James Chapter 4
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your own lusts that war in your members?" (v.1).
The way this is phrased implies that the unspiritual brethren were blaming the evident infighting within the ecclesia on others- perhaps the group of poor brethren who they spiritually cursed in 3:9,10. Note how the fightings came out of their lusts- "come they not hence...?" is the language of physical movement, cp. "out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing" (3:10), "drawn away of his own lust" (1:14) (1). Lusts warring in the members suggests an allusion to Rom.7:23 "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members". The allusions to Romans may be because this letter too was in circulation amongst the dispersed Jewish believers. The "members" of James 4:1 are therefore the parts of the evil human heart. The double mindedness in the hearts of the individual brethren was inevitably reflected in the members of the ecclesial body (cp. 1 Cor.12:12; Eph.4:25). Another link with 1 Peter clarifies that the warfare within the body was also within their own minds: "Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Pet.2:11). The Greek for "lusts" here in James 4 is not the normal word so translated. The only other times it occurs are in 2 Pet.2:13 translated "pleasure", where it is associated with the Judaist false teachers; Tit.3:3, where Paul says these lusts were part of his former Judaist life; and in Lk.8:14 regarding that which chokes the growth of the word.
Their lusts or pleasures may have warred against each other in the sense that they desired different things which conflicted within their heart, but the idea of war and fighting seems more usually used with reference to the spiritual warfare within the human heart (cp. 1 Pet.2:11), whereby the spiritual reservoir is under violent attack from the united desires for the various pleasures to be possessed. The Greek for "fightings" occurs in Titus 3:9 and 2 Tim.2:23,24 concerning arguments within the ecclesia over the interpretation of the Law. It would therefore seem that the justification for gratifying their materialistic desires was based on misapplication of the word. Again we are seeing the classic characteristic of apostasy- a mixture of truth with error until a position of self-justification has been reached.
These reasonings over certain passages began as a debate within their own heart ("members"), and then spread to the whole ecclesia.
We have pointed out that the break between chapters 3 and 4 is unfortunate. The mention of "wars" in 4:1 and "confusion" in 3:16 only 3 verses earlier suggests a connection with the "wars and commotions" heralding the destruction of Jerusalem (Lk.21:9), seeing that "confusion" and "commotions" are the same Greek word. Is James implying that the crazy political situation in the world that heralded Jerusalem's downfall was going to be reflected in ecclesial life in the last days, resulting in a similar downfall of the scattered Jerusalem ecclesia? The situation within the body in these last days may provide an unfortunate parallel.
"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" (v.2).
The Greek for "lust" here is the normal word, and a powerful parallel is made between this and asking (praying) in the wrong way. Such prayer is an expression of lust; the very same word is used concerning lusting after a woman in Mt.5:28. Prayer to God for personal pleasures that gushes out without the restraint of the word is truly a serious offence.
The idea of killing in 2:11 was interpreted as meaning showing lack of love to your brother, after the pattern of Mt.5:21,22. The word for "kill" here in James is not the usual Greek word. This one is normally translated "kill" in the phrase "Thou shalt not kill" when quoting the ten commandments. Thus James is making an especial appeal to their Jewish minds by implying that their lack of love really is effective manslaughter. Thus in order to satisfy their carnal desires they were killing or hating their brethren. An obvious fulfilment of this would have been in their withholding of the meagre wages of the poor brethren- effectively killing them by their lack of love- in order to indulge their latest pleasures. What parallels with saving for the holiday home at the expense of struggling ecclesias in the third world?
"Desire to have" is a very emotion-loaded word in Greek, implying to be moved to jealousy by something or someone. Such a motivation for prayer is unacceptable. The parallel is with "and cannot obtain", which means literally 'to chance upon'. Their semi-spiritual attitude to life is epitomized by their psychology of prayer- thinking they might chance to get the answer to a prayer, they expressed their emotional, natural desires for the pleasures of this life in prayer, justifying this by misapplying Scripture. They never realized that the love of these pleasures was actually swamping the growth of the real word seed, which was occasionally planted in them by the poor brethren reminding them of the word; so the two references to the sower parable in 3:18 and 4:1 would imply.
Despite all the commotion within their hearts and the ecclesia, and perhaps also in their strivings in their misdirected prayers, "Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (v.3). Although they asked in prayer, in God's sight such words are not prayer: "Ye ask not...ye ask", because desiring is not praying. Alternatively, this may be looking back to 1:4,5 about asking for wisdom, as if to say 'You don't receive answers to your prayers for material things because you don't pray firstly for the wisdom from the word to be in your heart, which would have made your subsequent prayers powerful'.
There is a link here with Mt.7:7,8: "Ask, and it shall be given you...for every one that asketh receiveth". But "Ye ask and receive not". The reason for such powerful prayer is given in the surrounding context in Mt.7- if they were not hypocrites in criticizing their brethren, which 3:17 implies they were guilty of, and if they did to men as they would like God to do to them (Mt.7:2,12). Not surprisingly therefore, the prayers of these brethren were not answered as Mt.7 promised. There is probably also a reference to Jn.15:7: "If...my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you". "Done unto you" possibly implies physical blessing. Because the word was not in them, which is the whole theme of James, this promise was not fulfilled in them.
"Ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (v.3).
"Amiss" is from a word meaning to be sick or diseased, or generally 'evil'. Although it is not the same word translated "sick" in 5:14-16, there may be a connection with the idea there of them being struck with physical sickness because of their sin and being advised to pray for forgiveness and therefore a cure. Here in 4:3 James is saying that their prayers were for human things and therefore they and their prayers were sick. "Consume" means 'to spend' in a financial sense, thus suggesting that they were asking God to specifically provide money, which they would then spend on their various pleasures ("lusts"). This would explain their 'killing' of their brethren by holding back wages from them (5:4), because they specifically wanted the cash in hand; see notes on 5:3 too.
Friends of the earth
"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" (v.4).
