James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
Ordinary B43


3:13 Who is wiseA and understandingB among you? ShowC by your goodD lifeE

Notes on verse 3:13a

A “wise” = sophos. Related to saphes (clear). This is wise, clever, skilled, learned, cultivated. This is wisdom as expressed through a practical skill or ability as opposed to thoughtfulness, or intelligence.
B “understanding” = epistemon. 1x in NT. From epistamai (to know, stand on, get knowledge face to face or with personal effort,, comprehend, be acquainted); from epihistemi (to stand upon, be present, stand by, be urgent; to attack, confront, appear); {from epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + histemi (to stand, place, set up, establish, stand ready, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is knowing, experienced, understanding, skilled. This is knowledge from sustained personal interaction, an understanding compounded on previous knowing – intelligent.
C “show” = deiknumi. This is to show in a literal or figurative sense so it can be to teach, bring, or point out.
D “good” = kalos. This is good, noble, beautiful, correct, or worthy. This is external signs of goodness like beauty, demonstrations of honorable character, showing moral virtues. A different word, agathos, speaks of intrinsic good.
E “life” = anastrophe. 13x in NT. From anastrepho (to turn back, return, or overturn; can also imply busying oneself and so to remain, dwell, behave, or live somewhere); {from ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + strepho (to turn, change, turn back, be converted; to turn around completely to take the opposite path or a completely different one); {from trope (turning, shifting, a revolution; figuratively, a variation); from trepo (to turn)}. This is behavior, conduct, life, or manner of life. It is behavior drawn from core beliefs.

that your worksF are done with gentlenessG born of wisdom.H 

Notes on verse 3:13b

F “works” = ergon. From ergo (to work, accomplish, do). This is work, task, deed, labor, effort.
G “gentleness” = prautes. 12x in NT. From praus (gentle, meek, which implies humility); related to praios (meek, gentle, kind); related to praotes (mildness kindness, meekness; being temperate – gentle, but strong; implies humility). This is gentleness, mildness, meekness, or humility. It is strength mixed with gentleness.
H “wisdom” = sophia. Related to “wise” in v3:13. From sophos (see note A above). This is skill, wisdom, insight, intelligence, clarity. It is wisdom as applied through a practical skill or shrewdness. It is not thoughtfulness or the mere gaining of intelligence for its own sake. Sophia is wisdom in action for everyday living.

14 But if you have bitterI envyJ and selfish ambitionK in your hearts,L

Notes on verse 3:14a

I “bitter” = pikros. 2x in NT– “brackish water” in James 3:11 & “bitter envy” in James 3:14. Perhaps from pegnumi (to fasten, to set up a tent). This is bitter, sharp, malignant; acrid or pungent in a literal or figurative sense.
J “envy” = zelos. 16x in NT– 6x in a positive sense (zeal for God) & 10x in a negative sense (jealousy/strife). Perhaps from zeo (to boil, be hot, ferment, bubble, boil, or glow; used figuratively for being fervent or earnest). This is eagerness or zeal on the one hand or rivalry and jealousy on the other. The verb is meant to echo the sound of boiling water and so it depicts burning emotion that bubbles over. So, burning anger or burning love.
K “selfish ambition” = eritheia. 7x in NT. From erithos (day-laborer); from eritheuo (work for hire) OR perhaps from the same as erethizo (to provoke, irritate, exasperate; to stir to anger); from eretho (to provoke to anger) or from eris (strife, quarreling, wrangling; figuratively, debate or one who likes to dispute). This is ambition, dispute, selfishness, self-seeking, strife. It is work done for selfish or self-serving motivations. It can imply intrigue or a faction.
L “hearts” = kardia. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.

do not be boastfulM and falseN to the truth.O 

Notes on verse 3:14b

M “boastful” = katakauchaomai. 4x in NT. From kata (down, against, according to, throughout) + kauchaomai (literally holding one’s head high – to boast proudly or to glory, joy, exult, rejoice; can be boasting in a positive or negative sense); {perhaps from auchen (neck) OR from aucheo (to boast) + euchomai (to wish, request, pray to God)}. This is to boast over or exult over, to glory, rejoice, triumph over. It is lifting up or boasting over one thing at the expense of something else in a bad way. It can be false superiority or arrogance.
N “false” = pseudomai. 12x in NT. From pseudo (to lie or falsify). This is to lie or falsify – whether outright or by misleading.
O “truth” = aletheia. From alethes (true, unconcealed; true because it is in concert with fact and reality – attested; literally, what cannot be hidden; truth stands up to test and scrutiny and is undeniable, authentic). {from a (not, without) + lanthano (unnoticed, concealed)}. Truth is literally that which is not or cannot be concealed. This word covers more than the sense of true versus false. It spoke of truth as that which corresponds to reality – reality as opposed to illusion. Thus, it includes, sincerity, straightforwardness, and reality itself.

15 Such wisdom does not come down from above,P but is earthly,Q unspiritual,R devilish.S 

Notes on verse 3:15

P “from above” = anothen. 13x in NT– this is the word used in John 3:3 in the being born “from above”/“again” conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.. From ano (up, above, up to the top, things above, heaven); from ana (up, upwards, again, back, among, anew). This is from above, from the top, again, beginning, from the source. It implies anew.
Q “earthly” = epigeios. 7x in NT. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + ge (earth, land, soil, region, country, the inhabitants of an area). This is earthly or worldly. It can mark the earth in contrast to the sky or the earth in contrast to heaven. It can include all of physical life or describe the moral character of the world.
R “unspiritual” = psuchikos. 6x in NT. From psuche (breath, the breath of life, the self, individual, soul; that which makes a person unique – their identity, will, personality, affections; this isn’t the soul as the immortal part of us, but as our individuality; not life as a general concept, but specific to people); from psucho (to breathe, blow). This is natural, animal, sensitive, having the mind of the world. It relates to physical life and behavior. Pneumatikos is the highest of our natures and phusikos is the lowest of our natures (our animal side). Psuchikos is in between.
S “devilish” = daimonides. 1x in NT. From daimonion (demon, evil spirit, god of another religion, or fallen angel); {from daimon (evil spirit, demon, fallen angel); perhaps from daio (giving out destinies)} + -odes (similar to). This is devilish, demonic, or demon-like. It is being like a demon or being influenced by a demon.

16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorderT and wickednessU of every kind.V 

Notes on verse 3:16

T “disorder” = akatastasia. Related to “understanding” in v3:13. 5x in NT.  From akatastatos (unsettled, unstable); {from a (not, without) + kathistemi (to appoint, set in order or set in place, constitute, give standing or authority, put in charge); {from kata (down, against, according to, throughout) + histemi (see note B above)}}. This is instability, upheaval, confusion, revolution, disturbance. It is almost anarchy. The word came from the political realm and came to be used in discussions of morality. It is something that cannot remain or is not steady – an instability that creates more instability.
U “wickedness” = phaulos. This is bad, worthless, or foul. Figuratively, it can mean wicked or evil.
V “kind” = pragma. 11x in NT. From prasso (to do or practice – something done on an on-going basis or by habit; to accomplish, attend, or commit). This is an action, matter, or business. It is something done on a regular basis that is done in order to get something done.

17 But the wisdom from above is firstW pure,X then peaceable,Y gentle,Z willing to yield,AA

Notes on verse 3:17a

W {untranslated} = men. This is truly, indeed, even, in fact. Often, it is not translated, but used to emphasize affirmation.
X “pure” = hagnos. 8x in NT. Perhaps related to hagios (sacred, holy, set apart, different other; physically pure, morally blameless, or ceremonially set apart). This is holy, sacred, pure ethically, ritually, or ceremonially. It is someone or something prepared for worship, chaste, unadulterated, pure to the core. It is undefiled by sin. Figuratively it can be innocent, modest, perfect.
Y “peaceable” = eirenikos. 2x in NT. From eirene (one, peace, quietness, rest, peace of mind, harmony; a common farewell among Jews (i.e. shalom) as a well-wishing that included a blessing of health and wholeness for the individual; indicates when everything that is essential is joined together properly; peace literally or figuratively; by implication, it is prosperity –not in the sense of excessive wealth, but having enough from day to day); perhaps from eiro (to join, tie together to form a whole). This is peaceful or peaceable. It peace drawing from God’s gift of wholeness in following God’s teachings.
Z “gentle” = epieikes. 5x in NT. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + eoika (to be like); {related to eiko (be like, resemble); perhaps akin to eiko (to be weak, submit, yield, give way)}. This is yielding, gentle, reasonable, moderate, patient, equitable, forbearing.
AA “willing to yield” = eupeithes. 1x in NT. From eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is well-persuaded. It describes someone who is already inclined or willing to do something or agree to something. So, it is one who is compliant or obedient – ready to obey.

fullBB of mercyCC and goodDD fruits,EE without a trace of partialityFF or hypocrisy.GG 

