James 4:17: Curing Arrogant Presumption, Part 5

Verse 17:[1] Therefore (Luke 12:47; John 9:41; 15:22; Rom. 1:20, 21, 32; 2:17, 18, 23) to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

[Therefore, to the one knowing to do good (that is, a good to be done by him: For he speaks of a good practical and owed [Estius]), and not doing, it is sin to him] The αὐτῷ, to him, is redundant here, because εἰδότι, to the one knowing, preceded[2] (Piscator). It is spoken comparatively, as in John 9:41. The sense is the same as in Luke 12:47. See what things were said by us in both places, and set those things over against those that think that a man always and necessarily wills according to the rule of that which is in his intellect: which I think to be refuted sufficiently by everyone’s internal experience. The Syriac reads εἰδότι οὖν τὸ καλὸν, to the one knowing the good, without ποιεῖν, to do, not incorrectly. Thus Lacon concerning the Athenians, They know what would be right, but they are not willing to do it (Grotius). Seneca, Epistle 95, After the learned have come forth, the good are wanting (Gataker). He uses sin emphatically, as in John 15:22 (Estius), whether κατ᾽ ἐξοχὴν, par excellence, or by Synecdoche, for scandal (Gomar), or for sin more grievous or greater: in other respects, also the ignorant sin, etc. (Estius). Whoever, having been admonished, sins, his sin is רָמָה/high, ὑπερηφανία/arrogance, Numbers 15:30[3] (Grotius). Now, this sentence is referred, either 1. to what immediately precedes. They were able to say, We know that without the nod of God we can do nothing, and this we presuppose in all things. But, says he, it is not enough to know this, unless ye apply it in deed, and thus speak habitually at the opportune time (Estius). James intends this: Ye have been admonished by me: ye are not able to plead ignorance. If ye should say any such thing after this, the fault shall be the greater (Grotius). Or, 2. which is more probable, to all the admonitions of this and the preceding chapter, which he concludes with this epiphonema;[4] that is to say, I have now sufficiently admonished you concerning all these things (Estius); they are well known to you (Menochius). So then, if ye fail to obey (Estius), and to take pains (Menochius), it shall be a matter of great guilt to you, since ignorance will not excuse you (Menochius, similarly Estius).

Therefore, etc.: Either this may relate to all that the apostle had been before speaking of; q.d. I have admonished you of your duty, and now ye know what ye are to do, and therefore if you do it not it will be your sin: or, it may refer to what he was immediately before discoursing of, and may be spoken to prevent an objection. They might say, he taught them no more than what they knew already; and that they acknowledged God’s providence in all things. To this he replies, that if they knew their duty, they ought to practise it, and so actually submit themselves and their affairs to the conduct of that providence; and their not doing it, now that they knew it, would the rather be their sin. To him it is sin; i.e. sin indeed, or (as we say) sin with a witness; a greater sin, and which hath more of the nature of sin in it, or is more highly aggravated, by being against knowledge, and so is punishable with severer vengeance, than if done out of ignorance, Luke 12:47. See the like expression, John 9:41; John 15:22, 24.

[1] Greek: εἰδότι οὖν καλὸν ποιεῖν καὶ μὴ ποιοῦντι, ἁμαρτία αὐτῷ ἐστίν.

[2] James 4:17:  “Therefore to him that knoweth (εἰδότι) to do good, and doeth it not, to him (αὐτῷ) it is sin.”

[3] Numbers 15:30:  “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously (בְּיָ֣ד רָמָ֗ה, with a high hand; ἐν χειρὶ ὑπερηφανίας, with a hand of arrogance, in the Septuagint), whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.”

[4] That is, a succinct summary.

James 4:16: Curing Arrogant Presumption, Part 4

Verse 16:[1] But now ye rejoice in your boastings: (1 Cor. 5:6) all such rejoicing is evil.

[But now ye exult (or, glory [Montanus, Beza, etc.) in, etc., ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονείαις ὑμῶν] In (or, concerning [Illyricus, Piscator]) your boastings (Beza, etc.), or, prides (Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus), that is, in the riches which make men proud (Menochius): or, impertinences (Castalio), conceits (Arabic, thus Pagnine, Piscator). Ye please yourselves in those boastings concerning the future (Grotius). In these things, which ye arrogantly do and say (Estius); which ye boast that ye are going to do (Menochius), just as if ye were immortal, and certain concerning future things (Estius). Concerning this word, see Romans 1:30[2] (Beza, Gataker); 2 Timothy 3:2[3] (Gataker). Αὐθάδεια is insolence, or a proud opinion of oneself, Titus 1:7;[4] but ἀλαζόνεια is haughty speech, by which a man ascribes to himself more than what is just, excessively extolls his abilities, as if he were not dependent upon God. Thus it is used in Proverbs 27:1, Boast not thyself of tomorrow, that is, that tomorrow thou art going to do this or that (Hammond). This objection comes to mind: What if we omit that formula? It is not of much importance. Response: I would not find fault with that, if ye had this in your mind (Gataker), always bearing in mind the thought of the divine providence and your own mortality (Estius on verse 15). But it shows that ye are far otherwise inclined, that ye are so impenitent with respect to your presumption, and your absolute and peremptory decrees, that ye glory over them. For examples of this glorying, see 1 Kings 21:1, 2; Isaiah 47:7, 8; Daniel 3:15 (Gataker).

But now ye rejoice, or, glory; ye please yourselves with them. In your boastings; viz. of your carnal projects, and hopes of what you intend to do, and expect to get: q.d. You vainly boast of your designs and successes, without taking notice of God’s providence, under the government of which you and your affairs all are. All such rejoicing is evil; both as being contrary to the word, which assures us so often that it is vain to promise ourselves long life, or prosperity in our worldly business, without God’s leave and blessing, Psalm 127:1; Proverbs 16:9, 33; and likewise as proceeding from pride and security.

[1] Greek: νῦν δὲ καυχᾶσθε ἐν ταῖς ἀλαζονείαις ὑμῶν· πᾶσα καύχησις τοιαύτη πονηρά ἐστιν.

