A Journey Through James- Chapter One

A Journey Through JamesChapter One

James Chapter One as a Whole

As a whole, we can say James Chapter One is an important guide in how to follow God the proper way and have victory even when we are going through various things thrown at us that would try to make us sin.  We have discovered that God is not behind temptation and is totally pure without even the inkling towards being tempted to sin Himself.  He is pure and all He does and bestows upon us is out of that purity of heart that He has.  That said, He gives us so many ways of overcoming temptation and emerging stronger and more victorious despite those trials.  We’ll see even more along those lines as we read further in The Book of James.

In order to better apply what God has given us through this chapter, we can divide it into several parts.  (Please remember that James writes in a way that each idea flows into the other.  This outline is only meant to help you use James 1 for later reference in an easier way.  That way, you’ll know where to turn to in this chapter when going through various things in your walk.)

  1. James 1:1-4–  There’s actually an awesome hope we can have even in the midst of tempting trials of which might surround us.  God actually wants to take that trial and turn it into something that will make our faith genuine.  Not only that, He will turn things around in such a way we obtain a “cheerful endurance” so we can remain strong in Him despite circumstances going on around us.  Not only that, if we let that patience (cheerful endurance) have its complete work, we end up complete and with our whole portion of God’s blessing!  We end up entirely whole with no missing parts!  That’s a huge reason to rejoice even in the midst of a trial!
  2. James 1:5-8God is willing, available, and very generous in giving us help and strategy when we go through various trials.  He loves us a whole lot and desires for us to live victoriously!  He requires that when we ask Him for wisdom, that we don’t come to Him doubting.  If we do, we are basically like two people coming to Him.  The one person is asking for God to meet the need.  The other is telling God He is a liar.  No wonder why a person like this shouldn’t expect to receive anything from God!  This Scripture is actually there as an encouragement.  God honors His words.  God is generous in heart and is totally there with open arms to guide us in the right way.  A parallel Scripture that can be read to better understand this passage is Hebrews 11:6.
  3. James 1:9-12Everyone, poor or rich, goes through trials.  It’s a part of living in this fallen world.  The poor person can rejoice in the fact that God will lift him up.  The rich person can rejoice in the fact that the trials give him a better perspective helping him realize that this part of life is just temporary and that material things in themselves are not what brings true fullness of life.  God, the very One Who loves us, is our true Source for living a full life.  God is reliable.  Our material things, not so much at all!  When poor or rich endure temptation, they not only wind up being made genuine in their faith- they are rewarded with The Crown of Life as God has promised to those who love Him.
  4. James 1:13-15God is never tempted and never tempts anyone.  We also see in this passage the inner workings of temptation so we may better deal with it.
  5. James 1:16-18God is good.  Every good act of giving is from Him.  He always gives complete gifts.  There’s no shiftiness in God or darkness at all!  He has shown us this by The Gospel itself!  Trusting in that Good News of what Yeshua did for us in saving our souls brings us out of a dark place and into light where we are in a special place with God.  In 1 Corinthians 10:11-13, we see how this passage of Scripture gives us another encouragement of how we can be victorious over trials/temptations.  God, Who gives good and complete gifts, also provides the escape route out of our trials/temptations!  How awesome God is!
  6. James 1:19-21Out of what God has done for us through Yeshua, we live those holy lives before Him!  God’s very Word itself is able to deliver us from trouble!
  7. James 1:22-25When it comes to God’s Word and the message of our Salvation through Messiah Yeshua, if we just give it a passing listen and don’t act upon what God’s Word says- we are deceiving ourselves not having the proper reckoning of who we really are.  In order to walk in God’s blessings, we must produce actions from His Word.
  8. James 1:26-27A heart check before God.  This is one way to tell if our outward forms of worshiping God are in sync with His heart.