Notes on verse 3:17b

BB “full” = mestos. 9x in NT. This is filled with in a literal or figurative sense.
CC “mercy” = eleos. This is mercy, pity, tender mercy, or compassion, whether from humans or from God. This is mercy, generally understood in action by word or deed. When we sing or say “kyrie eleison” (Lord, have mercy), it is related to this word.
DD “good” = agathos. This is good, a benefit, or a good thing. It is good by its very nature, intrinsically good. A different word, kalos, refers to external signs of goodness.
EE “fruits” = karpos. Perhaps from harpazo (to seize by force, snatch away); from haireo (to choose, take). This is a fruit or vegetable, through sometimes it refers to an animal. Figuratively, it is deeds, results, profits, or gain.
FF “without a trace of partiality” = adiakritos. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + diakrino (to judge, separate, contend, investigate, thoroughly judge); {from dia (through, across to the other side, thoroughly) + 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 properly indistinguishable. So, it means impartial or unambiguous – whole-hearted, unwavering.
GG “hypocrisy” = anupokritos. Related to “without a trace of partiality” in v3:17. 6x in NT. From a (not, without) + hupokrinomai (to answer, pretend, respond as an actor on stage; figuratively, to lie) {from hupo (by, under, about) + krino (see note FF above)} Properly, this is unhypocritical – not phony. It speaks to actions that are sincere and genuine without guile.

18 And a harvestHH of righteousnessII is sownJJ in peaceKK for those who makeLL peace.

Notes on verse 3:18

HH “harvest” = karpos. Same as “fruits” in v3:17. See note EE above.
II “righteousness” = dikaiosune. Related to “show” in v3:13. From dikaios (correct, righteous – implies innocent; this is that which conforms to God’s notion of justice, uprightness); from 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 (see note C above). This is judicial or divine approval of character or action. This is righteousness, justice, justness, divine righteousness.
JJ “is sown” = speiro. Probably from spao (to pull or draw like one draws a sword). This is sowing a seed or scattering. It is sowing in a literal or figurative sense.
KK “peace” = eirene. Related to “peaceable” in v3:17. See note Y above.
LL “make” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.

4:1 Those conflictsMM and disputesNN among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravingsOO that are at warPP within you?QQ 

Notes on verse 4:1

MM “conflicts” = polemos. 18x in NT. From pelomai (to bustle) or from polus (much, many, abundant). This is war, quarrel, strife; battle, whether one time or on-going. It is war in a literal or figurative sense.
NN “disputes” = mache. 4x in NT. From machomai (to fight, strive, dispute, quarrel; to war). This is a fight, strife, quarrel, or controversy.
OO “cravings” = hedone. 5x in NT. From hedomai (to enjoy oneself) OR from handano (to please). This is pleasure, passion – particularly of physical senses. It is generally used in a negative sense – as lust or pleasure for its own sake at the expense of other ends.
PP “are at war” = strateuo. 7x in NT. From stratos (encamped army) OR from stratia (army; used figuratively for large, organized groups like the angels and the hosts of heaven, which is to say the stars); from the same as strateuo (to wage war, fight, serve as a soldier; used figuratively for spiritual warfare); or from the base of stronnuo (to spread, to spread out like a bed). This is to fight a war, be a soldier, doing military service. It can also mean doing spiritual warfare figuratively.
QQ “you” = ho + melos + su. Literally, “your members.” Melos 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.

You wantRR something and do not have it; so you commit murder.SS And you covetTT something and cannotUU obtainVV it;

Notes on verse 4:2a

RR “want” = epithumeo. 16x in NT. From epi (on, upon, fitting) + thumos (passion, wrath; actions emerging from passion or impulse) {from thuo (to rush along, breathe violently, offer sacrifice)}. This is desire, lust, longing for, setting one’s heart on. It is a longing whether good or bad. In either case, passion and yearning is set on the object of desire.
SS “commit murder” = phoneuo. 12x in NT. From phoneus (a murderer); from phonos (killing, murder, or slaughter; one of the crimes that Barabbas and Saul are accused of); from pheno (to slay). This is to kill or murder. It is killing on purpose without justification.
TT “covet” = zeloo. Related to “envy” in v3:14. 12x in NT. From zelos (see note J above). This is being jealous, eager for, burning with zeal, deeply committed, envy.
UU “cannot” = ou + dunamai. Dunamai is to be able, or something that is possible. It can also be empowered or being powerful. The Greek word for “miracle” (dunamis) comes from this root.
VV “obtain” = epitugchano. 5x in NT. From epi (on, upon, against, what is fitting) + tugchano (root means to become ready; to hit, meet, happen, obtain, chance, perhaps; properly, to hit the mark or be spot on; the opposite of the Greek word for sin hamartano, which literally means to miss the mark); {perhaps from tucho (to make ready, bring about). This is to obtain by chancing upon something, to acquire.

so you engage in disputesWW and conflicts.XX You do not have, because you do not ask.YY 

Notes on verse 4:2b

WW “engage in disputes” = machomai. Related to “disputes” in v4:1. 4x in NT. See note NN above.
XX “conflicts” = polemeo. Related to “conflicts” in v4:1. 7x in NT. From polemos (see note MM above). This is to fight, wage war, contend. It can be fighting in a literal or figurative sense.
YY “ask” = aiteo. This is to ask, demand, beg, desire.

You ask and do not receive,ZZ because you ask wrongly,AAA in order to spendBBB what you get on your pleasures.CCC

Notes on verse 4:3

ZZ “receive” = lambano. It 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.
AAA “wrongly” = kakos. 16x in NT. From kakos (bad, evil, harm, ill; evil that is part of someone’s core character – intrinsic, rotted, worthless, depraved, causing harm; 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). This is wrongly, badly, cruelly, with bad motives, misery connected to affliction. It can be physically badly or morally badly, i.e. evilly.
BBB “spend” = dapanao. 5x in NT. From dapane (cost or expense); from dapto (to devour). This is to spend, squander, waste.  It can be used literally for spending money or figuratively for expending energy or using time.
CCC “pleasures” = hedone. Same as “cravings” in v4:1. See note OO above.

SubmitDDD yourselves therefore to God.EEE ResistFFF the devil,GGG and he will fleeHHH from you. 

Notes on verse 4:7

DDD “submit” = hupotasso. From hupo (by, under, about, under one’s authority) + tasso (to arrange, appoint, determine). This is to place under. So it is to subject, submit, obey, or subordinate.
EEE “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
FFF “resist” = anthistemi. Related to “understanding” in v3:13 & “disorder” in v3:16. 14x in NT. From anti (opposite, instead of, against) + histemi (see note B above). This is to stand against, to take an entirely opposite stance, resist, oppose, or withstand. Figuratively, it is publicly holding your ground. It has its roots as a military term for resisting one’s enemy.
GGG “devil” = diabolos. From diaballo (laying a charge against someone, generally with hostility; literally, to thrust through or cast back and forth– used for slandering, accusing, or gossiping; whether or not the sentiment is true, it is spread with negative intention); {from dia (through, across, because of, thoroughly) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, drop)}. This is a properly a slanderer or someone who accuses falsely – criticizing unfairly with the intent to cause harm or damage character. This can also mean backbiter or malicious gossip. Also, the Slanderer, the Devil.
HHH “flee” = pheugo. This is to run away in a literal or figurative sense. It can also be to flee, escape, shun, or vanish.

Draw nearIII to God, and he will draw near to you. CleanseJJJ your hands,KKK you sinners,LLL and purifyMMM your hearts, you double-minded.NNN

Notes on verse 4:8

III “draw near” = eggizo. From eggus (nearby or near in time). This is extremely close by – approaching, at hand, immediately imminent.
JJJ “cleanse” = katharizo. From katharos (clean, clear, pure, unstained; clean in a literal, ritual, or spiritual sense; so, also guiltless, innocent or upright; something that is pure because it has been separated from the negative substance or aspect; spiritually clean because of God’s act of purifying). This is to cleanse, make clean, purify, purge, or declare to be clean. Like its roots, it includes cleansing in a literal, ritual, or spiritual sense. Being pure or purified is not something that is only available to the rare few or the innocent. Anyone can be purified.
KKK “hands” = cheir. This is the hand in a literal sense. Figuratively, the hand is the means a person uses to accomplish things so it can also mean power, means, or instrument.
LLL “sinners” = hamartolos. From hamartano (to miss the mark, do wrong, make a mistake, sin); {from a (not) + meros (a part or share)}. This is sinning, sinful, sinner. It referred to missing the mark or falling short. The term was also used in archery for missing the target.
MMM “purify” = hagnizo. Related to “pure” in v3:17. 7x in NT. From hagnos (see note X above). This is to purify, or sanctify. It is to clean in a ritual, literal, or ethical sense.
NNN “double-minded” = dipsuchos. Related to “unspiritual” in v3:15. 2x in NT – both in James. From dis (twice, utterly, again); {from duo (two, both)} + psuche (see note R above). This is literally having two minds or souls. Figuratively, it is someone who wavers in their opinions or goals.

Image credit: “Good Samaritan” by Ernst Barlach, 1919.

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