James 1:17: God as the Unchangeable Author of All Good, Part 1

Verse 17: (John 3:27; 1 Cor. 4:7) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Mal. 3:6; Rom. 11:29) with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

[Every, etc., πᾶσα δόσις ἀγαθὴ καὶ πᾶν δώρημα τέλειον, etc.] The verse is in hexameter[1] (Gataker). Evering donation (or, largess [Grotius], or, datum, thing given [Vulgate, Grotius], of which Cicero and Seneca make use in the place of the Greek δόσις [Grotius]: Elsewhere it is δόμα, as in Matthew 7:11;[2] Luke 11:13 [Grotius]) good (truly good [Beza, Grotius], that it might be set over against those gifts of God that are shadowy and passing [Beza]; that is to say, which may make us good, Matthew 7:11 [Grotius]; or, best [Vulgate]: It read ἀρίστη/best, which I completely approve [Beza]) and every gift (δόσις and δώρημα are, either, 1. synonyms; or, 2. to be distinguished: [and that, either, 1.] so that the former is referred to nature, the latter to grace; for δώρημα is what is given graciously: To which also the epithet perfect pertains; for grace perfects nature: Therefore, he teaches that God is the author of all good in us, whether natural, or supernatural, whether it consists in habit, or in act, especially since previously he had spoken concerning sins, to which good actions corresponds: This is an excellent refutation of Pelagius,[3] etc. [Estius]: Or, 2. the former is related to things transitory, the latter to things permanent; the former to things of this life, as in Genesis 45:21; Job 1:21; Philippians 4:15 [Gataker out of Andreas[4]], the latter to things of the nxt life, as in Romans 5:16: See also Luke 11:13; 1 John 3:17: the former is related to that which is given in the journey, the latter to that which is given in the fatherland [Gataker]) perfect (that is, which perfects us [Grotius, similarly Piscator], or leads us to eternal life: Thus we have τελειοῦσθαι, to be made perfect, in Hebrews 2:10;[5] 11:40[6] [Grotius]; whether it pertain to nature, or to grace, or to glory; perfect, I say, because I desire such for you, and I would wish it to be earnestly sought from God [Tirinus]: Or, whole [Beza]: Here it denotes spiritual gifts [Beza, similarly Menochius], not at all feigned, but firm and solid [Beza], by which we are prepared unto all virtue and perfection [Menochius]: Or rather, mature, so that not only the beginning, but also the increase, of grace might be attributed to God [Gataker]) is from above[7] (Pagnine, Beza), or, from the heavenlies (Estius, Piscator), that is, from heaven (Estius, Piscator), as this word is explained in John 3:31[8] (Piscator); and heaven is taken metonymically for God, the inhabitant of heaven (Estius, similarly Piscator), as in Luke 15:21 (Piscator). See John 3:31; 19:11. Thus James 3:15, 17 (Grotius). God is praised as the giver of every good by Dionysius Halicarnassensis[9] in his Roman Antiquities 1:123 (Cappel), and by Philo (Grotius) [with the very words set forth by Grotius]. This is the other reason derived from the contrary effects (Gomar). God, says he, is the author of every good, to whom it is proper and natural to bestow benefits: it is, therefore, absurd for Him to be supposed to be the author of evils (Calvin). It is so unsuitable that God should tempt anyone, that all celestial goods proceed from Him (Menochius).

Every good gift; Greek, giving; and so it may be distinct from gift in the next clause; to show, that whereas men sometimes give good gifts in all evil way, and with an evil mind, God’s giving, as well as gift, is always good; and therefore when we receive any thing of him, we should look not only to the thing itself, but to his bounty and goodness in giving it. Or, it may be rendered as our translators do, gift, and so the word is sometimes used by profane writer’s themselves; and then, though it may be implied, that all good gifts, and of all kinds, of nature and of grace, are from God, yet the apostle’s design in this place being to prove that God is not the author of sin, good gifts may most fairly be understood the best gifts, those of grace, (spiritual blessings, Ephesians 1:3,) such being contrary to sin, and destructive of it, in one of which he instanceth, viz. regeneration, verse 18. And every perfect gift; the highest degree of good gifts, those that perfect us most; to intimate, that all the parts and steps of spiritual life, from the first beginning of grace in regeneration to the consummation of it in glory, are of God. Is from above; i.e. from heaven, John 3:27, 31; and heaven is put for God that dwells there, Luke 15:21.

[Coming down (what comes from God is said to descend, John 1:33 [Grotius]) from the Father (that is, the Creator, as the Father of spirits [Drusius], Hebrews 12:9 [Grotius]: or, originator [Vatablus, Piscator, Estius]: To the Hebrews the originator of a thing is a father, Genesis 4:20, 21 [Grotius, thus Drusius]: Thus the father of Edom,[10] that is, the originator of the race [Drusius]: Thus Romulus[11] is the father of Rome in Plutarch[12] [Beza]) of lights] That is, from God (Drusius, Menochius), so called, either, 1. in the place of most luminous, that is, most glorious, as the God of glory, that is, glorious, Acts 7:2 (Piscator); or, 2. of lights, that is, (by an elegant metaphor) of truth, and of holiness; he is not, therefore, the cause of errors, of vices, of evil temptations, which are of darkness (Gomar): or, 3. of lights, that is, of every kind of light (Gataker); both corporeal (Estius, similarly Menochius), of the sun, moon, etc. (Estius), and spiritual (Estius, Menochius); of those illuminations, which are more rightly called אוּרִים/Urim[13] than those flashes in the breastplate of the High Priest[14] (Grotius); of notions in rational creatures (Piscator, similarly Beza); of revelations and inspirations, by which the minds of men are illuminated (Estius, thus Menochius), and are directed in the midst of the darkness of this life; but especially of good works, which are set over against sins, which are everywhere called darkness, as in John 3:19 and elsewhere, because they have their rise from error and the Devil [the Prince of Darkness] (Estius): or, of lights, that is, of all good things. For light is the cause and symbol of all good (Tirinus). Light is taken for good, as darkness is taken for evil (Gataker out of Illyricus).

[In whose presence, etc., παρ᾽ ᾧ οὐκ ἔνι παραλλαγή, ἢ τροπῆς ἀποσκίασμα] In whose presence is (or, is present [Beza, Piscator, Castalio]: A Syncope[15] [Glassius[16]], in which ἔνι is in the place of ἔνεστι, it is in or present [Beza, Glassius]; not in the place of it may be, but in the place of ἐστι, it is [Beza], from ἔνειμι, to be in or present [Glassius’ “Grammar” 3:3:1:229], as in Aristophanes’[17] Plutus 348, ἔνι κίνδυνος ἐν τῷ πράγματι, there is danger in the doing: For in one Manuscript we read ἐστι, it is[18] [Beza]) not (or, no [Syriac]) shifting (or, change [Vatablus, Castalio, etc.: So that sometimes He might give light, sometimes not give light, as it happens with the sun and the moon, for example, through Eclipses [Menochius]: Or, local shifting, as in the case of the sun, which changes place while it is moved from the East unto the West, and from the Tropic of Cancer unto the Tropic of Capricorn [Tirinus]) or shadow of turning (or, of change [Montanus, Vulgate]) (Erasmus, Illyricus, Beza, Piscator, etc.). As it happens to the sun, on account of the earth interposed between it and us at night, etc. (Menochius). Whence now it is day, or light; now night, or shadow, which is greater or lesser according to the greater or lesser approach or recess of the sun (Tirinus). The sun now appears, now disappears (Beza); now it shines forth, now it is darkend by vapors, clouds, or eclipses (Gataker out of Illyricus). These are all terms of Astronomy. The Sun has παραλλαγὰς, changes of position, or παραλλάξεις/parallaxes, as Plato also says:[19] it is conspicuous in one way at its rising, in another way at noonday, in another way at its setting (Grotius): παράλλαξις of Eclipses in doctrine is diversity of appearance, or an aberration in our sight (Strigelius[20]). Moreover, [the sun] has τροπὰς/turns, annual withdrawals from us, which we call Solstices, the Greeks τροπὰς; Avienus[21] translates it pulses. In proportion to those withdrawals it casts before us other shadows, which is ἀποσκίαζειν, to cast a shadow. Here God is compared to the Sun, and His light is shown to be much more perfect than that [light] of the Sun. God does not rise, nor does het or withdraw, but He is always near to those that call upon Him;[22] He casts these lights without mixture of shadow, Malachi 3:6 (Grotius): His vision does not err, but He accurately foresees all things, what each one does, and with what intention, etc. (Stigelius): He is altogether immutable, as in essence and perfection, so also in position, vision, and operation (Tirinus): His light is able to be obscured and impeded by no obstruction of things, so that it penetrates less whithersoever He wills (Estius): He expands the rays of His beneficence everywhere; He constantly sends forth light, that is, good, never darkness, or shadows, of errors or sins (Tirinus). At one and the same time he indicates that only good things are from God, not evils: because He Himself cannot be turned from good to evil (Estius). Thus he comes to a doubt, that is to say, A man, that clearly previously conducts himself excellently in his entire manner of life, could at the same time slip in some way. But God is not mutable after the likeness of man (Calvin), but is always like Himself (Vatablus); and His will is always the same; and it happens that certain things fall out to us for evil, not by the fault of God, but by our own (Beza).

