1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes that 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 fully accomplish its work,3 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 everyone generously and without reproach; and it will be granted 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 Such a man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 for he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let All the Saints Glory
9 Now the brother of humble means should glory in his exaltation, 10 whereas the rich man should glory in his humiliation, for like a flower of the field he soon will 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. So too will 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 test4 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’m being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone. 14 Rather, each person 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 My beloved brothers, don’t be deceived: 17 Every generous act,5 and every completed6 gift is from above, and descends from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.7 18 Having willed it long ago,8 he gave us new birth through the message of truth, so that we might be a kind of first fruits of all his creatures.
Listeners and Doers
19 This, my beloved brothers, you understand.9 But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce10 the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, setting aside all moral filth and every residue of evil,11 receive with quiet submissiveness the implanted word which is able to save your souls. 22 But be12 doers of the word, and not mere hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man gazing in a mirror at the face with which he was born.13 24 For once he has gazed at himself and gone his way, he immediately forgets what he looked like.14 25 But he who gazes into the perfect law of liberty, and 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 religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving his own heart, that man’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
- Lit. in the dispersion
- I.e. falling into something so as to be surrounded, engulfed
- Lit. have its complete (perfect) work
- Or been approved
- Lit. good act of giving
- Or perfect
- Lit. shadow of turning
- Lit. it having been willed
- Or My beloved brothers, understand (this):
- Lit. work
- Lit. overflow of evil
- Or show yourselves, appear as
- Lit. intently looking at the face of his birth in a mirror
- Lit. of what sort he was
The Sin of Personal Favoritism
2 My brothers, show no partiality as you keep faith in1 our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For suppose a man enters your assembly wearing gold rings and fine apparel, but after that a poor man wearing shabby clothes. 3 Now if you look at 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 among yourselves, and so 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 he promised to those who love him? 6 Yet you have dishonored the poor man! Don’t the rich oppress you? Aren’t they the very ones who drag you into the courts? 7 Don’t they blaspheme the fair2 name by which you are called? 8 If you truly fulfill the royal law by living in accordance with this Scripture—“You shall love your neighbor as yourself”3 —you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and stand convicted by the Law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles at just one point has broken the entire code.4 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,”5 also said, “Do not murder.”6 Now if you don’t commit adultery but 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 judgment7 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 has no works? Can such “faith”8 save him? 15 If a brother or sister lacks proper clothing and daily food, 16 and one of you says to him, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you fail to give him the things he needs for his body, what good is that? 17 So too “faith,” if it has no works, is dead, since it exists all by itself. 18 Moreover, someone will say to you, “You have ‘faith’ and I have works.9 Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe there is one God?10 You do well. But the demons also11 believe—and shudder!12
20 Now, are you willing, you foolish man, to be shown that faith without works is of no use at all? 21 Was not Abraham our father said13 to be righteous because of14 his works, when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 Do you see15 that faith was co-laboring with his works, and that by means of works his faith was made complete? 23 And so the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”16 and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see, then, that a man is said to be righteous because of his works, and not because of “faith” alone. 25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also shown to be righteous because of her works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so too “faith” without works is dead.
- Lit. Do not have with partiality the faith of
- Or noble; lit. good
- Lev. 19:18
- Lit. has become guilty of all
- Deut. 5:18
- Deut. 5:17
- Lit. the judgment
- Lit. the faith
- Some interpreters close quotes here
- Or that God is one
- Or but even the demons
- Some interpreters close quotes here
- Or shown
- Lit. from, out of
- Or You see
Taming the Tongue
3 My brothers, not many of you should become teachers, since we who teach will incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. But if anyone never stumbles1 in what he says,2 he is a perfect3 man, able to bridle his whole body as well. 3 Now once we’ve put bits in horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we can direct their whole body. 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 helmsman is inclined to go.4 5 Just so with the tongue: Though it is a little member of the body, it boasts great things! Behold how great a forest is set ablaze by such a little fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a5 world of iniquity situated in our very members: It defiles the whole body, sets on fire the entire course of human life,6 and is itself set on fire by hell.7 7 For every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature can be tamed,8 and has been tamed, by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless9 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 both sweet and bitter water from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can salt water10 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 being done in the humility and gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast, and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, unspiritual,11 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,12 full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and without hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by13 those who make peace.
- Or does not stumble
- Lit. in word
- Or mature
- Lit. wherever the inclination of the helmsman directs
- Lit. the
- Lit. the wheel of birth (life)
- Lit. Gehenna, the place of final punishment for the wicked
- Lit. is (being) tamed
- Some mss uncontrollable
- Or a salt water spring
- Lit. soulish, (merely) natural
- Or accommodating, reasonable
- Or for
The Origin of Strife and Its Cure
4 Where do the quarrels and fights that occur among you come from? Is it not from this: your desires for pleasure, desires that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have, so you commit murder. You also covet and cannot obtain, so you quarrel and fight.1 You don’t have because you don’t ask; 3 you ask and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so you can spend what you receive on your pleasures. 4 Adulteresses! Don’t you see that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? Accordingly, whoever desires to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think the Scripture speaks in vain? He jealously longs for the spirit he caused to live within us; 6 but he gives us all the more grace.2 This is why it says: “God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.”3
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 Grieve, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.
On Judging and Boasting
11 Brothers, do not speak against one another. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother is speaking against the Law and judging the Law. But if you are judging 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. So4 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, 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 wisp of smoke that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, in your arrogance you go on boasting. All such boasting is evil. 17 Consequently, he who knows the right thing to do but fails to do it, for him it is sin.
- Or You lust and do not have; you murder and covet, but cannot obtain; you quarrel and fight
- Or says in vain (that) he . . . within us, but gives us all the more grace?
- Prov. 3:34
- Lit. but, and
A Final Warning to Rich Oppressors
5 Come now, you rich, weep and wail over the calamities1 that are coming upon you! 2 Your riches are corroded and your garments are consumed by moths. 3 Your gold and silver are covered with rust, and their rust will be a witness 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 in luxury on the earth, and have 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, though he doesn’t oppose you at all.
The Way of the Saints
7 Therefore be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. Observe how the farmer waits expectantly for the precious fruit of the earth, patiently watching2 over it until it receives both the early and late rains. 8 You too must be patient. Strengthen and establish your hearts,3 for the coming of the Lord is near.
9 Brothers, don’t grumble against each other, so that you won’t be judged: Look, the Judge is standing at the doors!4 10 Brothers, as an example of suffering and great patience take the prophets who spoke out in the name of the Lord: 11 Behold how we think of them as blessed who endured such hardship! You have heard of the patience and steadfastness of Job, and seen the purpose of the Lord for his life—that the Lord is merciful and full of compassion.
12 But above all, my brothers, never swear: neither by heaven, nor by earth, nor with any other oath. Rather, let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No” be “No,” so that you won’t fall under judgment.
The Place and Power 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. Moreover, if he has committed sins, they5 will be forgiven him. 16 So confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed: The energetic prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature just like ours, and he fervently prayed6 that it would not rain; and for three years and six months the land received no rain! 18 Then he prayed again, and the heavens7 gave rain and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Rescue the Wanderers
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth and someone brings8 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.
- Or miseries
- Lit. showing great patience
- Lit. make your hearts firm
- Or possibly gates
- Lit. it
- Lit. prayed with prayer
- Or heaven; lit. the heaven
- Lit. turns