SUMMARY. --Aspiring to Teachership.
The Power of the Tongue.
Its Untamable Nature.
Its Contradictory Uses.
Wisdom Shown in Its Proper Control.
The Wisdom from Above Described.
1, 2. Be not many masters. Do not many of you seek to be
teachers. The office of public teaching in the church is meant.
Shall receive the greater condemnation. Those who profess to teach
others will be judged more strictly than those of humbler professions.
Of those who have much, much is required. See
A lesson is to be given on the tongue. He who teaches will be held
strictly to account for the manner in which he uses it.
2. For in many things. All are liable to stumble and make mistakes.
These can hardly be excused in the teacher.
Same is a perfect man. He who controls his tongue gives proof of
his ability to maintain entire self control.
3-5. We put bits. The word
suggests a figure. The bridle bit controls the whole horse.
4. Behold also the ships. These are controlled by so small a thing
as the helm.
Governor. Helmsman. James abounds in the sea figures. See
5. So the tongue. Though so small it can control the body like a
bridle, or the helm of a ship. It is a power.
Boasteth great things. Claims great powers.
How great a matter . . . fire. As a spark may burn a
house, a little thing like the tongue may stir up great trouble.
6-8. The tongue is a fire. It will kindle up anger. A word often
causes a war.
A world of iniquity. It can stir up a world of sinfulness. The
tongue moves man and he makes the world a world of sin.
It defileth the whole body. Leads all the body into sin.
Setteth on fire the course of nature. Literally, "wheel of
nature." The idea is probably "putteth nature in a blaze," referring to
the wars and commotions due to its influence.
Set on fire of hell. It is often inspired by hell itself. A bad
tongue is the organ of the devil.
7. Every kind of beasts. "Every nature of beasts," literally.
Four orders are named:
beasts, or quadrupeds,
birds, reptiles, in the Greek "creeping things," and fishes, or
"things in the sea." All of these have been subjected and
8. But the tongue can no man tame. Man has never tamed this
organ as a whole. Some may have ruled their own, but the organ itself
still does its evil work in the world.
It is an unruly evil. Not only an evil, but unruly. 
Full of deadly poison. Often charged with malice, envy, anger,
9-12. Therewith bless we God. Its opposite uses are shown. We
use it to pray and to bless God, and, sometimes, the same tongue will
be used to curse his creatures. James rebuked evils that he had
10. Out of the same mouth. These utterly inconsistent things
come out of the same mouth.
11. Doth a fountain. In nature such incongruity is not shown. A
fountain does not give out two kinds of waters.
12. Can the fig tree. Neither does a tree bear two opposite
kinds of fruits. Nor should the mouth bear blessing and cursing, good
13-16. Who is a wise man? Discreet and well informed? It must be
conversation, that is, in life, both words and deeds,
meekness of wisdom. True wisdom will not speak boastfully.
14. Glory not. If there is bitterness in the heart, let there be
no boasting of your goodness. That would be to
lie against the truth.15. This wisdom. Wisdom (not real wisdom but false) which gives
rise to envy and strife is not from heaven. It is
earthly, of the passions, of the devil, not of God.
16. For where, etc. Where these exist in the heart every evil
work will follow.
17, 18. But the wisdom that is from above. The divine wisdom
imparted by communion with God is put in contrast with the false,
sensual wisdom named in
first pure. The other is sensual; this is pure.
Then peaceable. The other is full of strife, this seeks for
Gentle. Not too rigid and exacting.
Easy to be entreated. Not obstinate, but capable of persuasion.
Full of mercy. Not unforgiving and unkind.
Good fruits. The other shows evil works; heavenly wisdom is full
of good fruits.
Without partiality. Not a respecter of persons.
Without hypocrisy. Sincere.
18. The fruit of righteousness. This wisdom not only bears
righteousness as a fruit but sows this fruit as seed to produce peace.
Them that make peace. These sowers are peacemakers. See
Sowing righteousness makes peace, because wrong is the fruitful mother
of strife.