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Whence (ποθεν). This old interrogative adverb (here twice) asks for the origin of wars and fights. James is full of interrogatives, like all diatribes.
War (πολεμος, old word, Mt 24:6 ) pictures the chronic state or campaign, while μαχη (also old word, 2Co 7:5 ) presents the separate conflicts or battles in the war. So James covers the whole ground by using both words. The origin of a war or of any quarrel is sometimes hard to find, but James touches the sore spot here.
Of your pleasures (εκ των ηδονων υμων). Old word from ηδομα. Ablative case here after εκ, "out of your sinful, sensual lusts," the desire to get what one does not have and greatly desires.
That war (των στρατευομενων). Present middle articular participle (ablative case agreeing with ηδονων) of στρατευω, to carry on a campaign, here as in 1Pe 2:11 of the passions in the human body. James seems to be addressing nominal Christians, "among you" (εν υμιν). Modern church disturbances are old enough in practice.
Ye lust (επιθυμειτε). Present active indicative of επιθυμεω, old word (from επι, θυμος, yearning passion for), not necessarily evil as clearly not in Lu 22:15 of Christ, but usually so in the N.T., as here. Coveting what a man or nation does not have is the cause of war according to James.
Ye kill and covet (φονευετε κα ζηλουτε). Present active indicatives of φονευω (old verb from φονευς, murderer) and ζηλοω, to desire hotly to possess (1Co 12:31 ). It is possible (perhaps probable) that a full stop should come after φονευετε (ye kill) as the result of lusting and not having. Then we have the second situation: "Ye covet and cannot obtain (επιτυχειν, second aorist active infinitive of επιτυγχανω), and (as a result) ye fight and war." This punctuation makes better sense than any other and is in harmony with verse 1. Thus also the anticlimax in φονευετε and ζηλουτε is avoided. Mayor makes the words a hendiadys, "ye murderously envy."
Ye have not, because ye ask not (ουκ εχετε δια το μη αιτεισθα υμας). James refers again to ουκ εχετε (ye do not have) in verse 2. Such sinful lusting will not obtain. "Make the service of God your supreme end, and then your desires will be such as God can fulfil in answer to your prayer" (Ropes). Cf. Mt 6:31-33 . The reason here is expressed by δια and the accusative of the articular present middle infinitive of αιτεω, used here of prayer to God as in Mt 7:7f . Hυμας (you) is the accusative of general reference. Note the middle voice here as in αιτεισθε in 3. Mayor argues that the middle here, in contrast with the active, carries more the spirit of prayer, but Moulton (Prol., p. 160) regards the distinction between αιτεω and αιτεομα often "an extinct subtlety."
Because ye ask amiss (διοτ κακως αιτεισθε). Here the indirect middle does make sense, "ye ask for yourselves" and that is "evilly" or amiss (κακως), as James explains.
That ye may spend it in your pleasures (ινα εν ταις ηδοναις υμων δαπανησητε). Purpose clause with ινα and the first aorist subjunctive of δαπαναω, old verb from δαπανη, cost (Lu 14:28 only in N.T.), to squander (Lu 15:14 ). God does not hear prayers like this.
Ye adulteresses (μοιχαλιδες). Μοιχο κα (ye adulterers) is spurious (Syrian text only). The feminine form here is a common late word from the masculine μοιχο. It is not clear whether the word is to be taken literally here as in Ro 7:3 , or figuratively for all unfaithful followers of Christ (like an unfaithful bride), as in 2Co 11:1f.; Eph 5:24-28 (the Bride of Christ). Either view makes sense in this context, probably the literal view being more in harmony with the language of verses 2f . In that case James may include more than Christians in his view, though Paul talks plainly to church members about unchastity (Eph 5:3-5 ).
Whosoever therefore would be (ος εαν ουν βουληθη). Indefinite relative clause with ος and modal εαν and the first aorist passive (deponent) subjunctive of βουλομα, to will (purpose).
A friend of the world (φιλος του κοσμου). Predicate nominative with infinitive εινα agreeing with ος. See 2:23 for φιλος θεου (friend of God).
Maketh himself (καθιστατα). Present passive (not middle) indicative as in 3:6, "is constituted," "is rendered."
An enemy of God (εχθρος του θεου). Predicate nominative and anarthrous and objective genitive (θεου).
The Scripture (η γραφη). Personification as in Ga 3:8; James 2:23 . But no O.T. passage is precisely like this, though it is "a poetical rendering" (Ropes) of Ex 20:5 . The general thought occurs also in Ge 6:3-5; Isa 63:8-16 , etc. Paul has the same idea also (Ga 5:17,21; Ro 8:6,8 ). It is possible that the reference is really to the quotation in verse 6 from Pr 3:34 and treating all before as a parenthesis. There is no way to decide positively.
In vain (κενως). Old adverb (Aristotle) from κενως ( 2:20), here alone in N.T. "Emptily," not meaning what it says.
Made to dwell (κατωικισεν). First aorist active of κατοικιζω, old verb, to give a dwelling to, only here in N.T.
Long unto envying (προς φθονον επιποθε). A difficult phrase. Some even take προς φθονον with λεγε rather than with επιποθε, as it naturally does go, meaning "jealously." But even so, with God presented as a jealous lover, does το πνευμα refer to the Holy Spirit as the subject of επιποθε or to man's spirit as the object of επιποθε? Probably the former and επιποθε then means to yearn after in the good sense as in Php 1:8 .
More grace (μειζονα χαριν). "Greater grace." Greater than what? "Greater grace in view of the greater requirement" (Ropes), like Ro 5:20f . God does this.
Wherefore (διο). To prove this point James quotes Pr 3:34 .
God resisteth the proud (ο θεος υπερηφανοις αντιτασσετα). Present middle (direct) indicative of αντιτασσω, old military term, to range in battle against, with dative case (Ro 13:2 ) as in 5:6. Hυπερηφανοις (υπερ, φαινομα) is like our vernacular "stuck-folks" (Ro 1:30 ), "haughty persons."
Be subject therefore unto God (υποταγητε ουν τω θεω). Second aorist (ingressive) passive imperative of υποτασσω, old verb, to range under (military term also). Same form in 1Pe 2:23; 5:5 . With the dative case θεω (unto God). The aorist has the note of urgency in the imperative. Note the ten aorist imperatives in verses 7-10 (υποταγητε, αντιστητε, εγγισατε, καθαρισατε, αγνισατε, ταλαιπωρησατε, πενθησατε, κλαυσατε, μετατραπητω, ταπεινωθητε).
But resist the devil (αντιστητε δε τω διαβολω). Second aorist (ingressive) active (intransitive) imperative of ανθιστημ, "take a stand against." Dative case διαβολω. Result of such a stand is that the devil will flee (φευξετα, future middle of φευγω). See 1Pe 5:8f.; Eph 6:11f.; Lu 10:17 .
Draw nigh to God (εγγισατε τω θεω). First aorist active imperative of εγγιζω, late verb from εγγυς (near) as in Mt 3:2 . With dative case again of personal relation. The priests in the sanctuary drew nigh to God (Ex 19:22 ), as we should now.
Cleanse your hands (καθαρισατε χειρας). First aorist active imperative of καθαριζω, to cleanse, from dirt in a ritual sense (Ex 30:19-21; Mr 7:3,19 ). Here it is figurative, as in Ho 1:16; Ps 24:4 . If we always had clean (from sin) hands and hearts?
Ye sinners (αμαρτωλο). A sharp term to strike the conscience, "a reproach meant to startle and sting" (Ropes).
Purify your hearts (αγνισατε καρδιας). First aorist active imperative of αγνιζω, old verb from αγνος (James 3:17 ), ceremonially (Ac 21:24,26 ), but here morally as in 1Pe 1:22; 1Jo 3:3 . Anarthrous use of καρδιας as of χειρας (wash hands, purify hearts).
Ye double-minded (διψυχο). As in 1:8.
Mourn (πενθησατε). First aorist active imperative of πενθεω, old verb from πενθος (mourning, 4:9), as in Mt 5:4f . Often in N.T. joined as here with κλαιω, to weep (Mr 16:10; Lu 6:25 ). A call to the godly sorrow spoken of in 2Co 7:10 (Mayor), like an O.T. prophet.
Weep (κλαυσατε). First aorist active imperative of κλαιω.
Laughter (γελως). Old word from Homer down, only here in N.T. as γελαω, to
Be turned (μετατραπητω). Second aorist passive imperative of μετατρεπω, old word, to turn about, to transmute, in Homer (not in Attic), here only in N.T.
Heaviness (κατηφειαν). Old word from κατηφης (of a downcast look, from κατα, φαη eyes), hanging down of the eyes like the publican in Lu 18:13 , here only in N.T.
Humble yourselves (ταπεινωθητε). First aorist passive imperative of ταπεινοω, old verb from ταπεινος ( 1:9), as in Mt 18:4 . The passive here has almost the middle or reflexive sense. The middle voice was already giving way to the passive. See 1Pe 5:6 for this same form with the same promise of exaltation.
Speak not one against another (μη καταλαλειτε αλληλων). Prohibition against such a habit or a command to quit doing it, with μη and the present imperative of καταλαλεω, old compound usually with the accusative in ancient Greek, in N.T. only with the genitive (here, 1Pe 2:12; 3:16 ). Often harsh words about the absent. James returns to the subject of the tongue as he does again in 5:12 (twice before, 1:26; 3:1-12 ).
Not a doer of the law, but a judge (ουκ ποιητης νομου, αλλα κριτης). This tone of superiority to law is here sharply condemned. James has in mind God's law, of course, but the point is the same for all laws under which we live. We cannot select the laws which we will obey unless some contravene God's law, and so our own conscience (Ac 4:20 ). Then we are willing to give our lives for our rebellion if need be.
One only (εις). No "only" in the Greek, but εις here excludes all others but God.
To save (σωσα, first aorist active infinitive of σωζω)
Thy neighbour (τον πλησιον). "The neighbour" as in James 2:8 .
Go to now (αγε νυν). Interjectional use of αγε (from αγω) as in 5:1 (only N.T. instances) with a plural verb (ο λεγοντες, present active articular participle, ye that say) as is common in ancient Greek like ιδε νυν ηκουσατε (Mt 26:65 ).
Today or tomorrow (σημερον η αυριον). Correct text (Aleph B), not κα (and).
Into this city (εις τηνδε την πολιν). Old demonstrative οδε, rare in N.T. (Lu 10:39 ) save in neuter plural ταδε (these things Ac 21:11 ). One would point out the city on the map (Mayor) as he made the proposal (we will go, πορευσομεθα).
And spend a year there (κα ποιησομεν εκε ενιαυτον). Another future (active of ποιεω). "We will do a year there."
And trade (κα εμπορευσομεθα). Future middle of εμπορευομα (εν, πορευομα, to go in), old verb from εμπορος (a merchant or trader, a drummer, one going in and getting the trade, Mt 13:45 ), a vivid picture of the Jewish merchants of the time.
Whereas ye know not (οιτινες ουκ επιστασθε). The longer relative οστις defines here more precisely (like Latin qui) ο λεγοντες (ye who say) of verse 13 in a causal sense, as in Ac 10:47 , "who indeed do not know" (present middle indicative of επισταμα).
What shall be on the morrow (της αυριον). Supply ημερας (day) after αυριον. This is the reading of B (Westcott) "on the morrow" (genitive of time), but Aleph K L cursives have το της αυριον ("the matter of tomorrow"), while A P cursives have τα της αυριον ("the things of tomorrow"). The sense is practically the same, though το της αυριον is likely correct.
What is your life? (ποια η ζωη υμων). Thus Westcott and Hort punctuate it as an indirect question, not direct. Ποια is a qualitative interrogative (of what character).
That appeareth and then vanisheth away (φαινομενη επειτα κα αφανιζομενη). Present middle participles agreeing with ατμις, "appearing, then also disappearing," with play on the two verbs (φαινομαι, αφανιζω as in Mt 6:19 , from αφανης hidden Heb 4:13 ) with the same root φαν (φαινω, α-φαν-ης).
For that ye ought to say (αντ του λεγειν υμας). "Instead of the saying as to you" (genitive of the articular infinitive with the preposition αντ and the accusative of general reference with λεγειν), "instead of your saying."
If the Lord will (εαν ο κυριος θελη). Condition of the third class with εαν and the present active subjunctive (or first aorist active θελεση in some MSS). The proper attitude of mind (Ac 18:21; 1Co 4:19; 16:7; Ro 1:19; Php 2:19,24; Heb 6:3 ), not to be uttered always in words like a charm. This Hellenistic formula was common among the ancient heathen, as today among modern Arabs like the Latin deo volente.
This or that (τουτο η εκεινο). Applicable to every act.
Glorying (καυχησις). Act of glorying, late word from καυχαομα, good if for Christ (1Th 2:19 ), bad if for self as here.
To him that knoweth (ειδοτ). Dative case of second perfect participle ειδως (from οιδα), and with the infinitive to know how, "to one knowing how."
To do good (καλον ποιειν). "To do a good deed."
Sin (αμαρτια). Unused knowledge of one's duty is sin, the sin of omission. Cf. Mt 23:23 .
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