As the reference to killing in v.2 looks back to 2:11 in the sense of killing your brother by not loving him, so the command in the Old Covenant not to commit adultery mentioned in 2:11 is here interpreted as meaning not having friendship with the world. James' reasoning seems to be based (yet again) in the sermon on the mount- this time in the passage about not being able to serve two masters, which results in loving the one and hating the other (Mt.6:24). James is putting things in black and white terms again. By their prayers being based on the human desires of their heart they were loving the world and thereby hating God. "The world" is therefore primarily our evil desires- the world is in our heart (Ecc.3:11,12), and "The lust of the eyes" etc. is "All that is in the world". The language of adultery invites us to interpret being a "friend" of the world in a sexual context, or to see that mere friendship with the world is of the same intensity as intercourse with it, in God's sight. Serving mammon (the world) in the two masters parable is due to taking thought for human possessions (Mt.6:25)- i.e. the service of mammon is a mental condition in the heart rather than just physically spending time pursuing these things. This is exactly the context here in James. "Friendship" (Greek 'philia') is a gentle word, even implying 'fondness'. Being a friend of the world means that, in the light of the two masters parable, they were not being a friend of God. This maybe connects with 2:23, which calls Abraham a friend of God because of his faith and works based on the word of promise taking hold of his heart. Their friendship or sympathy to the world and its desires which were in their heart meant that they had no real faith because the word was not truly influencing their thinking.
This friendship with the world is "enmity with God". This takes us immediately to Rom.8:7: "The carnal mind is enmity against God", thus again connecting the love of the world with the unregenerated mind. James is pounding away about the importance of the mind, and therefore of our attitude to the word which influences it. This enmity is further defined in Eph.2:15,16: "Having abolished in His (Christ's) flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments...for to make in himself one new man...that He might reconcile both unto God by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby". The phrase "the enmity" implies that this is the same enmity as referred to elsewhere, namely in Rom.8:7. The carnal mind allowed itself to be stimulated by the Law- not that the Law encouraged sin, but man's response to it encouraged carnal thinking, e.g. in the form of self righteousness (2). This again hints that their "friendship of the world" was justified by their misquoting of the Law. "The world" which they were so sympathetic towards (so "friendship" implies) may even refer to the Jewish world, both in its doctrine and its materialistic, pleasure-seeking attitude to life.
Scripture in vain?
"Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?" (v.5).
This does not appear to be a verbatim quote from any manuscript- for a comment on the word "scripture" see notes on 2:23. James is effectively rebuking them for their lack of sensitivity to the word- by not recognizing the fundamentally lustful nature of our natural mind, they were effectively saying that the Scriptures' warnings about our evil human nature were "vain". They thought that by reason of possessing the Spirit gifts the evils of the human heart were by-passed an error also made by evangelical theology today. There appears to be a reference back to the descriptions of man at Noah's time in Gen.6:5 and 8:21 as having a fundamentally wicked heart. 2 Pet.3, Jude and the Lord in His Olivet prophecy all interpret Noah's world as being a type of the Jewish system heading towards destruction in AD70. So again James is saying that the lustful attitude of mind within these Jewish believers equated them with the rest of the Jewish world, which was about to be destroyed as Noah's world was. The Greek for "vain" is often used about vain Jewish philosophy that affected the ecclesias (Eph.5:6; Col.2:8; 1 Tim.6:20; 2 Tim.2:16; and Acts 4:25); it also looks back to the description of the brethren James is writing to as "vain" in 2:20. This would imply that because of the influence of vain Jewish (Judaist?) reasoning, they had become vain in their minds, and therefore Scripture had also become vain to them. The Greek for "dwelleth" means 'to dwell as an integral part'; the same Greek word for 'dwell' occurs in Rom.7:17,18,20, describing "sin that dwelleth" within our members; we have seen 4:1 is alluding to this same passage in Rom.7 concerning the spiritual conflict in our members. The same word is also used in 1 Cor.3:16 about the Holy Spirit dwelling in the early believers through their possession of the gifts- maybe suggesting that James is reminding the Jewish ecclesial elders that the Spirit gifts dwelling in them did not mean that the evil human spirit of our own nature did not dwell in them. The very word "spirit" can refer both to this human spirit and also to the spirit of Christ in our minds. Thus they had to have the Spirit truly in their heart by their response to the word as well as tabernacling in them by reason of their possession of the gifts. The effort to apply the word to the human heart is therefore not just something which began after the miraculous gifts were withdrawn, but which also had to be practiced by their early possessors. If even those with the gift of prophecy (i.e. chosen by God to speak forth His word under direct inspiration) had to make this effort; how much more must we?
The particular aspect of our inherent natural spirit that James draws attention to is its capacity to envy. We have suggested previously that their desire for wealth led these brethren to show a lack of love to the others in the ecclesia, although they justified this by misinterpreting parts of the Law. James is saying that they should not justify these envious feelings so quickly, but remember that Scripture generally warns that these feelings are part of our fallen nature, and they should not misapply odd passages to justify them as acceptable. The Greek for "envy" here is always used elsewhere concerning either the envying of the Jews against the believers, or about the envyings generated within the ecclesia by Judaist-stimulated controversies.
"But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (v.6).
This apparent personality of "the Scripture" was commented on under 2:23. Having quoted Scripture which states the pathetic spiritual condition of man, James quickly reminds us of another Scripture that gives more hope. The context of v.6 is in the earlier verses of the chapter concerning why their prayers were unanswered. "Grace" means 'gift', and can refer to the answer of prayer by God's Spirit (See Digression 9). Thus James is saying 'God does actually answer prayer- Prov.3:34 says he gives grace to the humble, i.e. He answers their prayers, although He resists the requests of the proud'. Note that James is quoting the Septuagint version of Prov.3:34 here rather than the Hebrew Old Testament; for comments on which see Digression 11.
Giving grace in the sense of a gift also recalls 1:17,18 and 3:17 concerning the gift of the word- as if to show that God would hear prayers for the wisdom of the word to be revealed to them (cp.1:5), but not answer a 'wants list' of worldly pleasures. The context of the quote from Proverbs is that the humble man is the one who has wisdom- i.e. who has taken note of the word in his heart. For more connections between the word and humility, see Digression 7. Being humble is parallelled with being submissive to God and resisting our evil nature (v.7) and drawing nigh to God acceptably (v.8); thus humility born of the word is revealed by both our attitude to God's holiness and to our own innate sinfulness. The brash prayers and self justification of these brethren was in sharp contrast to all this. The same verse from Proverbs is also quoted in 1 Pet.5:5 in the context of the elders showing loving care to the flock, because God "giveth grace to the humble". This context of commands to elders is the same as in James, whose intended readership appears to have been the same group of elders in the Jewish ecclesias. Peter's argument, if it follows that of James, would therefore be that their prayers would be hindered, i.e. grace would not be shown- if the elders proudly oppressed the flock. Note that these same elders are warned not to exact money from the flock as a reward for their shepherding in 1 Pet.5:2, which we have seen was a problem mentioned by James in the form of them holding back wages from their brethren-employees. This would mean that this was being done under the spiritual pretext of keeping the money back as the wages of the elders, no doubt backed up with some misinterpretations from the Mosaic Law.
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (v.7).
"Submit" means literally to put oneself under- i.e. to keep under these evil human desires, which is the same as resisting the Biblical devil. Bearing in mind the Jewish background of this letter and the other connections with Romans, this idea of submission to God may be referring back to Rom.10:3: "They (the Jews) being ignorant of God's righteousness, (through a lack of open-hearted Bible study), and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God". Thus one of the root causes of their pride and lack of recognition of their own sinfulness was that they were influenced by the Jewish concept of self-righteousness. Note the importance of doctrine in having very practical effects on a man's way of thinking and thereby his standing with God. There is a clear parallel between these verses in James 4 and 1 Pet.5:2-9. After making the quotation from Prov.3:34, Peter warns them to "be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour". This primarily refers to the Jewish and Roman authorities seeking occasion to criticize and therefore persecute the Christians. However, the parallel in James 4:7 is "resist the devil", which corresponds with 1 Peter 5:9 "Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world". The devil of Peter refers to the Jewish/ Roman systems as well as to the flesh. The Greek "pathema" translated "afflictions" means both physical persecution and 'an emotion or influence' (Strong), thus showing that both types of 'devil' are referred to here, although the emphasis in Peter's case is on the devil as a civil power. 'Pathema' is used concerning physical persecution by the civil 'devil' in 2 Tim.3:11; Heb.10:32; 2 Cor.1:6; 1 Pet.5:1; and concerning our evil desires in Rom.7:5 (the "motions" of sin within us), and the "affections" of the flesh in Col.3:5; Rom.1:26; Gal.5:24. Thus the parallel passage in James 4:7 concerning resisting the devil is about both the Roman/ Jewish system and the evil desires of the flesh, although the latter is the context in James, whilst the former provides the backdrop to Peter's use of the word.
Again, we see that the Jewish thinking influencing the ecclesia was encouraging the 'devil' of their evil hearts, whilst a conscious resisting of the Judaizers' inroads and of the fleshly heart would lead to those things fleeing. More comment upon 1 Pet.5:8 and the relationship between physical and spiritual trial will be found in Digression 2.
Draw nigh...draw nigh
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (v.8).
The Greek phrase for "draw nigh" is used in the Septuagint- the N.I.V. for first century Christians- to describe the priests drawing near to God in the offering of sacrifices and prayers. The elders were being reminded that they were equivalent of priests in the new Israel (3) and therefore had a responsibility to acceptably and reverently draw near to God on behalf of the congregation, as well as to accurately expound the word publicly (Mal.2:7; Hos.4:6; see too comments on 2:9). This drawing near to God in prayer was only possible through a pure heart and therefore pure hands or actions. God would only hear their prayers if these things were in order; which is why the feeling we should have that our prayers are heard should give us confidence that spiritually we are going the right way (1 Jn.5:14).
"Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you" (Zech.1:3) and "Return unto me, and I will return unto you" (Mal.3:7) must be the basis for these words of James. Both these passages are in the context of Israel's restoration at the time of the second temple; there are a number of other connections between James and the restoration prophets:
As it was the duty of the priests to convert the people of Israel by the word (Mal.2:6), so it was too for the ecclesial elders of the New Israel (James 5:20). But as the temple was neglected due to bickering, materialism and fleshly living among the priests, so was the ecclesia of the first century. The problems of Malachi's time and also those of James were solved by a coming of the Lord (Mal.3:1,2). Living on the brink of Christ's return, there must be similarities with the present ecclesial position. All these types highlight the key position of elders in influencing the ecclesia, and therefore the standards required of them. A fair degree of our current ecclesial problems may be traceable in some measure to our inattention to the importance of elders' qualifications.
The idea of drawing near may have feint connections with the day of the Lord in AD70 drawing near; the same Greek phrase is used in Mt.24:32; Lk.21:20,28; and see notes on 5:8. The Greek root is 'to squeeze close', which we can do to God by prayer, and which He will therefore do to us. The parallel in 1 Pet.5:6 says that in response to humbly drawing near to God, He will "exalt you in due time"- i.e. answer your prayers eventually, and especially with a place in the Kingdom (cp. "friend come up higher" at the judgment seat). God's immediate drawing near to us as a result of our drawing near to Him is therefore not necessarily in the immediate answering of prayer, but in the sense of peace with God which we have after acceptably placing our requests before Him- "by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds" (Phil.4:6,7), even before we receive the answers.
The language of physical movement in verses 7 and 8 paints a fascinating picture of a man walking towards God ("drawing near" is often used in the sense of literal walking), thereby resisting the devil, and therefore the devil turning tail and fleeing in the opposite direction. As we walk towards God, he walks towards us- perhaps alluding to the parable of the prodigal son, where the man's walking towards the Father is matched by His running towards him (Lk.15:20), so eager is our God to respond to any real spiritual effort on our part. The context here in James 4 is of prayer- the drawing near to God is in prayer.
The idea of cleansing the hands suggests a link with Is.1, which has other connections with James: "When ye spread forth your hands (in prayer), I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear (as was happening to these brethren): your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean (cp. "cleanse your hands"); put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes...seek judgment, relieve the oppressed (what the brethren had not done- James 2:14-16; 5:4), judge the fatherless, plead for the widow (cp. James 1:27- what they didn't do)...if ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land (i.e. inherit the Kingdom): but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword" (AD70; Is.1:15-20). These scattered members of the Jerusalem ecclesia were therefore being equated with the "sinners in Zion" at the time of Sennacherib's Assyrian invasion; it was in their capacity to enable the Kingdom to be established in AD70, but if they continued in sin both they and Jerusalem along with natural Israel would be destroyed. Sadly they chose the latter, and their counterparts in Hezekiah's time made such a shallow reformation that they only succeeded in deferring judgment. The Greek word 'katharizo' is often used for the 'cleansing' of leprosy; the Lord likened the Pharisees to cups that needed cleansing, i.e. the cups were defiled by leprosy and needed purification; His description of Jerusalem's destruction stone by stone recalled the method of destroying a leprous house. The Jewish system was leprous because inwardly it was defiled; externally it looked fine (Mt.23:26). It was their fleshly way of thinking that was the real leprosy, and this is also the context here in James 4:6; the cleansing of actions is parallel to purifying a double-minded heart, because in James the thoughts of the heart and actions, especially words, are treated as identical.
Washing the heart
Cleansing or purifying ('washing') the heart suggests Jer.4:14, which is also in the context of the impending destruction of Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem (ecclesia!), wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain (cp. 2:20 "vain man") thoughts lodge within thee?". The parallels between these belieevers and apostate Israel areunmistakable. "Purify" is often used about Mosaic purification (Jn.11:55; Acts 21:24 etc.)- cp. the idea of cleansing being associated with the Law's commandments about leprosy. This purification by washing comes from "the wisdom that is from above (that) is...pure" (3:17)- i.e. the word, "the washing of water by the word" (Eph.5:26), which is the new covenant's equivalent to the purification process performed in the laver. For this reason John Thomas translates Titus 3:5 as "the laver of regeneration", cp. "the washing of regeneration...of the Holy Spirit", in the word.
"Purify your hearts, ye double minded" implies that having a mind which was only semi-spiritual was as bad as being totally defiled and needing cleansing. It looks back to the description of those who had only semi-faith in prayer as "double-minded" in 1:8. Here in chapter 4 the context is the same (see notes on 4:1-3). Thus James is saying in 1:6-8 'Ask for wisdom, the spiritual strength from the word, in full faith, not the double-minded prayers you have been making for your pleasures ("lusts", 4:3)'. See notes on 1:8 for more on "double minded".
"Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to heaviness" (v.9).
This exhortation to weeping and the general theme of making a repentance from the heart recalls Jesus' desperate, 11th hour call to repentance to avoid judgment on Jerusalem. "Turn ye even to me (cp. "draw nigh to God") with all your heart (cp. "ye double minded"), and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments (cp. their hypocrisy- James 3:17)...who knoweth if He will turn and repent (of the planned judgments on Israel, natural and spiritual)?...let the priests (cp. the ecclesial elders of James)...weep" (Joel 2:12-17). Joel 2 goes on to describe the judgments of AD70 in verses 30-32- according to Peter's quotation of them in Acts 2.
The double emphasis on mourning in this verse suggests reference to Mt.5:4 "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted". This would mean that James interpreted this group of people as those mourning in repentance for their sins, receiving the comfort (Greek 'parakleo'- drawing near) of closeness to God. The idea of God drawing near has been seen in the preceding verse- "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you". Again, the encouragement James' readers got from his words was proportionate to their ability to pick up these definite connections with other passages. To him that has spiritual talents of understanding the word, more will be given. James could have said 'Jesus basically said, "mourn and I will draw near to you", so mourn in repentance and this is how God through Christ will draw near to you, as I have just spoken about in v.8'. But instead we have to be sensitive to the two mentions of mourning here in v.9, recognize this is one of the many references back to the sermon on the mount, and appreciate the similarity of meaning between 'comforted' in Mt.5:4 and "draw nigh" in v.8. That the connection with Mt.5:4 is valid is confirmed by the Greek word for "joy" in James 4:9 only occurring elsewhere in Lk.6:25, which is effectively repeating Mt.5:4: "Woe unto you that laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep". "Mourn and weep" is repeated in James 4:9.
Emblems- of what?
There seems fair reason to believe that the riotous merry making mentioned here occurred at the Breaking of Bread. 1 Cor.11 rebukes some at the Corinth ecclesia (which included Jews, and was probably in receipt of James' letter, therefore) for getting drunk at the communion service. Similarly Peter and Jude warn of those brethren who 'feasted' at the love feast (Breaking of Bread). The Greek in Jude 12 means to revel or be sumptuous, and describes those guilty as "feeding themselves without fear". This word for "feeding" specifically means to shepherd- as if it were the ecclesial elders or shepherds who were particularly guilty of these abuses. Thus James is saying that they ought to be mourning and weeping in repentance at the Breaking of Bread rather than revelling.
If this is what James is meaning, some important practical issues emerge. Firstly, sorrow and an apparently long face are to be expected from many of us who inevitably feel the need for repentance burning keenly as we face the supreme dedication and holiness of Christ on the cross. There seems far too much criticism of those who do "weep and mourn" in their souls with a spirit of heaviness (cp. Is.61:3; James 4:9) at the memorial service. How can any of us tell another to be more happy or look more cheerful without knowing the nature of their relationship with God in the past few days? For such an intensity of self-knowledge and repentance to occur, there must be a fair period of time for reflection and self-examination- not just the odd minute as we wait for the emblems to reach us. The "feast of charity" referred to in Jude 12 would have been a replica of the last supper- a whole meal of fellowship followed by the specific taking of the bread and wine.
"Afflicted" means 'to realize ones own misery' (Strong) and only occurs elsewhere in Rom.7:24 and Rev.3:17. Romans 7 and 8 have been alluded to previously in the letter, and Rom.7:24 is describing the wretchedness Paul felt due to appreciating how sinful his innate evil desires really were. This marvellously fits the context of James 4, where he is advising them to analyze their own evil hearts more and appreciate their inherent sinfulness. By doing so they would feel "wretched" or "afflicted". The Laodiceans were perhaps another ecclesia with a Jewish element to whom James was also writing; they certainly had the same problems of materialism and a lukewarm, semi-spirituality. The Lord criticized them for not knowing that they were wretched, i.e. not examining the wretchedness of their own evil desires enough. The idea of wretchedness is similar, although not linguistically connected, to the descriptions of the rejected at the day of judgment, writhing in the pain of self-hate, realizing for the first time the degree of their inherent sinfulness. If we judge ourselves now, i.e. examine ourselves and realize we are worthy of condemnation (judgment- Mt.7:1), then we will not be judged (1 Cor.11:31).
They were to "turn" their revelling into sorrow; a word which means basically 'to pervert'- e.g. the Judaizers perverted (same word) the Gospel of Christ (Gal.1:7). This would imply that as they had perverted the Gospel, they were to 'pervert' it back again; they had spiritually justified their laughter and revelling by this perversion.
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up" (v.10).
The parallel in 1 Pet.5:6 indicates that this lifting up is at the judgment seat: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you (same Greek as "lift you up" in James) in due time", i.e. in the future, at the judgment (cp. "come up higher" in the wedding feast parable). Thus if we examine ourselves to the degree of wretchedly feeling that we in our own strength will be only worthy of condemnation, then as we will be lifted up from our grovelling before Christ at the judgment, so He will lift us up now. Luke 21:36 seems to refer to this lifting up at the judgment: "Pray always...to be stood before the Son of man"- by the Angel gently lifting us up from the ground at Christ's feet, as He did to Daniel in his acting out of our experience at the judgment (Dan.10:8-19).
The humbling of self spoken of in verses 6 and 7 was in the context of being humble in prayer. The lifting up which comes as a result of this we have shown to be our exaltation in the Kingdom. Thus by reason of having our prayers heard, especially those for the gift of the understanding of the word (4:6 cp. 1:17,18; 3:17), it is as if we are exalted in prospect into places in the Kingdom. Thus 1 Jn.5:14 says that the confidence we have of acceptance at the judgment is based on our prayers being answered now.
James 1:9 spoke of the humble brother rejoicing in that he is exalted ("lifted up" in 4:10). The context there was of having prayers for wisdom heard (1:5,6). The rich man's wavering prayers (1:6 cp. 4:14) were unheeded compared to those of the poor. Thus the poor brother being "lifted up" was through his prayers being answered. Now in 4:10 James is again telling the rich elders to humble themselves like the poor brethren so that they too could be lifted up. The emphasis in 1:9 and 4:10 is on God lifting us up (same word as "exalting"). This must look back to the repeated warnings in the Gospels about exalting oneself (Lk.14:11; 18:14; Mt.23:12), often referring to the Jews who did this. The man of sin, which must have reference to both Jewish and Roman systems of apostasy, also "exalteth himself" (2 Thess.2:4). The Jewish characteristic of spiritual self-exaltation was therefore seen in these Jewish brethren.
There is a parallel between verses 6 and 10; God "giveth grace unto the humble" (v.6) and lifts them up (v.10). The giving of grace we have interpreted as giving the answer to prayer, and especially in the gift of wisdom from the word; this equates with being lifted up with a place in the Kingdom. Thus to an extent we are in the Kingdom now in prospect (See Digression 4), through experiencing the gifts of the word and answered prayer.
"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" (v.11).
James now speaks specifically of one particular manifestation of their evil desires and the things which militated against their prayers being answered, namely evil speaking and condemning the poor brethren. This is the same thing as noted in 3:9,10, where we saw that they cursed these brethren with the excuse that they were doing it under the inspiration of God.
Their evil speaking was due to not letting the word curb their evil desires; they were thus effectively judging the word, saying that their own natural spirit was superior to that holy Spirit provided by a humble response to the word. Similarly they effectively thought that the Scriptures' warning against the natural lust of our heart was "vain" (4:5). Note that speaking evil of the brother and speaking evil of the law are equated, implying that the brethren they were slandering had the word in them. The parallel passage in 1 Pet.2:1,2 says that the antidote to "evil speakings" was to "desire the sincere milk of the word" as newborn spiritual babes- strong medicine for ecclesial 'elders', who probably had the gift of prophecy. Possession of the miraculous gifts did not force them to desire the true spirit of the word (4). Speaking evil is equivalent to condemning or spiritually killing a brother, according to James- no doubt basing his reasoning on that of the Lord, that to hate your brother was to kill him (Mt.5:21,22).
James saw the Mosaic command not to kill your brother as meaning 'do not condemn' under the New Covenant. Therefore to do so was to speak evil of "the law" both of Moses and Christ. The Lord also said that to call your brother a "Fool" was as bad as condemning or killing him. The Greek for "fool" implies someone who has been shut out of a certain knowledge; the word is invariably used in the New Testament regarding someone lacking in the true knowledge of God. There does seem to be a definite reference to Mt.5:21,22, and therefore James would be implying that the Jewish elders were accusing the others of not having their true knowledge of God (due to their gift of prophecy, they may have argued?) and therefore being condemned by God. By doing so they were speaking evil of the word which the other brethren had received, which was enough to make them spiritually wise ("the wisdom that is from above", 1:17,18 cp. 3:17) and not fools, as the elders accused them of being. The elders were not denying that the others had received part of the word, but were saying that without having the knowledge which they claimed to have, these brethren were fools, i.e. 'judged' or condemned. This spiritual superiority due to supposed additional revelation is a common characteristic of the descriptions of the Judaizers and their followers: Rev. 2:24, "the (pseudo) depths of (the Jewish) satan"; Jude 10; 1 Cor.1:17-21; 2:1-7; 3:18,19; 2 Cor.11:19; Rom.1:22; 12:16. Jude 19 describes these brethren as separating themselves, falsely claiming to have the Spirit, although they still attended the communion service to spread their false ideas (v.12); thus their separating of themselves was not in a physical sense, but an elitism due to their claim to have superior Spirit-given knowledge. Even today it is possible for there to be spiritual elitism from thinking that we have a deep understanding of the Spirit word which others are not yet able to appreciate.
