Criswell Theological Review 1.1 (1986) 113-135.

          Copyright © 1986 by The Criswell CollegeCited with permission. 









                                           JOHN A. BURNS

                               Criswell College, Dallas, TX 75201



                                              I. Introduction


The Scope and Purpose


When the Epistle of James is studied, it is regarded as a book of

wisdom. But what kind of wisdom is it? With what biblical parallels

can it be connected? Given that it is practical, with what matters does it

register concern? Does it speak directly to all mankind or is it specifi-

cally directed to the believer? Are the issues that presented themselves

to the 1st century church pertinent for this century? It is the intention of

this article to speak to the foregoing questions.

            It has always been difficult to trace the outline as found in this

epistle. While it is not the purpose of this article to trace the argument

of James as it develops, one cannot ignore the importance of develop-

ing arguments within the epistle. The wise man desires bases on which

he can affirm his spiritual vitality. The book of James presents the tests

of faith. As the believer encounters opportunities to walk in wisdom,

and employs the provisions given by the Lord, genuine growing faith

will be evident. Faith always is appropriated in concrete circumstances

applied to specific attitudes and acts.


The Wisdom Tradition in the Ancient World

            Collections of wise sayings were found in every part of the OT

and NT biblical worlds.1 In its subject matter, the sayings of the wise

embraced one's practical, everyday conduct and gave advice about

proper behavior in the royal courts. Its message was ostensibly simple:


            1 R. B. Y. Scott, The Way of Wisdom in the Old Testament (New York: Macmillan,

1971) 23f.




whoever takes this counsel is "wise," whoever ignores wisdom's warn-

ing is a "fool." The OT expects the father of the family to teach his

children these words, e.g., "my son" Prov 1:8-9:18; 22:17-24:22.

Most of the proverbs of ancient literatures, including the OT, are

short statements which pertain to the varied facets of life. These are

sayings which describe the successful life--which can be learned

through the pursuit of wisdom.


Wisdom in the OT

            The object of OT wisdom is twofold:

            1. To instruct the student to explore life's meaning through reflec-

tion, inquiry, and debate.

            2. To guide the learner in living, through the rules of God's moral


            The Wisdom literature of the OT is usually a reference to the

books of Ecclesiastes, Job, certain Psalms (19; 27; 104; 107; 147; 148),

and especially the book of Proverbs. Also, there are books of Hebrew

literature outside the OT canon which are cast in this literary mold.


Wisdom in the NT

            Of the books of the NT, James is often identified as an example of

wisdom literature.2 There is no question that this epistle, as other

portions of the NT (e.g., 1 Cor 1-4 and the Sermon on the Mount), are

of the essence of divine wisdom. It is another matter to identify

the epistle of James as wisdom literature, since this is a literary



                        II. The Wisdom Tradition and James


            There are a number of differences between the characteristics of

Wisdom literature and James that disqualify it as Wisdom literature,

though, of course, this epistle presents the wisdom of God. The

following observations should be considered:

            1. James does not exhibit the paternal tone (e.g., "my son") found

often in Wisdom literature. In fact, there is no emphasis on any age


            2. There is an absence of rhetorical questions in James' argument

and in his introduction (cf. Prov 1:22).

            3. There is a congratulatory and often exclamatory form of speech

employed in Wisdom literature, as in Prov 3:13 and 28:19. This form is


            2 Donald W. Burdick, "James" in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, (12 vols;

Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976) 12.164.


       Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        115


also found in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, but it is a

form never found in James.

            4. The four key words of Prov 1:6, showing the various literary

forms employed in Proverbs, are: proverbs (Hebrew masal), parables

(melisa), wise words and riddles, verbal puzzles (hida).

            The most important of these forms is the masal, “likeness, com-

parison.” It is often expressed in verse couplets. Other masal expres-

sions emphasize contrast, antithesis3 (Prov 10:1; 25:1; 26:11). James

does not employ such literary devises as these models or paradigms.

            5. The message of James is not formed around the figures of the

wise and the simple, a frequent device to teach truth in the wisdom

literature (Prov 10:1).

            Also, varieties of poetic parallelism, including numerical paral-

lelism, commonly used in stating the sentiments of OT wisdom, do not

appear in James.

            What does the absence in James of structures, forms and vocabu-

lary common to OT wisdom literature indicate? It means that James is

not fashioned after, nor dependent on, an OT model.4 There is no

adequate reason why the NT should include literature cast in the same

form as Proverbs, Job or Ecclesiastes. The epistle of James gains no

advantage in imitating the wisdom formulas. If the author wished to

cast his epistle after the wisdom model, he would have made use of its

peculiar literary features.


Literary Parallels in James

            The Old Testament. Of course James, like the rest of the NT,

breathes the wisdom of God, but its literary characteristics are indica-

tive of NT forms of expression, even though the writer of this epistle

has been steeped in OT and Incarnational thought.

            James was familiar with the Hebrew OT as well as the LXX. His

vocabulary of 570 words includes 73 of which are not used in the rest of

the NT--and 46 of that number are found in the LXX. Certain

idiomatic Hebraisms are frequent.5 It should be noted that OT per-

sonages are employed as illustrations.

            The book of James cannot be explained as a reapplication of the

OT message. The Epistle's author reflects the teaching of Jesus Christ

too broadly to allow that conclusion.


            3 Samuel P. Tregelles, Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testa-

ment Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 517.

            4 James Hardy Ropes, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle of St.

James (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1971) 18-19.

            5 James Adamson, The Epistle of James (NIC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976) 18.




            The New Testament. It is clear that James preserves directly the

truth (some call it tradition, possibly a neutral term) of Jesus. This is the

immediate background of the wisdom of James, rather than the OT.

But this Epistle does not rest on the four Gospels, nor on the full range

of the Synoptics--it reflects the specific teaching of Jesus in the Sermon

on the Mount and a few other loci.6

            It seems better, then, to refer to James as NT wisdom, or the

wisdom of Jesus. It is well to remember that Jesus heightened the

ethical demands (Matt 5-7; Luke 6) for his disciples far above the

nature and scope of application of the OT. Like Jesus, James expects

his teaching to produce an altered, new life. In fact, James' wisdom

specifies how the believer lives to please God. In the light of the

Father's constant presence and in view of His coming at the eschaton

(the consummation, the Judge of the ages), the believer must not

merely think but must live in a way which honors God.


                                    III. Wisdom in James' Epistle


            The effective means by which a believer becomes practically wise

is prayer (1:5). If God is seen as the source of all provision, then the

superintendence by His will offsets the human desire to prosper apart

from God's wise provision.


The Way of Wisdom

            James builds on the background of Jesus' teaching about prayer

(Matt 18:18-20; 21:22 // Mark 11:24; John 14:13-14; 15:7 and 16:23).

These are promises based on the believer's relationship to God. Because

of this personal dimension, the prayer of faith is effective in securing

both daily wisdom (1:5) and in the cure of the repentant, ailing sinner

(5:15). Such an extreme measure in that believer's life calls forth the

demonstration of wisdom in a changed life, a living statement of faith

in the wisdom of God.

            The well-debated passage 2:18-26, especially v 20, is written to the

brethren (2:15) with the idea of the fulfilled Christian life in mind. The

vain man is one in whom there is no recognizable fulfillment of the

divine purpose (1:4; 3:2). God's intention includes both the forensic

righteousness conferred on the believer by God and the practical

demonstration of applied righteousness by the wise believer.7 Paul,

too, stresses both elements: being a child and living like a child of God.


            6 Peter W. Davids, "James and Jesus" in Gospel Perspectives, Vol. 5 (Sheffield:

JSOT Press, 1984) 66-67.

            7 Leslie Mitton, The Epistle of James (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1966) 103.


         Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        117


Practical righteousness is the wise life; it is characterized by freedom

from one's limitations and is a life dependent on God, who is the author

of all good (1:17).

            The subjects which concern the wise believer are: the source of

wisdom, regeneration, the nature and use of God's Word, the control of

one's response to others (especially favoritism), the response of

righteous faith, the error of grasping at life apart from the will of God,

and the confession of sin.

            James presents the two ways of life available to the believer: there

are two ways to deal with trials and temptations, to respond to God's

Word, to relate to wealth, to approach faith, and to use the tongue.

There is a choice between "wisdoms," and between the two ways to

cope with one's desires. Also, there are alternatives to the tendency to

judge, to be arrogant, and to be self-centered. Finally, James reminds

us of the alternatives to impatience, deception, and to the bondages of


            These two ways of life are not simply presentations of an inferior

and a superior lifestyle. The wisdom of the individual materializes:

should he or she choose the prayer path? Spiritual gain or loss will

result. However, what James presents is not an option for the believer--

it is obligatory. The necessity of a Christian lifestyle is indicated by the

frequency of James' injunctions; there are fifty-four imperatives in one

hundred eight verses. James reproves, rebukes and exhorts through the

use of the prohibitive subjunctive.8

            The commands address the thoughts, emotions and the activity of

the will. Some of these commands emphasize one's attitude, while

others specify individual acts. At times, the nature of the word-

meaning demands a complex idea of the attitude with acts growing

therefrom. Of course, in dealing with the Christian personality, the

total personality of body, soul and spirit, are included in any response

to God's Word. At tUnes there are distinct emphases which involve one

aspect of the personality more than the others.


The Attitude of the Wise Christian

            The word (1:2) for testing is peirasmo<j;9 some have taken this

word to mean only or principally "persecution." However, that posi-

tion ignores an entire range of human experiences which require

wisdom. Secondly, it would require an unnecessarily late date for

James, one which would allow for later developments of persecution


            8 H. E. Dana and J. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament

(Toronto: Macmillan, 1955) 171.

            9 H. Seesemann, "[peira" TDNT 6 (1968) 23-26.




beyond the local (less intensive) level. Thirdly, this word is used of

common circumstances of misfortune (peirasmo<j) in Plutarch's work.10

The term then covers a range of experiences from internal, moral

pressure to exterior circumstances and, whenever indicated context-

ually, to persecution. This first of James' tests of faith concerns faith

under pressure (chap 1).

            What should be the wise believer's attitude in response to dis-

appointments, sorrows, hardships, persecutions, and temptations?

James (1:2) says the response should be joy--not just joy at the end of

the experience but throughout it all (indicated by the present participle

"knowing"). The verb describing the expressed response is an aorist

tense, indicating that on each occasion of danger to the soul the trial

should be counted joy. Counting it joy is prescribed, not suggested.11

"Counting" is a bookkeeping term; it emphasizes what one must

conclude, perhaps regardless of what one observes. These conscious

acts are possible--because there is happiness in experiencing whatever

contributes to the Christian's spiritual growth. This understanding of

happiness is traceable to Jesus' Beatitudes where the blessed man (cf.

Ps 1) rejoices under unusual circumstances. The Christian attitude

expresses itself in decisive, conscious acts, rejoicing in the opportunity

they provide for the Lord to work His blessing in their growth: "that

they might be complete" (i!na h#te te<leioi).


Wisdom and Testing

            In the midst of this opportunity for growth, there are two areas of

danger. The first area of danger (1:2) is that the testing will suddenly

and frequently (o!tan) overtake us. The word "fall" (peripe<shte) in

classical Greek designates an unplanned and undesirable event;12 in 2

Macc 10:4, it describes Israel's unforeseen affliction by heathen nations.

The only other NT use of the word "fall" describes the ambush of the

man who "fell" among thieves on the Jerusalem-Jericho road (Luke

10:30). The strength of a testing often is that we never know when it

will occur.

            The predicament caused by testing points out that wisdom will be

necessary. The verb "to ask" occurs twice in 1:5-6 (both present

imperatives); seeking wisdom from the giving-God is the normal


            The second danger (1:4) is that the believer will seek God's

wisdom, but will stop seeking and applying God's wisdom before it has


            10 LSJ 1221.

            11 Joseph B. Mayor, The Epistle of St. James (Grand Rapids:Zondervan, 1954) 33.

            12 LSJ 1249.


      Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        119


fully accomplished its purposes, a perfect work (e@rgon te<leion). The

command is to "keep on letting patience achieve" God's intention

(e]xe<tw). Wisdom is given to teach us proper attitudes. It is possible that

we will not allow the full extent of God's purposes. This failure of faith

may cause us to (1) lie our way out of further distresses, (2) simply

give up under pressure, and (3) to yield to self-pity, bitterness and

discontent, rather than to patience.

            It is God's wisdom to insist on faith, suggested by the present tense

of the imperative: "let him continue to ask in faith" (1:6). It refers to a

simple act of coming to Jesus with a specific need in mind, knowing

that a partnership has been formed through confidence in Him. When

one is characterized by wavering (1:6), there is no such confidence that

the prayer will be heeded, that one cannot decide whether to trust God

or not. A sea rages within him but without resolution; there is only

unsettled behavior. Continual hesitation does not promote fellowship

with God. This is contrary to wisdom.


Wisdom as Skill

            There is necessary activity and persistence in the exercise of

wisdom. In Matt 26:39 and Luke 22:42, Jesus prays unwaveringly for

wisdom, "not my will. . . ." Note Peter's hesitation and its consequences

(Matt 14:25-31). The wise are only so when they act wisely. James

instructs us to learn attitudes as a part of wisdom.

            The word "wisdom" is used only twice in James (1:5 and 3:13-18),

but the concept is developed throughout the book. Wisdom in the

secular sense was used to designate one's skill in an art or handicraft; it

had reference to the most exact sciences. It was also employed in a

religious sense of the Divine essence of pure and immutable being. In

that application, wisdom indicated the most envied and elevated

existence. The idea of wisdom occurs extensively in the LXX. The

verb, noun and adjective complex occurs over 300 times, most often in

the wisdom books, but quite frequently in the historical books.13 There

it specifies technical skill and knowledge as, for example, in describing

the ability of the Tabernacle's craftsmen, such as Oholiab and Bezalel.

The prominent ideas specified are those of experience in life, with its

problems, and of success in living. Emphasis is heavily on the side of

activity rather than thought. Wisdom is revealed by practice and in

personal piety.

            Though wisdom describes innate skill, clever conduct, and a

knowledge of culture, the OT speaks often of the wisdom possessed by


            13 Edwin Hatch and Henry A. Redpath, A Concordance to the Septuagint (3 vols;

Rapids: Baker, 1983) 2. 1278-81.




God and the wise response expected in His creatures as they honor His



Wisdom and Obedience

            In the NT, the wisdom in which Jesus grew continually was also

obedience to the revealed Word of God (Luke 2:40).14 His under-

standing and use of God's wise revelation caused his enemies to marvel

(Mark 6:2). Stephen manifests God's wisdom in his witness. Paul

expounds the theology of wisdom, especially as it relates to Christian

growth. The wisdom of the Lamb in the Revelation of John specifies

his ability to interpret the mysteries of the last times.

            James' epistle emphasizes wisdom in living out the life of Christ in

ordinary human circumstances. It is the wisdom that comes from God;

it is opposed to the wisdom of this world; it does not serve those who

champion the other, immoral "wisdom."

            The wisdom of which James speaks does not derive from human

experience; it is not selfish. It signifies a spiritual understanding of

God's will for man's life and a welcome compliance in the whole of

one's life.

            What effect does wisdom have on one's attitudes and ensuing

actions? James warns against faulty judgments of boasting and self-

deception. There are six imperatives in Jas 1:9-22, all but one of them

in the present tense; the exception is de<casqe in 1:21. This pas-

sage shows examples of how to cope with temptations to double-


            In 1:9-11, the example of failure to trust God (double-mindedness)

concerns material wealth and its accompanying prestige.15 James,

throughout this epistle, as here, presents the tests of faith, the evidences

by which we can be assured that our faith is actively single-minded, the

opposite of diakrino<menoj.

            In 1:9, the second of four uses of the conjunction de< appears; each one

indicates a new development in the argument in this section of the

book (1:5, 9, 19 and 22).


Wisdom and Wealth

            Rather than telling fellow Christians that it is permissible to

assume a low profile, though they are socially insignificant, he com-

mands each one to "glory" or "boast" (a word used most often in Paul's

epistles in a pejorative sense). God is to be glorified, of course, not


            14 U. Wilckens, "Swfi<a" TDNT 7 (1971) 496-528.

            15 Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter and Jude (AB; Garden City: Doubleday,

1964) 15.


          Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        121


because of one's poverty in contrast to the affluence and influence of

others, but because God's plan for such ones is the equality to be found

in Christ. His acceptance in the Son is intended to sustain him amid

testing. Without this support, he may be tempted to seek a solution in

opting for a security similar to the influential man who depends on

wealth and influence to extricate him from potential troubles. Lest the

"rich" man seek to settle his problems apart from the Lord's wisdom,

James (1:10) reminds him to exult in the position he shares with his less

able brother. Both rich and poor have access and are equally dependent

on the provision of God. Matt 5:12 has a similar command to the

spiritually alert to exult, knowing that the wages for life's experience

are not payable on earth. In James, one runs the risk of a failure to trust

God, either through practiced intrigue or despondency which may

even lead him to think God has forsaken him (1:13). The physical

dimensions of life are transitory--this realization is a mark of wisdom

(1:11; see also 5:1-6). The error (1:16) against which James warns

seems best related to the foregoing section where a careless believer.

allows faithlessness to grow to fruition. Vv 13-15 contain several

negative notes, while those of vv 17-1.8 are positive. The command is

properly rendered "Stop being deceived" (1:16).16 Deception is a token

of the unused provision of wisdom.


Wisdom and Rank

            The wise instructor commands (1:19) the demonstration of God's

mind in the believer's conduct. The gifts of God and the birth by God

are sufficient to produce a life reflecting a relationship with God. The

wise Christian has a distinctive purpose (note the parallel constructions

of ei]j to>  to with the infinitive) in living.17 The last construction with ei]j is

changed from an infinitive to a noun (o]rgh<) to introduce emphatically

the subject of the next section (1:20-27) with its warning against wrath

in speech and conduct (1:26). Reception of the Word of God results in

the traits of a Rabbi's good pupil as one who is" . . . quick to hear, slow

to forget. . . ."18 However, James upgrades the word "forget" to

"speak," which in this context is the hesitation to speak rashly or in

anger. He also adds a warning against acts of wrath which are the result

of self-assertion as over against God's will.


            16 Peter W. Davids, Commentary on James (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1982) 86.

            17 Arthur Carr, The General Epistle of James (CGT; Cambridge: Clarendon,

1899) 22.

            18 APOT 707.




Wisdom and Growth

            The counsel of God's wisdom aims at implanting His word into toe

Christian's character (e@mfuton) in 1:21.19 The "rooted word"--that is its

nature--is welcomed (de<casqe) into a life, like elements of nutrition

being continually absorbed into a plant to make it grow.

            The element which makes this growth-pattern possible is "meek-

ness" (1:21). Jesus calls himself "meek" in Matt 11:29; He places

"meekness" in the forefront of the qualities of the "blest" (Matt 5:4, 5).

It is willingness to acknowledge the will of God in one's life, the

opposite of the exercise of anger (3:13, 17), and is an expression of

righteousness (1:20).20 The potency of the "rooting-word" results in the

character of Christ transforming (sw<zw) the entire life of the Christian

(yu<xh). The intended goal for the believer is not learning; it is deeds


            Just as spiritually unproductive as double-mindedness is the

attempt to combine faithfulness to Christ, in other connections, with

unfaithfulness in relations with other Christians. The second test of

faith relates to the deceptively gentle pressure of favoritism (chap 2).

Believers are admonished to stop trying (e@xete) to combine faith in

Christ with the discrimination of persons (2:1). This snobishness ignores

injustice for fear of the powerful (2:6). Such conduct respects the

person of man, but disrespects the person of God. These perpetrators

are judges with evil thoughts (2:4).

            In one of three OT quotations in James (2:8-11), there is evidence

of Semitic grammatical influence: the future is used as a categorical

imperative, "love your neighbor." 21 The form emphasizes the exercise

of the will; it is a command. The emphasis on a controlled use of the

will is seen in these imperative verbs of "saying" and "doing" (2:12). A

third test focuses on personal commitment (2:14-26). The believer

"enwisened," recognizes the unity of the Law which reflects the unity

of the Law-giver's will. Believers are to be influenced by God's wisdom

so that they won't express their impatience with those in need (2:16).

The language here was used to let one know he was being dismissed.

The next word in the imperative (u[pa<gw)was used to say goodbye to

beggars. It signaled that contact with the needy-one was over; the

subject was closed. Wisdom should control the emotions. Wishing the


            19 Sophie Laws, The Epistle of James (HNTC; San Francisco: Harper & Row,

1980) 82.

            20 BAGD 704.

            21 W. E. Oesterley, "The General Epistle of James" The Expositor's Greek New

Testament (5 vols; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1976) 5.291.

                   Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        123


one who needs warm clothing and sufficient food to have them

indicates only a hearer not a doer of the Word. The word "comforted"

(xorta<zesqe) means, "to feed someone until they are full" (2:16).22 It is

no more excusable to ignore God's revealed will in respect to treatment

of people's needs ("loving one's neighbor") than it is to reject God's

admonitions not to murder and to avoid adultery (2:11).

            The emphasis of the verb "to have" (2:18) shows what potentially

belongs to one. The chiastic structure of these verses (2:18-26) means

to tie faith to works inseparably. Without faith, there would be no

reason to do any works. Also, without faith, there would be no relation

to the dynamic power necessary to perform the works. It is also

necessary to recall the sort of works expected in this passage: "saying"

and "doing" what the principle of love demands. The point is not just

to do what man will see, but what God expects the result of their faith

to be also (2:20). Personal commitment to God moves beyond empty

claims (2:18) either to man or to God. The vain man is one who does

not employ wisdom (2:20). It is interesting that Abraham's hospitality

(Gen 18) is passed over as an illustration of faith in favor of his offering

of Isaac. He was justified previously, believing God would give a son.

The point is, Abraham's relationship to God is of greatest import, even

above acts of mercy. Isaac's "offering" is not an act of Abraham's

mercy, but is an act of faith, completed faith, not like that of the



The Tests of Faith

            In chaps 1 and 2, three tests have been presented whereby the

believer can determine whether he or she is walking in wisdom. These

are tests concerning faith. Only faith leads us to walk wisely.

            1. When people are under pressure (chap 1), the wise walk of the

faithful brings them to trust God's perspective on life. They must trust

God to provide for them. Jesus instructed men (Matt 6:24-34) that God

was dependable for today and tomorrow; the pursuit of God and His

righteousness should be our preoccupation (Matt 6:33) as doers of the


            2. There are pressures of another kind--friendly pressures. There

is no place in the Christian assembly for the veneration of personalities,

nor for the denegration of those we judge to be of lesser importance

(2:1-13).  Favoritism not only ignores the nature of the Body of Christ,

but leads one to worship persons instead of the Person of God. The

error is an attempt to combine one's faith in a general sense with an


            22 G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh:

& T. Clark, 1937) 482.




exception to what Christ taught. If the church service is to honor

Christ, what difference does it make who occupies “places of honor

(2:3)? Six times in the Synoptic Gospels Jesus makes reference to Lev

19:18, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (see also Rom 13:19;

Gal 5:14).

            3. In the last part of chap 2 (vv 14-26), there is the wise admoni-

tion to let faith result in faithful acts. This section is directly related to

the previous one: it is the poor who benefit from the acts "out of" faith.

Jesus taught (John 13:14-15) the disciples such practical dimensions of

love (John 15:12, 17).

            The wisdom of faith in 3:1-5:20 demonstrates the possibilities of

the Christian life. Here there are six tests of wisdom's self-control.

One's faith may be tested for its vitality at three points. Do I exercise

self-control or does my orientation lie in worldly-wisdom and its

misuse of the tongue (3:1-18)? What is my reaction to the lure of the

world and its attraction (4:1-5:12)? and, Do I distinguish my faith

through its acts of prayer and restoration (5:13-20)? In the light of the

return of the Lord, the Judge, the believer must walk in wisdom (5:7f).

            Chap 3 opens with a present imperative (3:1), "Don't keep on

attempting to become teachers." The teaching office, viewed as a

counterpart to being a Rabbi, was strongly sought.23 Any social contact

one might have with a Rabbi was desirable: whether to speak with him,

have him as a house-guest, to marry his daughter--even to carry his

burdens, fetch him water, or saddle his donkey. There was acceptance,

authority and a highly desirable lifestyle in the role of the Christian

teacher too.

            From God's perspective, the teacher's role is important because of

the vast influence of his words. The teacher is a minister of wisdom; his

words can lead to life changes, therefore, the censure or approval will

be keener (3:1). The word "judgment" signifies both the possibility

of either acquittal or condemnation. James links himself with other

teachers by using the first person plural. The future indicative empha-

sizes an inescapable time of evaluation.

