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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

  • E Card
    James asked some thought provoking questions that are easy to in word but not in deed. Yet, mankind chooses the worst answer every day. Twisted, rotten, sower, shameful and drinking to much of the devils brew. Living water will make any precious soul the apple of Gods eyes. Look Up!
  • Flora
    I know that the bible is the word of God. The tongue is powerful because it says in scripture the words you speak out of your mouth will cause it to happen. We need to guard our tongue and think before we say words that can harm, not forgotten, and can be measured.
  • Brianna vs.10
    Can one be a good christian and use profanity? I think not. My co-workers claim to be Christians , but curse with every breath. They even defend their cursing, believing them to just be words, or saying God doesn't care. This verse proves to me that God does care. How can you uttering blessings and saying foul language out of the same mouth? The Bible clearly says this is not right.
  • Richard Boettcher
    The Bible tells us that filthy communication corrupt good manners. 1 Corinthians. also James chapter 3 has a lot to say about the tongue. Jesus we will have to give an account of every word we speak Matthew 12:36
  • I Am that Michael Isaac Dale
    That wicked, ever learning but unable to discern Scripture, said to himself (but not aright,) Let us bait him into saying that which is unprofitable: that he may anger God and fall into our pit by the net which we have set for him. I say circumcise thy heart: For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regard not persons, nor takes reward:
  • I Am that Michael Isaac Dale
    Your mouth reveals your wickedness. So It is written, For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Thus says the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. God is jealous, and the LORD revenges; the LORD revenges, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserves wrath for his enemies.
  • Tamyra Cooper
    Isn't that the truth ---> "Verse 16: Jealousy and Contentiousness give way to terrible attitudes. We must guard against such traits."
  • Ivy Johnson
    #5: Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things,behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! We are guilty of this sin. No matter how we try, there is always something said to upset us. We can’t take it back. It’s already out our mouths. Even if we think before we speak. We are trained to react that way. We have to crucify our tongues.God can give victory.






  • A disciple
    Jean (cont.); Better to take the low place, and let the LORD exalt you if and when He sees fit to do so, FOR HIS OWN PURPOSES AND GLORY! In the following verses is expounded to us how and why that is. We need to be brought under subjection and obedience, like a ship by its rudder, and a horse by the bit in its mouth. The uncontrolled tongue has power, and shows how undisciplined we really are.
  • A disciple
    Jean; "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." Jesus said that whoever of us wishes to be great, let him be servant of all; just as He Himself came, not to be served, but to serve. By taking a place of leadership among the Saints there comes the demand of God with it to be an example of the things with which you teach and lead others.


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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