The Letter from James

Chapter 4

We are to strive against covetousness, 1-3; intemperance, 4; pride, 5-10; and slander and rash judgment of others, 11, 12. We are not to be confident in the good success of worldly business, but rather always be mindful of the uncertainty of this life, and to commit ourselves and all our affairs to God's providence, 13-17.

1 Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Do they not come from here, even from your lusts that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You kill and desire to have and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive because you ask with bad intent, so that you may spend it in your pleasures. 4 You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The spirit which dwells in us earnestly desires to envy"? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore, he says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be afflicted, mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up.

11 Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. He who speaks evil of his brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 Only one is the lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into this city and spend a year there, and trade and make gain." 14 You do not know what will be on the next day. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead of that, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 16 But now you rejoice in your boastings. All such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.


Matthew Henry Commentary - James, Chapter 4[➚]


[v.5] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Interpreters toil much, because none such, at least none exactly alike, is found in Scripture. But nothing hinders the reference to be made to what has been already said, that is, that the friendship of the world is adverse to God. Moreover; it has been rightly said, that this is a truth which occurs everywhere in Scripture. And that he has omitted the pronoun, which would have rendered the sentence clearer, is not to be wondered at, for, as it is evident, he is everywhere very concise."

[v.6] - Quoting Proverbs 3:34. Reference, Psalm 138:6; 1st Peter 5:5.

[v.8] - "Draw near to God" - God will draw His people. See John 6:37, 44-45, 65. Reference, Psalm 73:28.

[v.12] - "Only one" - This is emphatic in the Greek to emphasize the exclusion of any other. So, the first sentence in this verse can be understood like this: "God is the one and only lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy."