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James Chapter One


I. Content of the Chapter


The Trials of Christians’ Faith

A.  The object of those who are tried ---- (v.1) the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad (v.1) ---- also believers who live in the world throughout the generations;

B.  The external trials (v.2-12);

1. The necessary attitudes toward the trials of faith ---- joy and patience (v.2-4);

2. The power in the face of the trials of faith ---- wisdom given by God (v.5-8);

3. The model of the trials of faith ---- the exaltation of the lowly and the humiliation of the rich (v.9-11);

4. The result after the trials of faith ---- the crown of life (v.12);

C.  The internal temptations (v.13-27);

1. The reasons for temptations (v.13-18):

a.    Temptations are not out of God, but man’s desires (v.13-15).

b.    God is the origin of all good things (v.16-28).

2. The secrets of dealing with the temptations (v.19-27):

a.    The word of God can save us (v.19-21);

b.    Man receives blessings by keeping the word of God (v.22-25);

c.The examples of keeping God’s word ---- bridle one’s tongue and visit orphans and widows (v.26-27);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


James. 1:1 “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.”

YLT: “James, of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ a servant, to the Twelve Tribes who are in the dispersion: Hail!”

Meaning of Words: bondservant”: slave, bondman; “are scattered”: in the dispersion among the gentiles; “greeting”: may you peace, rejoice, be cheerful; 

Literal Meaning: “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”, “God and the Lord Jesus Christ”, it shows that the person of the Lord Jesus Christ is on an equality with God (Phil. 2:6). “James, the bondservant”, he did not write this epistle on the status of the physical brother of the Lord Jesus, but that of a bondservant in the house of God (Gal. 1:19) serving the Lord and saints.

  “Bondservant” has two aspects of meaning in the original according to its root of word: 1) be in bondage, which shows that one regards the mind of his master as his own without any freedom; 2) a slave born in the house of his master, which means that he lives for the purpose of serving his master and pleasing his master.

  “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings”, “are scattered”: be in the dispersion among the Gentiles; “twelve tribes”: all the tribes of the Israelites (see 2:1), which here also refer to the Jewish Christians (see 2:1). The exhortations of this book are also fit for all believers. “Greetings”, it is different from the words that Paul often uses (may peace with you).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The Lord Jesus Christ is not a God superior to God the Father. He declares God by His incarnation (John 1:14, 18). In fact, He is God (John 1:1; 10:30).

2)    Our lord is God and the Lord Jesus Christ, but we do not have two masters. We serve God when we serve the Lord (see Rom. 14:18). He who magnifies the Lord has magnified God (Luke 1:46; Acts 10:46).

3)    The duty of a bondservant is to present all his life and time and talent and his all without any reservation to serve the Lord and live a Lord-centered life.

4)    We have no lord except for God. We cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24). And we cannot draw near to God have friendship with the world (James 4:4, 8).

5)    Since we Christians are scattered in the gentiles, we have to manifest that we are “the salt of the world” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-14).

6)    We have tribulations in the world and yet “peace” in Christ (John 16:33).


James. 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,”

YLT: “All joy count , my brethren, when ye may fall into temptations manifold;”

Meaning of Words: fall into”: be surrounded with; “various”: manifold, diverse; “trial”: temptation, test, proving; “count”: regard, esteem, judge;

Literal Meaning: “my brethren … when you fall into various trials”, “my brethren” refer to brothers and sisters in the Lord (see 2:1). This epistle is characterized by mentioning “brethren” again and again (see 1:2, 16, 19; 2:1, 5, 14; 3:1, 10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12, 19), which indicates the intimate relationship. “Fall into”, the trials are not caused by oneself on purpose; “various trials”: all kinds of trials, which are things that make us afflicted and distressful, including diseases, poverty, persecutions, exploitation, natural and man-made disasters, death etc.

    “Trials”: the experiences of suffering; “trial” is the same word with “temptation” (see v.12) in the original. However, according to the context, they are different in meaning. “Trial” refers to the tribulation falling into us externally for the purpose of texting and perfecting us (see v.3-4); “temptation” is the distress caused by our internal lusts that may entice us to commit sins (see v.14-15).

  “Count it all joy”, “count”, make the following decision after “sitting down to count and taking counsel” (Luke 14:28, 31); “all joy”: it means not only great joy but also that there is none other feeling but joy.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “When”, it shows that trials are unavoidable for believers. Besides, “all trials” means that they may appear in diverse forms at any time.

2)    All the experiences of believers are appointed and allowed by God for good to us (Rom. 8:28). Therefore, no matter good or bad, sweet or bitter, we have to receive all that God has appointed with joy.

3)    All the trials train the character of Christians and help us to yield the virtue called patience (see v.3) and thus perfect us (see v.4). Therefore, we shall count the trials all joy.

4)    The common people regard the trials as harmful experience, so they escape from them. However, we Christians shall regard the trials with great profit, so we please to receive them.

