Verse 5: Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Num. 11:29; Prov. 21:10) The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy (or, enviously)?
[Do ye think, etc., ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν;] No passage in the New Testament is more difficult, or is explained with greater variety (Gataker). Here are carts full of interpretations (Erasmus). This passage they divide and express in a variety of ways (Gataker). Certain interpreters thus: ἢ δοκεῖτε, ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει ἢ πρὸς φθόνον; ἐπιποθεῖ, etc. (Œcumenius in Gataker). Do ye think, that in vain the Scripture saith unto envy, that is, because it envies you, and therefore delivers to you impossible precepts, the spirit that dwells in you lusts? that is, that the spirit of your flesh depravely lusts, and that those things which it desires are not good. He has regard unto Genesis 6:5 and 8:21 (certain interpreters in Gataker). But he says here, not to desire evil things, but simply to desire, which expresses no evil. Thus also the words are excessively wrested, and the pauses are changed contrary to the consent of the Codices. Others rightly divide, and read it, either with one interrogation, which they also refer either to the former member, or to the latter, which is equally possible; or with a twofold interrogation (Gataker’s Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma 19:215). Do ye think that the Scripture inanely (or, in vain [Calvin], and not rather unto our instruction, Romans 15:4 [Piscator]) saith (Beza, Piscator, thus Erasmus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Montanus) (or, saith? [Junius, thus Calvin]), Unto envy (or, in envy [Tremellius out of the Syriac], or, through envy, or enviously; as πρὸς ὄργην is through anger, or angrily, πρὸς βίαν, through force, or violently, etc. [Gataker’s Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma 19:218]) is carried (or, lusts [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Montanus, Tremellius out of the Syriac], or, is it not carried? [Piscator]) the spirit that dwelleth (or, hath placed its seat [Beza, Erasmus], hath chosen its domicile [Vatablus], hath dwelt [Erasmus, Vatablus, Estius]: or rather, hath received and fixed its habitation; so that a past act, continued into the present, might be signified, as in the case of ἐκάθισεν, He sat down, Mark 16:19; see also Hebrews 1:10, 12 [Estius]) in us? (Piscator, Beza, Erasmus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Montanus, Vatablus, Junius). It is characteristic of Apostolic Modesty to join himself to the person of those whom he rebukes (Estius). Or, in you? (Calvin, Vulgate). Now, some refer the former member here to what precedes, others to what follows. Do ye think that the Scripture inanely saith? Saith what? (Gataker’s Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma 19:217). Response 1: That which he just now said, namely, that friendship with the World is enmity with God: all the Scriptures teach this, etc. (certain interpreters in Estius, Calvin). That is to say, Do ye think that the Scripture frivolously and without reason admonishes you to separate from the world? (Brugensis, Titelmans in Gataker). [But thus they take what follows:] Whether [do ye suppose] the Holy Spirit is jealous over you because of your friendship with the world? (Titelmans in Gataker). But thus are imported things that the context does not contain (Gataker’s Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma 19:217). Or thus, Whether the Holy Spirit desires this, that ye envy one another? and does not rather call you unto charity and peace? (Estius out of Bede, etc.). To the extent that ye envy, ye are not governed by the Spirit of God, who is liberal and generous, to whose nature malice and envy, which is a sign of the former, are especially repugnant (Calvin). This sense fits well with the plan of the Apostle; as one that here treats against rivalries and discord (Estius). Response 2: That saying in verse 3, ye ask and receive not: or, which comes to the same thing, Ask and it shall be given unto you: which Scripture everywhere teaches and promises, Matthew 7, and often elsewhere. Do not think that it says these things inanely or falsely, or that the promise of Christ is vain. For the failure is on your part, as I previously said, because ye ask amiss. For the spirit that has its seat in us, a spirit altogether vicious and evil (whether the depraved soul of men be understood; or the spirit of the world, concerning which 1 Corinthians 2:12; or the concupiscence that resides in us from birth), lusts unto envy and emulation; that is, incites you to desire those things, for the obtaining of which ye envy one