James 4:7: Remedies for Lusts, and Renewal of Relationship with God, Part 1

Verse 7:[1] Submit yourselves therefore to God. (Eph. 4:27; 6:11; 1 Pet. 5:9) Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

[Submit, etc., ὑποτάγητε, etc.] The Passive here in the place of the Reflexive. Subject yourselves (Grotius, Piscator, Gataker): as the same word is take in Romans 10:3;[2] 13:1,[3] 5;[4] Ephesians 5:21,[5] etc.; Titus 2:5,[6] 9;[7] 3:1;[8] etc. (Grotius). Submit and resign yourselves willingly to God, Luke 9:23. For all shall be made subject to God, even the unwilling and opposing (Gataker). [He means this:] Since God now gives much greater gifts than at the time of the Flood, it is fitting that ye allow yourselves to be governed by Him, not by that human spirit previously corrupted (Grotius). By ye subject, therefore (Vulgate), simply and absolutely (Gataker), or in all things (Tirinus); through true humility place yourselves beneath Him, confessing your sins, and acknowledging how without Him ye are capable of nothing[9] (Estius). So it shall be that ye will obtain greater grace (Estius, similarly Menochius, Tirinus). The sense: Since these depraved lusts profit you nothing, but contrariwise produse an abundance of grief, vexation, hatred, disgrace, etc.; and since that course of your life, unto which the Spirit of God invites and urges you, obtains for you many advantages, great tranquility, comfort, the love of God, the satisfying of your desires, favor and esteem in the sight of God and men, indeed, as much as ye aspire to, etc., at least turn your soul and course, no longer to your lusts, but to God, and submit yourselves (Gataker). Others: Hence it is evident that those that look for any grace from God are bound to subject themselves entirely to His will (Hammond).

Submit yourselves therefore to God; viz. voluntarily and freely, and that not only in a way of obedience to all his commands, but (which is chiefly meant here) in a way of humility, and sense of your weakness, and emptiness, and need of his grace. Therefore; both because of the danger of pride, (opposed in the former verse to humility,) he resisteth the proud; and because of the benefit that comes by humility, he giveth grace to the humble.

[Resist the Devil] That is, by faith (Piscator, thus Estius), and by the other parts of the armor of God, especially by humility and humble prayer (Estius), and by denying consent (Tirinus). The sense is the same in 1 Peter 5:9. By the wisdom of God resistance is to be made to that δαιμονιώδει/ devilish wisdom, concerning which James 3:15 (Grotius). He here lays the finger upon the root of the vices previously described, that they subject themselves, not to God, but to the Devil. The expression here are military: ὑποτάσσεσθαι, to submit oneself, is to allow entirely to a governor one’s stationing and government, after the likeness of a good soldier; ἀντιστῆναι, to resist, is bravely to oppose and to resist an enemy (Gataker).

Resist, by faith, and the rest of the spiritual armour, Ephesians 6:13, 14, etc. Or, resist, i.e. comply not with his motions and temptations. The devil; the head and leader of fleshly lusts. These likewise are military terms. Having spoken before of strife and contention, he directs here with whom we may, and with whom we may not, contend. He had commended modesty toward men, they are our equals, we must not lift ourselves above them, nor envy nor strive with them; here he adviseth to submission to God as our supreme Governor, we must not contend with him; and to open war with the devil as our great enemy, our contention must be with him.

[And (that is, then, namely, if ye have resisted [Piscator]) he will flee (flee away [Grotius]) from you] Often repulsed, just as by Christ. See on Matthew 4:11. That spirit is proud; he does not readily return to the place where he has often been vanquished (Grotius). He is said to flee when he is repelled, debilitated, overcome, although he, having been overcome repeatedly, may return and renew the fight. Sometiems God also grants to those thus tried days of rest from that enemy (Estius).

And he will flee from you; as to that particular assault in which you resist him; and though he return again, and tempt you again, yet you still resisting, he will still be overcome; ye are never conquered so long as you do not consent.

[1] Greek:  ὑποτάγητε οὖν τῷ Θεῷ·  ἀντίστητε τῷ διαβόλῳ, καὶ φεύξεται ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν.

[2] Romans 10:3:  “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves (οὐχ ὑπετάγησαν) unto the righteousness of God.”

[3] Romans 13:1a:  “Let every soul be subject (πᾶσα ψυχὴ—ὑποτασσέσθω) unto the higher powers.”

[4] Romans 13:5:  “Wherefore ye must needs be subject (ὑποτάσσεσθαι), not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.”

[5] Ephesians 5:21:  “Submitting yourselves (ὑποτασσόμενοι) one to another in the fear of God.”

[6] Titus 2:5:  “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient (ὑποτασσομένας) to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

[7] Titus 2:9:  “Exhort servants to be obedient (ὑποτάσσεσθαι) unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again…”

[8] Titus 3:1:  “Put them in mind to be subject (ὑποτάσσεσθαι) to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work…”

[9] See John 15:5.

James 4:6: The Source of Our Conflicts, Part 6

Verse 6:[1] But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, (Job 22:29; Ps. 138:6; Prov. 3:34; 29:23; Matt. 23:12; Luke 1:52; 14:11; 18:14; 1 Pet. 5:5) God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

[Greater, etc., μείζονα δὲ δίδωσι χάριν] On the contrary (or, but [Beza], indeed, rather [James Cappel]) he gives (or, bestows [Beza]) greater (either, 1. than the grace He gave; He will enlarge the grace previously given: or, 2. than ye sought [Estius]: or, 3. than the world is able to confer [Tirinus, similarly Menochius, Gataker]; heavenly wisdom in the place of earthly wisdom; the glory of His Kingdom in the place of the splendor of the world [Estius]: By this argument he dissuades them from the love of the world, for God is both able and willing to give greater things to His own, than the world, etc. [Gataker]) grace (Piscator, etc.), that is, greater gifts and benefits (Piscator, Estius, Gataker), especially sanctifying ones, etc. (Gataker). But who gives? Response 1: The Spirit of God, concerning whom in the preceding verse (certain interpreters in Estius, Piscator, Gataker); that is to say, the Spirit does not work envy (Gataker, thus Piscator), but rather He gives grace opposed to that, by which that is driven away (Gataker out of Aquinas); but He delights in temperance, giving grace to the temperate, etc. (Piscator). Or thus, the Holy Spirit is not envious, but benign and generous (Gataker out of Calvin). Response 2: The Scripture: The sense of the passage: Not in vain does the Scripture call this the condition of human nature, but it in turn gives to us the hope of a certain greater good (Beza). Response 3: God, tacitly named there. The Scripture, that is, divine, saith: for, what this promises, God promises. Certainly, says he, God, who promises, if it be rightly requested, shall give greater grace (Estius): God, namely, at this time. For concerning Messiah there was an ancient saying, that He was going to come so that He might correct יצר הרע, the evil inclination, namely, both by His preceps, which we have in Matthew 5:28 and elsewhere, and by His eternal and heavenly promises, and additionally that Spirit, that is, His own. The sense is the same as in 1 Peter 3:19 and following, where similarly the time of Christ is compared with the time of the flood. These words could be views μυστικῶς/mystically, taken from Proverbs 4:19[2] (Grotius).