5)    The joy of Christians is not caused by the external smooth situation, but out of the internal joy. Though we may in distressful conditions, we can still find joy (see Acts 16:25).

6)    We can rejoice in any circumstance. If we cannot rejoice, we may have problems with our hearts and thoughts (Phil. 4:4, 7).

7)    The eyes of those who have really been saved and born from the above are opened (Acts 26:18). To things that happen on us or around us, we shall not see according to the apparent gains or losses, but see with the spiritual view and eternal value.

8)    Believer’s joy varies from one to one according to his inner evaluation.

9)    Everything that is profitable to our spirit is worthy of our great joy. Physical health and rest of soul are not so worthy of our joy.


James. 1:3 “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”

YLT: “knowing that the proof of your faith doth work endurance,”

Meaning of Words: testing”: trying, proving; the word was originally used to refer to the testing of the purity of gold to see whether the impurities have been removed; “produce”: work, yield, perform, cause, fashion; “patience”: endurance, continuance;

Literal Meaning: “knowing that the testing of your faith”, “knowing”, the word in the original does not mean knowledge in general, but consciousness in oneself. It is the reason why there is great joy (see v.2) in difficult conditions. “Your faith” refers to the faith Christians have obtained in Christ (see 2Pet. 1:1), which is toward the Lord Jesus Christ (see 2:1). “Test”: it refers to the process of refining gold in order to identify and purify it; “the testing of your faith”, faith is purified and intensified after the testing of the external circumstance and its purity shall be then proved.

  “Produce patience”, “patience” does not mean passive endurance, but positively dealing with the circumstance. Such “patience” is the virtue after faith is tested. To put it another way, it is a kind of normal “work” of faith (see 2:14, 17).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “Knowing” shows that Christians do not have joy (see v.2) for nothing. Our joy in trials is on account of knowing of the profit that trials will bring to us.

2)    Difficulties in life are the laboratory of our faith. The purity and verity of our faith shall be proved after various trials (see v.2).

3)    “Various trials” (see v.2) prove the nature of one’s faith and increase the value of his faith. The unshaken faith after trials is truly the best faith.

4)    He who has sound faith can bear any trial. In other words, the real condition of one’s faith can be known after trials.

5)    The endurance of Christians is by no means passive and negative, but a kind of passive and victorious and strong power out of him in the face of the external pressure and difficulties.

6)    “Produces patience”, it shows that patience is the fruit after trials. To put it another way, we have no true patience without painful trials.

7)    Tribulations work endurance (Rom. 5:3). True endurance is obtained from spiritual experience. The more one is tried, the more patience shall he be given. The less one is tried, the less patience shall he obtain.

8)    Patience is not self-control. Patience is a kind of natural response of the new life “by faith” to difficulty. Therefore, it is not out of “my power”.


James. 1:4 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

YLT: “and let the endurance have a perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire -- in nothing lacking;”

Meaning of Words: perfect”: of full age; “complete”: complete in every part, perfectly sound, entire, whole; “lack nothing”: lack, leave, be destitute (wanting);

Literal Meaning: “but let patience have its perfect work”, it means that our patience should be firm and victorious until the fulfillment of the appointed purpose of God on us.

  “That you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”, “be perfect”: one’s mind and character have been perfect (see Matt. 5:48; Phil. 3:15); “complete”: full growth with perfect testimony of life; “lacking nothing”, it describes the condition of “being perfect” and “complete”, nearly without blemish.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The patience of Christians is not that of those who are well cultured in the world. The general worldly patience is merely transient, partly and defective, but the spiritual patience is long-suffering (1Cor. 13:4) unto endurance.

2)    “He that has endured unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). Patience shall have its perfect work without giving up halfway.

3)    In order to cultivate the persevering and fruitful patience, God always lets all things work together for good to us (Rom. 8:28). Therefore, we shall embrace them with joy (see v.2).

4)    When Christians seek to be “full grown”, “patience” is a necessary step and prerequisite.

5)    “Perfect and complete”, it is the situation that true Christians are supposed to attain to after trials.

6)    In the journey of life, Christians will encounter many trials. However, the purpose of them is not causing us stumble but making us go forward, and not frustrating us but giving us opportunities of victory, and not exposing our defects but making us more complete.

7)    The way of Christians to deal with all the trials in life is closely related with whether we are “complete or perfect”. If we deal well with patience, we are growing and becoming complete.

8)    Though we cannot attain to perfect in works (Phil. 3:12), we shall seek to be perfect in mind (Is. 38:3; see Matt. 5:48).


James. 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

YLT: “and if any of you do lack wisdom, let him ask from God, who is giving to all liberally, and not reproaching, and it shall be given to him;”

Meaning of Words: liberally”: generously, unconditionally, without any reservation; “reproach”: rebuke;

Literal Meaning: “if any of you lacks wisdom”, “if”: it is in the subjunctive mood; “wisdom”: a kind of internal insight more excellent than knowledge, enabling man to use the knowledge he has got and seek the way in difficulty.

