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James chapter one:

Practical and devotional commentary on the third chapter of James

Practical and devotional commentary on the third chapter of James

By John Chopores


James 3:1 Ά Do not be eager, my brethren, for many among you to become teachers; for you know that we teachers shall undergo severer judgement.

Many people are quick to seek glory, but few want to pay the price of hard work and accountably! Cf. Matthew 7:1 Ά "Judge not, that you may not be judged;

Matthew 7:2  for your own judgement will be dealt--and your own measure meted--to yourselves.

Luke 12:48  But he who had not been told it and yet did what deserved the scourge, will receive but few lashes. To whomsoever much has been given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been entrusted, of him a larger amount will be demanded.


Also, we must admit that while all born-again Christians are called. Cf. Romans 1:6  among whom you also, called, as you have been, to belong to Jesus Christ, are numbered:

Romans 1:7  To all God's loved ones who are in Rome, called to be saints. May grace and peace be granted to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:2  To the Church of God in Corinth, men and women consecrated in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-- their Lord as well as ours.


Not all Christians are called to the same ministry. Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28  And by God's appointment there are in the Church--first Apostles, secondly Prophets, thirdly teachers. Then come miraculous powers, and then ability to cure diseases or render loving service, or powers of organization, or varieties of the gift of `tongues.'

 1 Corinthians 12:12 Ά For just as the human body is one and yet has many parts, and all its parts, many as they are, constitute but one body, so it is with the Church of Christ.

13  For, in fact, in one Spirit all of us--whether we are Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free men--were baptized to form but one body; and we were all nourished by that one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:29  Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all teachers?



Commits by others:

“My brethren, be not many masters “Be not many of you teachers.” The evil referred to is that where many desired to be teachers, though but few could be qualified for the office, and though, in fact, comparatively few were required. A small number, well qualified, would better discharge the duties of the office, and do more good, than many would; and there would be great evil in having many crowding themselves unqualified into the office.

…The same spirit the passage before us would rebuke now and for the same reasons; for although a man should be willing to become a public instructor in religion when called to it by the Spirit and Providence of God, and should esteem it a privilege when so called, yet there would be scarcely

anything more injurious to the cause of true religion, or that would tend more to produce disorder and confusion, than a prevailing desire of the prominence and importance which a man has in virtue of being a public instructor.” [A. BARNES].

“Not to use our tongues so as to lord it over others: My brethren,  be not many masters,  &c.,  #Jas 3:1. These words do not forbid doing what we can to direct and instruct others in the way of their duty or to reprove them in a Christian way for what is amiss; but we must not affect to speak and act as those who are continually assuming the chair,  we must not prescribe to one another,  so as to make our own sentiments a standard by which to try all others,  because God gives various gifts to men,  and expects from each according to that measure of light which he gives.” [MATTHEW HENRY.].

“Let no more of you take this upon you than God thrusts out; seeing it is so hard not to offend in speaking much.” [WESLEY].

“{Be not many teachers} (mh polloi didaskaloi ginesye). Prohibition with mh and present middle imperative of ginomai. "Stop becoming many teachers" (so many of you). There is thus a clear complaint that too many of the Jewish Christians were attempting to teach what they did not clearly comprehend.  There was a call for wise teachers (verses #13),  not for foolish ones. This soon became an acute question,  as one can see in I Cor. 12 to 14. They were not all teachers (#1Co 12:28; 14:26). The teacher is here treated as the wise man (#3:13-18) as he ought to be. The rabbi was the teacher (#Mt 23:7; Joh 1:38; 3:10; 20:16). Teachers occupied an honourable position among the Christians (#Eph 4:11; Ac 13:1).  James counts himself a teacher (we shall receive,  #3:1) and this discussion is linked on with #1:19-27.  Teachers are necessary,  but incompetent and unworthy ones do much harm. {Heavier judgment} (meizon krima).  "Greater sentence." See #Mr 12:40; Lu 20:47 for perrisoteron krima (the sentence from the judge,  #Ro 13:2). The reason is obvious. The pretence of knowledge adds to the teacher's responsibility and condemnation.” [RWP].  


2  For we often stumble and fall, all of us. If there is any one who never stumbles in speech, that man has reached maturity of character and is able to curb his whole nature.


Comments by others: 

“For in many things we offend all We all offend. The word here rendered offend, means to stumble, to fall; then to err, to fail in duty; and the meaning here is, that all were liable to commit error, and that this consideration should induce men to be cautious in seeking an office where

an error would be likely to do so much injury. The particular thing, doubtless, which the apostle had in his eye, was the peculiar liability to commit error, or to do wrong with the tongue. Of course, this liability is very great in an office where the very business is public speaking. If anywhere the improper use of the tongue will do mischief, it is in the office of a religious teacher; and to show the danger of this, and the importance of caution in seeking that office, the apostle proceeds to show what mischief the tongue is capable of effecting.

…If any man offend not in word In his speech; in the use of his tongue.

The same is a perfect man Perfect in the sense in which the apostle immediately explains himself; that he is able to keep every other member of his body in subjection. His object is not to represent the man as absolutely spotless in every sense, and as wholly free from sin, for he had himself just

said that “all offend in many things;” but the design is to show that if a man can control his tongue, he has complete dominion over himself, as much as a man has over a horse by the bit, or as a steersman has over a ship if he has hold of the rudder. He is perfect in that sense, that he has complete control over himself, and will not be liable to error in anything. The design is to show the important position which the tongue occupies, as governing the whole man. On the meaning of the word perfect, see the notes at Job 1:1.

And able also to bridle the whole body To control his whole body, that is, every other part of himself, as a man does a horse by the bridle. The word rendered “to bridle,” means to lead or guide with a bit; then to rein in, to check, to moderate, to restrain. A man always has complete government

over himself if he has the entire control of his tongue. It is that by which he gives expression to his thoughts and passions; and if that is kept under proper restraint, all the rest of his members are as easily controlled as the horse is by having the control of the bit.” [A. BRANES].