own words. 

In advocating the reference of 
'spirit' in v. 5 to the human spirit, it 
is suggested that the words before us 
refer to a greater gift than that 
spirit, viz. the gift of regeneration, 
wherefore we should submit our- 
selves wholly to God, because the 
danger is greater in neglecting this 
greater gift. 

But this interpretation does not 
seem fully to recognise that the 
passage is not entirely one of stern 
warning : it is also one of expecta- 
tation ; the humble are thought of 
as well as the proud, and to the 
humble, as the words are taken 
above, God gives grace, and that too 
more abundantly, that they may 
respond to His afi"ection. 

Wherefore the scripture saith, 
R. v., but the words 'the scripture' are 
marked as not in the original, so that 
it is allowable to supply 'God' as the 
subject ; cf Ephes. iv. 8, or L 12 above ; 
or the verb may be regarded as 
impersonal. The quotation is from 
Prov. iii. 34 in the Lxx, with the 
exception of 'God' for 'Lord'; cf. 
1 Pet. v. 5, and for the thought Job 
xxii. 29. The main object of the 
quotation is evidently to justify the 
declaration as to the ungrudging 
bestowal of God's grace. At the 
same time we can easily understand 
how St James would identify the 
friends of the world witli 'the proud'; 
'the beginning of i)ride is wlicn one 
departeth from God, and his heart 
is turned away from his M;iker,' 
Ecclus. X. 12 ; cf Treiicli, Syii. L 
115 (cf. in. 18). The 'luwly' is set 



[IV. 6, 7 

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. 
7 Be subject therefore unto God ; but resist the devil, and 

over against the 'proud' as so often 
in the Psahns, as e.g. cxxxviii. 6, and 
in Ecclesiasticus ; see note on i. 9. 
In the Psalms of Solomon the same 
contrast is also found ; of. ii. 35, where 
the Sadducean princes and their 
party are spoken of as the 'proud' 
whom God lays low, because they 
know Him not, and where, as in 
vv. 14 ff., the Psalmist may well be 
tacitly contrasting the wealthy Sad- 
ducees with the poor and needy 
who have taken God alone for their 
hope and help, the God Who makes 
glad the soul of 'the humble' by 
opening His hand in mercy. This 
contrast meets us again in a striking 
manner in Luke i. 51, 52 (cf. Dida- 
che, iii. 9) ; and the question has been 
asked if St James was acquainted 
with the Magnificat. In answer it 
may at least be said that the thought 
expressed both here and there is one 
which breathed 'the atmosphere of 
religious life in which the Holy 
Family lived and which St James 
shared.' The pride or haughtiness 
here referred to was specially noted 
in our Lord's warning, Mark viL 
22, and it finds a place in 'the way of 
death,' Didache, v. 1, in contrast to 
'the way of life' (which is, first of all, 
the love of God, i. 2). 

resisteth, a word perhaps used to 
express, as in the metaphors of war- 
fare so common in St Paul, ' arrayeth 
himself against,' but see also below. 
The same quotation is found in Clem. 
Rom. Cor. xxx. 1, and it is probable 
that he may have borrowed it from 
St James, as it occurs in the same 
form, and as, in the context, we read : 
'holding ourselves aloof from all 
backbiting and evil-speaking (cf. St 
James iv. 11), being justified by 

works, and not by words.' It is 
interesting to note how often this 
verse quoted here finds a place in 
the Confessions of St Augustine. 

There seems no sufficient ground 
for regarding the words as a saying 
of our Lord (as Resch maintains), 
although Bphraem Syrus appears to 
cite them inexactly as such. 

7. Be subject. The antithesis in 
the original has been noted, although 
it can scarcely be pressed in English, 
'God setteth himself against the 
proud — set yourselves as under God.' 
This submission, so hard for the 
proud and self-reliant, ought to be 
natm-al for the truly lowly, for they 
serve in reality only one Master, even 
God; cf. Col. iii. 22 ; Tit. ii. 9 ; Didache, 
iv. 11; or the thought of warfare 
may still be prominent, 'be subject 
to God, and not enemies to Him.' 
The verb is frequently used in 
the Psalms of submission to God: 
cf. 2 Mace. ix. 12. The tense 
and mood in the Greek denote both 
here and in the word ' resist ' urgent 
entreaty and command. 

but resist, R.V.; cf. 1 Pet. v. 9. 
'But' retained not only by R.V. but 
by W.H. (perhaps dropped out in 
A.V. with the view of giving to the 
clause a more independent form). 

However submissive, yet as loyal 
subjects they must resist the enemy 
of the Lord. The verb is not the 
same as above, v. 6, although both in 
A. and R.V. the two verbs are ren- 
dered by the same English word, 
and may perhaps continue the same j 
military metaphor; cf. for use of the 
verb in lxx, Wisd. xi. 3, 21 ; Ecclus. 
xlvi. 7; 1 Esd. ii. 19. 

the devil, i.e. the slanderer, who 
slanders God to man and man to 

IV. 7, 8] 



8 he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw 
nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners ; and purify 

offering sacrifices or ministering in 
the Temple, but also in a wider 
sense, Isaiah xxix. 13; Hos. xii. 6; 
and in the N.T. Heb. vii. 19. The 
teaching is similar both in sub- 
stance and form to several O.T. 
passages ; of. 2 Chron. xv. 2 ; Zech. 
i. 3 ; Mai. iii. 7 ; and see also Isaiah 
Ivii. 15, to which our Lord refers, 
Mark vii. 6. It is noticeable that in 
Test. xii. Pat, Dan 7. 6, we have 
the exhortation to fear the Lord and 
beware of Satan and his spirits closely 
followed by the exhortation, 'Draw 
nigh to God,' but the context, 'and 
to the angel who prays for you,' 
stands out in contrast to the teach- 
ing of St James before us. In 
resisting the devil it may be said 
that ipso facto one draws nigh unto 
God, or it may be objected that 
St James does not follow the correct 
order in placing resistance to the 
devil before the approach to God, 
since prayer is the first and best 
means of resistance ; but it is likely 
enough that St James was thinking 
of a man hard pressed by temptation 
calling upon God in his trouble, and 
that he wished to assure him of 
God's gracious response to his need. 
'He will draw nigh unto you,' 
laetissimum verhmn, 'a most glad- 
some word,' says Bengel. Here 
again, in the fuller sense of God's 
presence, the promise was verified, 
'He giveth more gi-ace.' 

Cleanse your hands. As the 
word to draw near w;is used on 
occasions in connection with the 
approach of the priests to the Lord, 
Exod. xix. 2-2, and afterwards of 
spiritual worship, so the washing 

God, and in whose work men 
associate themselves by envy, hatred 
and discord; of. John viii. 44; no 
wonder that St James pleads for 
resistance to such works with the 
word 'brethren' on his lips, v. 11. 

and he will flee, perhaps ' shall 
flee,' not merely an assurance from 
man to man, but a Divine promise ; 
laetum verbum, 'a gladsome word,' 
says Bengel; cf. 1 John v. 18. Our 
Lord's own temptation shows us how 
submission to the will and appoint- 
ment of God issues in the defeat 
and flight of the Evil One. Here 
again an attempt has been made to 
refer the words 'Resist the devil' 
etc. to an imrecorded saying of our 
Lord, and to refer to the same source 
the passages 1 Pet. v. 8 ; Ephes. vi. 
11, 13 (iv. 27). But it is of course 
quite possible that such sayings might 
have formed part of the common 
stock of Apostolic teaching and exhor- 
tation, in fact, a current maxim ^ A 
striking parallel to the words of St 
James is undoubtedly presented by 
Hernias, Mand. xii. 5. 2, where in 
connection with the devil we read, 
' if ye resist him he will be van- 
quished and will flee from you dis- 
graced'; cf also xii. 4. 7. But in 
view of the early date which we 
assign to the Epistle, Hermas may 
fairly be supposed to have St James 
in mind, and there is no need to refer 
his words also to some lost Hebrew 
gospel. The second part of the 
verse also occurs in Testaments of 
the xii. Patriarchs, Napht. 8 (cf. 
Issach. 7, Dan 5, etc.). 

8. Draw nigh to God; used in 
the Lxx specially of the priests 

1 Kopes, Die Spriiche Jesu, p. 41, in answer to Dr Rfisch, 



[IV. 8, 9 

9 your hearts, ye doubleminded. Be afflicted, and mourn, 

and cleansing of hands was connected 
primarily with ceremonial purity, 
and then with moral purity; of. 
Exod. XXX. 19-21 ; Ps. xxvi. 6 ; 
Isaiah i. 16, etc. It is quite possible 
that as the writer has spoken of 
drawing nigh to God, which would 
no doubt be taken to include at all 
events the thought of drawing nigh 
in prayer, he is thinking here of the 
pure hands raised in prayer to God ; 
of. 1 Tim. ii. 8; Clem. Rom. Cor. 
xxix. 1, 'let us therefore approach 
Ilim in holiness of soul, lifting up 
pure and undefiled hands unto Him.' 
It is also quite possible that as the 
writer had spoken of fightings and 
murders in Jewish social life, he may 
have used the expression of the hands 
as the instriunents of action (cf. 
Isaiah i. 15, lix. 2, 3), and so they are 
also spoken of by Philo. Men with 
hands so stained with blood could 
not draw nigh unto God; cf. Ps. 
xxiv. 1-4. 

ye sinners. The word shows what 
kind of cleansing is meant, and men 
guilty of sins such as those described 
might well be summed up mider 
such a category; the word is in 
itself a call to repentance, to change 
of heart and life. It was, we may 
note, a term characteristic also of a 
Jewish wi-iter; cf. its frequency not 
only in the Book of Enoch, but in 
the Psalms of Solomon, where it is 
often used to denote not Romans or 
heathens but irreligious Jews. 

purify your hearts. This clause 
and the preceding are strikingly 
combined in Ps. xxiv. 4, Ixxiii. 13. 
The verb is again one used primarily 
of ceremonial purification, as con- 
stantly in Lxx, but here it is used of 
spiritual cleansing: cf. 1 Pet. i. 22; 
1 Joh. iii. 3 

On the doubleminded, see on 1. 8; cf. 
Hos. X. 2 ; and Hermas, Mand. ix. 7, 
with an evident reminiscence of the 
warning of St James, 'cleanse thy 
heart from doublemindedness,' and 
Clem. Rom. Cor. xi. 2, show how the 
sin was noted in the early Church 
as one for special warning. In 
Testametits of the Twelve Patri- 
archs, Asher 3, we have an interest- 
ing passage in the present connec- 
tion : ' The double-faced serve not 
God but their own lusts, to please 
Beliar, and men like to him.' In 
modern literature we may recall 
John Bunyan's Mr Facing-both- 

We must remember that St James 
does not address two different 
classes, but that the sinners and the 
doubleminded are the same. 

It is possible that in the purifying, 
rendered sometimes 'make chaste,' 
we have an allusion to the adultery 
of V. 4, but the latter expression may 
be best explained as above in com- 
ment on that verse, and those guilty 
of acts of lust, envy, murder, are also 
guilty of this spiritual adultery. 

The likeness to our Lord's teach- 
ing as to the undivided mind and 
the purity of heart essential to the 
true service of God is unmistakable ; 
cf. Matt. xxiv. 51, and xv. 1-9. 

9. Be afflicted. The word may 
refer to the inward feeling of 
wretchedness following on the sense 
of sin, even in a contrite heart ; the 
Romanist commentators for the 
most part take it of abstinence from 
comfort and luxury, such outward 
acts of mortification being regarded 
as the expression of inward sorrow, 
and as a help to break the power of 
sin. St James was himself noted 
for his ascetic life, and fasting and 

IV. 9] 



and weep : let your laughter be turned to mourning, and 

sackcloth were the frequent ac- 
companiments, in Jewish prophetic 
language, of the call to repentance : 
Jer. iv. 8; Joel i. 13, 14. It would 
therefore seem quite natural that 
he should insist upon the volimtary 
assumption of hardship and labour, 
and the word may be used here of 
the endurance of such labours, as it 
is used primarily of enduring hard- 
ship in classical Greek. But it should 
be also noted that in the Lxx the cog- 
nate noun and adjective are often 
used to denote wretchedness and 
misery, and so in classical Greek ; and 
the word may be used here much as 
is the adjective in Rom. vii. 24, Rev. 
ill. 17, to describe the sense of 
wretchedness consequent on sin. 
Clem. Rom. Cor. xxiii. 3, after a 
warning against doublemindedness, 
adds words of interest in the present 
connection : ' Let this scripture be 
far from us where He saith : Wretch- 
ed are the douhleminded, which 
doubt in their soul and say, These 
things we did hear in the days of 
our fathers also, and behold we have 
grown old, and none of these things 
hath befallen us.' 

and mourn, and weep. If the 
previous verb expresses the inward 
grief and pain, the mourning and 
weeping may denote its outward 
manifestation. The two verbs are 
joined together as in 2 Sara. xix. 1 ; 
Neh. viii. 9 ; cf our Lord's own words, 
Luke vi. 25 (Mark xvi. 10 ; Rev. 
xviii. 15, 19). The grief has some- 
times been referred to clothing in 
sackcloth and other such external 
evidence of sorrow, and these, as we 
have seen above, might well be in- 
cluded among the Jews, but in any 
case a godly sorrow, a change of 
heart and mind must result. The 

cast of St James's language here is 
very similar to that of the old 
Hebrew prophets; cf. e.g. Jer. ix. 
18; Joel i. 10; Micah iii. 4; Zech. 
xi. 2. 

let your laughter... and your joy, 
R.V., employing the pronoun with 
each noun. We may compare again 
for the language, Amos viii. 10; 
Prov. xiv. 13 ; Tobit ii. 6 ; 1 Mace, 
ix. 41, etc. ; and also our Lord's own 
prophecy, Luke vi. 25, which St James 
may have had in mind. 

Laughter and joy are not of course 
evil in themselves ; cf e.g. Job viii. 
21, where God filleth the mouth 
with laughter. It is noticeable how- 
ever that the noun ' laughter ' is only 
found here in the N.T. and the verb 
only twice in Luke vi. 21, 25, and 
this rarity has suggested the remark 
that so little is heard of ' laughter ' 
in the N.T. because Hebrew laughter 
was a grave and serious thing ; ' it 
had had no comedy to degrade it.' 
But in this passage the stress is laid 
on your laughter, your joy ; it was the 
unseemly laughter and merriment of 
the friend of the world, the sport of 
the fool, which St James reproved; 
Prov. X. 23. 

heaviness; only twice in Biblical 
Greek, but the cognate adjective 
occiu's Wisd. xvii. 6. The noun is 
found often in Philo, and it occurs 
also in classical Greek and in Jose- 
phus. Literally it signifies a casting 
of the eyes downwards, and it is used 
by Plutarch, Thetn. 9, as a synonym 
of despondency, despair. Here St 
James calls upon the 'sinners' to 
adopt as it were the attitude of the 
publican who could only call himself 
' the sinner,' and who ' would not so 
much as lift up his eyes unto heaven,' 
Luke xviii. 13. 



[IV. 9-11 

10 your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of 
the Lord, and he shall exalt you. 

11 Speak not one against another, brethren. He that 
speaketh against a brother, or judgeth his brother, speak- 

10. Humble yourselves. This may 
refer back to the promise of ». 6 ; 
or it may be that as the writer has 
bidden them to cleanse themselves 
and to draw nigh to God, they are 
now thought of more specially as 
'in the sight of the Lord' (in the 
parallel, 1 Pet. v. 6, it is noteworthy 
that the expression is different), in 
Whose presence the haughtiness of 
men shall be brought low, but Who 
dwells with the humble and contrite 
spirit; cf. also the language of 
Ecclus. ii. 17, iii. 18. 

the Lord, i.e. God, not Christ in 
this passage ; cf. v. 7. 

shall exalt you, R. V. This render- 
ing brings the words more closely 
into connection with the words of 
our Lord; cf. Matt, xxiii. 12; Luke 
xiv. 11. At the same time the 
teaching would be also familiar to 
every Jew in the O.T. ; cf. Job v. 11 ; 
Ezek. xxi. 26, etc.; so also Testaments 
of the Twelve Patriarchs, Jos. 18, 
'if ye walk in the commandments 
of the Lord, he will exalt you.' For 
the further bearing of the words 
see note on i. 9. 

11. Speak not one against another, 
brethren, KV. In A.V. 'speak not 
evil,' etc. ; so in Rom. i. 30, the cognate 
adjective == backbiters in both A.V, 
and R.V., but the word does not 
always contain the idea of secrecy. 
Humility before God and the friend- 
ship of God would guard from this 
sin and love of censoriousness and 
fault-finding, not only because the 
love of God must mean love of men 
as brethren, but also because true 
humility would prevent every Clnis- 

tian from usurping the right of God 
to be the sole judge. St James had 
already insisted upon the same 
urgent necessity of freedom from 
this fault, and here the whole 
previous context might have well 
led him to recur to a similar exhor- 
tation. The command seems to be 
quite general — cf. ' one another ' and 
' brethren ' — and not to be confined 
to the teachers as some have thought, 
or to those who may have been 
tempted to refuse brotherly love to 
the sinners and 'adulterers' who 
had vexed them with their lawless 
deeds. The verb (although only in 
1 Pet. ii. 12, iii. 16, elsewhere in 
N.T.) is frequent in lxx, and cf. for 
its meaning here Ps. 1. 20, ci. 5, and 
Testaments of the Ticelve Patri- 
archs, Gad 5. The cognate noun 
occiu'S Wisdom i. 11, where however 
it is used of disparagement of God. 
The same noun is fomid 2 Cor. xii. 
20, 1 Pet. ii. 1, of evil-speaking 
against men, and for the same sense 
cf. Clem. Rom. Cor. xxx. 1, 3, where 
it occurs in a context which reminds 
us closely of St James, inasmuch as 
the same quotation from Prov. iii. 6 
occurs. In Hermas, Maud. iL 2, it 
is noteworthy that we have both the 
verb and the noun: 'First of all 
speak evil of no man... evil-speaking 
is evil ; it is a restless demon, never 
at peace, etc' 

He tlmt speaketh against a brother, 
or judgeth his brother, R.V., but 
A.V. renders ''his brother' in both 
cases, and instead of 'or judgeth' 
renders 'and judgeth.' But the 
pronoun 'his' is only found in the 

IV. 1], 12] 



eth against the law, and judgeth the law : but if thou 

judgest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 

12 One only is the lawgiver and judge, even he who is able to 

original in the second clause, where 
it intensifies the appeal to brother- 
hood (the word 'brother' occurs thrice 
in this sentence), and in the second 
clause the disjunctive *or' is sup- 
ported by the highest authorities. 

To speak evil presupposes a judg- 
ment already formed, but on the other 
hand, the act of judgment in the 
context may indicate something more 
fonnal and definite than the evil- 
speaking, or the two terms may be 
practically synonymous ; cf. v. 12, 
where only the latter verb is used 
(Matt. vli. 1). In connection with 
the warning here we may read 
Didache^ ii. 3, 7, 'Thou shalt not 
speak evil... thou shalt not hate any 
man, but some thou shalt reprove, 
and for some thou shalt pray, and 
others thou shalt love more than thy 

speaketh against the law, i.e. the 
royal law, 'Thou shaJt love thy 
neighbour as thyself,' ii. 8, a refer- 
ence which is rightly made plain by 
the RV. reading, v. 12, 'who art 
thou that judgest thy neighbour?^ 
By speaking against his neighbour 
a man speaks against the law of 
brotherhood, and practically declares 
for the abrogation of the law. As 
elsewhere, St James takes up a 
previous phrase and repeats it in 
the context; cf. note on i. 4. 

It is tempting to take the law as 
meaning the whole Mosaic law, and 
it is no doubt probable that the 
question of the observance of that 
law had already been mooted. From 
the first some Jewish-Christians had 
foreseen that it was only transitory, 
and perhaps some of these might 
have been tempted to speak against 

others who were strong in its obser- 
vance. But St James is not himself 
prepared for this, and so he reminds 
them that none can change this law 
but the only Lawgiver and Judge. 
It is, however, best on the whole in 
accordance with the general tone of 
the passage to interpret the words 
as above. 

hut if thou judgest. By this act of 
judgment and setting yourself ipso 
facto above the law you pass out of 
the category of 'doers of the law' and 
you arrogate to yourself the position 
of a judge to which you have no 
right (see next verse); cf. Matt. vii. 1. 

12. One only is the lawgiver 
and judge, R.V. The words 'and 
judge' are added by R.V., W.H. 
You cannot 'lay down the law' in 
the sense of either enactment or 
pronomicement, since both enact- 
ment and pronouncement are with 
Him Who has the power of life and 
death; cf. John xix. 11, and the 
teaching of St Peter and St Paul, 
1 Pet. ii. 13, Rom. xiii. 1. 

one, emphatic; not man, but One 
Who is the ultimate and only source 
of all law. The reference is not to 
Christ here, as some have urged from 
v. 9, but to God ; see Isaiah xxxiiL 
22, where God is spoken of aa judge 
and lawgiver. 

lawgiver, a classical word, only 
found here in N.T., but cognate verb 
and noun occur in N.T. and in Lxx. 

even he, R.V., drawing out the 
force of the '•One only' and closely 
connected with it. 

able to save and to destroy, since 
He alone has control over the issues 
of life and death: 2 Kings v. 7; 
Luke vi 9; cf. also Matt. x. 28. 



[IV. 12, 13 

save and to destroy : but who art thou that judgest thy 
neighbour ? 
13 Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will 

In Hermas, Mand. xii. 6. 3, Sim. 
ix. 23. 4, similar expressions are 
referred to God, a fact which speaks 
for the reference of the words law- 
giver and judge to Him as above. 
(It is to be remembered however 
that the reference in Matt. x. 28 to 
God has been keenly disputed, as 
e.g. by F. D. Maurice ; see also the 
margin in loco.) 

With the words and thought we 
may compare Sayings of the Fathers, 
iv. 31, 32, where God is spoken of as 
the framer, the creator, and the dis- 
cerner, and the judge... with Whom 
is no iniquity, nor forgetfulness, nor 
respect of persons... ybr all is His: 
'Let not thine imagination assume 
then that the grave is an asylum, for 
perforce thou wast framed ( Jer. xviii. 
6), and perforce thou wast born, and 
perforce thou livest, and perforce 
thou diest, and perforce thou art 
about to give account and reckoning 
before the King of the kings of kings, 
the Holy One, blessed is He.' 

but who art thou that judgest thy 
neighbour? marking the powerless- 
ness of man in contrast to the 
supreme power of God: 'but thou 
who art thou?' etc. Cf. for the 
question Rom. ix. 20, xiv. 4. The 
attitude of men in presence of God 
is best marked by Clem. Rom. Cur. 
xiiLff., where, after quoting the words 
of Christ, 'As ye judge, so shall ye 
be judged,' he proceeds to exhort to 
lowliness of mind, and instances 
Abraham, who in the presence of 
the Judge of all the earth exclaimed, 
/ am dust and ashes ; and the law- 
giver Moses, through whose minis- 
tration God judged Egj-pt, who said 

at the bush, Who am I that thou 
sendest me? 

thy neighbour? So R.V., W.H. 
and all editors. 

'Judge not thy friend,' said Hillel, 
' until thou comest into his place' ; cf. 
Sayings of the Fathers, ii. 5. 

13. Go to note; only here and in 
v. 1 in the N.T.^ The phrase is used, 
like an adverb, to arouse attention, 
and in this case special attention to 
the waniings which follow. 

ye that say. The whole section to 
ch. V. 6 is sometimes taken to refer 
not so much to Christians, as to the 
rich outside the Christian community; 
cf. ii. 6. But we cannot be sure, in 
the first place, that the same persons 
are addressed in iv. 13-17 as in v. 
1-6 (see below on v. 1), and it is 
possible to insist too much upon a 
parallelism between the two sections 
on the ground that they both com- 
mence with the same 'Go to now.' 

It is quite true that in the section 
begun thus, iv. 13-17, the word 
'brethren' is wanting, but so it is in 
iv. 1, while it is scarcely fair to 
allege that the call to repentance is 
also wanting, as it may be heard in the 
language of vv. 15, 17. At the same 
time it is evident that the exhorta- 
tions and warnings are of such a kind 
as would be fitly addressed to Jewish 
Christians engaged Uke so many of 
their fellow-countrymen in the rest- 
less activity of commercial enterprise ; 
men engrossed in business and its 
gains would be jieculiarly liable to a 
friendship with 'the world' and to 
the sins of presumption, improvi- 
dence, and pride (see below). 