another, such as wealth, honors, etc. By soliciting the friendship of the world in this way, ye make yourselves enemies of God, and ye ask most wickedly, so that it is not strange that ye are not heeded (Estius out of Hasseltensis). This exposition is clear, and most closely adheres to the context; and to this what follows thoroughly answers, as we shall soon see (Estius). Response 3: That which follows; and thus the Syriac translates it, as if he had read ὅτι/that, Whether unto envy the Spirit that dwelleth in us lusts, or is carried? that is to say, No, in no way. But by interrogation it is more vehemently denied. This much is conceded by Lyra, Aquinas, Rickelius, Beza, Junius, Piscator, etc. (Gataker’s Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma 19:218). But here is understood the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God (Piscator, Cappel, James Cappel, Vorstius, Calvin, Pareus, Menochius), with whom believers are imbued (Vorstius), who is often said to dwell in us (Piscator, Gataker); so that there might be an allusion here to those passages in which God says that He is going to dwell in the midst of His people, as in Exodus 25:8; 29:45; 2 Corinthians 6:16; etc. (Gataker). [But they explain it in a variety of ways:] Does…inanely, or, in vain…the Scripture say, in many passages, that the Holy Spirit…lusts unto envy? (Tirinus, certain interpreters in Estius, similarly Menochius) that is, jealousy (Cajetan in Estius); that is, He is jealous over your soul, as over a bride most dear to Him (Tirinus), and He is set ablaze with love for men (Menochius); while after the manner of a jealous husband He does not suffer His worshippers to transfer their love to the world or worldly things, and, if it be done, He is moved with zeal to vengeance against them (Cajetan in Estius). It does not satisfy, for envy in the preceding is taken in an evil sense, nowhere in Sacred Scripture in a good sense (Estius). Others: The sense: Do ye think that that is vainly declared in the Scriptures, and specifically in Genesis 6:3, that the Spirit of God is continually being borne unto envy, or emulation, or rather to a holy contention or dispute with men; insofar as He continually contends or lusts against the flesh in man, and its depraved pursuits, Galatians 5:17, and is envious against the flesh. This exposition, which I acquired from the Manuscript comments of that most learned man Matthias Bergius, is the simplest, and agrees with the scope, which is to dissuade us from the pursuits of our vice-filled flesh, since they are contrary to the Spirit of God. From this discord between the flesh and the Spirit ye are able to understand that whoever follows the pursuits of the flesh is not able to please God (Vorstius). Others: The sense: Does the Holy Spirit lust unto envy? Indeed, He is so averse that, contrariwise, He gives greater grace, that is, He gladly and liberally pours out without any regard to envy the gifts that He received from God (Junius). Ἐπιποθεῖ, to lust, either, in the place of ἐπιποθεῖν ποιεῖ, to cause to lust, just as ἐντυγχάνει, to intercede, Romans 8:27, that is, ἐντυγχάνειν ποιεῖ, to cause to intercede (Gataker out of Piscator). Or, it is the same as ὁρμᾶται, to be carried (Gataker out of Beza); or rather μετὰ ἐπιποθίας, with great longing/desire, as in Philippians 1:23, not πόθου/longing only, ὁρμᾶται, to be carried, earnestly to desire, to be carried with violence of spirit and ardor, as the word is taken in the Greek of Psalm 62:10 and 84:2, and likewise in Psalm 42:1, where the syntax that is in this place, ἐπιποθεῖ—πρὸς σέ, it longeth after thee, is the same as that here, πρὸς φθόνον, after/unto envy (Gataker’s Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma 19:218). The Holy Spirit does not impel, or excite, anyone unto envy (Piscator, Cappel). Wherefore, since we boast the He dwells in us, let us not envy our neighbor (Piscator). The Spirit of regeneration does not deign to dwell in you unto this end, that ye might envy others their advantages, but rather that He might from day to day increase that grace which He began in you (James Cappel) [as it here follows]. Question: But where is this sentence on record (Piscator)? Response 1: Concerning citations of Scripture, it is to be observed that some of them are nowhere found, but are had from tradition, as in 2 Timothy 3:8; Jude 9, 14; etc.: others are not found in the very words, but with respect to the sense, as in John 7:38 from Isaiah 58:11; Johan 12:34 from Psalm 110:4; Ephesians 5:14 from Isaiah 60:1, 2: others are woven together from diverse places (Gataker). And it is to be observed that the particle ὅτι/that is not premitted here, which is wont to be premitted when testimony is taken from the Scripture. Therefore, James is able to have regard here, either to what precedes, or to what follows, or to any other Scripture (Estius). Response 2: He has regard here to the passage in Numbers 11:29, where Moses says to Joshua, Enviest thou, or art thou moved with zeal, for my sake? (Junius, Piscator, Glassius’ “Rhetoric” 591), that is to say, Thou oughtest not to envy these men a portion of the Spirit given to me (Cappel, thus Piscator). Supposest thou that the Holy Spirit lusteth to envy? that is, that one and the same Spirit has been given, both for the good and edification of the brethren, and for their hurt and destruction? to which envy has regard? But I, with all envy suppressed, would desire that each one might be able to prophesy (Junius). Therefore, James means this, that is to say, Do ye not see that Moses, the man of God, led by the Spirit of God, was not like unto the people with respect to lust, nor unto Joshua with respect to envy? Therefore, it shall ill befit you to lust after these worldly goods, and so to begrudge them to others, and to go about with all your might to seize them by fights and lawsuits, etc. (Cappel). Response 3: He has regard unto that passage in Galatians 5:17, 21, 22, the Spirit lusts against, etc. For envy is listed among the lusts of the flesh. Objection 1: How does the Holy Spirit lust πρὸς/unto envy? Responses: 1. Πρὸς here means against (Gomar, thus Camerarius, Bede in Estius, Gataker out of Aquinas, Pareus), as in Ephesians 6:11, and among Greek Writers (Gomar), just as it is said, μάχεσθαι πρός τινα, to fight against someone; and ἐπιποθεῖν signifies to be borne hostily, or to be angry, against the envy running riot in the world, that is, with the rest of the vices (Pareus). [He mentions envy as that concerning which he had spoken in what precedes.] 2. If you read it interrogatively, the sense shall be that envy is not the effect of the Holy Spirit. Objection 2: In the citation of Scripture, the Old Testament is always understood, not the New. Response: The contrary is evident from 2 Peter 3:15 (Gomar). [Castalio thus takes this passage with what precedes and with what follows:] Inasmuch as ye indulge in vices, says he, ye are the friends of the world, which is immersed in vices; and so ye fall short of the standard set by God, and are His enemies. But that certainly does not proceed from the Holy Spirit, who is wont to confer a greater benefit than that He might be prone to envy and the other vices of which I have made mention, and induce men unto them. Ye decline from Him when ye envy, and are not able to suffer others to excel you: which is not only of envy, but also of pride. But God opposes the proud (Castalio). [These things concerning those that maintain that the Holy Spirit is understood here.] Others: The human spirit is here understood (Lyra, Illyricus, Rickelius, Brugensis, Heinsius, etc., in Gataker), as in Hosea 5:4; Malachi 2:15, 16 (Gataker’s Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma 19:216). Given to men by God, and dwelling in men at His command (Grotius, similarly Hammond); that is, the soul (Grotius, thus Beza, Hammond, Dickson), as long as it remains unrenewed (Gataker), or the corrupted nature of man (Dickson, Gataker). This spirit, says he, both by its own natural impetus, and by the incitement of the Devil (Dickson), [both] made worse from day to day by bad examples (Grotius), and corrupted with the habit of worldly and evil lusts (Grotius), is borne unto the envy, or hatred of God and one’s neighbor; just as the Scripture not vainly teaches in many passages, speaking of the corrupt nature of man (Dickson); desiring those things which not Love, but rather Envy, suggests. For φθόνος/envy here is taken Metonymically, just like ἡδοναί/pleasures just now (Grotius). The sense is taken from Genesis 6:3, 5 (Grotius, thus Hammond). For what is there מַחְשְׁבֹת/thoughts/intentions, διανοεῖται, to be purposed/intended, is here ἐπιποθεῖ, to lust or long for: that τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν, the spirit that dwelleth in us, is drawn from Genesis 6:3, and means the same thing as לִבּוֹ, his heart, in verse 5. What is verse 5 is רַע/evil, τὰ πονηρὰ, evils, in the Greek there, here is φθόνον/envy, for in the category of evils Envy is certainly not the least; and those to whom this Epistle is written were especially inclined to it (Grotius). Either the malice, or insatiability, of lusts is denoted in this place by the word φθόνου/envy, which sometimes has a signification contrary to liberality, and denotes all avarice, whereby it happens that we envy to the other what we lack for ourselves (Hammond). Hence it follows that the friends of the world are the enemies of God, and that those carnal lusts, from which he dissuades them with many arguments here, trace their rise from a depraved Spirit (Dickson). He is concerned with this, that he show the reason why there is never any agreement between God and the world, or unregenerate men, namely, because by the entire impetus of their soul men are borne unto evil. But he specifically made mention of envy, having regard unto his scope, since he mentioned it in verses 14 and 16 [of the preceding chapter] (Beza). Others: The sense of this passage is to be sought from what precedes. He wishes to show how wars arise from our lust. First, says he, ye lust, and because ye have not what ye desire, ye envy your neighbor, who has possession of it; and because ye are not able to obtain in another way, ye fight, etc.; that is, it has come to battle and war, so that ye might it by force. And hence we are taught how the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth, or by a certain appetite is carred unto envy. Because of the lust of any thing that we do not have our spirit is borne unto envy of our neighbor, from which arise war and contention. Lust is the mother of envy; envy is the mother of war. It follows: But He gives greater grace, etc., that is to say, the Scripture does indeed teach that we are naturally prone to envy, and consequently to all evil; but elsewhere it is more propitious, where it says, God RESISTETH the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble: in this very thing advising that, if we are willing to restrain that spirit, etc., and to subject ourselves to God, etc., as it follows, He is willing to lift us up in due time (Knatchbull).
Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain? Greek, emptily, or vainly, i.e. to no purpose. This question hath the force of a negation, q.d. It doth not speak in vain. Question. What is it which the Scripture doth not speak in vain? Answer. Either those truths he had been speaking of before, particularly in the former verse, that the friendship of the world is enmity with God; or, that which follows in this verse, the spirit that dwelleth in us, etc. The spirit that dwelleth in us; either the Spirit of God, who is said to dwell in believers, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; or the spirit of men, viz. as defiled by sin, and acted by the devil, who works in men while children of disobedience; and then it is the same as corrupt nature. Lusteth to envy; either is vehemently carried out to envy, or makes us lust, and carrieth us out to it; or lusteth against envy: so the Greek preposition is often used, as Luke 20:19; Ephesians 6:11; Hebrews 12:4. Under envy he comprehends all other fleshly lusts, but instanceth in this particularly, as having been speaking of it before, James 3:14, 16; and because it hath so near a connection with other lusts, whereof it is the cause, or concomitant, and so is a principal member of the old man. This latter clause may either be read interrogatively or affirmatively; and then according as we take spirit, either for the Spirit of God, or the human spirit, the sense of the words may be either, 1. Doth the Spirit of God, that dwelleth in us, lust unto envy, i.e. incline and dispose us to so base an affection? The answer is understood: No, and confirmed by the next words, he giveth more grace, gives freely, liberally, and therefore doth not make us envy others any good they have. Nothing is more contrary to the Spirit of God, who abounds in his gifts to us, than to make us envy others theirs. Or, 2. We may understand it without any interrogation, taking the preposition to signify, against; and then the sense is: That good Spirit which is in us teacheth us better things than strife and envy, etc., for it lusteth against envy, i.e. makes us lust against it, carries out our hearts to hate and resist it. And this well agrees with what follows; The Spirit, etc., lusts against envy, but he gives more grace, viz. than to envy the good of others. Or, 3. If spirit here be understood of the spirit of man, corrupt nature, the sense is plain, as the words lie; man’s spirit (especially by the instigation of the devil) lusts, or strongly inclines, to envy, and consequently to other wickednesses, but he (that is, God, James 4:4) gives more grace. Question. Where is any such sentence to be found in the Scripture? Answer. No where in so many words; but which soever of these ways we take the words, we find the sense in the Scripture. Joshua’s envying Eldad and Medad’s prophesying, for Moses’s sake, seems to be an instance of this lust, Numbers 11:29, (compared with Genesis 6:5; 8:21, where the general inclination of man’s heart by nature is said to be evil,) and Moses’s not envying them an instance of the two former.
