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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
IntraText - Text
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1 Where do the wars and where do the conflicts
among you come from? Is it not from your passions 2 that
make war within your members?
You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy
but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you
do not ask.
You ask but do not receive, because you ask
wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Adulterers! 3 Do you not
know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever
wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks
without meaning when it says, "The spirit that he has made to dwell in us
tends toward jealousy"? 4
But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it
says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 5
So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil,
and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your
laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection.
Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will
Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever
speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and
judges the law. 6 If you judge the law, you are not a doer
of the law but a judge.
There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to
save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?
7 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow
we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and
make a profit" -
you have no idea what your life will be like
tomorrow. 8 You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and
Instead you should say, "If the Lord wills
it, 9 we shall live to do this or that."
But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All
such boasting is evil.
So for one who knows the right thing to do and
does not do it, it is a sin. 10
1 [1-12] The concern here is with the
origin of conflicts in the Christian community. These are occasioned by love of
the world, which means enmity with God (4). Further, the conflicts are bound up
with failure to pray properly (cf ⇒ Matthew 7:7-11;
⇒ John 14:13; ⇒ 15:7;
⇒ 16:23), that is, not asking God at all or using
God's kindness only for one's pleasure (⇒ James
4:2-3). In contrast, the proper dispositions are submission to God,
repentance, humility, and resistance to evil (⇒ James
2 [1-3] Passions: the Greek word here
(literally, "pleasures") does not indicate that pleasure is evil.
Rather, as the text points out (⇒ James 4:2-3), it is
the manner in which one deals with needs and desires that determines good or
bad. The motivation for any action can be wrong, especially if one does not
pray properly but seeks only selfish enjoyment (⇒ James
3  Adulterers: a common biblical
image for the covenant between God and his people is the marriage bond. In this
image, breaking the covenant with God is likened to the unfaithfulness of
4  The meaning of this saying is
difficult because the author of Jas cites, probably from memory, a passage that
is not in any extant manuscript of the Bible. Other translations of the text
with a completely different meaning are possible: "The Spirit that he
(God) made to dwell in us yearns (for us) jealously," or, "He (God)
yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us." If this
last translation is correct, the author perhaps had in mind an apocryphal
religious text that echoes the idea that God is zealous for his creatures; cf
⇒ Exodus 20:5; ⇒ Deut
4:24; ⇒ Zechariah 8:2.
5  The point of this whole
argument is that God wants the happiness of all, but that selfishness and pride
can make that impossible. We must work with him in humility
(⇒ James 4:10).
6  Slander of a fellow Christian
does not break just one commandment but makes mockery of the authority of law
in general and therefore of God.
7 [13-17] The uncertainty of life
(⇒ James 4:14), its complete dependence on God, and
the necessity of submitting to God's will (⇒ James
4:15) all help one know and do what is right
(⇒ James 4:17). To disregard this is to live in
pride and arrogance (⇒ James 4:16); failure to do
what is right is a sin (⇒ James 4:17).
8  Some important Greek
manuscripts here have, "You who have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
Why, what is your life?"
9  If the Lord wills it: often in
piety referred to as the "conditio Jacobaea," the condition James
says we should employ to qualify all our plans.
10  It is a sin: those who live
arrogantly, forgetting the contingency of life and our dependence on God
(⇒ James 4:13-16), are guilty of sin.
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