4 Adulterers! 3 Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5 Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks without meaning when it says, ＂The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy＂? 4
6 But he bestows a greater grace; therefore, it says: ＂God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.＂ 5
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
11 Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. 6 If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
13 7 Come now, you who say, ＂Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit＂—
14 you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. 8 You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.
15 Instead you should say, ＂If the Lord wills it, 9 we shall live to do this or that.＂
17 So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin. 10
1 [1-12] The concern here is with the origin of conflicts in the Christian community. These are occasioned by love of the world, which means enmity with God (4). Further, the conflicts are bound up with failure to pray properly (cf Matthew 7:7-11; John 14:13; 15:7; 16:23), that is, not asking God at all or using God's kindness only for one's pleasure (James 4:2-3). In contrast, the proper dispositions are submission to God, repentance, humility, and resistance to evil (James 4:7-10).
2 [1-3] Passions: the Greek word here (literally, ＂pleasures＂) does not indicate that pleasure is evil. Rather, as the text points out (James 4:2-3), it is the manner in which one deals with needs and desires that determines good or bad. The motivation for any action can be wrong, especially if one does not pray properly but seeks only selfish enjoyment (James 4:3).
3  Adulterers: a common biblical image for the covenant between God and his people is the marriage bond. In this image, breaking the covenant with God is likened to the unfaithfulness of adultery.
4  The meaning of this saying is difficult because the author of Jas cites, probably from memory, a passage that is not in any extant manuscript of the Bible. Other translations of the text with a completely different meaning are possible: ＂The Spirit that he (God) made to dwell in us yearns (for us) jealously,＂ or, ＂He (God) yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us.＂ If this last translation is correct, the author perhaps had in mind an apocryphal religious text that echoes the idea that God is zealous for his creatures; cf Exodus 20:5; Deut 4:24; Zechariah 8:2.
6  Slander of a fellow Christian does not break just one commandment but makes mockery of the authority of law in general and therefore of God.
7 [13-17] The uncertainty of life (James 4:14), its complete dependence on God, and the necessity of submitting to God's will (James 4:15) all help one know and do what is right (James 4:17). To disregard this is to live in pride and arrogance (James 4:16); failure to do what is right is a sin (James 4:17).
8  Some important Greek manuscripts here have, ＂You who have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Why, what is your life?＂
9  If the Lord wills it: often in piety referred to as the ＂conditio Jacobaea,＂ the condition James says we should employ to qualify all our plans.