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The General Letter of James

Full Text The General Letter of James

I.  

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

2Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into various temptations; 3knowing that the proving of your faith works patience. 4But let patience have a perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.

5But if any one of you is lacking in wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally, and upbraids not, and it will be given him. 6But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. 7For let not that man suppose that he shall receive anything from the Lord; 8a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

9Let the brother of low degree glory in that he is exalted; 10but the rich, in that he is made low; because as the flower of the grass he will pass away. 11For the sun rose with the burning heat, and withered the grass, and its flower fell off, and the grace of its fashion perished; so also will the rich man fade away in his ways.

12Happy is the man that endures temptation; because, when he is approved, he will receive the crown of life, which He promised to those who love him.

13Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God can not be tempted with evil, and himself tempts no one. 14But each one is tempted, when by his own lust he is drawn away and enticed. 15Then lust, having conceived, brings forth sin; and sin, when completed, brings forth death.

16Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the lights, with whom there is no variableness, or shadow of turning. 18Of his own will he begot us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.

19So that, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.

21Wherefore, putting off all filthiness and excess of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like to a man beholding his natural face in a mirror. 24For he beheld himself, and has gone away; and immediately he forgot what manner of man he was. 25But he who looked into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and remained thereby, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of work, this man shall be happy in his doing.

26If any one thinks that he is religious, and bridles not his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

27Religion, pure and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: To visit the orphans and widows in their affliction; to keep himself unspotted from the world.

II.  

My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the Lord] of glory, with respect of persons. 2For if there have come into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in gay clothing, and there have come in also a poor man in mean clothing; 3and ye have respect to him that wears the gay clothing, and say: Sit thou here in a good place, and say to the poor man: Stand thou there, or, Sit under my footstool; 4were ye not partial in yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Hearken, my beloved brethren. Did not God choose the poor as to this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him? 6But ye dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and do not they drag you before the judgment-seats? 7Do not they blaspheme the worthy name by which ye are called?

8If indeed ye fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well. 9But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11For he who said: Do not commit adultery, said also: Do not kill. Now if thou commit not adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13For the judgment shall be without mercy, to him that showed no mercy. Mercy glories over judgment.

14What does it profit, my brethren, if any one say that he has faith, and have not works? Can the faith save him? 15But if a brother or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you say to them: Depart in peace, be warmed, and be filled, but ye give them not the things needful for the body, what does it profit? 17So also faith, if it has not works, is dead in itself. 18But some will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works; show me thy faith without the works, and I will show thee the faith by my works. 19Thou believest that God is one. Thou doest well; the demons also believe, and tremble. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made complete. 23And the scripture was fulfilled which says: Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness; and he was called, Friend of God.

24Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25And in like manner, was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she received the messengers, and sent them out by another way? 26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

III.  

My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive greater condemnation. 2For in many things we all offend. If any one offends not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle also the whole body.

3Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths, that they may obey us, we turn about also their whole body. 4Behold also the ships, though they are so great, and driven by fierce winds, are turned about by a very small helm, whithersoever the steersman may desire. 5So also the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6And the tongue is a fire, that world of iniquity! The tongue among our members is that which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every nature of beasts and birds, of reptiles and things in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed, by the nature of man. 8But the tongue no man can tame; a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9Therewith we bless the Lord and Father; and therewith we curse men, who have been made after the likeness of God. 10Out of the same mouth comes forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11Does the fountain, out of the same opening, send forth the sweet and the bitter? 12Can a fig-tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a vine figs? Neither can salt water yield fresh.

13Who is wise and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show, out of his good deportment, his works in meekness of wisdom. 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, do not glory, and lie against the truth. 15This wisdom is not one that comes down from above, but earthly, sensual, devilish. 16For where there is emulation and strife, there is confusion and every evil work. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, forbearing, easily persuaded, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, by those who work peace.

IV.  

From whence are wars, and from whence are fightings among you? Are they not from hence, from your lusts that war in your members? 2Ye desire, and have not; ye kill, and envy, and can not obtain; ye fight and war. Ye have not, because ye ask not; 3ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

4Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore desires to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Do ye think that the Scripture says in vain, the spirit he made to dwell in us has jealous longings? 6But he gives the more grace. Wherefore he says:

God resists the proud,

But gives grace to the humble.

7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. 9Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into heaviness. 10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will exalt you.

11Do not speak against one another, brethren. He that speaks against his brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law. But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12One is the lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. Who art thou that judgest thy neighbor?

13Come now, ye that say: To-day and to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend one year there, and buy and sell, and get gain; 14(whereas ye know not what belongs to the morrow; for what is your life? for ye are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away;) 15instead of saying: If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that. 16But now ye glory in your boastings. All such glorying is evil. 17Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.

V.  

Come now, ye rich, weep, wailing for your miseries that are coming upon you. 2Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are become moth-eaten. 3Your gold and silver is rusted; and the rust of them will be a witness against you, and will eat your flesh as fire. Ye heaped up treasure, in the last days.

4Behold, the hire of the laborers who reaped your fields, which is fraudulently kept back by you, cries out; and the cries of those who reaped have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. 5Ye have been luxurious on the earth, and lived in pleasure; ye have nourished your hearts, in the day of slaughter. 6Ye have condemned, ye have killed the just; he does not resist you.

7Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, till it shall have received the early and latter rain. 8Be ye also patient; establish your hearts, because the coming of the Lord draws nigh. 9Murmur not against one another, brethren, that ye be not judged. Behold, the judge stands before the door. 10Take, my brethren, the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, for an example of affliction, and of patience. 11Behold, we count those happy who endure. Ye heard of the patience of Job, and saw the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

12But above all things, my brethren, swear not; neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under condemnation.

13Is any afflicted among you, let him pray. Is any cheerful, let him sing praise. 14Is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and even if he have committed sins, it will be forgiven him.

16Confess therefore your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17Elijah was a man of like nature with us; and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months. 18And again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

19Brethren, if any one among you be led astray from the truth, and one convert him; 20let him know, that he who converts a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and will hide a multitude of sins.