James 1:20: The Right Reception of the Word, Part 2

Verse 20: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.[1]

[For the wrath (he proves hereafter the three precepts that he had just given, beginning from the last [Estius]) of man worketh not the righteousness of God] Or, it does not carry out (Beza, Piscator). By the righteousness of God he does not here understand that in Romans 1:17 (Beza), but either, 1. that which God exercises in punishing evils; that is to say, for pursuing His righteousness God did not ordain the anger of men, desiring to avenge themselves, but for this end He established judges (Cajetan in Estius): or, 2. that by which one is truly righteous (Estius), internal righteousness, which God requires (Grotius, similarly Piscator, Gataker); that is, what God prescribes (Beza), what is righteous and pleasing to God (Tirinus); virtue or good works (Drusius). Concerning this righteousness see Matthew 5:20; Romans 3:21, 22; 10:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21 (Grotius). [The sense:] An angry man does not yield to the commandments of God (Vatablus, Menochius), but commits many evils (Estius, similarly Menochius, Tirinus, Laurentius out of Aquinas, Hammond, Vorstius, Dickson). It is, therefore, λιτότης/litotes[2] (Laurentius, thus Gataker). Anger blinds the mind, hardens the heart, Proverbs 27:3, breaks the bonds both of nature and of religion; and also what good it does it does poorly out of love for itself rather than out of hatred for evil (Gataker). If one is accustomed to get angry quickly and often, he will not attain to the righteousness of God, or, if he has attained, he will lose it (Grotius). The work of God is not advanced by our passions, or, our carnal zeal and fervor (Dickson).

For the wrath of man: that anger which is merely human, and generally sinful, inordinate passion and carnal zeal. Worketh not the righteousness of God; will not accomplish the ends of the word in you, viz. to work that righteousness which in the word God prescribes you. But here is withal a meiosis in the words, less being spoken than is intended; it is implied therefore, that the wrath of man hinders the operation of the word, and disposeth to that unrighteousness which is forbidden by it.

[1] Greek:  ὀργὴ γὰρ ἀνδρὸς δικαιοσύνην Θεοῦ οὐ κατεργάζεται.

[2] That is, a rhetorical understatement, in which an affirmative is expressed in terms of a denial of its contrary negative.

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