[2] Romans 1:30:  “Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters (ἀλαζόνας), inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents…”

[3] 2 Timothy 3:2:  “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters (ἀλαζόνες), proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…”

[4] Titus 1:7:  “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled (αὐθάδη), not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre…”

James 4:15: Curing Arrogant Presumption, Part 3

Verse 15:[1] For that ye ought to say, (Acts 18:21; 1 Cor. 4:19; 16:7; Heb. 6:3) If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

[Instead, etc., ἀντὶ τοῦ λέγειν ἡμᾶς—ζήσωμεν, καὶ ποιήσομεν] The Latin and the Syriac more correctly omit the καὶ/and, although this is often redundant, or is exegetical, and taken for then (Grotius). Instead of this (or, in its place [Erasmus, Estius]) which ye ought to say (or, while it was rather to be said by you [Erasmus, Zegers, Estius]: For he corrects the previously reprehended speech [Estius]), If the Lord will (here he understands His will decretive, or of hidden purpose, not directive; for it is not lawful for us to determine or to establish beforehand anything among ourselves, and then to ask whether it be lawful: For ye have done what ye have resolved to do [Gataker]: With this said, we profess all our actions to be governed by the will and providence of God [Estius, similarly Gataker]) and we live (there is, therefore, a twofold condition here, and both are required conjointly: This latter condition admonishes us concerning our mortality, which is such that we are altogether uncertain concerning the future [Estius]), we shall do (here the καὶ/and is redundant, after the manner of the Hebrews, serving only to tie the consequent to the hypothetical proposition [Piscator]) this or that (Beza, Piscator). Of what is prescribed here we have examples, Acts 18:21; 1 Corinthians 4:19 (Grotius). Thus Romans 1:10; Philippians 2:19, 23, 24; Hebrews 6:3 (Gataker), and in Ben Syra. Never, says he, let a man say that he is going to do anything, except he first say, If the Lord will.[2] And, in Plato, to Alcibiades saying, Ἀλλὰ πῶς χρὴ λέγειν; but what should I have said? Socrates responds, Ὅτι ἐὰν Θεὸς ἐθέλῃ, if God will[3] (Grotius). And in Homer’s Iliad β´:28, Αἴκε Θεοὶ γ᾽ ἐθελῶσιν, etc., if the gods will, etc. And in Cicero’s On Duties[4] 1, if the Gods will, with the Gods willing. Solimannus ordered the prince to be decapitated, because, when he had promised to remove from the scene the son confounding the royal state, he had not added, if God will. Christians out to make use of holy and religious forms of speech (Gataker). Nevertheless, it is not always necessary thus to speak (Gataker, thus Estius); for those pious men do not speak in this manner, Genesis 35:3; 45:28; Romans 15:28; neither is it always to be repeated in petitions, If thou will; but the virtual intention is sufficient (Gataker). Yet sometimes this condition is to be expressed verbally, as opportunity might allow, for the sake of piety and modesty (Estius).

For that ye ought to say: it is the real acknowledgment of God’s providence, and the dependence of all our affairs upon him, which is here required; and this is to be done, either expressly with the mouth in such like forms of speech as this is, so far as is needful for our glorifying God, and distinguishing ourselves from those that are profane, as hath been customary with the saints in Scripture, Acts 18:21; Romans 1:10, and other places, but always inwardly, and in the heart. If the Lord will; i.e. with his providential or directive will, which as yet we do not know, and therefore we say: If the Lord will: for all our counsels and determinations must be regulated by his preceptive or directive will, which we do know; and therefore, with respect to that will, we are not to say: We will do this, or that, if God will, i.e. commands it, but we must first see that it be commanded, and then resolve to do it if God will, that is, if in his providence he shall permit us. If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that; some read the words: If the Lord will, and we shall live, we will do this, or that; and then the latter copulative and is redundant, and the sense is, that all our actions depend not only upon our living, but upon God’s willing; God may permit us to live, and yet not permit us to do this or that. But if we take the words according to our reading: If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that, the meaning is, that both our life and actions depend upon the will of God, nor the one, nor the other, is in our power. And so here is a double check to the vain boasts of those that were so peremptory in their resolutions, without considering the frailty of their own lives, or the dependence of their actions upon God’s will, when both the one and the other are at his disposal.

[1] Greek: ἀντὶ τοῦ λέγειν ὑμᾶς, Ἐὰν ὁ Κύριος θελήσῃ, καὶ ζήσομεν, καὶ ποιήσομεν τοῦτο ἢ ἐκεῖνο.

[2] Sentence 11.

[3] Plato’s Alcibiades.

[4] De Officiis.

James 4:14: Curing Arrogant Presumption, Part 2

Verse 14:[1] Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? (Job 7:7; Ps. 102:3; Jam. 1:10; 1 Pet. 1:24; 1 John 2:17) It is even (or, for it is[2]) a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

[Ye know not what, etc., τὸ τῆς αὔριον] That of tomorrow (Montanus). It is an elliptical expression, in the place of τὸ ἐκβὰν τῆς αὔριον ἡμέρας, the outcome of the next day (Piscator, similarly Grotius). What is going to be tomorrow, or the following day (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Drusius, etc.). What is going to happen tomorrow (Grotius). It is taken from Proverbs 27:1. Similar things are found in Favorinus,[3] Horace,[4] and Seneca[5] (Grotius) [whose words see in Grotius]. Ye boast, says he, concerning years, in whose power is not a single year. Τὸ δ᾽ αὔριον τις οἶδεν, does anyone know what belongs to tomorrow: Anacreon.[6] Nothing is promised concerning the present day. I have granted too great a space: nothing is promised concerning this hour: Seneca to Martia. Avoid asking what is going to be tomorrow: Horace[7] (Gataker).

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow; whether ye yourselves shall continue till then, or what else shall then be, or not be. In vain do ye boast of whole years, when ye cannot command the events of one day.

