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James 3:4-6 The Passion Translation (TPT)

And the same with mighty ships, though they are massive and driven by fierce winds, yet they are steered by a tiny rudder at the direction of the person at the helm.

And so the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power![a] Just think of how a small flame can set a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! It can be compared to the sum total of wickedness[b] and is the most dangerous part of our human body. It corrupts the entire body[c] and is a hellish flame![d] It releases a fire that can burn throughout the course of human existence.[e]


  1. James 3:5 Or “boasts of great things.” The Aramaic can be translated “the tongue has dominion.”
  2. James 3:6 As translated from the Latin Vulgate. The Greek is “a world of wrongdoing.”
  3. James 3:6 It is possible that the body James refers to here is the body of believers (a local church).
  4. James 3:6 Or “is set ablaze by gehenna [hell].” The Aramaic does not mention gehenna but is simply “burns with fire.” Gehenna is taken from the concept of “The Valley of Hinnom” where rubbish was burned outside the city of Jerusalem, becoming a Hebrew metaphor for the fires of hell.
  5. James 3:6 The Aramaic can be translated “a fire that passes through successive generations, rolling on like wheels.”
The Passion Translation (TPT)

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James 3:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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