The Geneva Bible Translation Notes, , at sacred-texts.com
jam 1:1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the (a) twelve tribes which are (b) scattered abroad, greeting.
(a) That is, written to no one man, city, or country, but to all the Jews generally, being now dispersed.
(b) To all the believing Jews, whatever tribe they are from, dispersed throughout the whole world.
jam 1:2(1) My brethren, (c) count it all joy (2) when ye fall into divers temptations;
(1) The first place or part concerning comfort in afflictions, in which we should not be cast down and be faint hearted, but rather rejoice and be glad.
(c) Seeing their condition was miserable because of the scattering abroad, he does well to begin as he does. (2) The first argument, because our faith is tried through afflictions: which ought to be most pure, for so it suits us.
jam 1:3(3) Knowing [this], that the (d) trying of your faith worketh patience.
(3) The second, because patience, a surpassing and most excellent virtue, is brought about in us by this means.
(d) That by this your faith is tried, that is, those various temptations.
jam 1:4(4) But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
(4) The third argument, proposed in manner of an exhortation, that true and lasting patience may be discerned from false and temporary. Affliction is the instrument God uses to polish and refine us. Therefore through the work and effect of afflictions, we are perfected in Christ.
jam 1:5(5) If any of you lack (e) wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
(5) An answer to a private objection; It is easily said, but not so easily done. He answers that we need, in this case, a different type of wisdom than the wisdom of man, to determine those things that are best for us, since they are disagreeable to the flesh: but we shall easily obtain this gift of wisdom, if we ask correctly, that is, with a sure confidence in God, who is entirely bountiful and liberal.
(e) By wisdom he means the knowledge of that doctrine previously mentioned, that is, why we are afflicted by God, and the fruit we reap from affliction.
jam 1:6But let him ask in faith, (f) nothing wavering. (6) For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
(f) Why then, what need is there of another mediator or priest? (6) A digression or going aside from his matter, as compared to prayers which are conceived with a doubting mind, but we have a trustworthy promise from God, and this is the second part of the epistle.
jam 1:8A double minded man [is] unstable in (g) all his ways.
(g) In all his thoughts and his deeds.
jam 1:9(7) Let the brother of (h) low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
(7) He returns to his purpose repeating the proposition, which is, that we must rejoice in affliction, for it does not oppress us, but exalt us.
(h) Who is afflicted with poverty, or contempt, or with any kind of calamity.
jam 1:10(8) But the (i) rich, in that he is made low: (9) because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
(8) Before he concludes, he gives a doctrine contrasted to the former: that is, how we ought to use prosperity, that is, the abundance of all things: that is, so that no man pleases himself, but rather be humble.
(i) Who has all things at his will. (9) An argument taken from the very nature of the things themselves, for that they are empty and unreliable.
jam 1:11For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his (k) ways.
(k) Whatever he purposes in his mind or does.
jam 1:12(10) Blessed [is] the man that endureth (l) temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
(10) The conclusion: Therefore we must patiently bear the affliction: and he adds a fourth argument, which comprehends the sum of all the former, that is, we gain the crown of life in this way, yet by grace according to the promise.
(l) Affliction, by which the Lord tries him.
jam 1:13(11) Let no man say when he is (m) tempted, I am tempted of God: (12) for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
(11) The third part of this epistle, in which he descends from outward temptations, that is, from afflictions by which God tries us: to inward, that is, to those lusts by which we are stirred up to do evil. The sum is this: Every man is the author of these temptations by himself, and not God: for we carry in our bodies that wicked corruption, which seeks opportunity forever, to stir up evil in us, from which eventually proceeds wicked behaviour, and in conclusion follows death, the just reward of them.
(m) When he is provoked to do evil.
(12) Here a reason is shown, why God cannot be the author of evil behaviour in us, since he does not desire evil behaviour.
jam 1:15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth n) sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
(n) By sin, in this place, he means actual sin.
jam 1:16(13) Do not err, my beloved brethren.
(13) Another reason taken from opposites: God is the author of all goodness, and so, since he is always like himself; how then can he be thought to be the author of evil?
jam 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the (o) Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither (p)shadow of turning.
(o) From him who is the fountain and author of all goodness.
(p) He goes on in the metaphor: for the sun by his many and various kinds of turning, makes hours, days, months, years, light and darkness.
jam 1:18(14) Of his own (q) will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of (r) firstfruits of his creatures.
(14) The fourth part concerning the excellency and fruit of the word of God, The sum is this: we must listen to the word of God most carefully and diligently, seeing it is the seed, through which God by his free favour and love has begotten us to himself, picking us out of the number of his creatures. The apostle condemns two faults, which greatly trouble us in this matter. For we so please ourselves, that we would rather speak ourselves, than hear God speaking. Indeed, we are angry when we are reproached and ignore it. Opposed to these faults, he sets a peaceable and quiet mind, and such as desires purity.
(q) This is what Paul calls gracious favour, an good will, which is the fountain of our salvation.
(r) As it were an holy type of offering, taken out of the remnant of men.
jam 1:20For the wrath of man worketh not the (s) righteousness of God.
(s) That which God appoints.
jam 1:21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with (t) meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
(t) By meekness he means modesty, and anything that is contrary to a haughty and proud spirit.
jam 1:22(15) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, (16) deceiving your own selves.
(15) Another admonition: therefore God's word is heard, that we may model our lives according to the laws it contains. (16) He adds reasons, and those most weighty: first, because they that do otherwise seriously harm themselves.
jam 1:23(17) For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his (u) natural face in a glass:
(17) Secondly: because they lose the most important use of God's word, if they do not use it to correct the faults that they know.
(u) He alludes to that natural stain, which is contrary to the purity that we are born again into, the living image which we see in the law.
jam 1:25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his (x) deed.
(x) Behaviour: for works show faith.
jam 1:26(18) If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his (y) own heart, this man's religion [is] vain.
(18) The third admonition: the word of God lays down a rule to not only do well, but also to speak well.
(y) The fountain of all babbling, cursed speaking, and impudence is this, that men do not know themselves.
jam 1:27(19) Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To (z) visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.
(19) The fourth: the true service of God exists in charity towards our neighbours, especially those who need the help of others (fatherless and widows), and purity of life.
(z) To care for them and to help them as much as we can.