James Chapter One:  An In Depth Look

  • Verse 1– The name “James” in the original Greek text is “Ἰάκωβος” (pronounced Ēä--bŏs) which is a Greek form of “Jacob” (originally in Hebrew “Ya’akov” pronounced Yä-ä-kōv).  This is of interesting note.  Some consider it a harkening back to Genesis 49 where Jacob (who God named “Israel” and was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel) prophesied over his twelve sons.  In other words, in Genesis 49, we have Jacob prophesying over his sons who are the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel.  In this Epistle, we have a Jewish leader of the body of believers in Messiah Yeshua in Jerusalem (who also is a respected leader within the body of believers in general) named Jacob instructing the twelve tribes of Israel scattered in The Diaspora!
    The way we got the name “James” in most of our English Bibles and not “Jacob” is by no means a conspiracy on King James part to have his name in The Bible when he instituted the King James Version of The Bible as some people try to say.  There are English translations of The Bible older than the King James Version that have either “James” or “Iames” as the English equivalent of Ἰάκωβος (Ēä--bŏs).  The way that came about is a bit complicated.  It came to pass by going from Greek to Latin to Late Latin to French and then to English! This can be seen at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_(name).
  • Verse 1– The Greek word translated as “bondservant” (NKJV) is the usual Greek word for slave meaning “one who is in permanent servitude to another; a slave; a bondman”.  One definition I think is worthy of note is found within “Thayer’s Greek Definitions”.  It states:  devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.  James introduces himself as a man devoted to God and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah to the disregard of his own interests!
  • Verse 1– “Jesus” comes from the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Yeshua” which is a shortened form of the name “Yehoshua” (commonly transliterated into English as Joshua) which means “Yahweh is Salvation”.  “Yeshua” is also a Hebrew word itself meaning “salvation; deliverance; rescue”.  This becomes awesomely powerful when we see God (through an angel) instructing Joseph about marrying his wife Mary who was with child by The Holy Spirit –and- the reason why God instructed him to name this awesome child “Yeshua”!  He was basically told that he was to name God’s Son “Yahweh is Salvation” (also a word meaning “Salvation; Deliverance; Rescue”) because “He will save [a Greek word meaning- save; deliver; rescue] His people from their sins” (from Matthew 1:21 NKJV with bracketed note added).
  • Verse 1– The word transliterated as “Christ” is from the Greek word “Christos” meaning “Messiah; Anointed One [one set apart by God for a specific purpose as a leader]”.  Some people have wrongly thought of “Christ” as Yeshua’s last name, not realizing that it actually is Yeshua’s title.  Encompassed in the title of Messiah (according to prophecies of The Messiah mentioned throughout what’s commonly called The Old Testament) is that of Savior, King, and being God’s Son –and- even the fact He would be cut off yet rise again victoriously bearing our sins and sickness!  Some places this can be found is: Psalm 2; Psalm 132:13-18; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 9:24-26; Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12; and Habakkuk 3.
  • Verse 1– The Greek phrase translated as “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (NKJV) is actually the phrase “To the twelve tribes which [are] in the Diaspora (Dispersion)”.  This would readily be understood as the Jewish people scattered outside of Israel.
  • Verse 1– The Greek word translated as “Greetings” (NKJV) can be translated exactly as such, yet in Kenneth S. Wuest’s ultra literal expanded translation he translates it as “Be constantly rejoicing.” (The New Testament: An Expanded Translation) The Greek word itself means “to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly; to be well, thrive”.  It’s a variation of the word later translated as “joy” in James 1:2.
  • Verse 2– The Greek word translated as “joy” means “joy, gladness” and could also mean “a source of joy”.
  • Verse 2– The Greek word translated as “fall” gives the imagery of falling into something and being surrounded by it.
  • Verse 2– The Greek word translated “various” has to do with “being of various colors”.
  • Verse 2– The Greek word translated as “trials” in the NKJV in the context of this chapter can also be translated as “testings” or “temptations”.  Within the context of this chapter, it would appear that these “trials” are not brought on by God.  In fact, we are encouraged to seek God for wisdom in overcoming these “trials”! (James 1:5; 1 Corinthians 10:12-13)  In Luke 8:4-15, we see how God doesn’t want us to fall away because of these trials/temptations/testings.  A form of the Greek word translated “trials” (NKJV) here in James 1:2 is translated as “temptation” (NKJV) in Luke 8:13.  For a better idea of how God sees “trials”/”temptations” in our lives and how His heart is for us to be fruitfully victorious over these trials, let’s read Luke’s record of what is commonly referred to as Yeshua’s Parable of the Sower:
    4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
    9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
    10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
    ‘Seeing they may not see,
    And hearing they may not understand.’
    11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
    Luke 8:4-15 (NKJV)
  • Verse 2– If a person were to just read this verse, it wouldn’t make sense.  We see why we should “count it all joy when [we] fall into various trials” in the next verse.
  • Verse 3-4– While the Greek word translated as “trials” in James 1:2 has to do with a testing in the hopes of finding something bad (this reminds me of Luke 22:31-32 where we see that satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat yet Yeshua encourages Peter that He prayed for him), the word translated as “testing” in James 1:3 generally has to do with testing to find something good and of worth.  The Greek word itself can be traced to a word having to do with finding out whether a coin was genuine or not.  As we see in these verses, God will actually take those trials that we fall into and use them to bring out a genuine faith and patience in us!  How awesome is that!  Now that gives us a reason to rejoice when we fall into various trials!  God actually wants us to win over these trials and come out the better for it!
  • Verse 3– The Greek word translated as “faith” means “belief; trust; confidence”. Interesting enough, this Greek word can also be translated as “faithfulness”. We’ll be getting more into what this type of “faith” is as we go further on in The Book of James and God shows us what it looks like and what it doesn’t look like.  There is what is called a gift of faith given by The Holy Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:9, but the “faith” mentioned contextually in The Book of James is a life-saving “faith” in Messiah’s life-saving work of eternal redemption which results in a lifestyle of “faith” in God that produces good actions towards others before God.  It will cause us to believe what God says and to do it.  It will cause us to gain God’s heart toward other people. It will cause us to believe in what God has promised us and live as those who walk in the abundance of His loving care!  Hebrews 11 is an awesome place to read in order to get better acquainted with this type of “faith” and how important it is in our lives.  It is also listed as part of the Fruit of The Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23.
  • Verse 3– The Greek word translated as “patience” (NKJV) means “a cheerful/hopeful endurance, constancy, steadfastness” and can be traced to a compound word having to do with being able to bear up under something.  It’s interesting how faith and patience can often be found in close proximity in Scripture. (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Timothy 6:11; Titus 2:2; Hebrews 6:12 [translated as “patience” in the NKJV although it is a different Greek word that is synonymous to the word translated as “patience” mentioned in James 1:3]; James 1:3; Revelation 2:19; 13:10; 14:12)
  • Verse 4– The Greek word translated as “have” (NKJV) could also be translated as “hold”.
  • Verse 4– The Greek word translated as “perfect” twice (NKJV) has to do with being complete or brought to completion.
  • Verse 4– The Greek word translated as “complete” has to do with being entirely whole with no missing parts and is actually a compound word dealing with one having his whole portion or allotment.
  • Verse 4-5– The Greek word translated as “lacking” (James 1:4 NKJV) and another form of it translated as “lacks” (James 1:5 NKJV) can have the meaning of being destitute or failing.
  • Verse 5– The Greek word translated as “wisdom” has to do with wisdom in general.  The Jewish/Biblical concept of wisdom is mostly a skill of knowing how to take knowledge and bring it into life-application.  A friend of mine once described it as “skill for living”.  Examples of this type of wisdom can be found here in The Book of James as well as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  A lot of what The Book of James says can be found in those two books of The Bible, as well!  As we read on in The Book of James, God will use James to help us understand the difference between God’s type of wisdom -and- a kind of “wisdom” that is actually demonic and full of bad fruit. (James 3:13-18)
