Faith and Wisdom
1Greetings! My name is Jacob, # 1:1 James is actually the Hebrew name Jacob, the name of the man who had twelve sons that formed the twelve tribes of Israel. and I’m a love-slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m writing to all the twelve tribes of Israel who have been sown as seeds # 1:1 As translated from the Aramaic, which was the language spoken by Jesus and his disciples. among the nations.
2My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! 3For you know that when your faith is tested # 1:3 Or “when faith passes the test.” it stirs up in you the power of endurance. 4And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.
5And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace. # 1:5 Or “with an open hand.” 6Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. 7-8When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. # 1:7–8 Or “restless” or “disengaged.” Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition?
9The believer who is poor still has reasons to boast, for he has been placed on high. 10But those who are rich should boast in how God has brought them low and humbled them, for all their earthly glory will one day fade away like a wildflower in the meadow. 11For as the scorching heat of the sun causes the petals of the wildflower to fall off and lose its appearance of beauty, # 1:11 In the land of the Bible there were many deserts with arid land. The rainy season is quite short and the burning heat of the sun scorched the earth until the next season of rain arrived. We live in a constantly changing world with riches and beauty quickly fading. Our hope is set on things above. so the rich in the midst of their pursuit of wealth will wither away.
12If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!
13When you are tempted don’t ever say, “God is tempting me,” for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and he is never the source of temptation. 14Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure # 1:14 Or “hooked by the bait of evil from their own desires.” them away into darkness. 15Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin is fully mature it can murder you! 16So my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires!
17Every gift # 1:17 Or “legacy.” God freely gives us is good and perfect, # 1:17 The Aramaic word used here, mshamlaita, means “complete, wholesome, abundant, sufficient, enough, and perfect.” streaming down from the Father of lights, # 1:17 Jesus calls us the light of the world (Matt. 5:14–16) and Paul describes believers as “shining lights” (Phil. 2:15) in this world. God is our Father, he created angels but he brought us into new birth. The Greek word anōthen (“from above”) is used by Jesus in describing to Nicodemus that we are born from above. We are lights born from above. See also John 3:7. who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness # 1:17 Or “shadow of turning.” The implication is there is nothing that you will find wrong with God, nothing in him that could even remotely appear to be evil hiding. The more you get to know him the more you realize how beautiful and holy he is. and is never subject to change. 18God was delighted # 1:18 Or “God having decided gave us birth.” The comparison in this passage is striking. Sin gives birth to death, God from his pure desires gives us birth to bring him glory. to give us birth by the truth of his infallible Word # 1:18 The Aramaic can be translated “the word of the rainbow-sign.” That is, the unbreakable new covenant promises we have as new creatures in Christ. so that we would fulfill his chosen destiny for us and become the favorite ones out of all his creation! # 1:18 Or “a kind of firstfruits of his creations” or “the pledge [down-payment] of a still further creation [a more complete harvest].”
19My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, # 1:19 Although the Greek does not supply an object we are to listen to, it is obvious in the context that we should listen to one another, to God’s voice, and to his Word. May God give us listening hearts. but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, 20for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose. # 1:20 Or “God’s righteousness will never attach itself to human anger.” 21So this is why we abandon everything morally impure # 1:21 The Aramaic word used here can mean “demonic activities.” and all forms of wicked conduct. # 1:21 Or “excesses of evil.” Instead, with a sensitive spirit # 1:21 Due to the Greek sentence construction, this clause may refer to what preceded it, “abandon . . . all forms of wicked conduct with a gentle [meek] heart.” we absorb God’s Word, which has been implanted within our nature, for the Word of Life has power to continually deliver us. # 1:21 Or “save our souls.” The Greek uses the effective aorist active infinitive σωσαι (sōsai) from σωζω (sōzō) and could refer to the ultimate salvation of our souls (personality, emotions, thoughts) and/or our eternal salvation.
22Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life! # 1:22 Or “be a poet [doer] of the Word.”
23If you listen to the Word and don’t live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning. # 1:23 Or “realizing his beginning [genesis] face” or “studying the face he was born with.” 24You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, # 1:24 For the believer, seeing the man “in the mirror” is seeing how God sees us from the beginning, even before the fall of Adam which resulted in sin’s devastation to human hearts. The man in the mirror is the new creation man. but then you go out and forget # 1:24 The Aramaic can be translated “drift away from.” your divine origin. 25But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting law of liberty # 1:25 This is referred to as the “royal law of love” in 2:8 and the “law of liberty” in 2:12. are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do! # 1:25 See Luke 11:28.
26If someone believes they have a relationship with God but fails to guard his words then his heart is drifting away and his religion is shallow and empty. # 1:26 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “If one presumes to be religious but doesn’t guard his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is useless.”
27True spirituality # 1:27 The Aramaic can be translated “True ministry.” that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, # 1:27 The Greek word orhpanos means “the fatherless” or “the comfortless.” and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.