James 4:15 MEANING

James 4:15
(15) For that ye ought to say . . . .--Referring to James 4:13, in some such a continuation of reproof as this: Woe unto you that say, . . . . instead of saying, "If the Lord will". . . . In fact, it is a thing of the past, not of time, but completed action on the part of God--"If the Lord have willed it, we shall both live and do this or that." Such is far, be it noted, from Fatalism, in even its best form, as under the teaching of Islam. The sovereignty of God is acknowledged, but with it is plainly recognised the existence of man's free will, dependent, however, on the permission of the Most High for its fleeting duration and power. St. Paul speaks in similar tone of coming to Corinth, "if the Lord will" (1 Corinthians 4:19); and "God willing" (D.V.), "the reference of all the contingencies of the future to One supremely wise and loving Will, has been in all ages of Christendom the stay and strength of devout souls."

Verse 15. - For that ye ought to say (ἀντὶ τοῦ λέγειν); literally, instead of your saying; ἀντὶ τοῦ, with the infinitive, "saepe apud Graecos" (Grimm). This verse follows in thought on ver. 13, ver. 14 having been parenthetical. "Go to now, ye that say... instead of your saying (as ye ought), If the Lord will," etc. Once more the text requires correction, as the futures ζήσομεν and ποιήσομεν should be read (with א, A, B), instead of the subjunctives of the Received Text. It is generally agreed now that the verse should be rendered," If the Lord will, we shall both live and do this or that." But it is possible to divide it differently, and to render as follows: "If the Lord will, and we live, we shall also do this or that." Vulgate, si Dominus voluerit et si [omit si, Codex Amiat.] vixerimus, faciemus, etc. (cf. Winer, 'Grammar of N.T. Greek,' p. 357).

4:11-17 Our lips must be governed by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice. Christians are brethren. And to break God's commands, is to speak evil of them, and to judge them, as if they laid too great a restraint upon us. We have the law of God, which is a rule to all; let us not presume to set up our own notions and opinions as a rule to those about us, and let us be careful that we be not condemned of the Lord. Go to now, is a call to any one to consider his conduct as being wrong. How apt worldly and contriving men are to leave God out of their plans! How vain it is to look for any thing good without God's blessing and guidance! The frailty, shortness, and uncertainty of life, ought to check the vanity and presumptuous confidence of all projects for futurity. We can fix the hour and minute of the sun's rising and setting to-morrow, but we cannot fix the certain time of a vapour being scattered. So short, unreal, and fading is human life, and all the prosperity or enjoyment that attends it; though bliss or woe for ever must be according to our conduct during this fleeting moment. We are always to depend on the will of God. Our times are not in our own hands, but at the disposal of God. Our heads may be filled with cares and contrivances for ourselves, or our families, or our friends; but Providence often throws our plans into confusion. All we design, and all we do, should be with submissive dependence on God. It is foolish, and it is hurtful, to boast of worldly things and aspiring projects; it will bring great disappointment, and will prove destruction in the end. Omissions are sins which will be brought into judgment, as well as commissions. He that does not the good he knows should be done, as well as he who does the evil he knows should not be done, will be condemned. Oh that we were as careful not to omit prayer, and not to neglect to meditate and examine our consciences, as we are not to commit gross outward vices against light!For that ye ought to say,.... Instead of saying we will go to such and such a place, and do this, and that, and the other thing, it should be said,

if the Lord will, and we shall live, and do this and that; the last "and" is left out in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions; and the passage rendered thus, "if the Lord will, and we shall live, we will do this": so that here are two conditions of doing anything; the one is, if it should be agreeable to the determining will and purpose of God, by which everything in the world comes to pass, and into which the wills of men should be resolved, and resigned; and the other is, if we should live, since life is so very uncertain and precarious: and the sense is, not that this exact form of words should be always used, but what is equivalent to them, or, at least, that there should be always a sense of these things upon the mind; and there should be a view to them in all resolutions, designs, and engagements: and since the words are so short and comprehensive, it might be proper for Christians to use themselves to such a way of speaking; upon all occasions; we find it used by the Apostle Paul frequently, as in Acts 18:2, and even by Jews, Heathens, and Turks. It is a saying of Ben Syra, the Jew (p),

"let a man never say he will do anything, before he says , "if God will"''

So Cyrus, king of Persia, when, under pretence of hunting, he designed an expedition into Armenia, upon which an hare started, and was caught by an eagle, said to his friends, this will be a good or prosperous hunting to us, , "if God will" (q). And very remarkable are the words of Socrates to Alcibiades, inquiring of him how he ought to speak; says Socrates, , "if God will" (r); and says he, in another place (s),

"but I will do this, and come unto thee tomorrow, "if God will".''

And it is reported of the Turks (t), that they submit everything to the divine will; as the success of war, or a journey, or anything, even of the least moment, they desire to be done; and never promise themselves, or others, anything, but under this condition, "In Shallah", if God will.

(p) Sentent. 11. (q) Xenophon. Cyropaed. l. 2. c. 25. (r) Plato in Aleibiade, p. 135. (s) Plato in Laches. (t) Smith de Moribus Turc. p. 74.

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