 Greek: ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν;
 Greek: πρὸς φθόνον.
 Lucas Brugensis (1549-1619) was a Jesuit scholar, who labored in the collation of manuscripts. He wrote In Variantia Sacrarum Bibliarum Loca Notationes (Notations on the Varying Passages of the Sacred Books).
 Denis the Carthusian, or Denis Ryckel (1402-1471), was a Carthusian monk, theologian, and mystic, considered by some to be the last of the Schoolmen. He commented on the entire Bible.
 Matthias Berg (1536-1592) was a Lutheran theologian and poet.
 Philippians 1:23: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire (τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν) to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better…”
 Psalm 62:10: “Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery (וּבְגָזֵ֪ל אַל־תֶּ֫הְבָּ֥לוּ; καὶ ἐπὶ ἅρπαγμα μὴ ἐπιποθεῖτε, and for spoil lust not, in the Greek): if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”
 Psalm 84:2: “My soul longeth (נִכְסְפָה; ἐπιποθεῖ, in the Greek), yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
 Psalm 42:1: “As the hart panteth (תַּעֲרֹג; ἐπιποθεῖ, in the Greek) after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee (כֵּ֤ן נַפְשִׁ֙י תַעֲרֹ֖ג אֵלֶ֣יךָ, οὕτως ἐπιποθεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου πρὸς σέ, in the Greek), O God.”
 That is, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, (ὅτι/that is wanting) The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”
 Joachim Camerarius the Elder (1500-1575) was a German Lutheran classical scholar, who served as a professor at Nuremberg, and later at Leipzig. He assisted Phillip Melanchthon in the preparation of the Augsburg Confession, and engaged in efforts to mediate between Catholics and Protestants on behalf of King Francis I of France and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II. He wrote Commentarius in Novum Fœdus.
 Ephesians 6:11: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (πρὸς τὰς μεθοδείας) of the devil.”
 For example, John 6:52: “The Jews therefore fought against each other (ἐμάχοντο οὖν πρὸς ἀλλήλους οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι), saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
 See 1 John 5:19.
 James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5.
 Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655) was a classical scholar, serving for almost sixty years at the University of Leiden. During the Synod of Dort, he acted as secretary on behalf of the States-General. He contributed to the Elzeviers edition of the New Testament, and wrote Exercitationes ad Novum Testamentum.
 James 4:3: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (ἡδοναῖς/pleasures, taken metonymically for desires for pleasures or lusts).”
 Verse 5.
 Thus the Septuagint.
 Norton Knatchbull (1602-1685) was an English scholar; he served in Parliament for the county of Kent and the port of New Romney. He wrote Annotations upon Some Difficult Texts in All the Books of the New Testament.
 Luke 20:19b: “…for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them (πρὸς αὐτοὺς).”
 Hebrews 12:4: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin (πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν).”