James 3:1-12

James 3:1-12
Ordinary B42


Not many of you should becomeA teachers,B my brothersC and sisters, 

Notes on verse 1a

A “become” = ginomai. This is to come into being, to happen, become, be born. It can be to emerge from one state or condition to another or is coming into being with the sense of movement or growth.
B “teachers” = didaskalos. From didasko (to teach, direct, instruct, or impart knowledge; in the New Testament, almost always used for teaching scripture); from dao (to learn). This is teacher or master.
C “brothers” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.

for you knowD that we who teach will be judgedE with greaterF strictness.G 

Notes on verse 1b

D “know” = eido. This is to know, consider perceive, appreciate, behold, or remember. It means seeing with one’s eyes, but also figuratively, it means perceiving – seeing that becomes understanding. So, by implication, this means knowing or being aware.
E “judged” = krima + lambano. Krimas is from krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). This is judgment, sentence, verdict. Sometimes, this can have a negative sense – condemnation. It is the decision and the full force of its effect negative and positive. Lambano does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.
F “greater” = megas. This is big in a literal or figurative sense – great, large, exceeding, abundant, high, mighty, perfect, strong, etc.
G Literally, “we will receive greater judgment.”

For allH of us make many mistakes.I Anyone who makes no mistakes in speakingJ is perfect,K, L

Notes on verse 2a

H “all” = hapas. From hama (at once, together with) +pas (all, every, every kind of) OR from a (with) + pas (see above). This is all; every part working together as a unit.
I “make…mistakes” = ptaio. 5x in NT. Perhaps from pipto (to fall literally or figuratively). This is to stumble or cause to stumble. It can also refer to sinning or giving offense or failing.
J “speaking” = logos. From lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.
K “perfect” = teleios. 19x in NT. From telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax). This is going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one. This is reaching an end and so being complete or “perfect.” It is also full grown or mature.
L {untranslated} = aner. This is man, male, husband, or fellow. It can also refer to an individual.

ableM to keep the wholeN bodyO in check with a bridle.P 

Notes on verse 2b

M “able” = dunatos. From dunamai (to be able, have power or ability). This is mighty or powerful. It speaks of ability of persons, possibility of things. It is what can be given the power or ability that the subject exhibits. The root verb is also related to miracles i.e. deeds of power.
N “whole” = holos. This is whole, complete, or entire. It is a state where every member is present and functioning in concert. This is the root of the word “whole.”
O “body” = soma. Perhaps from sozo (to save, heal, rescue); from sos (safe, well, rescued). This is body or flesh. It can be body in a literal or figurative sense (as the body of Christ). This is where the word “somatic” comes from.
P “keep…in check with a bridle” = chalinagogeo. 2x in NT– both in James. From chalinos (bridle, bit); {from chalao (let down, slacken, loosen); from the base of chasma (gap, gulf, chasm, open space); from chasko (to gape, yawn).)} + ago (lead, bring, carry, drive, go). This is to bridle or restrain. It emphasizes the way that a bridle leads or curbs the one who is bridled.

3 If we putQ bitsR into the mouthsS of horsesT to make them obeyU us, we guideV their whole bodies. 

Notes on verse 3

Q “put” = ballo. This is to throw, cast, rush, place, or drop. It is throwing, but it could be with more or less velocity and with more or less force/violence.
R “bits” = chalinos. Related to “keep…in check with a bridle” in v2. 2x in NT. See note P above.
S “mouths” = stoma. Perhaps from tomoteros (sharp, keener); from temno (to cut). This is mouth, speech, language, the tip of a sword, an opening in the ground.
T “horses” = hippos. 17x in NT– 1x in James and the rest in Revelation. This is a horse. It is part of where “hippopotamus” comes from (literally, “horse of the river”).
U “make…obey” = peitho. This is to have confidence, to urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust. It is the root from which the Greek word for faith is drawn (pistis).
V “guide” = metago. Related to “keep…in check with a bridle” in v2. 2x in NT – both in this passage. From meta (with, among, after, beyond) + ago (see note P above) OR from meta (with, among, after, beyond) + harmozo (to join, make a joint, woo, marry or give to marry); {from harmos (joint of the body  or other joining); from ararisko (join together); from the same as harma (a chariot or other vehicle); probably from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is to direct, transfer, change position, lead.

Or lookW at ships:X though they are so largeY

Notes on verse 4a

W “look” = idou. Related to “know” in v1. From eido (see note D above). This is see! Lo! Behold! Look! Used to express surprise and or draw attention to the statement.
X “ships” = ploion. From pleo (to sail, voyage); probably from pluno (to plunge – so to wash); from pluo (to flow). This is a boat, ship, or vessel.
Y “so large” = telikoutos. 4x in NT. From ho (the) + helikos (of what size, how much; properly, full grown, an adult); {from helix (mature, adult, of the same age)} + houtos (this, they, that, third person pronoun); {probably from ho (the) + autos (he, she, self, they, same)}. This is so large, important, vast, great, old. It can refer to potential or magnitude.

that it takesZ strongAA windsBB to driveCC them,

Notes on verse 4b

Z “takes” = hupo. This is by, under, about, subordinate to.
AA “strong” = skleros. 6x in NT. From skello (to dry) OR from the base of skelos (leg); {perhaps from skello (to parch)}. This is hard because dried, rough, difficult, fierce, harsh. It can also be stubborn or unyielding – unyieldingly hard. This is where the word “sclera” comes from.
BB “winds” = anemos. From aer (air that we breathe); from aemi (to breathe or blow). This is wind or a gust of air. It can also be used figuratively for empty doctrines.
CC “drive” = elauno. 5x in NT. This is to propel or carry – to drive forward with oars or like the wind does. It can also refer to being driven by a demon.

yet they are guided byDD a very smallEE rudderFF wherever the willGG of the pilotHH directs.II 

Notes on verse 4c

DD “by” = hupo. Same as “takes” in v4. See note Z above.
EE “very small” = elachistos. 13x in NT. From elachus (short); used as a superlative for mikros (small). This is smallest or littlest in the sense of size, amount, rank, dignity, and so on.
FF “rudder” = pedalion. 2x in NT. From pedon (an oar’s blade); from the same as pede (shackle); from peza (instep); from pous (foot in a literal or figurative sense). This is a rudder or pedal.
GG “will” = horme. 2x in NT. This is onrush, quick motion forward, attempt, inclination, attempt.
HH “pilot” = euthuno. 2x in NT. From euthus (immediately, upright, straight and not crooked); {perhaps from eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + tithemi (to place, lay, set, establish)}. This is to guide, steer, make a straight direction.
II “directs” = boulomai. This is to wish, desire, intend. Also, to plan with great determination.

5 So also the tongueJJ is a smallKK member,LL yet it boastsMM of great exploits.

Notes on verse 5a

JJ “tongue” = glossa. Root refers to a point that sticks out. This is tongue in a literal sense, but can also refer to language or a nation that speaks a different language. Figuratively, it can also refer to speaking in tongues or speech inspired by the Spirit.
KK “small” = mikros. This is small in reference to a size or the number of something, least or less. Figuratively, it can refer to little dignity.
LL “member” = melos. This is a limb or an organ of the body. So, it is a member of a greater whole. It is used figuratively for the body of Christ.
MM “boasts” = megalaucheo. Related to “greater” in v1. 1x in NT. From megas (see note F above) + aucheo (to boast); {from auche (to boast) or related to auxano (to grow or enlarge, whether literal or figurative)}. This is to boast or speak grandly, to be egotistic.

NNHow greatOO a forestPP is set ablazeQQ by a smallRR fire!SS 

Notes on verse 5b

NN {untranslated} = idou. Same as “look” in v4. See note W above.
OO “how great” = helikos. Same as “small” in v5. See note RR below.
PP “forest” = hule. 1x in NT. Perhaps akin to xulon (things made of wood such as a tree trunk, club, staff, or cross; also timber used as fuel for a fire). This is wood or a forest. It can also imply fuel for a fire.
QQ “set ablaze” = anapto. 2x in NT. From ana (up, back, among, again, anew) + hapto (to touch, handle, kindle, lay hold of). This is to kindle or light.
RR “small” = helikos. Related to “so large” in v4. 3x in NT. See note Y above.
SS “fire” = pur. This is fire, lightning, heat from the sun. Figuratively, it can refer to strife or trials.