[Wherefore (that is, indicating [Estius]) he says (namely, God, or the Scripture [Estius, Piscator, Gataker]: An Ellipsis, of which sort is found in Ephesians 5:14 [Piscator]: Others: he says, is used indefinitely and impersonally in the place of it is said, as it often is [Gataker]) God the proud (that is, rebels against the Law of God, as in Virgil, —it belongs to Kings to spare those in subjection, and to subdue the proud[3] [Hammond]) resisteth (or, opposes Himself to, as with force and arms, repelling, routing, prostrating, destroying them [Gataker], as invaders and plunderers of the divine glory [Estius]), to the humble (or, restrained [Beza, Drusius], gentle [Drusius], stooping [Beza], lowly [Piscator], either, 1. with respect to their condition [Erasmus]; or rather, 2. with respect to their spirit, as the Antithesis shows [Piscator]) He gives grace] That is, greater, as just now mentioned (Estius), either He shows abundant favor to them (Menochius), repeatedly adds new gifts of grace to former gifts of grace (Estius): or, He obtains for them honor, grace, and esteem among men (Gataker out of Mercerus,[4] Pinnerus, etc.). He brings it to pass that men favor and bless them (Gataker out of Piscator). In the preceding verses he treats of precepts, but here of promises; that is to say, the Scripture indeed requires that we cast aside the lusts of the flesh, and follow the impulse of the Spirit. But because this of itself is difficult, indeed impossible without the help of God; therefore, God grants to all asking the greater grace, the more abjectly they think of themselves (Vorstius). Question: Whence was this taken? Responses: 1. From the general doctrine of the Old Testament, in which many things of this sort are said (Gataker out of Calvin). 2. From Proverbs 3:34 (Junius, Vatablus, Piscator, Dieu, Gataker, Estius, Hammond, Grotius), according to the Septuagint version[5] (Vatablus, Piscator, Dieu, Grotius, etc.). But in the Hebrew it is, He will scorn the scorners, and He will give grace to the gentle.[6] But the sense is the same. For scorners, or mockers, are the same as the proud: for thence they scorn others, because they regard themselves as better than them (Estius). And, that scoffers are indeed principally marked out here by reason of their pride, the Antithesis shows. He speaks of those that not only do not subject themselves to God, but also impudently spern His admonitions and judgments (Dieu). And He derides, and He relates that they are worthy of derision, or He exposes them to contempt (Gataker out of R., Lyra), which He does while He resists them, humbles them. The gentle and the humble are likewise the same in Scripture (Estius). In short, to expose to contempt and to give grace are best set over against each other, if you understand external grace, as was said (Gataker’s Cinnus 90). Some Greek Codices omit this entire part (Estius, thus Erasmus): thus the best Manuscripts and some Latin codices (Grotius): so that it is plausible that this passage, as alien to that which is here treated, was noted in the margin out of 1 Peter 5:5; and finally, as it is wont to happen, it crept into the text. And with these things omitted the sense coheres better (Grotius, similarly Erasmus, Œcumenius in Estius). But these things were to be added, taking all things into consideration (Beza), and the Syriac, and many ancient Greek Codices, have these things (Estius), and all ours (Beza).

But he; either the Spirit of God, if spirit in the former verse be understood of the Spirit of God; or God, if spirit be there taken for the spirit of man. Giveth more grace; either, though we, according to our natural inclination, be envious, yet God (or his Spirit) is bountiful and liberal; or God gives to those that are renewed, more grace than to be hurried on by their own old spirit, to envy, strife, and suchlike lusts. Wherefore he saith; God saith, viz. in the Scripture: or it may be taken indefinitely, and impersonally, for, it is said. The particular place he referreth to, is Proverbs 3:34, according to the translation of the Septuagint, which not only James, but other New Testament writers, frequently follow. God resisteth; it is a military term: God sets himself, as in battle, against the proud, defying, beating down, exposing to contempt, and destroying them; he is so far from giving them more gifts, that he rather spoils them, as sworn enemies, of what they have. The proud; those that by reason of the gifts God hath given them, lift themselves above others: Solomon, in the parallel place, calls them scorners; it being the usual guise of those that think over-well of themselves, to despise others, and even contemn the warnings and judgments of God himself, which may well draw him out to fight against them. But giveth grace unto the humble; not only gives favour and honour in the sight of men to those that are lowly in their own eyes, but especially furnisheth them with grace for the overcoming and mortifying their carnal desires and remaining corruptions.

[1] Greek:  μείζονα δὲ δίδωσι χάριν·  διὸ λέγει, Ὁ Θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται, ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσι χάριν.

[2] Proverbs 3:34 or 29:23 may be intended.

[3] Æneid 6:852, 853.

[4] John Mercerus (d. 1562) began his career as a Roman Catholic scholar.  He was one of the sixteenth century’s greatest experts in Hebrew, and he served as Professor of Hebrew and Chaldean in the Royal College, Paris (1549).  Roman Catholics lamented his conversion to Protestantism.

[5] The Septuagint of Proverbs 3:34:  κύριος ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν.

[6] Hebrew:  אִם־לַלֵּצִ֥ים הֽוּא־יָלִ֑יץ וְ֜לַעֲנִיִּ֗ים יִתֶּן־חֵֽן׃.

James 4:5: The Source of Our Conflicts, Part 5

Verse 5:[1] 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[2])?

[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,[3] 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,[4] 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,[5] 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,[6] 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[7] and 84:2,[8] and likewise in Psalm 42:1,[9] 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,[10] 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,[11] Bede in Estius, Gataker out of Aquinas, Pareus), as in Ephesians 6:11,[12] and among Greek Writers (Gomar), just as it is said, μάχεσθαι πρός τινα, to fight against someone;[13] 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;[14] 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[15] (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,[16] 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[17] (Grotius). The sense is taken from Genesis 6:3, 5 (Grotius, thus Hammond). For what is there מַחְשְׁבֹת/thoughts/intentions,[18] διανοεῖται, to be purposed/intended,[19] 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[20]).

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;[21] Ephesians 6:11; Hebrews 12:4.[22] 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.

[1] Greek:  ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν;

[2] Greek:  πρὸς φθόνον.

[3] 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).

[4] 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.

[5] Matthias Berg (1536-1592) was a Lutheran theologian and poet.

[6] 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…”

[7] 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.”

[8] 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.”

[9] 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.”

[10] That is, “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, (ὅτι/that is wanting) The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”

[11] 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.

[12] 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.”

[13] 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?”

[14] See 1 John 5:19.

[15] James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5.

[16] 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.

[17] 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).”

[18] Verse 5.

[19] Thus the Septuagint.

[20] 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.

[21] Luke 20:19b:  “…for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them (πρὸς αὐτοὺς).”

[22] Hebrews 12:4:  “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin (πρὸς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν).”

James 4:4: The Source of Our Conflicts, Part 4

Verse 4:[1] (Ps. 73:27) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that (1 John 2:15) the friendship of the world is enmity with God? (John 15:19; 17:14; Gal. 1:10) whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

[Adulterers and adulteresses] Rightly: for μοιχαλίς is an adulteress, Romans 7:3.[2] Yet here these words are to be taken in a sense figurative (Grotius), or metaphorical (Estius), as in Matthew 12:39; 16:4. Thus he calls Worldly men (Cappel), whether those that cleave to the world (Menochius), or those that prefer the world to the love of God (Beza); either, because he had made mention of pleasures, the immoderate appetite for which makes adulterers: or, because he that transfers the love that he owes to God to the world goes a whoring from God (Estius), and to Christ, the true bridegroom of souls, he remits a letter of divorcement (Menochius). For those that do not cleave to the one God, nor wish to obey Him in all things, but accommodate themselves partly to God and partly to the world, are similar to those wives that, not being content with their own sweet husbands, add extraneous affairs (Piscator). It was able to be objected, Is this such a great matter, if we should desire to live with pleasure and ambition! He responds sharply and with indignation, There is no small sin in this immoderate desires, but it is adultery and enimity with God (Gataker).

Ye adulterers and adulteresses; he means adulterers and adulteresses in a spiritual sense, i.e. worldly-minded Christians, who being, by profession, married to the Lord, yet gave up those affections to the things of the world which were due to God only. The like expression is used, Matthew 12:39; 16:4.

[Know ye not] That is to say, To be ignorant neither are ye able (Gataker), nor ought ye (Gataker, Lyra), both by the dictate of reason, and by the admonition delivered to you (Lyra).

Know ye not; ye ought to know, and cannot but know.

[The friendship of the world (which is immersed in vices[3] [Castalio]: or, with the world [Grotius], that is, entered into [either] with worldly things [Tirinus], or with the vicious activities of the World [Grotius]: [or] with the impious [Piscator, similarly Estius]: It is a Genitive of object [Piscator, similarly Vorstius], as in the following ἔχθρα τοῦ Θεοῦ, enmity of/with God [Piscator, similarly Vorstius, Grotius]) is the enemy (or, enmity [Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, etc.]) of God?] Or, against God? (Beza, Piscator), Θεοῦ, of God, is the same as εἰς Θεὸν, against God, Romans 8:7 (Grotius, Piscator): or, by God is held as hostility against Himself: because He requires the whole man for Himself. The sense is the same in Matthew 12:30, in which place see what things have been said (Grotius).

That the friendship of the world; inordinate affection to the world, addictedness or devotedness to the things or men of the world. Is enmity with God; alienates the sole from God, and God from it, 1 John 2:15.

[Whosoever therefore, etc.] He draws πόρισμα, a conclusion, by force of the things brought together (Piscator). This is a very terrible sentence against those that order their activities and efforts for human favor. For this is truly to be the friend of the world (Estius). Compare 1 John 2:15 (Gataker). Ἐχθρὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, a hater of God,[4] as in James 2:23, φίλος Θεοῦ, a lover of God[5] (Grotius).

Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world; if it be the purpose and resolution of a man’s heart to get in with the world, though perhaps he cannot obtain its favour; he courts it, though it be coy to him. Is the enemy of God; exerciseth hostility against God, by adhering to an interest so contrary to him.

[1] Greek: μοιχοὶ καὶ μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστίν; ὃς ἂν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ καθίσταται.

