James 3:18: Wisdom Heavenly and Earthly, Part 6

Verse 18:[1] (Prov. 11:18; Hos. 10:12; Matt. 5:9; Phil. 1:11; Heb. 12:11) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

[The fruit, etc., καρπὸς—ἐν εἰρήνῃ, etc.] He commends heavenly wisdom, in the preceding verses by its qualities, in this verse by its effects. Or, he meets this objection, This wisdom is nevertheless useless. Nay, says he, but rather fruitful (Gataker). There is a twofold Antanaclasis.[2] For he just now made use of the language of καρποῦ/fruit with respect to Works, but now with respect to the Recompense of works; and the language of εἰρήνης/peace he takes up first for prosperous works (for ἐν εἰρήνῃ, in peace, is used in the place of εἰς εἰρήνην, unto peace), then for concord (Grotius). But the fruit (the fruit is twofold, 1. what we bring forth, as in Luke 3:8, 9; 6:43, 44; 8:8; Romans 6:22; etc.: 2. what we reap, that is, the reward, as in Luke 13:6, 7; Romans 1:13: The former is called ἔργον/work, Hebrew 12:11, that is, the good which one does; the latter, καρπὸς ἔργου, the fruit of work, Hebrews 6:7, 8; James 5:7, or the good which one reaps [Gataker]) of righteousness (that is, of that righteous and just wisdom described a little before; which metonymically is called righteousness, because it is its inseparable cause and companion [Vorstius]: He says of righteousness, because it is true wisdom, Job 28:28: Of righteousness, that is, of heavenly wisdom, that is, of piety and charity [Hammond]: Δικαιοσύνη here is generally taken in such a way that it comprehends all things that belong to our duty, as in Matthew 5:20; Acts 10:35; Romans 3:21, 22; Philippians 1:11; and elsewhere [Grotius]: Is here called the fruit of righteousness, either, 1. righteous fruit [Gataker]; or, 2. what is reaped from righteousness, namely, eternal life [Estius], or, the promise of righteousness, as in Philippians 1:22; or, 3. which consists in righteousness, as in Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11, like the trees of righteousness, Isaiah 61:3, which bring forth righteousness like fruit [Gataker]: or, which is righteousness itself; but in such a way that we take righteousness according to our degrees and perfection [Estius]: thus Romans 4:11, the sign of circumcision [Gataker]: or, 4. fruit appropriate for a sincere and honest life [Beza]: What is called fruit is produced in whatever manner, whether as an effect, as in James 3:17, or as a recompense, as here and in Hebrews 12:11 [Hammond]) in peace (this is referred, either, 1. to σπείρεται, it is sown in peace, as in 1 Corinthians 15:43, it is sown in dishonor, glory, weakness, etc. [certain interpreters in Gataker], or, with peace, that is, they, as fruitful and blessed, shall reap, Matthew 5:9 [Beza]; or, rather, 2. to καρπὸς/fruit, as if it was ὁ ἐν εἰρήνῃ, that is, κείμενος, situated in peace [Gataker, Piscator]: or, in peace, that is, in a manner most happy and agreeable, or with a confluence of every sort of blessedness [Hammond]: Εἰρήνη here does not denote peace, or the study of peace, as many take it; but rather prosperity, or felicity, as in Psalm 37:11; 72:3; Luke 7:50; 8:48; etc.: καρπὸς ἐν εἰρήνῃ here is the same as καρπὸς εἰρηνικὸς, peaceable fruit, Hebrews 12:11 [Gataker]) is sown (a comparison with sowing in this matter is common, as in 2 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7, 8: As the Latins say, As you sow, so shall you reap[3] [Grotius]: There is an allusion to Psalm 97:11 [Gataker]) by those making (that is, practicing [Piscator], or, fostering [Estius, Gataker]) peace (Erasmus, Montanus, etc.), or, by those that give themselves to peace (Beza, Piscator, thus Grotius), just like δικαιοσύνην ποιεῖν, to do righteousness, 1 John 2:29; 3:7, and ἐργάζεσθαι, and κατεργάζεσθαι, to work righteousness, James 1:20,[4] that is, to give oneself to righteousness. Just as עלל, to busy oneself, is common among the Hebrews (Grotius): or, by those doing peace, that is, the works of peace, which make for the procuring and enlarging peace (Menochius); or, eager for peace. Thus ποιεῖν ἁμαρτίαν, to do/commit sin, John 8:34; 1 John 3:6-9; and ποιῆσαι ἔλεος, to do mercy, Luke 1:72; 10:37. Thus εῖρηνεύειν, be at peace, Mark 9:50; Romans 12:18 (Gataker). The expression signifies to advance peace with the very highest zeal and effort. Peace here is understood with men, whichis opposed to all contentions, etc., which are mentioned both in what precedes and in what follows (Hammond). The sense of the passage: And the fruit, or recompense promised to the righteous and to righteousness, that is, prosperity and eternal felicity, is here sown; and in the end shall be reaped by all those that study peace (Gataker). Now is the superabounding fruit of righteousness sown by them, which they shall reap in the future age (Menochius). In peace like a seed, to them eternal life springs forth, which is the fruit or recompense of righteousnss; or, righteousness itself, as fruit. The reason for this teaching is that peace fosters charity/love, which abates, or quenches, contentions and quarrels (Estius). The sense is, either, that fruit is sown by the peaceable, which they may afterwards gather; or, it is an anticipation, that is to say, Whoever have true wisdom from God, even if toward neighbors they be kind, mild, gentle, etc., and tolerant of many things in them, yet they are concerned to sow righteousness, and they do not ignore vices; neither do they give support to them, but rather they reprove them gently, and study to correct them, but in peace, that is, with moderation employed, so that unity might remain unharmed, and lest they be executioners, who desire to be held as healers of vice (Calvin).

