James 4:13: Curing Arrogant Presumption, Part 1

Verse 13:[1] (Prov. 27:1; Luke 12:18, etc.) Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain…

[Behold, ἄγε] Go thou (Beza, Piscator). Go ye (Zegers). As in James 5:1[2] (Schmidt, Grotius). It is an adverb of Exhortation and Address; it is the same as φέρε, come, go to, now. Sometimes it is spoken to one (Schmidt), sometimes to many (Schmidt, similarly Beza), as in the works of proper Greek and Latin Writers (Beza). Thus Homer, Ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε μίμνετε πάντες, but come, stand ye all fast; Xenophon, Ἄγε δὴ ἀκούσατε, come now, hearken ye (Grotius). It is a note merely of transition (Rabbi Salomon[3] in Gataker, Menochius), beginning a new speech; that is to say, Come now, see your prudence, how small it is (Menochius). It means as much as it does in the writings of the Prophets (Grotius), Now I unto you, namely, direct my speech (Grotius, thus Rabbi Salomon). Thus both Xenophon and Plutarch make use of it (Grotius). To others it is a particle of one commanding inferiors, or, of admonishing and rousing dull and obstinate men. Now another thing is added to the vice of the Tongue, namely, boasting (Gataker). Others: He transitions to another sort of pride and presumption (Estius).

Go to now; either this is a note of transition, or of command to inferiors, or rather of admonition to such as are stupid or rash, and tends to the awakening their attention, and stirring them up to the consideration of their duty, danger, etc.

[Ye that say; either in your heart, or in your mouth (Gataker), Today or, etc., καὶ αὔριον[4]] And tomorrow (Erasmus), or tomorrow (Vulgate, Beza, Piscator, Grotius out of two Syriac codices). Some manuscripts have ἢ αὔριον, or tomorrow[5] (Beza, similarly Grotius).

Ye that say; either with your mouths, or in your hearts.

[We will go, etc., πορευσόμεθα—καὶ ποιήσομεν,[6] etc.] Let us go…and let us do, etc. (Erasmus, Vatablus, Tigurinus). So that the words are futures of the Optative (Vatablus). But this was not worthy of reprehension, that they should say, let us go, etc., but rather, we will go, etc. (Castalio). But these words, and those that follow, both here and in verse 15, are not to be taken in a mode Potential (Grotius), or hortatory; but indicative (Beza), and Future, as it is read by the Syriac, Arabic, Latin, and the best Greek Codices (Grotius): thus one ancient codex (Beza). It is to be noted that Aorists of Subjunctives (which are here given) often have the signification of Futures of the Indicative. Which has already been pointed out elsewhere (Schmidt). We will set out unto that (or, this [Erasmus]) city (suppose Damascus, Alexandria, or Antioch: Thus concerning persons we say πρὸς τὸν δεῖνα, to so-and-so [Grotius]), and we will continue (ποιεῖν, to do, is used with a similar syntax and signification [Piscator, similarly Grotius] in Acts 15:33[7] [Grotius]; 18:23;[8] 20:3;[9] 2 Corinthians 11:25[10] [Piscator, Grotius]: And among the Hebrews, Ecclesiastes 6:12:[11] But also the Latins say facere, to do or continue, with someone a few days, many years, as the learned have noted [Grotius]: Or, we will transact [Tremellius out of the Syriac, Pagnine, thus Tigurinus], we will do [Eramsus], we will abide [Grotius], we will tarry [Arabic, thus the Æthiopic, Schmidt], we will do business [Schmidt]) there one year (or, for a year [Grotius]), and trade, and make a profit (Piscator, Pagnine, Beza, etc.). He does not condemn those because they were traveling for the sake of trade, or because they were planning their affairs beforehand, or because they were aiming at profit; but because they were promising to themselves duration of life, and both a guarantee, and a happy and prosperous outcome, of their counsels and actions (Gataker); because they were making their plans concerning uncertain matters, as if they had those things in hand (Grotius), while both our times, and our affairs, are in God’s, not our, hands (Gataker).

Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city; not, let us go, but, we will go, in the indicative mood; noting the peremptoriness of their purposes, and their presuming upon future times and things, which were not in their power. And continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: he doth not condemn merchants travelling into other countries, nor trading there, nor designing gain by their trade, nor forecasting their business; but their promising themselves the continuance of their life, the accomplishing their designs, and the success of their labours, without respect to God’s providence and direction, as if their times and their works were in their own hands, not in his.

[1] Greek: Ἄγε νῦν οἱ λέγοντες, Σήμερον ἢ αὔριον πορευσόμεθα εἰς τήνδε τὴν πόλιν, καὶ ποιήσομεν ἐκεῖ ἐνιαυτὸν ἕνα, καὶ ἐμπορευσόμεθα, καὶ κερδήσομεν·

[2] James 5:1:  “Go to now (ἄγε νῦν), ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.”

[3] The details of the life of Rabbi Salomon Jarchi (Solomon Jarchi ben Isaac) have been obscured by the mists of time.  It is relatively safe to associate him with the eleventh century.  He commented on the whole of the Hebrew Bible, and the principal value of his commentary is its preservation of traditional Jewish interpretation.

[4] Thus the great majority of Byzantine manuscripts.

[5] Thus Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, and the Textus Receptus.

[6] Πορευσώμεθα, Aorist Subjuntive, is read by Codex Alexandrinus; πορευσόμεθα, Future Indicative, by Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus:  the Byzantine tradition is divided over the reading.  However, the overwhelming weight of Byzantine manuscripts, together with Codices Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus, supports ποιήσομεν, Future Indicative, with ποιήσωμεν, Aorist Subjunctive, having little support.

[7] Acts 15:33:  “And after they had tarried (ποιήσαντες) there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.”

[8] Acts 18:23:  “And after he had spent (ποιήσας) some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples.”

[9] Acts 20:2, 3a:  “And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there abode (ποιήσας) three months.”

[10] 2 Corinthians 11:25:  “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been (πεποίηκα) in the deep…”

[11] Ecclesiastes 6:12:  “For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow (וְיַעֲשֵׂ֣ם כַּצֵּ֑ל; καὶ ἐποίησεν αὐτὰς ἐν σκιᾷ, in the Septuagint)? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun?”

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