[For what (or, what sort [Dieu out of the Syriac], or, of what condition [Piscator, Estius], of what sort [Estius]) is your life?] That is to say, To what shall I compare it? as in Matthew 11:16; Mark 4:30; or, It is the question of one expressing contempt, as in 1 Samuel 25:10; Psalm 144:3, 4: τί δ᾽ ἀνὴρ, what is a man?: Pindar[8] (Gataker). How unsteady a thing, says he, is this our life (Grotius, similarly Piscator). I rightly say that ye know not what is going to happen to you tomorrow, since life itself, which is the foundation of all human actions, is uncertain to you (Estius).

[A vapor, etc., ἀτμὶς γάρ ἐστιν, etc.] In some codices it is ἔσται, it shall be, but it is more correctly ἐστιν, it is,[9] as the Syriac, Arabic, and Latin read it (Grotius). For a vapor (that is, a vapor, as it were [Piscator, similarly Grotius]: or, smoke: Ἀτμὶς in the place of smoke, Leviticus 16:13;[10] Ezekiel 8:11;[11] Ecclesiasticus 22:24;[12] 24:15[13] [Grotius]) it is, for a little time appearing, and then disappearing (Beza), or, vanishing (Erasmus, thus Vatablus, Piscator, Dieu out of the Syriac and Arabic). Ἀτμὶς is a certain thin draught, and a most fine vapor (Menochius); or a slight, fine, and airy substance, drawn by the heat of the sun from the earth or water, lifted on high, endued with various forms, for example, of cloud, storm, comet, etc., cast this way and that (Gataker); which is most readily dissipated and vanishes away (Menochius, Gataker), Job 7:9; 24:24, and descends to the earth from which it arose. Such is our life, and it is fragile, brief, uncertain, and subject to a thousand accidents (Gataker). A vapor or fume appears for a short time, then it disappears. So also human life is compared to a Shadow, Job 8:9; Psalm 102:11; 144:4, and in Sophocles;[14] to a Shadow of smoke in Æschylus (Grotius): and also to a Bubble, to a Flower, to Wind, etc. (Gataker). Now, this verse is to be enclosed in parentheses (Grotius, Zegers on verse 15).

For what is your life? This question implies contempt, as 1 Samuel 25:10; Psalm 144:3, 4. It is even a vapour; like a vapour, frail, uncertain, and of short continuance; and then how vain are those counsels and purposes that are built upon no more sure a foundation than your own lives.

[1] Greek: οἵτινες οὐκ ἐπίστασθε τὸ τῆς αὔριον. ποία γὰρ ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν; ἀτμὶς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ πρὸς ὀλίγον φαινομένη, ἔπειτα δὲ ἀφανιζομένη.

[2] Greek: γάρ ἐστιν.

[3] Favorinus of Arelate (c. 80-c. 160) was a Roman philosopher and sophist.  He was on familiar terms with some of the most eminent men of his age, including the Emperor Hadrian.  His works survive only in fragments.

[4] Carmina 1:19:3.

[5] Thyestes 3:619.

[6] Anacreon (570-488 BC) was a Greek poet.

[7] Odes 1:9.

[8] Pythian 8:95.  Pindar (522 BC-443 BC) was a lyric poet of Greece, esteemed by some to be the greatest.

[9] The Byzantine tradition is divided over this reading.

[10] Leviticus 16:13:  “And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud (עֲנַן; ἡ ἀτμὶς, in the Septuagint) of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not…”

[11] Ezekiel 8:11:  “And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense (וַעֲתַ֥ר עֲנַֽן־הַקְּטֹ֖רֶת; καὶ ἡ ἀτμὶς τοῦ θυμιάματος, in the Septuagint) went up.”

[12] Ecclesiasticus 22:24:  “As the vapour and smoke of a furnace (ἀτμὶς καμίνου καὶ καπνός) goeth before the fire; so reviling before blood.”

[13] Ecclesiasticus 24:15:  “I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aspalathus, and I yielded a pleasant odour like the best myrrh, as galbanum, and onyx, and sweet storax, and as the fume (ἀτμὶς) of frankincense in the tabernacle.”

[14] Ajax 1:13.

James 4:13: Curing Arrogant Presumption, Part 1

Verse 13:[1] (Prov. 27:1; Luke 12:18, etc.) Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain…

[Behold, ἄγε] Go thou (Beza, Piscator). Go ye (Zegers). As in James 5:1[2] (Schmidt, Grotius). It is an adverb of Exhortation and Address; it is the same as φέρε, come, go to, now. Sometimes it is spoken to one (Schmidt), sometimes to many (Schmidt, similarly Beza), as in the works of proper Greek and Latin Writers (Beza). Thus Homer, Ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε μίμνετε πάντες, but come, stand ye all fast; Xenophon, Ἄγε δὴ ἀκούσατε, come now, hearken ye (Grotius). It is a note merely of transition (Rabbi Salomon[3] in Gataker, Menochius), beginning a new speech; that is to say, Come now, see your prudence, how small it is (Menochius). It means as much as it does in the writings of the Prophets (Grotius), Now I unto you, namely, direct my speech (Grotius, thus Rabbi Salomon). Thus both Xenophon and Plutarch make use of it (Grotius). To others it is a particle of one commanding inferiors, or, of admonishing and rousing dull and obstinate men. Now another thing is added to the vice of the Tongue, namely, boasting (Gataker). Others: He transitions to another sort of pride and presumption (Estius).

Go to now; either this is a note of transition, or of command to inferiors, or rather of admonition to such as are stupid or rash, and tends to the awakening their attention, and stirring them up to the consideration of their duty, danger, etc.

[Ye that say; either in your heart, or in your mouth (Gataker), Today or, etc., καὶ αὔριον[4]] And tomorrow (Erasmus), or tomorrow (Vulgate, Beza, Piscator, Grotius out of two Syriac codices). Some manuscripts have ἢ αὔριον, or tomorrow[5] (Beza, similarly Grotius).

Ye that say; either with your mouths, or in your hearts.

