James Chapter 4

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In the previous chapter (Jam 3:13ff) the apostle had contrasted the wisdom which is from above with that which is from beneath. The former is peaceable, pure, and gentle, leading to universal kindness and order; the latter earthly, sensual, and devilish. The points suggested in this chapter grow directly out of the remarks made there, and are designed to show the effect of the "wisdom which descendeth not from above," as evinced in the spirit of this world, and thus by contrast to show the value of true wisdom, or of the spirit of religion. Accordingly, the apostle illustrates the effects of the wisdom of this world, or the spirit of this world, by showing what it produces, or what they do who are under its influence. We are not to suppose that the persons to whom the apostle addressed this epistle were actually guilty of the things here referred to themselves, but such things had an existence in the world, and it gave more life and spirit to the discussion to represent them as existing "among them." In illustrating the subject, he refers to the following things as resulting from the spirit that is opposite to the wisdom which is from above, viz.:

(1.) Wars and fightings, which are to be traced solely to the lusts of men, Jam 4:1f;

(2.) the neglect of prayer, showing the reason why they did not have the things which were necessary, Jam 4:2;

(3,) the fact that when they prayed they did not obtain what they needed, because they prayed with improper motives, in order to have the means of gratifying their sensual desires, Jam 4:3;

(4,) the desire of the friendship of the world, as one of the fruits of being under the influence of the wisdom which is not from above, Jam 4:4;

(5,) envy, as another of these fruits, Jam 4:5. In view of these things, and of the danger to which they were exposed of acting under their influence, the apostle proceeds to give them some solemn cautions and admonitions. He tells them that God resists all who are proud, but gives grace to all who are humble, (Jam 4:6;) he counsels them to submit to God, (Jam 4:7,) to resist the devil, (Jam 4:7,) to draw nigh to God, (Jam 4:8,) to cleanse their hands and their hearts, (Jam 4:8,) to be afflicted and mourn over their sins, and to become serious and devout, (Jam 4:9,) and to humble themselves before God that he might lift them up, (Jam 4:10;) he commands them not to speak evil one of another, since by so doing they in fact set themselves up to be judges, and in the circumstances became judges of the law as well as of their brethren, Jam 4:11f. He then rebukes the confident spirit which lays its plans for the future with no just view of the frailty and uncertainty of human life, and shows them that all their plans for the future should be formed with a distinct recognition of their dependence on God for success, and even for the continuance of life, Jam 4:13ff. The chapter closes with an affirmation that to him that knows how to do good and does it not, to him it is sin, (Jam 4:17,) implying that all he had said in the chapter might indeed be obvious, and that they would be ready to admit that these things were true, and that if they knew this, and did not do right, they must be regarded as guilty.


1: From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? edit

2: Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. edit

3: Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. edit

4: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. edit

5: Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? edit

6: But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. edit

7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. edit

8: Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. edit

9: Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. edit

10: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. edit

11: Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. edit

12: There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? edit

13: Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: edit

14: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. edit

15: For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. edit

16: But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. edit

17: Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. edit

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