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Summary —Rejoicing in Trial. Seeking Wisdom. Stability Urged. The Source of Temptation. The Fountain of All Blessings. Pure and Undefiled Religion.
1–4. James. See Introduction concerning the writer. He is called by Paul and by Josephus the brother of Jesus. Servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. It seems probable from the title assumed that James was not an apostle. With only a few exceptions the Epistles begin with a reference to the apostleship of the writer. To the twelve tribes. The Jews are often so designated. See Acts 26:7. Scattered abroad. Rather “of the Dispersion,” a term applied to Jews outside of Judea. 2. Count it all joy. Instead of murmuring over trials and temptations, rejoice in them. 3. The trying of your faith by means of persecution and temptation worketh patience, rather, enduring fortitude. We are strengthened by trials overcome. 4. Let patience. Let endurance not be merely passive, but have her perfect work; work out its complete results, that nothing may be wanting in your lives.
5–8. If any of you lack wisdom. This may be one of the wants. If so, go to God for it, that giveth to all men liberally. His people will hear, and in answer to their requests he giveth liberally, and never upbraideth on account of their requests as men so often do. 6. Let him ask in faith. This is an essential condition to prevailing prayer. See Matt. 21:21; Mark 11:23. He that wavereth. Is undecided, of two minds. Like a wave of the sea. Driven hither and thither. 8. A double minded man. A man of no fixed, decided purpose.
9–11. Let the brother of low degree. In the humble walks of life. Exalted. To be a child of God, a brother of Jesus Christ. 10. The rich, in that he is made low. The one should rejoice in exaltation; the other in humiliation. He is taught that his riches have no power to save, and that his life is as uncertain as that of the grass of the field. 11. For the sun. When the fierce sun of summer arises the grass in Palestine dies. Thus shall the glory of the rich man fade.
12–15. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation. He that endures and continues faithful shall have the crown. 13. Let no man say … I am tempted by God. Some men when they fall try to throw the blame on God, as if God had tempted them. It is impossible that God be tempted of sin, nor does he ever tempt men to sin, but: 14. But every man is tempted when he suffers his own lusts to lead and entice him. There can be no temptation unless something within us causes a sinful desire. 15. When lust hath conceived. The course of sin is described as that of a birth. The sinful desire is the conception; the sinful deed the birth; moral and eternal death the final result.
16–18. Do not err. Either about the source of sin or of all good gifts. 17. Every good gift, etc. All gifts that truly bless us are God's gifts. Father of lights. God, the Creator of every light of the material world, and the source of all moral light. No variableness, etc. God is unchangeable, always the same, nor does he cast a shadow of turning like the sun. The allusion is to the constantly changing shadows of objects in the sunlight caused by the movement, not of the sun, but of the earth. 18. Of his own will begat he us. Not in caprice, but our birth as children of God was due to his eternal will. Kind of first fruits. The early converts are often called first fruits of the gospel.
19–25. Wherefore … be swift to hear. Let each saint hear and learn, but be careful not to speak rashly, and especially in anger. 20. For the wrath of man. An angry man will show forth something very different from God's righteousness. 21. Lay aside all filthiness. Every impurity of life. Naughtiness. “Overflowing” of wickedness in the Revision. Wrath would cause such an overflow. The engrafted word. The word of God planted in your hearts. 22. Be ye doers. He who is only a hearer deceiveth himself. See Matt. 7:21–23. 23, 24. If any be a hearer … not a doer. The point of the comparison is this: Like a man who looks in the glass and soon forgets the impression, so the impression of the word on such a man is soon forgotten. The word must be impressed by the doing of it. 25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty. The gospel, which sets men free. He who looks into it, is impressed by it, and obeys it shall be blessed in the doing.
26, 27. If any … seemeth to be religious. He who professes religion and yet does not control his tongue is deceived. Unless he has grace enough to rule the unruly member, he has not enough for salvation. 27. Pure religion and undefiled. Combining pure hearts and pure outward lives. This genuine religion has two elements: (1) Kind and loving deeds, exemplified especially in helping the helpless, such as widows and orphans, and (2) living pure, unsullied lives, unstained by the sins prevalent in this sinful world.
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