And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placedTT among our members as a worldUU of iniquity;VV

Notes on verse 6a

TT “placed” = kathistemi. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + histemi (to make to stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand by, stand still, stand ready, stand firm, be steadfast). This is to appoint, set in order or set in place, constitute, give standing or authority, put in charge, designate.
UU “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is where “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.
VV “iniquity” = adikia. From adikos (unjust, unrighteous, wicked, treacherous); {from a (not, without) + dike (the principle of justice; that which is right in a way that is very clear; a decision or the execution of that decision; originally, this word was for custom or usage; evolved to include the process of law, judicial hearing, execution of sentence, penalty, and even vengeance; more commonly, it refers to what is right); may be from deiknumi (to show, point out, exhibit; figurative for teach, demonstrate, make known)}. This is injustice, unrighteousness, of some other kind of harm or wrong. It is justice in a legal setting or a morally wrong action or character.

it stainsWW the whole body, sets on fireXX the cycleYY of nature,ZZ and is itself set on fire by hell.AAA 

Notes on verse 6b

WW “stains” = spiloo. 2x in NT. From spilos (spot, fault, moral failing, disgrace). This is to stain or defile; figuratively, it can refer to spiritually defile or pollute, a defect or disgrace.
XX “sets on fire” = phlogizo. 2x in NT – both in this passage. From phlox (flame, blaze); from phlego (to burn or flash). This is to burn up, ignite – whether literally with fire or from great passion.
YY “cycle” = trochos. 1x in NT. From trecho (to run, make progress, rush; running like an athlete in a race; figuratively, to work quickly towards a goal in a focused way). This is a wheel as an object that runs in a round circuit. So, it can refer more broadly to a round track or course. Figuratively, it can refer to the course of our lives.
ZZ “nature” = genesis. Related to “become” in v1. 5x in NT. From ginomai (see note A above). This is origin, lineage, birth, genealogy, or life. It can be figurative for nature. This is where the word “genesis” comes from.
AAA “hell” = geenna. 12x in NT. From Hebrew Gehinnom (valley of Hinnom); from gay (valley; a gorge that is not a winter torrent) + Hinnom (most likely of foreign origin, perhaps from the Jebusites). This is Gehenna or hell, referring to a valley outside of Jerusalem and used figuratively for hell.

For every speciesBBB of beastCCC and bird,DDD

Notes on verse 7a

BBB “species” = phusis. 14x in NT. From phuo (to produce, spring up, grow, germinate; perhaps originally meaning puff or blow). This is inherent nature, origin, species, growth, descent, natural disposition, condition. It shares a root with the word “physical.”
CCC “beast” = therion. From the same as thera (hunting, game, a net, trap, destruction); from ther (wild animal – particularly one that is hunted). This is wild animal or any creature. Figuratively, as wild animals are often dangerous, it can refer to a brutal nature.
DDD “bird” = peteinon. 14x in NT. From petomai (to fly). This is something with wings i.e. a bird.

of reptileEEE and sea creature,FFF can be tamedGGG and has been tamed by the humanHHH species, 

Notes on verse 7b

EEE “reptile” = herpeton. 4x in NT. From herpo (to crawl). This is an animal that creeps or crawls. It is often used for snakes, reptiles, small creatures.
FFF “sea creature” = enalios. 1x in NT. From en (in, on, at, by, with) + hals (salt or a body of salt water); {from halas (salt, figurative for prudence)}. This is related to the sea or from the sea. It can be marine generally or a sea creature specifically.
GGG “tamed” = damazo. 4x in NT. This is to tame or subdue.
HHH “human” = anthropinos. Related to {untranslated} in v2. 7x in NT. From anthropos (human, humankind; used for all genders); {probably from aner (see note L above) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is human, in human terms, belonging to humans. It is used to contrast human and vine things.

8 but no oneIII canJJJ tame the tongue—a restlessKKK evil,LLL

Notes on verse 8a

III “one” = anthropos. Related to {untranslated} in v2 & “human” in v7. See note HHH above.
JJJ “can” = dunamai. Related to “able” in v2. See note M above.
KKK “restless” = akatastatos. Related to “placed” in v6. 2x in NT – both in James. From a (not, without) + kathistemi (see note TT above). This is unsettled – almost anarchic.
LLL “evil” = kakos. This is bad, evil, harm, ill. It is evil that is part of someone’s core character – intrinsic, rotted, worthless, depraved, causing harm. It refers to deep inner malice that comes from a rotten character. Can be contrasted with the Greek poneros, which is that which bears pain – a focus on the miseries and pains that come with evil. Also contrasting the Greek sapros, which deals with falling away from a previously embodied virtue.

fullMMM of deadlyNNN poison.OOO 

Notes on verse 8b

MMM “full” = mestos. 9x in NT. This is filled with in a literal or figurative sense.
NNN “deadly” = thanatephoros. 1x in NT. From thanatos (death, whether literal or spiritual; also something fatal); {from thnesko (to die, be dead)} + phero (to bear, bring, lead, make known publicly; to carry in a literal or figurative sense). This is literally bearing death – fatal.
OOO “poison” = ios. 3x in NT. Perhaps from eimi (to go) OR hiemi (to send). This can be rust, venom, or an arrow.

With it we blessPPP the LordQQQ and Father,RRR

Notes on verse 9a

PPP “bless” = eulogeo. Related to “pilot” in v4 & “speaking” in v2. From eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + logos (see note J above). Properly, this is speaking well of – speaking so that the other is benefited. It can mean praise, bless, thank, or call for a blessing. This is where “eulogy” comes from.
QQQ “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
RRR “Father” = Pater. This is father in a literal or figurative sense. Could be elder, senior, ancestor, originator, or patriarch.

and with it we curseSSS thoseTTT who are madeUUU in the likeness of God.VVV 

Notes on verse 9b

SSS “curse” = kataraomai. Related to “guide” in v3. 6x in NT. From katara (curse, accursed; a curse as penalty); {from kata (down, against, throughout, among) + ara (prayer, curse, imprecation; a pray for evil); {probably from airo (see note V above)}}. This is to curse, execrate, doom.
TTT {untranslated} = anthropos. Same as “one” in v8. See note III above.
UUU “made” = ginomai. Same as “become” in v1. See note A above.
VVV “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.

10 From the same mouth come blessingWWW and cursing.XXX My brothers and sisters, this oughtYYY not to beZZZ so. 

Notes on verse 10

WWW “blessing” = eulogia. Related to “pilot” in v4 & “speaking” in v2 & “bless” in v9. 16x in NT. From eulogeo (see note PPP above). This is praise or a blessing. It can also be a consecration. It is where the word “eulogy” comes from.
XXX “cursing” = katara. Related to “guide” in v3 & “curse” in v9. 6x in NT. See note SSS above.
YYY “ought” = chre. 1x in NT. Perhaps from the same as chraomai (to use, make use of, give what is needed, act in a specific way, request) or chrao (to lend). This is proper, necessary, ought.
ZZZ “be” = ginomai. Same as “become” in v1. See note A above.

11 DoesAAAA a springBBBB pour forthCCCC from the same openingDDDD both freshEEEE and brackishFFFF water? 

Notes on verse 11

AAAA {untranslated} = meti. 17x in NT. From me (not, neither, never; rules out conditional statements and their implications) + tis (someone, anyone, anything). This is asking a question when you expect the answer to be no. It is if not, surely no. But it also keeps a small possibility floating – but could it be?
BBBB “spring” = pege. 11x in NT. Perhaps from pegnumi (to fasten, to set up a tent). This is a fount in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be a spring of water, a fountain, or a well. It is also used for a flow of blood. It can mean more generally the source of something: water, blood, fun.
CCCC “pour forth” = bruo. 1x in NT. This is to gush, swell forth, send.
DDDD “opening” = ope. Related to “human” in v7 & {untranslated} in v8. 2x in NT. Probably from optanomai (see note HHH above). This is a hole, crevice, cavern, or spring.
EEEE “fresh” = glukus. 4x in NT – of fresh water in James 3 & a sweet as honey scroll in Revelation 10. This is sweet or fresh. It is where the word “glucose” comes from.
FFFF “brackish” = pikros. Related to “spring” in v11. 2x in NT – “brackish water” in James 3:11 & “bitter envy” in James 3:14. Perhaps from pegnumi (see note BBBB above). This is bitter, sharp, malignant; acrid or pungent in a literal or figurative sense.

12 Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yieldGGGG olives,HHHH or a grapevineIIII figs? No more can saltJJJJ waterKKKK yield fresh.

Notes on verse 12

GGGG “yield” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
HHHH “olives” = elaia. 15x in NT. This is the olive tree or that which it produces. It can also refer to the Mount of Olives.
IIII “grapevine” = ampelos. 9x in NT. Perhaps from the base of amphoteros (both, all); {from amphi (around) + halon (the threshing floor where grain is rolled to separate from the chaff); {from halos (threshing floor); probably from helisso (to roll up, coil, wrap)}}. This is vine or grapevine as that which coils around.
JJJJ “salt” = halukos. Related to “sea creature” in v7. 1x in NT. From hals (see note FFF above). This is salty, bitter, or briny.
KKKK “water” = hudor. Perhaps from huetos (rain); from huo (to rain). This is water literal or figurative. It is one of the roots that “hydrogen” and “hydroelectric” come from.

Image credit: “Sea of Galilee: Boats and Ports” by David Padfield, 2015.

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