corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

James 4



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. πόθεν πόλεμοι καὶ πόθεν μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν; The transition to this paragraph is immediately suggested by εἰρήνην (James 3:18). But the thought follows naturally on the whole preceding section, especially on the clause, εἰ δὲ ζῆλον πικρὸν ἔχετε, κ.τ.λ. (James 3:14).

πόλεμοιμάχαι, bella et lites, V., unde pugnae et unde rixae in vobis, O.L. Both these expressions appear to refer to private contention rather than to international wars. The conjunction occurs in Homer: ἀεὶ γάρ τοι ἔρις τε φίλη πόλεμοί τε μάχαι τε (‘frays and feuds,’ Purves) Il. I. 177. So also πολεμίζειν ἠδὲ μάχεσθαι, Il. III. 435, where the scholiast notes: μάχεται μέν τις καὶ λόγοιςπολεμεῖν δὲ λόγοις οὐ λέγεται. There is no etymological objection to this sense of private quarrel, the root πελ. meaning to strike, hence πλήσσω, πέλας, πλησίον.

Beyschlag distinguishes: “πόλεμος der chronische Unfrieden, μάχη der acute.”

ἐκ denotes the remoter and ultimate source, ἀπό the nearer and immediate source—quarrels and contentions may be traced back to pleasures as their ultimate cause.

τῶν στρατευομένων, that are campaigning in your members. ἡδοναί are like soldiers on the march; each man wishes his own ἡδοναί—here equivalent to ἐπιθυμίαι—to gain the victory; hence the ‘frays and feuds.’ For στρατεύεσθαι comp. Luke 3:14; 1 Corinthians 9:7; 1 Peter 2:11 : in this last passage the σαρκικαὶ ἐπιθυμίαι are described as an external force at war with the soul: τῶν σαρκικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς. Comp. Plat. Phaedo p. 66 c, καὶ γὰρ πολέμους καὶ στάσεις καὶ μάχας οὐδὲν ἄλλο παρέχει ἢ τὸ σῶμα καὶ αἱ τούτου ἐπιθυμίαι. Cic. de Fin. I. 13 Ex cupiditatibus odia, discidia, discordiae, seditiones, bella nascuntur.

ἡδονή in N.T. always in a bad sense as a danger to the spiritual life, Luke 8:14; Titus 3:3; 2 Peter 2:13.

Verses 1-12


Verse 2

2. ἐπιθυμεῖτε, καὶ οὐκ ἔχετε. The zealot’s aims are disappointed; his means, murder, perverted zeal, quarrels and contentions, lead to nothing. With οὐκ ἔχετε the argument is resumed and expanded by an explanation. Mere desire (ἐπιθυμία) without prayer achieves nothing. There is a kind of asking (αἰτεῖτε) which is not true prayer because its object is perverted. For effectiveness of prayer the desire must be rightly directed, otherwise granted prayer will be no blessing. There is such a thing as “to know the anguish of the granted prayer.”

φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε, equivalent to a single term. The ζῆλος involved the φόνος.

Verse 3

3. αἰτεῖτεαἰτεῖσθε. The active and middle seem to be used indiscriminately as in the case of some other verbs, as ἀκούω and ἀκούομαι, ἰδεῖν and ἰδέσθαι, φλέγειν and φλέγεσθαι. Clyde, § 31 d. Comp. also Luke 15:6; Luke 15:9, συγκαλεῖσυγκαλεῖται, ADE al. plu.: the cause of this being that the older form in -μαι has never been quite displaced by the newer form in -ω. This is the more to be expected in a verb of petition which necessarily implies the force of a middle, viz. that the action is done in some way for or towards oneself, or in one’s own interest. Monro, p. 8; Jelf, § 368.

αἰτεῖτε however may be preferred on account of λαμβάνετε, and the two middles αἰτεῖσθαι and αἰτεῖσθε connect the clauses in which they are used.

As Trench points out, αἰτεῖν (Lat. petere) in N.T. always retains its proper sense of begging from a superior. Thus our Lord never uses αἰτεῖν or αἰτεῖσθαι of Himself in respect of what He seeks on behalf of His disciples from God. The word employed is always ἐρωτᾶν (Lat. rogare), an asking, that is, upon equal terms. John 14:16; John 16:26; John 17:9; John 17:15; John 17:20. See Trench, N.T. Syn. sub voc.