To-day or to-morrow. So A. and 

^ On the phrase and its Biblical use see Hastings' B.D. ii. 194, 

IV. 13, 14] 



go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and 
14 get gain : whereas ye know not what shall be on the 

we will go, so A. and R.V., i.e. 
'will make our journey,' as if from 
this point of view all was mapped 
out definitely and securely ; of. note 
on the noun in i. 10 rendered 'goings,' 
R.V. The future indicative (rather 
than the conjunctive which is render- 
ed by some authorities) emphasises 
this confidence in their own plans, 
and the samepresumptuouscertainty. 

mto this city, R.V., i.e. that par- 
ticular city which each intending 
traveller had in his mind, or which 
each points out as it were upon the 
map. A.V. renders 'into such a city,' 
i.e. this or that city, indefinitely, as 
if the writer was quite unaware what 
city the speakers would name. The 
former rendering seems here to fit 
in best with the context, as the more 

and spend a year there, R.V., the 
noun being the object of the verb 
and not simply accusative of dura- 
tion. This rendering brings out more 
vividly and more coiTcctly than A.V. 
the thought that their time was 
regarded as in their own power to 
measure out as they pleased. The 
reading 'one year' is retained by 
some authorities (although omitted 
by A. and R.V., W.H. and Mayor); 
'one year,' 'so they speak,' writes 
Bengel, 'as if soon alM)ut to deliberate 
as to the following years.' 

and trade, R.V., 'buy and sell,' 
A.V. The verb in the original = 
primarily to travel, and then to 
travel for traffic or business, to act 
as a merchant; so in Lxx, Gen. xxxiv. 
10, 21. 

and get gain. Their hearts were 
with their treasures, and so in 

R.V., following the Received Text, 
and so in this case Mayor and W.H. 
Another reading gives 'to-day and 
to-morrow,' and it is urged that this 
makes the boasting more marked, 
inasmuch as a longer journey is thus 
intimated, and confidence is assumed 
not only with regard to to-morrow, 
but also in regard to the day after. 
It may also be said that 'to-day and 
to-morrow' had become a proverbial 
Jewish expression, denoting the 
present and the immediate future 
(cf. Luke xiii. 32, 33), and thus St 
James might naturally employ it 
here. Possibly the same phrase may 
be found in Psalms of Solomon, v. 
15^ But with either reading, a 
warning is plainly directed against 
the man who forgets to say 'my times 
are in Thy band,' Psalm xxxi. 15; cf. 
also Luke xii. 16 6". 

'If St James rebukes the pre- 
sumption of those who say, "to-day 
or to-morrow we will go," etc., Seneca 
in a similar spirit says that the wise 
man will "never promise himself any- 
thing on the security of fortune, but 
will say, I will sail unless anything 
happen, and, I vnll become praetor 
unless anything happen, and, my 
business will turn out well for me 
unless anything happen,"' Lightfoot, 
Philipplans, p. 287 (and for further 
similar instances cf Wetstein in loco). 
Philo has an interesting passage. 
Leg. Alleg. ii. p. 103b, 'The husband- 
man says, "I will cast seeds, I wiU 
plant, the plants will grow, they will 
bear fruit,".,. but he who made these 
calculations did not enjoy them, but 
died beforehand ; it is best to trust 
God, and not uncertain calculations.' 

1 See James and Kyle's edition, p. .^59. The reading 'and' in the verse before 
us is supported amongst modern editors by Beyschlag and von tjodcn. 

110 JAMES [IV. 14 

morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapour, that 

thought they map out each stage 
of the progress to the goal they had 
set before them, with no doubt 
whatever as to the certainty of the 
issue. The cumulative force of the 
conjunction ' and ' is thus strikingly 
marked here (cf. i. 24), while the 
attractive hold of the friendship of 
the world is witnessed to by the one 
object of their journey — to get gain. 
The picture here drawn is quite con- 
sistent with what we know at this 
early period of the trading migratory 
life of the Jews of the Dispersion : 
cf. Acts xviii. 2, 18; Rom. xvi. 3. 
(Carr's note in the Cambridge Greek 
Testament is interesting in its quo- 
tations bearing on the commercial 
life of the Jews.) 

14. whereas ye know not; in ap- 
position to the preceding nomina- 
tive : 'seeing that ye belong to a class 
of persons, to persons whose nature 
is such that they know not,' etc. 

what shall he on the morrow, lit. 
the thing, the event of to-morrow ; 
so R.V. or, according to another 
reading, adopted by W.H. in marg., 
plural, ' the things, the events of to- 
morrow'; cf. for similar phrases Luke 
XX. 25 ; Rom. xiv. 19 ; 2 Cor. xi. 30'. 
In relation to the morrow an almost 
similar expression meets us in lxx, 
Prov. xxvii. 1, where we read in 
the spirit of St James, 'boast not 
thyself of to-morrow'; and none had 
emphasised more strongly the folly 

of building on to-morrow than our 
Lord Himself; cf. Luke xii. 16. 

In heathen sources the same 
teaching as to the limit of man's 
knowledge of the future was very 
general ; so e.g. Seneca writes, ' No 
one has gods so propitious that he 
can promise to himself to-morrow.' 
Phokylides declares, ' No one knows 
what shall be on the day after to- 
morrow, or during the next hour.' 
The Jews teU how Rabbi Simeon, 
on returning from a feast at which 
a man had boasted that he would 
keep old wine for the joy of his son, 
was met by the angel of death, who 
told him that he was appointed to 
destroy those who boasted that 
they were able to do this or that, 
and that accordingly the boaster 
should die after 30 days (Wetstein, 
in loco). It has been suggested that 
the words may mean that they are 
peoi>le of such a kind as not to know 
the one thing which the future of 
to-morrow must bring ('the thing 
of to-morrow'), viz. the transitoriness 
of all that is around them ; but this 
is rather a strained interpretation of 
the Greek. 

What is your life? So R. V., placing 
a full-stop after the preceding clause. 
This would not be unfitting for the 
abrupt style of St James, but the 
conjunction 'for' if retained naturally 
explains and substantiates their lack 
of knowledge. Perhaps better 'of 

1 It should be noted that there is another reading adopted by W.H. and 
Dr Plummer, and by Dr B. Weiss in Germany, which might be rendered as 
follows : ' whereas ye know not on the morrow of what kind your life shall be.' 
But it may be fairly urged that the thought thus expressed is weaker than that 
of the reading adopted in the text, since it presupposes that they wiU still live 
on the following day, whereas even the morrow, in the rendering preferred, 
is represented as something doubtful. See also Mayor's criticism on the 
weakening of the passage, and on the harshness of the construction in the 
proposed alteration. 

IV. 14] 



appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 

what kind is your life,' in a de- 
preciatory sense (cf. 1 Pet. ii. 20), of 
what a sorry, pitiable nature. Bede 
would interpret the expression of 
the life of the ungodly, since the 
writer says ' your life ' not ' our life ' ; 
but the thought is more general, and 
reminds all readers of the fleeting 
nature of human life (although in 
Wisdom ii. 4, v. 14, the context 
refers somewhat similar words to the 
life of the ungodly). 

For ye are a vapour. The (second) 
'for' (omitted by W.H. in marg.) con- 
tinues the same depreciatory note. 
In A.V, 'it is even a vapour,' but 
R.V. is strongly supported and also 
gives a much stronger sense ; the 
life is not seen, but ye, says St James, 
are seen, although only for a little 
while ; cf. what is said of the rich in 
i. 10. From another point of view 
indeed, and in so far as men were 
mindful that they belonged to 'the 
things unseen eternal,' that the 
spirit does not mean the breath, 
they would also know that the true 
Christian had in his true self an 
abiding possession although the out- 
ward man decayed ; cf. esp. Heb. x. 
34, R.V. marg. 

a vajyiur; only here in N.T. and 
in Acts ii. 19 (from Joel ii. 30), trans- 
lated as here ; so in A.V, marg. 
Wisdom vii. 25. It has in the O.T. 
and Apoc. more generally the 
meaning of smoke, as of the altar 
or furnace. In Clem. Rom. Cor. 
xvii. 6, it is found (in a quotation 
perhaps from Eldad and Medad) as 
meaning 'I am smoke from a pot,' 
or perhaps 'steam from a kettle,' 
giving the word the signification 
which it has also in classical Greek, 
wherever it is used of smoke or 
steam, Lat. vapor. There is some- 

thing to be said for rendering it here 
by 'breath,' as one or two recent 
commentators urge, on the ground 
that this rendering would emphasise 
the comparison which is evidently 
intended to something of the most 
fleeting and transient character. It 
is noteworthy that although we can- 
not quote Lxx in support of this 
meaning in a context similar to the 
passage before us, yet in the version 
of Aquila the word is used to express 
' vanity of vanities,' Ecclesiast. xii. 8, 
whilst Theodotion renders Ps. IxiL 
9, ' only vanity are the sons of man- 
kind,' by the same word, meaning 
'breath' (cf. the meaning of the 
Hebrew word used), and so again 
he renders Ps. cxliv. 4, ' man is like 
a thing of nought,' by the same 
Greek word, to translate the Hebrew 

that appeareth for a little time, etc. 
The force of the best supported 
reading may be expressed even more 
fully, 'which appeareth for a little 
while, and afterwards so vanisheth, 
as it appeared ' ; appearing, and dis- 
appearing as it came. With the 
imagery of the verse we may com- 
pare Ps. cii. 3, cxliv. 4 ; Job viii. 9 ; 
Wisdom ii. 4, v. 14 ; and similar 
imagery is frequent outside the N.T. 
Thus Aeschylus speaks of human life 
as U'^ thing more sure than a shadow 
of smoke, Horace speaks of men as 
being simply dust and shade, and 
parallel expressions meet us in Pin- 
dar and Sophocles. St Gregory of 
Nazianzus thus sums up tlie diff"ercnt 
comparisons instituted to enforce the 
lesson of the uncertainty of human 
life : ' We are a fleeting dream, a 
phantom which caimot be grasped, 
the scud of a passing breeze, a ship 
that leaves uo track upon the sea, 



[IV. 15 

15 ^For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both 

Gr. Instead of your saying. 

dust, a vapour, morning dew, a 
flower that now springs up and now 
is done away': see Speaker's Com- 
mentary on Wisdom ii. 5^ One 
striking passage from one of the best 
and noblest of the Stoics siiows how 
much the highest ethical teaching 
outside the N.T. wanted of the sure 
and certain hope which fortified 
Christian resignation even in the 
darkest struggles of life. Marcus 
Antoninus, ll. 17, writes, 'everything 
which belongs to the body is a 
stream, and what belongs to the 
soul is a dream and vapour, and life 
is a warfare and a stranger's sojourn, 
and after-fame is oblivion. What 
then can keep a man straight ? one 
thing and only one, philosophy, and 
this consists in keeping the divinity 
within free from violence and un- 
harmed, superior to pains and 
pleasure ; in waiting cheerfully for 
death, as being nothing else than a 
dissolution of the elements of which 
every living being is compounded.... 
For this is according to nature, and 
nothing is evil which is according to 
nature.' The interesting story is 
well known of the preaching of 
Christianity at the Court of Edwin 
of Deira by Paulinus, and what en- 
sued, in consideration of the light 
thrown by the new faith upon what 
had preceded and what followed the 
life of man, 'which appeared for a 
little time'; see Bede, ii. 13. The 
pagan priest had already asked that 
the new religion might be inquired 
into, and he was followed by a lay 
noble in words so touching that 

the poet Wordsworth thought them 
worthy of his verse {Eccles. Sonnets, 
16): 'The present life of man, O 
king, seems to me like to the swift 
flight of a sparrow through the room, 
wherein you sit at supper in the 
winter with your commanders and 
ministers, and a good fire in the 
midst, whilst the storms of rain and 
snow prevail abroad ; the sparrow 
flies in at one door and immediately 
out at another ; while within, he is 
safe from the wintry storm, but soon 
he vanishes out of your sight fi-om 
one winter to another.' 'So,' he 
added, 'this life of man appears for 
a short space, but of what went 
before, or what is to follow, we are 
wholly ignorant.' ' If therefore,' he 
concluded, 'this new doctrine con- 
tains something more certain, it 
seems justly to deserve to be fol- 
lowed.' Paulinus was heard, and 
the conversion of the people ensued. 
15. Fur that ye ought to say; 
but R.V. marg. 'instead of your 
saying,' plainly referring the words 
back to 'ye that say' in v. 13, v. 14 
being regarded as parenthetical. 

If the Lord will, i.e. God: cf. Acts 
xviii. 21 ; 1 Cor. iv. 19, xvi. 7 ; 
Heb. vi. 3. Similar sayings may be 
quoted from classical wi-iters. In 
Sayings of the Fathers, ii. 4, we 
read, ' Do His will as if it were thy 
will, that He may do thy will as if it 
were His will, annul thy will before 
His will, that He may annul the will 
of others before thy will'; and in 
Didaclie, iii. 9, it is part of 'the way 
of life ' to receive the accidents that 

1 In the R.V. we have the article expressed in the phrase ' which appeareth 
for a little while,' but W.H. omit it. Mayor however defends its retention, and 
remarks that thus ' the tendency to appear and disappear is made a property of 
the vapour, and not a mere accidental circumstance.' 

IV. 15, l6] 



16 live, and do this or that. But now ye glory in your vaunt- 

shall befall men as good, knowing 
that nothing is done without God. 
So too we may compare the saying 
of Ben Sira, quoted by Grotius, ' Let 
a man never say that he will do 
anything unless he first says, "If 
God will.'" For Jew and Christian 
ahke a living personal Will ruled 
the universe; the very word 'Lord' 
used by both of them signified 
One Who had authority and con- 

tee shall both live, and do this or 
that, R.V., making it evident that 
our life as well as oiu- actions is 
equally determined by God. The 
Textus Receptus (but not A.V.) 
reads the verb 'live' in the sub- 
junctive, and the sense would be ' if 
the Lord will and we live, we shall 
do this or that.' But the rendering 
is not so correct in meaning as above, 
although it is found in the Syriac 
and the Vulgate, because it really 
regards our life as independent of 
God, and the weight of manuscript 
authority is undoubtedly against it. 
Equally forcible objections may be 
made against reading the verb 'live' 
as the future indicative, and yet 
placing it in the protasis, for the 
incorrect meaning is in this way still 
retained, and the construction in 
the original would be considerably 
strained. It is noteworthy that the 
repetition of the conjunctions 'both' 
...'and' may be compared with the 
repetition of the same conjunctions 
in V. 13, and may thus bear out the 
above rendering as being in accord 
with St James's style. 

16. But now,i.e. as the case stands, 
instead of saying what you ought to 
say : cf 1 Cor. v. 1 1, xiv. 6 ; and Luke 
xix. 42. 

ye glory, R.V. The verb is used 


elsewhere of glorying with or with- 
out reason ; so frequently in lxx. 

your vauntings, R.V., i.e. in such 
speeches as in v. 13, 'we will go.. .we 
vdll get gain,' and in their anticipa- 
tion of time to do all this would be 
their 'boasting'; cf Pro v. xxvii. I, 
' boast not thyself of to-morrow, for 
thou knowest not what a day may 
bring forth.' In classical Greek the 
word is often associated with brag- 
gart and boasting talk, and Plato 
joins together 'false and boastful 
words'; in Wisd. ii. 16 the cognate 
verb is used contemptuously or of 
vaunting and idle bragging ; and St 
Clement of Rome, Cor. xxi. 5, speaks 
of foohsh and senseless men who 
exalt themselves and boast in the 
arrogance of their words, using the 
same noun as, and for 'boast' a verb 
closely allied to, that employed by 
St James; see also on ^?. 6 above. 
But the word may be employed here 
quite generally of empty presumption 
and display, which manifest a trust 
in the stability of earthly things, and 
it was so interpreted in this verse by 
the earlier co mmentators Oecumen ius 
and Theophylact; cf. 1 John ii. 16, 
and Wisd. v. 8, where we read, 'what 
hath pride profited us ? or what good 
hath riches with vaunting brought 
us ? all those things are passed away 
like a shadow'; cf. also 2 Mace. ix. 8, 
of the braggart vauntingof Antiochus 
Bpiphanes, and see also for further 
similar use 4 Mace. i. 26. The plural 
may be used here to mark the 
various ways in which this display, 
this pride of life, may assert itself. 
We have perhaps no word which 
renders the noun at all so adequate' ly 
as the German 'Prahlcrci,' as Trench 
points out, and it may be noted that 
it ifl so rendered in the German 




[iv. 16, 17 

17 ings : all such glorying is evil. To him therefore that 
knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. 

translation of the passage 4 Mace. 
i. 26. 

all such glorying. There is a 
glorying which is commended (cf. 
i. 9), but not such glorying; the 
glorying here is merely bragging 
and boasting : cf. 1 Cor. v. 6. 

17. This may be taken either as 
a conclusion of all that has gone 
before, reaching back to i. 22, or as 
referring to the particular sin of 
presumption, and to such words as 
those in v. 13. But it is not quite 
easy to see why St James should intro- 
duce a general maxim here, where 
other exhortations are to foUow. If 
we take the words as having a special 
connection with the verses imme- 
diately preceding, the 'doing good' 
would be the making one's decisions 
dependent on the will of God; the 
'knowing' would be the daily ex- 
perience of the unreality of human 
life; the 'not doing' would be the 
boastful braggart purposing 1. At 
the same time we cannot forget how 

solemnly our Lord has emphasised 
this great truth that failure to do 
right is sin. Matt. xiv. 46. 

Another effort has been made in 
connection with this verse to show 
that St James may here also go back 
to a pre-canonical Gospel, and that 
he may be quoting a saying derived 
from our Lord. This is supported 
by a quotation of Luke xii. 47 by 
Origen in Jerem. xvi. 7, where the 
verb used for 'knowing' His will is 
the same as is here used by St James 
for 'knowing' what is good, while 
St Luke seems to follow another 
translation of the supposed Gospel 
in reading another word for 'know- 
ing.' But it is urged by Resch that 
the general sense in Luke, Origen, 
James, is the same, and points back 
to the existence of some old docu- 
ment behind all three. It cannot^ 
however, be said that any reliable 
force attaches to Eesch's contention 


1 — 3. From the spirit of commerce and trading, transition is made to the 
consideration of a spirit more wicked still, a spirit not only of selfishness, but 
of tyranny and oppression in the employment of wealth. The rich are bidden 
to weep and howl ; no call to repentance, but a foretelling of the certainty 
of their coming misery ; the rottenness of their com, the decay of their 
garments, the rust of their gold, are symbols of the destruction which is 
in store for themselves ; and yet they have laid up treasures in the last days, 
when the time was so short and the judge so near. 4 — 6. Already the cry 
of the labourers, whom they had hired and then cheated of their wages, has 
obtained a hearing from the Lord of Hosts, but they, whilst that exceeding 
bitter cry went up to heaven, had been taking their pleasure on earth, 
fattening themselves like sheep for slaughter, sacrificing not their self-will 

^ Von Soden, and much to the aame eHect Plummtir ; see too Century Bible^ 
in loco. 

V. 1] JAMES 115 

or their treasures, but the righteous one, who does not resist, because as the 
Lord's servant he must not strive. 7—9. The brethren therefore must 
be patient, like the righteous one ; the coming of the Lord is sure, and the 
reward is sure for those who wait for Him, as sure as for the husbandmen 
of Palestine who wait in patience for the harvest of the earth. Be on your 
guard against murmuring and discontent amongst yourselves; ye too no less 
than your oppressors will be judged ; be patient therefore ; the Judge is at 
hand, do not usurp His office. 10, 11. In the prophets of old we have 
examples of suffering and of patience, and those who patiently endure we 
call 'blessed.' Job endured, and we know the issue, how for him mercy 
gloried over judgment. 

Thus St James may be said to work back as it were to the opening Beatitude 
of his Epistle (cf. i. 12), and all that follows is a kind of postscript suggested by 
the special circumstances around him. 

12, 13. Above all things, i.e. bearing in mind the different foi-ms of 
murmuring and impatience to which they might be tempted, the speaking 
against one another and the forgetfulness of their relationship as brethren, 
let theirs be the yea^ yea, and the nay, nay, and let no further sanction be 
needed, that they fall not under judgment ; but whatever their emotions 
might be, whether of joy or of sorrow, let them be sanctified by worship, 
the worship of prayer and praise. 14, 15. One form of suffering is 
common enough, sickness ; if it comes upon anyone, let him send for 
the elders of the Church, let them pray over the sick and anoint him with 
oil ; if it be God's will the bodily health will be restored, and not 
only so, but by the prayer of faith, the sins, which may have been the 
cause of the sickness, shall be forgiven. 16 — 18. Confess therefore your 
faults to one another, and pray for one another, that the time of healing may 
come from the presence of the Lord. Elijah is an examjile of the power 
of prayer and intercession, when offered by a righteous man, and yet by 
a man of like passions with ourselves. 19, 20. Prayer, remember, may 
prove to be the first step towards the conversion of one who has wandered 
from the truth ; and this bringing back into the right way will save a soul 
from death, and confer a blessing upon him who gives, and upon him who 
accepts, a brother's guidance. 

V. Go to now, ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries 

V. 1. Go to now, ye rich. It is v. 7, for whom the coming of the 

a difiicult question to decide whether Lord is to be a comfort, in contrast 

the persons addressed in the section to the terror which the same jutlg- 

before us are the same as those ment is to bring upon 'the rich,' r. 1, 

addressed in iv. 13-17. On the one indicates that two different classes 

hand it is urged that there is no of persona are intended The 'rich' 

exhortation to repentance, and no here would thus be as the rich in 

mention of a hope of salvation, which ii. 6, 7, unbelieving Jews. Moreover, 

would not have been omitted in the it is urged that the words 'go to now' 

case of Christian believers, and that indicate not a parallelism between 

the return to the word 'brethren,' the two sections, iv. 13-17, v. 1-6, 





but rather a new beginning. On the 
other hand, the following points are 
noted in favour of regarding the 
persons in both sections as Christians; 
(1) that it would have been purpose- 
less to address such a deniinciation 
and one dealing so intimately with 
practical life as that contained in 
vv. 1 — 6 to unbelieving Jews in a 
letter not intended for them at all 
but for Jewish believers; (2) that 
from this point of view the manifest 
parallelism between the two sections, 
both introduced by the same phrase 
'go to now,' must be considered; if 
the merchants of the first section are 
believers, as may be inferred from 
iv. 15, it would seem that the rich of 
the section succeedingmust be placed 
in the same category; (3) that the 
exhortation to patient endurance, v. 
7, introduced by the word 'therefore' 
is evidently based upon the oppres- 
sion of the rich landowners, and that 
both oppressor and oppressed be- 
longed to the Christian community : 
'murmur not brethren one against 
another,' v. 9 (see however in loco)\ 
But it cannot be said that these 
arguments are convincing, and a 
further suggestion has been made 
us a solution of the difficulty (see 
above, p. xxxix.). If we maintain a 
very early date for the Epistle, and if 
we remember that the character of 
St James for sanctity and piety was 
■widely known amongst his fellow- 
countrymen, he may have expected 
that his words would gain a hearing 
in some circles where his name still 
carried respect, and where the fol- 
lowers of Jesus of Nazareth would 
not be regarded as those who had 
broken away entirely from the Jewish 

religion and polity 2. Closely on the 
lines of this suggestion is that which 
would regard St James as here 
apostrophising after the manner of 
the O.T. prophets those who belonged 
neither to hearers nor readers (just as 
the prophets addressed themselves 
to heathen towns and people). That 
the whole section before us reminds 
Tis of the stem denunciatory tone of 
the O.T. cannot be denied, and even 
in a practical letter such words may 
well have flowed from the pen of the 
writer. James the Just, who like 
another Joel or Amos, possibly in his 
very dress, most certainly in the 
stern sanctity of his own life, would 
find his heart burn within him at the 
insolent impiety and greed which 
were eating into the very life of 
his nation, had caught something 
of the Spirit of One greater than the 
greatest prophet in His announce- 
ment of the inevitable doom about 
to follow upon the extortion and 
excess, which devoured the house of 
the widow and neglected mercy, 
judgment, and faith. Nor does it 
seem difficult to understandhow from 
such a passage as iv. 13-17 a writer 
might easily pass in thought to the 
sins of the rich, so closely connected 
with national and social life : cf. in 
the O.T. Amos iii. 10-13, viii. 1-10; 
Hab. ii. 9; Isaiah xxxiii. 1 fi".; Jer. v. 
1, etc. 

go to now. Cf. for the phrase 
iv. 13. As the merchantmen of the 
former section were warned against 
glorying in their vauntings, so here 
St James, we may well believe, 
would have the rich ask the question 
of Wisdom v. 8, 'what good hath 
riches with our vaunting brought 

1 See especially Zahn and Belser in their N.T. Introductions. 
» Cf. J. V. Bartlet, Apostolic Age, pp. 232-236; and see also Stanley, Sermons, 
on the Apostolic Age, pp 299-301. 