And cometh down from the Father; the Creator, Author, or First Cause, as Hebrews 12:9; it is spoken after the manner of the Hebrews: see Genesis 4:20, 21. Of lights; God is the author of all perfection, and so of corporeal light; but here we are to understand spiritual light, the light of knowledge, faith, holiness, as opposed to the darkness of ignorance, unbelief, sin; of which he cannot be the author. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning: he here sets forth God as essentially and immutably good, and the Father of lights, by allusion to the sun, the fountain of corporeal light, and makes use of terms borrowed from astronomy. The sun, though it scattereth its beams every where, yet is not without its changes, parallaxes, and diversities of aspects, not only sometimes clear and sometimes eclipsed, but one while in the east, another in the south, then in the west; nor without its turnings in its annual course from tropic to tropic, (to which the Greek word here used seems to allude,) its various accesses and recesses, by reason of which it casts different shadows: but God is always the same, like himself, constant in the emanations of his goodness, without casting any dark shadow of evil, which might infer a change in him.

[1] Hexameter is a metrical line of verse, consisting of six feet.

[2] Matthw 7:11:  “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts (δόματα) unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”  So also Luke 11:13.

[3] Pelagius (c. 354-c. 420/440) was an opponent of Augustine; he denied Augustine’s doctrine of total depravity and the freeness and sovereignty of God’s grace.

[4] Cæsarius of Arles (c. 468-542) was a Gaulish bishop.

[5] Hebrews 2:10:  “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make perfect (τελειῶσαι) through sufferings the captain of their salvation.”

[6] Hebrews 11:40:  “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (τελειωθῶσι).”

[7] Greek:  ἄνωθέν ἐστι.

[8] John 3:31:  “He that cometh from above (ὁ ἄνωθεν ἐρχόμενος) is above all:  he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth:  he that cometh from heaven (ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐρχόμενος) is above all.”

[9] Dionysius Halicarnassensis (c. 60- c. 7 BC) was a Greek historian and rhetorician.

[10] Genesis 36:43.

[11] Romulus and Remus were the mythical founders of Rome.

[12] Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans “Romulus”.

[13] אוּרִים appears to be related to אוּר/flame or אוֹר/light.

[14] See Exodus 28:30.

[15] That is, the loss of one or more sounds from the interior of a word.

[16] Solomon Glassius (1593-1656) was a German Lutheran divine and critic.  He was Professor of Divinity at the University of Jena.  His Philologia Sacra was a groundbreaking work in Biblical Hebrew.

[17] Aristophanes (c. 448-c. 385 BC) was a Greek comic playwright.

[18] Thus Codex Sinaiticus.

[19] Timæus 22d.

[20] Victorinus Strigelius (1524-1569) was a Melanchthonian Lutheran scholar; he served as Professor of Divinity at Jena and Wittenberg.  He was embroiled in controversy over his synergistic soteriology and, later in life, over his acceptance of the Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper.  He wrote Hypomnemata in Omnes Libros Novi Testamenti, the second part of which is entitled Hypomnemata in Omnes Epistolas Pauli et Aliorum Apostolorum et in Apocalypsin.

[21] Avienus was a fourth century Latin author.

[22] Psalm 145:18.

James 1:16: The Source of our Temptation to Sin, Part 4

Verse 16: Do not err, my beloved brethren.

[Do not, etc., μὴ πλανᾶσθε] A manner of speaking, wherein we desire to remove false opinions, which either crept, or are able to creep, into the souls of some. Thus 1 Corinthians 6:9; 15:33; Galatians 6:7; 1 John 3:7 (Grotius). Err not (Beza, Piscator, Estius out of the Syriac, etc.). Do not be seduced into the error (Tirinus), so absurd and impious (Menochius), detestable (Estius), and blasphemous (Gomar), of Simon Magus and his followers[1] (Tirinus), that God is the author of temptations and sins (Tirinus, similarly Estius, Menochius, Pareus, Gomar), or, that the gifts of wisdom and patience, by which ye might overcome temptations, are able to be obtained by your own strength, and ought not to be asked of God (Tirinus). He means this, Think ye not that your zeal is sufficient without prayers, as not a few Jews thoughts. Prayers are needful, indeed unwearied prayers. See Luke 18:1 (Grotius).

Do not err: Viz. in imputing your sins to God, and saying, that when you are tempted you are tempted of him.

[My most beloved brethren] It is a kindly address, which sort is found in James 1:19; 2:5, and elsewhere. Ἀγαπητοί/beloved the Syriac translates חביבא/Havivah/beloved, which in that language is a word very tender (Grotius).

[1] Simon Magus was a Samaritan magician, converted to Christianity by Philip, but discovered by Peter to be a false professor (Acts 8).  Later church historians remember him as the source of all heresies.

James 1:15: The Source of our Temptation to Sin, Part 3

Verse 15: Then (Job 15:35; Ps. 7:14) when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, (Rom. 6:21, 23) bringeth forth death.

[Then when (or, after [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Beza]: For in these degrees of sin the prior is able to be without the latter, so that also in the order of time it is able to precede [Estius]: This gradation is able to be referred, either, 1. to the various moments of times and actions; or, 2. to the order of causes [Cappel[1]]) lust (that is, inborn and perverse, which was treated in the preceding verse, ἐπιθυμία φθορᾶς, the lust of corruption, as in 2 Peter 1:4[2]]) hath conceived (namely, pleasure, as in the preceding verse [Menochius], or, coaxes the consent, but imperfectly; that is, when the soul to some extent dwells upon the pleasure of sin, neglecting to repel it, or to resist it [Estius]; or, after it has enticed the will in such a way that it admits and embraces the offered object [James Cappel]; or, when to titillation, or to the pleasurable enticement of sense, the will concedes, whether by turning from good, or by heading for evil, before it be perpetrated [Pareus]: In conception, there are diverse degrees: 1. admission, when the evil motion is not rejected or repelled, as by Joseph, Genesis 39, and by Christ, Matthew 4: 2. retention in the soul, the contemplation of it, debate concerning it, as in the case of Eve, Genesis 3: See Psalm 66:18; Galatians 4:9; 1 Timothy 5:15: 3. delight or pleasure, whereby one wills if he may; which, if it be sudden, is called προπάθεια, a first motion, if it be impressed, πάθος, something that befalls one or a passion, as in Job 20:3,[3] as when one, although perceiving sweet poison in his mouth, does not spit it out immediately, but retains it with delight, and does not willingly dismiss it: 4. delay, stubborn delight, when one dwells upon a thing, and weighs all the circumstances with delighy, like Eve, Genesis 3, good for food, pleasant to see, useful, etc.: This is the division into joints of the fetus, and, as it were, the formation of all the parts and members in the womb: 5. peregrination, or wandering of heart, when one resumes a matter past, and recalls it into mind, cherishes and seeks the pleasure, Genesis 6:5, with the objects sought from here and there, and repels objections: 6. Consent unto action, a purpose to act, as in 1 Timothy 6:9, if ability and opportunity be present: This is, as it were, the vivification of the fetus: 7: Parturition, not without sorrow until it be brought forth, as in the case of Amnon, 2 Samuel 13; Psalm 7; Proverbs 2: 8. Exertion or effort of bringing to completion, as in Psalm 7; Ezekiel 37; when one seeks means and opportunity, as Saul did in order to kill David: ἐπιχείρημα/undertaking: If there be such pleasure, says he, in contemplation, what if I should acquire it: [Then other degrees follow:] 9. Birth [concerning which soon:] 10: Lactation/enticement through frequency and habit of sinning: 11. In the body robustness of sin, hardness of heart, defense of sin: 12. Glorying concerning sin; which is, as it were, carrying home and leading away: [It was pleasing to exhibit these things out of the Reverend Author somewhat more fully; both, because they best explain this passage and the progress of sin, and, because they are able to be of more than a little use and help to us against the deceitfulness of sin:] Συλλαβεῖν[4] here is to put something in the heart, Acts 5:4: It is a Metaphor from pregnant women, who are said συλλαβεῖν, to conceive, or, ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχειν, to have in the womb, Luke 1:24,[5] 31,[6] 36;[7] 2:21[8] [Gataker]) it bringeth forth (that is, through full and perfect consent [Estius out of Lyra and Aquinas]; or, through the fulfillment of work, when depraved impulse obtains full effect [Gataker]: There is a similar metaphor of conception and birth in Job 15:35; Psalm 7:14; Isaiah 59:4 [Menochius]: Τίκτειν, to bring forth or give birth, is the same thing as κατεργάζεσθαι, to produce, in Romans 7:8[9] [Gataker]: The concupiscence of the harlot is brought in for comparison: There are three degrees of sin here; 1. the choice of the will to meet with the concupiscence; 2. from the meeting conception or impregnation; 3. Birth, when into action, and, as it were, into the light, it is brought forth; but then sin is finished [as it follows]: Therefore, to me ἁμαρτία ἀποτελεσθεῖσα, sin finished, is the same thing as τεχθεῖσα, sin born [Dieu]) sin] Namely, actual sin (Gataker, Beza, Gomar, Calvin, Dieu), whether internal in the disposition and desire; or external in act and disposition, as in 1 Timothy 5:21, 24 (Gataker). Which, not exclusively, but κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, preeminently, is called sin (Gomar). Here evil deeds he calls sin, just as evil doers are specifically called sinners, as in Matthew 9:10, 11. Thus Proverbs 1:10; 23:17; etc. (James Cappel). [The sense:] When the lustful force of the soul contemplated perpetrating an evil, it perpetrated it (Vatablus). Συλλαβοῦσα τίκτει, having conceived, it bringeth forth, וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד, and she conceived and bare. The first offspring of Eve, Cain. A man contemplating earthly things, figured by Adam;[10] and Cupidity cleaving to him, signified by Eve; of himself (that is, with no more sublime Spirit of God intervening) what is he able to produce from himself except one depraved. See Philo and Plotinus[11] (Grotius) [and their words in Grotius].

[But sin, when, etc., ἀποτελεσθεῖσα ἀποκύει, etc.] Finished (or, accomplished [Castalio], or, perfected, or consummated [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Montanus, Vulgate, Piscator, Estius, Tremellius out of the Syriac]: either, 1. through perfected consent [certain interpreters in Estius: when the will embraces something, either what, or in what manner, it ought not [James Cappel]: Or, 2. through an external work of sin [Estius out of Augustine and Lyra and Aquinas, etc., Pareus]: This is a Periphrasis of actual sin [Pareus]: Others: By perfected sin I do not understand any one work perpetrated, but a completed course of sinning, or an impious and wicked life, the wages of which is death[12] [Calvin]) it gives birth to (or, brings forth [Erasmus, Grotius], as the Glossa renders it [Grotius]: bears [Piscator], begets [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagnine]: ἀποκύω, or, ἀποκυέω is a thoroughly Greek term,[13] which occurs in Plutarch,[14] and soon in verse 18[15] [Grotius]: It is the same as τίκτω, to bring forth, or, ἀπαλλάττομαι τοῦ κυήματος, I am deliverd from that which I had conceived, that is, the fetus [Piscator]: This is the same thing as καρποφορῆσαι τῷ θανάτῳ, to bring forth fruit unto death, Romans 7:5, it brings forth, that is, it works, as in Romans 7:13 [Gataker], or, it deserves [Pareus]) death, temporal (Gomar, Pareus); and eternal (Gomar, Pareus, Estius); the wages of sin, Romans 6:23, that is, opposite to that life in James 1:12 (Estius out of Bede). Eve would not have given birth to mortals unless Adam had actually sinned: Neither shall disposition thus condemn us to death, if it miscarry; but only if it give birth to deliberated and evil actions. Not only to die, but also to abide in death, is the punishment of pin, that is, the end of a life not Christian, 1 Corinthians 15:55, 56 (Grotius). You will say, If sin does not beget death before it be consummated, or, as others say, before it come into habit, then sins committed only with the consent of the will are not worthy of death; which Pharisaic doctrine is refuted out of James 3:14; 4:8. Response: It is not said to beget death, because it deserves death, but because it actually leads to death: that which especially causes sin to be finished in work, because through that both scandal is offered to others, and blame is increased; for the sinner, thence made more audacious, with the fear of God once cast aside, repeats the sin, and comes into the habit of sinning, and therefore is more difficult to heal (Estius). In degrees equal [with sin] death proceeds, which in the first degree is enticed, in the second conceived, but in the third it brings forth death, which only in the third degree does it elicit, because only then does death appear evident and, as it were, sensible (Dieu). From this passage, it is gathered that concupiscence and its depraved motions (Estius), for example, titillation of lust, of anger, etc. (Tirinus), is not properly sin, or formally so called (Estius, Tirinus), because they are in the first place first, and undeliberate (Tirinus). But this is easily refuted; 1. it is called sin, Psalm 51:5; 2. because it is the root of all impurity, and is therefore impure itself also. See Job 14:4; Matthew 7:17, 18; James 3:11, etc. (Gataker). 3. Because it is ἀνομία/ lawlessness, 1 John 3:4.[16] Compare Matthew 22:27.[17] 4. The nature and effect of that teaches that it is sin: it is repugnant to the Spirit and Law of God, Romans 7:23, 25; Galatians 5:16, 17 (Gomar). 5. Evils contemplated also corrupt man, Matthew 15:19. See also Acts 8:22; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 11:3 (Gataker). James does not dispute here when it begins to be, or to be regard as, sin in the sight of God; but when emerges, and upon this only does he dwell, so that he might teach that the root of our destruction is in us (Calvin).

Then when lust hath conceived; lust (compared to a harlot) may be said to conceive, when the heart is pleased with the motion, and yields some consent to it. It bringeth forth sin; the birth of sin may be the complete consent of the will to it, or the outward act of it. And sin; actual sin, the fruit and product of original. When it is finished; sin is finished, when it is not only committed, but continued in, as the way and course of a man’s life. Bringeth forth death; not only temporal, but eternal. Or we may thus take the order and progress of sin: the first indeliberate motion of lust, is the temptation or bait, which by its pleasantness enticeth, and by its vehemency draws the heart after it (as the harlot, Proverbs 7:21, with the flattering of her lips forced the young man, telling him of the pleasure he should enjoy, Proverbs 7:14, 16-18, and then he goes after her, Proverbs 7:22;) the heart’s lingering about and being entangled with the delightful motion of lust, is its committing folly with it; when the full consent is joined, lust hath conceived; when the outward act is performed, sin is brought forth; and when sin is finished in a settled course, it brings forth death; which, though every sin do in the merit of it, yet sin only finished doth in the event. Objection. Doth not this imply lust, and its first motions, not to be sin? Answer. No: for, 1. The least motions of it are forbidden, Matthew 5:28; Romans 7:7. 2. It is contrary to the law and Spirit of God, Romans 7:23, 25; Galatians 5:16-17. 3. It is the fountain of impurity, and therefore is itself impure, Job 14:4; Matthew 7:15, 16; James 3:11. 4. Evil thoughts defile a man, Matthew 15:19; Acts 8:22. Objection. How is lust said here to bring forth sin, when, Romans 7:8, sin is said to work lust? Answer. James calls the corrupt principle itself lust, and the actings of it, sin; whereas Paul calls the same principle sin, and the actings of it lust. And so both are true, lust, as a root, brings forth the acts of sin as its fruits; and sin as a root, brings forth actual lusts, as its fruits.

[1] Louis Cappel (1585-1658) was a Huguenot divine of broad and profound learning.  He served as a minister of the gospel and Professor of Hebrew and Theology at Saumur.  Although his expertise in the Hebrew language was beyond question, his denial of the authority of the vowel points and of the absolute integrity of the Hebrew texts was hotly contested.

[2] 2 Peter 1:4:  “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:  that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (ἀποφυγόντες τῆς ἐν κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορᾶς).”

[3] Job 30:31 may be intended:  “My harp also is turned to mourning (πάθος), and my organ into the voice of them that weep.”

[4] James 1:15:  “Then when lust hath conceived (συλλαβοῦσα), it bringeth forth (τίκτει) sin:  and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

[5] Luke 1:24:  “And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived (συνέλαβεν), and hid herself five months, saying…”

[6] Luke 1:31:  “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb (συλλήψῃ ἐν γαστρί), and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.”

[7] Luke 1:36:  “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived (συνειληφυῖα) a son in her old age:  and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”

[8] Luke 2:21:  “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb (πρὸ τοῦ συλληφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ).”

[9] Romans 7:8:  “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought (κατειργάσατο) in me all manner of concupiscence.  For without the law sin was dead.”

[10] Genesis 2:7:  “And the Lord God formed man (אֶת־הָאָדָם) of the dust of the ground (מִן־הָאֲדָמָה), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man (הָאָדָם) became a living soul.”

[11] Plotinus (c. 205-270) was a philosopher in the Platonic tradition.  Porphyry (c. 232-c. 304) studied in Rome under Plotinus.  He endeavored to make the obscure Neoplatonism of Plotinus intelligible to the popular reader.

[12] Romans 6:23.

[13] Ἀποκυέω is from ἀπὸ/from and κύω, or κυέῶ, to be pregnant.

[14] Parallel Lives “Sulla” 37; “Lycurgus” 3.

[15] James 1:18:  “Of his own will begat he (ἀπεκύησεν) us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

[16] 1 John 3:4:  “Whosoever committeth sin doeth also lawlessness (τὴν ἀνομίαν):  for sin is lawlessness (ἡ ἀνομία).”

[17] Matthew 23:28 may be intended:  “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (ἀνομίας).”

James 1:14: The Source of our Temptation to Sin, Part 2

Verse 14: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

[But every man is tempted, etc., πειράζεται, ὑπὸ τῆς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας ἐξελκόμενος καὶ δελεαζόμενος] He is tempted, by his own, or proper, concupiscence (or, cupidity [Beza, Piscator]: מיצר הרע, by the yetzer hara or evil inclination, as the Hebrews say [Grotius]; by the appetitive faculty of man [Tirinus, similarly Pareus], since it has been depraved by the fall [Pareus], and is inclined to sins [Tirinus], whether carnal, or spiritual [Estius]; for this concupiscence is partly in the will, partly and to a greater extent in the sensitive appetite [Tirinus]; and it is the kindling and enticement of sins, left from original sin in man [Estius]: It is here called one’s own cupidity/lust, as in 2 Peter 3:3, so also in Jude 16, 18, which is the lust of the heart, Romans 1:24, or of the flesh, Galatians 5:16, 24; Ephesians 2:3, and worldly, Titus 2:12, and of men, 1 Peter 4:2, of sin, Romans 6:12, of the devil, John 8:44: He here understands original sin innate in all [Gataker]: If by adversities we are led away from God, God is not at fault; but it is rather because we love the good things of this life, and this life itself, more than we ought [Grotius]: When there is an inner motion to evil, in vain does the sinner excuse himself by the external incitement [Calvin]) drawn away[1] (or, enticed [Castalio, Erasmus], while he is enticed [Erasmus], or, while he is excited [Illyricus], while he is drawn out [Zegers], while he is dragged away [Erasmus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator], that is, from the good [Menochius, Pareus]: נוציא, one who is brough out,[2] in such a way that he is led away from the right [Grotius]: Ἐξέλκειν, which is ἀφέλκειν, to draw aside,[3] in Xenophon,[4] who says that lust ἀφέλκειν πρὸς τὰ ἡδέα, draws away to pleasant things;[5] which is ἐφέλκειν, to drag after, in Homer, αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος, for iron itself draws man on[6] [Gataker]) and enticed, or baited[7] (Estius, Vulgate, Castalio, etc.), that is, in such a way that he is drawn on (Grotius), that is, to evils (Grotius, thus Menochius, Pareus), as fish are by bait (Grotius, thus Vorstius). A common similitude. Thus the best Greek Writers say, γαστρὶ and λόγοις δελεάζεσθαι, to be baited by the belly[8] and by words. In the Glossa, δελεάζω is to entice, to draw away, to lure, to allure (Grotius). A Metaphor taken from a harlot, who draws a foolish youth from his parents, or from the right path, and lures him to herself as if by bait (Dieu). It draws away by deception, Ephesians 4:22, and by corrupting the mind, Romans 1:26;[9] it entices through lust, 2 Peter 2:13, 14, 18. See also Luke 8:14; Titus 3:3; James 4:1. This internal corruption is said to be the principal cause of temptation, compared to Satan and his instruments. For those tempt only some, and that only sometimes; these tempt all and always; those tempt from the outside, these are an internal enemy: those are only able to persuade, not to compel; but these prevail, Romans 7:23 (Gataker). There is no mention of Satan, so that he might take the excuse from us, because he is not able to prevail without us (James Cappel). There is here hysterologia:[10] for enticement precedes, drawing away follows (Gomar).

But every man, etc.: He shows the great cause of sin; that lust hath a greater hand in it than either the devil or his instruments, who cannot make us sin without ourselves: they sometimes tempt, and do not prevail; but when lust tempts, it always prevails, either in whole or in part, it being a degree of sin to be our own tempters. Drawn away; either this notes a degree of sin, the heart’s being drawn off from God; or the way whereby lust brings into sin, viz. the impetuousness and violence of its motions in us. Of his own lust; original corruption in its whole latitude, though chiefly with respect to the appetitive faculties. And enticed; either a further degree of sin, enticed by the pleasantness of the object, as represented by our own corruption; or another way of lust’s working in us to sin, viz. by the delightfulness and pleasure of its motions: in the former it works by a kind of force, in this by flattery and deceit.  It is either a metaphor taken from a fish enticed by a bait, and drawn after it, or rather from a harlot drawing a young man out of the right way, and alluring him with the bait of pleasure to commit folly with her.

[1] Ἐξέλκω signifies to draw out.

[2] From יָצָא, to go out.

[3] Both ἐκ and ἀπὸ can indicate motion away from.

[4] Xenophon (c. 427-355 BC) was a mercenary soldier, traveling extensively in the East.  He was also an acquaintance and admirer of Socrates.

[5] Memorabilia 4:5:6.

[6] Odyssey 16:294.

[7] Δελεάζω, to bait, is related to the noun δέλεαρ/bait.

[8] Xenophon’s Memorabilia 2:1:4.

[9] Romans 1:28 may be intended.

[10] That is, an inversion in the normal order of thought.

James 1:13: The Source of our Temptation to Sin, Part 1

Verse 13: Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil (or, evils[1]), neither tempteth he any man…

[No man, etc., μηδεὶς πειραζόμενος—ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ, etc.] He passes here from temptation external (Gomar, Calvin), and of testing (Menochius), to temptation internal (Gomar, Calvin), and of seduction (Menochius). Temptation here is taken as in Matthew 6:13; 26:41. In temptation, three things concur: Affliction, Testing, and Incitement to sin. He treats of the third here (Estius). Let no one, when he is tempted (that is, is solicited to sin [Piscator, thus Drusius, Estius]; when he feels himself to be incited by afflictions to impatience, distrust, or desertion of the faith [Estius]), say, I am tempted by God (Piscator, thus Beza, Estius, etc.). Let no one of you, when he falls into evils, suppose that these are thus directed by God, so that through these anyone of you might be impelled unto sins, πρὸς τὸ τίκτειν ἁμαρτίαν, in order to bring forth sin, as it soon follows,[2] as if God casts before us unavoidable necessities of sinning. Therefore, he says this, lest many, being pressed by evils, should succumb. For this coheres with those things in verses 16 and 17. And here the sense is the same as in 1 Corinthians 10:13. Consequently, God does not send adversities to you so that He might make you worse, but so that He might make you better. Do not lose heart. God will be near to those meaning well. Note also that here ἀπὸ/of/from/by is in the place of παρά/from/by. Tertullian:[3] The Devil tempts; God proves. Hence the Devil is called ὁ πειράζων, the tempter, Matthew 4:3 (Grotius).

Let no man say; neither with his mouth, nor so much as in his heart, blasphemously cast the blame of his sins upon God, to clear himself. When he is tempted; so stirred up to sin as to be drawn to it. I am tempted of God; either solicited by God to sin, or enforced to it.

[For God (is [Montanus, Estius]) not a tempter of evils, ἀπείραστός ἐστι κακῶν] Ἀπείρατος/inexperienced is more common among the Greeks: but that other is not against ἀναλογίαν/analogy. And in the Glossa I find Ἀπείραστος, incapable of being tempted (Grotius). The word here is taken, either, 1. actively, as the Vulgat takes it, unless intentator, not a tempter, is here corruptly read in the place of intentatus, not tempted (Estius). The sense: He tempts no man with evils; He excites no man to act wickedly (Tirinus, similarly Menochius). But thus the same thing is said twice (Laurentius). Neither will you find the Greek word actively (Estius, similarly Laurentius). Or, 2. passively (Estius, Menochius), as others explain it (Estius). He is incapable of being tempted of (or, inexperienced in [Erasmus]) evils (Laurentius, thus Erasmus, Estius). He is not tempted (or, He is not able to be tempted [Erasmus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, etc.) with evils (Syriac, etc.), that is, with sins (Piscator, thus Vorstius, Beza): that is to say, He is not liable to Temptation (Menochius). Neither of Himself, nor by any other thing or person, is He able to be solicited unto evil (Vorstius). There is an Antanaclasis[4] in the word πειράζειν, to tempt, which previously was put in the place of δοκιμάζειν, to test, but here in the place of to solicit to evil (Beza).

For God cannot be tempted with evil; cannot be drawn aside to any thing that is unrighteous, by any motion from within, or impression from without.

[He also tempts no man] That is, unto evil (Piscator, Vorstius). [Others thus render this with the preceding member:] Just as He is not able to be seduced unto vicious actions, so neither does He delight to seduce others. What sort He is, such He desires that men be (Grotius). As He is not able to be tempted to evils, so neither does He tempt anyone (Estius out of Erasmus); that is to say, God is able neither to be induced, nor to induce, to sin. Just as we are wont to say that God is able neither to be deceived, nor to deceive. Therefore the proof of the Apostle is valid. For it is of the same nature, to abe able to be incited, and to incite others, to sin (Estius). Impiously do they make Him the author of sin, who neither Himself has any inclination to sin, nor is wont to tempt others. Objection: God is said both to be tempted, as in Exodus 17:2, 7; Deuteronomy 6:16; etc., and to tempt, Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 8:2; 13:3 (Gataker). Response: Those things are said concerning the temptation of trial, or revealing: but here it is said of the temptation of ensnaring (Gataker, similarly Gomar, Estius), or seduction (Gomar). God tempts, 1. by imposing hard precepts; 2. by afflicting; 3. by loosing Satan’s reins; 4. by removing His gifts and helps; 5. by presenting occasions for sin; 6. also by ordering evil wills, so that, for example, a thief should approach this, rather than that, flock. But God does not tempt either by suggesting, or by urging, etc., sin (Gataker).

Neither tempteth he any man; doth no way seduce or enforce to sin, so as to be justly chargeable as the author of it. Objection. God is said to be tempted, Exodus 17:2, 7; Deuteronomy 6:16; Psalm 78:41; and to tempt, Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 8:2; 13:3. Answer. Both are to be understood of temptations of exploration, or for the discovery of something that was before hidden. Men tempt God, that they may know what he will do; God tempts men, that they (not he, for he knows it already) may know what themselves will do, which then appears, when the temptation draws it out; but neither is to be understood of the temptation here spoken of, viz. of seduction, or drawing into sin. God tempts by giving hard commands, Genesis 22:1; by afflicting, as in Job’s case; by letting loose Satan or other wicked instruments to tempt, 1 Kings 22:22; by withholding his grace and deserting men, 1 Samuel 28:15; by presenting occasions which corruption within improves unto sin, and by ordering and governing the evil wills of men, as that a thief should steal out of this flock rather than that, that Nebuchadnezzar should come against Jerusalem rather than Rabbah, Ezekiel 21:21, 22. But God doth not tempt by commanding, suggesting, soliciting, or persuading to sin.

[1] Greek:  κακῶν.

[2] James 1:15.

[3] Tertullian was a Latin Father of the second century.  He labored as an apologist during times of persecution, and was important in the development of the Trinitarian vocabulary in the Latin-speaking West.

[4] That is, the repetition of a word, but with different senses.

James 1:12: The Reward of Those Found Faithful in Trial

Verse 12: (Job 5:17; Prov. 3:11, 12; Heb. 12:5; Rev. 3:19) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive (1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8; Jam. 2:5; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 2:10) the crown of life, (Matt. 10:22; 19:28, 29; Jam. 2:5) which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

[Blessed (understand, is [Piscator]) the man (not that rich man to whom all things that he desires are reckoned to come, but the man [Estius]) that endureth, etc., ὑπομένει, etc.] As in Matthew 10:22;[1] 24:13; etc. Whence ὑπομονὴ/patience/endurance, Romans 5:3, 4[2] (Gataker). That beareth temptation (Pagnine, Piscator, etc.), or, trial[3] (Beza), that is, affliction (Piscator, Estius, Beza), as in verse 2[4] (Piscator, Estius), whereby a man is proven (Estius), or tested by God (Beza), namely, with the hope and expectation of heavenly reward; not murmuring, nor meditating vengeance, but receiving it from the hand of God, with the approbation of His will (Estius); he does not yield to adverse circumstances, nor succumb, but bravely overcomes them (Menochius). Others: that is tested by adversities. For, that ὑπομένειν, to endure, here is to be taken as in Hebrews 12:7,[5] what follows shows. It appears that the passage in Job 5:17 is in view (Grotius).

Blessed is the man that endureth; holds out against the assaults and impressions of temptations with patience and constancy, James 5:11; Hebrews 12:5, 7. Temptations; afflictions, as James 1:2.

[For when, etc., δόκιμος γενόμενος] Having been made proven (Montanus). Having been found honest (Beza). When he shall be proven (Erasmus, Illyricus, Pagnine, Piscator, Tigurinus, thus Tremellius, Arabic, etc.), that is, when it has been recognized that he is proven (Piscator), honest, approved: Εὐάρεστος καὶ δόκιμος, acceptable and approved, are conjoined in Romans 14:18[6] (Gataker). See Romans 16:10;[7] 1 Corinthians 11:19;[8] 2 Corinthians 10:18;[9] 13:7;[10] 2 Timothy 2:15.[11] When he has been made (that is, has appeared) honest, or constant, טָהוֹר/pure in 2 Chronicles 9:17[12] (Grotius). Thus to be is in the place of to be known to be, John 15:8; 1 Corinthians 9:27, by Metonymy of subject (Piscator).

For when he is tried; approved, and found upon the trial to be sound in the faith: a metaphor taken from metals tried by fire, and found pure.

[He shall receive the crown of life[13]] That is, a crown perpetually green and flourishing, not withering and drooping; of which sort are those from ivy, laurel, etc.: that is, heavenly blessedness (Menochius). Eternal life, like the crown given to victors among the Greeks. Compare 1 Corinthians 9:24. It is a Genitive denoting kind, which sort is found in Romans 4:11[14] (Piscator). The Crown of the Kingdom, as the [Chaldean] Paraphrast has it in Esther 1:11;[15] 2:17;[16] Song of Solomon 5:7.[17] Now, it is called the crown of life, because it is given in that eternal life, Revelation 2:10. This is the mystical sense of that which follows in Job 5:19 (Grotius).

He shall receive the crown of life; so the heavenly glory is called, Revelation 2:10, either because it is not to be had but in eternal life, or because of its duration and not fading away, 1 Peter 5:4.

[Which, etc., ὃν ἐπηγγείλατο, etc.] Which the Lord (not a man, but God, who is faithful, Hebrews 10:23, and able to perform, Romans 4:21: Thus he shows the certainty of the reward: Now, He promised in Matthew 5:10, etc.; 10:22, etc. [Gataker]: See Luke 22:29: For that reason it is called a crown of righteousness, 2 Timothy 4:8: In a manuscript ὁ Κύριος, the Lord, is wanting:[18] Therefore Θεὸς/God is understood, as in Hebrews 13:5 and elsewhere: Neither have the Syriac and the Latin read and received it otherwise here [Grotius]) hath promised to them that love Him (Piscator, Beza, etc.). As in Romans 8:28. But none love Him more, or give greater evidence that they love Him, than those that suffer for Him (Gataker). Now, he says to them that love Him, not, as the consequent may appear, to them that suffer for Him, because he wanted to open the fountain of every good work, namely, the love of God (Estius).

Which the Lord hath promised: this shows on what ground it is to be expected, viz. on the account of the promise, and how sure we may be of it. To them that love him; i.e. all true believers, whose faith, and thereby title to the crown, is evidenced by love, which is the fulfilling of the law. Objection. Why not, promised to them that suffer for Christ, of whom he here speaks? Answer. That is implied, for none have him more, or evidence their love to him more, than they, that suffer for him.

[1] Matthew 10:22:  “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake:  but he that endureth (ὑπομείνας) to the end shall be saved.”  So also Matthew 24:13.

[2] Romans 5:3, 4:  “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:  knowing that tribulation worketh patience (ὑπομονὴν); and patience (ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ), experience; and experience, hope…”

[3] Greek:  πειρασμόν.

[4] James 1:2:  “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (πειρασμοῖς)…”

[5] Hebrews 12:7:  “If ye endure (ὑπομένετε) chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?”

[6] Romans 14:18:  “For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable (εὐάρεστος, or, well-pleasing) to God, and approved (δόκιμος) of men.”

[7] Romans 16:10a:  “Salute Apelles approved (τὸν δόκιμον) in Christ.”

[8] 1 Corinthians 11:19:  “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved (οἱ δόκιμοι) may be made manifest among you.”

[9] 2 Corinthians 10:18:  “For not he that commendeth himself is approved (δόκιμος), but whom the Lord commendeth.”

[10] 2 Corinthians 13:7:  “Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved (δόκιμοι), but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates (ἀδόκιμοι).”

[11] 2 Timothy 2:15:  “Study to shew thyself approved (δόκιμον) unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

[12] 2 Chronicles 9:17:  “Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure (טָהוֹר; δοκίμῳ, in the Septuagint) gold.”

[13] Greek:  λήψεται τὸν στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς.

