James 3:14: Wisdom Heavenly and Earthly, Part 2

Verse 14:[1] But if ye have (Rom. 13:13) bitter envying and strife in your hearts, (Rom. 2:17, 23) glory not, and lie not against the truth.

[But if, etc., εἰ δὲ ζῆλον πικρὸν ἔχετε καὶ ἐρίθειαν, etc.] But if envy (or, rivalry [Erasmus, Tigurinus], zeal [Vulgate]) bitter (thus he calls that envy, which Paul calls bitterness in Ephesians 4:31 [Estius], because it bears with it wrath and rancor [Menochius], and it is bitter against the neighbor [Estius]) ye have, and irritation (or, contention [Erasmus, Vatablus, Estius, thus the Vulgate, etc.], that is, a zeal, and ardor of spirit, inclined to contention [Menochius]: These vices it elicits, because it is wont to arise from ambition and vainglory [Estius]: You have ζῆλον/zeal/envy and ἐρίθειαν/strife/contention as things closely related in 2 Corinthians 12:20[2] and in Galatians 5:20,[3] in which places consult what things have been said: And he agreeably adds that epithet, πικρὸν/bitter, so that he might more manifestly show whither those similitudes in verses 11 and 12 tend [Grotius]: Otherwise they might be taken in a good sense, ζῆλος/zeal for fervor of spirit, as in John 2:17;[4] 2 Corinthians 7:7;[5] Colossians 4:13;[6] and ἐρεθίζειν, to provoke, in 2 Corinthians 9:2:[7] There is also a zeal ignorant, Romans 10:2, and malignant, Wisdom of Solomon 1[8] [Gataker]) in your heart (Pagnine, Beza, Piscator), that is, lying hidden in your soul (Estius).

Bitter envying; Greek, zeal, which he calls bitter, partly to distinguish it from that zeal which is good, whereas this he speaks of is evil, and though it pretends to be zeal, yet is really no other than envy; and partly because it commonly proceeds from an imbittered spirit, and tends to the imbittering it more. Strife; the usual effect of bitter zeal, or envy. In your hearts; the fountain whence it proceeds; or strife in the heart implies a heart propense and inclined to strife.

[Do not, etc., μὴ κατακαυχᾶσθε, etc.] In a manuscript it is καυχᾶσθε, do not be pleased with yourselves[9] (Grotius). Do not glory (or, do not be puffed up [Tremellius out of the Syriac], or, do not boast of yourselves [Castalio], that is, by arrogating to yourselves the title of wiseman [Grotius, similarly Piscator]: or, contra-glory [Estius]) and lie (or, and do not lie [Estius], and do not be deceitful [Beza, Piscator]) against the truth (Montanus, etc.). Which ought to be referred to both preceding words (Estius, similarly Piscator, Gataker): Glory not against the truth, and lie not against it (Estius); that is, against the truth of the word of God, or falsely (Gataker). The sense: If ye be such, do not boast yourselves and call yourselves wise. For this would be to glory and lie against the truth (Estius). Now, there is in that, καὶ ψεύδεσθε κατὰ τῆς ἀληθείας , and lie not against the truth, a Pleonasm,[10] of which sort is found in Romans 9:1; 1 John 1:6 (Grotius).

Glory not; glory not of your zeal, or rather of your wisdom, as if you were so well able to reprehend others, but rather be humbled; what you make the matter of your glorying, being really just cause of shame. And lie not against the truth; viz. by professing yourselves wise, or zealous, when ye are really neither.

[1] Greek: εἰ δὲ ζῆλον πικρὸν ἔχετε καὶ ἐρίθειαν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν, μὴ κατακαυχᾶσθε καὶ ψεύδεσθε κατὰ τῆς ἀληθείας.

[2] 2 Corinthians 12:20: “For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings (ζῆλοι), wraths, strifes (ἐριθεῖαι), backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults…”

[3] Galatians 5:20: “Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations (ζῆλοι), wrath, strife (ἐριθεῖαι), seditions, heresies…”

[4] John 2:17: “And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal (ὁ ζῆλος) of thine house hath eaten me up.”

[5] 2 Corinthians 7:7: “And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me (τὸν ὑμῶν ζῆλον ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ); so that I rejoiced the more.”

[6] Colossians 4:13: “For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal (ζῆλον) for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”

[7] 2 Corinthians 9:2: “For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked (ὁ ἐξ ὑμῶν ζῆλος ἠρέθισε) very many.”

[8] Wisdom of Solomon 1:12: “Seek not death in the error of your life (μὴ ζηλοῦτε θάνατον ἐν πλάνῃ ζωῆς ὑμῶν): and pull not upon yourselves destruction with the works of your hands.”

[9] Thus Codex Alexandrinus.

[10] That is, a use of more words than necessary to convey the sense.

Leave a Comment