ἐν ἡδοναῖς. Not upon but in your pleasures.

Verse 4

4. μοιχαλίδες, for the omission of μοιχοὶ καί see crit. notes. The address is still to men. But the feminine form and the abruptness of the appeal indicate scorn and indignation. Comp. the Homeric expression: Ἀχαιΐδες οὐκέτʼ Ἀχαιοί, Il. II. 235, and Virgil’s “O vere Phrygiae neque enim Phryges,” Aen. IX. 617. The feminine μοιχαλίδες is accounted for partly because the image present to St James’ mind is that which is most frequent in the O.T., the wife’s unfaithfulness to her husband, partly because the lapse into pleasure even though accompanied by crimes of violence is essentially effeminate. It is for this association of sins that the prophet Amos rebukes the women of Israel—“the kine of Bashan,” δαμάλεις τῆς Βασανίτιδος, Amos 4:1 f. Juvenal too has noted the same moral fact, softness and cruelty go together: Juv. Sat. VI. 219 ff., Pone crucem servo, &c. Tischendorf ad loc. illustrates this use of the feminine form by the word ποταγωγίδες employed by Aristotle and Plutarch in the sense of μηνυταί, informers, who were probably men not women.

οἴδατε, note the late form here and comp. ἴστε, James 1:19.

ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστίν. Comp. Matthew 6:24 οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύεινοὐ δύνασθε θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ, Matthew 12:30 ὁ μὴ ὢν μετʼ ἐμοῦ κατʼ ἐμοῦ ἐστίν, καὶ ὁ μὴ συνάγων μετ ἐμοῦ σκορπίζει, Romans 8:7 τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς ἔχθρα εἰς θεόνοἱ δὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ὄντες θεῷ ἀρέσαι οὐ δύνανται.

ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ κ.τ.λ. Even the very wish for the world’s friendship constitutes enmity with God. It is a thought essentially akin to the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount: see especially Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:28.

Verse 5

5. ἡ γραφὴ λέγει. The citation which follows is from an unknown source, but the form in which it is made gives the words an authority equal to that of the O.T. Comp. John 2:22 ἐπίστευσαν τῇ γραφῇ, John 7:38 καθὼς εἶπεν ἡ γραφή, Romans 4:3 τί γὰρ ἡ γραφὴ λέγει; and so frequently. Resch (Agrapha, log. 54, p. 256) supposes that this passage is strictly parallel to Galatians 5:17 ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός. He accounts for the variation by supposing a common Hebrew original with a variation of reading in the copies from which St Paul and St James respectively quoted. Or perhaps the variation is in the rendering of the same Hebrew or Aramaic original. It may be that πρὸς φθόνον is an intended change of expression from κατὰ σαρκός. For φθόνος is precisely that element of σάρξ, that work of the flesh, which would be excited by disappointed desire. (See the enumeration Galatians 5:19-21.) It is the feeling excited in a man of perverted mind on seeing another obtain the good thing sought by himself. φθόνος sums up the bad side of ζῆλος with which it is associated in Plat. Phileb. p. 47 E, and 50 B, and elsewhere. πρός is very usual in this sense of hostility: πρὸς Τρῶας μάχεσθαι, Il. XVII. 471: ἐγένετο γογγυσμὸς τῶν Ἑλληνιστῶν πρὸς τοὺς Ἑβραίους, Acts 6:1 : πρᾶγμα ἔχων πρὸς τὸν ἕτερον, 1 Corinthians 6:1 : ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἶμα καὶ σάρκα, Ephesians 6:12, and frequently.

ὃ κατῴκισεν, which (God) placed, caused to dwell, or, κατῴκησεν, Which dwelu. Comp. ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλὰ ἐν πνεύματι, εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν, Romans 8:9 : οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ναὸς θεοῦ ἐστὲ καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν οἰκεῖ; 1 Corinthians 3:16.

ἐπιποθεῖ, earnestly longs, answering to ἐπιθυμεῖ in Galatians 5:17, if Resch’s theory be correct, ἐπί has an intensive force, implying direction and so earnestness of aim.

