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3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

3:4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.

Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 3:12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: James
Book: James
Chapter: 3

Cautions against proud behaviour, and the mischief of an
unruly tongue. (1-12) The excellence of heavenly Wisdom, in
opposition to that which is worldly. (13-18)

1-12 We are taught to dread an unruly tongue, as one of the
greatest evils. The affairs of mankind are thrown into confusion
By the Tongues of men. Every Age of the world, and every
condition of Life, private or public, affords examples of this.
Hell has more to do in promoting the Fire of the tongue than men
generally think; and whenever men's Tongues are employed in
sinful ways, they are set On Fire of Hell. No Man can tame the
tongue without Divine Grace and assistance. The Apostle does not
represent it as impossible, but as extremely difficult. Other
sins decay with Age, this many times gets worse; we grow more
froward and fretful, as natural strength decays, and the days
come On in which we have No pleasure. When other sins are tamed
and subdued By the infirmities of Age, the Spirit often grows
more tart, nature being drawn down to the Dregs, and the words
used become more passionate. That Man's tongue confutes itself,
which at one time pretends to Adore the perfections of God, and
to refer all things to him; and at another time condemns even
good men, if they do not use the same words and expressions.
True religion will not admit of contradictions: how many sins
would be prevented, if men would always be consistent! Pious and
edifying language is the genuine produce of a sanctified Heart;
and none who understand Christianity, expect to hear curses,
lies, boastings, and revilings from a true believer's mouth, any
more than they look for the Fruit of one tree from another. But
facts prove that more professors succeed in bridling their
senses and appetites, than in duly restraining their Tongues.
Then, depending On Divine Grace, let us take heed to Bless and
Curse not; and let us aim to be consistent in our words and

13-18 These verses show the difference between men's pretending
to be Wise, and their being really So. He who thinks Well, or he
who talks Well, is not Wise in the sense of the Scripture, if he
does not live and act Well. True Wisdom may be known By the
Meekness of the Spirit and temper. Those who live in malice,
envy, and contention, live in confusion; and are liable to be
provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such Wisdom comes not
down from above, but springs up from earthly principles, acts On
earthly motives, and is intent On serving earthly purposes.
Those who are lifted up with such Wisdom, described By the
Apostle James, is near to the Christian Love, described By the
Apostle Paul; and both are So described that every Man may fully
prove the reality of his attainments in them. It has No disguise
or deceit. It cannot fall in with those managements the world
counts Wise, which are crafty and guileful; but it is sincere,
and open, and steady, and uniform, and consistent with itself.
May the purity, peace, gentleness, teachableness, and Mercy
shown in all our actions, and the fruits of Righteousness
abounding in our lives, prove that God has bestowed upon us this
excellent Gift.

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