  • Verse 5– This verse parallels what Yeshua stated in Matthew 7 and Luke 11.  For a deeper insight into what God is using James to convey, I’ll share those passages of Scripture below.  As you read this verse and the passages below, keep in mind that in the Greek text- asking is actually a continuing action according to the verb tense used.  In the passages in Matthew 7 and Luke 11, God is also mentioned as continually giving in the verb tenses used in the Greek text.  To better reflect that, I’ll be quoting this verse and the passages from Matthew and Luke using The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest.
    And if, as is the case, anyone of you [when undergoing these trials] is deficient in wisdom, let him keep on presenting his request in the presence of the giving God who gives to all with simplicity and without reserve [a pure, simple giving of good without admixture of evil or bitterness], and who does not [with the giving of the gift] reproach [the recipient with any manifestation of displeasure or regret], and it shall be given him.
    James 1:5 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
    7 Keep on asking for something to be given and it shall be given you. Keep on seeking, and you shall find. Keep on reverently knocking, and it shall be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking for something to be given, keeps on receiving. And he who keeps on seeking, keeps on finding. And to him who keeps on reverently knocking, it shall be opened. 9 Or, who is there of you, a man, who, should his son ask for a loaf of bread; he will not give him a stone, will he? 10 Or, should he also ask for a fish; he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 Therefore, as for you, in view of the fact that though being those who are evil, actively opposed to that which is good, you know how to be constantly giving good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him for them
    Matthew 7:7-11 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
    1 And it came to pass while He was praying in a certain place that when He ceased, a certain one of His pupils said to Him, Lord, teach us to be praying even as also John taught his pupils. 2 And He said to them, When you pray, be saying, Father, cause your Name to be set apart as sacred and the object of veneration. Your kingdom, cause that it should come. 3 Our bread for the coming day be giving us daily. 4 And forgive us our sins even as we ourselves also are in the habit of forgiving everyone who is indebted to us. And do not bring us into the place of testing where the circumstances in which we are tested may lead on to the place where we are solicited to do evil. 5 And He said to them, Who is there of you who shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me at once and because of our friendship three loaves of bread, 6 since now a friend of mine has come suddenly to my hearth from his journey and I do not have that which I shall place beside him. 7 And that one from within, answering shall say, Stop furnishing me with troubles. Already my door has been closed with the result that it is shut for the night, and my children are with me in our bed. I am not able to get up and give to you. 8 I am saying to you, though he will not give to him, having arisen, because of being his friend, yet on account of his persistence, having arisen, he will give him as many as he is needing. 9 And as for myself, I am saying to you, Keep on asking for something to be given, and it shall be given you. Keep on seeking and you shall find. Keep on reverently knocking, and it shall be opened to you. 10 For everyone who keeps on asking for something to be given, keeps on receiving, and he that keeps on seeking, keeps on finding, and to the one who keeps on reverently knocking, it shall be opened. 11 Moreover, who of you, the father, should the son ask him for a fish, he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or should he also ask for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? 13 Therefore, as for you, since you who are pernicious know how to be giving good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him for Him to be given.
    Luke 11:1-13 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
  • Verse 5– The Greek word translated as “liberally” (NKJV) actually means “simply; openly; frankly; sincerely; in simplicity” and also means “liberally; bountifully”.
  • Verse 5– The Greek word translated as “reproach” means “to reproach, upbraid, revile, taunt, chide, rail at
  • Verse 6– The Greek word translated as “doubting” and “doubts” generally means “to judge, distinguish, evaluate, separate out”.  In this context it means “to be at variance with oneself; hesitate; doubt”.
  • Verse 6Notice how James does not say that one who doubts is like someone on a storm tossed sea.  He (via The Holy Spirit) mentions that a person who doubts is like the wave of the sea itself being tossed around wherever the wind takes it.
    An illustration in Scripture of doubt that came to mind was when Peter walked on the stormy water in faith to Yeshua and then started having doubts as he looked at the wind.  When he doubted, he sank. (Matthew 14:22-33)
    A bit about doubt.  We have heard of the expression: Benefit of the doubt.  That meaning that we would give someone a chance that what they said might actually be true.  When we look at what God says about doubting Him, we find there is actually no benefit to doubting at all!  In our society we tend to praise the skeptics while those who step out in faith in God, we look at as fools.  How tragic this is!  Doubt is not a friend that comforts us and keeps us safe.  It is a vile enemy trying to block us from the very goodness of God Himself.
    We see human beings first starting to doubt God back in the Garden of Eden.  Egged on by the devil, Adam and Eve fell for the lie of the devil that God was holding something good from us.  This act of doubt and unbelief resulted in the sin, death, sickness, crimes, and atrocities we see today! (Genesis 3; Romans 5)
  • Verse 8– The Greek word translated as “double-minded” actually means “two souled”.  In other words, when we are coming to God in prayer just to merely check a duty off of a list and we are not coming to Him with faith and expectation, but doubting instead- it’s like there are two of us before Him.  One of us is asking God for something while the other is saying to Him, “But You won’t actually do it!”  Why would God give to someone like that?  Someone who is mouthing words of trust while thinking in his heart that God is a liar.  This can show up very subtly in various ways.  For example, let’s say we are praying for someone to get out of debt (or even ourselves).  We could be praying for that person while thinking to ourselves, “Maybe God wants that person broke.  Maybe it’s God’s lot for that person.  Maybe God wants that person to be eating out of the trashcan so he could be humbled.”  In reality, God is a loving Father Who doesn’t want anyone to go hungry and would rather people live abundantly even in this life through His Son Yeshua by His Holy Spirit.  Yet, despite all that God’s Word says about providing for our needs (like in Matthew 6:25-34)- we are looking at God like He is some stingy guy who likes to make people suffer.
    What about healing?  So, a two-souled person starts to pray for healing while thinking God doesn’t really want to heal him.  He is basically just praying so he could say to himself- “Well, I can check that off my list of duties.”  He walks away sick because of his own unbelief in God’s Word promising healing through Messiah Yeshua.  What about when a two-souled person prays for someone else’s healing.  That person might as well not pray at all.  Why?  One part of that person is praying so elegantly and sounding so sweet while this other part of that person has this false notion that somehow God might want someone to remain sick to teach some valuable lesson.  This mentality is nowhere in Scripture and is actually set against it.  If we look in John 5:1-14– we see Yeshua loved healing people so much, He even healed a man who was in sin!  Yeshua later came to that same man to encourage him not to sin so he wouldn’t go through something worse!
  • Verses 5-8– Here are some Scriptures to better flesh out this passage:
    20 And passing by in the morning they saw the fig tree completely withered from the roots. 21 And being reminded, Peter says to Him, Rabbi, see, the fig tree which you cursed is withered away. 22 And answering, Jesus says to them, Be constantly having faith in God. 23 Truly, I am saying to you, Whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and be thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that that which he says comes to pass, it shall be his. 24 On this account I am saying to you, All things whatever you are praying and asking for, be believing that you received them, and they shall be yours.
    Mark 11:20-24 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
    6 Now, without faith it is impossible to please Him at all. For he who comes to God must of the necessity in the nature of the case believe that He exists, that He also becomes a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him out.
    Hebrews 11:6 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
  • Verses 9-11The New Testament- An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest helps show how these verses relate with James 1:2-8 regarding the blessings of going through trials and the verses after this passage regarding temptations.  It translates James 1:9-11 like so:
    9 Moreover, let the brother who is in lowly circumstances [poor and afflicted] be glorying in his exalted position [namely, in the midst of trials which teach him patience]. 10 But the one who is wealthy, let him be glorying in his humiliation [brought on by his trials and resulting in his being reduced to the level of the man who is poor and afflicted], because as the flower of the grass he shall come to an end; 11 for the sun arises with its scorching heat and the grass withers and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed. So shall also the wealthy person fade away together with his undertakings.
    James 1:9-11 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
  • Verse 9– The Greek word translated as “lowly” (NKJV) means “low lying; not rising far from the ground; humble; brought low; of low degree; of low estate; poor; depressed; humiliated”.  It is translated as “downcast” (NKJV) in 2 Corinthians 7:6 where we see that “[n]evertheless, God” is the One “who comforts the downcast”.  James 1:9 along with 2 Corinthians 7:6 shows us a “lowly” estate out of which God wants to lift us.  There is also a “humblestate in which God wants us to walk as exemplified in this statement where the word translated “humbles” (NKJV) is akin to the word translated “lowly”.  Jesus stated, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4 NKJV)  In this sense, we are seeing a humble state of knowing who we are before God’s awesome greatness!  It’s not that we are thinking of ourselves as pieces of trash to be thrown in the dump.  That would be contrary to what God says about us in His Word.  It’s more that we have a proper perspective of ourselves before God and we accept God as He is.  God knows so much more than we do and He never lies.  Our feelings lie.  Even our experiences can lie to us if not seen properly.  We are to submit ourselves to God and His ways which are indeed better than anything that we could ever come up with!
  • Verse 9– The Greek word translated as “glory” can also be translated as “boast”.  In this context, it is a good thing.
  • Verse 9– The Greek word translated as “exaltation” (NKJV) could also be translated as “high station” (WAS [Worrell New Testament]), “high estate” (ASV), or “high position”.  It’s a word meaning height.  Interestingly enough, in Luke 1:78 it’s mentioned as where God resides.  It’s also mentioned in reference to The Holy Spirit empowering Yeshua’s first disciples from on “high” (Luke 24:49 NKJV) and to a prayer about knowing the “height” of Messiah Yeshua’s love for believers in Him (Ephesians 3:18 NKJV).
  • Verse 10– The Greek word translated as “rich” could also be translated as “abounding”.  This is not always seen as a bad thing.  When people trust in their abundance for security rather than God, that’s when it is seen as a bad thing.  This will be seen later on in The Book of James (for example James 5:1-3).
  • Verse 10– The Greek word translated as “humiliation” is akin to the word translated as “lowly” in James 1:9.  It’s a “lowness; low estate; abasement”.
  • Verse 10-11– The Greek word translated “field” (James 1:10 NKJV) has the connotation of being a grassy area where farm animals graze.  It is translated later in James 1:11 as “grass” (NKJV).
  • Verse 11– The Greek word translated as “burning heat” is translated as “scorching wind” in NASB.  It can refer either to the burning glare of the sun itself or to an excessively hot east wind that occurs in the region of Israel that dries up everything in its path.
  • Verse 11– The Greek word translated as “fade away” is a word that has the imagery of a fire dying out or being quenched.  It means “to extinguish”.
  • Verse 11– The Greek word translated as “pursuits” can also be translated as “undertaking” or “journey”.
  • Verse 11– A good example of this is found in a response Yeshua gave to a man wanting Yeshua to tell his (the man’s) brother to divide his inheritance with him.
    13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
    14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
    16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
    21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
    Luke 12:13-21 (NKJV)
  • Verses 10-11This imagery is given about men in general in Psalm 103:13-18 and Isaiah 40:6-8.
  • Verse 12– God uses the phrase “Blessed is the manmany times in Scriptures to show us how to live full, happy, blessed lives before Him.  Whether this phrase is translated from Hebrew or Greek the words translated as “blessed” mean “happy; blessed”.  God indeed wants us to live happy lives although as seen in James chapter one and other places in Scripture, God understands that we will experience tough experiences in life.  What can cause us to still live happy and blessed lives in the midst of those tough experiences is knowing God can take those tough experiences and make beautiful things happen out of them.  (Hebrews 12)  To get a better understanding of the kindness of God in showing us how to live blessed lives, here are the Scriptures with the phrase “Blessed is the man”: Psalms 1:1; 32:2; 34:8; 40:4; 65:4; 84:5,12; 94:12; 112:1; Proverbs 8:34; Isaiah 56:2; Jeremiah 17:7; Romans 4:8; James 1:12.  (Some translations might have “Happy is the man”.  Remember to read these Scriptures in context and not just by themselves.)  For further blessing, here are some Scriptures that contain “Blessed are”:  Psalms 2:12; 84:4; 106:3; 115:15; 119:1-2; Proverbs 8:32; Isaiah 30:18; Matthew 5:3-11 (in what is called The Beatitudes); Matthew 13:16; Luke 6:21-22 (in Luke’s recording of The Beatitudes); 12:37-38; John 20:29; Romans 4:7; Revelation 22:14. (Of course, remember to read these Scriptures in context.)
  • Verse 12– The Greek word translated as “endures” has to do with “remaining under/behind; staying under/behind”.  In other words, this word has to do with sticking it out.
  • Verses 12-14– Mentioned as “trials” earlier in James 1:2, in the context of this chapter- these are testings and temptations.  They are testings with the hopes of finding something bad in something.  The New Testament- An Expanded Translation refers to them as solicitations to sin.
  • Verse 12– The Greek word translated as “approved” has to do with finding coins to be genuine and not counterfeit.  It has to do with finding coins acceptable as legitimate currency.
  • Verse 12– The Greek word translated as “crown” refers to the type of elaborate crown that someone would win at a sporting event.
  • Verse 12– The phrase “crown of life” is found only one other place in Scripture.  That’s Revelation 2:10 which interestingly enough has to deal with what a group of believers in Yeshua would receive if they endure testing/trials being thrown at them from the devil.  In other words, just because the devil throws a bunch of hard trials our way- it doesn’t mean we should lose hope.  God will actually reward us for our endurance.  Even in the midst of the devil’s mess, we have reason to rejoice!  How awesome is that!
  • Verse 12– The “love” mentioned here is a Greek word for love that has to do with decision and highly valuing someone rather than it being just an emotion.  It’s the type of love God loves us with (although there are other Scriptures that mention God loving us compassionately with emotion).  This is the type of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13.
  • Verse 13– There is a lot wrapped up in this statement about God. We see why God can’t be tempted and doesn’t tempt anyone in 1 John 1:5 which states that there is no darkness at all in God.  It helps us discern what is from God and what is not.  For example, if we had a dream while we slept and that dream was trying to encourage us to sin- that dream was not from God!  In Deuteronomy 13:1-5, the fact that God would never encourage someone to sin is used as a measure of whether a word of prophecy was truly from God.  (Note: In this passage of Deuteronomy, the Hebrew word translated as “testing” has to do with testing someone’s loyalty and not trying to push one into sinning.)
  • Verses 14-15God is giving us a behind-the-scenes look at temptation so we may better battle it!  This in and of itself shows how much God wants us to live victoriously!
  • Verses 14-15– It’s interesting to read these verses in parallel with Proverbs 7 and how a man was allured to destruction by a harlot.
  • Verse 14– The imagery in the Greek text here is two images simultaneously.  It is the image of a hunter or fisherman leading his prey out of hiding by an alluring bait and also an image of a harlot alluring a man into adultery.  In Genesis 4:6 we see God warning Cain about sin crouching at the door and God encouraging Cain to rule over it rather than let it have its way with him.
  • Verse 14– The Greek word translated as “desires” has to do with an intense passionate longing/desire/craving.  It can be used in a good sense like how Yeshua desired very intensely to be with His disciples for Passover before He suffered (Luke 22:15 NKJV) -and- Paul’s intense desire to depart and be with Messiah Yeshua forever (Philippians 1:23 NKJV).  Most times, like in this passage of Scripture, it is used as a bad thing.  In other places– this word is translated as “lust” (for example 1 John 2:16 NKJV), “lusts” (for example Romans 1:34; 6:12; 13:14– NKJV), “covetousness” (Romans 7:7), and like in this verse “desires” (Mark 4:19 NKJV).
  • Verse 14– The Greek word translated as “enticed” can also be translated as “baited”.
  • Verse 15– The image here in the Greek text is that of intense desire conceiving and sin being born from it.  Then, sin being brought to full maturity and birthing death.  Romans 8 also states how following after our fleshly desires results in death, yet we see how following after The Holy Spirit brings forth life and peace!  Later, in this chapter of James, we will see that receiving God’s Word of Truth (the Good News of our salvation through Yeshua) results in the delivering of our souls!  Later in The Book of James, we’ll be given other strategies on how to defeat temptation and walk victoriously.  The Book of James is full of strategy on defeating temptation and walking victoriously.  We already read about asking God in faith for His wisdom knowing He’ll abundantly give it to us. (James 1:5-6)  Later, we’ll see how God’s Message of Truth of Yeshua’s Salvation helps us defeat temptation.  (James 1:18, 21)  We will see even more strategies that will help us live victoriously as we read on throughout this Book in The Bible!
  • Verse 16– The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest (Wuest’s Translation) translates this verse as:
    Stop being deceived, my brethren, beloved ones.
    This suggests that the people James was writing to already were in some sort of deception.
  • Verse 16– The Greek word translated as “deceived” (New King James Version [NKJV]) actually refers to being led astray.
  • Verses 16 and 19 (also James 2:5)– Notice that James uses the phrase “beloved brethren” (NKJV) three times in his letter in our Bibles.  This helps us see the love that is in this Epistle!  The Greek word translated as “beloved” is based on the type of love that is by decision not just emotion, is self sacrificial, and leads to beneficial actions towards the one loved!  This Greek word can be translated as being worthy of that love!
  • Verse 16– Notice this sentence is a segue. First, we see that God doesn’t tempt anyone and that our own desires are what lead us into temptations which if followed will bring sin which if left to grow fully will bring death. (James 1:13-15) Then, this statement segues into the fact that God is the stable unchanging Source of every good act of giving (from the Greek text) and every perfect gift/bounty.  In other words, The Holy Spirit via James wants to make it clear that God is not at all associated with tempting people and is rather the stable unchanging Source of every good act of giving and every perfect gift/bounty.  We are being led astray if we think otherwise!
  • Verse 17– In the NKJV (as well as the some other translations), there are two different Greek words translated as “gift”.  The first Greek word is “the act of giving”.  The second Greek word is “a gift; bounty”.  The first Greek word has to do with the act of giving and the second Greek word has to do with the gift itself.
  • Verse 17– The Greek word translated as “perfect” can also be translated as “finished” or “complete”.
  • Verse 17– The phrase “Father of lights” harkens back to Genesis 1:3-5, 14-19 where God first creates light and then makes sources from which light will shine.  God indeed is the Father…the Originator…the Creator of lights!
  • Verse 17– The phrase “no variation” (NKJV) in the Greek text means that God won’t change or transform into something different than Who He is.  (See also Malachi 3:6.)  It also means God is not shifty.  The Greek word translated as “variation” (NKJV) could be alluding to the changing position of the sun in the sky.  This would lead to the fact there is “no shadow of turning” in God.   This verse goes well with 1 John 1:5 which states that there is no darkness at all in God.
  • Verse 18– The Greek word translated as “brought…forth” (NKJV) is also translated as “begat” in the KJV, “gave…birth” in the Amplified Version, Classic Edition (AMPC), “gave…new birth” in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), “brought…to life” in The Message, and “brought…into being” in Wuest’s Translation.  The imagery in the Greek text is that of being brought out of a dark place (i.e. the womb) and brought into light through God’s Word of Truth (i.e. The Gospel of Salvation through Yeshua our Messiah)!  This image is really interesting when taken with James 1:15 where we see sin bringing forth death as if it was giving birth to it.
  • Verse 18, 21-23– The Greek word translated as “word” (NKJV) is a form of λόγος (logos- pronounced lŏg-ŏs).  It is the same word used to describe Yeshua in John 1:1, 14 and 1 John 1:1.  It has to do with an expression of thought that is spoken such as a declaration, a prophetic word from God, or a message.  In this case it is used in reference to the message of the Good News (Gospel) of salvation through Yeshua.
    Please refer to “A Brief List of Scriptures Showing the Value and Power of God’s Word: A Supplement to James 1:18, 21” for a deeper look into how powerful and valuable God’s Word is.
  • Verse 18– The Greek word translated as “truth” (NKJV) gives the imagery of something that is uncovered and out in the open.  In other words, truth isn’t some hidden type of thing although some people can be blind to it. (2 Corinthians 3:14-17)
  • Verse 18– The term “firstfruits” refers to the first/best of one’s crops that were to be brought to God as an offering to Him.  It can imply the first or the best. (To better understand the term “firstfruits”, here are some Scriptures: Exodus 23:14-19; 34:26; Leviticus 2:11-16; 23:9-14 [Reference to the Day of Firstfruits which is on the first day after the Sabbath after Passover—this would be the same day that Yeshua rose from the dead!]; 23:15-21; Numbers 18:8-13; 28:26; Deuteronomy 18:3-5; 26:1-11; 2 Kings 4:42-44; 2 Chronicles 31:4-6; Nehemiah 10:35-39; 13:30-31; Proverbs 3:9-10; Jeremiah 2:3; Ezekiel 20:40-44; Romans 8:18-23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; Revelation 14:1-5 [with Revelation 7 for context])
  • Verses 2 – 18– One of the themes we see in these verses is that God is not behind us being tempted and doesn’t want us to succumb to temptation.  Rather, God is our very Source for getting us out of temptation and really desires for us to walk in His victory!  There are so many ways God gives us for getting out of temptation and living victoriously in these verses:
    • We are told that God will take our trials/temptations (which are not from Him by the way) and use it to give us a genuine non-counterfeit faith and a cheerful endurance.  We are instructed to let God do this work so we may be complete and whole, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
    • We are told that if we lack (are destitute) of wisdom, we should simply ask God for it knowing that He’ll give it to us sincerely and abundantly without railing at us.  We are told the importance of asking without doubting because if we doubt we are actually contradicting ourselves before Him (part of us asking from Him and part of us opposing Him with the fact we are judging/doubting Him).  We see that if we doubt Him we shouldn’t expect to receive anything from Him because we are being double-minded (Greek- two-souled) before Him. (James 1:5-8)
    • We are told about God being un-shifty and the Source of every good act of giving and every perfectly complete gift/bounty. (James 1:17)  We saw earlier that God gives wisdom in how to get out of temptations. (James 1:5)  We see in Acts 5:31 and 11:18 how God through Jesus and His Good News of Salvation gives repentance (in the Greek- a changing of mind).  Among the many perfectly complete gifts God gives out of His goodness is the escape route out of temptation, the ability to turn away from temptation, the ability to take that escape route, and turn ourselves to God in repentance!  (See also Matthew 6:13 [part of what’s commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” which actually was Yeshua’s model for how to pray]; 1 Corinthians 10:12-14; and 2 Peter 2:9)
    • We are reminded of how God brought us out of the state we were in by His Word of Truth!  (James 1:18)  Later, in James 1:21, we will see how that very Word is able to save us from wickedness!
  • Verse 19– Depending upon the sources translators use in translating the New Testament into English- some translations will have words likeSo that…let” (Darby’s New Translation); “Therefore…let” (Complete Jewish Bible [CJB], NKJV); and “So that…let be” (The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament [ILTGNT]).  Yet- some translations will have words likeYe know…But let” (ASV); “Understand…let” (AMPC); and “Know this…let” (ESV).  One thing to remember is that either way, this sentence is having the previous sentences supporting it and the ideas that will follow.  In other words, out of what God has done in us by bringing “us forth by the Word of Truth” (James 1:18) we are to live a life that mirrors God’s character (James 1:19-21).  This is a common theme throughout The New Testament Scriptures.  God, through His work of salvation through Messiah Yeshua and His precious promises for us, makes us new creations who can walk in His holiness in our lives and character!  The Books of Ephesians and 1 Peter are excellent examples of how God first tells us what we have in Yeshua’s salvation and then states from that awesome work Yeshua has done in us we are to walk in God’s ways!  In The Old Covenant, the children of Israel were basically given statements telling them if they did something they would have a certain result (either curses or blessings).  In The New Covenant, we are basically told that since Messiah Yeshua has done what He has done for us in making us reconciled with God and each other -and- making us new creations in Him- we are to walk in God’s ways.  Out of the awesome work God has done, now we can walk those pure and holy lives that light up the world with God’s ways and God’s love!  If we truly believe what God says and the transformation He has done in us through Yeshua’s Salvation, we’ll live lives transformed by what God has done and do what He says!
  • Verse 19– The Greek phrase translated as “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19 – NKJV) is more literallyswift in the hearing, slow in the speaking, slow in wrath”.
    Here are some other Scriptures to help give us a better understanding of what’s being said in this verse:About our hearing and our mouths:
    In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
    But he who restrains his lips is wise.
    Proverbs 10:19 (NKJV)

    2 A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth,
    But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence.
    3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life,
    But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
    Proverbs 13:2-3 (NKJV)
    13 He who answers a matter before he hears it,
    It is folly and shame to him.
    15 The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,
    And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
    Proverbs 18:13, 15 (NKJV)

    Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
    Keeps his soul from troubles.
    Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV)

    1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. 2 Do not be rash with your mouth,
    And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.
    For God is in heaven, and you on earth;
    Therefore let your words be few.
    3 For a dream comes through much activity,
    And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
    4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
    For He has no pleasure in fools.
    Pay what you have vowed—
    5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.
    6 Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
    Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 (NKJV)

    About wrath:
    6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord [Yahweh], the Lord [Yahweh], a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
    Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV- with notes in brackets)

    They [the children of Israel] refused to obey,
    And they were not mindful of Your wonders
    That You did among them.
    But they hardened their necks,
    And in their rebellion
    They appointed a leader
    To return to their bondage.
    But You are God,
    Ready to pardon,
    Gracious and merciful,
    Slow to anger,
    Abundant in kindness,
    And did not forsake them.
    Nehemiah 9:17 (NKJV- with notes in brackets)

    16 A wise man fears and departs from evil,
    But a fool rages and is self-confident.
    17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly,
    And a man of wicked intentions is hated.
    29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
    But he who is impulsive exalts folly.
    Proverbs 14:16-17, 29 (NKJV)

    17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
    Than a fatted calf with hatred.
    18 A wrathful man stirs up strife,
    But he who is slow to anger allays contention.
    Proverbs 15:17-18 (NKJV)

    He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
    And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
    Proverbs 16:32 (NKJV)

    8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
    The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
    9 Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
    For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
    Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 (NKJV)

    21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ [An ancient Jewish term meaning “empty/vain headed” or “worthless”] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
    Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV)

    19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering [a Greek word that can refer to being slow to having a bad temper], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
    Galatians 5:19-23 (NKJV with notes in brackets)

    26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
    Ephesians 4:26-32 (NKJV)

  • Verses 19 – 20– The Greek words translated as “wrath” (NKJV) in both of these verses are various forms of a Greek word having to do with having an agitated impulse or desire toward a violent emotion especially anger which would cause someone having that emotion to want to punish another.
  • Verse 20– The Greek word translated as “produce” (NKJV) can also be translated as “accomplish” or “achieve”.
  • Verse 20– The Greek word translated as “righteousness” (NKJV) can also be translated as “rightness” or “justice”.
  • Verse 21– The Greek word translated as “lay aside” (NKJV) means “to put off, aside, or away”.
  • Verse 21– The Greek word translated as “filthiness” (NKJV) has to do with things that would defile us making us morally unclean and polluted.
  • Verse 21– The Greek word translated as “overflow” can also be translated as “abundance”.  Although this Greek word is used positively relating to an overflowing abundance of good things in Scripture (Romans 5:17 and 2 Corinthians 8:2), it could also refer to residue such as excessive earwax.
  • Verse 21– The Greek word translated as “meekness” (NKJV) can also be translated as “gentleness” or “mildness”.
  • Verse 21– The “implanted word” is referring to the Good News of Salvation through Messiah Yeshua.  Please refer to James 1:18.
  • Verse 21– The Greek word translated “able” has to do with being capable, powerful, and strong enough.
  • Verse 21– The Greek word translated as “save” has to do not only with rescuing us, but also keeping us safe and sound.  It not only has to do with delivering us from sins bondage, but also even from disease!  There is a lot wrapped up in that Greek word translated as “save”.  In the King James Version, it is also translated as “healed” (Mark 5:23; Luke 8:36; Acts 14:9), “preserve” (2 Timothy 4:18), and “whole” (Matthew 9:21-22 (3 times); Mark 5:28, 34; 6:56; 10:52, Luke 8:48; 8:50; 17:19; Act 4:9).

————

James 1:22-27 Study Aid

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 1:22-27 (NKJV)

Translations that seek to bring out more of the original language from the text:

22 and become ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves, 23 because, if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one hath been like to a man viewing his natural face in a mirror, 24 for he did view himself, and hath gone away, and immediately he did forget of what kind he was; 25 and he who did look into the perfect law–that of liberty, and did continue there, this one–not a forgetful hearer becoming, but a doer of work–this one shall be happy in his doing. 26 If any one doth think to be religious among you, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, of this one vain [is] the religion; 27 religion pure and undefiled with the God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation–unspotted to keep himself from the world.
James 1:22-27 (Young’s Literal Translation- YLT)

22 Become ye doers of the word, and not hearers only–reasoning yourselves astray; 23 Because, if any is, a word-hearer, and not a doer, the same, is like unto a man observing his natural face in a mirror,–24 For he observed himself, and is gone away, and, straightway, it hath escaped him,–what manner of man, he was! 25 But, he that hath obtained a nearer view into the perfect law of liberty, and hath taken up his abode by it, becoming–not a forgetful hearer, but a work doer, the same, happy in his doing, shall be. 26 If any thinketh he is observant of religion, not curbing his own tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this one’s, religious observance is, vain: 27 Religious observance, pure and undefiled with our God and Father, is, this–to be visiting orphans and widows in their affliction, unspotted, to keep, himself, from the world.
James 1:22-27 (Rotherham Emphasized Bible)

22 But become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, this one is like a man studying his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he studied himself, and has gone away, and immediately he forgot of what kind he was. 25 But the one looking into the perfect Law of liberty, and continuing in it, this one not having become a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks to be religious among you, yet not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, this one’s religion is vain. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
James 1:22-27 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible – LITV)