[14] Romans 4:11a:  “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith (τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῆς πίστεως) which he had yet being uncircumcised…”

[15] Esther 1:11:  “To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal (קדם מלכא), in the Targum), to shew the people and the princes her beauty:  for she was fair to look on.”

[16] Esther 2:17:  “And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown (תגא דמלכותא, in the Targum) upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

[17] Song of Solomon 5:7 in the Targum:  “The Chaldeans which kept the ways, and besieged the city of Jerusalem all around, joined themselves to me; some they slew with the sword, and others they carried into captivity; they took the crown royal (תגא דמלכותא) from off the neck of Zedekiah king of Judah, and carried him away to Ribla, where the people of Babylon, who besieged the city and kept the walls, put out his eyes.”

[18] Thus Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus.

James 1:11: Exhortation to the Poor and to the Rich, Part 3

Verse 11: For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

[It is risen, etc., ἀνέτειλε—σὺν τῷ καύσωνι, καὶ ἐξήρανε] They are ἀόριστοι/aorists in the Present (Grotius, similarly Piscator), or whatever tense (Grotius). Moreover, it is a Hebraism (Grotius, similarly Piscator). For the sun has risen (or, for as it has risen [Beza, Piscator]: For just as when it has risen [Piscator]: It signifies the greatest rapidity in the completion of a thing [Beza]) with heat, the herb dried up (Erasmus, Tigurinus), or, and it dried up the herb (Beza, thus Piscator). The copula has the force of such a connective that is a relative of time (Piscator). The sun is risen and has dried up, in the place of, The sun, when it has risen, dried up. The rising of the Sun is wont to be accompanied by the wind which is called καύσων, burning heat or the east wind, in Jonah 4:8, where זָרַח, to arise, is ἀνατεῖλαι, to cause to rise, in Greek.[1] Now, it belongs to the καύσωνος, burning heat or east wind, ξηραίνειν, to dry up, as you see in Ezekiel 17:10,[2] as also to the Son, Matthew 13:6[3] (Grotius).

With a burning heat; or, the scorching east wind, which in those countries was wont to rise with the sun, Jonah 4:8.

[And (or, whence [Piscator]) the flower thereof fell, ἐξέπεσε] Departed (Grotius out of the Syriac).

[And the beauty, etc., καὶ ἡ εὐπρέπεια τοῦ προσώπου, etc.] And the beauty of the appearance (or, face [Piscator, Estius], that is, form [Menochius], or sight [Menochius, Estius], external: The Hebrews call what comes into view of whatever thing its פָּנִים [Grotius, similarly Estius], face; πρόσωπον in this place, just as in Luke 12:56;[4] 20:21;[5] 2 Corinthians 10:7[6] [Gataker]: Thus the face of heaven, of the earth,[7] etc. [Estius]: or, of the aspect [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Estius], or, of the appearance [Erasmus, Vatablus], or, visible[8] [Pagnine, Beza, Piscator]: Others: and the beautiful appearance [Castalio]: See Matthew 6:29 [Gataker]: The Syriac has here, And the beauty of the sight, that is, that which was beautiful in aspect [Grotius]) of it perished (Montanus, etc.).

[The Rich man in, etc., ἐν ταῖς πορείαις αὐτοῦ μαρανθήσεται] In (or, with [Pagnine, Castalio]) his journeys (or, goings [Beza], departures [Piscator, similarly Grotius], conversation [Tremellius out of the Syriac, Arabic], or, wealth [Castalio], successes [Vatablus], or, abundance [Vatablus, certain interpreters in Beza], that is, resources [Castalio], if you read πορίαις/resources [Vatablus], as certain Codices have it [Estius out of Gagnæus[9]]: But πορείαις/ways is found in nearly all Codices [Estius], indeed in all: But the Greeks do not say πορίαν, but εὐπορίαν/plenty, to which is opposed ἀπορία/straits [Beza]: Or, ways [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Piscator, Estius, Gataker], as it is in verse 8:[10] And in Luke 13:22, πορείαν ποιούμενος, making a journey,[11] which is πορεύομενος/going, Romans 15:25[12] [Gataker]: He understands, [either, 1.] the means and ways by which he exerts himself for riches and honors: There could be an allusion to the extremely difficult journeys undertaken in order to gather riches. Horace’s Epistles 5, The industrious merchant travels to the most remote Indians, etc. [Menochius]: [Or, 2.] habitual pursuits of riches [Vorstius, thus Estius], habitual actions [Vorstius, Estius, Menochius, Piscator], that is, by which a man tends unto a certain end, as if a goal [Piscator]; occupations, recreations [Menochius]: Πορεύεσθαι, to walk, is used of the manner of life, 1 Peter 4:3;[13] 2 Peter 2:10;[14] 3:3; Jude 11,[15] 16,[16] 18[17] [Gataker]) he shall fade away (Montanus, Vulgate, etc.), that is, shall vanish (Estius), shall perish (Menochius), with the riches in which he trusts (Estius); he shall perish eternally, if he trusts, not in the Lord, but in his riches (Gomar, Piscator). Thus Isocrates,[18] νόσος ἐμάρανε, sickness withered.[19] Thus ξηραίνεται, he is dried up or pines away, is used of man, Mark 9:18. Contrariwise, ἀμαράντινα, things unfading, 1 Peter 1:4[20] (Gataker). The Future in the place of the Potential. If for a long time he continues, namely, in living, readily he shall fade away, that is, he shall be left without his riches. He pursues the comparison. For those things which lose their verdure or florid appearance are said μαραίνεσθαι, to fade away. נָבֵל, to wither or fade,[21] in the Hebrew. Thus Philo, speaking concerning earthly goods, says, ὀξεῖαν ἔχει τὴν μεταβολὴν, μαραινόμενα τρόπον τινὰ πρὶν ἀνθῆσαι βεβαίως, they are liable to rapid changes, fading away in a manner before they have time to flourish permanently[22] (Grotius).

So also shall the rich man fade away; either shall is here put for may, the future tense for the potential mood; and then the apostle doth not so much declare what always certainly stall be, as what easily may be, and frequently is, the prosperity of rich men not being always of so short continuance. Or, shall may be taken properly, as we read it; and then his is a general proposition, showing the mutable nature and short continuance of rich men and their riches, whose longest life is but short, and death, when it comes, strips them of their enjoyments: and though this frailty be common to all, yet he speaks of the rich especially, because they are so apt to bear themselves high upon their wealth, and put confidence in it, 1 Timothy 6:17. In his ways; either in his journeyings and travels for his riches, or rather in his counsels, purposes, actions, Psalm 146:4.

[1] Jonah 4:8:  “And it came to pass, when the sun did arise (כִּזְרֹחַ; ἅμα τῷ ἀνατεῖλαι, in the Septuagint), that God prepared a vehement east wind (ר֤וּחַ קָדִים֙ חֲרִישִׁ֔ית; πνεύματι καύσωνος συγκαίοντι, in the Septuagint); and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.”

[2] Ezekiel 17:10:  “Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper? When the east wind (ר֤וּחַ הַקָּדִים֙; ἄνεμον τὸν καύσωνα, in the Septuagint) toucheth it, shall it not utterly wither (תִּיבַ֣שׁ יָבֹ֔שׁ; ξηρανθήσεται, in the Septuagint)? it shall wither (תִּיבָשׁ; ξηρανθήσεται, in the Septuagint) in the furrows where it grew.”

[3] Matthew 13:6:  “And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away (ἐξηράνθη).”

[4] Luke 12:56:  “Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face (τὸ πρόσωπον) of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?”

[5] Luke 20:21:  “And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person (πρόσωπον, or, face) of any, but teachest the way of God truly…”

[6] 2 Corinthians 10:7:  “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance (πρόσωπον)?  If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.”

[7] See, for example, Genesis 2:6; 7:23.

[8] That is, the visible beauty.

[9] Johannes Gagnæus (d. 1549) was a French Roman Catholic theologian, librarian to King Francis I, and Chancellor of the University of Paris, who wrote Brevissima et Facillima in Omnes Divini Pauli Epistolas Scholia, ultra Priores Editiones, ex Antiquissimis Græcorum Authoribus, abundè Locupletata:  itidem in Septem Canonicas Epistolas et Divini Ioannis Apocalypsin, Brevissima Scholia Recens Edita.

[10] James 1:8:  “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways (ὁδοῖς).”

[11] Luke 13:22:  “And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying (πορείαν ποιούμενος) toward Jerusalem.”

[12] Romans 15:25:  “But now I go (πορεύομαι) unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.”

[13] 1 Peter 4:3:  “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked (πεπορευμένους) in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries…”

[14] 2 Peter 2:10a:  “But chiefly them that walk (πορευομένους) after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.”

