James 3:17 MEANING

James 3:17
(17) But the wisdom that is from above . . .--Whereas, in sweetest contrast to all this repulsive foulness and riot, the true wisdom from above is first pure, chaste as the Lamb of God, "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14), then peaceful, gentle, and compliant--easy to be won, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not double-minded (non duplex), nor hypocritical. Compare with this beautiful description St. Paul's list of the fruits of the Spirit, "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22), and his discourse on Love (1 Corinthians 13).

Truly this wisdom "cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof;" "Happy is the man that findeth her." (Read Job 28:14-19, and Proverbs 3:13-18.)

Verse 17. - The wisdom which is from above; ἡ ἄνωθεν σοφία, equivalent to חכמה עליוגה - an expression not unknown among rabbinical writers (see Schöttgen, 'Horae Hebraicae,' vol. 1. p. 1026). First pure, then peaceable. "The sequence is that of thought, not of time" (Plumptre). Purity must be secured, even at the expense of peace. Gentle, and easy to be entreated (ἐπιεκὴς εὐπειθής). The former of these two terms signifies "forbearing under provocation" (cf. 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 3:2; 1 Peter 2:18); the latter is found only here. Vulgate, snadibilis; Syriac, "obedient;" R.V. as A.V., "easy to be entreated," i.e. ready to forgive. Thus the conjunction of the two terms ἐπιεικής and εὐπειθής reminds us of the Jewish saying in 'Pirqe Aboth,' 5:17, describing four characters in dispositions, in which the man who is "hard to provoke and easily pacified" is set down as pious. Without partiality (ἀδιάκριτος); here only in the New Testament. The word is used in the LXX. in Proverbs 25:1; and by Ignatius (Ephesians 3; Magn. 15; Trall. 1), but none of these passages throw light on its meaning. It may be either

(1) without variance, or

(2) without doubtfulness, or

(3) without partiality;

probably (1) as R.V. text. Without hypocrisy; ἀνυπόκριτος applied to πιστίς in 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:5; to ἀγαπή in Romans 12:9; 2 Corinthians 6:6; and to φιλαδελφία in 1 Peter 1:22.

3:13-18 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.But the wisdom that is from above,.... Which has God for its author; which is infused into the soul by the Spirit of God; and leads into the knowledge of things that are above, of heavenly things; and which only is true wisdom and knowledge; and those who are possessed of it are the only true Gnostics; for which; see Gill on James 3:13 namely, the grace of God: this wisdom

is first pure; it is pure in itself, it is free from everything that is earthly, carnal, or sensual, or devilish; it produces purity of heart, of life, and conversation; and is the means of keeping persons pure and chaste, and free from impure lusts, lusts of uncleanness, pride, envy, wrath, &c. which prevail in carnal and unregenerate men:

and then peaceable; it inclines and engages those who have it to live in peace with the saints, and even with all men; with those of their own household, with their neighbours, yea, with their enemies: it is also "gentle"; or makes men gentle, moderate, and humane, so as that they bear, and forbear; they bear with the infirmities of the weak; readily forgive injuries done them; do not rigidly exact what is their due, but recede from their just right for the sake of peace and love; and do not bear hard upon others for their failings, but cover them with the mantle of love: and it is

easy to be treated; or those who have it readily yield to the superior judgments and stronger reasonings of others; and are easily induced to hope and believe all things, and entertain a good opinion of men, and their conduct; and are far from being proud, arrogant, obstinate, and overbearing:

full of mercy and good fruits; of compassion and beneficence to the poor; feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the widows and fatherless in their affliction; and doing all other good works and duties, both with respect to God and man, as fruits of grace, and of the Spirit:

without partiality: to one another; or making a difference between them; showing no respect to persons; bestowing upon the poor and indigent, without any distinction: and

without hypocrisy; either with respect to God or man; not making show of that which they have not, or do not intend.

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