[We will go, etc., πορευσόμεθα—καὶ ποιήσομεν,[6] etc.] Let us go…and let us do, etc. (Erasmus, Vatablus, Tigurinus). So that the words are futures of the Optative (Vatablus). But this was not worthy of reprehension, that they should say, let us go, etc., but rather, we will go, etc. (Castalio). But these words, and those that follow, both here and in verse 15, are not to be taken in a mode Potential (Grotius), or hortatory; but indicative (Beza), and Future, as it is read by the Syriac, Arabic, Latin, and the best Greek Codices (Grotius): thus one ancient codex (Beza). It is to be noted that Aorists of Subjunctives (which are here given) often have the signification of Futures of the Indicative. Which has already been pointed out elsewhere (Schmidt). We will set out unto that (or, this [Erasmus]) city (suppose Damascus, Alexandria, or Antioch: Thus concerning persons we say πρὸς τὸν δεῖνα, to so-and-so [Grotius]), and we will continue (ποιεῖν, to do, is used with a similar syntax and signification [Piscator, similarly Grotius] in Acts 15:33[7] [Grotius]; 18:23;[8] 20:3;[9] 2 Corinthians 11:25[10] [Piscator, Grotius]: And among the Hebrews, Ecclesiastes 6:12:[11] But also the Latins say facere, to do or continue, with someone a few days, many years, as the learned have noted [Grotius]: Or, we will transact [Tremellius out of the Syriac, Pagnine, thus Tigurinus], we will do [Eramsus], we will abide [Grotius], we will tarry [Arabic, thus the Æthiopic, Schmidt], we will do business [Schmidt]) there one year (or, for a year [Grotius]), and trade, and make a profit (Piscator, Pagnine, Beza, etc.). He does not condemn those because they were traveling for the sake of trade, or because they were planning their affairs beforehand, or because they were aiming at profit; but because they were promising to themselves duration of life, and both a guarantee, and a happy and prosperous outcome, of their counsels and actions (Gataker); because they were making their plans concerning uncertain matters, as if they had those things in hand (Grotius), while both our times, and our affairs, are in God’s, not our, hands (Gataker).

Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city; not, let us go, but, we will go, in the indicative mood; noting the peremptoriness of their purposes, and their presuming upon future times and things, which were not in their power. And continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: he doth not condemn merchants travelling into other countries, nor trading there, nor designing gain by their trade, nor forecasting their business; but their promising themselves the continuance of their life, the accomplishing their designs, and the success of their labours, without respect to God’s providence and direction, as if their times and their works were in their own hands, not in his.

[1] Greek: Ἄγε νῦν οἱ λέγοντες, Σήμερον ἢ αὔριον πορευσόμεθα εἰς τήνδε τὴν πόλιν, καὶ ποιήσομεν ἐκεῖ ἐνιαυτὸν ἕνα, καὶ ἐμπορευσόμεθα, καὶ κερδήσομεν·

[2] James 5:1:  “Go to now (ἄγε νῦν), ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.”

[3] The details of the life of Rabbi Salomon Jarchi (Solomon Jarchi ben Isaac) have been obscured by the mists of time.  It is relatively safe to associate him with the eleventh century.  He commented on the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and the principal value of his commentary is its preservation of traditional Jewish interpretation.

[4] Thus the great majority of Byzantine manuscripts.

[5] Thus Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and the Textus Receptus.

[6] Πορευσώμεθα, Aorist Subjuntive, is read by Codex Alexandrinus; πορευσόμεθα, Future Indicative, by Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus:  the Byzantine tradition is divided over the reading.  However, the overwhelming weight of Byzantine manuscripts, together with Codices Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, supports ποιήσομεν, Future Indicative, with ποιήσωμεν, Aorist Subjunctive, having little support.

[7] Acts 15:33:  “And after they had tarried (ποιήσαντες) there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.”

[8] Acts 18:23:  “And after he had spent (ποιήσας) some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.”

[9] Acts 20:2, 3a:  “And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there abode (ποιήσας) three months.”

[10] 2 Corinthians 11:25:  “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been (πεποίηκα) in the deep…”

[11] Ecclesiastes 6:12:  “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow (וְיַעֲשֵׂ֣ם כַּצֵּ֑ל; καὶ ἐποίησεν αὐτὰς ἐν σκιᾷ, in the Septuagint)? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?”

James 4:12: Curing Detraction and Censoriousness, Part 2

Verse 12:[1] There is one lawgiver, (Matt. 10:28) who is able to save and to destroy: (Rom. 14:4, 13) who art thou that judgest another?

[There is one Legislator] God alone is Legislator, 1. absolutely and independently: 2. universal: 3. supreme: 4. perfect: 5. spiritual, or of souls, and who obligates consciences simply and directly: 6. who is able to save and to destroy, as it follows (Gataker). The argument: Thou that detractest inflictest injury upon the Legislator (Menochius), namely, God, whom consequently thou oughtest to fear; not to equate thyself with Him, much less to set thyself above Him, which thou art nevertheless doing, when thou usurpest the judgment of the law received from Him (Estius). It belongs to Him to condemn or absolve us, not to men (Menochius). It signifies that those seize for themselves the entire majesty of God, who claim for themselves the right of prescribing Law, that is, to souls and consciences. But such are those that impose their own will as law (Calvin). Our Legislator is not Moses, but Christ, Hebrews 8:6. A manuscript adds here καὶ κριτὴς, and Judge,[2] and thus the Latin, Syriac, and Arabic read it (Grotius).

There is one lawgiver; one absolute, supreme, universal and spiritual Lawgiver, and who can simply and directly bind men’s consciences, and make laws for their souls, Proverbs 8:15, 16; Isaiah 33:22; Acts 4:19. By this he intimates, that they did invade God’s right, who took upon them a legislative power in prescribing to other men’s consciences, and making their own will the rule of the others’ duty.

[Who, etc., ὁ δυνάμενος, etc.] Who is able to save and to destroy (Estius, thus Beza, Piscator, etc.), either temporally, or eternally, with nothing hindering; that is, who has over men the supreme power of life and death, of salvation and destruction (Estius). Christ, placed by God as Judge of all, has the right and power (for δυνάμενος signifies this here, as in Acts 4:20;[3] 2 Corinthians 13:8[4]) of saving and destroying us. Therefore, to Him the entire judgment concerning dubious matters is to be left (Grotius). God alone is able to save the penitent detractor, or to destoy the impenitent detractor. Therefore, no concession is to be made to this sin (Dickson). Other Legislators are not able to save the keepers of their law, at least not from God, or eternally; neither are they able to destroy the violators, except with God assenting (Gataker).

Who is able to save and to destroy, both temporally and eternally, Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Isaiah 43:13; whereas other lawgivers cannot save or destroy men’s souls, nor so much as their lives, without God’s concurrence.

[But who art thou, etc.?] How ignorant, how rash (Tirinus)? Why arrogates thou this to thyself (Menochius)? What art thou making thyself? Art thou not a man? neither as the author of Law, nor as the Judge of souls, art thou constituted by God (Grotius). The argument: Since all men are by nature equal, one ought not to take to himself the power of judging another, unless he receive it from the lawgiver, who is superior to both, that is, from God. Compare Romans 14:4 (Estius).

Who art thou; what a sorry creature, a man, a worm, that thou shouldst lift up thyself into God’s place, and make thyself a judge of one not subject to thee! That judgest another; the servant of another Master, Romans 14:4. It is a fond thing for thee to take upon thee the power of a judge, when thou hast no power of saving or destroying, rewarding or punishing.

[1] Greek: εἷς ἐστιν ὁ νομοθέτης, ὁ δυνάμενος σῶσαι καὶ ἀπολέσαι· σὺ τίς εἶ ὃς κρίνεις τὸν ἕτερον;

[2] Thus Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus, and a number of Byzantine manuscripts.

[3] Acts 4:20:  “For we cannot (οὐ δυνάμεθα) but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

[4] 2 Corinthians 13:8:  “For we can do nothing (οὐ γὰρ δυνάμεθά τι) against the truth, but for the truth.”

James 4:11: Curing Detraction and Censoriousness, Part 1

Verse 11:[1] (Eph. 4:31; 1 Pet. 2:1) Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, (Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37; Rom. 2:1; 1 Cor. 4:5) and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

[Detract not, etc., μὴ καταλαλεῖτε ἀλλήλων] He returns to that upon which he touched before, James 3:9, 10 (Grotius, thus Gataker). Now, these vices of the tongue, rather than other and more grevious vices, he reprimands sharply again, either, 1. as more common among them; or, 2. as creeping in under the guise of zeal and piety; or, 3. because these sins were believed to be the slightest; or, 4. because they were not restrained by human laws (Gataker). We also say καταλαλεῖν κατά τινος, to speak against someone, Numbers 21:7;[2] Psalm 50:20;[3] and more briefly, καταλαλεῖν τινος, Job 19:3;[4] Psalm 78:19.[5] So also 1 Peter 2:12;[6] 3:16.[7] In the Glossa, καταλαλεῖν, to interpose remarks. See on Romans 1:30[8] (Grotius). Let not some from others (or, yourselves by turns [Vatablus]) disparage (Piscator), or, interpose remarks (Beza), or, detract (Piscator, thus the Vulgate), by injuring the reputation (Estius, thus Gataker); or by laying a false charge, Psalm 35:11; or by exaggerating excessively a true charge, Genesis 38:24; or by bringing a hidden thing into the light, Proverbs 11:13; 20:19; or by extenuating a benefit, or leaving virtues and praises unmentioned when they ought to be spread (Tirinus, Gataker); by putting an evil construction upon words or deeds, either good or ambiguous, Matthew 11:18; 26:61; John 2:19, 20; since favors are to be amplified, but hatreds restrained. He here forbids rigid censure, and rash judgment concerning the hearts, lives, or actions of others (Gataker). Verbatim: Let not some speak against others (Piscator).

[He that, etc., ὁ καταλαλῶν—καὶ κρίνων, etc.] In a manuscript, it is ἢ κρίνων, or judging, disjunctively[9] (Grotius). Whoever detracts from his brother, and condemns (or, judges [Vulgate, Vorstius], that is, rashly: Κρίνειν, to judge, here is the same as κατακρίνειν, to condemn [Vorstius]: That καὶ/and teaches that the same man that detracts from his brother, judges his brother [Estius]) his brother (Piscator, etc.). On account of those matters which Christ does not condemn in the Gospel, of which sort are the observations of Days, of Meats, and the like. The sense is the same as in Romans 14:3, 4 (Grotius). Concerning others’ errors and vices, it is not lawful to speak out of curiosity or pride or desire for vengeance, so that from them we might gather for ourselves praise or advantage. But it is lawful to speak of them, if that is done for the glory of God, or for the correction of the sinner, Genesis 37:2; 1 Corinthians 1:11; 11:18; or for the caution of others, 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Timothy 4:14, 15; or in a judicial process, Leviticus 5:1 (Gataker). He here reprehens those that disdainfully condemn the deeds and words of others, whatever does not please us, and thence grasp at a reputation for holiness; and therefore they set their own moroseness in the place of the Divine Law (Calvin).

Speak not evil one of another; viz. unless in the way of an ordinance, by reproof, admonition, etc., Leviticus 5:1; 1 Corinthians 1:11; 11:18; 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Timothy 4:14, 15. He forbids all detraction, rigid censuring, and rash judging the hearts and lives of others, when men condemn whatever doth not suit with their notions or humours, and make their own moroseness the rule of other men’s manners. Judgeth his brother; finds fault with and condemns him for those things which the law doth not condemn in him, or forbid to him, Romans 14:3, 4.

[He detracts from the law, and judges the law] This he does, either, 1. because, when he judges his brother, doing rightly, and obeying the law, for concerning this he here speaks (Menochius), he condemns the Law, which commands or urges it (Tirinus, similarly Menochius). Or, 2. because by approving an action contrary to the Law he pronounces the Law to be not good (Dickson), as if it did not rightly by commanding or forbidding such things. For the Law prohibits detraction (Bede, etc., in Estius, similarly Piscator), and rash judgments (Dickson). For, with a good work, of which the Law approves, condemned, the Law itself is disparaged and condemned (Cajetan in Estius). Or, 3. because he usurps the office and functions of the Law (certain interpreters in Estius). Or, 4. because he despises the Law, that is, that precept of loving one’s neighbor, concerning which he spoke in chapters 1 and 2, which prohibits detraction, etc. (Estius). Or, 5. because he claimed the power of censure for himself above the Law of God (Calvin), condemning that which the Law permits (Gomar). [The sense:] Evangelical Doctrine (which even above he several times called by the name of law, as Paul also does in Galatians 6:2) such a man despises and condemns as imperfect. For Christ does not condemn such (Grotius). He judges or carps at the Law, whoever, 1. sins deliberately, because he judges it to be better to violate it than to keep it; 2. incites others to sin; 3. either adds to the Law, as in Matthew 15:2, 9; Colossians 2:21, or detracts from it, Matthew 5:43;[10] 23:16, and thus he makes the sins either more numerous, or fewer, than God does, and himself wiser or more just than the Law. 4. Whoever bends the Law to his own pleasure. 5. Whoever accuses the Law of excessive severity or inequity, Ezekiel 18:2; John 6:60 (Gataker).

[Thou art not a doer (or, observer [Estius, Piscator, etc.]) of the Law, but a judge] That is, you make yourself a Judge of the Law, and superior to it (Estius), and therefore you exempt yourself from subjection to the Law (Calvin, similarly Estius). You, who are obliged to render obedience to the Law, take to yourself judgment against the Law. They are called ποιηταὶ νόμου, doers of the Law, also in Romans 2:13, by Metonomy, who doe those things which the Law prescribes. Thus Deuteronomy 6:25.[11] The same elsewhere, τηρεῖν νόμον, to keep the Law,[12] and φυλάσσειν νόμον, to keep the Law[13] (Grotius).

Judgeth the law; viz. either, 1. By his practising and approving what the law condemns, i.e. this very censoriousness and detraction: or, 2. By condemning that which the law allows; he condemns the law for allowing it, taxing it as too short and imperfect. But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge; if thou not only judgest thy brother, and therein invadest the law’s office, (whose part it is to judge him,) but judgest him for what the law doth not forbid him, and therein judgest the law itself, as insufficient, and not strict enough; thou dost cast off the law’s government, disown its superiority, exempt thyself from any subjection to it, and make thyself merely a judge of it.

[1] Greek: Μὴ καταλαλεῖτε ἀλλήλων, ἀδελφοί.  ὁ καταλαλῶν ἀδελφοῦ, καὶ κρίνων τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, καταλαλεῖ νόμου, καὶ κρίνει νόμον· εἰ δὲ νόμον κρίνεις, οὐκ εἶ ποιητὴς νόμου, ἀλλὰ κριτής.

[2] Numbers 21:7b:  “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee (כִּֽי־דִבַּ֤רְנוּ בַֽיהוָה֙ וָבָ֔ךְ; ὅτι κατελαλήσαμεν κατὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ κατὰ σοῦ, in the Septuagint); pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.”

[3] Psalm 50:20:  “Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother (בְּאָחִ֣יךָ תְדַבֵּ֑ר; κατὰ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου κατελάλεις, in the Septuagint); thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.”

[4] Job 19:3:  “These ten times have ye reproached me (תַּכְלִימוּנִי; καταλαλεῖτέ μου, in the Septuagint):  ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.”

[5] Psalm 78:19:  “Yea, they spake against God (וַֽיְדַבְּר֗וּ בֵּֽאלֹ֫הִ֥ים; κατελάλησαν τοῦ θεοῦ, in the Septuagint); they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?”

[6] 1 Peter 2:12:  “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles:  that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers (καταλαλοῦσιν ὑμῶν ὡς κακοποιῶν), they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

[7] 1 Peter 3:16:  “Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers (καταλαλῶσιν ὑμῶν ὡς κακοποιῶν), they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

[8] Romans 1:30a:  “Backbiters (καταλάλους), haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters…”

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

[10] See also Matthew 5:19.

[11] Deuteronomy 6:25:  “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments (כִּֽי־נִשְׁמֹ֙ר לַעֲשׂ֜וֹת אֶת־כָּל־הַמִּצְוָ֣ה; ἐὰν φυλασσώμεθα ποιεῖν πάσας τὰς ἐντολὰς ταύτας, in the Septuagint) before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.”

[12] For example, Acts 15:5:  “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law (τηρεῖν τὸν νόμον) of Moses.”

[13] For example, Galatians 6:13:  “For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law (νόμον φυλάσσουσιν); but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.”

James 4:10: Remedies for Lusts, and Renewal of Relationship with God, Part 4

Verse 10:[1] (Job 22:29; Matt. 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; 1 Pet. 5:6) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

[Be humbled, etc., ταπεινώθητε, etc.] In lowly supplications, עַנּוּ, in Leviticus 16:29[2] and elsewhere (Grotius). We have this word in Luke 3:5;[3] 14:11;[4] Philippians 2:8;[5] 4:12.[6] Hence ταπεινοφροσύνη/lowliness, Ephesians 4:2;[7] Philippians 2:3;[8] and ταπεινὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ, lowly in heart, Matthew 11:29 (Gataker). Humble, or lower, yourselves (that is, voluntarily, as Christ did, Philippians 2:8: For necessity holds no praise, 1 Corinthians 9:17 [Gataker]: Be ye cast down [Gataker], through humility of soul [Estius, thus Menochius, Gataker], which is the one way of recovering the friendship and favor of God, and of obtaining the lifiting up that ye seek [Estius]; which is ever wont to be joined with repentance [Menochius]) in the sight of the Lord (Piscator, Estius, etc.), that is, either, 1. before God, as in verse 7 (Estius); or, 2. truly and sincerely (Estius, Menochius), from the whole heart, deeply and profoundly (Tirinus). Whatever is such before God, is truly such (Estius). Or, 3. with great reverence for God (Menochius), under the mighty hand of God, as in 1 Peter 5:6 (Estius): or, before the Lord, that is, Christ (Grotius). Repentance subdues pride, and casts down high spirits. See Luke 5:8; 15:19, 21; 18:13 (Gataker).

Humble yourselves: the same duty pressed again, only with respect to the more internal part of it, the debasement of the heart, lest they should rest too much in the outward exercises before mentioned. They did lift up themselves through pride and emulation, and he shows them the best way to the truest exaltation, viz. humility, Matthew 23:12; Proverbs 15:33; 18:12. In the sight of the Lord; sincerely, as in the presence of the Searcher of hearts.

[And He shall exalt (or, lift up [Grotius]) you] He shall make you eminent with His gifts, concerning which James 1:17 (Grotius), inchoately in this world (Estius), by grace, and thereupon through external reputation and splendor (Tirinus), but perfectly (Estius) by glory in heaven (Tirinus, similarly Estius).

And he shall lift you up; as to your outward state and enjoyments, so far as God sees good for you; but, however, in grace here, and glory hereafter, Luke 14:11.

[1] Greek: ταπεινώθητε ἐνώπιον τοῦ Κυρίου, καὶ ὑψώσει ὑμᾶς.

[2] Leviticus 16:29:  “And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict (תְּעַנּוּ) your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you…”

[3] Luke 3:5a:  “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low (ταπεινωθήσεται)…”

[4] Luke 14:11:  “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased (ταπεινωθήσεται); and he that humbleth (ὁ ταπεινῶν) himself shall be exalted.”

[5] Philippians 2:8:  “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled (ἐταπείνωσεν) himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

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

[7] Ephesians 4:2:  “With all lowliness (ταπεινοφροσύνης) and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love…”

[8] 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.”

James 4:9: Remedies for Lusts, and Renewal of Relationship with God, Part 3

Verse 9:[1] (Matt. 5:4) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

[Be miserable, etc., ταλαιπωρήσατε, etc.] Drawing nigh to God is accomplished, both by sanctification, concerning which it has been treated; and by humiliation, which consists in contrition, in this verse, and in dejection, in verse 10 (Gataker). To Christians fallen into grievous sins a return to good fruit is not granted except through mournful repentance; so that James might express the force of this, he posited these words (Grotius). Be afflicted (or, cast yourselves down [Tremellius]; be ye touched by a sense of affliction: He reprehends ἀναλγησίαν/insensibility in adversities (Beza). Be affected in your souls in such a way as if ye were afflicted (Piscator). Condole with the afflicted (Pareus). He rather stirs them up to serious contrition on account of their aforementioned sins (Gataker out of Illyricus, Aquinas, Fab., etc., similarly Calvin). That is to say, Recognize your misery, in which ye have fallen through sin (Gataker out of Aquinas). Afflict (or, fatigue [Zegers]) yourselves (Grotius, Estius, thus Tigurinus, Castalio, Menochius), or, your souls (Estius) (with fastings and other σκληραγωγίαις/austerities of the body [Grotius, thus Estius], with supplications, etc. [Estius]: Either receive ye afflictions voluntarily, or admit ye willingly those afflictions admitted by God [Menochius]), and mourn (inwardly [Gataker]: πενθήσατε, אִבְלוּ, put on a mourning habit, sackcloth and haircloth, as Christian penitents were wont to do: For this is the force of this word, as it appears from Genesis 37:34;[2] 2 Samuel 13:37;[3] 19:2[4] [Grotius]), and weep (Piscator, etc.). Show your sorrow externally (Gataker), at the recollection of your former life (Menochius). Weeping is wont to be joined with Fasting, as in 2 Samuel 1:12; 12:22; and with the verb πενθεῖν, to mourn, as in Nehemiah 1:4;[5] 8:9[6] (Grotius). Tears are both witnesses and representatives of repentance (Gataker out of Cyprian).

Be afflicted; humble yourselves for your sins, before mentioned, and in the sense of wrath approaching, if ye do not. And mourn, with inward sorrow of heart. And weep; show your inward grief by weeping, the usual expression and sign of it.

[Your laughter, etc.] To which they had abandoned themselves, having acquired those goods for which they had wickedly lusted (Estius). To the extent that ye have laughed and rejoiced previously, when it was allowed to you to take revenge on your enemies, and to seize their possessions, to such an extent now take up grief and sadness (Grotius). He tacitly indicates the destruction of Jerusalem and the breaking up of the Jewish nation (Grotius, similarly Hammond).

[Into heaviness, εἰς κατήφειαν] Into sadness (Erasmus, Pagnine, Montanus, Beza, Piscator, Vulgate, Tremellius out of the Syriac, etc.). Κατήφεια in the writings of the Poets,[7] Plutarch,[8] and others, is a sadness that projects itself even upon the countenance (Grotius); it is a hanging of the head, whether out of sadness, or out of shame (Piscator, similarly Beza, Gataker), from κάτω βάλλειν τὰ φάη, to cast down the lights, or the eyes (Piscator). Laughter is fourfold: ἰονικὸς/soft, μεγαρικὸς/ill-time, σαρδόνιος/sardonic, αἰάντειος/insane. We see here how unbecoming and pernicious is the rejoicing of the impious, since apart from their heavy sorrow there is no hope of repentance, or of a return to God. Therefore, their joy is conjoined with the wronging, contempt, and affront of God, by which they evidently show how little either the favor, or anger, of God, is dear and of concern to them (Gataker).

Let your laughter; your carnal rejoicing in what you get by sinful courses, verses 1, 2, lusting, warring, fighting. Be turned into mourning; exchange your carnal joy for godly sorrow. And your joy; to the same purpose as laughter, before: by it he means their pleasing themselves in the success of their unrighteousness, the gain of their rapine and violence. Into heaviness; the same as mourning, or an outward expression of it in the dejection of the countenance, which usually proceeds from shame or sorrow, (and the Greek word signifies both,) whereas joy and confidence make men lift up their heads or faces, Ezra 9:6; Job 10:15; 11:15; 22:26; Luke 21:28.

