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Faith and Wisdom

Greetings! My name is Jacob,[a] and I’m a love-slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m writing to all the twelve tribes of Israel who have been sown as seeds[b] among the nations.

My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested[c] it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.

And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace.[d] Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next. 7–8 When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable.[e] Can you really expect to receive anything from the Lord when you’re in that condition?

The believer who is poor still has reasons to boast, for he has been placed on high. 10 But those who are rich should boast in how God has brought them low and humbled them, for all their earthly glory will one day fade away like a wildflower in the meadow. 11 For as the scorching heat of the sun causes the petals of the wildflower to fall off and lose its appearance of beauty,[f] so the rich in the midst of their pursuit of wealth will wither away.

12 If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!

13 When you are tempted don’t ever say, “God is tempting me,” for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and he is never the source of temptation. 14 Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure[g] them away into darkness. 15 Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin is fully mature it can murder you! 16 So my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires!

17 Every gift[h] God freely gives us is good and perfect,[i] streaming down from the Father of lights,[j] who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness[k] and is never subject to change. 18 God was delighted[l] to give us birth by the truth of his infallible Word[m] so that we would fulfill his chosen destiny for us and become the favorite ones out of all his creation![n]

19 My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen,[o] but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry, 20 for human anger is never a legitimate tool to promote God’s righteous purpose.[p] 21 So this is why we abandon everything morally impure[q] and all forms of wicked conduct.[r] Instead, with a sensitive spirit[s] we absorb God’s Word, which has been implanted within our nature, for the Word of Life has power to continually deliver us.[t]

22 Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life![u]

23 If you listen to the Word and don’t live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning.[v] 24 You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word,[w] but then you go out and forget[x] your divine origin. 25 But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting law of liberty[y] are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do![z]

26 If someone believes they have a relationship with God but fails to guard his words then his heart is drifting away and his religion is shallow and empty.[aa]

27 True spirituality[ab] that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans,[ac] and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.


  1. 1:1 James is actually the Hebrew name Jacob, the name of the man who had twelve sons that formed the twelve tribes of Israel.
  2. 1:1 As translated from the Aramaic, which was the language spoken by Jesus and his disciples.
  3. 1:3 Or “when faith passes the test.”
  4. 1:5 Or “with an open hand.”
  5. 1:7–8 Or “restless” or “disengaged.”
  6. 1:11 In the land of the Bible there were many deserts with arid land. The rainy season is quite short and the burning heat of the sun scorched the earth until the next season of rain arrived. We live in a constantly changing world with riches and beauty quickly fading. Our hope is set on things above.
  7. 1:14 Or “hooked by the bait of evil from their own desires.”
  8. 1:17 Or “legacy.”
  9. 1:17 The Aramaic word used here, mshamlaita, means “complete, wholesome, abundant, sufficient, enough, and perfect.”
  10. 1:17 Jesus calls us the light of the world (Matt. 5:14–16) and Paul describes believers as “shining lights” (Phil. 2:15) in this world. God is our Father, he created angels but he brought us into new birth. The Greek word anōthen (“from above”) is used by Jesus in describing to Nicodemus that we are born from above. We are lights born from above. See also John 3:7.
  11. 1:17 Or “shadow of turning.” The implication is there is nothing that you will find wrong with God, nothing in him that could even remotely appear to be evil hiding. The more you get to know him the more you realize how beautiful and holy he is.
  12. 1:18 Or “God having decided gave us birth.” The comparison in this passage is striking. Sin gives birth to death, God from his pure desires gives us birth to bring him glory.
  13. 1:18 The Aramaic can be translated “the word of the rainbow-sign.” That is, the unbreakable new covenant promises we have as new creatures in Christ.
  14. 1:18 Or “a kind of firstfruits of his creations” or “the pledge [down-payment] of a still further creation [a more complete harvest].”
  15. 1:19 Although the Greek does not supply an object we are to listen to, it is obvious in the context that we should listen to one another, to God’s voice, and to his Word. May God give us listening hearts.
  16. 1:20 Or “God’s righteousness will never attach itself to human anger.”
  17. 1:21 The Aramaic word used here can mean “demonic activities.”
  18. 1:21 Or “excesses of evil.”
  19. 1:21 Due to the Greek sentence construction, this clause may refer to what preceded it, “abandon . . . all forms of wicked conduct with a gentle [meek] heart.”
  20. 1:21 Or “save our souls.” The Greek uses the effective aorist active infinitive σωσαι (sōsai) from σωζω (sōzō) and could refer to the ultimate salvation of our souls (personality, emotions, thoughts) and/or our eternal salvation.
  21. 1:22 Or “be a poet [doer] of the Word.”
  22. 1:23 Or “realizing his beginning [genesis] face” or “studying the face he was born with.”
  23. 1:24 For the believer, seeing the man “in the mirror” is seeing how God sees us from the beginning, even before the fall of Adam which resulted in sin’s devastation to human hearts. The man in the mirror is the new creation man.
  24. 1:24 The Aramaic can be translated “drift away from.”
  25. 1:25 This is referred to as the “royal law of love” in 2:8 and the “law of liberty” in 2:12.
  26. 1:25 See Luke 11:28.
  27. 1:26 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “If one presumes to be religious but doesn’t guard his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is useless.”
  28. 1:27 The Aramaic can be translated “True ministry.”
  29. 1:27 The Greek word orhpanos means “the fatherless” or “the comfortless.”

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