The Letter of James
Today's English Version (TEV) -- Copyright 1976, 1992, American Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
|Commentary on Jam 1||Bottom of Page|
"Introduction" - 1 From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: Greetings to all God's people scattered over the whole world.
"Faith and Wisdom" - 2 My brothers, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, 3 for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. 4 Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; because God gives generously and graciously to all. 6 But when you pray, you must believe and not doubt at all. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. 7...8 A person like that, unable to make up his mind and undecided in all he does, must not think that he will receive anything from the Lord.
"Poverty and Riches" - 9 The Christian who is poor must be glad when God lifts him up, 10 and the rich Christian must be glad when God brings him down. For the rich will pass away like the flower of a wild plant. 11 The sun rises with its blazing heat and burns the plant; its flower falls off, and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way the rich man will be destroyed while he goes about his business.
"Testing and Tempting" - 12 Happy is the person who remains faithful under trials, because when he succeeds in passing such a test, he will receive as his reward the life which God has promised to those who love him. 13 If a person is tempted by such trials, he must not say, "This temptation comes from God." For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But a person is tempted when he is drawn away and trapped by his own evil desire. 15 Then his evil desire conceives and gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Do not be deceived, my dear brothers! 17 Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning. 18 By his own will he brought us into being through the word of truth, so that we should have first place among all his creatures.
"Hearing and Doing" - 19 Remember this, my dear brothers! Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry. 20 Man's anger does not achieve God's righteous purpose. 21 So get rid of every filthy habit and all wicked conduct. Submit to God and accept the word that he plants in your hearts, which is able to save you.
22 Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put it into practice. 23 Whoever listens to the word but does not put it into practice is like a man who looks in a mirror and sees himself as he is. 24 He takes a good look at himself and then goes away and at once forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks closely into the perfect law that sets people free, who keeps on paying attention to it and does not simply listen and then forget it, but puts it into practice -- that person will be blessed by God in what he does.
26 Does anyone think he is religious? If he does not control his tongue, his religion is worthless and he deceives himself. 27 What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.
|Commentary on Jam 2||Top of Page|
"Warning against Prejudice" - 1 My brothers, as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. 2 Suppose a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes comes to your meeting, and a poor man in ragged clothes also comes. 3 If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, "Have this best seat here," but say to the poor man, "Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet," 4 then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives.
5 Listen, my dear brothers! God chose the poor people of this world to be rich in faith and to possess the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. 6 But you dishonor the poor! Who are the ones who oppress you and drag you before the judges? The rich! 7 They are the ones who speak evil of that good name which has been given to you.
8 You will be doing the right thing if you obey the law of the Kingdom, which is found in the scripture, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." 9 But if you treat people according to their outward appearance, you are guilty of sin, and the Law condemns you as a lawbreaker. 10 Whoever breaks one commandment is guilty of breaking them all. 11 For the same one who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not commit murder." Even if you do not commit adultery, you have become a lawbreaker if you commit murder. 12 Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. 13 For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment.
"Faith and Actions" - 14 My brothers, what good is it for someone to say that he has faith if his actions do not prove it? Can that faith save him? 15 Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. 16 What good is there in your saying to them, "God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!" -- if you don't give them the necessities of life? 17 So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.
18 But someone will say, "One person has faith, another has actions." My answer is, "Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions." 19 Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe -- and tremble with fear.
20 You fool! Do you want to be shown that faith without actions is useless? 21 How was our ancestor Abraham put right with God? It was through his actions, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. 22 Can't you see? His faith and his actions worked together; his faith was made perfect through his actions. 23 And the scripture came true that said, "Abraham believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous." And so Abraham was called God's friend. 24 You see, then, that it is by his actions that a person is put right with God, and not by his faith alone.
25 It was the same with the prostitute Rahab. She was put right with God through her actions, by welcoming the Israelite spies and helping them to escape by a different road.
26 So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead.
|Commentary on Jam 3||Top of Page|
"The Tongue" - 1 My brothers, not many of you should become teachers. As you know, we teachers will be judged with greater strictness than others. 2 All of us often make mistakes. But if a person never makes a mistake in what he says, he is perfect and is also able to control his whole being. 3 We put a bit into the mouth of a horse to make it obey us, and we are able to make it go where we want. 4 Or think of a ship: big as it is and driven by such strong winds, it can be steered by a very small rudder, and it goes wherever the pilot wants it to go. 5 So it is with the tongue: small as it is, it can boast about great things.
5b Just think how large a forest can be set on fire by a tiny flame! 6 And the tongue is like a fire. It is a world of wrong, occupying its place in our bodies and spreading evil through our whole being. It sets on fire the entire course of our existence with the fire that comes to it from hell itself. 7 Man is able to tame and has tamed all other creatures -- wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 8 But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison. 9 We use it to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse our fellow-man, who is created in the likeness of God. 10 Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My brothers, this should not happen!
11 No spring of water pours out sweet water and bitter water from the same opening. 12 A fig tree, my brothers, cannot bear olives; a grapevine cannot bear figs, nor can a salty spring produce sweet water.
"The Wisdom from Above" - 13 Is there anyone among you who is wise and understanding? He is to prove it by his good life, by his good deeds performed with humility and wisdom. 14 But if in your heart you are jealous, bitter, and selfish, don't sin against the truth by boasting of your wisdom. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from heaven; it belongs to the world, it is unspiritual and demonic. 16 Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. 18 And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace.
|Commentary on Jam 4||Top of Page|
"Friendship with the World" - 1 Where do all the fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your desires for pleasure, which are constantly fighting within you. 2 You want things, but you cannot have them, so you are ready to kill; you strongly desire things, but you cannot get them, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have what you want because you do not ask God for it. 3 And when you ask, you do not receive it, because your motives are bad; you ask for things to use for your own pleasures. 4 Unfaithful people! Don't you know that to be the world's friend means to be God's enemy? Whoever wants to be the world's friend makes himself God's enemy.
5 Don't think that there is no truth in the scripture that says, "The spirit that God placed in us is filled with fierce desires." 6 But the grace that God gives is even stronger. As the scripture says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
7 So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you. 8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners! Purify your hearts, you hypocrites! 9 Be sorrowful, cry, and weep; change your laughter into crying, your joy into gloom! 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
"Warning against Judging a Christian Brother" - 11 Do not criticize one another, my brothers. Whoever criticizes a Christian brother or judges him, criticizes the Law and judges it. If you judge the Law, then you are no longer one who obeys the Law, but one who judges it. 12 God is the only lawgiver and judge. He alone can save and destroy. Who do you think you are, to judge your fellow-man?
"Warning against Boasting" - 13 Now listen to me, you that say, "Today or tomorrow we will travel to a certain city, where we will stay a year and go into business and make a lot of money." 14 You don't even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. 15 What you should say is this: "If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that." 16 But now you are proud, and you boast; all such boasting is wrong. 17 So then, the person who does not do the good he knows he should do is guilty of sin.
|Commentary on Jam 5||Top of Page|
"Warning to the Rich" - 1 And now, you rich people, listen to me! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches have rotted away, and your clothes have been eaten by moths. 3 Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and this rust will be a witness against you and will eat up your flesh like fire. You have piled up riches in these last days. 4 You have not paid any wages to the men who work in your fields. Listen to their complaints! The cries of those who gather in your crops have reached the ears of God, the Lord Almighty.
5 Your life here on earth has been full of luxury and pleasure. You have made yourselves fat for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent people, and they do not resist you.
"Patience and Prayer" - 7 Be patient, then, my brothers, until the Lord comes. See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops. He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You also must be patient. Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord's coming is near.
9 Do not complain against one another, my brothers, so that God will not judge you. The Judge is near, ready to appear. 10 My brothers, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering. 11 We call them happy because they endured. You have heard of Job's patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end. For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.
12 Above all, my brothers, do not use an oath when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Say only "Yes" when you mean yes, and "No" when you mean no, and then you will not come under God's judgment.
13 Is anyone among you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? He should sing praises. 14 Is there anyone who is sick? He should send for the church elders, who will pray for him and rub olive oil on him in the name of the Lord. 15 This prayer made in faith will heal the sick person; the Lord will restore him to health, and the sins he has committed will be forgiven. 16 So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect. 17 Elijah was the same kind of person as we are. He prayed earnestly that there would be no rain, and no rain fell on the land for three and a half years. 18 Once again he prayed, and the sky poured out its rain and the earth produced its crops.
brothers, if one of you wanders away from the truth and another one brings
him back again, 20 remember this: whoever turns a sinner back from his wrong
way will save that sinner's soul from death and bring about the forgiveness
of many sins.
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer