New Living Translation
Controlling the Tongue
3 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.[b]
7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.[c]
True Wisdom Comes from God
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.[d]
English Standard Version
Taming the Tongue
3 (A)Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For (B)we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, (C)he is a perfect man, (D)able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put (E)bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet (F)it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And (G)the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, (H)staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, (I)full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people (J)who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Wisdom from Above
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? (K)By his good conduct let him show his works (L)in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter (M)jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not (N)the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, (O)demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But (P)the wisdom from above is first pure, then (Q)peaceable, gentle, open to reason, (R)full of mercy and good fruits, (S)impartial and (T)sincere. 18 And (U)a harvest of righteousness (V)is sown in peace by those who make peace.
New American Standard Bible
The Tongue Is a Fire
3 (A)Do not become teachers in large numbers, (B)my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a [a]stricter judgment. 2 For we all (C)stumble in many ways. (D)If anyone does not stumble in [b]what he says, he is a (E)perfect man, able to [c](F)rein in the whole body as well. 3 Now (G)if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their whole body as well. 4 Look at the ships too: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are nevertheless directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot determines. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it (H)boasts of great things.
(I)See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And (J)the tongue is a fire, the very world of unrighteousness; the tongue is set among [d]our body’s parts as that which (K)defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of our [e]life, and is set on fire by [f](L)hell. 7 For every [g]species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human [h]race. 8 But no one among mankind can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of (M)deadly poison. 9 With it we bless (N)our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people, (O)who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. 11 Does a spring send out from the same opening both [i]fresh and bitter water? 12 (P)Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, bear olives, or a vine bear figs? Nor can salt water produce [j]fresh.
Wisdom from Above
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? (Q)Let him show by his (R)good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter (S)jealousy and [k]selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against (T)the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down (U)from above, but is (V)earthly, [l](W)natural, (X)demonic. 16 For where (Y)jealousy and [m]selfish ambition exist, [n]there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom (Z)from above is first (AA)pure, then (AB)peace-loving, (AC)gentle, [o]reasonable, (AD)full of mercy and good fruits, [p](AE)impartial, free of (AF)hypocrisy. 18 And the (AG)fruit of righteousness is sown in peace [q]by those who make peace.
- James 3:1 Or greater condemnation; i.e., for erroneous doctrine
- James 3:2 Lit word
- James 3:2 Or hold in check
- James 3:6 Lit our parts
- James 3:6 Or existence, origin
- James 3:6 Gr Gehenna
- James 3:7 Lit nature
- James 3:7 Lit nature
- James 3:11 Lit sweet
- James 3:12 Lit sweet
- James 3:14 Or strife
- James 3:15 Or unspiritual
- James 3:16 Or strife
- James 3:16 I.e., in that place
- James 3:17 Or willing to yield
- James 3:17 Or unwavering
- James 3:18 Or for