The Power of Your Words
1My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be so eager to become a teacher in the church since you know that we who teach are held to a higher standard of judgment. 2We all fail in many areas, but especially with our words. Yet if we’re able to bridle the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way, and that means our character is mature and fully developed. 3Horses have bits and bridles in their mouths so that we can control and guide their large body. 4And the same with mighty ships, though they are massive and driven by fierce winds, yet they are steered by a tiny rudder at the direction of the person at the helm.
5And so the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power! # 3:5 Or “boasts of great things.” The Aramaic can be translated “the tongue has dominion.” Just think of how a small flame can set a huge forest ablaze. 6And the tongue is a fire! It can be compared to the sum total of wickedness # 3:6 As translated from the Latin Vulgate. The Greek is “a world of wrongdoing.” and is the most dangerous part of our human body. It corrupts the entire body # 3:6 It is possible that the body Jacob refers to here is the body of believers (a local church). and is a hellish flame! # 3:6 Or “is set ablaze by gehenna [hell].” The Aramaic does not mention gehenna but is simply “burns with fire.” Gehenna is taken from the concept of “The Valley of Hinnom” where rubbish was burned outside the city of Jerusalem, becoming a Hebrew metaphor for the fires of hell. It releases a fire that can burn throughout the course of human existence. # 3:6 The Aramaic can be translated “a fire that passes through successive generations, rolling on like wheels.”
7For every wild animal on earth including birds, creeping reptiles, and creatures of the sea and land # 3:7 Implied in the Greek and made explicit in the Aramaic. have all been overpowered and tamed by humans, 8but the tongue is not able to be tamed. It’s a fickle, unrestrained evil that spews out words full of toxic poison! 9We use our tongue to praise God our Father # 3:9 Some Greek manuscripts have “Lord and Father.” The Aramaic can be translated “Lord God” (MarYah, the Aramaic equivalent to Yahweh). and then turn around and curse a person who was made in his very image! # 3:9 The Aramaic can be translated “we curse a person and pretend to be God!” 10Out of the same mouth we pour out words of praise one minute and curses the next. My brothers and sisters, this should never be!
11-12Would you look for olives hanging on a fig tree or go to pick figs from a grapevine? Is it possible that fresh and bitter water can flow out of the same spring? So neither can a bitter spring produce fresh water. # 3:11–12 As translated from the Aramaic.
Wisdom from Above
13If you consider yourself to be wise and one who understands the ways of God, advertise it with a beautiful, fruitful # 3:13 As translated from the Aramaic. life guided by wisdom’s gentleness. Never brag or boast about what you’ve done and you’ll prove that you’re truly wise. 14But if there is bitter jealousy or competition hiding in your heart, then don’t deny it and try to compensate for it by boasting and being phony. 15For that has nothing to do with God’s heavenly wisdom but can best be described as the wisdom of this world, both selfish # 3:15 Or “unspiritual.” and devilish. # 3:15 Or “behaves like a demon.” 16So wherever jealousy # 3:16 The Greek word for jealousy implies an obsession to promote one’s self at the expense of others. and selfishness are uncovered, you will also find many troubles # 3:16 The Aramaic can be translated “chaos.” The Greek can be translated “instability” or “disorder.” and every kind of meanness.
17But the wisdom from above is always pure, # 3:17 Or “holy.” filled with peace, considerate and teachable. # 3:17 A beautiful concept that means “easy to correct” or “ready to be convinced” or “willing to yield to others.” Is this true of your life? It is filled with love # 3:17 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “mercy.” and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy # 3:17 Or “never wears a mask.” in any form 18and it always bears the beautiful harvest of righteousness! Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace.