1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.1 Greetings.
Trials, Endurance, Wisdom
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall2 into various kinds of trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance accomplish its perfect work, so that you yourselves may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask it of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 Let not that man suppose he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let All the Saints Glory
9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation; 10 but let the rich man glory in his humiliation, for like a flower of the field he will quickly pass away. 11 For when the sun rises with a scorching heat and withers the plant, its flower falls off and its beauty is brought to an end. Just so shall the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
12 Blessed is the man who bears up under trial, for when he has passed the test3 he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 Rather, each one is tempted when he is lured away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good thing given, and every perfect gift bestowed, is from above, and descends from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow caused by turning. 18 Having willed it long ago, He gave us new birth by the word of truth, that we might be a special kind of first fruits among His creatures.
Listeners and Doers
19 This, my beloved brothers, you understand. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, laying aside all moral filth and residual evil,4 receive with quiet submissiveness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But show yourselves doers of the word, and not mere hearers who have deceived themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man studying his physical face in a mirror: 24 for once he has studied himself and gone his way, he immediately forgets what he looked like!5 25 But he who gazes into the perfect law of liberty, continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work it requires, that man will be blessed in what he does.
26 If anyone thinks he is a God-fearing man,6 yet does not bridle his tongue but instead deceives his own heart, that man’s religion is in vain. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
- Lit. in the Dispersion
- The Greek denotes falling into something so as to be surrounded, engulfed
- Or been approved
- Lit. overflow or residue of evil
- Lit. of what sort he was
- Or religious
The Sin of Personal Favoritism
2 My brothers, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with any sort of personal favoritism. 2 For suppose a man comes into your assembly wearing gold rings and fine apparel, and then a poor man wearing shabby clothes enters as well. 3 If you look upon the man wearing fine apparel and say to him, “Sit here in a good place,” and then say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not made distinctions between yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers: Has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and to be heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you? Are they not the very ones who drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme the fair1 name by which you are called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law by living in accordance with this Scripture—“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”2 —you are doing well; 9 but if you show personal favoritism, you are committing a sin and stand convicted by the Law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole Law, yet stumbles in just one point, is guilty of breaking it all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,”3 also said, “Do not murder.”4 Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law. 12 Therefore, speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment5 will be without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Living Faith Works!
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can such6 “faith” save him? 15 If a brother or sister is lacking proper clothes and daily food, 16 and one of you says to him, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” but you fail to give him the things he needs for his body, what good is that? 17 So also with faith: if it does not have works, it is dead, being all by itself. 18 Moreover, someone may well say to you, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe there is one God,7 and you do well; yet the demons also8 believe that—and shudder! 20 But are you willing to be shown, O man devoid of truth, that “faith” without works is in vain? 21 Was not Abraham our father declared9 to be righteous because of his works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see10 that faith was co-laboring with his works, and that by means of works his faith was perfected? 23 And thus the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”11—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see, then, that a man is declared righteous because of his works, and not because of “faith” alone. 25 And in like manner, was not Rahab the harlot also declared righteous because of her works, when she received the messengers and then sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so too “faith” without works is dead.
- Or noble; lit. good
- Lev. 19:18
- Deut. 5:18
- Deut. 5:17
- Lit. the judgment
- Lit. the faith
- Or that God is one
- Or but even the demons
- Or shown
- Or You see .
Taming the Tongue
3 My brothers, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a mature man, someone who can also bridle his whole body. 3 Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they will obey us, we direct their whole body as well. 4 Consider also the ships: though they are quite large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the helmsman directs it to go. 5 Just so with the tongue: it is a little member of the body, yet it boasts great things! Behold, how great a forest is set ablaze by such a little fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the world of iniquity situated in our very members; it defiles the whole body, sets on fire the entire course1 of human existence,2 and is itself set on fire by hell.3 7 For every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is tamed, and has been tamed, by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless4 evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the likeness of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed both blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both sweet water and bitter? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can salt water5 produce fresh.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good conduct that his deeds are done in the humility and gentleness that come with wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast, and in so doing lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual,6 and demonic. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is also disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield,7 full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
- Lit. wheel
- Or human origin
- Lit. Gehenna, the place of final punishment for the wicked
- Some mss uncontrollable
- Or a salt water spring
- Lit. soulish, unspiritual; i.e. destitute of divine influence
- Or accommodating, reasonable
The Origin and Cure of Strife
4 Where do the quarrels and the fights that occur among you come from? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have, so you murder. And you covet and cannot obtain, so you quarrel and fight.1 You do not have because you do not ask; 3 you ask yet do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, in order to spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulteresses! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world is enmity against God? Therefore, whoever desires to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose when it says, “The spirit that He caused to live within us lusts to the point of envy?”2 6 But He grants an overruling3 grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”4 7 So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be afflicted, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Of Judging and Boasting
11 Brothers, do not speak evil of one another. He who speaks evil of a brother, or judges his brother, speaks evil of the Law and judges the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a doer of the Law, but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver and Judge: He who is able to save and destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, and engage in business and make a profit,” 14 when in fact you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are a mere wisp of smoke that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 Consequently, for him who knows to do the right thing and does not do it, for him it is sin.
- Or You lust and you do not have; you murder and you covet, and you cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight.
- Or God jealously longs for the spirit He made to dwell within us; or the Spirit He caused to dwell within us longs to the point of jealousy
- Lit. greater
- Prov. 3:34
A Final Warning to Rich Oppressors
5 Come now, you rich, weep and howl over the calamities that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corroded and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and their rust will be testify against you, and will devour your flesh like fire: You have stored up your treasures in the last days. 4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields—wages you kept back by fraud—are crying out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. 5 You have lived luxuriously upon the earth, and given yourselves to pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned–yes you have murdered–the righteous man; he does not resist you at all.
The Way of the Saints
7 Therefore be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer expectantly waits for the precious fruit of the earth, showing great patience over it, until it receives both the early and late rains. 8 You too must be patient: Strengthen your hearts and hold them firm,1 for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Brothers, do not grumble against one another, lest you be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right before the doors!2 10 Brothers, for an example of suffering and great patience take the prophets who spoke out in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we count them blessed who bore up under their trials. You have heard of the patience and steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord for his life—that the Lord is merciful and full of compassion. 12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Rather, simply let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No” be “No,” so that you do not fall under judgment.
The Place of Prayer
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises to God. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The Spirit-energized prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours, and he prayed fervently3 that it might not rain; and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land! 18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Rescue the Wanderer
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him realize that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.
- Lit. make your hearts firm
- Or possibly gates
- Lit. prayed with prayer