            Jesus speaks of teachers who are desensitized about their respon-

sibility: they only concern themselves with personal honors, the

ignore righteousness in favor of oppression, feigned spirituality, blind

guidance, and pretense (Matt 23).


Wisdom and Ministry

            The wise use of the tongue is illustrated in six ways in chap 3,

each one illustrates the need of control; the list is punctuated by


            23 APOT 707.


         Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        125


statements and questions which heighten the need for the exercise of

wisdom. True and false wisdom are contrasted as to origin, character,

and outcome. A man's words are an extension of himself; they reflect

his nature (cf. 3:10). Control over the tongue signifies the whole person

is under control (te<leioj) (3:2). In chaps 3 and 4, the thought introduced

in 1:5-8 is further developed.

            The aorist imperative deica<tw (3:13) calls upon the wise to "demon-

strate" his wisdom. Even a wise one must make an effort to reveal

God's provided sagacity. Perhaps there were some there who imagined

that teaching yields maturity automatically and who did not realize

that they were ignorant of the temptations of the office (2:9). The

evidence of maturity is only detected when the wise man acts wisely

and in meekness. The emphasis is, once again, on deeds versus words.

            In 3:13 there occurs a hapax legomenon. The word   ]Episth<mwn

("endued with knowledge") is employed in classical Greek of a skilled

workman, as a scientific person, as opposed to someone who is without

special "knowledge or training.24 It is employed to describe judges

(Deut 1:13) and the nation Israel (Deut 4:6).

            Jesus said every insignificant word would be judged (Matt 12:36).

Words cannot be used for the benefit of the individual, they must be

effectual for good. The frequency with which the teacher exercises his

frequently is envisioned in the word polla>: "all sorts of times" and

frequently (3:2). Thus, the need is to be careful; because the unruly

teacher can unwisely engage in destructive conduct, can be duplicious,

and be selfishly ambitious (3:5-14).

            The wisdom which dominates that kind of conduct comes from a

source other than God (cf. 1:5, 17). The three words describing this

alternate wisdom present a descending level of characteristics (3:15).

Jesus said the results produced by the conduct of a professed wise

person indicate the source and nature of that wisdom (3:17; Matt

11:19).  He also related that the proper use of the teacher's gift results in

blessing (3:9; Matt 5:19). James warns would-be teachers to stop using

the teaching function as a permit for arrogant boasting and even for

lying, especially in the sense that such wisdom is claimed to be derived

from God (3:14), when it simply cannot be.


Wisdom and the World

            There is another way to determine the reality of one's faith. How

does the believing wise one deal with the magnetism of the godless

system of life known as the world (4:1-5:12)?


            24 LSJ 573.




            The first command to wise living is at 4:7, but the background

begins at v 1. Possibly our Lord's words in Matt 7:7-12 provided the

basis for this divine commentary on the wise and the unwise ways of

dealing with ambition (4:1-6).

            In vv 5 and 6, James reminds the readers that there is a will to be

served other than their own. To reject Jesus' Lordship is to express

unfaithfulness to our God. Jesus spoke of an adulterous generation

which sought only to please itself, even when confronted by God's

revelation (Matt 12:38-39). Duplicity of heart, seen in adultery (4:4), is

really not divided affections, but a reassignment of total affections,

according to Jesus (Matt 6:24-34). In the Matthean reference, as in

James chap 4, the issue that reveals spiritual infidelity is one's grasping

attitude toward material things.

            The remedy for this display of worldly wisdom is submission and

resistance (4:7). God has every right to our love. The Word of God

means all that it says (Deut 32:47—note keno>j answering to Deuter-

onomy's keno>j) when it asserts God's jealousy (4:5).


Maintaining Fellowship

            Because of God's just claims for our affection (ou#n), James issues a

series of commands in 4:7-10, all ten are aorist imperatives, emphasiz-

ing the need for acts of the will.

            1. "Submit" (u[pota<ssomai) 4:7. The aorist imperative denotes an

urgent entreaty or command. The passive aorist has the significance of

the middle voice.25 This structure of the word suggests voluntary

alignment under God's authority. James expects total commitment,

expressed by subordination and resistance initially, then subsequently,

in obedience to the other imperatives. In Luke 2:51, this verb "submit"

describes the voluntary subordination of Jesus to his parents. It also

indicates the same deference of the Christian wife to her husband (Eph

5:21ff.). NT usage provides a family structure for one dimension of

usage of this term. Perhaps the basis of this command in 4:7 is founded

on the practice of one's relation to God's family. Elsewhere in the NT

u[pota<ssw is employed in the sense of involuntary compulsion (e.g.,

Rom 8:20).

            2. "Resist" (a]nti<sthte). This aorist imperative is best taken as

ingressive. It is often translated as an urgent entreaty, "Take your stand

against. . . ." When an imperative is followed by a future verb form, as

here, it forms the equivalent of a semitic conditional sentence.26 This

modifies the construction and is best translated, "When you take your


            25 Adamson, James 174.

            26 Mayor, James 146.


            Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        127


stand against the Devil, he will run from you." Spiritual advantage in

combat with the Devil is not automatic, the believer must take a

position; this is a positive action, a step of volition beyond non-

submission to the tempter (1:13-15).

            In His wisdom, God provides a way beyond escape--resistance

against the adversary. This is accomplished by submission to the will

and life of God. Jesus said no man can serve two masters simul-

taneously, he can love and serve only one of them at a time. In

temptations, Jesus sought this refuge by appropriating the Word of

God at each occasion. The result of His resistance (Matt 4:10) was

Satan's flight (Matt 4:11). Christ is the model. Note, too, the episode of

spiritual strife in Peter's life (Luke 22:21-36), and the anticipated

turnabout of Peter in taking a stand against the Devil through submis-

sion to God (Luke 22:32).

            3. "Draw near" (e]ggi<sate) 4:8. God is not only to be obeyed, but

He must be worshipped. In the OT (Exod 19:22; 30:20; Lev 10:3) the

word is used of the Hebrew priest approaching God in both Taber-

nacle and Temple. The essential idea is to come as close to God as one

can. The construction is parallel to the previous conditional statement

(4:7).  Here it is rendered, “When you draw near to God, He will draw

near to you."

            4. “Cleanse” (kaqari<sate) 4:8. The word draw near was also

used of the pious turning to God (Jer 30:20). This approach required

the worshipper to cleanse himself before attempting to worship God.

Matt 23:26 records Jesus' teaching that any ritual will only hold value if

the worship is morally clean. Jesus adds to the teaching about cleansing

in John 13. There the emphasis is on both the believer's responsibility to

appropriate and the Savior’s part in providing cleansing.

            As the priests entered the Tabernacle, they paused In the court-

to wash their hands and feet in order to be acceptable to God and

avoid judgment (Exod 30:19-21). Jesus' teaching about the large and

small obstructions in the eye (Matt 7:3ff.) concern cleansing as a

prerequisite to any effective moral correction. The statement about

hands” and "hearts" symbolizes "deeds" and "thoughts." The word

sinners" specifies the believer who has "missed the mark"; this failure

must be cleansed before genuine worship can be enjoyed (4:8).

            The two aorist imperatives are "cleanse," which emphasizes the

purging of our deeds, and "purify." The noun, kaqaro<j, is used of the

body without the smearing of paint or oil by Xenophon.27 He also

employs it of wheat stripped of its chaff28 and of an army stripped of all


            27 Xenophon, Oeconomicus, X.7.

            28 Ibid XVII. 8 9.




but its very best warriors.29 The central idea in every case is that the

subject is free from anything that would diminish its full value.

             ]Agni<sate translated "purify," on the other hand, is used of moral

purity accomplished by acts of a dedicated will. It places one in a

condition, prepared for worship (see also a]gni<zw, 1 Pet 1:22 and 1 John

3:3).   ]Agno<j is used of cleansing from ceremonial defilement in the

LXX and in John 11:55 and Acts 21:24, 26; 24:18.

            The Levitical priest had to be cleansed before he served God. At

the same time, the heart had to be purified, that is, separated from

everything that might cause uncleanness, (especially see 1:6ff.). In Luke

11:39-42, Jesus distinguishes between apparent, outward holiness and

the separation which always can be detected by the One who looks on

the heart (also Jas 5:2). When the believer rests in the wisdom of God,

both that which gives rise to the sin (1:14) and the enactment of

subsequent evil deeds are to be dealt with. Jesus' wise instruction must

be applied to the spiritual condition. The word "heart" depicts the seat

of the emotions and of thought, even of one's desires and under-

standing, and especially of all these elements of personality crystalizing

in the action of the will, the root of one's conduct. The word "sinners”

(a[martoloi<) identifies those who sin in full view of everyone, in a

notorious fashion (4:8). In parallel with the idea of the cleansing of the

heart, the sort of sin to be dealt with is failure, the believer's failure to

trust God and His will for the Christian's life. This is sin which God

alone can detect, but, once specified by the Spirit's conviction, the

believer is the only one who can turn alternatively to God in faith.


The Renewal of Fellowship

            The next five aorist imperatives describe the characteristic acts of

the process of repentance--as our Lord sees it. Again, it should be

noted that these are not options, they are steps in one's change which

God commands (4:9-10). Once again, the Beatitudes of Jesus are the

background to James' words (Matt 5:4 and Luke 6:25). The "mourning”

in Matt 5, as in James, is not over sin generally expressed in the world,

but sin as discovered in the individual who then repents and is

subsequently comforted (paraklhqh<sontai). Only then is the believer


            The first of these commands is talaipwrh<sate; the noun form

indicates misery and distress (4:9).30 Repentance begins within. Jesus

commanded His disciples to take up their cross and deny themselves.

The believer who admits to having sinned is "crushed" in his spiritual


            29 Ibid VIII.117.

            30 BAGD 810.


        Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        129


consciousness. This word is used of undergoing hardship (Jer 4:13,

20; Isa 33:1). Here James emphasizes the personal initiative, ""Be


            They must "mourn" and "weep" also. "Mourn" (penqh<sate)

expresses a self-contained grief, not normally visible. This godly sorrow

is commended by Jesus in Luke 6:25 and Mark 16:10. It indicates a grief

that leaves a heartache. In the two verses cited, this "mourning" is

coupled with “weeping” (klau<sate). The internal grief brings tears to

the eyes; inner feeling is communicated. This weeping is a loud

expression of pain or sorrow; it is even used of a lament for those who

have died (John 11:31; Matt 2:18).

            But repentance transcends feeling, no matter how deeply seated,

and it goes past a display of this grief. It also demands change. The

verb metatraph<tw ("to turn about, turn into") emphasizes change by

one's turning.31 This is the only use of this word in the NT (4:9).

            The end result of the believer's repentance is the Lord's renewal to

unrestricted fellowship (4:10). What has the repentant believer lost in

the process of renewal--nothing. He has taken his proper place; this is

suggested first in v 6 (tapeinoi<j) and again in v 10 (tapeinw<qhte). These

four verses form a unit. The word tapeino<w means ""to confess and

deplore one's spiritual insignificance." The aorist passive has, here, the

significance of the middle voice, "deplore yourself," "count yourself


            The believer who counts the Lord's wisdom as precious counsel is

rewarded. The Lord will raise him up (4:10). This parallels Jesus'

promise in Matt 23:12 and Luke 23:12 where the contexts have to do

with humility; Jesus' parable about a display of pride in prayer (Luke

18:9-14) illustrates the need for humility by the religious.

            God's attitude toward the humility of repentance is to exalt the

humble. The raising from humility here is not an elevation in the social

scheme of things, but a drawing up into an acceptance in the spiritual

realm--unhindered fellowship. This is a command with a promise.

            James returns to the practical question of unity within the Body of

Christ in 4:11. Katalalei?te, the present imperative, instructs God's

people to "'stop defaming, talking against" one's fellow Christians; the

practice had been in progress among them. Perhaps this is one of the

things that the previous catena of aorist imperatives directed the

repentant believer to care for. Even if the criticism against another

Christian is true, caustic activity can only hurt the Body; it also

obligates the critic for criticism by the same standards of conduct.

Jesus' wise counsel stipulates this in Matt 7:1ff. and Luke 6:37. Talking


            31 Abbott-Smith, Greek Lexicon 288.




against the brother or sister disregards the purpose of the "kingly law,"

that is, to be a "guide for people who wish to please God. Speaking hard

words about one another is encouraged by pride which is evil (4:16)

and which leads to conflict among believers (4:1-2). The Lawgiver

alone has the right to discriminate (4:12). We do not have the advantage

necessary to be able to save or to destroy, so we do not have the right

of pronouncement.

            Man's dependent nature should keep him from acting indepen-

dently of God. God's will, and not personal judgment, should provide a

basis for human decision and as a guide about how to plan and execute

one's life (4:15; Luke 12:28; 13:32-33). These were well-to-do believers

whose whole life consisted in traveling for trade and profit. God filled

no essential category in their lives (4:16).

            The words a@ge nu?n (4:13) are equivalent to "come now" or "see

here" (cf. Matt 26:65). This too is the counsel of wisdom. The intention

of this command is to reprove those already guilty of making plans

which exclude God. A calculated arrogance in which they will do what

they like, where they like (th>n po<lin means "this city") and for as long

as they wish. Even if there would be no arrogance in evidence, God is

still left out. Note how the use of kai> separates the various elements of

the intended plan in v 11. The wisdom of Jesus in Matt 6:34 provided a

background for these words. The common idea is preoccupation with

oneself. The Matthean verbs merimnh<shte and merimnh<sei concern the

matter of a person's trust in God (6:19-34). The verb merimna<w means

"to care," "to be anxious," and in 6:19-34 the idea is "worry," "self-

concern for security." The use of the future tense in Jas 4:13 indicates

that specific plans are made (will go, will make, will buy, will sell) with

no intention of change.

            Wealth is not the highest value. Patience is the alternative to

grasping (5:1-6). Jas 5:1 repeats the command for attention, as at 4:13

(a@ge nu?n) "come now," "see here." Again, the purpose is to reprove.

The nu?n intensifies James' insistence, "without delay."32 In addition to

the word "weep" already used in 4:9, James employs the word "howl"

(o]lolu<zontej). It indicates the nature of the crying--a howling because

of distress.33 Here, it is the distress borne out of repentance. Though

used only here in the NT, the LXX uses it often, at times of violent grief

(Joel 1:5, 13).34

            The warning here (5:1-6) is addressed to believers to disuade them

from setting a high value on wealth. Had the idea been to address the


            32 Joseph Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New

York: American Book Co., 1889) 430.

            33 BAGD 567.

            34 Thayer, Lexicon 567.


         Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        131


unsaved, James would have presented an appeal to be saved. In

addition, the coming of Christ is cited as a benefit in 5:7; this would not

be a comfort to the unbeliever. The wise (Matt 6:19; Luke 12:33) are

those who do not make riches their treasures (5:2).

            In the second part of this chapter (5:7-12), the alternative to the

grasping of materialism is stated: patience. The imperative makro-

qumh<sate is found here and in v 8. This word describes an attitude

which can endure delay, bear suffering and still never gives in. It is an

aspect of the Holy Spirit's life expression (Gal 5:22). The same word is

used of God's being content to wait in his longsuffering toward men.

The illustration in 5:7 bears out this thought; it also uses the present

imperative "behold." The background of the expectant farmer who

orders his life along lines of patience forms the chief character (also in

Matt 13:30). The preciousness of the fruit justifies the waiting until the

heavenly gifts are received.

            The imperative, "stabilize, strengthen!" (5:8), in tandem with the

second use of makroqumh<sate specifies that the believer's stance is not

just to await the inevitable restitution, but to nourish the activity of the

resolution. We must will to wait for God's time to enrich us according

His will; he has promised to care for us until He rewards us (5:8).

This is a cure for "double-soulness." The employment of the word in

the LXX most often describes strengthening the body with food,

though it specifies God's working in men's spiritual quotient (cf. 1 Pet

3:17).35 God's reward is not a compounded interest on all the valued

things we have done without; it is life on a different plane (John 14:6)

and in the presence (h[ parousi<a) of Him whose coming is imminent

(pro> tw?n qurw?n e@sthken, 5:9). Because His presence will be our

reward, we are encouraged against continuing to blame one another

for unmerited distress.  Mh< stena<zete means, "Stop complaining!"

(Perhaps inwardly, since the word denotes a feeling which is internal

and unexpressed, an inward feeling of a grudge against another.)

            Jesus' word of wisdom to the persecuted is first found in Matt

5:10-12. James calls our attention (i]dou<) to those who proved them-

selves constant: Job and the prophets. They refused to renounce God;

their temper did not easily succumb to suffering. In Job, u[pomonh< is

used 14 times.

            The final reaction of the "enwisened" believer occurs in 5:12. Even

more important than the avoidance of a grudging attitude, which may

lead to the misuse of the tongue, there is a danger in using oaths. This

oath is a reference to private assertions. There is no idea of taking a

public oath in a courtroom. It is the believer's duty to be constantly


            35 Hatch and Redpath, Concordance 2.893.




truthful. The use of oaths, half-serious, half-profane, was common in

1st century conversation. James says "stop swearing." Swearing is only

necessary where truth is of little importance. Jesus warned against

swearing (Matt 5:34-37). Of all the sins involving speech, this is the

most serious; it denies the transcendence of God. Swearing places God

in obligation to the oath employed. There are OT passages which seem

to approve swearing; these occasions are emphases on one's faith in

Jehovah as symbolized by an oath. They are not placing God under


            Because the use of oaths would sooner or later lead to excuses, and

then on to false statements, James counsels "Let your `yes' be `yes' and

nothing more. . . ." A breach of the Third Commandment is to be



The Wise Use of Prayer

            In Jas 5:13-21, two final acts in faith are counseled by James. Pray

in every circumstance of life (5:13-20), and restore those living in

spiritual despair (5:21). The section begins with three questions; there

are twenty-two altogether in James.

            The subject of prayer was first introduced in 1:5. Here (5:13),

prayer is the preferred alternative to reacting to circumstances and to

distress. The circumstances indicated by kakopaqei? are not those of

illness, but are matters of misfortune. In such difficulties, "continue

praying," James urges. But suppose we enjoy pleasant circumstances?

We must not forget God in good times, either. When the bounty of God

overflows, a wise Christian praises God—another aspect of prayer;

dependence is still acknowledged. The word ya<llw means "to sing or

to play on a harp"; it describes praise 56 times in the LXX: "continue

singing psalms." This epistle abounds everywhere with man's response

to God; a major aspect of wisdom is the response of prayer.

            The last in a series of three questions, "Is any among you weak?"

occurs in 5:14. This weakness is the third of three possible conditions.

The condition suggests a person who realizes that he may be unable to

respond continuously to the Lord because of encroaching physical

illness. It is not specified that this sickness/weakness is necessarily

caused by personal sin, though it may be (1 Cor 11:30-32). The ka@n

with the subjunctive mood of the verb indicates the possibility of sin as

the cause of the weakness. The perfect with the verb "to be" empha-

sizes the continuous state of sin in which those whose sickness is the

result of sin will remain until forgiven (Matt 9:2-7).

            When one is unable to complete the season of prayer which would

lead to forgiveness, the instruction given is to call for those who assist in

the ministry of such occasions. Visiting the sick was a normal function

                        Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        133


of the elders in a Jewish community (Matt 25:36) and seems to be more

than an act of charity. It was visitation aimed at restoration by way of

intercession. This, too, is the way of godly wisdom, in contrast to the

pagans' use of charms and incantation which was an aspect of worldly


            The normal form of the imperative in James (aorist) emphasizes

each separate act, when the one in need cannot pray, those who are

called make supplications, "Let them pray" (5:14).1 Clem 5:9 mentions

supplications for those sick in soul and body.

            The word "anointing" (5:4) is a participle (a]lei<yantej); as such, it

is secondary to the act of supplication. The aorist tense of the participle

ordinarily points it out as an activity previous to the main verb form,

here previous to the prayer offered. "Let them supplicate having

anointed him in the name of the Lord" (5:14b; cf. 3 John 7; Acts 5:41;

9:2; 19:7).

            It is the prayer of faith that saves, not the anointing, which may be

the unmistakable assurance to the sick one that they have voluntarily

identified with his or her need (cf. Mark 6:13). This prayer proceeds

from a singleminded, "enwisened" man. Prayer (eu]xh<) has the sense of

"a vow" in the NT, and is most often used in that sense in the LXX.

Perhaps the idea is that a prayer of dedication is made as intercession

for the one who lies ill, expressing his stated intention to please God.

The prayer is based on Jesus; name. He is the prince of the new aeon;

the One to whom obligation belongs.

            The result of this prayer of identification and dedication results in

the physical revitalization of the person fallen ill. The use of e]gei<rw

demonstrates that the salvation (sw<sei) designates physical healing.

Raising one up in other senses are inappropriate here (cf. Mark 1:31;

Matt 9:5). Should the cause of the illness be through sin, forgiveness

shall be extended to that one.

            V 16 does not begin a new subject, rather it draws a conclusion

deduced from the previous section. The two sections are connected by

the word ou#n (therefore), not translated in some English versions. By

the imperative "confess," the emphasis continues on the practice of

mutual confession and intercessory prayer. It is God's appointed means

of physical and spiritual wellbeing in the gathering of believers.

            The value of confession lies in its expression of the believer's

penitence, which furnishes a ground for others' confession. The word

e]comologe<w means basically "assuming a position of agreement" about

the nature of the specified sin and one's avowed intention that it be

brought to an end. The prefix suggests an audible confession to another

believer. The tense of this imperative suggests the continuing practice

of such confession. The verb "to pray" suggests a continuous readiness




to intercede on behalf of fellow Christians. The word "healing" always

refers to physical healing in the NT.

            This strong prayer is made to be strong, effective by God's

response to it. Since God hears prayer, a Christian with a clear

conscience (cf. 4:3) should pray boldly (Prov 15:29) and should inter-

cede as Elijah did as an intercessor (5:17) (cf. Jesus' teaching, reflective

of the 1 Kgs 17 reference in Luke 4:25; see also Heb 4:15). The Christian

is charged to be fully aware of (ginwske<tw), and to act on the truth of

the great value of bringing the unresponsive Christian to repentance

(5:17) as Elijah did his generation through prayer and power. The

reduplication of the same idea of prayer (in both the noun and the

verb) places a special emphasis on the prophet's singling one item out

as a special item of prayer. It is not in the one who prays, but in the

prayer that the value lies.

            The last imperative in James (5:20) suggests how important it is to

be fully aware continuously that the return of a sinning believer from

his unprofitable way of life has two immediate consequences: (1) he

will save a person (yuxh>n) from the result of persistent sins, and (2) will

cover sins (1 Pet 4:8 which quotes Prov 1.0:12), that is, will procure

forgiveness (Pss 32:1; 85:2; Deut 4:24; Rom 4:7). Kalu<ptein in connec-

tion with sins usually means "cause them to be forgotten" (5:20).

            The Proverbs context (10:12) of this verse (5:20) says that love

covers all transgressions. In context, the idea is "love refuses to see

faults." James' use has reference to those who confess they have

wronged another, or even wronged each other. The result of the act of

confession is that the mutual love arising in such cases will cover up

whatever the wrong was, will cause all parties to disregard the sin. The

background of this verse is found in Matt 5:23f, 18:15, and Luke 17:3f.

where unforgiven sin precludes worship and repentance strengthens

Christ's Body.


                                                IV. Conclusion


            The understructure of James' theology is the wisdom of Jesus, as

our Lord, the Savior taught it and lived it. It is theology requiring

faithful obedience. The tests in the book of 1 John are designed to

show the existence of the life of God in the Christian. The Epistle of

James indicates tests of faith. As we engage ourselves to walk wisely,

the function of wisdom will demonstrate the existence of faith and will

exhibit its vitality.

            James has as his purpose the demonstration of a living faith. But

faith is more than an occasional thought; it goes beyond one's attitude.

It can only take shape in concrete situations. When the believer obeys


            Burns: JAMES, THE WISDOM OF JESUS                        135


the wise instruction of the Scripture, he walks in wisdom. That applica-

tion of wise words results in incidents of applied faith. Whether the

incidents of observed faith will emerge out of occasions of testing,

from situations where one has to decide the extent to which God will

control and be responsible for their needs, and under circumstances

where human perception would be limited. Wisdom is served when

the believer repents personally or engages in the process of restoration

of another believer. The proper use of wisdom allows the believer to

observe faith at work.

            The wisdom James commands us to employ is taught by Christ

and emphasized by Paul. The theology of James features an under-

structure of the wisdom of Jesus which was taught by Jesus Christ and

featured in his life.





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The Criswell College

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Dallas, TX   75246


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