James 3:7 MEANING

James 3:7
(7) For every kind of beasts . . .--Compare the margin, and read more exactly, thus: Every nature of beasts and birds, and creeping things, and things of the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed, by the nature of man. All kinds have been mastered by mankind, as promised at creation (Genesis 1:26-28). There lives no creature which may not be won by kindness and gratitude; and--

"He prayeth best who loveth best

All things both great and small;

For the dear God Who loveth us,

He made and loveth all."

The four-fold division of animal life above is curiously like and unlike that in Acts 10:17, where we read of "four-footed beasts of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and fowls of the air."

Verse 7. - Fourth illustration, involving a proof of the terrible power of the tongue for evil. All kinds of wild animals, etc., can be tamed and have been tamed: the tongue cannot be. What a deadly power for evil must it therefore be! The famous chorus in Sophocles, 'Antigone,' 1. 332, seq., Πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθώπου δεινότερον πέλει, is quoted by nearly all commentators, and affords a remarkable parallel to this passage. Every kind of beasts, etc.; literally, every nature (φύσις) of beasts... hath been tamed by man's nature (τῇ φύσει τῇ ἀνθρωπίνῃ); Vulgate, omnis enim natura bestiarum... domita sunt a natura humana. (On the dative τῇ φύσει, see Winer, 'Gram. of N. T.,' p. 275.) With this fourfold enumeration of the brute creation ("beasts ... birds.., serpents... things in the sea"), cf. Genesis 9:2, "The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon all the beasts (θήρια) of the earth, upon all the fowls (πέτεινα) of the heavens, and upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea." Serpents (ἐρπετά) would be better rendered, as B.V., creeping things.

3:1-12 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.For every kind of beasts, and of birds,.... Or the "nature" of them, as it is in the Greek text; however fierce, as beasts of prey are, or shy, as the fowls of the air be:

and of serpents and things in the sea; the fishes there:

is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind, or "by human nature": by the wit and industry of man; by the various ways, means, and methods devised by man. So Pliny (l) relates, that elephants lions and tigers among beasts, and the eagle among birds, and crocodiles, asps, and other serpents, and fishes of the sea, have been tamed: though some think this is only to be understood of their being mastered and subdued, by one means or another; or of their being despoiled of their power, or of their poison: and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it, "subjected to human nature".

(l) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 9. 16, 17. & 10. 5, 44.

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