  “Let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach”, “let … ask of God”, God is the only origin and supplier of true wisdom. “Gives … liberally”, God gives freely without stint; “Gives to all”: God gives to all without partiality; “Without reproach”: the gifts of God are not restricted by our conditions.

“And it will be given to him”, “and it will be given …”, the gifts of God are totally unconditional (see v.6; 4:3). Here it indicates that one shall “receive” (see 4:2) only when he “asks”. If we do not ask, we will not be “given” without foundation.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Since we Christians live in a complicated and disordered condition, we have to get an acute spiritual discernment to distinguish different things and accept the best things. Such discernment is the so-called “wisdom” here.

2)    Wisdom is a kind of useful virtue, which provides the direction of life for those who are of God. Wisdom discerns the will of God and applies it to our daily life (see Pro. 2:10-19; 3:13-14; 9:1-6).

3)    True wisdom is of God (see 4:17). Only He is the origin of true wisdom.

4)    The wisdom of Christians is finding out joy in tribulations and learning the secret of being edified in trials.

5)    No matter what we ask of God, we have to firstly see what we “lack”. The depth of one’s true need decides the depth of his true prayer to God.

6)    The best and most worthwhile prayer is supposed to be prayers for “wisdom” (see 1King 3:9-13). Once man has obtained wisdom, he has obtained the key to the spiritual treasure.

7)    God pleases those who are of Him to pray to Him and prepares abundantly for them. However, we seldom “ask”, and even though we pray, we are afraid of praying too much.

8)    The experienced Christians can bear witness that many times God grants our prayer “above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

9)    We have to remember that God’s grace is abundant, and He is never miserly. We Children of God shall also help those who are in need liberally in the merciful bowel of God (see v.27).


James. 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”

YLT: “and let him ask in faith, nothing doubting, for he who is doubting hath been like a wave of the sea, driven by wind and tossed,”

Meaning of Words: doubting”: discrimination, wavering, staggering, discerning; “toss”: breeze up, agitate into waves;

Literal Meaning: “let him ask in faith”, here it points out the only prerequisite for asking of God for true wisdom. “Ask in faith”: have perfect faith toward God, including: 1) what he asks for is what he believes; 2) believe the will and power of God; 3) what he asks for shall be granted by God; 4) believe that God shall grant in the best way and at the best time to us in His sight;

  “With no doubting”, the faith is firm without any waving.

  “For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea”, “he who doubts”: he who is in two minds; “a wave of the sea”, it describes the waving condition of one’s mind, capricious like waves in the sea. 

  “Driven and tossed by the wind”, “driven by the wind”, it means that one’s mind and thoughts often differ according to the environment. “Tossed”, in the original it is “constantly evaluating both sides”. Here it means that he who doubts waves with an attitude of judgment, to the left and to the right again and again.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    To all those who really know God and trust in God, even though they cannot understand the “works” of God, they can receive all that environments that God arranges because of knowing about His “being”.

2)    We cannot command God to do anything for us in prayers. However, we are sure that He cares for us and loves us.

3)    When we ask of God, we have to believe in the power of God completely and be confident of His willingness of bestowing us.

4)    God do not answer our prayers with partiality (see v.5). However, the attitude of our prayers will affect and restrict God.

5)    Pray is to ask for things unseen, so it should be by faith. We shall not only pray by faith but also pray for faith. That is to say, we shall pray unto a degree that we can believe.

6)    Since we ask for wisdom to God, we shall neither rely on our own intellect or talent nor doubt whether it will be given.


James. 1:7 “For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;”

YLT: “for let not that man suppose that he shall receive anything from the Lord --”

Meaning of Words: suppose”: imagine, think; “receive”: accept, attain;

Literal Meaning: “that man” refers to the one who doubts (see v.6); “let not”: do not expect; “not … receive anything”: receive nothing;

  The meaning of this verse is definite ---- he who has faith will receive, and he who doubts will receive nothing.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Doubt is the biggest enemy of faith as well as the main reason for the failure of prayers.

2)    There is a law that prayer shall be granted, namely, faith. Faith is honoring God as well as glorifying God. Doubt is despising God and humiliating God, and doubt prevents our prayers being granted.


James. 1:8 “he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

YLT: “a two-souled man unstable in all his ways.”

Meaning of Words: double-minded”: double-soul; “unstable”: inconstant;

Literal Meaning: “a double-minded man”, it describes a man who have double hearts seeking different goals, but either heart is utterly controlled (see 1King 18:21).

  “Unstable in all his ways”, “unstable”: have no fixed faith or direction;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Just as schizophrenia is a kind of mental illness, “double-minded” is a kind of faith illness. The double-mined man cannot make up his mind and is capricious whatever he does.

2)    “Double-minded” is the enemy of Christians in their pursuit of “perfection” (see v.4), and is opposite to the nature of God ---- who is the only and perfect God (see v.5).

3)    He who has wisdom is (see 3:13) a man with a stable mind (see 3:13 “wise and understanding”). Such man knows how to “make up his mind”, and then runs forward (see Phil. 3:13-14).