[1] Greek: ταλαιπωρήσατε καὶ πενθήσατε καὶ κλαύσατε· ὁ γέλως ὑμῶν εἰς πένθος μεταστραφήτω, καὶ ἡ χαρὰ εἰς κατήφειαν.

[2] Genesis 37:34:  “And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned (וַיִּתְאַבֵּל; καὶ ἐπένθει, in the Septuagint) for his son many days.”

[3] 2 Samuel 13:37:  “But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur.  And he mourned (וַיִּתְאַבֵּל; καὶ ἐπένθησεν, in the Septuagint) for his son every day.”

[4] 2 Samuel 19:1:  “And it was told Joab, Behold, the king weepeth and mourneth (וַיִּתְאַבֵּל; καὶ πενθει, in the Septuagint) for Absalom.”

[5] Nehemiah 1:4:  “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days (יָשַׁ֙בְתִּי֙ וָֽאֶבְכֶּ֔ה וָאֶתְאַבְּלָ֖ה יָמִ֑ים; ἐκάθισα καὶ ἔκλαυσα καὶ ἐπένθησα ἡμέρας, in the Septuagint), and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven…”

[6] Nehemiah 8:9:  “And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep (אַל־תִּֽתְאַבְּל֖וּ וְאַל־תִּבְכּ֑וּ; μὴ πενθεῖτε μηδὲ κλαίετε, in the Septuagint).  For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.”

[7] For example, Homer’s Iliad 3:51; 16:498.

[8] Themistocles 9.

James 4:8: Remedies for Lusts, and Renewal of Relationship with God, Part 2

Verse 8:[1] (2 Chron. 15:2) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. (Is. 1:16) Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and (1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 3:3) purify your hearts, ye (Jam. 1:8) double minded.

[Draw nigh to God] Not with the steps of the body, but with the motions of th soul (Estius, thus Menochius), by conversion to God, which he describes below (Vorstius); by prayer (Grotius, Tirinus), or by imploring the help of God (Menochius), by faith, Psalm 73:28, by the love of God (Gataker, Tirinus), Deuteronomy 30:20 (Gataker), in humility (Estius), in repentance, in the worship of God (Gataker), in obedience (Gataker, Grotius), by the purging of the soul from vices, and in the desire for Christian perfection (Menochius), and by studying with respect to disposition and endeavor that we might be made like unto God. We draw nigh to God in no other way than in resisting Satan, since he, interposed between God and us, obstructs the way for us (Gataker). True repentance is here described by its effects (Beza).

Draw nigh to God; by faith, which is a coming to God, Hebrews 7:25; by true repentance, which is a returning to God, Hosea 14:1; Malachi 3:7; and by fervent prayer to him for the help of his grace, Psalm 25:1.

[And He will draw nigh to you] By grace (Estius), with greater, continuous love and bestowal of graces (Tirinus); by helping us, both against the lusts of the Flesh, and against the assaults of the Devil, concerning which things he has already treated. This is the mystical sense of the words in Jeremiah 4:1 (Grotius). He will draw nigh, by protecting and freeing us, by remitting our sins, by granting our petitions, by conferring blessings of every sort (Gataker); or, by His favor and that increasing protection, which follows our conversion. In other respects, God, by His initial grace, goes entirely before us (Vorstius).

And he will draw nigh to you; by the manifestation of his grace and favour to you, particularly giving you strength against the devil and your lusts.

[Cleanse (namely, from all external sin [Tirinus]) your hands] That is, all the members by which we do anything external (Estius); or, outward actions (Tirinus), life, works, acts: the hand is the organ of organs, the instrument of most actions (Gataker): that is to say, Return what things were wrongly seized, Jonah 3:8 (Grotius). By the cleanness of the hands is signified innocence of manners, as in Job 22:30 (Menochius). Compare Psalm 26:6, 11; Isaiah 1:16, 18 (Gataker).

Cleanse your hands; reform your actions, amend your lives. Hands, the principal instruments of bodily actions, being put for the actions themselves; cleanness of hands signifies the innocency of the outward conversation, Job 22:30; Psalm 24:4; 26:6; Isaiah 33:15, 16. Ye sinners; you that are openly and notoriously vicious, whose wickedness appears in your ordinary practices: so such are called, Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:15; Luke 7:37; 15:2; John 9:31.

[And purify (that is, from all depraved thinking [Tirinus, thus Estius], delight, consent, contrivance [Tirinus]: See 1 Peter 1:22;[2] 1 John 3:3,[3] in which places the same word, ἁγνίζειν, to purify, is used [Grotius]) your hearts (that is, the internal affections of the soul [Tirinus]), ye double minded] See on James 1:8 (Menochius, Grotius), ἀκατάστατοι, men unstable, Isaiah 7:9, wavering, etc., 1 Kings 18:21 (Gataker). Thus he calls them on account of the wavering affections and thoughts of their hearts, by which they were fluctuating between friendship with God and with the world (Estius). Purge your hearts, namely, making such use of the present favor and help of God; by prayers and with all effort expel that inconstancy, which sometimes draws you to God, sometimes drives you back to the world (Grotius).

And purify your hearts; your thoughts and inward affections, from whence the evils of your outward actions proceed, Isaiah 55:7: see 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:3. Ye double minded; either by the former he understands the profane, and by these, hypocrites, or the same by both, viz. such as had wicked hearts, and led wicked lives; only he shows wherein true repentance consists, viz. in the reformation both of the inward and outward man.

[1] Greek: ἐγγίσατε τῷ Θεῷ, καὶ ἐγγιεῖ ὑμῖν· καθαρίσατε χεῖρας, ἁμαρτωλοί, καὶ ἁγνίσατε καρδίας, δίψυχοι.

[2] 1 Peter 1:22:  “Seeing ye have purified (ἡγνικότες) your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…”

[3] 1 John 3:3:  “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth (ἁγνίζει) himself, even as he is pure (ἁγνός).”