Verse of the Day 10.17.17 — James 3:13
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.1
13 Τίς σοφὸς καὶ ἐπιστήμων ἐν ὑμῖν; δειξάτω ἐκ τῆς καλῆς ἀναστροφῆς τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ἐν πραΰτητι σοφίας.2
Who is wise and understanding among you? By means of good conduct, let them show, in humility, their deeds that comes from wisdom.
Wisdom: The wisdom (σοφία | sophia) that James speaks of entails a “morally upright walk.”3 More on this in the next section.
Conduct: The word translated conduct is the noun, ἀναστροφή (anastrophē). The verbal form of this word means “return, come back from one place to another.”4 Metaphorically, the noun connotes how one comes and goes — how one lives. Thus, it is used in the New Testament to describe how one “walk[s] in virtue,”5 one’s way of life.
Humility: the word translated humility (πραΰτης | prautēs) is more frequently translated “gentleness.”6 Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:23), and the adjectival form of the word (πραΰς | praus) is ascribed to Jesus himself, by himself : “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29).7 Moreover, contrary to others who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah, “Jesus repudiated the use of force to bring about the rule of God.”8
Context and Commentary
The use of force was becoming an increasingly popular means to bring about change in their first-century context. The Zealots, or at least those with a certain Zealot-like ideology,9 believed that violence against the oppressive Roman government was “religious and wise.”10
James juxtaposes such earthly, unspiritual and demonic “wisdom”(Jas 3:15) with true, godly wisdom from above (Jas 3:17). It is this godly wisdom that is made manifest by good conduct — wisdom that is “first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (Jas 3:17, NIV).11
If one is truly wise, one’s godly character, in gentleness, should be evident. As Paul writes, “let your gentleness be evident to all” (Php 4:5).
Memorize James 3:13 after watching a brief video tutorial demonstrating the How To Memorize Any Bible Verse in Less Than Five Minutes method below:
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jas 3:13.
- Michael W. Holmes, The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (Lexham Press; Society of Biblical Literature, 2011–2013), Jas 3:13.
- Ulrich Wilckens and Georg Fohrer, “Σοφία, Σοφός, Σοφίζω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 524. “For James wisdom is demonstrated by good behavior, esp. by works of kindness (Jas 3:13)” Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 338.
- Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 111.
- TLOT, 111.
- The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011).
- (emphasis added) Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 124.
- NIDNTTE, 125
- “Recent studies seek to distinguish between several possible referents for the term Zealot: (1) individuals with fervent devotion to God’s law (Sirach 45:23–24; 48:1–2; Jubilees 30:18–20; 1 Macc. 2:27); (2) a general attitude and movement illustrated by Judas of Gamala and Saddok, who, promising “that Heaven would be their zealous helper,” led an abortive revolt against a Roman census in A.D. 6 (it is this violent, religious, revolutionary movement that Josephus calls the fourth philosophy); and (3) the Jewish revolutionary factions which emerged during the 66–70 war under John of Gischala (Josephus calls them a coalition of bandits and miscreants).” J. Julius Scott Jr., Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2000), 213.
- Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Jas 3:13–18.
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jas 3:17.