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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(James: Chapter 3)



3:1 {Be not many teachers} (mˆ polloi didaskaloi ginesthe). Prohibition with and present middle imperative of ginomai. "Stop becoming many teachers" (so many of you). There is thus a clear complaint that too many of the Jewish Christians were attempting to teach what they did not clearly comprehend. There was a call for wise teachers (verses 13f.), not for foolish ones. This soon became an acute question, as one can see in I Cor. 12 to 14. They were not all teachers (1Co 12:28f.; 14:26). The teacher is here treated as the wise man (3:13-18) as he ought to be. The rabbi was the teacher (Mt 23:7f.; Joh 1:38; 3:10; 20:16). Teachers occupied an honourable position among the Christians (Eph 4:11; Ac 13:1). James counts himself a teacher (we shall receive, 3:1) and this discussion is linked on with 1:19-27. Teachers are necessary, but incompetent and unworthy ones do much harm.
{Heavier judgment} (meizon krima). "Greater sentence." See Mr 12:40; Lu 20:47 for perrisoteron krima (the sentence from the judge, Ro 13:2). The reason is obvious. The pretence of knowledge adds to the teacher's responsibility and condemnation.

3:2 {In many things} (polla). Accusative neuter plural either cognate with ptaiomen or accusative of general reference. On ptaiomen (stumble) see on 2:10. James includes himself in this list of stumblers.
{If not} (ei-ou). Condition of first class with ou (not mˆ) negativing the verb ptaiei.
{In word} (en log“i). In speech. The teacher uses his tongue constantly and so is in particular peril on this score.
{The same} (houtos). "This one" (not ho autos the same).
{A perfect man} (teleios anˆr). "A perfect husband" also, for anˆr is husband as well as man in distinction from woman (gunˆ). The wife is at liberty to test her husband by this rule of the tongue.
{To bridle the whole body also} (chalinag“gˆsai kai holon to s“ma). See 1:26 for this rare verb applied to the tongue (gl“ssan). Here the same metaphor is used and shown to apply to the whole body as horses are led by the mouth. The man follows his own mouth whether he controls the bridle therein (1:26) or someone else holds the reins. James apparently means that the man who bridles his tongue does not stumble in speech and is able also to control his whole body with all its passions. See Tit 1:11 about stopping people's mouths (epistomiz“).

3:3 {If we put} (ei ballomen). Condition of the first class assumed as true.
{The horses' bridles} (t“n hipp“n tous chalinous). Hipp“n (genitive plural of hippos, horse, old word, in N.T. only here except in the Apocalypse), put first because the first of the several illustrations of the power and the peril of the tongue. This is the only N.T. example of chalinos, old word for bridle (from chala“ to slacken, let down), except Re 14:20.
{That they may obey us} (eis to peithesthai autous hˆmin). Present middle infinitive of peith“ with eis to as a purpose clause with the dative hˆmin after peithesthai and autous the accusative of general reference. {We turn about} (metagomen). Present active indicative of metag“, late compound to change the direction (meta, ag“), to guide, in N.T. only here and verse 4. The body of the horse follows his mouth, guided by the bridle.

3:4 {The ships also} (kai ta ploia). Old word from ple“, to sail (Mt 4:21). Another metaphor like "horses" (hippoi). "There is more imagery drawn from mere natural phenomena in the one short Epistle of James than in all St. Paul's epistles put together" (Howson).
{Though they are so great} (tˆlikauta onta). Concessive participle of eimi. The quantitative pronoun tˆlikoutos occurs in the N.T. only here, 2Co 1:10; Heb 2:3; Re 16:18. If James had only seen the modern mammoth ships. But the ship on which Paul went to Malta carried 276 persons (Ac 27:37).
{And are driven} (kai elaunomena). Present passive participle of elaun“, old verb, in this sense (2Pe 2:17) for rowing (Mr 6:48; Joh 6:19).
{Rough} (sklˆron). Old adjective (from skell“, to dry up), harsh, stiff, hard (Mt 25:24).
{Are yet turned} (metagetai). Present passive indicative of the same verb, metag“, in verse 3. James is fond of repeating words (1:13f.; 2:14,16; 2:21,25).
{By a very small rudder} (hupo elachistou pˆdaliou). For the use of hupo (under) with things see Lu 8:14; 2Pe 2:7. There is possibly personification in the use of hupo for agency in Jas 1:14; 2:9; Col 2:18. Pˆdaliou (from pˆdon, the blade of an oar) is an old word, in N.T. only here and Ac 27:40. Elachistou is the elative superlative as in 1Co 4:3 (from the Epic elachus for mikros).
{The impulse} (hˆ hormˆ). Old word for rapid, violent motion, here of the hand that worked the rudder, in N.T. only here and Ac 14:5 (rush or onset of the people).
{Of the steersman} (tou euthunontos). Present active genitive articular participle of euthun“, old verb, to make straight (from euthus, straight, level, Mr 1:3), in N.T. only here and Joh 1:23. Used also of the shepherd, the charioteer, and today it would apply to the chauffeur. "The twin figure of the control of horse and of ship are frequently found together in later Greek writers" (Ropes). As in Plutarch and Philo.
{Willeth} (bouletai). Present middle indicative of boulomai, common verb to will. Here intention of the steersman lies back of the impact of the hand on the rudder.

