James 3:16: Wisdom Heavenly and Earthly, Part 4

Verse 16:[1] For (1 Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:20) where envying and strife is, there is confusion (Gr. tumult, or, unquietness[2]) and every evil work.

[For where envy, etc.] He names those vices which are especially apparent, as in verse 14 (Grotius). He proves his claim here from the evil fruits, etc. (Gataker).

For where envying and strife is; the usual companions of this devilish wisdom.

[There, etc., ἐκεῖ ἀκαταστασία] There is commotion (Montanus, Piscator), or, tumult (Erasmus, Illyricus, Vatablus, Grotius, Estius, Menochius). It is similar to stife, which sort is wont to be of men vehemently and haughtily contending with one another (Estius): or, perturbation (Erasmus in Estius, Calvin, thus Tremellius, the Æthiopic), that is, an agitated order of things, while through ambition each one grasps at greater things before others (Estius out of Erasmus): or, strife (Erasmus, Vatablus, Grotius, Pagnine), as in Luke 21:9;[3] 2 Corinthians 6:5[4] (Grotius): or, inconstancy (Vulgate, Arabic, Erasmus, Tigurinus, Castalio, thus Gataker), as in Luke 21:9; 1 Corinthians 14:33;[5] 2 Corinthians 12:20[6] (Gataker). But he meant here to express something weightier than Lightness, namely, that one spiteful and critical, as if he were beside himself, does all things confusedly and incorrectly. It is an argument from opposites: Wisdom requires a well composed state of mind: but emulation disturbs that, so that in a certain measure it causes a commotion with itself, and without measure it boils over unto others (Calvin).

There is confusion; or, inconsistency, viz. both with man’s self and others; envy makes him unquiet in himself, and troublesome to others, by causing contentions and seditions among them, and breaking their peace, as well as his own.

[And every depraved work] Hyperbole.[7] For he wishes to say that from emulation, and the bitter contention that follows it, a great many evils arise (Grotius). That is to say, Where those are, all other vices easily sprout and grow also (Estius).

And every evil work; all manner of wickedness is ushered in by this confusion and sedition.

[1] Greek: ὅπου γὰρ ζῆλος καὶ ἐρίθεια, ἐκεῖ ἀκαταστασία καὶ πᾶν φαῦλον πρᾶγμα.

[2] Greek: ἀκαταστασία.

[3] Luke 21:9: “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions (ἀκαταστασίας), be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by.”

[4] 2 Corinthians 6:5: “In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults (ἀκαταστασίαις), in labours, in watchings, in fastings…”

[5] 1 Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not the author of confusion (ἀκαταστασίας), but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

[6] 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, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults (ἀκαταστασίαι)…”

[7] That is, a rhetorical overstatement.

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