Epistle of James (Translated)

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James, perhaps a brother of Jesus,[1] wrote this letter around A.D. 60. He emphasizes that true Christian faith can be seen in one's good works. He explains that belief alone is insufficient for salvation, noting that even the devils believe(2:19).

Contents

Chapter 1

Verse King James Version Proposed Conservative Translation Analysis
1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered afar:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; My brothers, chalk it up to joy when you face various trials;
3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. knowing that the testing of your faith gives you stamina.
4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Continue to endure, so that you may perfect your stamina and desire nothing.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. If any of you lack wisdom, then request it of God, who gives it freely to all men. Do not complain, and it shall be given you.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. But ask only in faith, without doubt. For he who waivers is like a wave of the sea tossed around by the wind.
7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. Such a man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
8 A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways. A man with a divided mind is unstable in all his ways.
9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: Let the brother of the lowest status rejoice in being exalted.
10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. But the rich, in that he is lowered, because he will pass away as a dandelion does. the "dandelion" is the "flower of the grass"
11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. For the sun no sooner rises with a burning heat before it withers the grass, and the dandelion falls, and its grace perishes; so too does the rich man fade away in his style.
12 Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Blessed be the man who survives temptation; when tried, he shall receive the prize of life, which the Lord promised to those who live him. "prize" is better than the monarchy-centric "crown"
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: Let no man claim when is tempted, "I am tempted of God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt any man.
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. But every man is tempted when he is carried away by his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Then when lust conceives, it brings forth sin; and sin, when consummated brings forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. Do not err, my dear brothers.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of light, with whom nothing varies, not even shadows from turning. revisit
18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Of his own will he gave us the word of truth, that we shall be special among his creatures. revisit "special"
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: Hence, my dear brothers, let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger:
20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. For the wrath of man does not serve God's righteousness.
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. Thus set aside all the filth and superficiality of naughtiness, and accept with humility the implanted word that is able to save your souls. "meekness" seems archaic; perhaps "πραΰτης" is best translated as "humility" here
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. But you should be doers of the word, not merely hearers who deceive yourselves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For if any man is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, then he is like a man who beholds his natural face in a mirror. "mirror" substituted for "glass" (the NIV uses "mirror" rather than "glass" in this verse.)
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. He looks at himself, and then proceeds in his own way, immediately forgetting what he really is. Both NIV and KJV use the past tense of the verb in "forgetteth what manner of man he was", but present tense is more appropriate. The connotations of this sentence are that the man did not endeavor in works by faith between him looking in the mirror and going on his way. Thus, he is still the man that he saw in the mirror. Thus, the present tense is appropriate.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. But who recognizes the perfect law of liberty, and continues with it, does not forget what he hears and does the works, this man shall be blessed for his deed.
26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion [is] vain. If any man among you seems religious, yet does not curb his speech, and does deceive his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. key sentence: some modern translations distort the concept of "seem to be religious" into "think he is religious"
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father consists of the following: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and remain uncontaminated by the world use "uncontaminated" rather than "unspotted"

Chapter 2

Verse King James Version Proposed Conservative Translation Analysis
1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. My brothers, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, to favor persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; If there comes into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in expensive clothes, and there also enters a poor man wearing rags; perhaps revisit "rags"
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: And you respect the man wearing the flashy clothes, and tell him, "Sit up front of all"; and say to the poor, "Stand in the back, or sit under the table"; perhaps revisit equivalent of "footstool"; could say "at your feet"
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Do you not favor yourselves, and become judges allowing evil thoughts? "allowing" is debatable
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? Listen up, my dear friends, has not God endowed the poor of this world with the richness of faith, and as heirs of the heaven that He promised to those who love him? don't overuse monarchy-centric terms like "kingdom"; the Greek is "βασιλεία" and it means "dominion"
6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Yet you have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and sue you? note the modern rendition of the second phrase
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by which you are called?
8 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: If you obey the rules of scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you do well; avoid the monarchy-centric "royal law"
9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted for violating the law.
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet violates one part, is guilty of all.
11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, yet do murder, you become a violator of the law.
12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. So speak and also act as those who shall be judged by the law of liberty. interesting: "law of liberty"
13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. For he who has shown no mercy, will stand a merciless trial--and mercy rejoices against trial at law.
14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Of what use is it, my brothers, if a man says that he has faith, and has nothing to show for it? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, If a brother or sister is naked, and is not even sure where his or her next meal will come from,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? and one of you tells them, "Go in peace, and be warmed and filled," even though you did not give them the things that their bodies needed, what use is that?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. This shows that faith, if it has nothing to show for it, is dead, because it is alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. In contrast, a man might say, "You have faith, and I have deeds to show. Show me your faith with no deeds, and I will show you my faith through my deeds."
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. If you believe that there is one God, you are doing well. The demons believe, too, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? But you, vain man, are you willing to realize that faith without deeds is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Wasn't our ancestor Abraham justifed by his deeds, when he had offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? Do you see how faith worked itself out with his deeds, and by deeds faith was made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. And the scripture was fulfilled, which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to his account for righteousness, and he was called Friend of God."
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. So you see that a man is justified by deeds, and not by faith alone.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? In the same way, wasn't Rahab the prostitute justified by deeds, when she had received the messengers, and sent them out through a different door?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. For as the body without a spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is also dead.

Chapter 3

Verse King James Version Proposed Conservative Translation Analysis
1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. Do not become many teachers, my brothers. Know that we will receive even more condemnation for that.
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. For in many things we give offense to everybody. If any man never gives offense in word, that man must be a perfect man, and also able to restrain the whole body.
3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Look: we put bits into the horses' mouths, so that they might obey us, and we turn their whole body around.
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. Look also at the ships: although they are so large, and are driven by powerful winds, they can be turned about by a very small helm, wherever the captain wants the ship to go.
5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! In the same way the tongue is a little body part, and boasts great things. See how great a dispute a little fire will kindle!
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. And the tongue is a fire, a world of injuustice. So is the tongue among our body parts, that it defiles the whole body, and sets fire to the course of nature, and it is set on fire from the place of everlasting fire. The word used here is γεεννη or gehenna, a municipal open fire pit, fed by the garbage of Jerusalem, that never went out.
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: For every kind of dangerous wild animal, and bird, and snake, and creature of the sea, can be tamed, and has been tamed by mankind.
8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. We bless God with it, even the Father, and we curse men with it, who are made in the image of God.
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things should not work that way.
11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Does a fountain send out both sweet and bitter water at the same place?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives? Can a vine produce figs? In fact, no founntain can produce both salt water and fresh water.
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. Who among you is a wise man, endowed with knowledge? Let him show his deeds from good conduct with meekness of wisdom.
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. But if you have bitter envy and strife in your hearts, do not think yourself glorious, and do not lie against the truth.
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. This wisdom does not come from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic.
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. For where envy and strife exist, there also exist confusion and every evil deed.
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. But the wisdom that comes from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to ask something from, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. And the fruit of justice is sown in peace by them who make peace.

Chapter 4

Verse King James Version Proposed Conservative Translation Analysis
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Where do war and fighting among you come from? Don't they come here from your own lusts that strive in your body parts?
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. You want things very badly, and do not have them. You kill, and want to have, and cannot get. You fight and make war, but you don't have, because you won't ask.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. You ask, and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, for something to consume in your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. You adulterous people, don't you know that the friendship of the world is hostility with God? So whoever is a friend to the world is the enemy of God.
5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? Do you think that Scripture says for no reason, "The spirit that lives in us lusts toward envy?"
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. But He gives more grace. To that end He says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you. Clean your hands, sinners, and clean your hearts, double-minded ones.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. Do not say bad things about one another, brothers. A man who says bad things about a brother, says bad things against the Law, and judges the Law. But if you just the Law, you are not obeying the Law, but trying to judge it.
12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? There is one Lawgiver, Who can save and destroy. Who are you to judge someone else?
13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Just a moment, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into some particular city, and stay there for a year, and buy and sell, and make a profit,"
14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. when you don't know what will happen tomorrow. For what does your life amount to? It is no more than vapor, that appears for a little while, and then vanishes. Or, "It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/Signifying nothing"--MacBeth Act V.
15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. So what you should say is, "Lord willing, we will live, and do this thing and that thing."
16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. But now you are rejoicing in your bragging. That kind of rejoicing is evil.
17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. So to him who knows how to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Chapter 5

Verse King James Version Proposed Conservative Translation Analysis
1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Wait just a moment, you rich men. Weep and howl for your miserable punishment that will come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your wealth is corrupt, and your expensive clothes are moth-eaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Your gold and silver is rusted through, and their rust will be a testimony against you, and will eat your flesh as if it were fire. You have hoarded a treasure for the last days. If gold and silver can rust, then conditions are very corrupting indeed.
4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Look! The wages of the workers who harvested your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cries out, and the cries of the reapers have been entered into the ears of the All-sufficient Lord.
5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. You have indulged yourselves on the earth, and been wanton. You have been nourishing your hearts, as one might in a day of slaughter.
6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. You have condemned and killed the just, and he does not resist you.
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. So be patient, brothers, for the Coming of the Lord. Look: the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and waits patiently for a long time for it, until the early rain and the latter rain fall.
8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. So you be patient, too. Make your hearts steady, for the Coming of the Lord is drawing very close.
9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Do not bear a grudge against one another, brothers, if you do not want to be condemned. Look: the Judge is standing before the door.
10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Brothers, take the prophets, who have spoken in the Name of the Lord, as an example of how to suffer affliction, and of patience.
11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. Look: we count them happy who can last. You have heard about the patience of Job, and have seen the final plan of the Lord. The Lord is very full of pity, and of tender mercy.
12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven, or by the earth, or by any other oath. Let your "yes" be a "yes," and your "no" be a "no," if you do not want to fall into condemnation.
13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any man among you afflicted? He should pray. Is any man merry? He should sing psalms.
14 Is 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: Is any man sick among you? He should call for the church elders, and they should pray over him and rub him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed any sins, they will be forgiven him.
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, so that you will be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man will go a long way.
17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. Elijah was a man subject to the same passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that the rain might not fall. And it did not rain on the arth for three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced her fruit.
19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Brothers, if any of you strays from the truth, and anyone converts him,
20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. let him know, that he who converts the sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins.

References

  1. Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3.
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