1 Not many of you
should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know
that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
presume to be teachers.
True teachers will be judge well, but teachers that have
presumed to take the role, will be judged poorly, because they
are not called by God to teach.
The Greek word describes a master at teaching, not a novice.
judged more strictly.
True teachers, nevertheless will be judged more strictly--both
by the world and by God.
We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what
he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in
never at fault in what he says.
Words come from the heart. If a person can "master" his words,
then he or she can master their lives.
Speaks of full age, totally mature. Not necessarily without
keep his whole body in check.
The body follows the heart and mouth. People do not let their
bodies do anything without their consent. What you say to
yourself will constrain or release your body to action.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us,
we can turn the whole animal.
bits... rudder... spark.
In the following three verses, James uses three analogies to
speak of the tongue. They are all small, yet they determine the
direction and course of the objects they control. Your tongue
will determine the direction of your life. What you speak, you
will eventually possess.
we can turn the whole animal.
James is assuming that the reader is headed in the wrong
direction, thus, he describes a horse turning around. We need to
change the words we speak.
Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are
driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder
wherever the pilot wants to go.
driven by strong winds.
Circumstances and the teachings and words of men often steer us
in the wrong direction.
they are steered.
It is not the circumstances of life or the false teachings that
forces you in the wrong direction. You can go against the winds
by using your tongue to speak in the Word of God.
See verse 3
A reference to you, the reader.
wants to go.
You can go where you truly want to go. No true believer wants to
go in the wrong direction.
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes
great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a
tongue is a small part of the body.
Even though the legs are the largest visible part of the body,
it is the tongue that takes the legs where it wants to go. Don't
be fooled by the tongues' smallness.
See verse 3.
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of
the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of
his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
a world of evil.
Although the tongue is the instrument to bring the gospel to
people, it is normally used in the wrong way.
It corrupts the whole person.
The tongue, both of the speaker and hearer, can corrupt their
character, mind and spirit--the whole person. You must be on
guard concerning what you listen to and the words you speak.
sets the whole course of his life.
The course of your life is set by the teachings and words you
receive from others and the words you speak over your life.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea
are being tamed and have been tamed by man,
Description of the dominion of the human race. See Genesis
but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of
no man can tame the tongue.
In your own power, you cannot tame the tongue in the same way
you can tame animals. You need the supernatural power of the
Spirit to give you power over your tongue. Coincidently, when
the Spirit comes to live inside of the believer, the believer's
tongue is able to speak in new languages. See Acts 2:1-4.
Possibly a reference to the venom of snakes, in which their
bite, is their poison. It's possible that we can bite and devour
each other through our words. Gossip and false witness can ruin
another person life.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we
curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.
He shows the forked tongue, something snakes are known for. It
is easy to praise our Lord and Father, but it is harder to
praise men. Yet, they are made in God's image, so James is
saying that to curse men is to curse God's image bearer.
10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers,
this should not be.
same mouth come praise and cursing.
Ironically. It is not two mouths, but the same one.
11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same
In nature, fresh and salty water cannot flow from the same
spring. In the end, if you mix salty with fresh, it becomes
salty. Salty water is not drinkable or good for bathing. In the
end, negative, poisonous, critical, doubtful words will overcome
positive words. Not the other way around. Proof: it is much
easier to remember criticism than it is to remember compliments.
12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear
figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
As much as you want good fruit to be borne in your life, it will
not happened until you get control over your tongue.
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by
his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from
Let him show it by his good life.
No one can argue with a good life. This is the evidence of God's
wisdom in the life of the believer.
deeds done in the humility.
There can be deeds done in pride--done so the person can receive
human approval for what he has done. Your good deeds do not need
the praise of men.
14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your
hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.
Often our sinful heart lays in a harbor, like a ship, not
showing itself to be sinful, until the right moment, when, like
a ship, it leaves the harbor. Then the evil heart with envy and
selfishness is shown forth. The heart is the harbor. Some deny
that bitterness is in their heart, because they have not shown
it, yet. But it is only a matter of time that the ship leaves
harbor, and with it, all the bitter envy and selfish ambition.
The Greek word "envy" was a word in classical Greek that spoke
positively of zeal--a good quality, provided the zeal was in the
right thing. So James uses an adjective, "bitter", to make sure
the reader understood he was referring to envy, not zeal. The
difference, zeal is focused on one's own action, while envy is
focused on other people's actions. It is a sin to envy another
or to be critical of another. Ultimately, you can tell if you
have envy and jealously if you become bitter toward another
person who is succeeding.
15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly,
unspiritual, of the devil.
earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
Three description of worldly wisdom versus God's wisdom.
Earthly speaks of worldliness; it has an appearance of
wisdom. Unspiritual shows clearly that it is not concern
for spiritual well-being, but only natural well-being. Devil
shows ultimately the source of worldly wisdom. See the fall of
Adam and Eve, and you will recognize all three elements which
led to their downfall.
16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find
disorder and every evil practice.
The true cause of disorder in all organizations--family, church,
government, workplace--is envy and selfish ambition. The evil
twins of envy and selfish ambition appear wise. Shouldn't people
want to advance within their organizations? Yes, but hurting
another within the organization, is not the way of advancement.
It is one word in Greek, meaning to contend for your ideas and
ways of doing things. The result is strife within the
disorder and every evil practice.
This is the result of envy and selfish ambition. Disorder occurs
because people, within the organization, believe their ideas are
better than those above them, and they are not content in seeing
their ideas discarded. Envy is a desire to replace another
person above them. You must avoid strife at any cost. You must
humble yourself and accept the position God has given you, and
if God sees fit, He will promote you. No need to undermine order
within the organization.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and
good fruit, impartial and sincere.
wisdom that comes from heaven.
There are two kinds of wisdom; in verse 15 he mentions the bad
kind. Now he describes the good kind of wisdom. Most importantly
it comes from the God Who lives in Heaven.
A reference to something completely clean. Nothing dirty about
They love peace within the organization more than they love
their place in it. They bend over backwards to make sure peace
Means to look at things from another person's perspective. Don't
get caught up only with your perspective.
If your ideas and views are not accepted by the organization,
you learn to submit to authority for the sake of peace. There is
no room for disobedience.
full of mercy.
Even though you might rightfully believe others in the
organization are wrong, you give them mercy. You choose to
This is one of the most difficult qualities to cultivate. You
have to put away your hurt feelings to see things as they really
are, not as you think they are.
In the end, it is possible to pretend to implement the fruits of
heavenly wisdom, but James finishes by telling the reader that
he must truly be sincere in living by God's wisdom.
18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of
We are called to be peacemakers, not peace-keepers. A peace
keeper does not confront injustice, but sweeps injustice under
the carpet to protect themselves. Peacemakers confront injustice
even to their own hurt.