VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
PREVIOUS - NEXT CHAPTER - INDEX
Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
With respect of persons (en proswpolhmyiaiv). From proswpon, the countenance, and lambanw, to receive. To receive the countenance is a Hebrew phrase. Thus Lev. xix. 15 (Sept.): Ouj lhyh proswpon ptwcou: Thou shalt not respect the person (receive the countenance) of the poor. Compare Luke xx. 21; Rom. ii. 11; and Jude 16.
The Lord of glory. Compare 1 Cor. ii. 8; Acts vii. 2; Eph. i. 17.
With a gold ring (crusodaktuliov). Only here in New Testament. Not a man wearing a single gold ring (as A.V. and Rev.), which would not attract attention in an assembly where most persons wore a ring, but a gold-ringed man, having his hands conspicuously loaded with rings and jewels. The ring was regarded as an indispensable article of a Hebrew's attire, since it contained his signet; and the name of the ring, tabbath, was derived from a root signifying to impress a seal. It was a proverbial expression for a most valued object. See Isa. xxii. 24; Hag. ii. 23. The Greeks and Romans wore them in great profusion. Hannibal, after the battle of Cannae, sent as a trophy to Carthage, three bushels of gold rings from the fingers of the Roman knights slain in battle. To wear rings on the right hand was regarded as a mark of effeminacy; but they were worn profusely on the left. Martial says of one Charinus that he wore six on each finger, and never laid them aside, either at night or when bathing. The fops had rings of different sizes for summer and winter. Aristophanes distinguishes between the populace and those who wear rings, and in his comedy of "The Clouds" uses the formidable word sfragidonucargokomhtai, lazy, long-haired fops, with rings and well-trimmed nails. Demosthenes was so conspicuous for this kind of ornament that, at a time of public disaster, it was stigmatized as unbecoming vanity. Frequent mention is made of their enormous cost. They were of gold and silver, sometimes of both; sometimes of iron inlaid with gold. The possible beauty of these latter will be appreciated by those who have seen the elegant gold and iron jewelry made at Toledo, in Spain. Sometimes they were of amber, ivory, or porcelain. The practice of wearing rings was adopted by the early Christians. Many of their rings were adorned with the symbols of the faith - the cross, the anchor, the monogram of Christ, etc. Among the rings found in the catacombs are some with a key, and some with both a key and a seal, for both locking and sealing a casket.
Goodly apparel (esqhti lampra). Lit., bright or shining clothes. Rev., fine clothing.
Vile (rupara). Compare ch. i. 21; and see on 1 Pet. iii. 21.
In a good place (kalwv). Lit., honorably; in a seat of honor.
Under. Not literally underneath, but down on the ground beside. Compare Matt. xxiii. 6, on the fondness of the Jews for the chief places in the synagogue.
Judges of evil thoughts (kritiai dialogismwn ponhrwn). Better, as Rev., "judges with evil thoughts." The form of expression is the same as in Luke xviii. 6, krithv thv ajdikiav, the judge of injustice, i.e., the unjust judge. So Jas. i. 25, a hearer of forgetfulness. The word thoughts is, rather, reasonings. See on deceiving yourselves (ch. i. 22). Compare Luke v. 21. Their evil processes of thought lead to these unjust discriminations.
The poor of this world (touv ptwcouv tou kosmou). But the correct reading is tw kosmw, to the world; and the expression is to be explained in the same way as ajsteiov tw Qew, fair unto God, Acts vii. 20, and dunata tw Qew, mighty through (Rev., before) God, 2 Cor. x. 4. So Rev., poor as to the world, in the world's esteem. Poor, see on Matt. v. 3. Rich in faith. The Rev., properly, inserts to be, since the words are not in apposition with poor, but express the object for which God has chosen them. Faith is not the quality in which they are to be rich, but the sphere or element; rich in their position as believers. "Not the measure of faith, in virtue of which one man is richer than another, is before the writer's mind, but the substance of the faith, by virtue of which every believer is rich" (Wiesinger, cited by Alford).
Oppress (katadunasteuousin). Only here and Acts x. 38. The preposition kata, against, implies a power exercised for harm. Compare being lords over, 1 Pet. v. 3, and exercise dominion, Matt. xx. 25, both compounded with this preposition.
Draw (elkousin). Not strong enough. The word implies violence. Hence, better, as Rev., drag. Compare Livy's phrase, "a lictoribus trahi, to be dragged by the lictors to judgment;" Acts viii. 3, of Saul haling or hauling men and women to prison; and Luke xii. 58.
Judgment-seats (krithria). Only here and 1 Cor. vi. 24.
By the which ye are called (to epiklhqen ef umav). Lit., which is called upon you; the name of Christ, invoked in baptism. The phrase is an Old-Testament one. See Deut. xxviii. 10, where the Septuagint reads that the name of the Lord has been called upon thee. Also, 2 Chronicles vii. 14; Isa. iv. 1. Compare Acts xv. 17.
