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The Online Text of

 

The General Epistle of

 

 

ST. JAMES

 

Chapter 1

    James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes that are in the Diaspora, Greetings.  Consider it pure joy, my brethren, when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  But you must allow endurance its finished job to the end so you will be complete and faultless, deficient in nothing.

    And if any of you lacks wisdom, he should request it from God, who gives to everyone cheerfully without complication or lecturing, and it will be given to him.  Only he must ask with faith, not doubting at all.  For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven back and forth by the wind.  That kind of person should most certainly stop thinking he will receive anything from the Lord.  A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

    And the brother of the lower class should boast about his lifting up, and the rich one about his lowering, how like a flower of the grass he will drop.  For the sun has come up, with scorching heat to dry the grass, and the flower of it has fallen off, and the glory of its face has perished.  So also the rich in their goings will be faded in importance.

    The man is blessed who withstands temptation, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  No one who is being tempted should say, "I am being tempted by God."  For God is unskilled in the bad and he does not tempt anyone.  Rather each person is tempted through his own desires, which get lured out and enticed; and then after the desire is fertilized, it gives birth to a sin, and the sin when finished developing produces death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

    All good giving, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights, with whom there is no varying or shadow from turning.  According to his will he gave birth to us through the word of truth, planning for us to be of his creations a kind of firstfruits.

    You know this, my beloved brethren, but all persons should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.  For the anger of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.  Therefore, having put away all the moral uncleanness and bad things that are prevalent, you must welcome with humility the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  Only be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if someone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who was contemplating his born face in the mirror: for that he took note of himself, and went away, and immediately forgot what kind of man he was.  But he who focuses intently into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and stays with it, not being a forgetful hearer but a doer of the deed, this person will be blessed in his deed that he will do.

    If anyone considers himself to be religious but does not bridle his tongue, he is fooling his own heart.  Such religion is worthless.  Here is a religiousness from our God and Father that is pure and simple: to look after the orphan and the widow during their hard times, and to keep oneself untainted by the world.

 

Chapter 2

    My brethren, you should not hold the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with partiality to personages.  For if a man with gold rings on his fingers enters your meeting, dressed in bright clothes, and a poor man also enters, dressed in dirty clothes, and you look over the one wearing the bright clothes and say, "You take this good seat here," and to the poor one you say, "You stand there," or, "Sit here below my footstool," are you not then discriminating between each other, and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen my beloved brethren: has not God chosen those who are poor to the world to be rich in faith and called for the kingdom he has prepared for those who love him?  You though have devalued the poor.  Is it not the rich who trouble you, and they who summon you into courts?  Do they not defame the good name by which you are known?  If you really keep the royal law according to that scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.  But if you show partiality to personages, you are committing a sin, convicted by that law as violators.  Now whoever keeps the whole rest of the law, and only violates in one matter, he has become guilty of all of it.  For that which says "Do not commit adultery" also says "Do not commit murder."  So if you do not commit adultery, but you commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.  Speak this way and act this way: as if you are about to be judged according to the law of liberty.  For judgment without mercy comes to those who act without mercy.  Triumphant though is mercy over judgment.

    What good is it, my brethren, when someone claims to have faith, but he has no works?  Is such a faith really able to save him?  If a brother or sister has no coat and they are lacking daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go with peace, be warmed and fed," but you don't give to them the basic needs of the body, what good is it?  So this kind of faith by itself, when not having works, is dead.  Someone will indeed say, "You have faith, and I have works.  Show me that faith of yours apart from works, and I will show you my faith by means of my works."  You believe that there is only one God.  You are doing well.  The demons also believe that, and tremble.  But are you convinced, foolish person, that faith without works is useless?  Our father Abraham, was he not justified by means of works, when he offered his son Isaac up on the altar?  See how faith was working together with his works, and through his works his faith was made complete?  Thus also was completed the scripture which says, "And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."  And he was called a friend of God.  You should see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way Rahab the prostitute, was she not justified also by works, when she sheltered the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For just as a body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

 

Chapter 3

    Not many should become teachers, my brethren, knowing we will get ourselves more judgment.  For we all stumble on many occasions.  If someone does not stumble in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole rest of his body.  Now if we place bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we are also steering the whole rest of their body.  And consider ships.  As large as they are and driven by fierce winds, they are turned around by a small rudder wherever the will of the one steering it wishes.  In the same way also, our tongue is a small member, and boasts great feats.  See how a small flame sets ablaze such a large forest.  The tongue also is a flame, a world of damage.  The tongue is situated among our members as contaminator of the entire body, and sets on fire the circular racetrack of our existence, and is itself set on fire by Gehenna.  Indeed every race of beast, even of birds, reptiles and marine life, is being tamed or has been tamed by the human race.  But no one can tame the tongue.  It is a volatile menace, replete with fatal venom.  With it we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings created in the image of God.  Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.  Does a spring from the same opening well up both sweet water and bitter?  It is not possible, my brethren, for a fig tree to produce olives, or a grapevine figs; neither for a bitter spring to produce water that is sweet.