V. 1, 2] JAMES 117 

2 that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and 

us?' where the same word is used 
for 'vaunting' as in iv. 16 (see 
above, p. 113). 

weep and howl (of. Luke vi. 24, 25) ; 
not here in repentance, but in 
anguish for the impending judg- 
ment. The former verb is used of 
crying, not silently but aloud, and is 
of frequent occurrence in the O.T. 
prophets. The second verb is added 
to intensify the wretchedness of the 
prospect: cf. Isaiah xv. 3, and so 
too xiii. 6. In these places it is used 
as here in close connection with im- 
minent judgment, 'howl ye, for the 
day of the Lord is at hand.' The 
verb, an onomatopoetic word, is only 
found here in the N.T., and whereas 
in classical Greek it may be used of 
cries of joy and thanksgiving, in the 
Lxx it is used only of cries of grief. 
The word 'weep' is in the aorist, 
not instead of a future tense, but 
as signifying what ought to be done 

miseries. See above on iv. 9. The 
noun is only found here in N.T. and 
Rom. iii. 16, in a quotation from 
Isaiah lix. 7, 8. It is frequently 
found in the lxx with various shades 
of meaning : cf e.g. Ps. cxxxix. 10 ; 
Amos V. 9, etc. 

that are coming upon you, R.V. 
('shall come,' A.V.), the present 
participle denoting that the mise- 
ries are close at hand, at the 
door (cf Luke xx. 35), or, more 
abruptly, the words might be ren- 
dered, 'your miseries that are coming 
on ' (cf Bphes. ii. 7, where the same 
verb is used absolutely), as in the 
best texts there is no word express- 
ing 'upon you': 'coming on,' i.e. at 
the Parousia ; cf vv. 7, 9. The con- 
fusion of the rich in the day of judg- 
ment, and the 'woe' pronounced 

upon them, are frequently mentioned 
in the Book of Enoch ; cf e.g. xciv. 
6, 8, xcvii. 8-10. 

2. Your riches are corrupted. 
The throe verbs which follow repre- 
sent in the style of the O.T. 
prophets that the 'miseries' of the 
rich are already come upon them. 
It is a question whether the words 
are used of wealth in general ; cf 
the use of the verb in Ecclus. xiv. 
19 (the whole passage from v. 3 
should be compared with tlie text 
here), 'every work which is cor- 
ruptible shall consume away.' But 
as the same verb is used in connec- 
tion with the withering of fruit, and 
of the 'rotting' of the heathen idols, 
Ezek. xvii. 9, Epistle of Jeremy, v. 72, 
it is suggested that here the word 
refers to such 'riches' as would be 
comprised under com, oil, etc., and 
might be translated 'rotted.' This 
meaning would fit in with the con- 
text, as gold and silver are sepa- 
rately mentioned just below. If the 
more general signification of 'riches' 
is retained, the wealth becomes 
specialised as garments and trea- 
sures. From this point of view 
a striking passage may be quoted 
from Enoch, xcvii. 8-10, of the 'woe ' 
upon the rich in the day appointed 
for the judgment of unrighteousness. 
After speaking in the previous verse 
of men who will put on more adorn- 
ments than a woman, who will be 
poured out as water in royalty and 
grandeur, in silver and gold, in 
splendour, and in food, the writer 
proceeds : 'from hencefortli ye know 
that all your oppression wlierewith 
ye oppressed is written down every 
day till the day of your judgment 

and now, know ye that ye are 

prepared for the day of destruction ; 



[v. 2, 3 

3 your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver 
are rusted ; and their rust shall be for a testimony ^against 

1 Or, unto 

wherefore do not hope to live, ye 
sinners, but ye shall depart and die ; 
for ye know no ransoms; for ye 
are prepared for the day of the great 
judgment and for the day of tribula- 
tion, and great shame for your 

your garments are moth-eaten, of 
which in Oriental countries wealth 
was so largely composed : cf 1 Mace. 
xi. 24 ; Acts xx. 33. In Matt. vi. 19, 
of which the expression here very 
fitly reminds us, the word moth, 
the clothes-moth, clearly indicates 
garments as part of the treasure. 
The adjective is only found here in 
the N.T., but cf. Job xiii. 28 ; Isaiah 
li. 8; also Ecclus. xlii. 13. The word 
is also used of idol images, Orac. 
Sib. fragm. 

In Enoch, xcviii. 1-3, the transitory 
glory of gold and silver and purple 
and coloured garments is emphati- 
cally condemned, and those who give 
themselves wholly to such external 
possessions are described as finally 
losing their personality in them, as 
water is lost in the earth. St James 
would have had before his eyes the 
picture of the man in fine clothing 
whom he had so graphically de- 
scribed in ii. 2. 

3. are rusted; and their rust. 
A. v. renders 'are cankered,' but 
in the original we have a cognate 
verb and noun, so that the R.V. is 
justified, and the same rendering is 
given by Wycliffe. The verb might 
well be rendered 'are rusted through 
and through' or 'are covered with 
rust,' as in the original the simple 
verb is compounded with an intensi- 

fying preposition. The same verb as 
here is found in Ecclus. xii. 11, 
in relation to a mirror, where, in the 
Speaker's Commentary, Dr Eders- 
heim pleads for the rendering 
'tarnished' (although the combina- 
tion and meaning are difficult), 
a rendering which he would also 
adopt in the verse of St James before 
us. In Ecclus. xii. 10 and xiix. 
10 we have the simple verb, but 
nowhere else in the lxx. The figure 
of rusting would be easily transferred 
in rhetorical and popular language 
from less costly metals, like bronze, 
Ecclus. xii. 10, to silver and gold, 
of which it could not strictly be used ; 
cf JEpist. of Jer., vv. 12, 24, where 
the cognate noun 'rust' is applied 
to the gold and silver of images. 
From the testimony of Strabo it 
appears that a fuliginous vapour 
arose from the Dead Sea which 
caused, as he said, brass and silver 
and even gold to rust (the same verb 
being used as by St James), although 
it appears that the rust referred to 
was only a change of colour in the 
metals caused by the bituminous 
exhalation \ Dr Edersheim in 
Speaker's Commentary, u.s., sees in 
this verse another proof of the use 
of Ecclesiasticus by St James. The 
figure used by St James of rust 
affecting the unused silver and gold 
is derived, he thinks, from this 
passage in that book. It is not 
found elsewhere in Scripture, and 
moreover the noun for 'rust' used 
by St James, and by him only in the 
same signification in the N.T., is 
closely connected with the passage 

gee Theile'B note, where the passage is quoted, and also Mayor in loco. 

V. 3] 



you, and shall eat your flesh as fire. Ye have laid up your 

in Ecclus. where the cognate verb 
is employed, whilst the stronger 
form of the same verb, which is used 
by St James alone in the N.T. in the 
verse before us, only occurs else- 
where in Biblical Greek in Ecclus. 
xii. 11. 

shall he for a testimony against 
you, R.V. text; so A.V.; 'unto you,' 
marg. R.V. The rendering in the 
text would support the meaning, 
adopted by many from the days of 
Oecumenius, that the rust on the 
gold and silver shows that these 
riches had been hoarded up and not 
employed profitably, and would thus 
testify against them to their shame 
in judgment, and the pronoun in the 
dative case may be so used ; cf Matt. 
xxiii. 3. The same phrase occurs 
Enoch, xcvi. 4, 'this word shall be 
a testimony against you.' But the 
preceding words imply that the rust 
is the result of the judgment which 
had begun, and not the effect of the 
want of use of this wealth, and this 
consuming of their goods would 
rather be a symbol and a testimony 
to them of their ovm impending 
destruction ; in the destruction of 
their treasures they would see that 
of themselves. But this process of 
judgment might also be described 
as a testimony 'against them,' and 
the two meanings almost seem to 
nm into each other. The words have 
also been explained as meaning that 

when they saw the rust spreading in 
place of the lustre and brightness, 
in which they had gloried, they 
would see for themselves how greatly 
they had erred. 

shall eat your flesh. The ex- 
pression was a very natural one for 
St James to use, as the same phrase, 
with the same verb and noun in the 
original, occurs Lev. xxvi. 29 ; 2 Kings 
ix. 36 ; Micah iii. 2, 3. In the latter 
passage a distinction is made be- 
tween flesh and bones, the word 
'flesh' being in the plural as here, and 
signifying as here and elsewhere the 
fleshy parts of the body ; cf. Judith 
xvi. 17 for a similar use, and so twice 
in Psalms of Solomon, iv. 21, xiii. 3, 
where as in Micah flesh and bones 
are distinguished. Although the 
word ' flesh ' need not imply that St 
James regards those of whom lie 
spoke as being nothing else but 
flesh, or as being men who fed their 
bodies well, yet it is quite possible 
that he would thus wish to empha- 
sise the thought that the chief care 
of such men was for the flesh ^ 

as fire, i.e. as fire devours I Here 
again O.T. expressions, where the 
judgment is frequently represented 
as a devouring, destroying fire, show 
how naturally St James might add 
the comparison : cf. Fs. xxi. 10 ; Isaiah 
X. 16, 17, XXX. 27; Ezek. xv. 7; 
Amos V. 6. The gradual and certain 
corroding by rust is compared in its 

1 Both von Soden and the Komanist Trenkle remark that as only tbe 
flesh is mentioned the salvation of the spirit is not excluded; cf. 1 Cor. v. 5 
and iii. 16. 

- Oecumenius (so Grotius) connected this word ' fire ' with the followinp; phrase : 
• ye have laid up your treasure as fire,' i.e. as a torturing and consuminf;! fire, and 
this punctuation is adopted by W.H. But although this is supported by two lxx 
(not Hebrew) passages, Prov. xvi. 27, Micah vi. 10, especially the former, tlie 
rendering in the text gives a more natural sense. The Vulgate wrongly 
associates the passage with Rom. ii. 5, and renders 'ye have treasured up for 
yourselves wrath in the last days.' 



[V. S, 4 

4 treasure in the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers 
who mowed your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, 

thoroughness with the utter destruc- 
tion by fire, which destroys not only 
the wealth but the possessors of it. 
It is of course possible that the 
introduction of the figure of fire 
may also introduce the thought of 
'gnawing pain and swift destruction'; 
of. Enoch, cii. 1, 'in those days when 
He brings a grievous fire upon you, 
whither will ye flee and where will 
ye find deliverance ?'; but this is not 
emphasised specially in the text, 
and the comparison may be quite 

Ye have laid up your treasure, 
R.V., expressing the one word in the 
original: cf. Tob. iv. 9 for the ex- 
pression. In Psalms of Solomon 
the same verb is connected with the 
thought of judgment : 'whoso doeth 
righteousness layeth up for himself 
life at the Lord's hand... for the 
judgments of the Lord are in right- 
eousness according to each man and 
his house,' ix. 9, 10. 

in the last days, R.V. In A.V. we 
have ' for,' not ' in,' but this does not 
aflford a correct rendering of the 
preposition employed. 'The last 
days' are those which precede the 
coming of the Lord, as is evident 
from the context vv. 8, 9 ; see further 
on these verses. The phrase or one 
similar frequently occurs in the O.T., 
e.g. Isaiah ii. 2, Hos. iii. 5, and cf 
Acts ii. 17, Didaclie, xvi. 3. Here it 
intensifies the irony of the passage, 
and the senselessness of the conduct 
which laid up treasures which were 
so soon to profit nothing. As in the 
original we have simply 'in last 
days' it is held by some that the 
words may be taken more generally 
as of the last days of life, and not 
necessarily of the Parousia ; cf. 

Prov. xxxi. 25. But it is doubtful 
how far such stress can attach to 
the absence of the article, since it 
occurs, e.g. in Dldache, xvi. 3, where 
the reference to the Parousia is 
evident, although it is wanting in 
1 Pet. i. 5, to say nothing of perhaps 
a more general reference in 2 Tim. 
iii. 1. 

4. Behold, occurring four times 
in this chapter and twice in iii., is 
Hebraistic, and quite characteristic 
of the fervent, graphic style of the 
Epistle and of the intense earnest- 
ness of the writer : lutrod. p. xxxiii. 

of the labourers; in the N.T. usually 
agricultural labourers, husbandmen, 
although the word might be used 
quite generally, "Wisdom xvii. 17; 
Ecclus. xix. 1. In strong contrast 
to the idle luxury of the rich, who 
were laying up treasure on earth 
and not in heaven, St James sees 
the labourers who have done their 
work waiting for the pay due to 
them, and wailing and crying in vain 
to those who had hired them. 

who mowed, R. V. In A. V. ' reaped,' 
but as the original word here is differ- 
ent from that used for reaping below, 
the Revisers have distinguished, and 
this is not perhaps to be wonder- 
ed at when we remember that the 
word before us is only found here 
in N.T., whilst the verb translated 
'reaping' occurs more than twenty 
times. On the other hand, in the lxx 
the verb before us is found five times, 
and each time it is translated 'to 
reap ' in R. V., whilst the verb below 
is found very frequently in the lxx, 
and is used apparently of both reap- 
ing and mowing. It has therefore 
been urged that no distinction need 
be made between the two; if we 

V. 4] JAMES lai 

crieth out : and the cries of them that reaped have entered 

look, however, at the probable de- 
rivation of the verb before us it 
will seem to refer primarily to cutting 
and secondarily to gathering in. 
The tense which is used indicates 
that the wages were due. 

your fields. It may be the sin is 
regarded as intensified in the case 
of men who owned such large estates 
and lands, implied probably by the 
word in the original ; the fields them- 
selves may in some cases at least 
have been added to property by acts 
of injustice ; cf. Isaiah v. 8 and the 
context of the present passage. 

which is of you kept back by 
fraudK So A.V. and R.V. If this 
construction of the words is retained 
it would seem that 'of ' is equivalent 
to 'by,' a common usage in earlier 
English (14th — 16th centuries) to 
express the agent after a passive 
verb (Hastings' Diet, Art. 'Of'); or 
it might be rendered 'on your part,* 
the preposition in the original being 
one which might be used to denote 
that the fraud proceeds from them, 
although they might not be the 
direct agents in its perpetration. 
But by many of the ablest commen- 
tators the words 'of you' are connect- 
ed with the verb 'crieth,' 'crieth from 
you,' i.e. from your coffers, or your 
dwellings, the place where the money 
was so wrongfully detained. In 
support of this reference is made 
to Gen. iv. 10; Exod. ii. 23; cf Enoch, 
xlvii. 1, 'and in those days the prayer 
of the righteous and the blood of 
the righteous will have ascended 
from the earth before the Lord of 
Spirits,' and also lii. 5-7. But even 
more to the point perhaps is the 

fact that in more than one of the 
passages, where the wrong detention 
of wages is condemned, we read, 'the 
wages of an hired servant shall not 
abide with thee all night till the 
morning,' Lev. xix. 13, and so again, 
'let not the wages of any man that 
hath wrought for thee tarry with 
thee (abide with thee all night), but 
give it him out of hand,' Tob. iv. 14. 
This sin of keeping back the reward 
of the labourers had been denounced 
by the prophets, Mai. iii. 5, Jer. xxii. 
13, and its mention both in earlier 
and later times seems to mark its 
frequent recurrence. Lev. xix. 13 ; 
Deut. xxiv. 14, 15; Job xxiv. 10; 
Tob. iv. 14 ; and when we remember 
the other parallels in this Epistle to 
passages in Ecclesiasticus, the de- 
nunciation in that book against de- 
frauding the labourer of his hire, 
chap, xxxiv. 21, 22 (cf iv. 1, xxix. 
6), where the same verb is used as 
here, may well have been present to 
the writer's mind; 'the bread of the 
needy is the life of the poor : he that 
defraudeth him thereof is a man of 
blood. He that taketh away his 
neighbour's living slayeth him ; and 
he that defraudeth the labourer of 
his hire is a bloodshedder.' 

crieth out; often in Lxx of the cry 
against wrong and robbery, of crying 
to God, to heaven ; a vivid and poetic 
touch ; if men are dumb and silent, 
if no just judge appear, the money 
cries for vengeance; cf. Hab. ii. 11. 
In Hernias, Vis. iii. 9. 6, where the 
writer is exhorting those who refuse 
to share with others to look to the 
coming judgment, he adds words 
which are an echo, one might well 

1 W.H. with Mayor and other editors adopt a different n^adinpr, but the verb 
which they prefer is very similar in aense to that in our English Version. 

122 JAMES [v. 4, 5 

5 into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived 

suppose, of this passage in St James, 
'look ye therefore (to the judgment) 
ye that exult in your wealth, lest they 
that are in want shall moan, and their 
moaning shall go up unto the Lord.' 

and the cries. The cognate verb is 
used specially of cries for help, and 
the noun itself is so used in closely 
similar expressions, Exod. ii. 23 ; 
1 Sam. ix. 16; frequent in the lxx, 
but here only in N.T. The thought 
of the cries of men entering into the 
ears of God finds frequent expression 
in the O.T.: cf. Ps. xviii. 6; Isaiah t. 
9. In Enoch, xcvii. 5, we read con- 
cerning those who have acquired 
silver and gold in unrighteousness, 
'in those days the prayer of the 
righteous will reach unto the Lord, 
and the days of your judgment will 
overtake you.' 

of them that reaped. The parti- 
ciple shows that their work is done, 
they have reaped a harvest for others, 
but nothing for themselves ; not even 
for their hard work in the summer 
heat and in 'the joy of harvest.' 

have entered: see above ; the cry 
is not only uttered but heard; cf. 
Ps. xxxiv. 15. 

into the ears. If the phrase had 
become a kind of proverbial expres- 
sion (as von Soden holds), how natural 
is its use by St James ! The ears of 
the Lord are frequently referred to 
in the O.T. as open to prayer, es- 
pecially the prayer of the oppressed ; 
cf. also Psalms of Solomon, xviii. 

the Lord of Sabaoth. So A. V. and 
R.V. 'Sabaoth,' i.e. hosts. The ques- 
tion has been asked, what hosts are 
intended ? Originally it may be the 
armies of Israel, but the word was 
used also of the angels, who may have 
been originally denoted by that ex- 

pression, and stars and forces of 
nature, as well as of an army of men. 
But whatever may have been the 
origin of the title it is used in the 
prophets (where the genitive Sabaoth 
occurs some 246 times out of 282) as 
'the highest and most majestic title' 
of the God of Israel, expressing not 
only His majesty and power as 
creator and ruler of the world, but 
also as commander of the hosts of 
heaven. In the hxx the Hebrew 
title is often rendered by the Lord 
Omnipotent, the Lord All-sovereign; 
cf. 2 Cor. vi. 18, and frequently in 
Rev. in N.T. The Jewish belief in 
the Lord Omnipotent as the Lord 
also of the angels is expressed in a 
remarkable passage, 3 Mace. vi. 17, 
where the Jews are represented as 
crying loudly to heaven, and 'the 
Lord Omnipotent' opens the celestial 
gates and sends down to the aid of 
His people two bright angels terrible 
to behold ! Here the title is used to 
emphasise the fact that the poor were 
not those who had no helper, but 
that they had on their side the Lord 
of Hosts "Who could destroy the 
tyranny and punish the injustice of 
the rich oppressors. It is noticeable 
that the same title occurs frequently 
in Malachi, and that James may well 
have it in mind in connection with 
the oppression of the hireling in his 
wages; cf. Mai. iii. 5. See Art. 
'Lord of Hosts,' Hastings' B. D., and 
'Names ' in Encycl. Biblica, in. 3328. 
The expression is only used here in 
the N.T. (for Rom. ix. 29 is a direct 
quotation), and its use certainly 
points not only to a Jewish author 
but also to a Jewish audience. For 
the curiously wrong manner in which 
'Sabaoth' became identified with 
'Sabbath ' by English classics, Spenser, 

V. 5] JAMES 123 

delicately on the earth, and taken your pleasure ; ye have 

Bacon, Johnson, Scott, see Art. 
'Sabaoth,' Smith's Bibl. Diet. 

5. To injustice was added self- 
indulgence, and the juxtaposition 
to the preceding words again em- 
phasises sharply the contrast between 
the selfish luxury of the rich and 
the hard lives and bitter wrongs of 
the poor. Ye have lived delicately 
on the earth; not merely expressing 
in the last three words their earthly 
life, but as marking the fact that they 
lived on regardless of the judgment, 
far above out of their sight, proceed- 
ing against them in heaven ; regard- 
less that from His throne in heaven 
the Lord's eyes behold the children 
of men. Or, the expression ' on the 
earth' may emphasise the thought 
that this life of luxury was not last- 
ing, that it ceased when man return- 
ed to his dust; cf. Matt. vi. 19. The 
tense of the verb in the original 
may here and elsewhere in the verse 
be fairly rendered by the English 
perfect, but the standpoint is that of 
the day of judgment, as if the writer 
was looking back from that day upon 
the sinful and luxurious Uves of the 
rich. It has been well noted that 
we have here the converse of the old 
Epicurean doctrine ; in Tennyson's 
Lotos-eaters the gods in ceaseless 
enjoyment are 'careless of mankind,' 
and smile at their woes and lamen- 
tations ; here men contemn God and 
say, 'Thou wilt not require it'; yet, 
in spite of their contempt, *Thou 
hast seen it... to take it into thy 
hand'; cf Enoch, xcviii. 7, 'you do 
not see that every sin is every day 
recorded in the presence of the Most 
High. From henceforth ye know 
that all your oppression wherewith 
ye oppressed is written down every 
day till the day of your judgment.' 
The verb translated as above in 

R.V. is only found here in the N.T., 
but it is used of a soft and luxurious 
life, in a bad sense here, and so in 
Ecclus. xiv. 4, and generally in 
classical Greek ; but in a good sense 
in Neh. ix. 25, Isaiah IxvL 11, and 
so also its compounds, cf Ps. xxxvi. 
4, Isaiah Iv. 2. It is derived from 
a verb which means to break down, 
and so to enervate, and its cognate 
noun is found in Luke \ii. 25, 2 Pet 
ii. 13, and, it should be noted, four 
times in Ecclus. and once or twice 
in Wisdom. Another cognate noun 
is also employed in Ecclus. xxxiv. 
(xxxi.) 3, in the picture of the rich 
man filled with delicacies, in con- 
trast, V. 4, to the profitless labours 
of the poor; cf. Luke xii. 18. For 
a list of Bible passages in which 
'delicately' means 'luxuriously,' Art. 
'Delicate' in Hastings' B. D. maybe 

This and the following verb ren- 
dered 'have taken your pleasure' in 
KV. and 'have been wanton' in A.V. 
are sometimes regarded as synony- 
mous, but whilst both verbs are used 
of self-indulgent, dissolute living, the 
second ajiparently adds the thought 
of prodigality, wastefulness: Trench, 
Synonyms, ii. 17. It is doubtful 
whether the 11. V. is strong enough 
to express this. In 1 Tim. v. 6 the 
participle of the same verb is ren- 
dered 'she that giveth herself to 
pleasure,' and in Ecclus. xxi. 15 'he 
that is given to pleasure' is contrast- 
ed with the man of understanding. 
It is interesting also to note that in 
Ezek. xvi. 49 it is found to express the 
prosperous ease of Sodom, whilst it 
is added in condemnation of that 
city, 'neither did she strengthen the 
hand of the poor and needy.' But 
the association of the word with the 
thought of wantouutjbs would cer- 

124 JAMES [v. 5, 6 

6 nourished your hearts in a day of slaughter. Ye have 

tainly seem to be supported by the 
use of the compound verb in Amos 
vi. 4, and of the cognate noun in 
Ecclus. xxvii. 13, and in the passage 
before us it may be fairly rendered 
'ye lived a life of wantonness.' In 
the explanation of the word given 
by Clem. Alex. Strom, iv. p. 450 
both notions of prodigality and 
wantonness seem to be combined. 
The verb is found, as usual, in a bad 
sense, Epist. of Barnabas, x. 3, of 
men living a life of luxury, whilst 
Hermas, Sim. vi. 1, employs the two 
verbs as here, in close combination, 
of the sheep led astray by the angel 
of self-indulgence. 

ye have nourished your hearts: 
of. Judg. xix. 5; Ps. civ. 15; Luke 
xxi. 34 ; Acts xiv. 17. The verb 
probably implies, as sometimes in 
classical Greek, to fatten, to satiate 
with food ; cf. Lxx, Jer. xxvi. 21, 
where the same verb is used of fatted 
calves. ' Hearts ' is sometimes taken 
as = bodies (the heart regarded as 
the seat and centre of physical life), 
sometimes as a Hebraism = you, your- 
selves, but perhaps best explained 
as signifying not merely the body, 
but the heart in which the sense of 
reflection is felt ; see also below on 
Enoch, xcviii. 8, 11. 

in a day of slaughter, R.V. ; so 
W.H., omitting 'as' A.V.; cf. v. 3, 
' in the last days.' For the use of a 
similar expression see Jer. xii. 3, 
XXV. 34, and of similar imagery 
Isaiah xxxiv. 2, 6, Ezek. xxi. 15, in 
describing the day of the Lord's 
judgment; cf. also Psalms of Sulo- 
moti, viii. 1, where a trumpet pro- 
claims 'slaughter and destruction' 
in the approaching visitation of the 
Lord in judgment, and more fully 

Enoch, xciv. 9, where of the rich 
and sinners we read, ' ye have com- 
mitted blasphemy and unrighteous- 
ness and have become ready for the 
day of slaughter and the day of 
darkness and of the great judgment,' 
and xcviii. 8, 11, 'woe to you, ye 

obstinate of heart whence have 

ye good things to eat and drink and 
to be filled?... know that ye shall 
be delivered into the hands of the 
righteous, and they will cut oflF your 
necks and slay you.' Like beasts, 
fattened to be killed, and feasting 
on the day of their slaughter, so the 
wicked in their folly were 'nourishing 
their hearts,' unmindful of the coming 
doom. In the terrible days of the 
Roman siege, when the Zealots in 
their fanatical rage against the rich 
slew them or left them to die of 
hunger, when they drank the blood 
of the populace to one another,' 
some of those whom he now warned 
may have recalled the words of 
St James. See the whole description 
Josephus, B. J. V. 10. 2, xiii. 4K It 
may well be said that the words of 
the Jewish historian become here 
the best commentary on the words 
of the Christian Apostle. 

Other explanations of the phrase 
are sometimes proposed, as e.g. that 
reference is made to feasting and 
banqueting, and the slaying of oxen 
and fatlings for the same, as if life 
was one perpetual feast (cf Isaiah 
xxii. 13), but the phrase seems more 
naturally explained by connecting it 
with the thought of judgment as 
above. An attempt has been made 
to exclude all reference to the judg- 
ment on the ground that in the 
original the word ' day ' has no 
article prefixed, so that the ex- 

1 See too Plummer in loco, and Farrar, Early Daui of Christianity, 
pp. 344, 345. 

V. 6] 



condemned, ye have killed 
not resist you. 

pression simply means that a man 
has killed his higher life through the 
indulgence of the lower, and has 
spent his days in that which leads 
to the loss of his true life; but the 
question of grammar may be met 
by such passages as Rom. ii. 5, 
1 Pet. ii. 12, and the attempted 
explanation entirely loses sight of 
the O.T. and Jewish use of the 

6. Ye have condemned, ye have 
killed, R.V. The omission of ' and ' 
A.V. heightens the effect, and ex- 
presses the hastiness with which 
the murder follows upon the con- 
demnation. The verbs are to be 
taken literally, cf. iv. 2 above, and 
there is no need to refer to Ecclus. 
xxxiv. 21, where the verb used here 
for killing is also found as follows : 
' he that taketh away his neighbour's 
living slayeth him.' In the con- 
demnation we may see perhaps a 
reference to the judgment-seats of 
ii. 6. The verb employed here is 
found in classical Greek of formal 
and official condemnation; in the 
Lxx it occurs several times, and 
four times in Wisdom, notably in 
ii. 20, 'let us condemn him (the 
righteous) with a shameful death,' 
in the famous picture of the poor 
righteous man, the faithful Israelite, 
oppressed and condemned to death 
by his wealthy and luxurious fellow- 
countrymen (see V. 12), a picture 
strikingly parallel to that before us 
(see also on ii. 6, above) ; cf. Amos ii. 
6, 7, v. 12. 

the righteous one, R.V. ; 'the just,* 
A.V. In Acts iii. 14, vii. 52, xxii. 
14 (1 John ii. 1), our Lord is em- 
phatically called 'the Righteous One,' 
but R.V. makes a distinction between 
these places and the passage before 

the righteous one ; he doth 

us by rendering in Acts 'the 
Righteous One' and in 1 John il 1, 
where the reference is clear ; cf. 
1 Pet. iii. 18, 'the righteous.' 

In this verse however many able 
commentators from the time of 
Oecumenius have referred the title 
to our Lord, and no doubt it was 
in early use as a name for the 
Messiah ; cf Enoch, xxxviii. 2, liii. 6. 
The tense (aorist) used in the pre- 
ceding verses does not destroy this 
interpretation, as it might be used 
of a specific action, as in ii. 21, or 
of a course of action, as in the verbs 
of V. 5. On the other hand, it is 
urged that the context does not suit 
this application of the words, and 
that ' the righteous one^ is employed 
to designate no particular individual 
but a class in general ; cf. the passage 
in Wisdom above, and the use of the 
same Greek adjective for a class, 
Isaiah iii. 10, Ivii. 1, and in N.T. 
Heb. X. 38, 1 Pet. iii. 12, iv. 18, etc. 
And the sjiirit against which the 
prophets had uttered their constant 
protest, and which they had so 
sternly condemned, was still alive ; 
St James saw it working all around 
him, St Stephen had fallen a victim 
to it, and James the son of Zebedee, 
and many of the ' saints,' Acts xxvi. 

It may be said that in these 
words the writer seems to anticipate 
in prophetic spirit his own death, 
and it has been thought that Hege- 
sippus in his description had this 
passage in mind when he writes 
that the scribes and Phari.sees said, 
'Let us go up and cast him do\vn,' 
i.e. from the pinnacle of the Temi)le. 
'So they cast down James the Just 
and began to stone him.' Euscb. 



[v. 7 

7 Be patient therefore, brethren, until the ^coming of the 

^ Gr. pretence. 

he doth not resist you, i.e. the 
righteous one. In itself the present 
tense does not militate against 
the reference to our Lord. St 
James might thus vividly picture 
His patient endurance, and the 
dramatic eflfect is intensified by the 
omission of the connecting ' and ' in 
R.V., although the same tense could 
of course indicate that the same 
suflferings and patience were being 
accomphshed in His brethren in 
the world. The tense expresses 
in a graphic manner the habitual 
bearing of the righteous under per- 
secution, especially in face not only 
of the Jewish picture in Wisdom 
(of. Enoch, ciii. 15), but also of our 
Lord's command, Matt. v. 39 (cf. 
1 Pet. ii 23), and of the constant 
stress laid by St James upon patience. 
How beautifully St James himself 
preached in suffering this doctrine 
of patient endurance we know from 
the record which tells us how when 
the cruel hail of the stones beat 
upon him, he kneeled down, saying, 
'My Father, I beseech Thee forgive 
them, for they know not what they 
do,' Eusebius, IT. E. ii. 23. 

Either of the above interpretations 
seems preferable to that which would 
refer the clause to the present patient 
long-suffering of the Lord. This 
thought is not in the immediate 
context, and is rather contained in 
the verses which immediately follow. 
Another rendering of the words 
adopted by W.H. places an inter- 
rogative at the end of the verse ; 
' doth not (the Lord) resist you V cf. 

the same verb as used in iv. 6. But 
this does not seem so original, or so 
terse and dramatic as the usual 

7. Be patient therefore, brethren. 
From utterance of his indignation 
St James turns again to the thought 
of his suffering brethren ; whatever 
the wicked might do meanwhile, 
they are to keep before their eyes 
the picture of 'the righteous one,' 
not resisting evil. The curtain falls 
as it were upon the scene, but it will 
quickly rise again-upon another, upon 
a more terrible and yet upon a 
brighter day, when judgment shall 
return imto righteousness ; cf. Ps. 
xciv. vv. 15, 20, 2 L The word trans- 
lated 'be patient' is not the same 
as is translated 'endureth' i. 12, 
although this latter verb is sometimes 
rendered 'to be patient' (cf. Rom. xii. 
12 ; 1 Pet. ii. 20), whilst its cognate 
noun is three times translated 
'patience' in this Epistle, i. 3, 4, 
V. 11 ('endurance' in margin). A 
distinction however is drawTi be- 
tween the noun which is cognate 
to the verb in the verse before us, 
and the noun just referred to, which 
may help us here ; the former is the 
self-restraint which does not hastily 
retaliate a wi-ong, the latter is the 
temper which does not easily suc- 
cumb under suffering, although the 
distinction is not always true without 
exception (Lightfoot)l This dis- 
tinction of meaning, however, is 
quite in accordance with the con- 
text in the present passage, and also 
with what follows in vv. 10, 11 (see 

1 See further Trench, Syn. n. 10; Westcott, Hebrews, p. 157. The two nouus 
rendered ' endurance ' and ' lonK-suSering ' occur together in 2 Cor. vi. 4, 6 ; 
Col i 11- 2 Tim. iii. 10; and the contrast between the two connate verbs is 
well marked in 1 Cor. xiii. 4, 7, 'Love suflerelh long endureth ail things.* 

V. 7] 



below). The verb in our verse with 
its corresponding noun is used of 
God, as He bears with man, Rom. ii. 
4, 1 Pet. iii. 20 (so too in the O.T., 
and Apoc, Wisd. xv. 1 ; Ecclus. xviii. 
11), and men strive to imitate this 
Divine long-suffering, GaL v. 22; 
Col. iii. 12. 

With the language of St James 
we may also compare the frequent 
exhortation to the righteous in 
Enoch to persist in their cry for 
judgment, and to be hopeful and 
believing in the face of their rich 
oppressors; cf. xcvii. Iff., civ. 3ff. 

until the coming of the Lord, 
* presence ' in R. V. marg. The word 
is the same which our Lord Himself 
used of His coming, three times in 
St Matthew's account of the discoiurse 
on the Mt of Olives ; cf xxiv. 27, 37, 
39, and see also v. 3. We can see 
the impression which the word made 
upon the Apostolic writers, since it is 
used by St Peter, St Paiil, and 
St John, and by all of them of the 
coming of the Lord Jesus in glory. 
Here we believe that it is used by 
St James with the same reference, 
and it is noticeable that the whole 
passage before us has three points of 
contact with the discourse of Jesus 
to which reference has just been 
made; cf. e.g. Matt. xxiv. 9, 13, with 
«. 11 below, and xxiv. 33 with v. 9. 
No doubt with the other N.T. writers 
St James conceived of the coming 
as near at hand, and not only may 
the current Jewish expectancy of the 
nearness of the end have contributed 
to this conception, but our Lord's 
own words would have intensified 
the expectancy in Christian circles. 

It is indeed maintained by Spitta 
that this word 'presence' need not 
be used here of Christ, as it occurs 
in Jewish writings, e.g. Testaments 
of the xii. Patriarchs, Judah 22, 
'until the "presence" of the God of 
righteousness' (the words are not 
found in the Armenian translation) ; 
so again in Test. Abr. xiii., 'until 
the great and glorious "presence" 
of God,' and also 'at the second 
presence' or ' coming' '; while the 
cognate verb is used of the day of 
judgment, Deut. xxxii. 35 ; Joel ii. 1. 
But St James had already assigned a 
Divine attribute to Jesus, and had 
spoken of Him as the Lord of glory, 
ii. 1, and there is no difBculty in 
supposing that with our Lord's words 
before him St James should have 
assigned to the Christ the further 
Divine prerogative of judgeship. No 
doubt in Jewish apocalyptic and 
pseudepigraphical literature we have 
to take into account two judgments, 
the Messiah's, and the final ; the for- 
mer executed by the Messiah or the 
saints, and the latter, except in 
Enoch, xxxvii-lxx., by God alone. 
But the N.T. writers and our Lord's 
own words represent Him, as in the 
most sublime conception of Enoch, 
as a supernatural being and as the 
universal Judge at the last day. 
When we consider the lowliness of 
Jesus of Nazareth and the extreme 
ignominy of His death, it would 
have been marvellous enough if men 
like the Apostles, Hebrews of the 
Hebrews, had associated Him at such 
an early date with the conception of 
a Judge such as that given in the 
Psalms (f Solomon,\y\i., xviii., wliere 

1 This identical expression is also used by Christian ecclesiastical writers of 
the ' second coming ' of Christ as opposed to His ' first coming,' which took place 
in His Incarnation and earthly life. And there can be no doubt that the 
occurrence of the phrase in the Testament of Abrahavi is one of the Christian 
elements in that document (see Introd. p. iliii.). This Spitta forgets. Moreover, 
his other references only help to show us that a term which was used of God 
could also be used by Christ and of Christ. 



[v. 7 

Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious 
fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until 4t receive the 

1 Or, he 

the Messiah appears as a judge, but 
not as a pre-existent being, a sub- 
ordinate to God in the judgment. 
But the marvellousness is increased 
when we remember that to this Jesus 
of Nazareth is assigned the tre- 
mendous office of the Judge of quick 
and dead, an office which even in the 
O.T. is not assigned to the Messiah, 
although in some prophetic passages 
He is associated with Jehovah as 
His agent in ' the day of the Lord.' 

Certainly St James tells us less 
than some of the other N.T. writers 
as to the details of Christ's coming, 
but this silence not only offers a 
marked contrast to the fantastic 
elaborations of Jewish theology in 
dealing with such subjects, but it is 
quite natural in a letter so brief in 
itself, and in which much would be 
no doubt assumed as already known. 
See on the whole subject Encycl. 
Bibl. II., Art. ' Eschatology,' by Dr 
Charles ; Hastings' B. D. i. 749, 751 ; 
and Psalms of Solomon, Ryle and 
James, pp. li. ff. 

Behold, the husbandman tcaiteth 
for. See on iii. 6, and v. 4. The 
language of the verse and the com- 
parison are very natural from a 
native of Palestine (see below, and 
Introduction), and in this particular 
passage they would fall in well with 
the previous mention of the labourers 
and the reapers. There is a close 
likeness to Ecclus. vi. 19, where it 
is said of Wisdom, ' Come unto her 
as one that ploweth and soweth, and 
wait for her good fruits,' although 
the verb for 'wait for' is not the 
same as in the present passage (cf. 
however 1 Thess. i. 10, where it is 
used of a waiting in patience and 

trust), and the same lesson is familiar 
to us in our Lord's own parables. 

In 1 Pet. iii. 20 a cognate if not 
an exactly similar verb is used of 
the long-suffering of God, and in 
Heb. X. 13 the same verb is used of 
the ' waiting ' of Christ for His final 

precious, everywhere, and no- 
where more so than in Palestine ; the 
epithet marks the justification of the 
patient waiting. 

being patient over it, i.e. over the 
fruit ; the participial clause gives 
more definition to the preceding 
verb, a watchful and constant ex- 
pectancy. 'Over it' ; the prep, in the 
original is often so used after verbs 
which signify a mental affection or 
emotion, as in English we often use 
the word ' over ' (Grimm-Thayer) ; 
cf. Ecclus. xviii. 11, xxix. 8, xxxv. 
(xxxii.) 18 ; Matt, xviii. 26, 29. 

until it receive, RV., but ' he ' in 
marg., and good authorities may be 
quoted for either. Most probably 
the subject should be found in the 
nearest object ' fruit.' The thought 
of the fruit receiving the early and 
latter rain would be very natural to 
an inhabitant of Palestine ; cf Deut. 
xi. 14, Joel ii. 23, Jer. v. 24, Zech. x. 
1, for the thought of God giving, or 
raining down, the early and latter 
rain. The majority of modems take 
this view, but a few still follow Luther 
in regarding 'the husbandman' as 
the subject, on the ground that a 
change of subject is not warranted, 
and that attention is fixed primarily 
and chiefly on the husbandman him- 
self. Of com'se if we adopt for the 
following words the rendering ' early 
and latter fruit ' the same word can- 

V. 7,8] JAMES 12d 

8 early and latter rain. Be ye also patient ; stablish your 

not be taken as the subject of the 
verb ' receive.' This rendering 'early 
and latter friiit ' is justified on the 
ground that the clause 'until he 
receive the early and latter fruit ' is 
thus constituted a precise parallel 
to the vrords 'until the coming of 
the Lord,' but this parallel cannot 
fairly be found, nor is it needed (see 
below). There seems little doubt 
that the better rendering is 'the 
early and latter rain,' as A. and R.V. 

In some good authorities, e.g. 
W.H., the reading is simply 'the 
early and latter,' but in their text the 
phrase is marked by W.H. as a quo- 
tation, and it is to be remembered 
that in the lxx the complementary 
noxm in the same phrase is always 
' rain.' Its omission would of course 
account for the two variations 'fruit' 
and *rain,' and its addition is cer- 
tainly far more probable than its 

' The early and latter rain ' was a 
common phrase in the lxx, and would 
have been understood by every in- 
habitant of Palestine, although it is 
true that the former adjective is used 
with reference to early figs, Jer. 
xxiv. 2, Hos. ix. 10, and the latter 
wath reference to wheat and rye, 
Exod. ix. 32. 

The early and the latter rain were 
both needftil for the harvest of the 
precious fruit, and both tried the 
patience and skill of the husband- 
man. 'Towards the end of October 
heavy rains begin to fall, at intervals, 
for a day or several days at a time. 
These are what the English Bible 
calls the early or former rain, 
literally the Pourer. It opens the 
agricultural year ; the soil hardened 
and cracked by the long summer is 

loosened, and the farmer begins 

ploughing The latter rains of 

Scripture are the heavy showers of 
March and April. Coming as they 
do before the harvest and the long 
summer drought, they are of far 
more importance to the country than 
all the rains of the winter months, 
and that is why these are passed 
over in Scripture, and emphasis is 
laid alone on the early and tlie latter 
rains' G. A. Smith, Historical 
Geography of the Holy Land, 
p. 63. 

8. also, i.e. after the example of 
the husbandman ; ' the point of the 
simile lies in the patient waiting, 
not in that which is waited for.' 

stablish your hearts, for the due 
exercise of patience, and also no 
doubt with the thought that this 
patience would not be of long dura- 
tion. For the expression cf Judg. 
xix. 5, 8, Ecclus. xxii. 16, etc., and 
in N.T. 1 Thess. iii. 13, 1 Pet. v. 10, 
where, as generally elsewhere, it is 
the Divine power which stablishes ; 
cf. Ecclus. vi. 37 ; Psalms of 
Solomon, xvi. 12. From the frequent 
combination of this verb and noun 
in Jewish literature it may be fairly 
said that the ^vi-iter is using a regular 
Hebrew mode of expression. This 
stablishing the heart would be the 
best preservation against the sin of 
doublemindedness. With St James's 
thought here and his remedy against 
the sin just named, it is interesting 
to compare Clem. Rom. Cor. xxiii. 3, 
where the doubleminded are ex- 
horted to hope and to consider that 
as in nature the fruit of the tree 
soon attaincth unto mellowness, so 
tlie Lord wlioni tlioy expect will 
come quickly, and will not tarrj'. 




[V. 8, 9 

9 hearts : for the ^coming of the Lord is at hand. Murmur 
not, brethren, one against another, that ye be not judged : 

1 Gr. presence. 

for the coming of the Lord is at 
hand. The verb in the original is 
in the perfect tense, ' has come nigh,' 
and so, is at hand. With the ex- 
pression we may compare similar 
language, Luke xxi. 31 ; 1 Pet. iv. 7 ; 
Phil. iv. 5; Heb. x. 25; and in the 
O.T. Joel ii. 1, 'for the day of the 
Lord Cometh, for it is nigh at hand.' 

The words have sometimes been 
classed as a Christian watchword, 
the Aramaic form of which occurs in 
1 Cor. xvi. 22, Didache, x. 6, but it is 
very doubtful whether the expression 
Maranatha can be interpreted to 
mean that our Lord cometh (see 
R.V. marg.), is at hand, will come, or 
even ' has come ' ; and whether it 
may not be best explained as an 
ejaculation in a supplicatory sense, 
' Our Lord come ! ' ; of. Rev. xxii. 
20 ; see Art. ' Maranatha,' J. H, 
Thayer in Hastings' B. Z>., and also 
Art. on same in Encycl. Bihlica. 

The N.T. wi'iters it would seem 
all expected the Parousia quickly, 
having respect to our Lord's words, 
Mark xiii. 30, Matt. xxiv. 34, Luke 
xxi. 32, and it may be justly said 
that this expectation was fulfilled, 
not indeed in the visible return of 
Jesus, but in the overthrow of 
Jerusalem ; and in this connection 
we do well to remember that our 
Lord Himself had said, ' Henceforth 
ye shall see the Son of Man sitting 
at the right hand of power, and 
coming on the clouds of heaven ' ; 
He thus intimates His claim to 
judge not only hereafter but 'hence- 
forth,' and His coming to judgment 
is rightly seen in all the gi-eat moral 
catastrophes of the world's history. 

Voltaire could make merry at the 

earthquake of Lisbon, ' How absurd 
to talk about divine judgments ! 
Lisbon is overwhelmed, whilst at 
the same moment in Paris, a city 
equally guilty, people were dancing!' 
But it has been well pointed out that 
if Voltaire had lived on a few years 
longer, and witnessed the first great 
French Revolution and the streets 
of Paris red with blood, he might 
have seen another illustration of the 
Lord's parable, 'Wheresoever the 
carcase is, there will the eagles be 
gathered together'; he might have 
been constrained to exclaim with 
the Psalmist, ' Verily there is a God 
that judgeth the earth.' 

9. Murmur not, R.V., i.e. com- 
plain not, lit. groan not. A.V. has 
'grudge not,' but the word, whatever 
may have been its former meaning, 
now rather denotes 'a suppressed 
feeling of ill-will'; in Psalm lix. 15 
however the same verb is used as an 
equivalent of 'murmur' (complain) 
(see Driver's Parallel Psalter) ; cf. 
Shakespeare, Much Ado, iii. 4. 90; 
and Langland, Piers Plowman, 6. 
219. See further on verse 1 for the 
reference of the words here, and so 
also of ' brethren ' in the immediate 

one against another. If the refer- 
ence is to the Christian brother, and 
not to the wealthy oppressors just 
mentioned, we must remember that 
St James was a keen judge of human 
nature, and was well aware that the 
temptation to impatience towards 
those with whom they were most 
closely associated would often make 
itself felt in the irritation produced 
by continuous oppression. 

that ye be not judged, R.V., 

V. 9, 10] 



10 beliold, the judge standeth before the doors. Take, brethren, 
for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets 

'condemned,' A.V,, but authority 
is overwhelming for the reading in 
text: cf. Matt. vii. 1; Luke vi. 37 
(Rom. ii. 1 ; 1 Cor. iv. 5). It is urged 
that there is no need to suppose 
a reference to our Lord's words on 
account of the difference of context, 
but in St Matthew at all events the 
thought of ' the day ' of the Lord is 
not far removed from the exhortation 
in question : cf Matt. vii. 22; see also 
below on v. 12. 

hehold, the judge, i.e. the Lord 
Christ, Who is judge both of you 
and of those from whom you differ ; 
the words are thus a warning as well 
as an encouragement: cf ii. 13. The 
language here has a striking parallel 
in Apocalypse of Baruch, xlviii. 39: 
'for the judge will come, and will 
not tarry.' 

standeth he/ore the doors; signify- 
ing the imminent nearness : cf Matt, 
xxiv. 33 ; Mark xiii. 29. There is 
thus no need to find an allusion to 
Isaiah xxvi. 20 or to the figurative 
language which is there employed ; 
the reference to our Lord's own 
words with respect to His coming 
seems far more natural. This near- 
ness of the Judge should prevent 
the brethren from anticipating His 
judgment of their complaints against 
their neighbours, and so taking upon 
themselves the office of judge, as 
was the case vrith the friends of Job. 
The noun which A.V. renders 'door' 
(R.V. ' doors ') is in the plural as in 
the passages cited from the Gospels. 
Tlie striking scene in the martyrdom 
of St James, Eusebius, H. E. ll. 23, 
as given by Hegesippus, describes 
the scribes and Pharisees as setting 
him on a pinnacle of the Temple 
and asking, 'What is the door of 

Jesus ?': and the Just answers, 'Why 
do ye ask me concerning Jesus the 
Son of Man ? He is both seated in 
heaven on the right hand of Power, 
and will come on the clouds of 
heaven.' The expression is some- 
times referred to our Lord's words 
John X. 7-9. 

10. hrethren, R.V., is better at- 
tested than my hrethren. But either 
form of expression was, as we have 
seen, characteristic of the writer. 

for an example. The word is 
used of the example of Enoch, 
Ecclus. xliv. 16, of the example 
of the brave old scribe Eleazar, 
2 Mace. vi. 31, of the example of the 
seven brethren who would not trans- 
gress the law of their fathers, 4 
Mace, xvii, 23. In the N.T. it is 
used of our Lord's own example, 
John xiii. 15. 

of suffering, R.V. The noun is 
used only here in the N.T., but 
the cognate verb is found below 
m V. 11, 2 Tim. ii. 3, 9, iv. 5. It 
is found elsewhere, Mai. L 13, 2 
Mace. ii. 26, 27, and in 4 Mace. ix. 8, 
where it is used, as is the word 
' example ' above, in connection with 
the same brethren who answer the 
tyrant Antiochus, saying, 'for we 
sliall receive the rewards of \irtue 
through this sufi"ering and endur- 
ance,' the latter noun being also the 
same noun which occurs thrice in 
the Epistle (cf i. 3, 4, v. 13). Deiss- 
m&nn, Bibelstudien, ir. 91, apparently 
takes the word on the evidence of 
inscriptions to signify the endurance 
of suffering or affliction. 

When we read in the next verse 
that 'we call them blessed which 
endured,' it is most natural to asso- 
ciate such words with our Lord's 




[v. 10,11 

1 1 who spake in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call them 
blessed which endured : ye have heard of the ^patience of 

Or, endurance 

own Beatitudes, Matt. v. 11, 12. At 
the same time the blessedness of 
those who endured martyrdom 
under the tyrant Antiochus was 
often celebrated, as e.g. in 4 Mace. i. 
10, vii. 22, X. 15, xii. 1. patience; see 
on V. 7. 

the prophets. It is best to refer the 
words to the O.T. prophets ; but it 
has sometimes been maintained that 
prophets in the Christian Church 
may also have been included, who 
suffered like things with them of 
old times. 

■in the name, i.e. with the power, 
and as the representatives of Him 
Who sent them ; cf. for this same 
formula Isaiah I. 10, Jer. xi. 21, 
Micah iv. 5, and see also Matt. vii. 
22, X. 41, and see further v. 14 
below; cf Deissmann, Bibelstudien, 
L 26\ and Hastings' £. D., Art. 
* Name.' 

The words are no doubt meant 
to cheer the suffering Christians, 
and would help to remind them that 
even if the prophets who were so 
holy that God spoke through them 
endured persecution and suffering, 
they must not wonder if a fiery trial 
was theirs also ; Bede's comment to 
this effect is interesting, and he in- 
stances not only the prophets who 
were so free from fault that the 
Holy Spirit spake through them 
God's mysteries to men, but also 
the Maccabean martyrs. 

The example of the prophets was 
often appealed to : cf e.g. Matt, xxiii. 
.34 ; Acts vii. 52 ; Heb. xi. So too 

Abraham, Isaac, David, and 'the 
three children' were cited as ex- 
amples of those who endured, 
4 Mace. xvi. 21. 

If we ask why St James appealed 
to the old prophets, and not to the 
example of Jesus Christ, the great 
ensample of godly life, it may be that 
he wished to keep before the eyes of 
his converts Jesus as the Lord of 
glory, as the Lord Whose coming 
drew nigh, and that his readers 
were not quite prepared for the 
preaching of the Person of the Mes- 
siah as an example of human virtue ; 
if the Epistle was wi-itten at a very 
early date it is quite possible that the 
details of the life of Jesus would be 
far less familiar to the readers than 
the old and oft-repeated stories of 
the sufferings and patience of the 
prophets, and it may also be added 
that St James may have already 
alluded to Christ when he spoke 
of the unresisting 'righteous one,' 
V. 6. 

11. Behold, we call thetn blessed 
which endured, R.V. This transla- 
tion brings out more distinctly than 
AV. 'happy' the connection between 
the verb 'to call blessed' and the 
adjective 'blessed' found, not only in 
i. 12, but also used by om* Lord in 
the Beatitudes ; cf. especially Matt. 
V. 12 with the verse before us . 
it is also based upon what seems 
to be undoubtedly the correct 
reading (adopted by W.H. as by 
R.V.), the aorist part, 'which en- 
dured' instead of the present 'wliich 

^ For those who study German, reference should also be made to Heitmiiller'a 
exhaustive volume, Im Namen Jesu, p. 86 (1903). 

V. 1]] 



Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, how that the Lord 
is full of pity, and merciful. 

endure.' The same verb rendered 
'we call blessed' is applied to 
Daniel and his endurance in the deu 
of lions, 4 Mace, xviii. 13. 

ye have heard of the patience, but 
in R.V. marg. 'endurance,' because 
the word in the original is the 
cognate noun of the verb employed 
at the end of the preceding clause ; 
possibly R. V. retained ' patience ' in 
the text on account of the common 
proverbial expression. Here the 
reference may only be to that per- 
sistent trust in God which Job mani- 
fested in his troubles and amidst 
the calumniations of his friends. In 
Psalms of Solomon, xvi. 15, we read, 
'the righteous man if he continue 
stedfast shall therein find mercy of 
the Lord,' a sentiment strikingly in 
agreement with the words of St 
James (see also below), and rendered 
all the more so not only by the 
fact that the verb ' continue stedfast ' 
is the cognate verb of the noun 
rendered here ' endiu-ance,' but also 
because the writer of the Psalms 
evidently had Job in his mind, for 
he remarks in the previous verse, 
' thou dost prove a man in his flesh, 
and in the affliction of poverty.' 
The well-known passage in Ezek. 
xiv. 14, 20, where Job is mentioned 
with Noah and Daniel as an example 
of tnie righteousness, is sufficient to 
show how important a place Job 
occupied in Jewish thought, and the 
Yulg. of Tob. ii. 12-15 contains an 
explicit reference to the patience of 
Job. A reference may also be made 
to Test. Ahr. xv., where Michael 
says of Abraham, 'and there is no 
man like him upon the earth, not 
even Job, that marvellous niiin,' a 
reference which showg how Abra- 

ham and Job stood out in marked 
prominence in Jewish thought, just 
as in the Epistle of St James the 
former appears as the example of 
faith, and the latter of endurance. 

heard. The word is sometimes 
taken to refer to the public reading 
in the synagogues, but there is no 
need to restrict the reference to 
this. It is noticeable that this is 
the only reference to Job in the N.T. 
and that the Book of Job is only 
once quoted, 1 Cor. iii. 19 = Job v. 
13. Philo has a quotation from Job 
xiv. 4. In Tanchuma, 29. 4, we have 
a quotation of Job xlii. 10, where we 
read tiiat Job in this world was 
tried much, but God has rewarded 
him double, as it is said, 'and the 
Lord gave Job twice as much as he 
had before.' Amongst early Christian 
writers St Clement of Rome fre- 
quently refers to Job. Thus in Cor. 
xvii. 1, 3 he exhorts his fellow-Chris- 
tians to be imitators of the prophets, 
of Abraham, and of Job, of whom it 
is written that he was righteous and 
unblameable, and further quotations 
from Job are found in xx. 7, xxvi. 3, 
xxxix. 3, Ivi. 6. 

and have seen. So A. and R.V. 
and W.H. I.e. like a drama unfolds 
itself scene by scene. This is best, 
but by some editors a more abrupt 
reading is adopted, viz. the impera- 
tive, with a full-stop after ' Job ' : 
'See ye also,' etc. 

the end of the Lord, i.e. the end 
which the Lord makes, and gives ; 
ye have seen how all things work 
together for good (cf Job xlii. 12). 
It is quite possible that St James 
has before him the Rabbinical phrase 
which corresponds to the exi)l;uiation 
of the words as above ; so Loo the 



[v. 12 

12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither 

Syriac renders 'the end which the 
Lord made for him.' Job is thus 
rightly spoken of as blessed. It is 
sometimes urged that the words may 
be specially referred to the appear- 
ance of the Lord at the end of the 
Book of Job as settling the contro- 
versy, and that this sense well fits in 
with the idea of the Parousia as the 
final scene which Christians antici- 
pated ; this sequence of thought is 
possible with the alternative reading 
mentioned above, but certainly not 
otherwise, and even then it is not 
supported by the context. 

It should also be mentioned that 
the words under consideration have 
been sometimes taken as by St 
Augustine to refer to the death of 
Christ, 'the end of the Lord' (cf. 
Sermo ad Catechumenos, x.). The 
same interpretation of the words 
was adopted by Bede and by Wet- 

The latter comments, 'He under- 
stands the death which the Lord 
Jesus endured for our salvation, and 
which is represented in the Holy 
Supper,' apparently refemng in the 
last clause to the words 'ye have 
seen the end, i.e. the death, of the 
Lord.' But this interpretation how- 
ever tempting cannot be said to be 
borne out by the context 

how tlm% R.V. ; explanatory of the 
preceding, showing and describing 
the nature of ' the end of the Lord.' 

the Lord, i.e. the Lord of the O.T., 
and so the words just preceding refer 
evidently to the same Lord. 

full of pity. The exact word is 
not found elsewhere except Hermas, 
Mand. iv. 3. 5, Sim. v. 7. 4, used 
each time of the Lord of the O.T., but 

the Lxx has a very similar expres- 
sion, ' plenteous in mercy,' cf. Exod. 
xxxiv. 6. In the ' Prayer of Manasses' 
we have a word somewhat simi- 
larly compounded, joined with two 
other adjectives, 'long-suflfering' and 
'plenteous in mercy,' as in Exod. u.s., 
' for thou art the most high Lord, of 
great compassion, long-suffering, veiy 
merciful' ; cf , for a somewhat similar 
combination, Ps. ciii. 8. With the 
expression here, and the two ad- 
jectives, in the original, cf. Col. iii. 12. 

merciful; only found once else- 
where in N.T., Luke vi. 36, where it 
is used as here of God ; cf Clem. 
Rom. Cor. xxiii. 1 ; but frequent in 
lxx; cf. esp. Ecclus. ii. 11, 'for 
the Lord is full of compassion and 
mercy, long-suflering, and very 
pitiful, and forgiveth sins and saveth 
in time of affliction,' a passage which 
may well have been in the mind of 
St James, especially when we com- 
pare ». 12 with James i. 8 above. 
In Psalms of Sohm^on similar attri- 
butes are also ascribed to God; 
cf. passage quoted above. 

This reference to the sure mercy 
and pity of the Lord would encourage 
Christian endurance to the end ; cf. 
Matt. X. 22, xxiv. 13. 

12. above all things. It is in- 
teresting to find this phrase quoted 
from the papyri at the end of a letter. 
Two instances of its use in this 
way are given in the Oxyrhynchus 
Papyri from letters dating 22 and 

25 A.D.1 

In the passage before us it is of 
course quite possible that this em- 
phatic phrase may be limited to what 
has just preceded, and then it may 
be regarded as introducing a special 

1 Dean of Westminster, Ephesians, p. 279. 

V. 12] JAMES 135 

by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath : 

warning for those who might be led 
by suffering to inipatience and mur- 
muring, and so to hasty oaths and 
asseverations. But it is perliaps 
better to regard the precepts tlius 
emphatically introduced as a kind of 
postscript to the letter, and in the 
first instance to find the need of such 
an extreme warning in the prevalence 
amongst the Jews of heedless and 
false swearing, an evil and dangerous 
habit into which those engaged like 
the Jews of the Diasporain commerce 
and merchandise were very liable to 
fall ; of, for its notoriety amongst the 
Jews in Rome, Martial, Epig. xi. 94. 

my brethren; marking here as 
elsewhere (cf i. 16) the earnestness 
and yet tenderness of the writer. 

swear not. To swear by the heaven 
or by the earth was to employ re- 
cognised Jewish formulae, and on 
more than one occasion our Lord 
refers to the use or rather abuse of 
such and similar formulae, Matt. v. 
34, xxiii. 16, and points out not only 
the liability of this usage to lead 
men into irreverence and untruth- 
fulness, but also its real meaning as 
involving, however men might seek 
to disguise it, an oath by God Himself. 

In any consideration of this verse 
it should be carefully noted that the 
reference of the words to contem- 
porary Jewish habits as to the use 
or non-use of oaths does not exclude a 
reference to our Lord's words. Matt. 
V. 34 ff., as has been often main- 
tained. St James employs two 
formulae to which reference is made 
by our Lord Himself, Matt. v. 34, 35, 
and to his words, ' not by any other 
oath,' we may fairly find a parallel in 
our Lord's command, ' Swear not at 

Von Soden and Spitta (see also 

Encyd. Bihl. ii. 1825) deny any 
reference by St James to our Lord's 
saying, and see in this expression 
' the yea yea ' etc. only reference to 
a common every-day formula. But 
whilst we admit this commonness of 
the formula, we have still to re- 
member the context in which it is 
here placed by our Lord and by St 
James, and the solemn use which 
they both make of it. 

norhy any other oath; it has indeed 
been maintained that in the omission 
of the words ' neither by Jerusalem 
nor by the temple' we may see an in- 
dication that St James's Epistle was 
not written till after the fall of Jeru- 
salem, and this is urged by Schmiedel 
{Encycl. Bihl. ii. 1892), but it is much 
more to the point to observe that 
St James may possibly have referred 
to our Lord's command in Matt. v. 
in some shortened form, or that his 
words ' nor by any other oath ' fairly 
include any other usual formulae in 
vogue in taking an oath. On the 
miserable subterfuges by which the 
Jews avoided the obligation of oaths 
by maintaining that they were not 
binding unless the Sacred Name of 
God was introduced, see further p. 
153, and Wetstein on Matt. v. 37, vnih 
Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, p. 168, and 
E.T., pp. 206, 228. 

let your yea be yea. It has been 
said that the likeness in this verse is 
closer than in any other in this 
Epistle to the words of the Sermon 
on the Mount (cf R.V. marg.), and 
St James may well have recalled 
his Master's words in enforcing his 
Master's principle. For the words 
contain no mere prohibition against 
falsehood ; the sphere of perfect 
truthfulness was that in which all 
comnmuication between man and 



[v. 12, 13 

but ^let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay ; that ye fall 
not under judgement. 
13 Is any among you suffering? let him pray. Is any 

^ Or, let yours be the yea, yea, and the nay, nay Compare Matt. v. 37. 

man should be conducted; in a Chris- 
tian society, where men are truly 
brethren in Christian affection, there 
should be no need of oaths in the 
daily intercourse of social life ; of. 
Clem. Alex. Strom, vii. 8, where he 
says that no true Christian will ever 
perjure himself; he will not even 
swear, and for him to be put upon 
his oath is an indignity. See Ad- 
ditional Note on the Use of Oaths, 
p. 153. 

that ye fall not under judgement. 
For the phrase here of. Ps. i. 5 ; 
Ecclus. xxix. 19 ; = 'that ye be not 
judged' in ». 9; of. iii. 1, and Matt. 
V. 21 ; John v. 24. 

Our Lord in the parallel passage, 
Matt. V. 37, says, ' and whatsoever is 
more than these is of the evil one,' 
R.V., as if He would warn men that 
their unscrupulous use of the so- 
lemnity of an oath must be referred 
not to the God of truth but to the 
father of lies. So St James also 
warns men against the Divine judg- 
ment which would follow upon this 
participation in what every true 
Christian would condemn as evil, 
even as Christ his Lord had con- 
demned it, together with every 'idle 
word' for which account would be 
given in the day of judgment. Matt, 
xii. 36; and even now the judg- 
ment was at hand ; cf. v. 9 above. 

This thought of judgment follow- 
ing as a condemnation of vain and 
needless swearing, a thought so in- 
tensified for the Christian con- 

science by the words of Christ and 
His nearness as Judge, had been 
expressed by the writer of Ecclus. 
xxiii. 11, 'and if he swear in vain 
(without cause) he shall not be 

13. Is any among you suffering ? 
let him pray. Cf. rendering of cog- 
nate noun in v. 10, 'suffering,' R.V. 

It is doubtful whether the words 
have any very close connection with 
what has just preceded, and the 
various exhortations may be only of 
a general character. But on the 
other hand it is quite possible to 
find some reference to the immediate 
context. Thus in the Sermon on the 
Mount our Lord, after saying, 'Swear 
not at all,' proceeds to enjoin, not 
retaliation against, but love towards, 
our neighbour. St James inculcates 
long-suffering under injury or ad- 
versity before a similar injunction 
'swear not at all,' and then again 
treats of the right attitude under 
suffering, the calm attitude of prayer, 
not the petulant hastiness wliich 
finds vent in oaths. Or again it is 
plausible to connect the first case with 
V. 10 above, or the second with iv. 9, 
but even if this is admitted as 
accounting for the primary applica- 
tion of the words, they may bear a 
much wider reference, and the 
remedy in the wider as in the more 
limited application is to be found iu 
bringing everything before God- 
For the verb see 2 Tim. ii, 3, 9, iv. 5, 
and for the cognate noun v. 10 above. 

1 The reading ' lest ye fall into hypocrisy ' in the clause before us is very 
weakly supported, although adopted by Oecumenius, Grotius, and Wetstein. It 
may easily have arisen from reading the two words ' under judgment ' as the 
Greek word meaning 'hypocrisy.' 

V. 13, 14] 



14 cheerful? let him sing praise 

The word may include, but is too 
general in its signification (so R.V.) 
to be identified with, the verb ' to be 
sick ' in v. 14. It is quite beside the 
mark to regard the exhortation to 
pray as a bidding to prayer for 
vengeance, and to compare Enoch, 
xhii. 2, xcvii. 3, civ. 3. The inter- 
rogative form of the sentence, as 
also in the succeeding clauses, is 
quite in harmony with the vivid 
style of St James. 

Is any cheerful ? R.V. The A.V. 
'merry' refers rather to outward 
hilarity than to the universal cheer- 
fulness indicated by the original. 
The verb is not found in the lxx, 
but it is used by Symmachus, Ps. 
xxxii. 11, and Prov. xv. 15, 'all the 
days of the afflicted are evil, but he 
that is of a cheerful heart hath a 
continual feast,' and the cognate 
adjective is used 2 Mace. xi. 26 of 
those who 'go cheerfully about their 
own affairs.' 

let him sing praise, R.V. ; 'let him 
sing psalms,' A. V., but not necessarily 
so restricted as to imply only ' Psalms 
of David'; Ephes. v. 19, Col. iii. 16. 
The word ' psalm ' is derived from the 
verb here employed in the original 
Greek. This verb meant primarily 
to touch or strike a chord, to twang 
the strings, and hence it is used 
absolutely as meaning to play the 
harp, etc., and in lxx to play on 
some stringed instrument, and also 
to sing to the music of the harp, 
often in honour of God (but see also 
Ecclus. ix. 4). 

In Psalms of Solomon, iii. 2 (a 
Psalm entitled 'concerning the 
righteous'), the writer in the opening 
verse gives the summons to sing a 
new song unto God, and in xv. 5 wo 
have a point of contact with the 
veree before ils in the words wherein 

. Is any among you sick ? let 

' a psalm and praise with a song in 
gladness of heart' are described as 
a means for preserving the safety of 
the righteous. In the N.T. the same 
verb is used of singing of hymns, of 
celebrating the praise of God, Rom. 
XV. 9; 1 Cor. xiv. 15; Ephes. v. 19 
(cf LXX, Judg. V. 3). Here the words 
may refer primarily to private de- 
votion and worship, but they evi- 
dently have a wider application ; cf. 
Hooker, E. P. v. 38, on the power of 
melody in public prayer, melody 
both vocal and instrumental, for the 
raising up of men's hearts, and the 
sweetening of their affection towards 
God. Luther wshed to see all the 
arts employed in the service of Him 
Who gave them, and he writes, ' The 
devil is a sad spirit and makes folks 
sad, hence he cannot bear cheerful- 
ness ; and therefore gets as far off 
from music as possible, and never 
stays where men are singing, espe- 
cially spiritual songs.' William Law 
devotes a whole chapter (xv.) in his 
Serious Call to the benefit of chant- 
ing psalms in our private devotions, 
and he writes : ' He tlierefore that 
saith he wants a voice, or an ear, to 
sing a psalm, mistakes the case : he 
wants the spirit that really rejoices 
in God; the dulness is in his heart 
and nut in his ear ; and when his 
heart feels a true joy in God, when 
it has a full relish of what is ex- 
pressed in the psalms, he will find it 
very pleasant to make the motions 
of his voice express the motions of 
his heart.' 

The two injunctions hero given 
to prayer and praise practically teach 
us that all our feelings of sorrow or 
of joy should bo sanctified. On all 
occasions our joy should be the 'joy 
in the Holy Gliost' ; on all occiusions 
our sufferings should be met 'ac- 



[v. 14 

him call for the elders of the church ; and let them pray 

cording to the will of God ' ; joy or 
sorrow being received with the wor- 
ship of praise or prayer. At the 
same time it has been thoughtfully 
observed that we may with equal 
truth transpose the two precepts : 
'Is any among you suffering? let 
him praise. Is any cheerful ? let 
him pray': as thanksgiving sweetens 
sorrow, so supplication sanctifies joy 
(Pluinmer). It is interesting to note 
that in Testaments of the xii. Pat. 
Benj. 4, it is mentioned as one of the 
general characteristics of the good 
man that he praises God in song (or, 

14. Is any among you sick ? The 
mention of suffering in the wider 
sense leads to the mention of a 
common instance of siiffering, viz. 
that of sickness. The verb is used 
of weakness in means, i.e. poverty, of 
weakness in convictions, and specially 
of weakness in bodily health ; so 
the participle of the same verb is 
used for 'the sick.' 

In connection with the present 
passage, Ecclus. xxxviii. 1-15 is of 
interest, especially v. 9, ' My son, in 
thy sickness be not negligent, but 
pray unto the Lord, and he wiU 
make thee whole.' 

let him call for the elders. There 
seems to be no reason why the 
mention of a body of presbyters in 
an official capacity should be re- 
garded as indicating a late date, if 
we consider such passages as Acts 
xi. 30, XV. 6, xxi. 18, and in the light 
of such an admittedly early state- 
ment as in 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. This 
latter passage joined with such 
passages as 1 Pet. v. 1-4, Heb. xiii. 
17, may fairly justify the description 

of the presbyters as the representa- 
tives of the domestic religious life 
of the Church in every place ; that 
is to say, any local body of the 
Christian brethren, as locally consti- 
tuted and organised (Moberly, Mini- 
sterial Priesthood, p. 144); see 
further below. 

of the church. It is sometimes 
said that the word used here for 
'church,' and the word translated 
'synagogue,' ii. 2, are convertible 
terms not only in the Lxx but in 
early Christian literature, but such 
a general statement should be re- 
ceived with some qualification in its 
reference to the latter^. In the 
verse before us the word 'church' 
as indicating the Christian com- 
munity differs from the word ' syna- 
gogue,' ii. 2, inasmuch as the latter 
denotes the place of assembly. 
Eusebius emphasises the fact, 
Theoph. (Syr.) iv. 12, that Jesus 
called His Church not a synagogue 
but an Ecclesia, the word used here 
by St James. In the Gospels this 
word is used on two occasions, and 
on each by St Matthew, xvi. 18, xviii. 
17. In the first passage our Lord 
speaks of ' My church,' evidently in 
the widest sense of the word, and in 
the second He uses the same word in 
a manner which might lead us to 
regard it as a title of the ruling 
body of the Ecclesia, or congrega- 
tion, almost in the sense of 'the 
elders' here. And from this fact 
that our Lord thus used the term 
once no doubt of the whole Church 
which He founded, and once it may 
be of the Christian community in 
any city or village", the term would 
very possibly have become familiar 

1 See above on ii. 2, and the full examination in Zahn, Einleitung, i. 69. 
* The term is thue understood in Matt, xviii. 17 by Grimm-Thayer, and Dr 
Hort, EccUiia, p. 9, argues for its application there to a Jewish community. 

V. 14] 



over him, ^anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord 

^ Or, having anointed 

to St James, to say nothing of its 
further local use in St Paul's Epistles 
and in the earlier portions of Acts. 