[2] Romans 7:3:  “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress (μοιχαλὶς):  but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress (μοιχαλίδα), though she be married to another man.”

[3] See 1 John 5:19.

[4] James 4:4b:  “…whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ καθίσταται).”

[5] James 2:23b:  “…and he was called the Friend of God (φίλος Θεοῦ).”

James 4:3: The Source of Our Conflicts, Part 3

Verse 3:[1] (Job 27:9; 35:12; Ps. 18:41; Prov. 1:28; Is. 1:15; Jer. 11:11; Mic. 3:4; Zech. 7:13) Ye ask, and receive not, (Ps. 66:18; 1 John 3:22; 5:14) because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (or, pleasures[2]).

[Ye ask, etc.] He concedes here what he just now denied, but concerning others, etc. Some of you do not ask at all (Piscator, similarly Vorstius); other do indeed ask, but amiss (Piscator, similarly Estius, Grotius, Vorstius). Therefore, ye do not receive. We ought to ask both for good things and in a good manner. He anticipates an objection (Estius). They were able to say, but we do supplicate. He responds, Yet it is not strange if ye are not heard. God does give to those asking, but only if they ask rightly, that is, if they ask necessary things in humility (Grotius), and affected as they ought to be (Beza), and rightly making use of them in the soul (Grotius); or with a good intention (Estius), having regard unto the glory of God and charity toward the neighbor (Beza).

Ye ask; he prevents an objection; q.d. Admit you do pray for the good things you want, or, though you pray for them. Ye ask amiss; though you pray for good things, yet you do not pray well, or in a right manner, not according to God’s will, 1 John 5:14, and therefore ye are not to complain of not being heard.

[That, etc., ἵνα—δαπανήσητε] That (or, namely that [Piscator]: That you might have what things [Grotius, Estius]) upon your lusts (that is, upon whatever illicit pleasure [Estius]: ἐν ταῖς ἡδοναῖς ὑμῶν, in your lusts, is here in the place of εἰς τὰς ἡδονὰς ὑμῶν, for your pleasures: For it is evident that in this place the end, or final cause, is denoted [Piscator]) ye may consume (Beza), or, spend (Grotius). And with this goal ye seek wealth, or honors, or knowledge (Estius); but not so that ye, having the necessities, might serve God. Now, such things God has not promised, Matthew 6:32. See also on Matthew 18:19; James 1:5 (Grotius).

That ye may consume it upon your lusts; you pray for the things of this life only, that you may have wherewith to please the flesh, and gratify your carnal appetites, and so an evil end spoils good means; and while you would have God serve your lusts you lose your prayers.

[1] Greek: αἰτεῖτε, καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετε, διότι κακῶς αἰτεῖσθε, ἵνα ἐν ταῖς ἡδοναῖς ὑμῶν δαπανήσητε.

[2] Greek: ἡδοναῖς.

James 4:2: The Source of Our Conflicts, Part 2

Verse 2:[1] Ye lust, and have not: ye kill (or, envy[2]), and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

[Ye lust, and have not] Either, because ye apply not your hand to labor, from a comparison with Proverbs 13:4 (Drusius); or, because the desired goods are intercepted by others; or, because those are obtained with great difficulty (Menochius). The more ye desire, the less ye have, with God punishing you. This pertains first to exorbitant prices, then to famine, concerning which Acts 11:28 (Grotius). He is setting forth the cause of contentions. For, those that lust after what they do not have, like wealth, etc., are inflamed and rise up against others who do have, or by whom they are hindered (Estius).

Ye lust; passionately and greedily desire. And have not; either soon lose, or rather cannot get, what ye so lust after.

[Ye kill, etc. (thus Montanus, Æthiopic), φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε, etc.] So the Greek Codices have it (Drusius, Beza), that I have seen (Drusius). So also the Syriac (Beza, Drusius), and Œcumenius (Estius). But this reading does not fit (Beza, similarly Erasmus), for thus the eloquence would be dwindling (Beza). Rather, he would have said, ye desire and kill, so that he might take a step from that which is less weighty to that which more. And what is that, ye kill and are not able to obtain? since killing is not the path to obtaining, except among the most criminal. Neither does he speak here against murders and oppressors of the poor, concerning which see the following chapter. For which reason Œcumenius here flees to the murder of the soul by the pursuit of lusts (Estius). [But others otherwise:] Ye kill and are zealous, etc., that is, ye kill yourselves by zealously desiring. Thus Zechariah 11:5, which…they kill, they vex, they afflict: and verse 7, I fed the flocks of slaughter, that is, afflicted flocks, as he next explains himself.[3] Terence, he deafens, he kills,[4] that is, he is disagreeable and hateful (Drusius). Others: Ye kill, that is, ye have in hatred, as in 1 John 3:15 (Estius). The Greek Scholiast reads φονεῖτε (Beza): Which, since it is not in use (Schmidt[5]), appears to have been written incorrectly, in the place of φθονεῖτε, ye envy (Beza, similarly Schmidt), as certain Codices have it (Estius), not incorrectly (Grotius, similarly Estius out of Cajetan). That it is to be thus read is shown, both by the Synonymous verb ζηλοῦτε, and by the ἀντίθετος/antithetic expression, ye are not able to obtain, namely, those goods that ye begrude your neighbor (Piscator). [And this reading a good many follow in their versions:] Ye envy (this expression is especially agreeable here: For commonly those that desire to obtain envy what they see others have [Estius]) and ye seek to obtain (or, ye emulate [Erasmus, Tigurinus], or, zealously, whether ardently, or ambitiously, ye strive [Pagnine, Beza]), but are not able to obtain, or to gain (Piscator, Pagnine, Castalio, Tigurinus, Montanus, etc.): they are distinguished here, as in Galatians 5:20, 21, envy, and emulation:[6] the former properly considered grieves over the good of another, wishing that not to be; the latter properly considered wishes its own good to be as great as another’s (Estius). [The sense:] Some of you rage against others, envy their blessings, and yet are not able to attain their felicity. See a certain Greek Poet, Apuleius,[7] Cyprian[8] (Grotius) [and their words in Grotius].

Ye kill; some copies have it, ye envy, and many suppose that to be the better reading, as agreeing with the context, and with James 3:14; envy being the cause of strife there, and joined with emulation, or a desire of having, here. We read it according to other copies, ye kill, which, if he speaketh of wars in a proper sense, James 4:1, was, no doubt, the effect of them; and if he speak only of strife and contentions, yet they might proceed so far, that the death of some (though not intended) might be the consequent of them, and occasioned by them. Or, he may mean their murderous desires, killing men in their hearts, wishing for and gaping after their death, that they might gain by it; and this agrees with what he speaks of the frustration of their greedy desires, none being more frequently disappointed of their hopes than they that hope to be gainers by other men’s deaths. And desire to have; or, emulate, i.e. ambitiously affect to have what ye see others have, grieving that they should have more than you. And cannot obtain; viz; that which ye envy others’ having.

[Ye quarrel, etc., μάχεσθε, etc.] Ye fight and war (that is, with contentions and discords [Menochius, similarly Estius], fiercely and in a hostile manner ye quarrel with your neighbors over obtaining their goods [Piscator]), yet ye do not obtain (Piscator). Namely, what ye desired (Menochius), a tranquil life, for the sake of which wars are undertaken (Grotius). Your labors, wrongly directed, fall useless, arising from depraved desires (Beza). Your lusts neither gratify nor satisfy you, since they are infinite, and always exciting new lusts, and to such an extent enlarging your sense of need, etc. (Gataker).

Ye fight and war: you wrangle and quarrel with your neighbours for what they have, that ye may get it for yourselves. Yet ye have not; ye are still needy, though still craving; your lusts are infinite and insatiable in themselves, and no way helpful to you.

[Because, etc., διὰ τὸ μὴ αἰτεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς] On account of the fact that ye ask not (Beza, Piscator). Namely, with requests from God (Beza, thus Piscator, Estius), who has made promises to those praying, not to those fighting, Matthew 7:7 (Grotius); but ye think by force and fraud to obtain the conveniences of this life, that is, to extort them with God being unwilling (Beza). Αἰτεῖσθαι is in the place of the Attic αἰτεῖν,[9] as in Matthew 18:19;[10] 20:22;[11] Luke 23:23, 25;[12] and elsewhere (Grotius).

Because ye ask not; viz. of God by prayer, who hath promised to give to them that ask, Matthew 7:7, not to them that war and fight. Instead of humble seeking to God for what ye want, ye would extort it by force or fraud from one another.

[1] Greek: ἐπιθυμεῖτε, καὶ οὐκ ἔχετε· φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε, καὶ οὐ δύνασθε ἐπιτυχεῖν· μάχεσθε καὶ πολεμεῖτε, οὐκ ἔχετε δέ, διὰ τὸ μὴ αἰτεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς·

[2] Φονεύετε, ye kill, is read in the overwhelming majority of manuscripts; φθονεῖτε, ye envy, is proposed as an alternative reading.

[3] Zechariah 11:7a:  “And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor (עֲנִיֵּי/ afflicted) of the flock.”

[4] Eunuchus 3:5.

[5] Erasmus Schmidt (1560-1637), a learned Lutheran philologist, served as Professor at Wittenburg in both Mathematics and Greek.  He wrote Concordantiæ Novi Testamenti Græci and Versio Novi Testamenti Nova ad Græcam Veritatem Emendata, et Notæ ac Animadversione in Idem.

[6] Galatians 5:20, 21a:  “Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations (ζῆλοι), wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders (φθόνοι, φόνοι), drunkenness, revellings, and such like…”

[7] Anexomenos.  Apuleius (c. 125-c. 180) was of Madaurus in North Africa, and an author.  His novel, Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass, is the only Latin novel from this period that has survived in its entirety.

[8] De Zelo et Livore.

[9] That is, the Middle in place of the Active voice.

[10] Matthew 18:19:  “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask (αἰτήσωνται, in the Middle voice), it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

[11] Matthew 20:22a:  “But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask (αἰτεῖσθε, in the Middle voice).”

[12] Luke 23:23a, 25:  “And they were instant with loud voices, requiring (αἰτούμενοι, in the Middle voice) that he might be crucified….  And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired (ᾐτοῦντο, in the Middle voice); but he delivered Jesus to their will.”

James 4:1: The Source of Our Conflicts, Part 1

Verse 1:[1] From whence come wars and fightings (or, brawlings[2]) among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts (or, pleasures;[3] so in verse 3) (Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:11) that war in your members?

[Whence the wars and quarrels in you?] Or, among you? (Piscator, Grotius). Namely, Israelites. He understands those commotions of the Philadelphian[4] Jews against those that were in Perea,[5] the faction of the sons of Judas the Galilean,[6] battles with the Samaritans,[7] and the arms of the Syrian,[8] concerning which see Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 20. It is plausible that certain Christians, more in name than in substance, also got carried away with those disturbances. He admonishes those that were Christians indeed, that they conform themselves to the norm of the Gospel, and those that were Christians in name only, that they come to the Gospel (Grotius). Others: He here calls wars (Estius, Piscator), for the sake of intensification (Piscator), quarrels and contentions (Piscator, similarly Estius, Menochius, Vorstius), since he opposes these to the study of peace in the preceding verses (Piscator). For there were at that time no wars between Christians (Menochius, Vorstius).

Wars and fightings; either it may be understood properly of insurrections, and tumults, in which, possibly, some carnal professors might be engaged; or rather, strife and contention about outward things, wranglings among themselves, and going to law, especially before unbelieving judges, 1 Corinthians 6:1.

[Are they not from, etc., οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν, ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν, etc.] Are they not hence, namely, from the pleasures (or, desires [Erasmus, Vatablus], lusts [the Syriac in Grotius]) of you (which you covet [Menochius], that is, from your concupiscence, or lusts [Estius, Menochius, Piscator, Grotius, Gataker], for things voluptuary, or not necessary for life [Grotius], for wealth, honors, and luxuries [Menochius], of which [lusts] pleasure is the end/goal [Vorstius]: Metonymy of the end/goal [Piscator, similarly Grotius, Vorstius]: or, the object in the place of the act that leads to that [Estius]; as appears from the following verse ἐπιθυμεῖτε, etc., ye lust, etc. [Gataker]) that war (exceptionally stated: for those external wars would not be, unless the internal one had been previously, that is, of those Lusts warring with right and sound reason: In a like sense, we have ἀντιστρατεύεσθαι, to make war against, in Romans 7:23 [Grotius]; which rise up and rebel against reason and religion, 1 Peter 2:11, and which stir up strife and tumults in the soul [Gataker]) in your members? (Beza, Piscator). In which military camps are set up (Menochius), and by which, as by relentless soldiers, they fight against the spirit; or, of which, like weapons, they make use for the works of sin, by the command and power of which they fight, as to defraud with the hands, to curse with the tongue, etc. (Estius). They are first and foremost in the faculties of the soul, but they erupt in the members of the body; they show themselves (Gataker), and grow strong and fight against the mind (Menochius). Or, he calls members the unregenerate parts of man, as in Romand 7:23; Colossians 3:5 (Gataker). Now, this question is in response; that is to say, certainly this is the cause of contentions, etc. (Estius), that ye follow that which is pleasant to the soul (Erasmus, Vatablus), not what is right (Erasmus). Cicero, Concerning Ends[9] 1: From lusts hatreds, quarrels, strife, and wars arise. Iamblichus:[10] Πολέμους καὶ στασεῖς οὐδὲν ἄλλο παρέχει ἢ τὸ σῶμα καὶ αἱ τούτου ἐπιθυμίαι, Nothing else furnishes occasion for wars and seditions, save the body and its lusts.[11] So also Diogenes[12] was saying that wars are excited, not for the sustenance of vegetables and fruits, but for the luxuries of meats and sumptuous meals;[13] and Pliny says that the end of opulences tends toward wickedness, murders, and wars.[14] Similar things are found in Porphyry[15] and Tibullus[16] [see the words in Grotius]. See more in Concerning the Law of War and Peace 1:2:5 (Grotius).

Your lusts; Greek, pleasures, i.e. those lusts whereof pleasure is the end, which is therefore put for the lusts themselves: he means the over eager desire of riches, worldly greatness, carnal delights, Titus 3:3, where lusts and pleasures go together. That war; oppose and tumultuate against reason, conscience, grace, Romans 7:23; 1 Peter 2:11. In your members; not only the members of the body, but faculties of the soul, exercised by them; all the parts of man unrenewed, Colossians 3:5, which are used as weapons of unrighteousness, Romans 6:13.

[1] Greek: Πόθεν πόλεμοι καὶ μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν; οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν, ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν ὑμῶν τῶν στρατευομένων ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ὑμῶν;

[2] Greek: μάχαι.

[3] Greek: ἡδονῶν.

[4] Present day Amman, roughly twenty-five miles east of the Jordan River.

[5] Perea was a region just east of the Jordan River, beginning about ten miles south of the Sea of Galilee, and stretching to roughly the middle of the Dead Sea.  Its width was about fifteen miles.  Circa 45 AD, there was a border dispute between the Philadelphians and Pereans.

[6] Judas the Galilean led an armed revolt againt the Roman census of 6 AD, but the rebellion was brutally put down (see Acts 5:37).  Josephus portrays Judas’ descendants as continuing to foment rebellion until the time of the Jewish Revolt in 66 AD.

[7] In 52 AD, the murder of a group of Galileans traveling through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem by Samaritans touched off a series of violent confrontations.  The Romans, through diplomacy and terror, quelled the conflict, but only with difficulty.

[8] In 58 AD, conflict arose in Cæsarea between Jewish and Syrian citizens concerning the equality of rights belonging to citizens, the Jews valuing themselves because of their wealth and relationship to Herod the Great (the founder of the city), the Syrians because the Roman soldiers of Cæsarea were largely Syrian.  Felix violently quelled the unrest.  Ultimately, the Jews would have their equality of rights taken away, further exacerbating the tensions leading to war in 66 AD.

[9] De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum.

[10] Iamblichus (c. 245-c. 325) was instrumental in both shaping and spreading Neoplatonic philosophy in the ancient world.  He was heavily influenced by Pythagorean philosophy.

[11] Protrepticus 13.

[12] Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412-323 BC) was a Greek philosopher, and one of the founders of the school of Cynicism.  For Diogenes, man’s purpose and happiness is to live a virtuous life, agreeable to nature.  Consequently, he extolled a life of natural simplicity, making a virtue of poverty.  His writing survive only in the fragments preseverd in the writings of others.

[13] Cited in Porphyry’s On Abstinence from Animal Food 1.

[14] Natural History 2:63.

[15] On Abstinence from Animal Food 2.

[16] Elegies 1:11:7, 8.  Albius Tibullus (c. 54-19 BC) was a writer of Latin poems and elegies.  Two volumes of his poetry survive.

Chapter 4 Outline

Our evil lusts and passions tend to breed quarrels among ourselves, and to set us at enmity with God, 1-6. The way to overcome them, and recover God’s favour, 7-10. Against detraction and censoriousness, 11, 12. We must not presume on the future, but commit ourselves to God’s providence, 13-17.