This verse 11 seems to consciously refer back to 2:5-16. Speaking evil of "the law" by evil speaking about the brethren is probably based on 2:8,9: "Respect to persons (breaks)...the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself". The chapter 2 passage mentions the oppression of the poor brethren before the "judgment seats" of the eldership (2:6), and the subsequent turning down of their welfare requests (2:16), as examples of breaking the royal law. That same law was being broken by the elders falsely accusing and condemning their brother, according to 4:11. Thus these elders were trying to act like Christ in His role as judge, and were bringing false accusation against the brethren and subsequently condemning them, as an excuse not to provide them with their basic needs, and to withhold their legitimate wages (5:4).
Law makers and breakers
The judges of Israel under the Mosaic Law were those "to whom the word of God came", and yet they were condemned for judging unjustly, accepting the persons of the wicked (cp. saying to the well dressed man 'sit here', 2:3), not defending the poor and fatherless (the Jewish ecclesial elders also neglected these; 1:27) and not delivering the poor and needy (cp. 2:15,16; 4:5). Despite being inspired with the word of God "they know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness" (Jn.10:34-36; Ps.82:1-5). James is making a very apt comparison between these judges and the Jewish eldership, who had become so obsessed with being the equivalent of these judges in the new Israel that they had come to think that their personal doing of the law was not important. Similarly those today who publicly expound the word can become 'judges' rather than doers. That they judged the law may even imply that they set up their personal ideas as being greater and more inspired than the word of God itself, and maybe even 'judged' or condemned part of the word which conflicted with their personal 'wisdom'. Being a doer of the law must be another allusion to Romans: "not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom.2:13). This is again in the context of Paul's rebuke of the Jewish thinking that by being Jews and having heard the Law they were justified; and this also connects with the argument in James 2:20 that holding "the faith" must be accompanied by works, and being "doers of the word, and not hearers only" (1:22,23).
"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?" (v.12).
The stress on one lawgiver suggests, in harmony with our previous comments, that the elders were making new laws under the claim of inspiration, and were using these to condemn their brethren. Note how the evil speaking which began as a result of the word not controlling their thoughts led them to condemn others, contrary to the clear law of Christ (Mt.7:1), and having effectively disregarded the word their next step was to literally add to it. They had already done this in effect by trying to Biblically justify their wrong actions (5). The phrase "there is one lawgiver" would have rung bells in every Jewish mind concerning Moses the lawgiver. Again their likening of themselves to Moses is being condemned (see notes on 3:10). However, the ultimate lawgiver is God, who is "able to...destroy" soul and body (alluding to Mt.10:28). The fact that God's ability to save and destroy in Gehenna at the judgment (n.b. the Mt.10:28 allusion) is chosen out of all His powers, shows that the elders were specifically claiming that they had the power to make the decision of salvation or destruction, and that the judgment panel which they formed to judge the poor brethren was rated by them as an exact equivalent to Christ's judgment seat at the second coming. The extent of their blasphemy of the word of God which they claimed justified them in all this is hard to comprehend.
This verse has clear reference to Rom.14:4: "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand". We have seen in 4:10 the idea of being lifted up at the day of judgment. Thus Paul in Romans is also using 'judging' in the sense of spiritually condemning, and is saying that the brethren doing such judgment were usurping Christ's position as the judge, saying they were the master of the servants. Therefore Paul says that such condemned brethren will be justified by being lifted up to acceptance at the true judgment seat. The similarity of the situation suggests strongly that Romans and James were written to the same readership, and that their writers expected the readers to make connections between the letters- due to the same spirit inspiring both writers. The context in Rom.14:3 is judging (i.e. condemning) your brother due to his attitude to the Mosaic food laws and the Sabbath. Those who were doing the judging were "him that eateth not"- i.e. the Judaizers who wanted a move back to the Jewish laws. The connections between Romans and James are such that we can safely say that the group who were doing the judging in James are identical to the group of Judaizers in Romans. Thus the group of Jewish elders James writes to were almost definitely either Judaizers or Judaist influenced. The connections with James would explain why Rom.14:10-13 stresses so much that the judge at the judgment seat is God through Christ, rather than men. The importance of this can be appreciated far more once it is recognized that the Jewish eldership were claiming to have an inspired command from God to set up judgment seats and judge to condemnation on Christ's behalf.
The situation is made the more fascinating when we appreciate that the power of the Spirit was available to the apostles and possibly some elders to inflict physical sickness as a punishment- e.g. Peter could strike Ananias and Sapphira dead, Christ would threaten to strike down false teachers (Rev.2:23; 22:18); Peter could threaten many (unrecorded) physical curses that he could bring upon Simon for his blasphemy (Acts 8:24); Paul could make Elymas blind (Acts 13:9-11) (6). It is probable that the gift of healing was largely used to cure such people after their repentance, and this is the basis of James 5:15 (see note there). It would appear that the Jewish elders were claiming some kind of similar authority.
"Go to now (N.I.V. "Now listen"- i.e. to the true word of God), ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain" (v.13).
