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Exegesis Of James

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Is that some things are to fought for but these should be done inside of the parameters of the Christian life (Laws 166-167). At any rate, it seems that James is disturbed by the selfish spirit and bitterness of the quarrels than by the rights and wrongs of various viewpoints (Moo 139). James identifies the source of the quarrels as the passions that in your members.

‘Passion’ is translated the word hedone which means pleasure and is often known as sinful or self-indulgent pleasure (Nystrom 223). James’ use of military imagery in the opening words of the verse is continued on when he describes the passions as ‘waging war in your members’. He may intend to suggest the conflict of the passions with one another within the individual, but it is best to think that James is writing of the ‘warring’ is the person’s higher nature or soul as in 1 Peter 2:11. The conflicts that James is speaking of are of the selfish, indulgent nature not righteous passion or zeal (Moo 139). Verse 2 You want something but you do not get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God (NIV). The desires of the people are made even more explicit in this scripture. James uses a different word for passion or desire (epithmeo), but this is because the verb hedomai is rare.

He means the same thing. The problem is what James means by desire and its result is a matter of dispute. The basic problem is to determine the relationship between the series of verbs in the first half of the verse: ‘You want something but you don’t get it’; ‘You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want”; and ‘You quarrel and fight’. This translation in the NIV takes the sequence of positive-negative verbs as key to the structure, so that each of the first two sentences describes a frustrated desire.

There are other ways of representing this but discussion will only be on this position since the New International Version is being used (Moo 140). The question arises ‘Is James really accusing the people of murder?’ Many scholars have asserted that he is accusing the people of murder. It has been alleged that the recent Jewish-Christian converts of James’ time were members of a radical Jewish Zealot movement that were known for killing prominent Romans and their collaborators as a policy of terror. James might have been warning them that what they were doing was not cohesive with there new life in Christ. Some have suggested the ‘you kill’ (phoneuete) be amended to ‘you are envious’ (phthoneite) but there are no textual justifications to support this change.

Others say that murder is suggesting an attitude instead of an action. Murder should be taken in a literal sense as the sum total of where our selfish desires may lead. This is not to say that the people of James’ reference have gone this far, but it is to say that their actions of warring and fighting have them on the path to this action. James then provides insight into the human conflict. Verbal conflict, private violence, or national conflict can all be rooted in the desire to want what one does not have and in worldliness (Moo 141-142). Verse 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (NIV). In this scripture, James makes the people aware of their need to pray with right motives. This statement may seem contradictory to the previous verse, but it is not because of the sense James is making the statement in light of the wrong motives of the people (Law 173). Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 that if you ask you will receive, but of course Jesus had in mind the kind of asking that was in line with the will of God, not that asking that was to be spent on the selfish pleasures (Nystrom 225-226). Verse 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (NIV).

James begins this verse with the word adulterous or actually adulteresses which s a feminine noun. One may question why it is feminine. Some believe that James means this literally as he turns his exhortations towards the women in his group who have been unfaithful in their marital vows. There is no indication of this in the context. One can find the explanation of this account in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament it is described as God joining Himself to Israel as a husband and wife join themselves in marriage. God has brought Israel into a covenant relationship with Himself that is viewed with marital imagery. This explains why when Israel begins to love the world or other gods it can be viewed as spiritual ‘adultery’.

This can best be seen in the book of Hosea and his relationship to his wife, Gomer (Moo 143-144). The use of ‘adulteresses’ then serves to characterize the people of James as the unfaithful people of God. This can also be seen in their seeking friendship with the world are again committing spiritual adultery and choosing to be enemies of God. This adultery no doubt brings the anger and wrath of God as attested to in the Old Testament. God is not going to have a rival. In light of this James tries to stimulate the consciences of the people to bring them to repentance (Moo 144). Verse 5-6 Or do you think that the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why it says: “God is opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (NIV).” The key to understanding these verses is to understand the marital imagery discussed in the previous verse. It explains how serious it is to flirt with the world and the sin of the world and how humans serve a jealous God. God expects a total unreserved allegiance to which He has joined Himself.

The NIV rendering of verse 5 is a good one. In the rendering, pneuma is understood as the subject of the verse and is identified with the spirit breathed into a man at creation. This would then let James be making a point about the human’s tendency to be envious and jealous rather than God. Linguistically, James’ language is to be more appropriate in a description of man’s attitude rather that God’s.

Contextually, a reminder about the innate human propensity to sinful jealously would make excellent sense (Moo 145-146). James does not make it clear that he thinks of the spirit which he has made to dwell in us as the Holy Spirit that is given to all believers or as God’s creative spirit by which he has invigorated mankind. Whatever James thinks this reminds us of the claim that God has on our lives through the work he is doing in us right now (Law 177-178). In verse 6 it can be seen that God gives us enough grace to reconcile ourselves unto Him no matter how jealous He gets. God’s requirements on us may seem demanding at times, but God provides all needs to meet every demand. To experience this grace, however, one must humble themselves before God. (Moo 147). Verse 7-8 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double minded (NIV).

James begins this section of Scripture with ‘submit to God’. This imperative is almost like a heading over the following series of commands in the next three verses and is matched by a command in verse 10 to ‘humble yourselves’ which ends the series. Between these two basic commands are couplets: Resist the Devil .. Draw near to God; Cleanse your hands . Purify your hearts; Grieve, mourn, wail .. Let your laughter be turned to mourning. The aorist tense is used throughout perhaps suggesting that these attitudes are to be entered into while the previous sinful behavior is discarded (Moo 147). James throughout the passage of Scripture has stressed the evil tendencies within persons that cause us to sin, but he also recognizes the role of Satan.

Diabolos is used to translate sin in the Septuagint. The Hebrew word gives the title ‘Satan’. The two titles are then identical in meaning and suggest that the devil’s primary purpose is to separate humans from God (Moo, 147). The Christian is the to resist this separation. Resisting will cause the Devil to flee from you (Nystrom 230). The Christian should draw near to God instead of giving in to the temptation of the Satan. James insists that God will respond by drawing near to you. It is obvious that James is not talking about salvation, but rather the repentance of those who are already Christians (Law 183) The end of verse 8 states the word double-mind. This word translates dipsychos or ‘two-souled’. James used this reference before in 1:6-8 to characterize the man whose faith was marked by doubting and instability. In the present text, the word brings forcibly to mind the ‘doubleness’ of the Christian who seeks to become a friend of the world (Moo 148). Verse 9 Grieve, mourn, wail.

Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. The harsh commands of verse 9 echo the language of the prophets. The prophets often used this language of mourning to describe the terrible destruction and disaster that accompanied the judgement of God, but they also used it to call the people of God to repentance. It is the latter sense that James uses this language. James demands of his readers a deep heartfelt sorrow and repentance of sin. This is how James’ command to Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom is understood. James is not against laughter and joy in the life of the Christian but rather ‘laughter’ in the Old Testament is often laughter of the fool who does not take sin seriously (Moo 149). The harsh judgement of the Lord can be avoided if men will mourn and weep for sins in repentance now. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those that mourn for they will be comforted’ (Matt. 5:4). Many Christians today live in the hedonist philosophy, ‘eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die’. This ignores the reality of the judgement of God.

Many Christians rely on the merciful and forgiving nature of God and in effect take sin too lightly. These Christians can only experience true Christian joy after they repent and receive the forgiveness of God (Moo 150). Verse 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James concludes his series of commands with an exhortation to humble yourselves. The concept of humbling oneself before the Lord is one that views themselves in spiritual poverty. One should acknowledge their utter despair and need for God and to submit to his will and authority. This type of humility is seen in the tax collector of Jesus’ parable. The tax collector was deeply aware of his sin and his need for God and called out to God for mercy (Luke 18:14). V. Summary of Teachings and Application The book of James was written by James the brother of Jesus between A.D. 45 to 47.

James was the head of the Jerusalem church and so it is believed that the epistle of James was written from Jerusalem. The book of James is primarily a book that is a practical guide for Christian living. James is confronting the people about the problem of fighting over selfish motives and worldliness in chapter 4, verses 1 through 10. James identifies the reasons that the people are fighting. The people want things that they do not have and try by there own power to obtain these things instead of asking God in prayer. James calls these people spiritual adulteresses and enemies of God. James ends in this passage of scripture with an exhortation to the Christians to return to God in humbleness, and He will receive them with love. Religion.

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