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1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive 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 bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among 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 every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we 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 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

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

  • Sonny
    as a new Christian, I love the book of James, I try to live my life the way he would
  • A disciple
    BSP; YES! When someone has it in their heart to take the lead, it is a good thing; and for the honor of that place we are to hearken to them and give them double honor, for their labor in the Word. But it is also imperative that they be pure and upright men, and really know of what they speak and teach, as the Lord demands greater from those to whom more is entrusted. Matt. 23:2-3 confirms this.
  • BSP
    Verse 1 shows that those men who are taking the lead have a greater responsibility before Jehovah God.
  • A disciple
    The Jews' "religion" is not of God! They are the descendant of those who slew the Heir, and seized control of God's vineyard for themselves; (Matthew 21:38; Mark 12:7; Luke 20:14). They are Israel's Rulers which CAUSE THEM TO ERR; for they themselves do not enter the kingdom of God, and they forbid and hinder everyone who does. They do not submit to God, are contrary to all, and do not please Him!
  • Insight777
    V12, Jesus taught James that 2 religions can not be 1 religion. Judaism does not morph into Christianity. They are completely different religions, defining God in completely different ways.
    The Jews will always fight. They will fight believing, regardless of what pain and suffering they cause, they are directed by God. If that was truth no one would know the name of Jesus.
  • Pam Davidson
    And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity
  • A disciple
    Charles; I appreciate reading your post. Humility is always honest, and for us to wait on the Lord for His direction as to our service; this is great understanding. In Hebrews 11, the part where Paul talks about Moses; its interesting how Moses apparently had already some idea that God was going to use him to deliver Israel from Egypt; and he was called by God, the meekest of men: and he waited!
  • Wayne
    Abandon the laws of what?

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Bible Trivia

What can no man tame, is an unruly evil and full of deadly poison?
  • Tarantula
  • Goliath
  • Alcohol
  • Tongue
  • Serpent