22 Moreover, keep on becoming doers of the Word and stop being hearers only, reasoning yourselves into a false premise and thus deceiving yourselves, 23 because if, as is the case, anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, this one is like a man attentively considering in a mirror the face with which he was born. 24 For he took one look at himself and was off, and he immediately forgot what sort of a person he was. 25 But he who with eagerness and concentration has pored over the perfect law, the law of liberty, and has continued in it, not having been a hearer who forgets but a doer who works, this person shall be prospered spiritually in his doing. 26 If, as is the case, anyone imagines himself to be religious, not holding in check his tongue [with bit and bridle], but is deceiving his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion which is pure and undefiled in the sight of God, even the Father, is this: to look after orphans and widows in their affliction with a view to ascertaining their needs and supplying them, and to be keeping one’s self unspotted from the world.
James 1:22-27 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)

22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].
23 For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror;
24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like.
25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).
26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren).
27 External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.
James 1:22-27 (Amplified Classic Edition- AMPCE)

Scriptures to help us understand James 1:22-27 better:

The Sh’ma is a passage of Scripture read every week in the synagogue and could be said to be our creed.  The word Sh’ma is from the first word “Hear” which is a Hebrew word involving not only hearing, but heeding in the case of the passage of Scripture I’ll mention.  In other words, hearing and obeying.  The first sentence is prayed by many Jews every day.  Here is that passage which I think will give us a better understanding of how James (by The Holy Spirit) is telling us we should hear God’s Word with the intent of acting upon it.

4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NKJV)

A Scripture to help us get a better understanding on the value of hearing God’s Word with the intent of acting on it is this passage from what is called “The Sermon on The Mount”.  Here, Yeshua shows us the value of acting on His Word:

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

The Greek words translated as “religious” and “religion” in James 1:26-27 are neutral words simply having to do with an outward form of worship.  James, by The Holy Spirit, states “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans [also can be translated “fatherless”] and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”  James 1:27 (NKJV with note in brackets)  Basically, when God tells us to be a certain way and to have a certain character about us- He is helping us to be like Him in His character!  Here are some Scriptures to help us get a deeper understanding of James 1:27.

5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
6 God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
Psalms 68:5-6 (NKJV)

16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
Isaiah 1:16-17 (NKJV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46 (NKJV)

I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
Romans 12:1-2 (AMPCE)

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Colossians 3:1-11 (NKJV)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)

Here’s one more Scripture to help us get a deeper insight into James 1:22-27:

1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:1-5 (NKJV)

