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1. Trials and Temptations

1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion, greeting. 2Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; 3Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. 4And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing. 5But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. 7For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord; 8a doubleminded man, unstable in all his ways. 9But let the brother of low degree glory in his high estate: 10and the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11For the sun ariseth with the scorching wind, and withereth the grass: and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his goings. 12Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him. 13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: 14but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 15Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death. 16Be not deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning. 18Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. 23For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: 24for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing. 26If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man's religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

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26, 27. An example of doing work.

religious … religion—The Greek expresses the external service or exercise of religion, "godliness" being the internal soul of it. "If any man think himself to be (so the Greek) religious, that is, observant of the offices of religion, let him know these consist not so much in outward observances, as in such acts of mercy and humble piety (Mic 6:7, 8) as visiting the fatherless, &c., and keeping one's self unspotted from the world" (Mt 23:23). James does not mean that these offices are the great essentials, or sum total of religion; but that, whereas the law service was merely ceremonial, the very services of the Gospel consist in acts of mercy and holiness, and it has light for its garment, its very robe being righteousness [Trench]. The Greek word is only found in Ac 26:5, "after the straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee." Col 2:18, "worshipping of angels."

bridleth not … tongue—Discretion in speech is better than fluency of speech (compare Jas 3:2, 3). Compare Ps 39:1. God alone can enable us to do so. James, in treating of the law, naturally notices this sin. For they who are free from grosser sins, and even bear the outward show of sanctity, will often exalt themselves by detracting others under the pretense of zeal, while their real motive is love of evil-speaking [Calvin].

heart—It and the tongue act and react on one another.

27. Pure … and undefiled—"Pure" is that love which has in it no foreign admixture, as self-deceit and hypocrisy. "Undefiled" is the means of its being "pure" [Tittmann]. "Pure" expresses the positive, "undefiled" the negative side of religious service; just as visiting the fatherless and widow is the active, keeping himself unspotted from the world, the passive side of religious duty. This is the nobler shape that our religious exercises take, instead of the ceremonial offices of the law.

before God and the Father—literally, "before Him who is (our) God and Father." God is so called to imply that if we would be like our Father, it is not by fasting, &c., for He does none of these things, but in being "merciful as our Father is merciful" [Chrysostom].

visit—in sympathy and kind offices to alleviate their distresses.

the fatherless—whose "Father" is God (Ps 68:5); peculiarly helpless.

and—not in the Greek; so close is the connection between active works of mercy to others, and the maintenance of personal unworldliness of spirit, word, and deed; no copula therefore is needed. Religion in its rise interests us about ourselves in its progress, about our fellow creatures: in its highest stage, about the honor of God.

keep himself—with jealous watchfulness, at the same time praying and depending on God as alone able to keep us (Joh 17:15; Jude 24).