James. 1:9 “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation,”

YLT: “And let the brother who is low rejoice in his exaltation,”

Meaning of Words: lowly”: of low degree; “exaltation”: be exalted, height; “glory”: boast, rejoice;

Literal Meaning: “the lowly brother … in his exaltation”, “lowly”, generally, men despise the poor (see 2:3), so he who has fortune also has no rank in the world. “Exaltation”: prosperity, including the increase of wealth and the elevation of rank, both of which are often connected.

  “Let …glory”, it is glory because of the reasons of one’s exaltation, for the “situation” of one’s exaltation shall pass away like flowers and grass and beautiful appearance (see v.10-11).

Spiritual Meaning: “the lowly brother …in his exaltation”, “exaltation” also refers to the surpassing status and enjoyment of believers.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Poor Christians do not have to regard them “lowly”, because: a) they, though poor, are rich in faith; b) they are poor in this world, but they have the promise of kingdom in the coming world (see 2:5).

2)    Faith brings us right “values of ourselves”: a) we are “brethren” no matter poor or rich ---- there is no classic; b) our present cannot restrict my future; c) Christ died for “me”, so “I” am important in the sight of God; d) do not rejoice for “what I have in the flesh”, but rejoice for “what I am in the sight of God”.

3)    Believers are enable to “be exalted” into the heavenly sphere by faith and enjoy spiritual joy without any restriction of earthly poor conditions.


James. 1:10 “but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away.”

YLT: “and the rich in his becoming low, because as a flower of grass he shall pass away;”

Meaning of Words: rich”: wealthy, abounding with; “humiliation”: be made low, low estate; “pass away”: go, pass over;

Literal Meaning: “but the rich in his humiliation”, “rich”, it includes both wealth and rank (see v.9). “Humiliation”, it indicates that one’s wealth and rank are not as that in the past;

  “Because as a flower of the field he will pass away”, “he”: the rich; “pass away”: be of nothing; “the flower of the field”, though it exists and is beautiful today, it will finally pass away with no eternal value at all (see v.11; Matt. 6:28-30).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Both the rich and the poor shall, beyond the physical appearance, see the eternal spiritual value and the verity of “the heavenly realm” which can not be seen by physical eyes.

2)    No one can rely on things uncontrollable to him. We have to confess our powerlessness, and confide in God humbly, for only He can give men things eternal.

3)    Money is like the blooming flowers that are beautiful for a transient period, and then passes away and comes to nothing.

4)    Men need not to forsake wealth to be Christians. However, Christians have to often abandon the self-sufficiency and pride accompanying wealth.

5)    If Christians are persecuted and exploited and rejected for the sake of persisting in faith, even though they lose wealth or opportunities of obtaining wealth, they shall still rejoice and glory in it.

6)    The joy of Christians is on account of the abiding excellence of Christ (see Phil. 3:7-8), not the blessings of wealth or ranks.


James. 1:11 “For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.”

YLT: “for the sun did rise with the burning heat, and did wither the grass, and the flower of it fell, and the grace of its appearance did perish, so also the rich in his way shall fade away!”

Meaning of Words: a burning heat”: hot wind; “risen”: make to rise, be up; “wither”: dry up, pine away; “fall”: drop way, fail, lose; “beautiful”: graceful, suitable; “appearance”: countenance, face; “fade away”: pass away;

The Background: “for no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat”, the southeast wind in the land of Palestine comes from the dry desert, and it is heating enough to make the flowers wither one day.

Literal Meaning: “for no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat”, it relates to the unstable and fickle condition. Here, it suggests that the adverse situation is just in the eyes of man and will come at any moment.

  “Than it withers the grass its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes”, “it withers the grass”, man’s life is impermanent; “its flower falls”, things in this world cannot endure forever; “and its beautiful appearance perishes”, it shows that one’s boast will disappear (see Is. 40:6-9).

  “So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits”, “in his pursuits”, it includes the style or journey of one’s life (see 4:13); “fade away”, it carries two meanings: a) the rich dies suddenly; 2) the riches disappear at once.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Men are subject to sudden changes of fortune. Men’s life and possessions are unreliable. Only God is our abiding reliance.

2)    Man tends to turn his eyes to see God when he is faced with dangers and shortages. God allows trials to come to us for the purpose of letting us learn the lessons of faith, not making us afflicted.


James. 1:12 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

YLT: “Happy the man who doth endure temptation, because, becoming approved, he shall receive the crown of the life, which the Lord did promise to those loving Him.”

Meaning of Words: endure”: abide, remain, undergo (it shares the same root of word with “patience” in verse two); “temptation”: try; “blessed”: happy, fortunate; “approved”: acceptable, approved, tried; “crown”: coronet; “promise”: profess, announce;

Literal Meaning: “blessed is the man who endures temptation”, “endures temptation”: stand firm in trials and keep his faith after the trials;

  “For when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life”, “has been approved”, has passed the test and has been proved to be qualified; “he will…”: will receive definitely…; “the crown of life”: the unfading crown (see 1Pet. 5:4; 1Cor. 9:25) which is reserved for the overcomers who always keep the faith (see Rev. 2:10).

  “Which the Lord has promised to those who love Him”, “the Lord has promised”: in the eternal counsel of God, He has especially prepared rewards to those who overcome (see 2Tim. 4:8); “those who love Him”: those who endure to the end and overcome the trials;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Whether one’s life is blessed is not judged by his external circumstances, but his dealing with the circumstances.

2)    Christians have the joy of which the world is unworthy. Only Christians who love the Lord understand how to appreciate the rewards of life. His divine life is just like an abiding feast abounding with joy.

3)    “The crown of life”, it is the glory of life manifested from the “perfect and complete” (see v.4) life when fully grown up. Such crown of glory shall become the joy eternal.

4)    If believers focus their eyes on the coming glory, they will be able to find support and power in trials and overcome the present sufferings (Rom. 8:18; 2Cor. 4:17).


James. 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”

YLT: “Let no one say, being tempted -- `From God I am tempted,' for God is not tempted of evil, and Himself doth tempt no one,”

Meaning of Words: tempt”: try, test, entice; “evil”: harm, wickedness;

Literal Meaning: “he is tempted”, “tempted”, here it means “entice”, which is for the purpose of exposing man’s evil and faults.

  “Let no one say … ‘I am tempted by God’”, “no one say”, one shall not shuffle off responsibility of failure onto God; “I am tempted by God”, it means that my failure is caused by God.

  “For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone”, “for”, here it mentions the reason that man cannot speak; “God does cannot be tempted by evil”, the nature of God cannot make Him be tempted to do evil. “Nor does He Himself tempt anyone”, God never tempts men with evil.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The tempter (Matt. 4:3; 1Thess. 3:5) is the devil, not God.

2)    God never “tempts” men with evil. All things befalling us are according to the good will of God.

3)    God does not tempt men, for temptation destroys faith, but trials build up faith.


James. 1:14 “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”

YLT: “and each one is tempted, by his own desires being led away and enticed,”

Meaning of Words: tempt”: try, test, entice; “desires”: lusts; “be drawn away”: be dragged forth; “entice”: seduce, delude;

Literal Meaning: “but each one is tempted”, here it shows that it is possible for men to be tempted.

  “When he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed”, “desires”, the desires in man are not utterly evil, e.g. the normal appetite and sexual desires etc. which are inborn by nature. However, if the appetitive or sexual desires are not controlled, they will become covetousness or evil lusts. “Be drawn away and enticed”, it means that men are unconsciously deceived by lusts and make wrong decisions. That is why man is tempted.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Man’s desires are the bait and net, and what he catches is even himself (see 7:15).

2)    If we do not resist the enticement of “desires” with all our strength, we may unconsciously swallow the bait and thus be unable to escape from its dragging power.


James. 1:15 “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

YLT: “afterward the desire having conceived, doth give birth to sin, and the sin having been perfected, doth bring forth death.”

Meaning of Words:desires”: lusts, concupiscence, longing; “conceive”: catch, take, clasp; “give birth to”: bear, be born, bring forth, be delivered; “full-grown”: complete entirely, consummate; “bring forth”: breed forth, generate, beget, produce;

Literal Meaning: “then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin”, “has conceived”, it means that man is controlled by his desire and the desire affects and even works in man’s will. “It gives birth to sin”, sin is the natural result.

  “And sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”, “is full-grown”, the passive voice shows that sin does not grow up by itself, but is grown when man surrenders himself to it. “Brings forth death”, it means that the end of sin is death.

  This verse speaks of the four processes of man’s fall: 1) the conceiving of desires; 2) the giving birth of sin; 3) the growth of sin; 4) death is brought forth;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Desire is not sin. However, if we do not deal with it carefully and yet cooperate with it, sin will be thus produced.

2)    Man has the inclination of sin by birth. If man abets it, the desire will gradually grow up and become uncontrollable when it is full-grown and will thus give birth to sin ---- this is also the way to death.


James. 1:16 “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”

YLT: “Be not led astray, my brethren beloved;”

Meaning of Words: be deceived”: be deluded, be enticed, go astray, be out of the way;

Literal Meaning: “do not be deceived”, “be deceived”, it means one’s vision becomes dim and his focus is transferred so as to generate wrong judgment.

“My beloved brethren”, it shows that these words are spoken to believers.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    It is rather important of Christians’ views upon the truth and things, for they will influence the goal of our pursuit and attitude towards service. Therefore, the Lord cares much about our “prudence” (see Matt. 24:45).

2)    Now we see through a dim window obscurely (1Cor. 13:12), so we have to see carefully so as not to be deceived.