————

  • Verses 22 – 27– In Kenneth S. Wuest’s translation (The New Testament: An Expanded Translation), he seeks to bring out the verb tenses and nuances of the original language of The New Covenant Scriptures.  For a deeper look at this passage of Scripture, here is how he translates it:
    22 Moreover, keep on becoming doers of the Word and stop being hearers only, reasoning yourselves into a false premise and thus deceiving yourselves, 23 because if, as is the case, anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, this one is like a man attentively considering in a mirror the face with which he was born. 24 For he took one look at himself and was off, and he immediately forgot what sort of a person he was. 25 But he who with eagerness and concentration has pored over the perfect law, the law of liberty, and has continued in it, not having been a hearer who forgets but a doer who works, this person shall be prospered spiritually in his doing. 26 If, as is the case, anyone imagines himself to be religious, not holding in check his tongue [with bit and bridle], but is deceiving his own heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion which is pure and undefiled in the sight of God, even the Father, is this: to look after orphans and widows in their affliction with a view to ascertaining their needs and supplying them, and to be keeping one’s self unspotted from the world.
    James 1:22-27 (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)
  • Verse 22– The Greek word translated as “be” (NKJV) could also be translated as “be becoming” as seen in Wuest’s translation.
  • Verses 22-23 and 25– The Greek words translated “doers” (NKJV) and “doer” (NKJV) are different forms of the Greek word ποιητης (poietes approximately pronounced pŏē-ē-tēs)  which can be translated as “doer”.  It basically means “one who produces a work; a performer; a maker; a poet”.  Our English word “poet” can be traced back to this word.  As we see in the context of these verses, it is referring to “someone who performs/produces an action”.
  • Verses 22-23 and 25– The Greek words translated “hearers” (NKJV) and “hearer” (NKJV) are different forms of a Greek word meaningone who hears; one who listens”.  In the New Covenant Scriptures, it is used to mean someone who only hears or listens to something and doesn’t act upon it.  This can also be seen in Romans 2:13.  In order to keep Romans 2:13 in context and better bring out what is being said there, I’ll quote what God through Paul says in Romans 2:12-16:
    12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
    Romans 2:12-16 (NKJV)
    There is an interesting contrast that can be made between this type of hearer depicted in The New Covenant Scriptures and a different word for hearing mentioned in The Tanakh (commonly called The Old Testament).  In The Tanakh, various forms of the Hebrew word שְׁמַ֖ע (sh’ma pronounced shǝ-) are used hundreds of times for hearing whether it be for people hearing God, God hearing people, or people hearing each other.  (It can also mean “to proclaim” in certain cases.) From looking at several places where this word is used in reference to hearing in Scripture, one always sees this “hearing” producing some kind of action in the listener!  Sometimes it’s an adverse reaction like when Adam and Eve in their sinful state hid from God when they heard God’s voice as He was walking in The Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:8)
    Many times, sh’ma is used to show a positive action coming out of hearing.  Many times God asked Israel to “sh’ma” Him, meaning to hear and obey Him.  This is the type of “hearing” that The Book of James states that we should have regarding God’s Word.  A hearing that produces obedience!
    The Sh’ma is a passage of Scripture read every week in the synagogue and could be said to be our creed.  The word Sh’ma is from the first word “Hear”. Here we find an example of when sh’ma means to hear, take heed, and obey.  Here is that passage which I think will give us a better understanding of how James (by The Holy Spirit) is telling us we should hear God’s Word with the intent of acting upon it.
    4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
    6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
    Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NKJV)
    Some ways that various forms of sh’ma are translated in The King James Version that might help us get a deeper understanding of the “hearing” God wants us to have regarding His Word are:  hear, hearken, obey, obeyed, and obedient.
  • Verses 22 and 26– The Greek words translated as “deceiving” (James 1:22 NKJV) and “deceives” (James 1:26 NKJV) are two different Greek words.  In James 1:22, the Greek word translated as “deceivingbasically means “to have a false reckoning or account”.  In James 1:26, the Greek word translated as “deceivesmeans “to deceive; to delude; to lead into error; to cheat; to beguile”.
  • Verse 23-24– The Greek words translated as “observing” (NKJV) and “observes” (NKJV) are variations of a Greek word that has to do with “looking carefully at something, fixing ones attention on it to examine it, and reflecting on it”.
  • Verse 23– The Greek phrase translated as “his natural face” (NKJV) has to do with “the face with which one is born”.
  • Verses 23-24– Mirrors of the time when James first penned this Epistle were made of various metals.  Some of bronze, some of steel, some of copper, and so on.  They were not quite as clear as the ones we have now.  It is suggested that the imagery given here is of one who is looking carefully at the image he sees in the mirror of the face with which he was born.  Although looking carefully at his face to get a good look at it and discern what he sees, he immediately forgets the image he saw as soon as he walks away!  It’s as if he is looking to distinguish what’s there, but not looking to retain what he saw.  Most of us look into a mirror just for a moment to make sure we are presentable, yet not with the intent to remember exactly what we look like.  It could be said then that when hearing God’s Word, we should do so with the intent of retaining it and acting upon it.
  • Verse 25– The Greek word translated as “looks” (NKJV) is a stronger word than the Greek words that translated “observing” (James 1:23 NKJV) and “observes” (James 1:24 NKJV).  It has to do with “stooping down to get a very close look at something”.  It could be said that when looking into a mirror, we might do so on our way out to somewhere.  We look intently enough to make sure we are presentable and then move on without trying to retain what we saw.  With looking into the perfect law of liberty– we are to stop in our tracks, take a close look to ascertain and retain what we see, and take deeply into account what we see.
  • Verse 25– The Greek word translated as “perfect” (NKJV) can also be translated as “complete
  • Verse 25– The Greek word translated as “continues” (NKJV) actually means “to stay near”.
  • Verse 25– The Greek word translated as “forgetful” (NKJV) can also be translated as “negligent”.
  • Verses 23-25A mirror can only show us so much, even a very good mirror.  God’s Word shows us everything about us stripped bear before us.  Let’s look at Hebrews 4:12-13 to get a better idea of God’s Word giving us a sharper view than even a mirror can.
    For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
    Hebrews 4:12-13 (NKJV)
    God’s Word when referring to The Gospel of Yeshua (The Message of The Good News of what Yeshua has done for us to save our souls, reconcile us to The Father, transfer us out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, and transform us into God’s new creations being conformed to the image of God’s dear Son) –oras a whole (The Bible) not only shows us exactly who we are faults and all – it also shows us how we can be cleansed of our mess.  Not only that, the perfect law of liberty indeed has the power to liberate us from things that have been holding us in bondage!
    To give us a deeper insight into the power and value of God’s Word, please read the supplement entitled A Brief List of Scriptures Showing the Value and Power of God’s Word.
  • Verse 26– The Greek word translated as “thinks” (NKJV) has to do with “one’s personal opinion; the way something seems to one personally”.
  • Verse 26– There are several Greek words describing worship, each with their own nuances and differences of meaning.  The Greek word translated “religious” (NKJV) is a word referring to “someone who is hard at work in his outward services to God in worship”.
  • Verse 26– The Greek phrase translated as “bridle his tongue” (NKJV) has to do with “steering the tongue like one would steer a horse”.  Interesting enough, the tool used to steer a horse is placed in the horse’s mouth.  We need God’s help with steering what’s inside our mouths.  In many ways, what’s inside our mouths (our tongues) steer our lives.  James chapter 3 shows us the importance of our tongues as well as Proverbs 18 and many other places in Scripture.
  • Verses 26-27– The Greek word translated “religion” (NKJV) in both of these verses is akin to the Greek word translated “religious” (NKJV) in James 1:26.  As mentioned previously, Greek has several words for various forms of worship with different meanings and nuances.  This particular word has to do with ”worship in its outward form such as ceremonies and other outward acts”.  These two verses can explain how someone could seem to have all the markings of a worshipper of God on the outside and nothing on the inside.  Yeshua gives us an even deeper insight into these verses by part of what He said to some religious leaders:
    33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
    Matthew 12:33-37 (NKJV)
    In other words, a man’s words will actually show you what’s inside his heart.  Is a person constantly berating people?  That’s what’s actually inside that man’s heart.  Is a man really good at being at every prayer meeting, service, and fellowship- but he is mean to his co-workers, to waiters/waitresses, and to his family?  That is what the man really is on the inside.  It’s true that people can put on a good show even with their words, but God has designed things so that what is on the inside of a person is going to show up on the outside.  If someone is faking sincerity, there will be a time that the person will betray himself and it will most likely show up in his words…how he treats people even verbally.
    When we’re around people who actually have the love of God in their hearts, we’ll notice how they genuinely have trouble saying anything harmful about people.  Even when that person might have to warn us about a false teacher or someone else who might be destructive, that person will be noticeably selective in his words to make sure that he speaks what would truly be valuable to the listener and not destructive.
  • Verse 26– The Greek word translated as “useless” (NKJV) means “unproductive; vain; useless; of no purpose; devoid of force, truth, success, result”.
  • Verse 27– The Greek word translated as “pure” (NKJV) has to do with “being clean before God”.  This would be likened to how in Leviticus and other Scriptures, certain things, animals, and people were mentioned as being clean or unclean.  It has to do with being spotless and free from corruption before God.  It also has to do with a cleansing that is done by fire (purification as in metals) or pruning (as in a vine).
  • Verse 27– The Greek word translated “undefiled” (NKJV) has to do with “being unsoiled and free from anything that would cause deformity”.
  • Verse 27– The Greek word translated as “visit” (NKJV) has to do with “going to see someone, inspecting that person with the intent of discerning whether that person is all right, discerning if that person has a need, and (if the person has a need) supplying to meet that need”.
  • Verse 27– The Greek word translated as “orphan” (NKJV) can be translated that way.  It could also be translated as “fatherless”.  Although both parents (father and mother) are important in a child’s life, back when James had penned this Epistle- the father a lot of times was the sole provider and protector of the family.  The father also would be the one to protect the family from any swindler’s who would want to try to con them out of money.  When the father died, the family lost a whole lot.  A lot of times families were not only destitute, but more vulnerable to those who would want to con them.  Not only that, there were people (orphans and widows) who became so destitute they would sell themselves into slavery.
    John Wesley made this comment about this verse:
    The only true religion in the sight of God, is this, to visit – With counsel, comfort, and relief. The fatherless and widows – Those who need it most. In their affliction – In their most helpless and hopeless state. And to keep himself unspotted from the world – From the maxims, tempers, and customs of it. But this cannot be done, till we have given our hearts to God, and love our neighbour as ourselves.
    One of many Scriptures that gives us a look at God’s heart toward widows, the fatherless, orphans, and the lonely is found in Psalm 68:
    5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    Is God in His holy habitation.
    6 God sets the solitary in families;
    He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
    But the rebellious dwell in a dry land
    Psalms 68:5-6 (NKJV)
  • Verse 27– The Greek word translated as “trouble” (NKJV) has to do with “pressure, a pressing upon someone”.  Some of the ways this word is translated in the King James Version are:  afflicted, affliction(s), anguish, and trouble.
  • Verse 27– The Greek word translated as “keep” (NKJV) has to do with “keeping guard”.
  • Verse 27– For a deeper insight into keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world”, let’s look at this passage of Scripture from 1 John 2:
    15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
    1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)

May these Bible Studies I’ve been posting bless y’all.  Any questions or any insights God might have shown you through His Word?  Feel free to put it in the comments section!

 

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