Moreover, it would seem that our 
Lord, by this use of the word 
Ecclesia in Matt. xvi. 18, claimed 
for His own Church a term which 
had been used in the O.T. of the 
Jewish Church, the Church of God. 
And in the same way it is not 
difficult to understand that other 
terms may have been easily taken 
over as it were from the Jewish to 
the Christian Church, as is the ease 
with ' presbyters,' ' elders ' (cf. again 
Ecclus. XXX. 18 (xxxiii. 18) with 
Hebrews xiii. 17), although we must 
not hastily conclude that identity 
of name involves identity of function. 
Dr Schmiedel contends that the 
term 'presbyters' in St James is 
not necessarily of Jewish origin, but 
to support this he dates the Epistle 
before us at the same date as St 
Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians, 
or even as 1 Pet. which he places 
about 1 1 2 A. D., Art. ' Ministry,' En cycl. 
Bibl. III. 3120. 

let them pray. There is evidence 
to show that amongst the Jews it 
was customary for the holiest of the 
Rabbis to go to a sick neighbour's 
house and to pray for him (see also 
on V. 16)^; it would thus bo only 
natural that the elders of the Chris- 
tian local community should be called 
upon, especially in the case of Jewish- 
Christians, for a similar spiritual 
oflBce. At a later date in the Chris- 
tian Church we find the presbyters 

exhorted to visit all those who are 
infirm, Polycarp, Phil. vi. 1. 

over him; not simply 'for him.' 
It is quite possible that the words 
mean 'let them pray (stretching 
their hands) over him,' in accordance 
with the interpretation given to the 
words by Origen, Horn, in Lev. il 4, 
and this rendering would be quite 
in accordance vrith the force of the 
original'^. Otherwise, it is taken to 
mean that the elders come and stand 
over him, or with reference to him, 
' as if their intent, in praying, went 
out towards him,' i.e. for his healing. 

anointing Am ('having anointed' 
R.V. marg.)^ The use of oil in 
anointing the sick for a remedial 
purpose receives illustration from 
the O.T. ; cf. Isaiah i. 6 (Jcr. viii. 22, 
xlvi. 11): and there is evidence that 
it was customary to make a mixture 
of oil, wine, and water for a similar 
purpose, the preparation of which 
was permitted even during the rest 
of the Sabbath, Jer. Ber. ii. 2 
(Edersheim, Jewish Social Life., p. 
167). In the N.T. reference is made 
to a similar use in Luke x. 34 (cf. 
vii. 46), and oil is frequently men- 
tioned as a medicinal agent amongst 
the remedies of the ancient world 
for all kinds of diseases ; see Art. 
'Medicine,' Hastings' B.D. The 
beUef in the same efficacious use is 
mentioned by Philo, Pliny, Giilen, 
Dion Cassius; cf. also Jos. Ant. xviL 
6. 5, and B. J. I. 33. 5. For St James, 
moreover, such use would have re- 
ceived the highest sanction by the 

1 See the information given by Dr Schechter in Mr Fulford'a St James, 
p. 117. 

2 So Grimm-Thayer explains the preposition ' with hands extended over him.' 
See also the remarks of Dr Hort, Ecclesia, p. 215. 

3 On the force of this aorist participle see Carres note in loco ; it may Bimply 
express an action contemporaneous with the principal verb. 



[v. 15 

15 and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the 

practice of the first disciples, Mark 
vi. 13 ; and if we cannot definitely 
say that in this passage of St James 
our Lord's command is presupposed, 
it certainly intimates to us that His 
sanction was not withheld \ 

For instances of cures wrought 
by anointing with oil, see Diet, of 
Christ. Ant.,k.ris. 'Oil' and'Unction,' 
and also Journal of Theological 
Studies, 2, p. 60, in the case of 
St Pachomius, St Macarius of Alex- 
andria, Benjamin of Nitria, Ammon, 

The subject is further discussed in 
Additional Note on Anointing with 

in the name of tJie Lord. The 
position of the words seems to con- 
nect them with the act of anointing, 
and to intimate that this should be 
done in trustful dependence upon 
the power and authority of Christ. 
If it be said that no express com- 
mand of Christ had been given for 
the anointing, it may be fairly 
alleged in reply that in Mark vi. 13 
such a command is presupposed (see 
also above). On the force of the 
expression cf also v. 10. And as in 
that verse the true and the false 
prophets are contrasted, the true 
being those who spoke in the name 
of the Lord, so here it may be that 
a contrast is marked between those 
who healed in the name of the 
Lord and those who claimed to 
perform their cures by all sorts of 
magical formulae (cf. Deissmann, 
Bihelstudien, pp. 5 ff.). That cures 
were wrought in the name of Jesus 
Christ is the testimony of the N.T. ; 
cf. e.g. Mark iii. 15 ; Luke x. 17 ; Acts 
iii. 6, xix. 13. At the same time it 

may be fairly maintained that it 
would be quite permissible to con- 
nect the phrase with both prayer 
and anointing, and if with the 
former, the words of St John xiv. 13, 
XV. 16, xvi. 23 bear out the reference 
of them to prayer in the name of 

The phrase gains in significance, 
and the probabiUty of its reference to 
Christ becomes assured, if we read 
simply ' in the Name ' (omitting with 
B the words 'of the Lord,' which 
are placed in brackets by W.H.). 
For a similar emphatic reference to 
'the Name,' i.e. of Christ, cf. Acts v. 
41, R.V., 3 John 7, and so too in the 
early Church, Ignatius, Ephes. iii. 1, 
vii. 1. 

15. and the prayer of faith (cf. 
i. 6), faith not as restricted to the 
particular case, but as the condition 
of a heart devoted to God. The 
prayer is that of the presbyters, but 
the fact that the sick man sends for 
them is in itself a proof that he is 
regarded as a sharer in their faith 
and prayer. If we compare Acts iii. 
16 we note that there faith is spoken 
of as faith in the Name of Jesus, i.e. 
in the power of Him Who makes 
a lame man whole, and the prayer of 
faith here, as the context seems to 
suggest, may well be an exercise of 
faith in the same Divine Person 
and power. In this Name St Peter 
takes the lame man by the hand 
and 'raises him up,' Acts iii. 6, 7, 
where we have the same verb as in 
the sentence before us ; cf. Matt. ix. 5 ; 
Mark i. 31 ; John v. 8. See also below. 

shall save him that is sick, i.e. 
from his bodily sickness ; cf Matt ix. 
22; Mark v. 23; John xi. 12; and so 

1 See the stress laid upon this by B. Weiss, Neue kirchliche Zeitschrift, 
June, 1904, p. 438. 

V. 15] 



Lord shall raise him up ; and if he have committed sins, it 

often in the Lxx of safety from 
sickness or death, the same usage 
being found several times in the 
Psalms of Solomon ; cf the cognate 
noun in Isaiah xxxviii. 20. An 
attempt has sometimes been made 
to take the verb in an eschatological 
sense, i.e. as if it related here to 
eternal salvation, and reference is 
made in support of this to the 
meaning of the verb in v. 20. But 
the whole context before us is 
widely different, and points 
primarily at least to a different 
meaning. Further support is some- 
times found for the same view in 
restricting the use of the verb in the 
phrase 'him that is sick' to the 
dying. But the verb is by no means 
always employed in this restricted 
sense, either in Biblical or classical 
Greek: cf. Job x. 1 ; 4 Mace. iii. 8; 
Heb. xii. 3. So in Herod, i. 197 the 
present participle of the verb is used 
as here describing ' the sick'.^ 

The Romanist commentators take 
the saving to be that of the soul, 
and they also refer the ' raising up ' 
to spiritual comfort and strengthen- 
ing; see further below. But it is 
admitted by one of the most recent 
of them in commenting on this 
passage that the latter expression 
may often refer to bodily healing, 
and that as a result of the spiritual 
refreshment a recovery of bodily 
health may often follow. Interesting- 
cases may be cited from Jewish 
literature, in which special efficacy 

attached to the prayer of faith, the 
prayer of the righteous, for the 
recovery of health, the restoration 
being regarded as a proof that sins 
had been forgiven. 

and the Lord shall raise him up, 
i.e. Christ, bearing in mind the inter- 
pretation given to the words ' in the 
Name of the Lord,' and such passages 
as Mark i. 31, Acts ix. 34. Although 
parted from His Church, all power 
is given unto Christ both in heaven 
and on earth 2. The fact that all power 
belongeth unto Christ, as also the fact 
that the anointing is in His Name, 
reminds us that although nothing 
conditional is expressed in the text, 
yet the one condition of all faithful 
prayer is understood (John xiv. 14), 
so that it may well be said that such 
a prayer for recovery even if xm- 
answered might truly result in a 
higher 'salvation' than that of 
bodily health. But although the 
thought of a spiritual healing would 
thus be not altogether absent, as the 
following clauses 'and if he has 
committed,' etc., may lead us to infer, 
and although the verb transLited 'to 
save' is used in i. 21 and ii. 14 of 
the salvation of the Lord, yet its 
meaning, as has been maintained 
above, must be decided by the con- 
text, and it seems to be here 
associated mainly with the thought of 
bodily health ; it would therefore 
seem very unnatural to refer the 
expression 'shall raise him up' to 
the resurrection. 

1 The same verb is used twice, it would seem, in Wisdom iv. 16, and xv. 9, 
once of the dead and once of the sick or dying. This is of interest in connection 
with its employment here by St James. The more usual word for sickness is 
found in the previous verse. 

^ ' "I applied the remedies, the Lord was the healer" is the translation of a 
striking inscription in the ward of a French hoRpital, possibly suggested by 
these words of St James ' ; see Note on this passage in Expositor, Aug. 1904, 
by the Rev. J. H. Dudley Matthews. 



[v. 15, 16 

16 shall be forgiven him. 

and if he have committed sins, it 
shall be forgiven him. So A. and 
R.V. It is often urged that the 
force of the original is ' even if,' but 
although in some cases the same 
conjunction and particle in combina- 
tion may be rightly so rendered, 
there are others in which the rend- 
ering of A. and R.V. is fully justified. 
The clause is sometimes taken to 
refer to the sins which the sickness 
may have brought home to the man's 
conscience, and not necessarily to 
mean that the actual sickness in 
question had been occasioned by 
sin. But it is best interpreted as 
referring to the common connection 
in the Jewish mind between sin and 
disease : ' No sick man is healed 
until all his sins are forgiven him,' 
Nedarim, f. 41. 1 ; see also Art. 
'Confess' and the connection of 
moral and physical troubles, Encycl. 
Bihl. I. 884. 

Some striking instances of the 
prevalence of the common Jewish 
notion will be found in the Testa- 
jnents of the xii. Patriarchs, Sim. 2, 
Gad 5, where Simeon and Gad both 
refer their bodily sickness to their 
treatment of Joseph, and interesting 
notices are given by Dr Bdersheim, 
Jewish Social Life, p. 163. In the 
N.T. we may refer to such passages 
as Matt. ix. 2, 5, John v. 14, ix. 2. 
Bede cites 1 Cor, xi. 30, and the 
R.V. in marginal references com- 
pares the language of Isaiah xxxiii. 
24. But ' the prayer of faith ' would 
include by its very name a supplica- 
tion not only for bodily recovery and 
strength, but also for repentance 

Confess therefore your sins one to 

and forgiveness ; cf. Ecclus. xxxviii. 
9, 10; and St James assures us that 
the same Divine power which granted 
the former would also bestow the 
still greater and spiritual blessings of 
the latter : ' My son, in thy sickness 
be not negligent : but pray unto the 
Lord, and he will make thee whole. 
Leave off from sin, and order thine 
hands aright, and cleanse thy heart 
from all wickedness,' Ecclus. u. s. 

it shall he forgiven. The same 
impersonal construction is found in 
Matt. xii. 32. But the forgiveness is of 
course conditional ; see previous note, 
and cf. Matt. ix. 2, 5, Mark ii. 1-12. 

16. Confess therefore your sins 
one to another. So R.V,, adding 
the conjunction 'therefore' on good 
authority (see W.H. and Mayor's 
text), and also reading 'sins' instead 
of 'faults' with W.H. (see further 
below), the former word which 
occurs in the immediate context, v. 
15, including sins towards God, 
while the latter word might refer 
rather to offences towards one's 
neighbour, although the distinction 
cannot always be pressed- The 
addition 'therefore' is important 
because it shows that the exhorta- 
tion to mutual confession is associated 
here at all events primarily with the 
consideration of the case of the sick 
man ; cf. also the words 'that ye may 
be healed.' The terms employed 
are no doubt quite general, ' confess 
your faults one to another,' but the 
context may be fairly held to imply 
that the confession had already been 
made to the elders who had been 
summoned^; otherwise 'the prayer 

1 This is admitted by Dean Alford, see note in loco, and we may compare 
the words of the Bishop of Worcester on the same passage, where he points out 
that the general admonition to confess sins mutually one to another probably 
implies that the sick man would have confessed his sins to the presbyters whom he 
had summoned ; Church and the Ministry, p. 253. 

V. 16] 



of faith' could hardly have found 
place or mention. 

The word translated 'confess' 
might simply imply that the confes- 
sion was made from the heart, or 
that it was made openly in public. 
With regard to the latter meaning, 
which it is maintained on the high 
authority of Bishop Westcott (see 
note on 1 John i. 9) that the word 
always has in the N.T., support may 
be claimed for it in the two inte- 
resting uses of the Diduche, iv. 14, 
xiv. 1, where in each case the con- 
text would imply that public con- 
fession was intended, as mention is 
made in the first instance of the 
Church, and in the second of the 
gathering together on the Lord's 
Day. ' In church thou shalt confess 
thy transgressions, and shalt not 
betake thyself to prayer with an 
evil conscience' (iv. 14); 'And on 
the Lord's own day gather yourselves 
together and break bread and give 
thanks, first confessing your trans- 
gressions, that your sacrifice may be 
pure' (xiv. 1). 

The usage of the Jewish synagogue 
throws light upon these passages in 
the Didache, and no doubt such 
usage was known to St James. 
Before the Day of Atonement, 
mutual forgiveness was sought for 
sins committed against one another, 
and the men were to go apart and 
confess one to the other. Moreover, 
in a death-bed confession it is in- 
teresting to note that while one 
form of confession was made directly 
to God, another form was sometimes 
recited before the persons summoned 
for the purpose. The great Jewish 

authority Dr Hamburger gives from 
Tahuudic literature many instances 
of forms of confession of sin for 
domestic use, as well as in pubUc 
in the synagogue, as e.g. in case of 
sickness, or when a man has offended 
against his neighbour. He also 
points out that in the O.T. con- 
fession of sins in private is enjoined 
on certain occasions, as well as in 
public. In case of a dangerous 
illness it seems that it was custom- 
ary for the holiest of the local 
Rabbis to go to the house, and pray 
for God's mercy on the sick man 
and exhort him to confess his sins, 
and to set his affairs in order ; cf. 
2 Kings XX. 1. 

These Jewish illustrations, which 
might be easily multiplied, enable us 
to see how natural it would be for 
St James to exhort that in case of 
illness the local presbyters of the 
Christian Church should be sum- 
moned, and that confession of sins 
should be made, and how arbitrary it 
is to maintain that such directions 
point to a late date for the Epistle ^ 

your sins. Mr Mayor with Alford 
retains the reading 'faults' instead 
of ' sins ' (although it would seem that 
this retention is against the authority 
of the best MS.), on the ground that 
it is more in agreement with the 
sense of the passage if we take it as 
referring to our Lord's connnands in 
Matt. V. 23, vi. 14, and he also notes 
that this same word for 'faults' is 
used in the two passages of the 
Didaclie referred to above. Ho 
further understands the precept as 
of general application, and that St 
James is recommending the habit 

^ For the instances above see Buxtorfs Jewish Synagogue, ch. xx. pp. 3G3, 428 
(see Confession and Absolution, Fulham Conference, p. 15) ; Hamburper, lieal- 
Encyclopddie des Judentums, ii. S, 1139 S. ; and the extracts given on Dr Schechter's 
information by Mr i'ulford, Epistle of St James, p. 117. 



[v. 16 

another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. 

of mutual confession between friends^ ; 
in this interpretation the words 'that 
ye may be healed' receive a meta- 
phorical meaning, and we do not 
confine them to the case of the sick 
man. But whilst advocating this in- 
terpretation of the words,andpointing 
out the benefits arising from such 
mutual confidences, he rightly urges 
that no one should be better fitted 
than the parish priest, if he is wise 
with theheavenlywisdomof St James, 
to receive such confidences and to 
give in return spiritual help and 
counsel. See further. Additional 
Note on Confession of Sins. 

and pray one for another. Mutual 
and frank confession would lead to 
sincerity in prayer, for a man could 
not pray whilst he was cherishing 
self-righteous thoughts, and also to 
sjanpathy in prayer, whether bodily 
or spiritual health was in question : 
of. Ecclus. xxviii. 3-5, 'One man 
beareth hatred against another, and 
doth he seek pardon from the Lord? 
he showeth no mercy to a man which 
is like himself, and doth he ask for- 
giveness of his own sins ? if he that 
is but flesh nourish hatred, who will 
intreat for pardon of his sins ? ' 

that ye may &e healed. The con- 
text points primarily at all events 
to bodily healing; cf. vv. 14, 15, and 
also the reference made to the mi- 
raculous power of Elijah's prayer. 
The verb is no doubt also used of 
diseases of the soul, although in the 
cases usually cited the context shows 
that this and not the literal sense 
is intended. See e.g. Heb. xii. 13 ; 

1 Pet. ii. 24 ; and also Isaiah vi. 10 ; 
Ecclus. iii. 28. So too in the re- 
markable sajing of Epictetus, ' It is 
more necessary to heal the soul than 
the body, for death is better than 
a bad life,' there can be no doubt 
of the meaning ; and so too in the 
saying of Arrian that 'healing of 
sin ' is evidently only thorough when 
a man confesses and repents of his 

The tenses used indicate that St 
James is thinking of continuous ac- 
tion, and thus from the particular case 
he enforces a general rule for similar 
I)ractice in all cases of sickness. At 
the same time it is quite possible 
that St James might use the word, 
wellrememberingitsdouble meaning, 
and with reference to disease of the 
soul as well as of the body ; in v. 19, 
20, he speaks of sin and conversion 
in a manner which shows us that 
the thought of healing in a spiritual 
sense may have been present in his 
mind, as it was in the days of old to 
the mind of the Hebrew prophet: 
cf. Isaiah vi. 10. At all events it is 
noticeable that in v. 19 we have the 
same word used for ' convert ' as is 
used by Isaiah u.s. in close connec- 
tion with the same verb for ' heal ' as 
in the passage before us. 

The supplication of a righteous 
man availeth much in its working, 
R.V. The words are best taken as 
strengthening the previous injunc- 
tion to pray, and they are illustrated 
by the instance of Elijah. Their in- 
troduction without any definite word 
of connection is quite in the style of 

1 On the monastic rule to tell to the common body any thought of things 
forbidden, or inadmissible words, or remissness in prayer, or desire of the 
ordinary life, that through the common prayers the evil might be cured, see 
D.C.A. I. pp. 647, 648. In modern days reference is made to the Moravian 
Societies, and to the Methodist Classes which J. Wesley appears to have derived 
from them. 

V. 16] JAMES 145 

The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its 

St James. In A.V. the one Greek 
word rendered by the Revisers 'in 
its working' is removed from its 
emphatic position at the end of the 
sentence in the original, and resolved 
into two adjectives, but the rendering 

* effectual fervent prayer availeth 

much ' seems to be tautological and 
adds little ; a prayer which is ' ef- 
fectual' already 'availeth much.' 
Bishop Lightfoot, On a Fresh Re- 
vision of the N.T. p. 182, has some 
interesting remarks on this render- 
ing and its admission into the A.V., 
which he is disposed to ascribe to 
carelessness in the correction of the 
copy of the Bishops' Bible, used by 
the revisers of 1611 for the press. 
Others, who are still inclined to 
think that the R.V., rendering is 
not suflSciently strong, would trans- 
late 'in its earnestness'; cf. Acts xii. 
5, and the name which St James 
himself bore, 'righteous,' and his own 
practice of always kneeling, in the 
intensity of his prayer, in the Temple, 
asking forgiveness for the people 
(Busebius, H. E. ii. 23). 

It is maintained on high authority 
(Lightfoot, Gal. v. 6) that the verb in 
the original is never used by St Paid 
as passive but as middle, and so, as 
the passage before us is the only 
other place in the N.T. in which any 
doubt could arise, it is best to render 
the word here as middle, and in his 
rendering of the passage before us 
a similar view is taken by the German 
editor Dr B. Weiss. On the other 
hand Mayor in loco argues at length 

for the passive signification, and ex- 
plains it here as of prayer ' actuated, 
or inspired by the SpiritV It is 
interesting to note that in the early 
Church those who were 'acted or 
worked on by an evil spirit' bore the 
name of Energumeni, a title which 
might support a passive meaning 
of the Greek participle before us, 
although here of course the word 
would refer to a prayer inspired by 
God; cf. Rom. viii. 26. Some of the 
older commentators interpret the 
word of the way in which a good 
man's prayer is 'energised' by his 
good deeds and efforts ; see Euthy- 
mius Zigabenus in loco. 

supplication^ The word is different 
from that rendered ' prayer ' in p. 15 
(and only there so rendered in the 
N.T.); it is petitionary, and gives 
expression to the thought of personal 
need ; it is also used of requests to 
men, but both in the lxx and in the 
N.T. of petition to God ; cf. Psalm 
liv. 1, and so too Psalms of Solomon, 
V. 7, it is appropriately used as ex- 
pressing petition to God for the relief 
of material wants. 

of a righteous man. This thought 
of a special efficacy attaching to the 
prayers of a righteous man would be 
quite characteristic of a teacher with 
the Jewish antecedents of St James, 
and it may be fairly added to the 
many links which connect the Epistle 
with a Jewish writer. Such passages 
as Isaiah xxxvii. 4 = 2 Kings xix. 4, 
and so too 1 Kings xviii. 36, in rela- 
tion to the prayer of Elijah, or Jer. 

1 The Dean of Westminster, Ephesians, p. 247, also maintains the passive 
usage by St Paul, but the sense of the passive is not of things to be done, but 
of powers to be set in operation, and he thinks that in this notoriously difficult 
passage of St James it is at least possible that the verb in question may mean 
' set in operation by Divine agency.' 




[v. 16 

XV. 1, and Ps. xcix. 6, of the prayer of 
Moses and Aaron, 2 Esdras vii. 36 ff., 
may be quoted in this connection, 
and also the remarkable passage in 
Judith viii. 31, in which the people 
ask Judith to pray for rain, ' there- 
fore now pray thou for us, because 
thou art a godly woman, and the 
Lord will send us rain to fill our 
cisterns, and we shall faint no more' 
(for these and other references see 
Art. 'Prayer, ^Encycl. Biblica). In the 
N.T. as in the O.T. and Apocrypha 
this title 'righteous' is used of the 
ideally just man : cf. Gen. vi. 9 ; Wisd. 
X. 4. So too it is used of Abel, 
Heb. xi. 4 ; of Lot, 2 Pet. ii. 7 ; and 
our Lord Himself speaks of righteous 
Abel, Matt, xxiii. 35, and also of the 
' many prophets and righteous men ' 
who had desired to see what His 
own generation saw, Matt. xiii. 17. 
But the word might also be taken in 
a wider sense, and as ' the poor ' and 
'the lowly,' so too 'the righteous' 
were doubtless familiar figures to 
St James as to every typical pious 

Throughout the O.T. 'the right- 
eous' were set over against 'the 
sinners, the impious, the ungodly ' ; 
cf. Psalm i. 6, xxxvii. 12, 32 ; Prov. 
xiv. 19 ; Hab. i. 4, 13 ; Wisd. x. 6, 20 : 
and with this we may compare the 
marked contrast between the same 
two classes which pervades the Book 
of Enoch and the Psalms of Solo- 
mon (cf. Prov. xi. 31 and 1 Pet. iv. 
18). In connection with the passage 
before us the emphasis laid upon 
repentance in the character of the 
'righteous' man in Psalms of Sol. 
ix. 15, is important: 'the righteous 
thou wilt bless, and wilt not correct 
them for the sins that they have 
committed ; and thy kindness is 
towards them that sin if so be they 
repent.' No doubt the character 

had fallen short in many ways of 
the ideal set forth, e.g. in Ezekiel 
xviii. 5-9, but St James would have 
known of 'die Stillen im Lande,' 
quiet, righteous men, like Symeou 
and Joseph and John the Baptist, 
Luke ii. 25, Matt. i. 19, Mark vi. 20, 
who were waiting for the salvation of 
God. But the need of forgiveness and 
repentance was by no means, as we 
have seen above, excluded from the 
character of the righteous, and there 
was no contradiction in St James 
classing as 'righteous' those who 
were most conscious that their own 
sins must be confessed and forgiven. 
St James would doubtless have said 
with St Peter, 'and if the righteous 
is scarcely saved, where shall the 
ungodly and sinner appear ? ' 1 Pet. 
iv. 18. There is thus no occasion to 
sujipose that there is any reference 
to the thought of a righteous man 
appearing before God above for 
those confessing their sins, and it 
is altogether foreign to the con- 
text; Elijah prays on earth, not in 

On the constant identification in 
Old Testament thought of the poor 
with 'the righteous' see Art. 'Poor,' 
Hastings' B. D. iv. 

It is interesting and important to 
note how Hooker, E. P. vi. 4. 7 
(see also above, p. 143) connects 
this verse with the exhortation to 
mutual confession : ' The greatest 
thing which made men forward and 
willing upon their knees to confess 
whatsoever they had committed 

against God was their fervent 

desire to be helped and assisted 
with the prayers of God's saints.' 
And he adds that St James exhorts 
to mutual confession, 'alleging this 
only for a reason that just men's 
devout prayers are of great avail 
with God.' 

V. 1(5, 17] 



17 working. Elijah was a man of like ^passions with us, and 

^ Or, nature 

17. Elijah. The important place 
which Elijah held in Jewish thought 
is witnessed to by such references as 
Mai. iv. 6; Ecclus. xlviii. 1-12; 1 
Mace. ii. 58. All kinds of traditions 
surrounded his name. Thus his 
coming would precede by three days 
the advent of the Messiah, and it 
was customary to open the door 
during certain prayers, that Elijah 
might enter and proclaim that the 
Messiah was at hand ; when a child 
was circumcised a chair was always 
left vacant for Elijah as the messenger 
of the ' covenant ' ; and often as a 
Rabbi was at prayer in the wilder- 
ness, or was on a journey, the great 
prophet would make himself known 
to him (see Smith's B. D. 2nd edit. 
p. 913). But we do not need the 
evidence of Jewish tradition to as- 
sure us of an influence which is so 
often patent in the records of the 

As this Epistle of St James pre- 
sents so many points of contact with 
Ecclesiasticus, it is quite probable 
that the stress laid here upon Elijah 
may also be partly accounted for 
by the fulness with which that book 
dwells upon the prophet's history. 
The opening words of chap, xlviii. 
in Ecclus. may at all events be 
brought into connection with the 
passage before us, 'then stood up 
Elijah the prophet as fire and his 

words burned like a lamp by 

the word of the Lord he shut up the 

heaven O Elias, how wast thou 

honoured in thy wondrous deeds ! 
and who may glory like unto 
thee ! ' 

(>/ like passions with us, or 'of 
like nature,' R.V. marg., and .so in 
Acts xiv. 15, the only other N.T. 

passage in which the Greek adjective 
occurs. Primarily the word seems 
to mean those of like feelings or 
affections, suffering the like with 
another, sympathising with them, 
and thus it is used quite generally of 
those of like nature. Both senses are 
found in classical Greek, e.g. in 
Plato. The phrase stands here 
emphatically to show that no dis- 
couragement should be caused by 
this reference to the example of 
Elijah, for great prophet as he was, 
he was also a man of flesh and blood, 
liable to human weakness, of which 
reminder perhaps St James's readers 
stood specially in need, as the power 
and greatness of Elijah had been so 
enhanced in popular report. There 
is no occasion therefore to take the 
word as referring specially to suffer- 
ings or to connect it with v. 10. 
A good instance of the use of the 
word may be cited from 4 Mace. xii. 
13, where it is alleged against the 
tyrant Antiochus that he cut out 
the tongues of those of like feelings 
and nature with himself. 

and he prayed fermntly, R.V. ; 
'prayed with prayer,' R. V. marg. : tlie 
reduplication in the wording gives an 
intensifying force, and many simihir 
instances may be quoted from both 
Old and New T. of a Hebraism 
which was in common use in the 
Lxx ; cf. e.g. Gen. iixi. 30 ; Jonah i. 
10; Luke xxii. 15 ; Acts v. 28. 

Others take the expression simply 
to mean that he prayed witli prayer, 
and that nothing else but prayer 
brouglit about the lciii,'thy drmiglit. 
But how could he pray except in 
prayer ? It would seem tlicrcfure 
that the explaiiatiou lirst given is 
thus mure natural 




[v. 17,18 

he prayed ^fervently that it might not rain ; and it rained 
18 not on the earth for three years and six months. And he 

^ Gr. with prayer. 

that it miglit not rain. The O.T. 
does not tell us in so many words 
that Elijah prayed for the drought, 
or for the rain which ended it, 
although we are told that he 
prophesied both ; cf. 1 Kings xvii. 1, 
xviii. 1^. But even if the words 
' before whom I stand ' in the former 
passage are not taken here as 
equivalent to 'stand in pi-ayer' (cf. 
Gen. xviii. 22 ; Jer. xv. 1), yet if we 
read the passage 1 Kings xviii. 42, 
it is evident that Elijah is described 
as in an attitude of intense prayer 
before the rain was given : ' and he 
cast himself down upon the earth, 
and put his face between his knees ' 
(it is said that the attitude itself is 
still retained in modern days by 
some of the Dervishes). It would 
therefore not be strange if St James 
inferred the prayer, or he may have 
been following some definite Jewish 
tradition (cf note on ii. 23). The 
words in Ecclus. xlviii. 3 would 
seem to refer rather to the prophecy 
than to the prayers of the propliet. 

and he prayed that it might not 
rain, and it rained not: the diction 
is remarkable, and in itself empha- 
sises the thought of the certain 
and immediate avail of the prayer. 
Jewish tradition undoubtedly re- 
garded Elijah's prayer as a type 
of successful prayer : ' " And Elijah 
the Tishbite said that there should 
not be dew or rain." R. Berachiah 
said R. Josa and the Rabbonin 
dispute about this ; one said that 
God accepted his prayer concerning 
the rain but not concerning the dew, 

and the other that he was heard 
both concerning the rain and the 
dew ' : Jalk. Sim. on 1 Kings xvii. 
(cf. the Expository Times, April, 

on the earth. Although it may be 
said that these words merely fill up 
the idea of the verb connected vdth 
them, yet it may be noted that the 
phrase is characteristically Hebraic : 
cf Gen. ii, 5, vii. 12; Psalms of 
Solomon, xvii. 20, 'for the heaven 
ceased to drop rain upon the earth.' 
Here as in Luke iv. 25 it seems 
quite unnecessary to suppose that 
anything more than 'the land of 
Israel ' was implied. 

three years and six months. For 
the same duration of time see Luke 
iv. 25, and many commentators refer 
to the Jewish tradition to the same 
effect contained in Jalkut Simeoni 
on 1 Kings xvi. : see Rabbinical 
Illustrations of this Epistle in the 
Expository Times, April, 1904. But 
others see a reference to the period 
which seems to have become of 
traditional duration as marking times 
of distress and calamity : Daniel vii. 
25, xii. 7 ; cf Rev. xi. 2, xiii. 5 (cf. 
Century Bible). 

The expression 1 Kings xviii. 1, 
'in the third year,' might well be 
taken by the Jews to cover three 
years, and the duration of the 
famine would not cease with the 
rain, but would continue at least for 
a time 2. 

18. And he prayed again ; ci. 2 
Esdras vii. 39, 'and Elijah prayed 
for those who received rain.' There 

^ Dean Stanley has some interesting remarks, Jewish Church, ii. p. 264. 
' See Plummer on Luke iv. 25, and Schegg, Der kathoUsche Brief dea Jakobus, 
in loco. 

V. 18,19] 



prayed again ; and the heaven gave rain, and the earth 
brought forth her fruit. 
19 My brethren, if any among you do err from the truth, 

is no force in the objection that the 
attitude of Elijah in 1 Kings xviii. 
42 does not of necessity betoken 
prayer, as standing, not kneeling, 

was and is the usual attitude for 
prayer, but c£ Dan. vi. 10; Neh. 
viii. 6 (' Kneel,' Hastings' B. D. iii.). 
Elijah's attitude marks rather the 
intensity of his prayer. 

and the heaven gam rain; a 
popular and poetical mode of ex- 
pression ; God is said to give rain, 
1 Sam. xii. 17 ; Job v. 10 ; Acts 
xiv. 17. 'Heaven' and 'earth' are 
both spoken of as obeying the 
prayer of the prophet or rather the 
will of God ; cf. Isaiah v. 6. It is of 
interest to note how St James by 
his own prayers was said to have 
called down rain amidst the droughts 
of Palestine, 'and when there was no 
rain he lifted up his hands to heaven 
and prayed, and straightway tfie 
heaven gave rain' (same phrase as 
above in the Greek), Epiphanius (p. 
104 6). 

In Josephus, Ant. xiv. 2. 1, and 
XVIII. 8. 6, we have two remarkable 
instances of the gift of rain in 
answer to prayer, one the prayer of 
Onias, b.o. 64, ' a righteous man who 
prayed for rain and God rained,' the 
other the prayer of the Jewish 
people for rain, and probably of 
Christians also, in one of the years 
of drought which preceded the great 
famine, Ant. xx. 5. 2. But this 
would be too early to be brought 
into close connection with our Epistle, 
\mless we adopt a very early date 
indeed (see however Plumptre in 
loco). In early Church history both 
TertuUian, Jp'd. c. 5, and Eusebius, 
i/. E. 7. 5, refer to an instance of 

a similar kind in answer to the 
prayers of the Thundering Legion 
for rain. See further. Additional 
Note on Prayer. 

and the earth brought forth her 
fruit, a supernatural cause but a 
natural result, her own fruit, Le. the 
fruits which she was wont to bear. 
For ' brought forth ' cf. Gen. i. 1 1, 
Ecclus. xxiv. 17, where the verb is 
used transitively as often in later 
Greek; but in the other instances of 
its use in the N.T. it is intransitive. 

19. My brethren. The best au- 
thorities support R.V, ; St James's 
phrase is thus more emphatic and 
sympathetic than the single word 
'brethren' of A.V. He is still 
plainly mindful of the fellowship 
which binds both himself and the 
Christian community to the erring 
brother: 'if any among you.' The 
verse is closely connected with what 
had been said in v. 16 ; the thought 
of mutual confession and brotherly 
charity, as well as that of mutual 
prayer, might naturally lead on to 
the thought of conversion and re- 
storation. No words reveal more 
fully the tenderness of St James than 
this closing exhortation of the 
Epistle, and in them we may see 
an indication of his close following 
of the great Overseer and Shepherd 
of souls. St James, we may also 
note, does not speak of the con- 
version of many, but of one ; with 
all his social teaching ho thus 
never forgets to recognise, as the 
Gos])el of Christ has always recog- 
nised, the infinite value of tlio 
individual soul. 

do err. Tlic verb is used iiriinnrily 
of going astray, as e.g. of a sliocp, 



[v. 19, 20 

20 and one convert him ; ^let him know, that he which con- 

^ Some ancient authorities read know ye. 

Matt, xviii. 12, 13, 1 Pet. ii. 25, and 
so metaiihoiically of going astray 
from the path of rectitude, cf. Heb. 
V. 2; 2 Pet. ii. 15; 2 Tim. iii. 13. 
In Wisdom v. 6 we have a remark- 
able parallel use of the verb 'we 
have erred from the way of truth.' 
The presbyters in the early Church 
are exhorted by St Polycarp, Phil. 
vi. 1, not to neglect the widows, the 
orphans, and the poor, and also ' to 
turn back the sheep that are gone 
astray,' where we have the same 
verb which is here used of erring 
joined with the same verb which is 
rendered here to convert, i.e. to 
turn, or to turn back. 

from the truth. The words have 
been described as marking apractical 
and not a theoretical error, but we 
must not forget that Christian prac- 
tice for St James depended upon 
the recognition of the faitli of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, ii. 1. It is best 
therefore to regard ' the truth ' here 
as meaning the sum and substance 
of the Apostolic teaching and preach- 
ing as it was delivered, the revela- 
tion of Christ ; and it is evident that 
the Apostle is not thinking of con- 
version from Judaism or paganism, 
bttt of ' the truth ' acknowledged in 
common by Christians, 'if any 
among you.' It has been carefully 
pointed out that this use of the 
expression 'the truth,' although 
characteristic of St John, is found 
also in each group of the Epistles ; 
cf. Westcott on Heb. x. 26, and Art. 
'Truth' in Hastings' B. D. No 
doubt 'the truth' expresses the 
ideal of human or Christian conduct, 
the true reality for man, but the 
revelation of Christ, it is to be re- 
membered, would include not only 

the revelation of man to himself, 
but a fresh revelation, a new power 
implanted in human nature, enabling 
a man to walk henceforth in newness 
of life. 

and one convert him; cf. Gal. vi. 
1. The verb is frequent both in lxx 
and N.T. In the lxx it is used 
both transitively and intransitively; 
cf. Lam. v. 21 for an instance of the 
first, and Isaiah vi. 10 of the second. 
But in the N.T. it is always intrans- 
itive except in these two verses of 
St James and in Luke i. 16, 17. 
The word may of course simply 
mean 'to turn back,' Le. to the truth, 
but as it is so often used of turning 
to the Lord, it may be taken so 
here. It has this meaning both in 
Lxx and N.T., and it may be noted 
that the same use of the cognate 
noun is found in Psalms of Solomon, 
ix. 19, xvi. 11. The indefiniteness 
of the expression 'and one convert 
him' shows us that the work was 
not regarded as confined to the 

20. let him know. So A.V. and 
R. V. text ; ' know ye,' R. V. marg. and 
W.H. text, but the other reading is 
retained in their margin. So far as 
the Greek is concerned the 'know 
ye' might also be indicative, 'ye 
know'; cf. a similar case of doubtful 
interpretation in i. 19. If we adopt 
the imperative, either in the singular 
or the plural, it is introduced as a 
word of encouragement, and a motive 
to effect the work of restoration ; if 
we render the marginal reading 
as indicative 'ye know,' the well- 
known truth is emphasised that to 
convert is to bring into the way of 

he which converteth a sinner. To 

V. 20j 



verteth a sinner from the en-or of his way shall save a soul 
from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins. 

emphasise the fact is the best reason 
for the repetition, and it is quite 
characteristic of St James thus to 
repeat a word ; of. i. 6. 

from, the error of his way; cf. 
Wisd. V. 6 (see above). Tlie ex- 
pression means that the converter 
does not only turn the sinner back 
from, but out of, his erring way into 
the right path, i.e. the path of truth 
from which he is represented as 
having wandered, and in the same 
way ' truth ' is opposed to ' error ' by 
St John, cf. 1 John iv. 6. In 2 Pet. 
ii. 2 we have the striking phrase 
'the way of the truth,' R.V., where 
' the truth ' seems used very nmch as 
in V. 19 here, and in v. 21 of the 
same chapter we have the phrase 
'the way of righteousness,' where 
evidently the same metaphorical use 
of the term 'the way' is employed 
as in the verse before us, and often 
in the O.T. 

sltall save a soul. So A. and R.V. 
The words refer to the converted, 
not to the converter. It is no doubt 
quite true that some Jewish vpritings, 
e.g. Ecclus. iii. 3, 30, v. 14, Tobit iv. 
10, xii. 9 (Dan. iv. 27, with which 
we may compare Dldache, iv. 6), are 
often mentioned as in favour of re- 
ferring the words to the converter : 
'Almsgiving saves from death and 
purges away all sin,' says Raphael, 
Tob. xii. 9, and with these and similar 
remarks in the Apocryphal books 
quoted, we may compare the follow- 
ing : ' Whosoever makes the many 
righteous, sin prevails not over him ; 
and whosoever makes the many to 
sin, they gi'ant him not the faculty 

to repent. Moses was righteous, 
and made the many rigliteous, and 
the righteousness of the many was 
laid upon him': Sayings of the 
Jewish Fathers, v. 26, 27, Dr Taylor, 
2nd edit.; so again Joma, f. 87. 1, 
' who brings many to righteousness, 
God lets no sin be done by his 
hand.' But in spite of these ex- 
pressions of Jewish belief, which 
might be easily multiplied, it does 
not at all follow that St James is 
here maintaining that if a man 
makes a convert his own sins shall 
be forgiven him. The whole context 
' shall save a soul ' and ' a multitude 
of sins ' points much rather here to 
the 'sinner,' and to the sin which 
bringeth forth death, i. 15 ; the con- 
verter would scarcely be thought of 
as needing restoration from death or 
relief from the weight of unforgiven 

from death. For the expression 
'shall save a soul' cf. i. 21'. The 
whole phrase is sometimes taken as 
referring to the day of judgment, 
but a man may be in the death of 
which St James speaks, i. 15, here 
and now, and he may pass out of it 
into the true life here and now; 
cf the striking parallel John v. 24, 
where we have precisely the same 
phrase 'out of death,' which is 
expressed in the original, with the 
thought of the human agency ;ui 
saving the soul (cf 1 John v. 16, 
R.V. marg.), and there is nothing vm- 
scriptural in the thought that the 
believer does tliat which God does 
through him ; cf. Koni. xi. 1 4 ; 1 Cor. 
vil 16. 

1 If we adopt the readinp ' shall save his soul ' with W.H.. Weiss, von Sudnn 
(Mayor doubtful), the pronoun refers to the converted, not to the cuuverlcT. On 
the phrase ' to save out of death ' see Westcott'e note, ilcb. v. 7. 



[v. 20 

and shall cover a multitude of 
sins. Cf. Prov. x. 12, ' love covereth 
all transgressions,' Heb., a passage 
even more closely related to all 
appearance with 1 Pet. iv. 8, 'love 
covereth a multitude of sins.' The 
verb used in the Hebrew sometimes 
means to cover sin, i.e. to pardon, 
forgive; cf. its use in Psalm xxxii. 1, 
Ixxxv. 3, Neh. iv. 5 (iii. 37), with 
reference to the pardon and for- 
giveness of God. But it is re- 
markable that in the lxx of Prov. 
X. 12, although the same Greek verb 
is found for ' cover ' as in the other 
verses just cited, the passage runs, 
' friendship covers all those that are 
not contentious.' As St Peter com- 
monly quotes from the lxx he has 
in this instance preferred the He- 
brew, or it is quite possible that 
both he and St James may be refer- 
ring to some proverbial saying, and 
not consciously to Proverbs. Or it 
is possible that both writers may 
have in mind an Agraphon of Christ 
Himself^. It is noticeable that the 
words as given in St Peter are often 
found in patristic writings, cf. Clem. 
Rom. Cor. xlix. 5, Clem. Horn. ii. 
16, and undoubtedly in several of 
these instances we may have a 
quotation from St Peter's Epistle. 
But in Didascalia, ii. 3, we read, ' be- 
cause the Lord saith, Love covers a 
multitude of sins.' This is the 
strongest reference in support of the 
view before us, and in addition it 
may be noted that Clem. Alex. 
Paedag. iii. 12, 91, couples the 
passage in question vdth a canonical 

saying of our Lord, Luke xii. 25, but 
there is much room for doubt as 
to whether he regarded both sayings 
as spoken by Christ. But, as in the 
previous clause, the question arises 
as to whether the reference is to the 
sins of the converter or of the con- 
verted. There seems no doubt that 
passages may be cited both from 
Jemsh (see previous note) and from 
early Christian writers in support of 
a reference to the sins of the con- 
verter. Perhaps the most notable 
passage from Christian writers is 
that in which Origen, Horn,, in Lev. 
ii. 4, places the conversion of a 
sinner amongst the different ways in 
which forgiveness of sins may be 
obtained in the Gospel 2. This in- 
terpretation however hardly com- 
mends itself, not only on account of 
the difficulties already referred to 
(see previous note), but also becaxise 
St James as a Christian teacher has 
already spoken in very definite terms 
as to how the soul may be saved. 
There is a third view strongly sup- 
ported, which would see in such 
words a reference to the truth that 
the work of conversion is twice 
blessed, blessing both the converter 
and the converted. It may well be 
that such a thought may fairly be 
connected with the words before us, 
and such a connection is of course 
very different from the idea that a 
man could be supposed to set to 
work to atone for his own sins by 
effecting the conversion of another. 
With this whole passage, vv. 19, 20, 
our Lord's own words may be fitly 

1 Eesch, Agrapha, pp. 248, 253 ; but cf. also Mayor's criticism in loco, and 
Bopes, Die Spriiche Jesu, p. 75. 

- Mayor quotes this and other passages in loco ; cf. Mr Fulford's valuable note, 
Epistle of St James, pp. 93-95. The majority of modern commentators, with the 
exception of Spitta and von Soden, adopt the view taken in the text. The 
Romanist commentators have as a rule regarded the sins to be covered as those 
of the converter, but Trenkle is a recent noteworthy exception. Eeference may 
also be made to Art. ' Sin,' Hastings' B. D. iv. 534. 

V. 20] 



compared: *If thy brother sin (a- 
gainst thee), go, show him his fault 
between thee and him alone ; if he 
hear thee, thou hast gained thy 
brother,' Matt, xviil 15. 

The clause under consideration 
has sometimes been regarded as 
mere tautology, but this is to ignore 
the truth that the soul is not only 
sayed out of death, not merely 
rescued from peril, but blessed, Ps. 
ixxii. 1. And so the stern Epistle 
ends with a message of blessing, 
with an exhortation to consideration 
and love, perhaps emphasising in the 
very abruptness of its conclusion the 
greatness of the Christian duty and 
privilege so earnestly commended. 
St James himself had known the 
blessedness of being converted to 
the truth, and of converting others 
by his words (Euseb. H. E. ii. 23). 
St James had known the blessedness 

and privilege of prayer, and the 
Epistle closes, ^& it began, with a call 
to prayer, prayer for the sick and 
suflering, for self, and for sinners 
(Pan-y, St James, p. 10). 

It is of course quite possible that 
the Epistle ends as it does because 
it was meant as a general exhorta- 
tion and was not addres.sed to any 
particular individuals or to any one 

It has been pointed out that both 
the books to which St James most 
frequently refers, Ecclesiasticus and 
Wisdom, have a similar abruptness 
in their conclusion, but there is no 
need to suppose that St James was 
consciously imitating the \vriters of 
those books in this respect, although 
we may perhaps agi-ee with Theile 
that he concludes more powerfully 
than with a series of salutations. 


The oath, we have been reminded, played a great part among the Israel- 
ites in ordinary social life, and no sin was more severely condemned by the 
prophets than perjury ; cf. Ezek. xvi 59, xvii. 13-18 (Ps. xv. 4, xxiv. 4), 
Zeph. i. 5 ; while such passages as Bcclesiastes ix. 2 and Ecclus. xxiii. 9-1 1 
show what a grievous sin the use of vain and reckless swearing was 
considered. It is therefore perhaps not surprising to find that men like the 
Essenes regarded the taking an oath in the ordinary concerns of daily life 
in a worse light than perjury, Jos. B. J. ii. 8. 6. The words of Philo too 
are often quoted in which he judges it best to abstain from swearing 
altogether, since an oath indicates not confidence but want of, although 
elsewhere he counsels that if a man must swear, he should not swear by 
God, but by the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the lieaven (Philo, 
Spec. Legg. M. 2, p. 271). But there is no reason to suppose that in 
this injunction St James would forbid the use of oaths at all times and 
in all places. If he had meant tliat the words were to be so taken it 
is diflBcult to believe that he would not have given some furtlier reason 
for such an absolute injunction. The Essenes, in spite of thoir strong 
dislike of oaths, obliged those who desired to join their community to take 
'terrific oaths,' Jos. B. J. ii. 8. 6; Ant. xv. 10. 4. But further tlian this: 
appeal is rightly made to the practice of St Paul, Rom. ix. 1, 2 ("or. xi. 31, 
Phil. i. 8, in his frequent calling upon God to witness, and in lii.s of 
strong asseverations, and, above all, to the fact that our Lord Himself, 
although He so severely condemned light and false swearing, so constantly 
used the solemn asseveration 'Amen' (Dalman, IFonh- of Jesus, p. 229, 
E.T.), and allowed Himself to bo put on oath bclure the high-i)ncst 
(Matt. xxvL 63, G4). 

154 JAMES 

In view of the whole evidence the language of our Article admirably 
expresses the Christian view of the use of an oath (see ISmith and Cheethara, 
Diet, of Christ. Ant. ii. 1416; and for Jewish and other literature, 
Hastings' B. Z)., ' Oath,' and Encycl. Bibl. in. 3452). According to Article 
XXXIX., while vain and rash swearing is forbidden to Christian men by our 
Lord Jesus Christ and James his Apostle, yet the Christian religion does not 
prohibit the use of an oath, as in a court of justice, provided that the 
occasion be in accordance with the three conditions of the prophet's 
teaching : 'in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness' (Jer. iv. 2). In an 
ideal society, in which men realised that bond of holiest brotherhood, which 
St James so often enforces, in a society in which the royal law was fulfilled, 
Thou shah love thy neighbour as thyself, there would be no need of anything 
more binding than a man's word, but 'for the hardness of men's hearts ' the 
use of oaths is not merely allowable but often necessary (see also note 
in loco). 

No doubt the early Christians had serious scruples about the matter, but 
these scruples naturally became intensified at a time when the taking of an 
oath before a heathen magistrate became an act of idolatry. But on some 
occasions and by always guarding themselves against the adoption of 
idolatrous formulae the early Christians were willing to be put on oath; 
of e.g. Tertullian, Apol. c. 32 (but see Mayor's note in loco), and Constantine's 
general law. Cod. Theod. ii. xxxix. 3, that in a court of justice all witnesses 
were to be bound by oath, although there was always the feeling expressed 
by St Clement of Alexandria that it was an indignity for a Christian to 
be placed on oath, and by St Augustine who, while urging from Scripture 
the lawfulness of oaths, desired that they should be employed as little as 

Eossible ; cf Ep. clvii., and his remarks on this verse, Serm. 180 (quoted 
y Mayor). St Augustine was apparently much puzzled by the words 
' above all things swear not,' but, as we have seen, the expression ' above all 
things' may be connected with the immediately preceding injunctions, and 
there was every reason why St James should emphasise singleness of word 
and deed in social life. 


Whilst presbyters are here specially mentioned, perhaps as the represen- 
tatives of the whole Church, perhaps as possessing the gifts of healing in 
the fullest measure, many instances may be cited to prove that in the early 
Church liberty was granted to all Christians to use the anointing oil for 
themselves and for their friends. Thus in the third century the Emperor 
Septimius Severus was healed by a Christian steward, Proculus Torpacion, 
who anointed him with oil, Tert. Ad Scap. iv., and even when it was 
provided that the consecrator should be a bishop or presbyter, as in Apost. 
Const, viii. 28, and as is apparently assumed in the Sacramentary of Serapion, 
the application of the oil was permitted to any Christian. In the important 
letter of Innocent I. to Decentius of Gubbio, Ep. xxv. 11, in 416 a.d., whilst 
the consecrator of the oil for the sick is a bishop, any of the faithful might 
administer it, and so we read, ' it is lawful not for the priests only, but for 
all Christians, to use it, for assisting in their own need and in the need of 
members of their household'.' Again, in the eighth century we find Bede 
referring to these words of Innocent, and in accordance with them holding 
that the oil for the sick could be administered by any Christian in his own 
or another's necessity. It would seem that it is not until early in the ninth 

1 CaesariuB of Aries, 502 a.d., in an epidemic of sickness advises the head of 
a household to anoint his family with oil that had been blessed. 

JAMES 155 

centuT7 that we come across any definite formulation of the theory that bv 
the anointing of the sick not only bodily healtli but remission of sins may be 
convey ed^ although no doubt it is true that the theory would have been 
spreading some time before its authoritative definition. In the tenth 
century it would seem that the administration, as well as the blessing of 
the oil, was much more, if not entirely, restricted to the priest. Andlhis 
restriction led to further and momentous consequences, although it is not 
until the twelfth century that we meet with such terms as 'extreme unction' 
or 'sacrament of the dying,' expressions clearly showing that the unction is 
no longer intended, as originally, for the healing of the body, but it had 
become restricted to a time when the sickness was regarded as practically 
beyond all human means of recovery^. But the words of St James plainly 
show that he was not considering the case only of those sick unto death, but 
of the sick generally, and this liict has evidently weighed with some of the 
ablest Roman Catholic writers, e.g. Cajetan and Baronius, not to draw from 
this passage any sanction for what the Roman Church calls the Sacrament 
of Extreme Unction. 

In the Eastern Church this latter term finds no place, while the anointing 
with oil is employed with a view to bodily cure as well as a means of spiritual 
help. Nor in the Bast has the rule ever obtained that the sacred oil must 
be 'made by the bishop' ; presbyters might make the chrism for the sick, 
as we learn from Theodore of Canterbury, born at Tarsus, in the seventh 
century ; and although at present it is deemed desirable that seven priests 
sh:ill be brought together for the consecration of the oil, yet the act of one 
priest is regarded as sufficient. 

In the First Prayer Book of Edward VI., 1549, unction was still allowed, 
but in a simpler and more discretionary form than in the older offices for the 
Visitation of the Sick, the words being ' if the sick person desire it.' The 
words of the accompanying prayer regard the 'visible oil' as an outward 
visible sign of an inward spiritual grace, the anointing with the Holy Ghost, 
for the bestowal of which supplication is ofi"ered, while the latter part of the 
prayer supplicates for a restoration to bodily health and strength^. Earnest 
pleas have been made in recent days for a revival of the anointing of the 

^ This and other important points are duly emphasised by Mr Puller in his 
valuable lectures on the Unction of the Sick, Guardian, Deo. 10th, and following 
weeks, 1902. He maintains that in the second benedictory prayer for the Oil of 
the Sick in the Sacramentary of Serapion, the clause that the oil may bo to 
those who use it ' for good grace and the remission of sins,' is an interpolation, 
and certainly no such clause is found in the prayer concerning the oil which 
forms part of the Eucharistic liturgy in the same Sacramentary. But at all 
events it is evident that this ancient prayer places first the medicinal use of the 
oil, and that there is nothing in it to justify later Roman usage and restriction. 
So far as liturgical evidence is concerned, it may be added that in the Gelasian 
and Gregorian Sacramentaries the form of consecrating the oil shows that it 
was used as a means of restoring bodily health (cf. Dr Swete, Services and 
Service-Books, p. 158), and that in the East, Egypt and Syi'ia employed in the 
fourth century what we may call the non-sacramental unction. These lectures 
are now expanded and published as a book, The Anointing of the Sick, S.P.C.K. 

2 On the groundless distinction which the language used by the Council of 
Trent attempts to draw between the promulgation of what the Council terms 
the Sacrament of Extreme Unction by St James and its insiniKition by St Mark, 
see the first of the lectures referred to, Guardian, Dec. 10, iy02, and Plummer, 
Epistle of St James, p. 332. 

* No provision, however, was made for the benediction of the oil; 'evrn 
extreme unction,' the Romanists complained in 1551, 'is administered with 
unconsecrated oil'; Dr Swete, Services and Service-Books, p. IGl. 

156 JAMES 

sick in the English Church, and it is of interest to remember that in the 
eighteenth century the Non-jurors retained the use, while in the same 
century one of tlie Scottish bishops is said to have kept by him the oils 
of confirmation and of the sick. But even those who most strongly advocate 
the revival are not unmindful that it must of necessity be safeguarded by 
authoritative regulations of the bishops, lest the practice should again suffer 
fi-om the superstition and error which became associated with it in early and 
later ages of the Church i. 


The words of Mr Mayor, to which reference is made in p. 144, remind 
us of similar advice emphasised by Hooker. After pointing out, in 
connection with the verse before us, that St James doth exhort unto mutual 
confession, alleging this only for a reason that just men's devout prayers 
are of great avail with God, and that on this account penitents had been 
wont to unburden their minds even to private persons, and to crave their 
prayers, and after quoting the allusions of Cassian and Gregory of Nyssa 
to the help afi"orded by the sympathy and prayers of others, he adds that of 
all men there is, or should be, none in this respect more fit for troubled and 
distracted minds to repair unto than God's ministers, E. P. vi. ch. iv. 7. 

In the same chapter of his sixth book Hooker makes another reference 
(sec. 5) to the same passage in St James. In «». 14 he sees a relation to 
that gift of healing which our Saviour promised His Church, Mark xvi. 18, 
adding, with reference to v. 15, 'and of the other member of the exhortation 
which toucheth mutual confession, do not some of themselves, as namely 
Cajetan, deny that any other confession is meant than only that which 
seeketh either association of prayer, or reconciliation, and pardon of 

But it is very interesting to note that in this same chapter we have 
Hooker's question, ' Were the Fathers then without use of private confession 
as long as public was in use ? ' to which he answers, ' I afiirm no such thing,' 
and he quotes passages from Origen, ' the first and ancientest that mention- 
eth this confession,' and Gregory of Nyssa. But it will be observed that 
this confession is regarded by Hooker as not in any way implying that the 
Fathers 'for many hundred years after Christ' taught sacramental con- 
fession : ' public confession,' he says, ' they thought necessary by way of 
discipline, not private confession as in the nature of a sacrament, necessary.' 

It would seem therefore that the early Fathers, whilst they referred to 
private confession, connected it more or less directly with public discipline*. 

1 See the lectures in the Guardian as above, 'The Unction of the Sick'; and 
note on preceding page. 

^ The famous Cardinal, so well known for his conference with Luther at 
Augsburg in 1518, remarks on James v. 16 that ' nothing is here said as to 
sacramental confession, as is plain from the words "confess one to another," for 
sacramental confession is not made mutually but only to priests.' The passage 
is quoted by Hooker in his note u. s., Works, Oxford, Clarendon Press. 

2 One of the most candid of modern Romanist writers, Pierre Batiffol, has 
recently discussed very fully the question of public and private confession from 
an historical point of view. According to him the power to restore penitents 
was deputed in the fourth and fifth centuries to the priests, and the question 
which they had to decide was whether the penitent shall be obliged to submit to 
public confession before the Church. For this a preliminary or private in- 
struction and confession was necessary, and it is easy to see how many persons 
would gladly avail themselves of this means of escaping from the shame and 

JAMES 157 

But the famous letter of Leo to the Campanian bishops (6th May, 459 a.d.) 
is justly regarded as marking an era in the history of Confession in the 
Latin Church ; by its terms secret confession to the priest was substituted 
for open confession before the Church, and the intercession of the priest for 
the intercession of the Church ; the door thus opened for escaping the shame 
of public confession was never afterwards closed, and secret confession became 
the rule of the Church^. The Lateran Council, a.d. 1215, saw this obliga- 
tion become binding, as henceforth it was ordered that all of each sex 
should confess at least once a year to their parish priest (4 Cone. Lateran. 
c. 21). 

It was this rule of compulsory confession, as enjoined by this Comacil, 
which, as all schools of thought in the Anglican Church are agreed, our 
Reformers desired to abrogate. 

But English Churchmen of all schools of thought are also agreed that 
our formularies, as e.g. the Exhortation to Communion and the Visitation of 
the Sick 2, permit private confession and absolution in certain circumstances^, 
although how far this permission is encouraged by the formularies, or how 
far it should extend in practical life, are matters upon which such general 
agreement is apparently unattainable*. 

It is of interest to note that the Homily 'Of Repentance' expressly 
denies that any authority in support of auricular confession can be derived 
from James v, 16, and concludes that it is against true Christian liberty 
that any man should be bound to the numbering of his sins, while it 
practically repeats and enlarges upon the invitation given by the Minister 
in the warning for the Celebration of Holy Communion. In Canon 113 of 
1603, the caution given to Ministers not to reveal 'secret and hidden 
sins' such as may have been confessed to them 'for the unburdening of 
anyone's conscience and to receive spiritual consolation and ease of mind ' 
certainly seems to imply that 'the confession of secret and hidden sin' 
is one form in which the 'opening of grief may be made (see Fulhara 
Conference, pp. 57, 67). 

humiliation of public confession, so that by degrees the latter dropped more 
and more into abeyance, whilst private confession more and more developed. 
Batiffol's examination extends more or less through four chapters of his book, 
^tudet d'Histoire et de Theologie Positive, 2nd edit. 1902, in the essay entitled 
Les Origines de la Penitence ; see e.g. pp. 106, 146, 158, 165, 200 ff., 212, 217, for 
his own views and the criticism of those of others. 

^ Art. ' Exomologesis,' Diet, of Christian Antiquities, i. p. 647. For some 
valuable points in the history of Confession in East and West see Plummer's 
St James, p. 340. See also Dr Swete, ' Penitential Discipline in the first three 
Centuries' in Journal of Theol. Studies, April 1903 (with special reference on 
p. 322 to St James, ch. v. 16). 

2 On the changes made in the different revisions of the Prayer Book see 
Fulham Conference on Confession and Absolution, pp. 55, 62. 

3 On following the Church's counsel in this respect see the practical remarks 
of George Herbert in the chapter on ' The Parson Comforting ' in A Priest to 
the Temple. 

* In the Introduction to Fulham Conference, p. 8, the Bishop of London marks 
as a most valuable point the acknowledgment of the Conference that Confession 
and Absolution are permitted in certain circumstances, and he adds, ' the frank 
agreement that private confession and absolution are in certain circumstances 
allowed is all that the great majority of the parish priests of the Church of 
England who ever make use of it wish to maintain.' For practical considera- 
tions as to the relation of Confession and Absolution to the spiritual and moral 
life of men and women, the pages of the Fulham Conference, 85-108, arc full of 
interest. Amongst recent biographies some striking remarks will be found in 
that of Felicia Skrine of Oxjord, p. 355. 

158 Jx\MES 


Two remarks may here be made upon prayer and its relation to modem 
thought. (1) It is interesting to note that the same Epistle which en- 
courages us to pray for the recovery of the sick, or for changes of weather, 
is also the Epistle which lays stress upon the unchangeableness of God, 'the 
Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast 
by turning,' i. 17. If we turn to recent scientific utterances upon the 
subject of prayer it is noteworthy, first of all, that the same utterance which 
demands that both science and faith should accept as a truth the reign of 
law, sometimes called the uniformity of nature, also tells us that ' if we 
have instinct for prayei', for communion with saints or with Deity, let us 
trust that instinct, for there lies the true realm of religion,' and again, 
'religious people seem to be losing some of their faith in prayer; they 
think it scientific not to pray in the sense of simple petition. They may be 
right ; it may be the highest attitude never to ask for anything specific, only 
for acquiescence. If saints feel it so they are doubtless right, but, so far as 
ordinary science has anything to say to the contrary, a more childlike 
attitude might turn out to be more in accordance -with, the total scheme. 
Prayer for a fancied good that might really be an injury would be foolish ; 
prayer for breach of law would be not foolish only but profane ; but who are 

we to dogmatise too positively concerning law? Prayer, we have been 

told, is a mighty engine of achievement, but we have ceased to believe it. 
Why should we be so incredulous ? Even in medicine, for instance, it is not 
really absurd to suggest that drugs and no prayer may be almost as foolish 
as prayer and no drugs. Mental and physical are interlocked.' Sir Oliver 
Lodge, Hibbert Journal, Jan. 1903, pp. 210, 224, 225. 

We turn from such utterances to another recent pronouncement in the 
field, not of physical but of psychical science, and there also we find stress 
laid upon the reality of the religious life and its accompaniments of prayer 
and trust: 'in prayer, spiritual energy, which otherwise would slumber, does 
become active, and spiritual work of some kind is efl"ected really ' (although 
we are not told, whether this work is subjective or objective), James, The 
Varieties of Religious Experiences, p. 477. All this is very far removed 
from the dogmatic assertion that there is no place in the universe for prayer, 
or that prayer at its best is useless and its very attitude degrading. 

(2) But all true prayer is conditioned also by the words of this same 
Epistle of St James, ' If the Lord will,' iv. 15 (cf. i. 6), yet that will is the will 
not of a capricious tyrant but of a righteous Father ; and when we pray we 
pray indeed according to law, but according to the law of a Father, the law 
of the paternal relation ; and just as in the earthly family there are relations 
between parent and child which no science has ever yet been able strictly 
to analyse or define, so the Father of spirits may answer His children, may 
enter into communion with them, now in one way and now in another, 
because He is the Father, and because His love is not the breaking but the 
fulfilling of law. 

But, further, if we thus believe in a personal God, many of the objections 
urged against prayer would seem to be deprived of their plaiisibility. It is 
said, e.g., that to pray for a shower of rain is to ask for a violation of the law 
of the conservation of force. But is this the right way of putting it ? ought 
not a distinction to be drawn between creation of force and distribution of 
force? and may not a personal God change by His intervention a whole 
series of physical phenomena without creating new energy ? (See further 
Jellett's Donnellan Lectures, p. 154; Worlledge, Prayer y pp. 50 fi". ; 
Matheson, 'Scientific Basis of Prayer,' Expositor^ 1901.) 


Abraham, xii, xliii, xlv, ilviii, xlix, 
liv, Iv, 59, 60 S., 132, 133 

Adderley, Ixxii, 8, 32 

Adeney, xv, Ixviii 

Agrapha, 17 ff., 19, 20, 50, 100, 102, 
103, 114, 152 

Ambrose, St, 65 

Anointing with Oil, 139, 154 ff. 

Augustine, St, 51, 78, 97, 102, 134, 154 

Bacon, B. W., Ixviii 

Bacon, Francis, 73, 123 

Bartlet, xii, xiv, xxxvii, xxxviii, xxxix, 

Ixviii, Ixxix, 4, 38, 116 
Baruch, Apocalypse of, xliii, 4, 16, 41, 

Bassett, xxvi, 39, 73, 91 
Batiffol, 156, 157 
Bede, 65, 112, 132, 134 
Belser, xv, xxxiv, Ixviii, 116 
Bengel, 5, 10, 18, 30, 39, 62, 81, 100, 

103, 108 
Bennett, Ixviii 
Beyschlag, xii, xix, xxiv, Ixviii, 9, 18, 

23, 45, 62, 71, 86, 96, 109 
* Brethren of the Lord,' xxvii, Ixiv ff. 

Carr, xxiv, xxxvi, Iv, Ixviii, 21, 26, 74, 

110, 139 
Cell6rier, Ixxii, 1 

' Century Bible,' Ixviii, 69, 76, 114, 148 
Chase, xiii, xxxix, Ixviii, 42, 55 
Christian Language, xvi ff., Ix, Ixii, 

26 ff., 33, 39, 48, 53 ff., 81, 84, 90. 

98, 102, 108, 112, 127, 130, 131, 134, 

135, 150 
Church, 42, 188 
Clement, St, of Alexandria, liv, 42, 49, 

58, 91, 124, 136, 152, 154 
Clement, St, of Rome, xlix, 1, lix, Ixx, 

12, 88, 93, 96, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 

108, 111, 113, 129, 133, 134, 139, 152 
Clough, 11 
Coleridge, 35, 81 

Cone, O. , XV, liv, Iv, Ix, Ixvii, Ixx, Ixxi 
Confession, 142, 156, 157 

Dale, Ixxii, 9, 92 

Deissmann, 1, 7, 58, 131, 132, 140 
Didache, xii, xiii, xiv, xxiii, 12, 22, 
80, 85, 91, 95, 96, 97, 120, 143 

Doublemindedness, xxi, 1, Ixivii, 11, 
44, 90, 104 

Edersheim, xv, Ixvii, 52, 67, 69, 76, 

80, 118, 139 
Elders, 139 
Elijah, xii, 115, 147 
Enoch, Book of, 13, 25, 37, 39, 82, 86, 

117, 118, 119, 120, 122, 123, 124, 

125, 127, 137, 146 
Euthymius Zigabenus, Ixxii, 3, 145 

Faith, 7, 39, 45, 53, 58 
Faith and Works, xhi ff., 53 ff. 
Farrar, xvi, xxvi, Ixviii, 22, 124 
Peine, xxxiii, xxxvi, xlvii, Ixviii, Ixxii, 

Fulford, Ixviii, 27, 139, 143, 152 

Gebser, Ixxii 

Grafe, xi, xlvi, xlix, 1, lii, liv, lix, Ix, 

1x1 Ixxi 
GrotiuB, 5, 65, 113, 119, 136 

Harnack, xii, xv, xvi, li, Iviii, Ixii, 

Ixviii, Ixxi, Ixxiii, 42 
Hermas, 1, li, lii, lix, 10, 12, 35, 36, 

37, 41, 48, 57, 78, 86, 101, 103, 104, 

121, 124 
Hort, XXX, xxxii, xxxiv, xxxix, xlvi, 

Ixviii, 27, 28, 42, 99, 139 

Ignatius, St, 85, 90, 140 

James, the Lord's Brother, xxiv ff., 

xxviii, xxxii ff., Ivii, Ix, Ixiv ff., Ixix, 

Ixxiii, Ixxix, 126, 127 
James, the eon of Zebedee, xxvi, 

James, the son of Alphaeus, xxvi, 

xxvii ff., Ixvi ff. 
Jewish Fathers, Sayings of the, 6, 

12, 28, 31, 33, 40, 41, 48, 57, 60, 

63, 69, 81, 83, 88, 89, 108, 112 
Job, xii, 115, 132, 133, 134 
Joscphus, xxxiv, xxxvi, 4, 34, 43, 57, 

58, 65, 66, 87, 93, 95, 124, 140, 149, 

Jubilees, Book of, 41, 68, GO, 63, 64, 

Jiilicher, Iviii, lix, Ixiii 



Kern, Ixxii 

Kingdom of God, xix, xxi, 46 

Kogel, Ixxii 

Laughter and joy, 105, 137 

Law, xxi, XXX, xxxv, xliv, Ixii, Ixiii, 

Ixix, 33, 49 ff. 
Lightfoot, xxvii, xxxi, xxxix, xliv, 

xlix, Ixv, Ixvii, 23, 30, 43, 63, 65, 

101, 145 
Local allusions, xiv, xvii, xxiv, xxxiii, 

xxxiv, lii, Ixi 
Luther, Ivi, 7, 100, 187, 157 

Massebieau, xv, xxiv, Ixiv 

Matthews, 141 

Mayor, xiv, xxi, xxiii, xxv, xxvii, 
xxxiii, xxxiv, xliii, xlvi, 1, li, liv, 
Ixiv ff., Ixxi, 8, 9, 11, 18, 21, 23, 25, 
37, 39, 49, 86, 94, 95, 99, 100, 110, 
112, 121, 142, 143, 152, 154 

McGiffert, Ixx, Ixxi 

Meyrick, Ixvi, Ixvii 

Milton, 22, 35 

Moffatt, xiv, xxii, xlvi, Ixviii, Ixx, Ixxi, 

Oaths, xi, liii, 185, 153, 154 
Oecumenius, 7, 25, 74, 95, 113, 119, 

125, 136 
Origen, liv, Iv, Ixv, 114, 139, 152, 156 

Paraphrases, 1, 38, 68, 92, 114 
Parry, xiii, 1, Iviii, 27, 40, 51, 86, 100, 

Patience, Ixxvi, 7, 9, 126, 128, 129, 

180, 133 
Pfleiderer, xlix, 1, li, Ivi, Ivii, lix 
Philo, xxxiii, lii, liii, 8, 16, 17, 23, 24, 

26, 33, 34, 35, 42, 51, 61, 64, 70, 71, 

73, 75, 78, 79, 86, 88, 89, 133, 140, 

Plummer, xvi, xxvi, xlvii, Ivi, Ixvi, 

Ixvii, Ixviii, 20, 51, 87, 94, 96, 110, 

114, 124, 138, 157 
Plumptre, xxiv, xxvi, Ixviii, Ixxix, 22, 

Polvcarp, St, 36, 139, 150 
Prayer, 10, 97, 136, 139, 140, 144, 

Psalms of Solomon, xiv, 4, 6, 13, 18, 

19, 45, 46, 47, 51, 60, 73, 74, 76, By, 

93, 102, 104, 109, 119, 120, 127, 

129, 137, 141, 145, 146, 148, 150 
Puller, 155, 156 

Eamsay, xii, xxxv, 47, 64 
Kenan, xxi, xxxiv, 21 

Eesch, 17, 19, 20, 50, 100, 102, 103. 

114, 152 
Eitschl, Iv, Ivi, Ixviii, 18, 81 
Bopes, 17, 19, 103, 152 

Sabaoth, 122 

Salmon, xv, xxi, xxiv, xxvi, xlvi, Ixviii 

Sanday, xlii, Iv, lix, Ixviii 

Sanday and Headlam, xliv, xiv, xlvi, 

7, 10, 12, 23, 61 
Schegg, Ixix, 148 

Schmiedel, xx, xxvii, xlvi, 135, 139 
Seneca, 78, 83, 97, 109, 110 
Shakespeare, 30, 35, 53, 69, 77, 130 
Sieffert, xiii, xxvii, xxix, xxxiv, Ixvii, 

Ixviii, 1 
Social Life, xiii, xiv, xvii, xxii, xxiii, 

xxxiv ff., xxxix, xl, liii, Ixi, Ixxiii ff., 

12, 36, 41, 43, 45, 47, 54, 85, 90, 93, 

102, 104, 106 ff., 109, 113, 116, 

120 ff., 135, 154 
Soden, von, xvi, Ivii, Iviii, 18, 23, 55, 

69, 71, 96, 100, 109, 119, 122, 135, 

Spitta, XV, xvi, xliii, xiv, xlvi, Ixiv, 3, 

9, 13, 16, 23, 25, 26, 49, 74, 127, 

135, 152 
Stubbs, Bishop, Ixxvi 
Swete, xiv, 155 

TertuUian, Ixvi, 17, 149, 154 
Testament of Abraham, xlii, 64, 127, 

Testaments of the xii. Patriarchs, lii, 

21, 42, 52, 54, 62, 68, 79, 93, 102, 

104, 106, 127, 142 
Theile, Ixxii, 118, 153 
Theophylact, 25, 113 
Trenkle, xxiv, Ixix, 100, 119, 152 
Tyndale, 10, 22, 54, 71, 72, 82, 95 

Votaw, xxiv 

Weiss, B., xxi, xxxi, xlvi, xlviii, Ixi ff., 
Ixviii, Ixxi, 11, 18, 100, 110, 140, 
145, 151 

Westminster, Dean of, 10, 134, 147 

Wetstein, 5, 36, 42, 54, 74, 76, 110, 
134, 135, 136 

Wisdom, xiii, lii, Ixxvii, 5, 83, 86 ff. 

Worcester, Bishop of, xxxviii, 142 

Worlledge, 158 

Wycliffe, 28, 72, 77, 118 

Zahn, xxiv, xxv, xxvii, xxviii, xxxiii, 
xxxiv, xxxvii, xxxviii, xii, xiv, 1, lii, 
liv, iv, Ixiv, Ixv, ixvi, ixviii, Ixxiii, 
4, 6, 7, 14, 18, 30, 40, 96, 116 


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