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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

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Commentary on James

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Text Commentary side-by-side

1, 1 :

James,a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: a declaration of the writer's authority for instructing the Christian communities; cf Rom 1, 1 . Regarding the identity of the author, see Introduction.Dispersion: see Introduction.

1, 2 :

Consider it all joy .‐ various trials: a frequent teaching of the New Testament derived from the words and sufferings of Jesus (Mt 5, 10–12; Jn 10, 11; Acts 5, 41 ).

1, 3–8 :

The sequence of testing, perseverance, and being perfect and complete indicates the manner of attaining spiritual maturity and full preparedness for the coming of Christ ( 5, 7–12; cf 1 Pt 1, 6–7; Rom 5, 3–5 ). These steps require wisdom ( 5 ).

1, 5 :

Wisdom:a gift that God readily grants to all who ask in faith and that sustains the Christian in times of trial. It is a kind of knowledge or understanding not accessible to the unbeliever or those who doubt, which gives the recipient an understanding of the real importance of events. In this way a Christian can deal with adversity with great calm and hope (cf 1 Cor 2, 6–12 ).

1, 1–9 :

Throughout his letter (see 2, 5; 4, 10.13–16; 5, 1–6 ), the author reaffirms the teaching of Jesus that worldly prosperity is not necessarily a sign of God's favor but can even be a hindrance to proper humility before God (cf Lk 6, 20–25; 12, 16–21; 16, 19–31 ).

1, 12 :

Temptationthe Greek word used here is the same one used for “trials” in v2 . The crown of life: in ancient Palestine, crowns or wreaths of flowers were worn at festive occasions as signs of joy and honor. In the Hellenistic world, wreaths were given as a reward to great statesmen, soldiers, athletes. Life: here means eternal life. He promised: some manuscripts read “God” or “the Lord,” while the best witnesses do not specify the subject of “promised.”

1, 1–15 :

It is contrary to what we know of God for God to be the author of human temptation ( 13 ). In the commission of a sinful act, one is first beguiled by passion ( 14 ), then consent is given, which in turn causes the sinful act. When sin permeates the entire person, it incurs the ultimate penalty of death ( 15 ).

1, 16–18 :

The author here stresses that God is the source of all good and of good alone, and the evil of temptation does not come from him.

1, 17 :

All good giving and every perfect gift may be a proverb written in hexameter. Father of lights: God is here called the Father of the heavenly luminaries, i.e., the stars, sun, and moon that he created (Gn 1, 14–18 ). Unlike orbs moving from nadir to zenith, he never changes or diminishes in brightness.

1, 18 :

Acceptance of the gospel message, the word of truth, constitutes new birth (Jn 3, 5–6 ) and makes the recipient the firstfruits (i.e., the cultic offering of the earliest grains, symbolizing the beginning of an abundant harvest) of a new creation; cf 1 Cor 15, 20; Rom 8, 23 .

1, 19–25 :

To be quick to hear the gospel is to accept it readily and to act in conformity with it, removing from one's soul whatever is opposed to it, so that it may take root and effect salvation ( 19–21 ). To listen to the gospel message but not practice it is failure to improve oneself ( 22–24 ). Only conformity of life to the perfect law of true freedom brings happiness ( 25 ).

1, 25 :

Peers into the perfect law: the image of a person doing this is paralleled to that of hearing God's word. The perfect law applies the Old Testament description of the Mosaic law to the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings freedom.

1, 26–27 :

A practical application of v 22 is now made.

1, 26 :

For control of the tongue, see the note on 3, 1–12 .

1, 27 :

In the Old Testament, orphans and widows are classical examples of the defenseless and oppressed.

1, 5–6 :

Continuing with the theme of the transitory character of life on earth, the author points out the impending ruin of the godless. He denounces the unjust rich, whose victims cry to heaven for judgment on their exploiters ( 4–6 ). The decay and corrosion of the costly garments and metals, which symbolize wealth, prove them worthless and portend the destruction of their possessors ( 2–3 ).

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