    Who is wise and learned among you?  Let him show his works from good conduct: with the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and rivalry in your hearts, do not make yourselves superior to the truth and lie against it.  This wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, natural, of the devil.  For where there is jealousy and rivalry, there is disorder and every thing that is evil.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, persuadable, replete with compassion and other good fruits, impartial, sincere.  And a harvest of justice is planted, with peace, for those who make peace.

 

Chapter 4

    Where do battles and quarrels between you come from?  Is it not from this: your pleasures that are making war inside your members?  You covet, yet you do not have.  You kill and strive for, and cannot obtain.  You keep on quarreling and battling.  You do not have, because you do not ask.  And you ask, and do not receive, because you ask badly, so you may spend it in your pleasures.  You adulteresses, do you not know that love of the world means the enmity of God?  Whoever chooses to be a friend of the world therefore is rendered an enemy of God.  Or do you think the scripture says for no reason, "The Spirit whom God made to dwell in us craves possession of us, approaching envy"?  But he gives more grace.  Accordingly it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Fight against the devil, and he will flee from you.  Move closer to God, and he will move closer to you.  Cleanse your hands, O sinners, and purify your hearts, O double-minded.  Be distressed and mourn and wail.  Change your laughter into lamentation, and your joy into gloom.  Lower yourselves down before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

    Do not denigrate each other, brethren.  Someone who denigrates a brother or condemns his brother is denigrating the law and condemning the law.  Now if you are condemning the law, you are not being a doer of the law, but a judge instead.  There is only one lawmaker and judge who is able to save or to damn.  Who then are you, condemning your neighbor?

    Come now, you who say, "We will travel today and tomorrow to that particular city, and there we will work and do business for a year and make a profit," you who have no solid knowledge of tomorrow. What is your life? You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then is gone.  The thing for you to say instead is, "If the Lord wills, we will even be alive and do this or that."  But as it is you are vaunting your own selves with your presumptuous words.  All such boasting is evil.  So, he who has learned the good to do and does not do it, for him it is sin.

 

Chapter 5

    Come now you wealthy people, weep with loud wailing over the hard times which are coming for.  Your wealth is become corrupt, and your clothes are moth-eaten.  Your gold and silver are tarnished, and their corrosion will be a testimony to you, and eat your bodies like fire.  You have stored it up in the last days.  Behold, the wage is crying out, which was for the laborers who sickled your fields, which you deprived them of.  And the cries of those who worked the harvest have gone into the ears of the Lord of Armies.  You have lived in luxury and excessive comfort on the earth.  You have fattened your hearts in the day of slaughter.  You have passed sentence on, you have killed the righteous.  He does not resist you.

    Patiently endure therefore brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the farmer expects the valuable fruit of the earth, waiting patiently on it until it gets the early and the latter rainYou must be patient as well, make your hearts steadfast, because the coming of the Lord is approaching.  Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be judged.  Behold, the judge stands almost at the door.  Receive for use as a pattern, brethren, the suffering of ill treatment and the patience of the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Behold we consider fortunate those who patiently endure.  You have heard about the patience of Job, and seen the Lord's result, how the Lord is full of compassion and merciful.

    But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven, or by the earth, or any other oath.  Rather, your "Yes" should be "Yes" and your "No" be "No," or you may fall under judgment.  Is anyone among you suffering?  He should pray.  Is anyone cheerful?  He should sing praises.  Is anyone among you ill?  He should call the elders of the church to him, and they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will heal the ailing, and the Lord will raise him.  And if he has committed sin, it will be forgiven him.  Confess your sins then one to another, and pray for one another, so you may be healed.  The fully operating prayer of a righteous person is able to accomplish much.  Elijah was a human, subject to the same frailties as we are.  And he prayed the prayer for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the land for a period of three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the sky gave rain, and the land sprouted up its fruit.

    My brethren, if any among you wanders away from the truth and someone turns him back around, he should know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

 

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