If this view be taken the sense would be: Doth scripture say in vain: Earnestly doth the Spirit which God caused to dwell within us long against envy? envy being the predominant note of the friendship with the world which is enmity against God.

Other interpretations are however given to this difficult passage. πρὸς φθόνον is connected with ἐπιποθεῖ which (a) stands absolutely ‘yearns even unto jealous envy,’ or (b) has for its object πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν, ‘yearneth for the spirit which’ &c. or (c) governs ἡμᾶς understood, ‘yearneth for us.’

This adverbial use of πρὸς φθόνον (though no other examples are given) can be justified by such expressions as πρὸς ὀργήν, πρὸς βίαν, πρὸς χάριν &c., and perhaps all these interpretations give a more natural meaning to ἐπιποθεῖ. The connexion would then be a strengthening of the thought of the preceding words. To friendship with the world is opposed God’s jealous love for us, which can bear no rival.

Whatever interpretation be given it must be borne in mind [1] that the passage is a quotation and therefore (a) it would suggest to St James’ readers more than it states; (b) it is intended to recall teaching, and therefore would not appear so abrupt as it does to modern readers. [2] It has direct reference to the immediately preceding words which express an antagonism between friendship with the world and friendship with God, and more expressly between a human wish (βούλησις) for friendship with the world and friendship with God. This statement is strengthened by an appeal to scripture which asserts (a) an inner struggle of the divine Spirit against envy and jealousy which are especially characteristic of the φιλία τοῦ κόσμου, or (b) according to the second interpretation, the jealous longing for as on the part of the Spirit which God Himself caused to dwell within us.

As regards punctuation it is best perhaps to place the interrogative point at λέγει, or at any rate to regard the quotation itself as a categorical statement.

Verse 6

6. μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν. But (God) giveth greater grace. These words are also obscure. Either (a) a larger favour, even than the indwelling Spirit, for He contends against the proud, who represent the φιλία τοῦ κόσμου, and gives grace to the humble who have renounced that friendship, (b) or more grace than the world gives, (c) or more than is lost through hostility to the world.

διὸ λέγει, because of which fact the Spirit of God saith. The quotation which follows is verbatim from Proverbs 3:34, except that ὁ θεός replaces κύριος of the LXX.: see 1 Peter 5:5, where the same quotation is made. It is interesting to comp. Luke 1:51-52 διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶνκαὶ ὕψωσεν ταπεινούς. Note the occurrence of the leading words, ὑπερηφάνους and ταπεινούς. The thought is the same. It is one that entered into that atmosphere of religious life in which the Holy Family lived and which St James shared.

ἀντιτάσσεται, ranges himself against, comp. ἀντιτάξομαι κτενῶν σε, Eur. Phoen. 622: ἀθρόᾳ μὲν οὐδαμοῦ τῇ δυνάμει ἀντετάξαντο, Thuc. IV. 55. It is a word which suggests the image of the Christian warfare so frequent with St Paul. Comp. the formula used in renunciation at Baptism συντάσσομαί σοι Χρίστε· ἀποτάσσομαί σοι Σατανᾶ (Bingham’s Antiq., Vol. IV. xi. vii. § 2), and Acts 13:48 ὅσοι ἦσαν τεταγμένοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

Verse 7

7. ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ θεῷ. Therefore, in this warfare, take God’s side, place yourself under Him as Captain. Polyb. uses οἱ ὑποταττόμενοι or ὑποτεταγμένοι for ‘subjects.’

The passage which follows is another example of regularly constructed Hebrew poetry.

ὑποτάγητε, ἀντίστητε κ.τ.λ. The aorist imperative denotes instantaneous, not continued action, and is therefore used in urgent entreaty or command; comp. the eager request, σῶσον, ἀπολλύμεθα, Matthew 8:25, and the aorists in the Lord’s Prayer.