Compare, also, Matt. xix. 17; xxiii. 3; John xiv. 15, etc. James here speaks of a single commandment, the proper word for which is ejntolh, while nomov is the body of commandments. It is appropriate here, however, since this special commandment sums up the entire law. See Romans xiii. 10; Gal. v. 14. It is the royal law; the king of all laws. The phrase royal law is of Roman origin (lex regia). In the kingly period of Roman history it did not signify a law promulgated by the absolute authority of the king, but a law passed by a popular assembly under the presidency of the king. In later times the term was applied to all laws the origin of which was attributed to the time of the kings. Gradually the term came to represent less of the popular will, and to include all the rights and powers which the Roman people had formerly possessed, so that the emperor became what formerly the people had been, sovereign. "It was not," says Gibbon, "before the ideas and even the language of the Romans had been corrupted, that a royal law (lex regia) and an irrevocable gift of the people were created.... The pleasure of the emperor, according to Justinian, has the vigor and effect of law, since the Roman people, by the royal law, have transferred to their prince the full extent of their own power and sovereignty. The will of a single man, of a child, perhaps, was allowed to prevail over the wisdom of ages and the inclinations of millions; and the degenerate Greeks were proud to declare that in his hands alone the arbitrary exercise of legislation could be safely deposited" ("Decline and Fall," ch. xliv.).
Ye commit sin (amartian ergazesqe). Lit., "work sin." Compare Matt. vii. 23; Acts x. 35; Heb. xi. 33. The phrase is rather stronger than the more common aJmartian poiein, to do sin, John viii. 34; James v. 15; 1 Pet. ii. 29. The position of sin is emphatic: "it is sin that ye are working."
And are convinced (elegcomenoi). Rather, as Rev., convicted. The word, which is variously rendered in A.V. tell a fault, reprove, rebuke, convince, while it carries the idea of rebuke, implies also a rebuke which produces a conviction of the error or sin. See on John viii. 46. Compare John iii. 20; viii. 9; 1 Corinthians xiv. 24, 25.
Offend (ptaish). Lit., as Rev., stumble.
He is guilty (gegonen enocov). Lit., he is become guilty. Enocov, guilty, is, strictly, holden; within the condemning power of. Compare Matthew xxvi. 66; Mark iii. 29; 1 Cor. xi. 27. Huther cites a Talmudic parallel: "But if he perform all, but omit one, he is guilty of every single one."
Rejoiceth (katakaucatai). The simple verb kaucaomai means to speak loud, to be loud-tongued; hence, to boast. Better, therefore, as Rev., glorieth. Judgment and mercy are personified. While judgment threatens condemnation, mercy interposes and prevails over judgment. "Mercy is clothed with the divine glory, and stands by the throne of God. When we are in danger of being condemned, she rises up and pleads for us, and covers us with her defense, and enfolds us with her wings" (Chrysostom, cited by Gloag).
Destitute (leipomenoi). Lit., left behind; and hence lacking, as Rev. Compare ch. i. 4, 5. This usage of the word occurs in James only.
Daily (efhmerou). Only here in New Testament.
Those things which are needful (ta epithdeia). Only here in New Testament.
And I will shew thee, etc. The Rev. brings out the antithesis more sharply by keeping more closely to the Greek order: I by my works will shew, etc.
Dead (nekra). But the best texts read ajrgh, idle; as of money which yields no interest, or of land lying fallow.
Imputed (elogisqh). Lit., as Rev., reckoned.
He was called the friend of God. The term, however, does not occur either in the Hebrew or Septuagint, though it is found in the A.V. and retained in Rev. Old Testament. In 2 Chron. xx. 7 (Sept.), thy friend tw hjgaphmenw, thy beloved. In Isa. xli. 8 (Sept.), my friend is on hjgaphsa whom I loved. "The friend of God" is still the favorite title of Abraham among the Jews and Mohammedans.
"Thou fain wouldst know who is within this light That here beside me thus is scintillating, Even as a sunbeam in the limpid water. Then know thou, that within there is at rest Rahab, and being to our order joined, With her in its supremest grade 'tis sealed. First of Christ's Triumph was she taken up. Full meet it was to leave her in some heaven, Even as a palm of the high victory Which he acquired with one palm and the other, Because she favored the first glorious deed Of Joshua upon the Holy Land."
Paradise, ix., 112-125.
Rahab became the wife of Salmon, and the ancestress of Boaz, Jesse's grandfather. Some have supposed that Salmon was one of the spies whose life she saved. At any rate, she became the mother of the line of David and of Christ, and is so recorded in Matthew's genealogy of our Lord, in which only four women are named. There is a peculiar significance in this selection of Rahab with Abraham as an example of faith, by James the Lord's brother.
Sent them out (ekbalousa). Better, thrust them forth, implying haste and fear. Compare Mark i. 12; Luke iv. 29; Acts xvi. 37.
Another way. Than that by which they entered. Through the window. See Josh. ii. 15.