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James 4:5 means.... ?

Moderator
Staff Member
Greetings, an invitation, no strings attached, to join in here and share what you think James 4:5 means.

Here it is in a few versions (English ones - there are lots of other language versions for the folk who don't speak English but speak their own tongue but i shall spare y'all and not post them here)

New Living Translation
What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?

English Standard Version
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

Berean Study Bible
Or do you think the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to dwell in us yearns with envy?

Berean Literal Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit that He has made to dwell in us yearns with envy"?

New American Standard Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"?

King James Bible
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Christian Standard Bible
Or do you think it's without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?

Contemporary English Version
Do you doubt the Scriptures that say, "God truly cares about the Spirit he has put in us"?

Good News Translation
Don't think that there is no truth in the scripture that says, "The spirit that God placed in us is filled with fierce desires."

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Or do you think it's without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously?

International Standard Version
Or do you think the Scripture means nothing when it says that the Spirit that God caused to live in us jealously yearns for us?

NET Bible
Or do you think the scripture means nothing when it says, "The spirit that God caused to live within us has an envious yearning"?

New Heart English Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit which he made to dwell in us yearns jealously"?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And perhaps you think the Scripture says in vain, “The spirit that dwells within us lusts with jealousy.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Do you think this passage means nothing? It says, "The Spirit that lives in us wants us to be his own."

New American Standard 1977
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

Jubilee Bible 2000
Do ye think that the scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

King James 2000 Bible
Do you think that the scripture says in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

American King James Version
Do you think that the scripture said in vain, The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy?

American Standard Version
Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Or do you think that the scripture saith in vain: To envy doth the spirit covet which dwelleth in you?

Darby Bible Translation
Think ye that the scripture speaks in vain? Does the Spirit which has taken his abode in us desire enviously?

English Revised Version
Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying?

Webster's Bible Translation
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Weymouth New Testament
Or do you suppose that it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "The Spirit which He has caused to dwell in our hearts yearns jealously over us"?

World English Bible
Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously"?

Young's Literal Translation
Do ye think that emptily the Writing saith, 'To envy earnestly desireth the spirit that did dwell in us,'

from Bible Hub James 4:5


Bless you ....><>
 
Moderator
Staff Member
for those who are fluent in Greek, I include a couple of Greek versions...

Nestle Greek New Testament 1904
ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν;

Westcott and Hort 1881
ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν;

RP Byzantine Majority Text 2005
Ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει; Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν.

Greek Orthodox Church 1904
ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν;

Tischendorf 8th Edition
ἤ δοκέω ὅτι κενῶς ὁ γραφή λέγω πρός φθόνος ἐπιποθέω ὁ πνεῦμα ὅς κατοικέω ἐν ἡμᾶς

Scrivener's Textus Receptus 1894
ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν;

Stephanus Textus Receptus 1550
ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει Πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκησεν ἐν ἡμῖν
 
Moderator
Staff Member
Greetings @Br. Bear

Often looking in context assists with understanding:


From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, evenof your lusts that war in your members?
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.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
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.

Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
But He giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
James 4:1-6
 
Member
Here is the controversy. James says this is from scripture yet it appears nowhere in any Old Testament books, not even in the LXX, nor does it appear anywhere else in the New Testament. So, the question is, where does this quote (if indeed it is a quote) come from? James says it comes from scripture but where in scripture and in what form? Here are some assumptions that are made about verse 5.
- It is assumed by many that verse 5 was intended by James to be an actual verbatim quote.
- It is also assumed that the source of this quote was from some revealed Old Testament text that we no longer have access to.

Whether this is a quote or not, James is clearly confirming the fact that the concepts herein stated are from scripture. It is not important whether or not this statement represents an actual quote. What is important is that the facts presented are revealed truths from scripture. The source of all revealed knowledge is not scripture. Scripture is merely the surface form of a revealed intelligence. The source is God and all scripture is from God. James confirms that the truth herein stated is indeed from scripture.

Verse 5 is a very difficult verse because its meaning is not clearly defined,
- It is unclear whether the word 'spirit' refers to the Holy Spirit or to the spirit of man.
- Thus, it is unclear whether it is the Holy Spirit who yearns or whether it is man's spirit that yearns.
- In turn, it is unclear what the object of this yearning with envy is. Is it God yearning for the Holy Spirit in us (which would make little or no sense) or is he yearning for our spirit; or is it our spirit that yearns for evil passions?

If this a quote from some O.T source and the 'spirit' here is the Holy Spirit, here is the problem.
The idea of the Holy Spirit dwelling within man is a familiar one we see throughout the New Testament but one that is generally foreign to the Old Testament. It is quite possible that this is not intended to be a quote at all but is merely a representation of a New Covenant principle of the Holy Spirit dwelling within the Christian. What this means is that if this is supposed to be a quote from some lost O.T text regarding the Holy Spirit, it would be inconsistent with how the rest of the O.T portrays the Holy Spirit in relation to man.
- If the 'spirit' is the spirit of man, here are the implications.
“Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us?”

The spirit of man yearns with envy for that which is evil. This too is a fact revealed in scripture. In Mark 7:21-23 Jesus tells us that, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” This is a point that has already been well established by James. The end result of giving ourselves over to these pleasures and envies makes God our enemy for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James quotes this, as does Peter, from Proverbs 3:34, “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, yet he gives grace to the afflicted.” Both James and Peter render the verse in the same way, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” 1Peter 5:5.
- The Jealousy of God for his people is also a truth found repeatedly throughout the Old Testament and does indeed agree with the context of what James is saying in verses 1-4. We see this echoed in such passages as:
- Exodus 20:5, “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
- Exodus 34:14, “For you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
- Deuteronomy 6:15, “For the Lord your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.”
- Deuteronomy 32:21 They have made Me jealous with what is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols.”
So, the source of the statement that James makes does not seem to be a quote from any specific Old Testament text but is representative of a revealed attitude of God, and I think Deuteronomy 32:21 seems to mirror the context of James 4:1-4. These readers had committed themselves to idolatry and accordingly, James accused them of adultery. They had replaced their desire for God with lusting after things of the world and God yearns after our spirit with envy. In short, they have made God jealous.
I think no matter which of these two views one may prefer, a case can be made for both with equal intensity and both seem to bear the weight of revealed truth. Which view is actually intended by the text, we may never know.
 