James. 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

YLT: “every good giving, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, with whom is no variation, or shadow of turning;”

Meaning of Words: every”: each, all, whole; “good”: benefit, well; “gift”: bestowment; “perfect”: of full age, complete; “variation”: transmutation, fickleness, variableness; “turning”: revolution; “shadow”: a shading off;

Literal Meaning: “every good gift and every perfect gift”, “gift”: things that are given; “every good gift”, it indicates that all gracious works of God are good. “Every perfect gift”, it means that all gracious rewards of God are perfect.

  “Is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights”, “is from above”: from the heaven, from God; “lights”: all the illuminant bodies in the heavens; “Father”: the origin of all; “the Father of lights”, it indicates that God is the source of all the illuminant bodies in the heaven ---- the Creator. 

  “With whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”, “no variation”: the natural transformation caused by the working of celestial bodies, e.g. the length of day and night, the seasonal temperature etc. “Shadow of turning”, it refers to the shadow caused by the rotation and revolution of the celestial bodies, e.g. the different shapes of the moon because of its revolution around the earth, or the brightness of the stars at different times.

  “There is no …or”, the will of God appointed to men never changes (see v.18), so He bestows us every gift.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Everything around us can never be free from transformation and corruption. However, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and to the ages (Heb. 13:8).

2)    In the capricious world, everything tends to be changed. However, the good gift given by God never changes.


James. 1:18 “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

YLT: “having counselled, He did beget us with a word of truth, for our being a certain first-fruit of His creatures.”

Meaning of Words: of… own will”: His own purpose;

Literal Meaning: “of His own will”: it is the will that was appointed after thorough consideration, not a sudden idea.

“He brought us forth by the word of truth”, “the word of truth” here may refer to the gospel (see Col. 1:5). “Brought us forth”, our reborn life is out of the word of God (see 1Pet. 1:23).

“That we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures”, “firstfruits”: the crops that are firstly reaped. Just like the first-born animals, they are sanctified to Jehovah (Ex. 23:16, 19; Lev. 23:10; Num. 28:26). Here, the firstfruits refer to believers, who are a group of men firstly separated unto God from all creatures.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    There is life in the word of God. Everytime when we come to the word of God, we are not for the purpose of understanding letters, but enjoying the life of God.

2)    “Firstfruits” are particularly for God and unto God. We, the new creature in Christ, shall also no longer live to ourselves, but to God.


James. 1:19 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;”

YLT: “So then, my brethren beloved, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,”

Meaning of Words: swift”: fleet, ready, prompt; “slow”: dull; “wrath”: anger, vengeance;

Literal Meaning: let every man be swift to hear,be swift to hear”: pay attention to listening to the word of God (see v.21-22), for it is of great profit to us. 

“Slow to speak, be careful in our words, namely, bridle our tongues (see v.26);

“Slow to wrath”, take care of controlling our emotion (see 3:14-16; 4:1-2).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    It is impossible for the one who thinks he is wise and spiritual and likes to speak and criticize and lives in wrath to be quiet to hear the word of truth and receive the ideas of others.

2)    “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”, it is always the best principle for us in life.

3)    “Be swift to hear, which makes us know more about the will of God and less irritate the wrath of God; “slow to speak, which seldom makes men angry; “slow to wrath, which defuses our wrath;


James. 1:20 “for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

YLT: “for the wrath of a man the righteousness of God doth not work;”

Meaning of Words: wrath”: anger; “produce”: work, accomplish, perform; “righteousness”: equity, justification;

Literal Meaning: “the wrath of man”, here it refers to the unrestricted wrath expressed at will (see v.19); “not produce the righteousness of God”, “the righteousness of God” has two aspects of meaning: 1) the good works that God pleases (see v.27); 2) the salvation that God has accomplished through Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:25).

  This verse does not mean that we cannot never be angry, but that the unrestricted anger avails the will of God nothing.


James. 1:21 “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”

YLT: “wherefore having put aside all filthiness and superabundance of evil, in meekness be receiving the engrafted word, that is able to save your souls;”

Meaning of Words: lay aside”: put off, remove; “filthiness”: dirtiness; “overflow”: superfluity, superabundance; “wickedness”: evil, depravity; “implanted”: engrafted;

Literal Meaning: “therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness”, “all filthiness” emphasizes the external wicked works; “overflow of wickedness” emphasizes the internal evil;

  “And receive with meekness the implanted word”, “meekness” is a kind of gentle attitude of obedience to God, which is a contrast to “wrath” (see v.19); “the implanted word”: the word of God is sown in man’s heart like seeds (Luke 8:11, 15).

  “Which is able to save your souls”, “soul”: the soul life of man (see Matt. 16:25), namely, man’s self; “save your souls”, it is not regeneration, but being saved from trials and temptations after one is regenerated.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Man’s sin prevents him from hearing the voice of God. Therefore, if we want to hear the word of God, we have to firstly put away both the internal evil thoughts and external evil works.

2)    The internal meekness can make man control himself. He who is meek and gentle has an ear of the instructed to receive the word of God.

3)    The word of God is the “word of salvation”, for it deals with all the difficulties of temptations and troubles in life.

