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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus
Christ, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings.
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you
encounter various trials, 2
for you know that the testing 3
of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect, so that you
may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, 4
he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be
But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for
the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by
For that person must not suppose that he will
receive anything from the Lord,
since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all
The brother in lowly circumstances 5
should take pride in his high standing,
and the rich one in his lowliness, for he will
pass away "like the flower of the field."
For the sun comes up with its scorching heat
and dries up the grass, its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance
vanishes. So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who perseveres in
temptation, 6 for when he has been proved he will receive
the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.
7 No one experiencing temptation should say,
"I am being tempted by God"; for God is not subject to temptation to
evil, and he himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured
and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and
when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.
8 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers:
all good giving and every perfect gift 9
is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no
alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 10
Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be
quick to hear, 11 slow to speak, slow to wrath,
for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the
righteousness of God.
Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess
and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save
Be doers of the word and not hearers only,
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a
doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror.
He sees himself, then goes off and promptly
forgets what he looked like.
But the one who peers into the perfect law 12
of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts,
such a one shall be blessed in what he does.
13 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not
bridle his tongue 14 but deceives his heart, his religion is
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God
and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows 15 in
their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
1  James, a slave of God and of
the Lord Jesus Christ: a declaration of the writer's authority for instructing
the Christian communities; cf ⇒ Romans 1:1. Regarding
the identity of the author, see Introduction. Dispersion: see Introduction.
2  Consider it all joy . . .
various trials: a frequent teaching of the New Testament derived from the words
and sufferings of Jesus (⇒ Matthew 5:10-12;
⇒ John 10:11; ⇒ Acts
3 [3-8] The sequence of testing,
perseverance, and being perfect and complete indicates the manner of attaining
spiritual maturity and full preparedness for the coming of Christ
(⇒ James 5:7-12; cf ⇒ 1 Peter
1:6-7; ⇒ Romans 5:3-5). These steps require
wisdom (⇒ James 1:5).
4  Wisdom: a gift that God readily
grants to all who ask in faith and that sustains the Christian in times of
trial. It is a kind of knowledge or understanding not accessible to the
unbeliever or those who doubt, which gives the recipient an understanding of
the real importance of events. In this way a Christian can deal with adversity
with great calm and hope (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 2:6-12).
5 [9-11] Throughout his letter (see
⇒ James 2:5; ⇒ 4:10,
⇒ 13-16; ⇒ 5:1-6), the
author reaffirms the teaching of Jesus that worldly prosperity is not
necessarily a sign of God's favor but can even be a hindrance to proper
humility before God (cf ⇒ Luke 6:20-25;
6  Temptation: the Greek word
used here is the same one used for "trials" in
⇒ James 1:2. The crown of life: in ancient Palestine,
crowns or wreaths of flowers were worn at festive occasions as signs of joy and
honor. In the Hellenistic world, wreaths were given as a reward to great
statesmen, soldiers, athletes. Life: here means eternal life. He promised: some
manuscripts read "God" or "the Lord," while the best
witnesses do not specify the subject of "promised."
7 [13-15] It is contrary to what we
know of God for God to be the author of human temptation
(⇒ James 1:13). In the commission of a sinful act,
one is first beguiled by passion (⇒ James 1:14),
then consent is given, which in turn causes the sinful act. When sin permeates
the entire person, it incurs the ultimate penalty of death
(⇒ James 1:15).
8 [16-18] The author here stresses
that God is the source of all good and of good alone, and the evil of
temptation does not come from him.
9  All good giving and every
perfect gift may be a proverb written in hexameter. Father of lights: God is
here called the Father of the heavenly luminaries, i.e., the stars, sun, and
moon that he created (⇒ Genesis 1:14-18). Unlike
orbs moving from nadir to zenith, he never changes or diminishes in brightness.
10  Acceptance of the gospel
message, the word of truth, constitutes new birth (⇒ John
3:5-6) and makes the recipient the firstfruits (i.e., the cultic
offering of the earliest grains, symbolizing the beginning of an abundant
harvest) of a new creation; cf ⇒ 1 Cor 15:20;
⇒ Romans 8:23.
11 [19-25] To be quick to hear the gospel
is to accept it readily and to act in conformity with it, removing from one's
soul whatever is opposed to it, so that it may take root and effect salvation
(⇒ James 1:19-21). To listen to the gospel message
but not practice it is failure to improve oneself (⇒ James
1:22-24). Only conformity of life to the perfect law of true freedom
brings happiness (⇒ James 1:25).
12  Peers into the perfect law:
the image of a person doing this is paralleled to that of hearing God's word.
The perfect law applies the Old Testament description of the Mosaic law to the
gospel of Jesus Christ that brings freedom.
13 [26-27] A practical application of
⇒ James 1:22 is now made.
14  For control of the tongue, see
the note on ⇒ James 3:1-12.
15  In the Old Testament, orphans
and widows are classical examples of the defenseless and oppressed.
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