And the fruit of righteousness; either the fruit we bring forth, which is righteousness itself, Luke 3:8, 9; Romans 6:22; Philippians 1:11; or the fruit we reap, which is the reward of righteousness, viz. eternal life. Righteousness; metonymically here put for the heavenly wisdom before described, whereof it is the inseparable companion, or the effect, Job 28:28. Is sown; either righteousness, as the good fruit, is wrought or exercised, Hosea 10:12, (as wickedness is said to be sown when it is acted, Job 4:8,) or it relates to the reward, which is the fruit, of which righteousness is the seed, Psalm 97:11; and then it implies, either the sureness of that reward, that it is as certain as harvest after seedtime: or the non-enjoyment of it for the present, as they that sow their seed receive not the crop till long after. In peace; either in a mild, peaceable, amicable way; or in peace is as much as with peace, viz. spiritual peace and comfort of conscience. Of them that make peace; that follow after and are studious of peace; and so the words may have a twofold sense: either the meaning is, 1. That they that exercise righteousness must do it in a sweet and peaceable way: in particular, men may reprehend others, so they do it with moderation and gentleness, not as executioners, to torment them, but as physicians, to heal them; as, on the other side, they that are most peaceably disposed, yet must not make peace without sowing righteousness with it, which includes just reprehension, whereby righteousness is promoted. Or, 2. That they who sow righteousness in peace, i.e. join righteousness with their endeavours after peace, shall reap the reward, not only in comfort here, but in glory hereafter.

[1] Greek: καρπὸς δὲ τῆς δικαιοσύνης ἐν εἰρήνῃ σπείρεται τοῖς ποιοῦσιν εἰρήνην.

[2] That is, the repetition of a word, but with different senses.

[3] Cicero’s De Oratore 2:65

[4] The overwhelming majority of Byzantine manuscripts read κατεργάζεται; codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus, ἐργάζεται:  but the meaning is not much affected.

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