4)    We Christians shall not think we have nothing to do with God’s “word” after we have been saved, because the word has already become an eternal and inseparable part in us to speak to and lead us all the time.


James. 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

YLT: “and become ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves,”

Meaning of Words: doer of the word”: keeper of the word; “hearer of the word”: he who hears the word; “deceive”: delude, beguile;

Literal Meaning:but be doers of the word, doers of the word” refer to those who put the word into practice. He who puts the word of God into practice is a prudent man (Matt. 7:24).

“And not hearers only, “hearers”: the audience of the word who hear the word only and yet do not do it. Such is a foolish man (Matt. 7:26).

“Deceiving yourselves”, he who deceives causes the result upon himself.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The word received by ears will affect our tongues, and feet and hands. In other words, we have to put what we have heard into practice in our life.

2)    Man cannot do the word before he has really understood what the word is. However, if one hears and reads and even recites the word of God and does not do it, he just gives up halfway.

3)    A real “hearer of the word” must obey the word of God, namely “doing the word”. It is in vain for a man to hear the word without doing it at all.

4)    There is no more terrible deceit in the world than that of knowing the truth and yet not doing it. And it is the most serious deception that one deceives himself.



James. 1:23 “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;”

YLT: “because, if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one hath been like to a man viewing his natural face in a mirror,”

Meaning of Words: hearer”: the one who “hears” the word; doer”: the one who keeps;observe”: observe fully, behold, consider, discover;natural”: of the birth, by nature;face”: countenance, appearance, presence;

Literal Meaning: “for if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer”, “for”, it indicates that the following words are the explanation of verse 22.

  “He is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror”, “mirror” here refers to the word of God; “his natural face”: one’s appearance by natural with filthiness and wickedness (see v.21).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    One of the main functions of the “word” is to manifest the real situations of men before God so as to stimulate men to “deny themselves” more and yet confide in God more.

2)    We read the Scriptures for the purpose of applying God’s words to ourselves. However, many Christians even read the Scriptures for others and reprove them by the word of God.


James. 1:24 “for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”

YLT: “for he did view himself, and hath gone away, and immediately he did forget of what kind he was;”

Meaning of Words: observe”: perceive, behold;go away”: depart, be past;immediately”: shortly, straightway, at once;what kind of man he was”: his natural appearance;

Literal Meaning: “observes himself, goes away”, after hearing the word, namely, in the daily life;

  “And immediately forgets what kind of man he was”, “immediately forgets”, it shows that he has not really received the word into his heart so that he does not apply the word in daily life.


James. 1:25 “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

YLT: “and he who did look into the perfect law -- that of liberty, and did continue there, this one -- not a forgetful hearer becoming, but a doer of work -- this one shall be happy in his doing.”

Meaning of Words: look into”: fix one’s view on, stoop down and look into, gaze at;perfect”: complete, of full age;continue”: stay near, remain, abide;forgetful”: of forgetfulness, of negligence;doer”: keeper;

Literal Meaning: “but he who looks into the perfect law of liberty”, “looks into”: put in time and effort to search the Scriptures (see Acts 17:11); “the perfect law”, it means that the word of God is perfect and is able to make those who do the word perfect (see v.4); “the law of liberty”, it indicates that the word of God does not bind us, but makes man liberal (see 2:12; John 8:32).

“And continues in it”, it means staying near the word of God and abiding in the word of God.

“And is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work”, it means that the word has deeply entered into (see Ps. 119:11) such man and he is thus assimilated to the word and his works are the manifestation of the word.

“This one will be blessed in what he does”, it shows that the word of God is of great effect that shall accomplish the good pleasure on those who do the word of God. Such men will be blessed in what they do (see Is. 55:11).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The word is truly the spiritual mirror (see v.23). However, man has to fix his view upon it and continues in it so as not to forget the word and yet be able to do it.

2)    If one desires to keep the balance of both hearing and doing, he has to look into the law carefully and frequently and remember and do it. There is no other way than this.

3)    The word of God is living. Firstly, it enters into the deep part of a man’s heart and then is manifested in his conversation.


James. 1:26 “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.”

YLT: “If any one doth think to be religious among you, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his heart, of this one vain the religion;”

Meaning of Words: think”: seem, suppose;religious”: pious, ceremonious in worship;bridle”: curb, be a bit-leader;useless”: empty, vain;

Literal Meaning: “if anyone among you thinks he is religious”, “if anyone”, though it is suppositive, it still suggests that there is such kind of men; “thinks”, it is a view in his own eyes; “he is religious”, it refers to the one who fears God and keeps the rules and customs severely;

  “And does not bridle his tongue”, it means that he speaks without control and thinks he is right and actually he knows nothing.

  “But deceives his own heart”, his word is against his thoughts and heart. 

  “This one’s religion is useless”, it indicates that one has a form of godliness but denies the power thereof (2Tim. 3:5).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Many children of God honor God with the lips, but their heart is far away from me (see Matt. 15:8). However, there are also many children of God who think they fear God in heart and yet do not bridle their mouth (see 3:2). Both are condemned by God.