τῷ διαβέλψ. διάβολος is strictly a rendering of the Hebrew word שָׂטָן, of which Σατανᾶς is a transliteration, and means literally ‘an adversary,’ from διαβάλλειν and ἐνδιαβάλλειν, to meet, oppose: comp. Numbers 22:22 ἀνέστη ὁ ἄγγελος τοῦ θεοῦ διαβαλεῖν al. ἐνδιαβάλλειν αὐτόν, and Numbers 22:32 ἐγὼ ἐξῆλθον εἰς διαβολήν σου, also Zechariah 3:1 καὶ ὁ διάβολος εἱστήκει ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἀντικεῖσθαι αὐτῷ, where see the Hebr. text. To this original meaning of the word the classical force of διαβάλλειν and its derivatives added the ideas of (a) deceiving, (b) calumniating, (c) accusing. In Revelation 20:2 we find both the Greek and Hebrew forms—ὄς ἐστιν διάβολος καὶ Σατανᾶς—a proof that the meanings of the two words, synonymous at first, had already been severed, and one among many instances of the influence of translation on religious ideas.

Comp. Ephesians 4:27 μηδὲ δίδοτε τόπον τῷ διαβόλῳ, and Ephesians 6:11 πρὸς τὸ δύνασθαι ὑμᾶς στῆναι πρὸς τὰς μεθοδίας τοῦ διαβόλου, 1 Peter 5:8 ὁ ἀντίδικος ὑμῶν διάβολοςᾦ ἁντίστητε στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει.

Verse 8

8. καθαρίσατε χεῖρας κ.τ.λ. Comp. Psalms 24:4 ἀθῶος χερσὶ καὶ καθαρὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ κ.τ.λ. and 1 Peter 1:22 τὰς ψυχὰς ὑμῶν ἡγνικότες ἐν τῇ ὑπακοῇ τῆς ἀληθείας.

ἁμαρτωλοίδίψυχοι. Those addressed in this paragraph are either worldly men outside the Christian brotherhood, or else those of the brethren who had become worldly. Laughter and joy are now characteristic of them.

Verse 9

9. εἰς κατήφειαν, ‘to heaviness,’ R.V., or dejection, κατήφεια, defined to be a mixture of shame and grief, lit. with downcast eye, perhaps from κατά and φάος, but deriv. uncertain. This is the natural expression of the painfulness of shame: “There is no outrage,” says Hawthorne, “more flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame, as it was the essence of this punishment (the pillory) to do.” It is a Homeric word: δυσμενέσιν μὲν χάρμα κατηφείην δέ σοι αὐτῷ, Il. III. 51, also Thuc. VII. 75 κατήφεια δέ τις ἅμα καὶ κατάμεμψις σφῶν αὐτῶν πολλὴ ἦν, Plut. Aemil. p. 267 A κατήφεια δὲ τὸ στρατόπεδον κατεῖχεν. For the thought comp. Proverbs 14:13 τελευταῖα δὲ χαρὰ (al. χαρᾶς) εἰς πένθος ἔρχεται, and Jeremiah 16:9 καταλύω ἐκ τοῦ τόπου τούτου φωνὴν χαρᾶς καὶ φωνὴν εὐφροσύνης.

Verse 10

10. ταπεινώθητε, passive form with middle sense. See Monro, Hom. Grammar, § 44, where it is shewn that aorists in -ην and -θην had originally an intransitive sense of which the passive sense was a growth or adaptation. Comp. ἐχάρην, ἐδυνάσθην, ἀπεκρίθην.

Verse 11

11. μὴ καταλαλεῖτε ἀλλήλων. The argument reverts to the main subject. It is a last thought on the evils of the tongue. It is a warning against evil speaking and slandering. The mention of the law however points to a particular kind of evil-speaking. This law is, according to Beyschlag and others, the law of love, the νόμος βασιλικός mentioned above ch. James 2:8. But then the question arises how does a man speaking against his brother speak against the law, or judge the law? Certainly if he is guilty of slander he transgresses the law. But how does he become a νομοθέτης and a κρίτης? It is said indeed that in slandering a brother a man’s conduct becomes a practical criticism and condemnation of the law of love. He enacts as it were a law opposed to the law of love; whereas his duty is simply to obey the law of love and to abstain from evil-speaking and slander. This explanation however is not wholly satisfactory.

But if the law be understood of the Mosaic law a more natural explanation suggests itself. It is probable that the question of the observance of the Mosaic law had already been mooted in the brotherhood. The earliest rule in the primitive Church was observance of the law as St James himself and even St Paul observed it. But some Jewish Christians had from the first foreseen the transitory character of the law. And among these some, we may imagine, inspired by the thought of Christian liberty, would press their views with needless zeal, speaking against their brethren whose conscience led them to observe the law. These would be rightly regarded as judging the law; just as one who censures a statesman censures his policy.