Loyal
Num 11:29; But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD'S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!"

This is about as close as I could get.
 
Moderator
Staff Member
Greetings,

all the Greek appears to agree that the word used by English as eith Jealous or envy is rendered φθόνον . I have boldened it in the Greek texts in the second post, for you.
This word pops out as phthonon. It's usage in this form being found in four New Tesament verses : Matthew 27:18 Mark 15:10 Philippians 1:15 and here in James 4:5. althouhg the first three are in conjunction with Greek δια dia , meaning through, as in through envy or due to and resulting from/because of.
Envy is the word we use for it. So, what is this envy?
Some description may be found/understood from close relative phthónos

phthónos (a primitive word, perhaps akin to /phtheírō, "decay, break-down, corrupt") – properly, strong feeling (desire) that sours, due to the influence of sin; (figuratively) the miserable trait of being glad when someone experiences misfortune or pain.

/phthónos ("the feeling of ill-will") refers to the jealous envy that negatively "energizes" someone with an embittered mind. /phthónos ("ill-will") conveys "displeasure at another's good; . . . without longing to raise oneself to the level of him whom he envies, but only to depress the envied to his own level" (R. Trench, 90)
which reveals to us a definite unpleasant attitude which is the springboard of actions manifesting against all that is good and in opposition to the loving kindness of God as we have testimony of through His Son and are privy to by His Spirit.

We see such ideas as corrupt, ill-will, embittered mind and being glad when someone experiences misfortune or pain.

So, back to James 4:5 an understanding is perhaps that of not being a sound and healthy Jealousy as we might consider the Almighty God to be capable of but rather the base and evil desires of the heart.

I would like to be able to read into that verse that the Spirit is ever so keenly longing for us to be right in our heart and mind towards each other and God, but it appears more that it is the spirit in and of man that is envying, which as Fragrant Grace pointed out, in context, we see in the preceeding verses that envy being spoken of.

So, if i may suggest to you Old Hermit, sir, that your presentation before us where you suggest
The spirit of man yearns with envy for that which is evil.
is correct.

Regarding the part about where in Scripture this may be had, precisely, we need not neccessarily go there if in fact the rendering would be a question as if to make a statement regarding the absurdity of it, being 'Or do you suppose that the Scripture speaks in vain?' This is possible if we avoid the punctuation provided in most Versions we have access to. The word we render here as 'speaks' or 'saith' is one that is not talking about an open dialogue but that which is closed as in matter said and settled. As he Word of God abides for ever, it is an ongoing finalised 'saith', as in a command might be seen, being that it is not a declaration that is disputable but remains intact as is, forever, uncorruptable and impervious to time or change or any of man's choices in the matter.
Regarding the concept of a generalized reference to Scripture being all Scripture rather than a specific passage or verse, we see in Ephesians 5:14* a similar expression
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. where we can not expressly pinpoint where He saith it in any particular Scripture.

It appears that most translators were/are at odds both in themselves and with each other regarding which way to 'translate' this verse. Not many agree even today.
However, given the word used itself, we can gain a little insight into the possible 'best' rendition in our tongue as we are looking at here in this thread.

If we keep it in context, we do see the flow as being rather self explanatory.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
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.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
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.
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
But He giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

James 4:1-6

However, the word we render "lusteth' or 'yearns' throws a spanner in the works.
All usages of this word are in a positive expression, rather than the negative we see in the word rendered 'envy'.
This does compel us somewhat to also reconsider the view that it may be that the Spirit referred to is of God and therefore the meaning is such that God strongly wants after us in and through and by His Spirit Which He has given to those who believe.

So we need to probe a little further.
In Hosea chapter 1 verse 2 we read,
The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
which reveals a savagely jealous God very upset and provoked by the adulteries of those whom He loved betraying Him and defiling the bed before He even could Himself lay with the one he had betrothed to Himself. Strong, strong words and dealing with such that would provoke Him to Jealousy.
So can that apparently 'evil' envy be something that the LORD God is capable of? Or is it that we conceive that such attitude is only a base and fleshy manifestation of sin and we find it difficult to comprehend a loving God would allow Himself to be so abased?
Perhaps our wanting always to plonk God in our own little box is part of the problem?


Bless you ....><>


For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Ephesians 5:8-21
 
Loyal
James 4:4 You are not faithful to God. Don't you know that to be a friend of the world is to hate God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:5 Don't you know what Scripture says? The spirit that God caused to live in us wants us to belong only to God. Don't you think Scripture has a reason for saying that? (NiRV)

Perfect example of what happens to a born again person who never "renews" his mind with the word of God. They try to be a friend of the world, and a friend of God at the same time, and not discerning that they are "grieving" the Holy Spirit within them. Asking for things with the wrong motive, so they can consume it upon their lusts. Asking and not getting because they don't know the will of God. A person who has a renewed mind will only ask for things that they know is God's will. You must ask according to God's will, and then he hears our prayers. Only a person with a renewed mind would know that. How can anyone ask in faith for anything if they don't know the will of God from where faith comes from?
 

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