The two references to "Go to" in James (here and 5:1) suggest immediately the one other place where this idiom is used- it occurs three times in five verses in Gen.11:3-7 concerning the building of Babel. There is good reason to believe that Babel represented the apostate Jewish system of worship. "A city and a tower" of Gen.11:4 points forward to Jerusalem and the Jewish system having a tower in the midst of its vineyard (Is.5:2; Mt.21:33). All Jewish temples were built with the help of Gentile labour, as Babel was built by all nations collected together in one purpose. Babel and Shinar are the basis of Babylon in Scripture, and the descriptions of Babylon in Revelation have many echoes of the Jewish system. The scattering abroad of Babel all over the earth corresponds to God's Angelic 'coming down' on Jerusalem in AD70 and the subsequent scattering of the Jews world-wide. We have seen previously that James very much has the events of AD70 in mind, and the use of the phrase "go to" would be another reminder that unless the Jewish believers repented of their materialism and other unspirituality, then both natural and spiritual Jerusalem would be severely punished- as indeed happened to both of them.
We have shown earlier that this verse primarily refers to the itinerant Jewish traders within the ecclesia. 2 John 7-11 (also written to a Jewish audience?) also speaks of itinerant preachers who were likely to have serious doctrinal errors. The Jews with whom they mixed in such travelling would not have been wholesome spiritual company. Indeed, it was "Vagabond" (Greek 'strolling') Jews who stirred up trouble for the believers (Acts 19:13). These brethren blatantly, proudly talked of their business plans, glorying in not saying 'God willing' (so v.15,16 implies). This was probably because they believed that they no longer personally had to keep the law (v.11), and that they were justified by reason of knowing the truth and being Jews by birth (2:20 and cp. Romans 6:1).
Sections of the letter?
The sudden switch of subject away from judging brethren to that of crazy materialism calls for an explanation. It seems that the letter of James criticizes the believers for increasingly serious things, with a corresponding increase in punishment from God. The sections can be categorized as follows:
1:1-12 Semi-faith in prayer from lack of attention to the word due to materialism
1:13-27 Falsely blaming God for temptation, hard speaking to brethren, and neglect of the fatherless and widows in the ecclesia due to brief, meaningless self-examination and not being sensitive to the word.
2:1-13 Preference to the rich in the ecclesia, condemning the poor brethren, saying some parts of the word were unimportant.
2:14-26 Saying external works and technical holding of the Truth justified a man, and that lack of real spiritual effort can be Biblically justified.
3:1-4:12 Total unrestraint of the evil heart and its words, saying this was unnecessary for them. Claiming to be inspired with new revelation from God which replaced parts of the Bible and justified them totally.
4:13-5:6 Sinking into total materialism, throwing off all sense of subjection to God, effectively crucifying Christ afresh (5:6).
5:7-20 Subsequently being struck with physical sickness to try to lead them to repentance; final destruction at the Lord's 'coming' in AD70 and the holocaust for natural and spiritual Israel which followed.
If this analysis is correct, then these separate parts of the letter would have been sent at different times- hence 4:13 "Go to now". How many of us are in the first category discussed in 1:1-12? If our attention to the word continues to slip, it is only a matter of time before the ecclesia of the last days drops into the categories lower down the list. It has been suggested (7) that the letter of James is a series of exhortations given to or at the Jerusalem ecclesia and then circulated. This would fit in with the pattern deduced here.
One day at a time
"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" (v.14).
In view of the Jewish and Christian persecution which the parallel letter of Peter speaks of, they especially could not plan on predicting the future without God's help. Their travelling from city to city trading was probably enforced by the persecution. The Greek for "buy and sell" in v.13 means specifically to trade whilst travelling around, as a pedlar. Thus in their spiritual arrogance they were saying that their travelling around was done by their own spiritually correct decision, which obviated the need to say 'God willing'. They probably showed off their plans to the poor labouring brethren, as if they knew by direct inspiration what would be on the morrow. There must also be reference back to Christ's commands about not worrying about tomorrow because God would provide- "take therefore no (anxious) thought for the morrow" (Mt.6:34). If James had this in mind, then he was saying that he knew that in their evil heart they were worrying in a God-forsaking way about tomorrow, which they justified by saying that they had inspired knowledge of the future and the profit they would make, and therefore showed this off with a false air of confidence to the poorer brethren. Again, these brethren are reminded of the need to remember their true nature: "For what is your life?" (cp. 4:14).
The description of life as a vapour appears to be an allusion to Job 7:7: "O remember that my life is wind". Thus James is asking them to learn the lesson of Job, as he does in 5:11; to come to a true understanding of the weakness of human nature through responding in humility to the trials of life, and to the knowledge of God directly provided by Him. Again , as in 2:3 (see notes there) these brethren are being compared to Job, as they are again in chapter 5; as with him, physical trial was brought upon them in order for them to learn humility and the lessons concerning human nature and its relation to a holy God, which previously they had been unwilling to learn. Digression 6 further explores the links between Job and Jewish believers.
"For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that "(v.15).
"To say" implies that there should have been a verbal statement, publicly heard, of their recognition of the Lord's will in their lives. Their need to say that they would live if it was the Lord's will shows the extremely temporary nature of their lives at that time of persecution. Despite such tribulation, their hearts were so hardened against the true influence of the word that they were not made more sensitive to God's hand in their lives, but rather were hardened into thinking that in their own strength and wisdom, which they imagined was God-given, they would weather the present crisis.
The Lord's "will" here is the Lord's desires and wishes, not necessarily the pre-determinate "will" of God (8). The parallel letter of Peter emphasizes that the will of God was what controlled their present persecution (1 Pet.2:15; 3:17; 4:19), and that they should seek to do God's will by overcoming the natural will of the flesh (1 Pet.4:2,3) by the word of God, which contains the will of God (1 Pet.1:23; 2 Pet.1:21 cp. Jn.1:13). Putting together these ideas, the message seems to be that it was the same will of God that they needed to get inside their hearts, to overcome the will of the flesh, which was also bringing their tribulations, implying that God was developing their response to the word through their persecutions. James is therefore saying that they should recognize the will, the desires, the purpose of God behind their persecution from city to city, which was to develop in them a more truly spiritual mind. But by effectively saying that God's will or desires were irrelevant to them, they were denying themselves the opportunity to be spiritually developed by their sufferings. Lack of attention to what God is willing or desiring in our own trials can similarly lead to them being in vain for us too.
That they should say "we shall live" if the Lord will suggests that they thought that their lives were protected from harm, or that they had some inherently indestructible element to them; hence the reminder in the previous verse that their life was only a brief vapour, as opposed to the more permanent 'immortal soul' they perhaps almost believed in as a result of the Roman/ Judaist philosophical influence upon them.
The amazing thing is that despite these brethren's progressively worse problems in their doctrine and way of life, James continues to patiently reason with them, leading on towards his final appeal for repentance in Chapter 5.
"But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil" (v.16).
We have previously commented on how their blatant rejoicing in their sin was due to their reasoning that it was impossible that they could sin- hence "all such..is evil". Similarly the Judaist element at Corinth rejoiced in the fact that there was a division in the ecclesia between the Paul and Apollos factions (1 Cor.4:6,7), and that they retained in fellowship a brother who had brazenly committed incest for all to see (1 Cor. 5:6); this all shows the same mentality, of openly rejoicing in the freedom that they believed they had from all moral and spiritual constraints. "Rejoice" really means to glory or boast, which means that it had to be done to someone else. To boast that they did not need to say "If the Lord will" about their plans would not have made many eyes turn in the world generally; therefore it is more likely that they were boasting to the poor brethren whom they had spiritually condemned, saying that the superior revelation which they had received enabled them to have freedom from that kind of spiritual requirement which the poor brethren needed to obey.
"Boastings" occurs only three times elsewhere, and each time it is in the context of false Judaist reasoning. Rom.1:30 describes how Israel in the wilderness (see Digression 8, 'Israel and Romans 1'), and also the last day Jewish ecclesias, were "boasters". If this means spiritually boastful, then it implies that the rejected generation in the wilderness thought up ways to spiritually justify themselves; hence Rom.1:30 goes on to describe "inventors of evil things", i.e. the alternative tabernacle system of worship that they created and carried with them, based around their idols (Acts 7:43,44). 2 Tim.3:2 describes the boastful infiltrators of the ecclesias in the last days (2 Tim.3:6), who had once known the Truth (2 Tim.3:5 cp. Rom. 2:20; 2 Tim.1:13) but through their claims to superior knowledge and revelation ( 2 Tim.3:7) and giving way to their corrupted natural mind ( 2 Tim.3:8) were "reprobate concerning the faith". This very well describes the Judaist brethren to whom James was writing.
"Boasting" also occurs in 1 Jn.2:16 translated "pride": "All that is in the world (the Jewish world- so the phrase normally means in John's writings), the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride (boasting) of life, is not of the Father (as the Judaists were claiming?), but is of the world. And the world passeth away" (in AD70). We have suggested that this boasting of life was a spiritual boasting by the Jews that they were blessed with superior wisdom and justification with God. 1 Jn.2:16 is looking back to Eve's sin in Eden (Gen.3:6)- she saw that the fruit of the tree of knowledge was good for food (the lust of the flesh), pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes) and to be desired to make one wise (pride of life). The Jews' desire for worldly wisdom was like Eve in Eden (9). Her motivation for taking the fruit would therefore have been that of spiritual pride, the desire to boast to her husband that she was now under no restrictions at all and had a wisdom equal to that of God. Exactly the same was true of the first (and twentieth?) century Judaizers.
Knowing the good
"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (v.17).
This indicates that these elders knew what they should be doing but consciously chose not to. In the light of their false claims to inspiration and the despicable doctrine and practice which they followed, it seems incredible that they could still have a knowledge of the real truth within them; and yet such is the deceit of the human heart that such doublemindedness can easily occur.
There may be a reference here back to Lk.12:47: he that "knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes". James 4:15 has spoken about their conscious disregard of their Lord's will. Thus v.17 is saying 'You know God's will and you know that you should show your recognition of it publicly- but you don't'. Lk.12:48 goes on to say that knowing the Lord's will is the same as being given much- which the Jewish elders had been by having the miraculous Spirit gifts.
The phrasing of "to him that knoweth..to him it is sin" implies that not all James' readership did have that knowledge- because they had become so hardened in their belief that their attitudes were correct, that they no longer had the knowledge of the truth? "To him it is sin" implies that there were some without knowledge to whom their lack of doing good would not be reckoned as sin- i.e. although all unrighteousness is sin, no matter who commits it, "sin" is reckoned to the person who has the knowledge of what he ought to be doing. This is another of the many indications that an ongoing record is kept of our actions or lack of them, so that our failure to do an action that we know we should is counted as sin to us at a certain moment in time.
(1) The language of physical movement is often used concerning temptation and our natural desires.
(2) There are several examples of the Mosaic Law being associated with the 'devil' in the sense of our evil desires; it is even spoken of as "the law of sin and death"; by the very fact that it was perfect, it condemned man as a sinner worthy of death.
(3) See also notes on 2:1 and 5:2,4.
(4) Compare this with Saul's possession of the gifts, and also the judges of Israel: Jn.10:34-36 cp. Ps.82:1-5.
(5) That disobeying the law of God is effectively adding to it was clearly brought home to Israel: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Dt.12:32). The command to Joshua to "observe to do according to all the law...turn not from it to the right hand or to the left" (Josh.1:7) is probably reiterating the command not to add ("to the right") or subtract ("to the left") from the law. Cp. also Rev.22:18,19, which is based on these passages.
(6) Similarly in the Old Testament Zechariah had power to kill three false shepherds (priests) of Judah in one month (Zech.11:3,8). Note too the equation of repentance and deliverance from physical illness in Is.33:24: "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: (because) the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven".
(7) H.A.Whittaker, 'Seven Short Epistles', Biblia, 1990.
(8) There are different original words used for these two types of "will"s.
(9) Cp. also how Eve's covering of glossy fig leaves that would soon fade points forward to the inadequate sin covering of the law, replaced by the slaying of the lamb. See also 2 Cor.11:3.