2)    A normal Christian is a Christian whose word is in accord with his heart. His word is the expression of his thoughts. If one’s inner heart is ruled by the word of God, his tongue will also be ruled by it.


James. 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

YLT: “religion pure and undefiled with the God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation -- unspotted to keep himself from the world.”

Meaning of Words: “pure”: clean, clear; “undefiled”: unsoiled; “visit”: look out, provide help; “trouble”: affliction, tribulation; “keep”: hold fast, preserve; “unspotted”: without spot, unblemished; “world”: the whole system of the world;

Literal Meaning: “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this”, here is refers to the pure and real piety opposite to the above-mentioned “useless religion” (see v.26).

  “To visit orphans and widows in their troubles”, “orphans and widows in their troubles” here relate to those who are most in need of help among men (see Acts 20:35).

  “And to keep oneself unspotted from the world”: be separated from the world (see 2Cor. 6:17) and not go along with the world in its wickedness.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    He who has real piety shall establish proper relationship with God by learning and keeping the teachings of God.

2)    A real religious man shall be the father of the fatherless as “God our Father” ---- visit orphans and widows in their troubles.

3)    The friendship of the world is enmity with God (see 4:4). If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1John 2:15).

4)    Though Christians live in the world, they “surpass” the world. On one hand, they look after “those who are weak” in the world, and are not affected by “those who are strong” on the other.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Patience of Christians

A.  The source of Christians’ patience ---- various trials (v.2-3);

B.  The purpose of Christians’ patience ---- let patience have its perfect work (v.4a);

C.  The purpose and result of Christians’ patience;

1. Make us perfect (v.4b);

2. Lack nothing (v.4c)

D.  The ways of Christians’ patience;

1. Ask of God for wisdom (v.5);

a.    God gives to all liberally;

b.    God gives without reproach;

2. Ask in faith with no doubting (v.6a);

a.  He who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind (v.6b);

b.  He who doubts receives nothing from the Lord (v.7);

c.He who doubts is unstable in all his ways (v.8);


Two Sorts of Trials

A.  Trials ---- be tested by the external tribulations (v.2, 12);

B.  Temptation ---- be enticed by the internal lusts (v.13-15);


How to Deal With Trials and Temptations?

A.  The basic attitudes toward trials and temptations ---- joy and patience (v.2-4).

B.  The way of overcoming trials and temptations ---- ask of God in faith (v.5-11).

C.  The source of trials and temptations ---- God bestows good gifts by trials and man’s lusts produce temptations (v.12-18).

D.  The necessary conditions of dealing with trials and temptations ---- doing the word (v.19-27).


Three Conditions of Prayers

A.  One has to know what he really needs ---- “if any of you lacks…” (v.5a).

B.  One has to know the object of his prayer rightly ---- “let him ask of God, who …” (v.5b).

C.  One has to get right attitude ---- “ask in faith” (v.6).


Ways of Overcoming Trials

A.  Ask of God for wisdom (v.5);

B.  Remain joy in various conditions (v.9-10);

C.  Remember the crown of life after the trials (v.12);


Five Principles of Prevailing against Temptations

A.  Be realistic ---- everyone may be tempted (13a);

B.  Be responsible ---- do not shuffle off responsibility onto others (v.13b);

C.  Be ready ---- know the origins of temptations (v.14-15);

D.  Be refocused ---- rely on the gifts of God (v.16-17);

E.  Be reactivated ---- only the word of God can save men (v.18-25);


Relations of the Word with Believers

A.  The word has begotten believers (v.18);

B.  The word teaches believers (v.19);

C.  The word saves believers (v.21);

D.  The word leads believers (v.22-25);


The Necessary Conditions Believers Shall Have toward the Word

A.  Hear the word (v.19);

B.  Receive the word (v.21);

C.  Look into the perfect law (v.25);

D.  Do the word (v.22, 25b);


The Preconditions of Receiving the Implanted Word

A.  Be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath (v.19);

B.  Lay aside al filthiness and overflow of wickedness (v.21);

C.  Receive with meekness (v.21);


The Preparations of Overcoming Temptations

A.  The first preparation: be swift to “hear” the word of God (v.19-21);

1. Be slow to speak (v.19b);

2. Be slow to wrath (v.19b-20);

3. Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness (v.21a);

4. Receive the implanted word with meekness (v.21b);

B.  The second preparation: be a “doer” of the word, and not a “hearer” only (v.22-25);

1. He who hears the word only deceives himself (v.22);

2. He who hears the word and yet does not do it will forget what he ha heard (v.23-24).

3. He who hears and does the word will be blessed from the word of God (v.25).

C.  The third preparation: “bridle” one’s own tongue (v.26);

D.  The fourth preparation (v.27);

1. “Visit” those who are in need ---- visit the orphans and widows in troubles (v.27a);

2. “Keep” oneself unspotted from the world (v.27b).


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou