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1 My brethren, bee not many masters, knowing that we shall receiue the greater condemnation.

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

3 Behold, we put bittes in the horses mouthes, that they may obey vs, and we turne about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driuen of fierce windes, yet are they turned about with a very small helme, whithersoeuer the gouernour listeth.

5 Euen so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things: behold, how great a matter a litle fire kindleth.

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquitie: so is the tongue amongst our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell.

7 For euery kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind.

8 But the tongue can no man tame, it is an vnruly euill, ful of deadly poyson.

9 Therewith blesse wee God, euen the Father: and therewith curse wee men, which are made after the similitude of God.

10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing: my brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11 Doeth a fountaine send foorth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can þe figtree, my brethren, beare oliue berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountaine both yeeld salt water & fresh.

13 Who is a wise man and indued with knowledge amongst you? let him shew out of a good conuersation his workes with meekenes of wisedome.

14 But if ye haue bitter enuying and strife in your hearts glory not, and lie not against the trueth.

15 This wisedome descendeth not from aboue, but is earthly, sensuall, deuilish.

16 For where enuying and strife is, there is confusion, and euery euill worke.

17 But the wisedome that is from aboue, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easie to be intreated, full of mercy, and good fruits, without partialitie, and without hypocrisie.

18 And the fruit of righteousnesse is sowen in peace, of them that make peace.

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Commentary for James 3

Cautions against proud behaviour, and the mischief of an unruly tongue. (1-12) The excellence of heavenly wisdom, in opposition to that which is worldly. (13-18)1-12 We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the greatest evils. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion by the tongues of men. Every age of the world, and every condition of life, private or public, affords examples of this. Hell has more to do in promoting the fire of the tongue than men generally think; and whenever men's tongues are employed in sinful ways, they are set on fire of hell. No man can tame the tongue without Divine grace and assistance. The apostle does not represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. Other sins decay with age, this many times gets worse; we grow more froward and fretful, as natural strength decays, and the days come on in which we have no pleasure. When other sins are tamed and subdued by the infirmities of age, the spirit often grows more tart, nature being drawn down to the dregs, and the words used become more passionate. That man's tongue confutes itself, which at one time pretends to adore the perfections of God, and to refer all things to him; and at another time condemns even good men, if they do not use the same words and expressions. True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified heart; and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses, lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any more than they look for the fruit of one tree from another. But facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their tongues. Then, depending on Divine grace, let us take heed to bless and curse not; and let us aim to be consistent in our words and actions.

13-18 These verses show the difference between men's pretending to be wise, and their being really so. He who thinks well, or he who talks well, is not wise in the sense of the Scripture, if he does not live and act well. True wisdom may be know by the meekness of the spirit and temper. Those who live in malice, envy, and contention, live in confusion; and are liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such wisdom comes not down from above, but springs up from earthly principles, acts on earthly motives, and is intent on serving earthly purposes. Those who are lifted up with such wisdom, described by the apostle James, is near to the Christian love, described by the apostle Paul; and both are so described that every man may fully prove the reality of his attainments in them. It has no disguise or deceit. It cannot fall in with those managements the world counts wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere, and open, and steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself. May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and mercy shown in all our actions, and the fruits of righteousness abounding in our lives, prove that God has bestowed upon us this excellent gift.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for James 3

  • Irene123
    Because the "wise as serpents" quote ISN'T a word for word EXACT quote - I pray someone doesn't jump all over me ............
  • Irene123
    Jas. 3:17 - " ... wisdom ..... is ... pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." Wisdom; we all desire to be wise; "be ye therefore wise as serpents but harmless as doves; wise in our speaking, thinking; but harmless in the same.
  • Charles hendrix
    Verse 1 argues that we should NOT all try to be teachers because we are judged more harshly than others,because we are teaching. I declined leading classes in my Sunday School because I felt inadequate in my knowledge and wisdom of the word. The Tongue is a potent thing,Even well intentioned speech when not biblically informed can have disastrous consequence .
  • Evangelist Dahlia Daniels
    Don't try to use verse 8 to justify your wrong doing this is not Christian Humble yourself and be ye Patients and don't be so quick to say things when angry always think about who you are suppose to be Representing at all times Practice makes Perfectness don't let people tell you it can't be done because it can of you Really Want It
  • Ricky Termain
    Awesome Chapter especially chapter 3verse3 awesome..
  • BSP
    Even though the tongue is such a small member of the human body, we can not tame it. We are all imperfect and so we will all say imperfect things. We must work hard to try and control our tongue the best we can.

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