3:5 {A little member} (mikron melos). Melos is old and common word for members of the human body (1Co 12:12, etc.; Ro 6:13, etc.).
{Boasteth great things} (megala auchei). Present active indicative of auche“, old verb, here only in N.T. The best MSS. here separate megala from auche“, though megalauche“ does occur in Aeschylus, Plato, etc. Megala is in contrast with mikron.
{How much--how small} (hˆlikon--hˆlikˆn). The same relative form for two indirect questions together, "What-sized fire kindles what-sized forest?" For double interrogatives see Mr 15:24. The verb anaptei is present active indicative of anapt“, to set fire to, to kindle (Lu 12:49, only other N.T. example except some MSS. in Ac 28:2). Hulˆn is accusative case, object of anaptei, and occurs here only in N.T., though old word for forest, wood. Forest fires were common in ancient times as now, and were usually caused by small sparks carelessly thrown.

3:6 {The tongue is a fire} (hˆ gl“ssa pur). So necessarily since there is no article with pur (apparently same word as German "feuer", Latin "purus", English "pure, fire"). This metaphor of fire is applied to the tongue in Pr 16:27; 26:18-22; Sirach 28:22.
{The world of iniquity} (ho kosmos tˆs adikias). A difficult phrase, impossible to understand according to Ropes as it stands. If the comma is put after pur instead of after adikias, then the phrase may be the predicate with kathistatai (present passive indicative of kathistˆmi, "is constituted," or the present middle "presents itself"). Even so, kosmos remains a difficulty, whether it means the "ornament" (1Pe 3:3) or "evil world" (Jas 1:27) or just "world" in the sense of widespread power for evil. The genitive adikias is probably descriptive (or qualitative). Clearly James means to say that the tongue can play havoc in the members of the human body. {Which defileth the whole body} (hˆ spilousa holon to s“ma). Present active participle of spilo“ late "Koin‚", verb, to stain from spilos (spot, also late word, in N.T. only in Eph 5:27; 2Pe 2:13), in N.T. only here and Jud 1:23. Cf. 1:27 aspilon (unspotted).
{Setteth on fire} (phlogizousa). Present active participle of phlogiz“, old verb, to set on fire, to ignite, from phlox (flame), in N.T. only in this verse. See anaptei (verse 5).
{The wheel of nature} (ton trochon genese“s). Old word for wheel (from trech“, to run), only here in N.T. "One of the hardest passages in the Bible" (Hort). To what does trochon refer? For genese“s see 1:23 apparently in the same sense. Vincent suggests "the wheel of birth" (cf. Mt 1:1,18). The ancient writers often use this same phrase (or kuklos, cycle, in place of trochos), but either in a physiological or a philosophical sense. James may have caught the metaphor from the current use, but certainly he has no such Orphic or Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of souls, "the unending round of death and rebirth" (Ropes). The wheel of life may be considered either in motion or standing still, though setting on fire implies motion. There is no reference to the zodiac.
{And is set on fire by hell} (kai phlogizomenˆ hupo gehennˆs). Present passive participle of phlogiz“, giving the continual source of the fire in the tongue. For the metaphor of fire with gehenna see Mt 5:22.

3:7 {Kind} (phusis). Old word from phu“, order of nature (Ro 1:26), here of all animals and man, in 2Pe 1:4 of God and redeemed men.
{Of beasts} (thˆri“n). Old word diminutive from thˆr and so "little beasts" originally, then wild animals in general (Mr 1:13), or quadrupeds as here. These four classes of animals come from Ge 9:2f.
{Birds} (petein“n). Old word for flying animals (from petomai, to word from herp“, to crawl (Latin "serpo"), hence serpents.
{Things in the sea} (enali“n). Old adjective (en, hals, sea, salt) in the sea, here only in N.T. The four groups are put in two pairs here by the use of te kai with the first two and the second two. See a different classification in Ac 10:12; 11:6.
{Is tamed} (damazetai). Present passive indicative of damaz“, old verb kin to Latin "dominus" and English tame, in N.T. only in this passage and Mr 5:4. The present tense gives the general picture of the continuous process through the ages of man's lordship over the animals as stated in Ge 1:28.
{Hath been tamed} (dedamastai). Perfect passive indicative of the same verb, repeated to present the state of conquest in some cases (domestic animals, for instance).
{By mankind} (tˆi phusei tˆi anthr“pinˆi). Instrumental case with repeated article and repetition also of phusis, "by the nature the human." For anthr“pinos see Ac 17:25.

3:8 {No one} (oudeis). Especially his own tongue and by himself, but one has the help of the Holy Spirit.
{A restless evil} (akatastaton kakon). Correct reading, not akatascheton, for which see 1:8. The tongue is evil when set on fire by hell, not evil necessarily.
{Full of deadly poison} (mestˆ iou thanatˆphorou). Feminine adjective agreeing with gl“ssa, not with kakon (neuter). Iou (poison here, as in Ro 3:13, but rust in 5:3, only N.T. examples), old word. Genitive case after mestˆ (full of). Thanatˆphorou, old compound adjective (from thanatos, death, pher“, to bear or bring), death-bringing. Here only in N.T. Like the restless death-bringing tongue of the asp before it strikes.

3:9 {Therewith} (en autˆi). This instrumental use of en is not merely Hebraistic, but appears in late "Koin‚" writers (Moulton, "Prol.", pp. 11f., 61f.). See also Ro 15:6.
{We bless} (eulogoumen). Present active indicative of euloge“, old verb from eulogos (a good word, eu, logos), as in Lu 1:64 of God. "This is the highest function of speech" (Hort). {The Lord and Father} (ton kurion kai patera). Both terms applied to God.
{Curse we} (katar“metha). Present middle indicative of the old compound verb kataraomai, to curse (from katara a curse), as in Lu 6:28.
{Which are made after the likeness of God} (tous kath' homoi“sin theou gegonotas). Second perfect articular participle of ginomai and homoi“sis, old word from homoio“ (to make like), making like, here only in N.T. (from Ge 1:26; 9:6), the usual word being homoi“ma, resemblance (Php 2:7). It is this image of God which sets man above the beasts. Cf. 2Co 3:18.

3:10 {Ought not} (ou chrˆ). The only use of this old impersonal verb (from chra“) in the N.T. It is more like prepei (it is appropriate) than dei (it is necessary). It is a moral incongruity for blessing and cursing to come out of the same mouth.
{So to be} (hout“s ginesthai). "So to keep on happening," not just "to be," present middle infinitive of ginomai.

3:11 {The fountain} (hˆ pˆgˆ). Old word for spring (Joh 4:14).
{Opening} (opˆs). Old word for fissure in the earth, in N.T. only here and Heb 11:38 (caves).
{Send forth} (bruei). Present active indicative of bru“, old verb, to bubble up, to gush forth, here only in N.T. The use of mˆti shows that a negative answer is expected in this rhetorical question.
{The sweet and the bitter} (to gluku kai to pikron). Cognate accusatives with bruei. Separate articles to distinguish sharply the two things. The neuter singular articular adjective is a common way of presenting a quality. Glukus is an old adjective (in N.T. only here and Re 10:9f.), the opposite of pikron (from old root, to cut, to prick), in N.T. only here and verse 14 (sharp, harsh).

3:12 {Can?} (mˆ dunatai;). Negative answer expected. See the same metaphor in Mt 7:16f.
{Fig-tree} (sukˆ). Old and common word (Mt 21:19f.).
{Figs} (suka). Ripe fruit of hˆ sukˆ. {Olives} (elaias). Elsewhere in the N.T. for olive-trees as Mt 21:1.
{Vine} (ampelos). Old word (Mt 26:29).
{Salt water} (halukon). Old adjective from hals (halas salt), here only in N.T.

3:13 {Who} (Tis). Rhetorical interrogative like Lu 11:11. Common in Paul and characteristic of the diatribe. James here returns to the standpoint of verse 1 about many teachers. Speech and wisdom are both liable to abuse (1Co 1:5,17; 2:1-3:20).
{Wise and understanding} (sophos kai epistˆm“n). Sophos is used for the practical teacher (verse 1), epistˆm“n (old word from epistamai, here only in N.T.) for an expert, a skilled and scientific person with a tone of superiority. In De 1:13,15; 4:6, the two terms are practically synonyms.
{Let him shew} (deixat“). First aorist active imperative of deiknumi, old verb to show. As about faith in 2:18. Emphatic position of this verb.
{By his good life} (ek tˆs kalˆs anastrophˆs). For this literary "Koin‚" word from anastrephomai (walk, conduct) see Ga 1:13. Actions speak louder than words even in the case of the professional wise man. Cf. 1Pe 1:15.
{In meekness of wisdom} (en prautˆti sophias). As in 1:21 of the listener, so here of the teacher. Cf. Mt 5:5; 11:29 and Zac 9:9 of King Messiah quoted in Mt 21:5. Startling combination.

3:14 {Bitter jealousy} (zˆlon pikron). Zˆlos occurs in N.T. in good sense (Joh 2:17) and bad sense (Ac 5:17). Pride of knowledge is evil (1Co 8:1) and leaves a bitter taste. See "root of bitterness" in Heb 12:14 (cf. Eph 4:31). This is a condition of the first class.
{Faction} (erithian). Late word, from erithos (hireling, from eritheu“ to spin wool), a pushing forward for personal ends, partisanship, as in Php 1:16.
{In your heart} (en tˆi kardiƒi hum“n). The real fountain (pˆgˆ, verse 11).
{Glory not} (mˆ katakauchƒsthe). Present middle imperative of katakauchaomai, for which see 2:13. Wisdom is essential for the teacher. Boasting arrogance disproves the possession of wisdom.
{Lie not against the truth} (pseudesthe kata tˆs alˆtheias). Present middle imperative of pseudomai, old verb, to play false, with carried over. Lying against the truth is futile. By your conduct do not belie the truth which you teach; a solemn and needed lesson. Cf. Ro 1:18f., 2:18,20.

3:15 {This wisdom} (hautˆ hˆ sophia). All talk and disproved by the life, counterfeit wisdom, not real wisdom (1:5; 3:17). {Coming down from above} (katerchomenˆ an“then). As in 1:5,17. All true wisdom comes from God.
{Earthly} (epigeios). Old adjective, on earth (epi, gˆ), as in Joh 3:12, then with earthly limitations (Php 3:19), as here.
{Sensual} (psuchikˆ). Old adjective, belonging to the psuchˆ, the sensuous or animal life (1Co 2:14 and here).
{Devilish} (daimoni“dˆs). Late adjective from daimonion (demon) and so demoniacal or demon-like, here only in N.T.

3:16 {Confusion} (akatastasia). Late word (from akatastatos), 1:8; 3:8), a state of disorder (1Co 14:33).
{Vile} (phaulon). Kin to German "faul", first slight, ordinary, then bad. The steps are cheap, paltry, evil. Opposed to agatha (good) in Joh 5:39.

3:17 {First pure} (pr“ton men hagnˆ). First in rank and time. Hagnos is from the same root as hagios (holy), old adjective, pure from fault, not half-good and half-bad, like that above. {Then peaceable} (epeita eirˆnikˆ). Old adjective from eirˆnˆ (peace), loving peace here, bringing peace in Heb 12:11 (only N.T. examples). But clearly great as peace is, purity (righteousness) comes before peace and peace at any price is not worth the having. Hence Jesus spurned the devil's peace of surrender.
{Gentle} (epieikˆs). Old adjective (from eikos, reasonable, fair), equitable (Php 4:5; 1Pe 2:18). No English word renders it clearly.
{Easy to be entreated} (eupeithˆs). Old adjective (eu, peithomai), compliant, approachable. Only here in N.T.
{Mercy} (eleous). Practical help (2:13,16). {Good fruits} (karp“n agath“n). Kaloi karpoi in Mt 7:17f. Good deeds the fruit of righteousness (Php 1:11).
{Without variance} (adiakritos). Late verbal adjective (from alpha privative and diakrin“, to distinguish). "Unhesitating," not doubting (diakrinomenos) like the man in 1:6. Here only in N.T. This wisdom does not put a premium on doubt.
{Without hypocrisy} (anupokritos). Late and rare verbal adjective (alpha privative and hupokrin“). Not hypocritical, sincere, unfeigned (Ro 12:9).

3:18 {Is sown in peace} (en eirˆnˆi speiretai). Present passive indicative of speir“, to sow. The seed which bears the fruit is sown, but James catches up the metaphor of karpos (fruit) from verse 17. Only in peace is the fruit of righteousness found. {For them that make peace} (tois poiousin eirˆnˆn). Dative case of the articular participle of poie“. See Eph 2:15 for this phrase (doing peace), and Col 1:20 for eirˆnopoie“, of Christ, and Mt 5:9 for eirˆnopoioi (peacemakers). Only those who act peaceably are entitled to peace.


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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(James: Chapter 3)



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