[15] Jude 11:  “Woe unto them! for they have gone (ἐπορεύθησαν) in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”

[16] Jude 16a:  “These are murmurers, complainers, walking (πορευόμενοι) after their own lusts…”

[17] Jude 18:  “How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk (πορευόμενοι) after their own ungodly lusts.”

[18] Isocrates (436-338 BC) was one of the most influential Greek rhetoricians of his day.

[19] To Demonicus 6.

[20] 1 Peter 1:4:  “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away (ἀμάραντον), reserved in heaven for you,”

[21] For example, Isaiah 40:7:  “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth (נָבֵל):  because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it:  surely the people is grass.”

[22] The Special Laws 1:57:311.

James 1:10: Exhortation to the Poor and to the Rich, Part 2

Verse 10: But the rich, in that he is made low: because (Job 14:2; Ps. 37:2; 90:5, 6; 102:11; 103:15; Is. 40:6; 1 Cor. 7:31; Jam. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:24; 1 John 2:17) as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

[But the rich in, etc., ἐν τῇ ταπεινώσει αὐτοῦ] In the humiliation (or, lowering [Beza], sinking [Piscator], casting down [Erasmus, Vatablus], degradation [Pagnine]) of him (Erasmus, Tigurinus, Vatablus, Piscator), understanding, before men (Vatablus). Here is to be understood, either, 1. let him glory (Bede[1] and a great many in Estius, Piscator, Pareus, Calvin), ἀπὸ τοῦ κοινοῦ, in common with the preceding clause (Beza). [Which they explain variously.] 1. It is irony; that is to say, Let the rich glory, as they are wont to do, but let them know that this glorying is false and vain; their exaltation is actually humiliation and vanity (Lyra, Aquinas and Sà[2] in Laurentius). It is that they should rather grieve and make themselves vile, than glory. Compare James 5:1-3 (certain interpreters in Estius). 2. Let him count himself happy that he, who on account of riches was esteemed great before the inhabitant of the world, now on account of Christ is despised (Erasmus in Estius). Let him glory in this, that he is spoiled of his goods[3] (Menochius). Lest the inane joy of the world carry off the rich, let them become accustomed to glory in the casting down of their carnal excellence (Calvin). 3. Let him not glory in riches, but in the abasing of his soul (Pareus, similarly Gomar); in ταπεινοφροσύνῃ, lowliness of mind,[4] whereby he thinks modestly concerning himself, and does not despise inferiors in comparison with himself (Piscator). The poor are querulous, and prone to desperation; the rich are boastful and lifted up. Therefore, he exhorts each unto the virtues contrary to these vices (Gomar). Or, 2. ταπεινοῦσθω, let him be abased,[5] is to be supplied (Grotius); or, αἰσχυνέσθω, let him be confounded[6] (Estius, Menochius, Œcumenius in Beza). Which, partly from the preceding contrary, just as in 1 Timothy 4:3 [in which place see the things said], and elsewhere (Grotius, thus Estius), partly from the reason following, is sufficiently understood. Let the rich bear a stooping spirit (Grotius), let him make himself ashamed and displease himself (Estius), [either, 1.] considering his own worthlessness, that is, the instability of his own lot (Grotius, similarly Estius); [or, 2.] in the lowering of himself, evidently about to follow shortly (Beza); in humiliation, which is prepared for him, and which he ought certainly to expect. This agrees with what follows. And thus the parts of the Antithesis, to the poor and to the rich, answer to each other (Menochius).

But the rich; viz. brother, he that is in a high, honourable, or plentiful condition in the world. In that he is made low; supply from the former verse, let him rejoice in that he is made low; not as to his outward state, (for he is supposed to be rich still,) but his inward disposition and frame of mind, God having given him a lowly heart in a high condition, and thereby prepared him for the cross, though as yet he be not under it.

[Just as the flower of the grass, etc., ἄνθος χόρτου, etc.] To the Hebrews χόρτος is every herb, עֶשֶׂב, as we said on Genesis 1:11;[7] but ἄνθος is verdure. The same similitude is found in Psalm 37:2;[8] Isaiah 40:6, 7.[9] See also Ecclesiasticus 14:17[10] (Grotius).

Because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away: the reason why the rich brother should be humble in his greatest abundance, viz. because of the uncertainty of his enjoying what at present he possesseth; he is neither secure of his life, nor his wealth; he and his enjoyments pass away, and his pomp vanisheth as easily as the flower of the grass, which fades as soon as it flourisheth.

[1] Bede (c. 672-735), known as the Venerable Bede, was an English monk whose fame rests largely on his ecclesiastical history of England (c. 731).  He wrote many other works, including commentaries on the Pentateuch, Kings, Esdras, Tobias, the Gospels, Acts, and the Catholic Epistles.  His interpretive work is characterized by his commitment to the tradition of the Fathers and by his use of the allegorical method of interpretation.

[2] Emanuel Sà (1530-1596) was a Portuguese Jesuit.  He distinguished himself as a teacher of Philosophy at Coimbra, and was called to Rome as Professor of Divinity.  Pope Paul V assigned him the responsibility of supervising the production of a new edition of the Vulgate.  Darling describes his Notationes in Totam Scripturam Sacram as “brief, but learned and judicious.”  Ibid., 2615.

[3] See Hebrews 10:34.

[4] For example, Philippians 2:3:  “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind (τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ) let each esteem other better than themselves.”

[5] For example, Philippians 4:12:  “I know both how to be abased (ταπεινοῦσθαι), and I know how to abound:  every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

[6] For example, Philippians 1:20:  “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed (αἰσχυνθήσομαι), but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”

[7] Genesis 1:11:  “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed (דֶּ֔שֶׁא עֵ֚שֶׂב מַזְרִ֣יעַ זֶ֔רַע; βοτάνην χόρτου σπεῖρον σπέρμα, in the Septuagint), and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.”

[8] Psalm 37:2:  “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb (וּכְיֶ֥רֶק דֶּ֜֗שֶׁא).”

[9] Isaiah 40:6, 7a:  “The voice said, Cry.  And he said, What shall I cry?  All flesh is grass (חָצִיר; χόρτος, in the Septuagint), and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field (כְּצִ֥יץ הַשָּׂדֶֽה׃; ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου, in the Septuagint):  The grass (חָצִיר; ὁ χόρτος, in the Septuagint) withereth, the flower (צִיץ; τὸ ἄνθος, in the Septuagint) fadeth…”

[10] Ecclesiasticus 14:17:  “All flesh waxeth old as a garment:  for the covenant from the beginning is, Thou shalt die the death.”

James 1:9: Exhortation to the Poor and to the Rich, Part 1

Verse 9: Let the brother of low degree rejoice (or, glory[1]) in that he is exalted…

[Let him glory, etc., καυχάσθω] Let him rejoice, as we have elsewhere explained (Grotius); let him console himself and rouse his soul, much less that he would expostulate with God, and study to exalt himself through evil arts (Beza), or grieve over his plight, and despair (Grotius).

[The lowly brother, ὁ ταπεινὸς] It denotes the external state, not the internall disposition (Piscator, Vorstius). One poor and despised (Piscator, thus Estius, Menochius, Beza, Pareus, Vorstius), one who is of an abject lot. Thus עָנִי in Psalm 82:3;[2] Isaiah 11:4;[3] 14:32;[4] 32:7;[5] etc. See Luke 1:48[6] (Grotius). Ταπεινόφρων, humble-minded, is one thing, ταπεινὸς, one of low degree, another (Beza), which is here in the place of ταπεινωθεὶς, humbled, afflicted, as everywhere affliction is called humiliation, from the effect, as in Psalm 116:6;[7] 119:71[8] (Pareus).

[In, etc., ἐν τῷ ὕψει αὐτοῦ] In his height, or elevation (Estius, Valla,[9] Vatablus, Beza, Piscator), ברוממתי, on account of his elevation (Grotius); not worldly, but spiritual (Laurentius), or before God (Vatablus, thus Zegers); which Christ promised to the man humbling himself, Matthew 23:12 (Menochius); which he certainly expects (Tirinus, thus Menochius), at least in the future age (Tirinus); that is to say, Let him reflect upon the happy state unto which he has come, [either, 1.] in this, that he is a Christian (Estius), on account of the honor placed on him (Grotius), that he is reckoned a Child of God (Grotius, thus Beza, Estius, Piscator, Pareus), John 1:12, an heir of God, Romans 8:17 (Piscator, Pareus), and of heavenly glory (Pareus, similarly Estius), a partaker of Christ (Estius, Calvin), a companion of Angels (Calvin): [or, 2.] in this very thing, that he, having been spoiled for Christ’s sake, is pressed with poverty (Esius, similarly Hammond). This is favored by the connection, both with the preceding, in which are treated benefits of afflictions and joy in them, and with the subsequent Antithesis in verse 10 (Hammond). This is ὀξύμωρον, an oxymoron, because of the appearance of contradiction (Piscator).

Let the brother; i.e. the believer, (for to such he writes,) all believers, or saints, being brethren in Christ, 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Timothy 6:2. Of low degree; the Greek word signifies both lowliness of mind and lowness of condition, (as the Hebrew word doth, to which it answers,) but here is to be understood of the latter, (as Luke 1:48,) but especially of such a low estate as a man is brought into for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s. Rejoice in that he is exalted; either exalted to be a brother, a member of Christ, a child of God, and heir of glory, which is the greatest preferment; or exalted to the honour of suffering for Christ: see Acts 5:41; Romans 5:3.

[1] Greek:  καυχάσθω.

[2] Psalm 82:3:  “Defend the poor and fatherless:  do justice to the afflicted (עָנִי; ταπεινὸν, in the Septuagint) and needy.”

[3] Isaiah 11:4:  “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor (דַּלִּים; ταπεινῷ, in the Septuagint), and reprove with equity for the meek (לְעַנְוֵי; τοὺς ταπεινοὺς, in the Septuagint) of the earth:  and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

[4] Isaiah 14:32:  “What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation?  That the Lord hath founded Zion, and the poor (עֲנִיֵּי; οἱ ταπεινοὶ, in the Septuagint) of his people shall trust in it.”

[5] Isaiah 32:7:  “The instruments also of the churl are evil:  he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor (עֲנָוִים; ταπεινοὺς, in the Septuagint) with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.”

[6] Luke 1:48:  “For he hath regarded the low estate (τὴν ταπείνωσιν) of his handmaiden:  for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”

[7] Psalm 116:6:  “The Lord preserveth the simple:  I was brought low (דַּלּוֹתִי; ἐταπεινώθην, in the Septuagint), and he helped me.”

[8] Psalm 119:71:  “It is good for me that I have been afflicted (עֻנֵּיתִי; ἐταπείνωσάς με, in the Septuagint); that I might learn thy statutes.”

[9] Laurentius Valla (1406-1457) was one of the great Latin scholars of his age.  He was Professor of Eloquence at Parvia, then at Milan.  Later he served as Canon of St. John the Lateran.  He wrote In Novum Testamentum Annotationes and De Collationibus Novi Testamenti.

James 1:7, 8: Believing Prayer for the Wisdom to Rejoice in Affliction, Part 3

Verse 7: For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

[That man] That is, any such (Grotius), who prays not from faith, but wavers in soul (Estius, similarly Pareus, Laurentius).

For let not that man; he that wavers, in opposition to him that asks in faith: all doubting doth not hinder the hearing of prayer, but that which excludes faith, Mark 9:23, 24. Think; vainly conceit, or persuade himself.

[That he shall receive (or, shall obtain [Grotius]) anything] Of those things that he asks (Grotius), not even the least thing, much less wisdom (Laurentius).

[From the Lord] From God (Pareus); or, Christ (Pareus, Grotius), that is, through Christ, who commends our prayers to God (Grotius).

That he shall receive any thing of the Lord; even the least mercy, much less the wisdom mentioned.


Verse 8: (Jam. 4:8) A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

[A man, etc., ἀνὴρ δίψυχος ἀκατάστατος, etc.] A man (that is, inasmuch as whatever man is [Beza, Piscator]: Ὢν/being is understood [Beza]: These Nominatives depend upon the preceding λήψεταί, he shall receive, and they denote the efficient cause [Piscator]) double with respect to soul (or, who, I say, hesitates in his soul [Tremellius out of the Syriac], διστάζων/wavering, who διάνδιχα θυμὸν ἔχει, has a spirit headed in two directions,[1] or to whom δίχα θυμὸς ὀρώρεται, the soul moves itself in two directions, as Homer says[2] [Grotius]: Or, bianimis, in two souls [Estius, Menochius], that is, doubtful, wavering between diverse opinions and desires: He understands here, either, 1. the hypocrite, and every sly and double-dealing man [Menochius], who in his heart and heart he speaks, as in Psalm 12:2[3] [Menochius, thus Beza]; a pretender, who says one thing but thinks another [Beza, thus Pareus]; one praying with the mouth, not with the heart, mocking God and men [Pareus]: Or, 2. who, being uncertain in soul, inclines now this way, not that way, neither does he apply himself that he might be established in the true religion, of which sort at that time were many of the Jews, etc. [Beza]: Or, 3. who with faith upon Christ at the same time adds illicit means so that he might avoid dangers [Hammond]: Or, 4. who have no certainty fixed in the soul, of the sort he might choose or follow, like those in 1 Kings 18:21; Revelation 3:15, 16 [Estius], whose soul is divided, devoted partly to God, partly to the world [Pareus]; partly trusting God, partly distrusting [Vorstius], wavering, and to that extent incapable of patience and perseverance, which virtues require a constant and firm state of soul [Diodati[4]]; ebbing and flowing, now swelling in the confidence of the flesh, now despairing, never having one and the same thing established: The twofold soul here is set over against the simplicity of God: It is the conclusion to the preceding doctrine [Calvin]: The word δίψυχος, double minded, is found in James 4:8,[5] and in the Physiognomy of Adamantius[6] [Grotius]), inconstant (or, and inconstant [Beza, Piscator], and and he is shaken [Tremellius out of the Syriac], he is inconstant [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagnine], that is, in his own petition he is slippery and inconstant, and hence he shall obtain nothing [Estius]: or, wavering [Grotius]: Not only inconstant, restless and turbulent, namely, internally in the his heart and conscience [Pareus]) in all his ways (Montanus, etc.), that is, counsels (Pareus, Dickson[7]), and actions (Grotius, Estius, Pareus, Dickson), which he does not direct unto a definite end; but, as he is carried about by diverse affections, he is diverse in those (Estius), does not know which way he turns himself, divided between two things; see Ecclesiasticus 2:12, etc.[8] (Hammond). No less ready to depart from God, than to remain with Him, he holds nothing to be fixed or firm in the matter of religion (Dickson). It is the manner of the Hebrews to call acts ὁδοὺς/ways. He that vacillates in faith necessarily performs actions various and differing much among themselves. This is that constant changing of purpose, and revolving of a mind never settled, and uncertain life, as Seneca says.[9] He also says elsewhere, A certain whirlwind spins our souls, and catches up those fleeing and heading in the same direction, and carries them now lifted unto heights, now cast down unto the depths.[10] And, We fluctuate, we grasp at one thing after another, we leave the things sought, we return to the things left.[11] And, This diversity is a fault, and a sign of a vacillating mind, and not yet having its own course[12] (Grotius). And, The greatest indication of an ill mind is vacillation[13] (Gataker).

A double minded man; either, 1. A hypocrite, who is said to have a double heart, Psalm 12:2. Or rather, 2. He that is of a doubtful mind, wavering, and fluctuating with contrary motions, sometimes of one mind, sometimes of another; sometimes hoping, sometimes desponding. Is unstable; either unconstant, without any fixedness or consistency of spirit, as ready to depart from God as to cleave to him; or unquiet, troubled, full of inward tumults. In all his ways; by a Hebraism, ways, for counsels, purposes, actions, etc.

[1] Hesiod’s Works and Days 13.

[2] Odyssey 19:524.

[3] Psalm 12:2:  “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour:  with flattering lips and with a double heart (בְּלֵ֖ב וָלֵ֣ב, with a heart and a heart) do they speak.”

[4] Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649) was a Swiss Protestant and delegate to the Synod of Dordt.  He published his Annotationes in Biblia in Italian in 1607, and they were translated into English in 1648.

[5] James 4:8:  “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded (δίψυχοι).”

[6] Physiognomy 2:663.  Adamantius (flourished in the early fifth century) was an Alexandrian physician, born of the Jews, but converted to Christianity.

[7] David Dickson (1583-1662) was a Scottish Presbyterian divine.  Dickson served his church as a minister and Professor of Divinity at Glasgow and at Edinburgh.  He was ejected in 1662, after the Restoration, and he died later that same year.  He co-authored the Sum of Saving Knowledge, and he wrote commentaries on the Psalms, the Gospel of Matthew, the Epistles of Paul, and the Catholic Epistles.

[8] Ecclesiasticus 2:12-15:  “Woe be to fearful hearts, and faint hands, and the sinner that goeth two ways!  Woe unto him that is fainthearted! for he believeth not; therefore shall he not be defended.  Woe unto you that have lost patience! and what will ye do when the Lord shall visit you?  They that fear the Lord will not disobey his Word; and they that love him will keep his ways.”

[9] De Tranquillitate Animi 2.

[10] De Vita Beata 28.

[11] Ad Serenum de Otio 1.

[12] Epistulæ Morales 2:20.

[13] Epistulæ Morales 20:120.