To such as these St James now addresses himself. He is not as yet prepared for this great revolution. If the law is to be changed, it is for the one only Lawgiver and Judge to change it. It is not for the individual Christian to anticipate the change which time would bring.

Verse 12

12. νομοθέτης. ἅπ. λεγ. in N.T., quite classical and used in a special sense at Athens. For the verb comp. Psalms 27:11 νομοθέτησόν με, κύριε, ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ σου,.

ὁ δυνάμενος σῶσαι καὶ ἀπολέσαι. See Matthew 10:28 τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ.

σὺ δὲ τίς εἶ, κρίνων τὸν πλησίον; St James’ teaching here, as so frequently, is based on the Sermon on the Mount. See Matthew 7:1 μὴ κρίνετε ἵνα μὴ κρίθητε.

Verse 13

13. ἄγε νῦν οἱ λέγοντες. ἄγε like φέρε, ἴθι, ἰδού and in Modern Greek ἄς for ἄφες, is used with singular and plural subject alike, often to strengthen the imperative: ἀλλʼ ἄγε δή τινα μάντιν ἐρείομεν, Hom. Il. I. 62: ἀλλʼ ἴθι, ταῦτα δʼ ὅπισθεν ἀρεσσόμεθʼ, Il. IV. 362. Monro, Hom. Gram. § 327. See also Goodwin § 84. Age is used in the same way in Latin: age nunc, comparate, Cic. pro Mil. 21: ergo age, care pater, cervici imponere nostrae, Virg. Aen. II. 707.

The picture of commercial activity which follows illustrates “the Semite’s born instinct for trading” (G. A. Smith, Isaiah I. 289). “The Semite was always a trader” (Budge, Babylonian Life and History, p. 150). But though the carrying trade of the ancient world was in the hands of the Semite race, the Jew did not at first take to trading. The spirit of commercial enterprise flourished for a time under Phoenician influence in the reign of Solomon. But the attempt to revive it in the joint reigns of Jehoshaphat and Ahaziah ended disastrously (2 Chronicles 20:37). The Hebrew genius for trade was first developed during the Captivity. Recent discoveries in the neighbourhood of Babylon have brought to light documents which testify to very extensive commercial transactions in which the Hebrew settlers in Babylonia would probably take part. Indeed the name of Egibi, the title of a leading firm in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, has been identified with the name of Jacob. But this conclusion “is not certain at present,” Budge, Babylonian Life and History, p. 117. In the gospels banking and trade transactions are referred to in the parables of the talents, of the minae, and of the merchant seeking goodly pearls. The case of the son who took his portion and went off to seek his fortune in a far country was probably a not unusual incident in Jewish life. In Revelation 18:10-14 there is a striking description of the trade of Babylon. In early days trade was provided for: “Thou shalt lend unto many nations and shalt not borrow,” Deuteronomy 28:12. “They strike hands with the children of strangers” (make contracts with the sons of aliens, Cheyne), Isaiah 2:6, alluding to commercial activity in the reigns of Jotham and Uzziah. The prophets were opposed to foreign trade: “He is a trafficker … he loveth to oppress,” Hosea 12:1; Hosea 12:7-8. In Ezekiel 16:26 trade is called harlotry from its venal and merely mercenary spirit. See Nahum 3:4 f., Isaiah 23:17, and Isaiah 57:17, “For the iniquity of his covetousness I smote him.”

The language which the Jew spoke, Aramaic, was the language of trade, and the number of scattered Jewish settlements in all the principal cities of the world greatly favoured commercial intercourse. “There is abundant evidence in the Mishnah that the Jews travelled far by sea and land.” Media, Italy, Spain, Alexandria, Naharden and Greece are mentioned as countries which they visited. Regulations are given in the Mishnah for use on board ship and on journeys. In the Mishnah also trades are mentioned in which the Jews engaged, among them traffic in silk, satin, vases of gold and other metals, mirrors, &c., and even in slaves. There are a few restrictions—fir cones, figs, incense, myrtles, sacred to Venus, and other things could not be sold because connected with idolatrous rites. See Art. by Major Conder, Palestine Expl. F. Statement, Jan. 1894. It is hardly necessary to add that the trading instinct is still eminently characteristic of the race, and the jealousy to which it gives rise is at the root of the Juden-hetze of the present day.

τήνδε τὴν πόλιν, this city, of which the speaker is then thinking. See Green, Gram. p. 125, and Winer p. 201 n. 3.

ποιήσομεν. Comp. Acts 18:23 ποιήσας χρόνον τινά, 2 Corinthians 11:25 νυχθήμερον ἐν τῷ βυθῷ πεποίηκα. So also Acts 15:33; Acts 20:3. So also facere in Latin: Apameae quinque dies morati … Ionii decem fecimus, Cic. ad Atticum v. 20, and Hebr. עָשָׂה, see Ecclesiastes 6:12 .

ἐμπορευσόμεθα. ἐμπορεύεσθαι is first used of travel simply: ξένην ἐπὶ γαῖαν ἐμπορεύσεται, Soph. Oed. Tyr. 456; of soldiers marching: Polybius, see Schweigh. Lex. Polyb. sub voc.; then very commonly with the added notion of travelling for business, like the Hebr. סָחַר, here only in that sense in N.T. Then from the frequency of tricks and deception in trade, to cheat, deceive: καὶ ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ πλαστοῖς λόγοις ὑμᾶς ἐμπορεύσονται, 2 Peter 2:3 . Comp. πολλά τινα πρὸς ταύτην τὴν ὑπόθεσιν ἐμπορεύων καὶ μεθοδευόμενος, Polyb. XXXVIII. 4. 10.

κερδήσομεν. For this rare form of the future see references in Veitch, sub voc.

Verses 13-17


The address is still probably to the brethren, some of whom engaged in business have not learnt to recognise God’s law and His will in commercial projects and plans. Comp. Sirach 26:29 μόλις ἐξελεῖται ἔμπορος ἀπὸ πλημμελείας, καὶ οὐ δικαιωθήσεται κάπηλος ἀπὸ ἁμαρτίας.

Verse 14

14. οἵτινες οὐκ ἐπίστασθε τὸ τῆς αὔριον κ.τ.λ. For reading see crit. notes. Qui ignoratis quid sit in crastinum; quae enim est vita vestra? Vapor est ad modicum parens &c. V., Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life?—R.V., translating the reading adopted by Westcott and Hort, ‘ye know not on the morrow what your fife shall be.’

ἀτμὶς γάρ ἐστε. Psalms 102:3 ἐξέλιπον ὡσεὶ καπνὸς αἱ ἡμέραι μου.

πρὸς ὀλίγον φαινομένη. Comp. the story of Paulinus and the Pagan priest Coifi at the court of Edwin, King of Deira, c. 626, unus passerum domum citissime pervolaverit, qui cum per unum ostium ingrediens, mox per aliud exierit. Ita haec vita hominum ad modicum apparet; quid autem sequatur, quidve processerit, prorsus ignoramus, Bede, H. E. II. 13. See also Bright, Early English Church History, p. 116, and Wordsworth’s Eccl. Sonnets, No. 16.

Verse 16

16. νῦν δέ, but now, as it is.

ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονείαις ὑμῶν, in your boastful or presumptuous talk, or your false pretensions. ἀλαζ. from ἀλαζών lit. a wanderer, then of a boastful pretender. Aristotle defines the ἀλαζών as ὁ μείζω τῶν ὑπαρχόντων προσποιούμενος, Eth. N. IV. vii. 10 (‘a man who pretends to have greater things than he possesses’), adding according to the probable reading εἰ δʼ ἕνεκά τινος ὁ μὲν δόξης ἢ τιμῆς οὐ λίαν ψαλτὸς ὁ ἀλάζων, ὁ δὲ ἀργυρίου ἢ ὅσα εἰς ἀργύριον ἀσχημονέστερος. It is probably with this last reference in the word that the Apostle uses it. ἀλαζονείαις would thus signify the deception used to increase the value of goods—the tricks of trade.

Perhaps however ἐν ἀλαζονείαις is simply the presumptuous talk which forms plans and projects without reference to God’s will.

Verse 17

17. εἰδότι οὖν καλὸν ποιεῖν, if a man knows how to do what is right and honest and does it not, to him such a course is sin.



Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
"Commentary on James 4:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology