James 4:4 MEANING

James 4:4
(4) Ye adulterers and adulteresses.--The phrase may seem to flow naturally after the former ones, but the Received text, from which our version was made, is wrong. It should be, ye adulteresses! as accusing those who have broken their marriage vow to God. The sense is familiar to us from many passages in the Old Testament, in which God speaks of Israel in a similar manner, e.g., Psalm 73:27; Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 16 passim; Ezekiel 23:37-43; Hosea 2:2. Again in the New Testament: Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4; Mark 8:38; Revelation 2:20-22; Revelation 17:1; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:15, &c.; St. Paul's description of the church (2 Corinthians 11:2), espoused "as a chaste virgin to Christ;" and comp. 2 Peter 2:14, specially the margin. "God is the Lord and husband of every soul that is His;" and in her revolt from Him, and love for sin, her acts are those of an adulterous woman.

Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?--i.e., the state of being an enemy to God, not one of simpler enmity with Him. There cannot be a passive condition to the faith of Christ: "he that is not with Me is against Me" (Matthew 12:30). Renunciation of the world, in the Christian promise, is not forsaking it when tired and clogged with its delights, but the earliest severance from it; to break this vow, or not to have made it, is to belong to the foes of God, and not merely to be out of covenant with Him. The forces of good and evil divide the land so sharply that there is no debatable ground, nor even halting-place between. And if God be just, so also is He jealous (Exodus 20:5).

"Let us not weakly slide into the treason:

Yielding another what we owe to Him."

Whosoever therefore will be (or, wills to be) a friend of the world is the enemy of God.--The choice is open; here is no iron fate, no dread necessity: but the wrong determination of the soul constitutes it henceforth as an ally of Satan. "Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26), for the world, as our Lord has taught us, must "love its own" (John 15:19). And the sooner the soldier of Christ learns to expect its animosity, the better will he give himself up to the battle. (Comp. Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13.)

Verse 4. - Ye adulterers and adulteresses. Omit μοιχοὶ καί, with א, A, B. The Vulgate has simply adulteri; the Old Latin (ff), fornicatores. Similarly the Syriae. Very strange is this sudden exclamation, "ye adulteresses!" and very difficult to explain. The same word (μοιχαλίς) is used as a feminine adjective by our Lord in the expression, "an evil and adulterous generation" (Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4; Mark 8:38); and in this possibly lies the explanation of St. James's use of the term. More probably, however, it should be accounted for as a reminiscence of Ezekiel 23:45, where we read of Samaria and Jerusalem under the titles of Aholah and Aholibah: "The righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands." It is remarkable too that in Malachi 3:5 the LXX. has μοιχαλίδες, although the Hebrew has the masculine, and men are evidently referred to. If, then, in the Old Testament the Jewish communities were personified as adulteresses, it is not unnatural for St. James to transfer the epithet to those Judaeo-Christian communities to which he was writing; and the word should probably be taken, just as in the Old Testament, of spiritual fornication, i.e. apostasy from God, shown in this case, not by actual idolatry, but by that "friendship of the world" which is "enmity with God," and by "covetousness which is idolatry." Φιλία. The word occurs here only in the New Testament. With the thought of this verse, compare our Lord's words in John 15:18, 19.

4:1-10 Since all wars and fightings come from the corruptions of our own hearts, it is right to mortify those lusts that war in the members. Wordly and fleshly lusts are distempers, which will not allow content or satisfaction. Sinful desires and affections stop prayer, and the working of our desires toward God. And let us beware that we do not abuse or misuse the mercies received, by the disposition of the heart when prayers are granted When men ask of God prosperity, they often ask with wrong aims and intentions. If we thus seek the things of this world, it is just in God to deny them. Unbelieving and cold desires beg denials; and we may be sure that when prayers are rather the language of lusts than of graces, they will return empty. Here is a decided warning to avoid all criminal friendships with this world. Worldly-mindedness is enmity to God. An enemy may be reconciled, but enmity never can be reconciled. A man may have a large portion in things of this life, and yet be kept in the love of God; but he who sets his heart upon the world, who will conform to it rather than lose its friendship, is an enemy to God. So that any one who resolves at all events to be upon friendly terms with the world, must be the enemy of God. Did then the Jews, or the loose professors of Christianity, think the Scripture spake in vain against this worldly-mindedness? or does the Holy Spirit who dwells in all Christians, or the new nature which he creates, produce such fruit? Natural corruption shows itself by envying. The spirit of the world teaches us to lay up, or lay out for ourselves, according to our own fancies; God the Holy Spirit teaches us to be willing to do good to all about us, as we are able. The grace of God will correct and cure the spirit by nature in us; and where he gives grace, he gives another spirit than that of the world. The proud resist God: in their understanding they resist the truths of God; in their will they resist the laws of God; in their passions they resist the providence of God; therefore, no wonder that God resists the proud. How wretched the state of those who make God their enemy! God will give more grace to the humble, because they see their need of it, pray for it are thankful for it, and such shall have it. Submit to God, ver. 7. Submit your understanding to the truth of God; submit your wills to the will of his precept, the will of his providence. Submit yourselves to God, for he is ready to do you good. If we yield to temptations, the devil will continually follow us; but if we put on the whole armour of God, and stand out against him, he will leave us. Let sinners then submit to God, and seek his grace and favour; resisting the devil. All sin must be wept over; here, in godly sorrow, or, hereafter, in eternal misery. And the Lord will not refuse to comfort one who really mourns for sin, or to exalt one who humbles himself before him.Ye adulterers and adulteresses,.... Not who were literally such, but in a figurative and metaphorical sense: as he is an adulterer that removes his affections from his own wife, and sets them upon another woman; and she is an adulteress that loves not her husband, but places her love upon another man; so such men and women are adulterers and adulteresses, who, instead of loving God, whom they ought to love with all their hearts and souls, set their affections upon the world, and the things of it: the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, leave out the word "adulteresses": these the apostle addresses in the following manner;

know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? that an immoderate love for the good things of the world, and a prevailing desire after the evil things of it, and a delight in the company and conversation of the men of the world, and a conformity to, and compliance with, the sinful manners and customs of the world, are so many declarations of war with God, and acts of hostility upon him; and show the enmity of the mind against him, and must be highly displeasing to him, and resented by him:

whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God; whoever is in league with the one must be an enemy to the other; God and mammon cannot be loved and served by the same persons, at the same time; the one will be loved, and the other hated; the one will be attended to, and the other neglected: this may be known both from reason and from Scripture, particularly from Matthew 6:24.

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