Yaakov Tzadik, or James the Just: Brother of Messiah, Zealot Leader, and Episcopate of the Jerusalem Assembly. Is this epistle…
James the Just
How are death and life in the hands of the tongue? Yaakov/James expounds on the importance of controlling what it is that we say. The use of the tongue is what separates wisdom from foolishness.
James 3:1 My Yisraelite brothers, not many should be teachers knowing that we shall receive a stronger mishpat.
‘didaskalos’ Est. 6:1 where the king ‘commanded’ the book of records to be read to him because he couldn’t sleep.
Yaakov is dealing with a problem of ungifted or untrained teachers.
The Greek literally reads, ‘do not press yourself into the role of teaching,’ i.e it has to be a calling!
The tongue is a deep-seated work – Yaakov mentions it in each chapter – for a total of nine times!
James 3:2 For in many things we offend all people. If any man offend not in speech, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
James 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, so that they may obey us; and we turn their whole body.
James 3:4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are turned around with a very small rudder, in any way that the captain desires.
Silence is better than speech, hearing, not speaking, is the pathway to divine wisdom.
Proverbs 13:3 ‘The one who guards his mouth preserves his life, the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.’
Proverbs 15:4 ‘A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the Ruach.’
Proverbs 18:21 ‘ Death and life are in the hands of the tongue, and those who live it will eat its fruit.’
What’s going on here? Does the tongue have a hand?
- we all offend/stumble including teachers. Yaakov includes himself in this with the first
person plural. Beware – stumbling arrests our progress!
- offending/stumbling in word, the reference is to speech such as in teaching. Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Don’t hold on to your dogma to save face! ‘Perfect’, not sinless, means having reached a goal of spiritual maturity. If we consistently don’t stumble in ‘word’ then we have attained a certain point of spiritual maturity!
- he’s then able to bridle his whole body also, i.e the control of the tongue is the product of genuine faith. If faith can control the tongue it can control everything – THE KEY TO A bit is a small piece of metal placed in a horses mouth, the proper place of control. Put the bit somewhere else in the body and you have no control, its placement is key or else you gain no leverage over sin! Placed correctly you can master the whole body!
Sirach 28:24: ‘See that you fence up your property with thorns, lock up your silver and gold, make balances and scales for your words, and make a door and a bolt for your mouth.’
James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and yet boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire ignites!
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, and the sinful world a forest: so is the tongue among our members, it can defile the whole body, and sets on fire the course of our Yisraelite race that rolls on like a wheel; and it burns on with the fire of Gei-Hinnom.
James 3:7 For every kind of beast, and of birds, and of serpents,and of things in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind:
James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is unruly, evil, and full of deadly poison.
James 3:9 With it we bless tvkt, even our Abba; and with it we curse men, who are made after the image of the Master vuvh.
James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceeds brachot and cursing. My Yisraelite brothers, these things should not be so.
V.6 ’Sets on fire the course of our Israelite race that rolls on like a wheel.’ ‘Ton trochon te’s genesis.’
If we can’t control our tongue we will destroy our return to the Genesis cycle of covenants – the covenants that roll out from Genesis 12 – 15 – Ex 19 like a wheel, and set aflame our Yisrealite race form being a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation!
Was it not the tongue of the Israelite race that proclaimed, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us, for as for this Moshe, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him.’
Then the tongue of Aaron proclaimed, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt.’
Israel broke the cycle from Genesis, the wheels of the covenant Ex 32 and how did Moshe choose to destroy their folly? He set it aflame!
V.6 ’The tongue set on fire the genesis cycle of our Yisraelite race that rolled out like a wheel; and it burnt on with the fire of hell.’
- The destructiveness of the tongue. The tongue is the only member of the body that appoints itself and has the range of possibility in causing such evil. It appoints itself – doesn’t appoint it! When it does, it defiles the whole body, an uncontrolled tongue יהוה is morally defiling.
- ‘Spiloō’ – defile, is used only here and Jude 23 and it means, ‘a stain – as in your undergarments’ – wrongly used, the tongue pollutes a persons whole personality and sets ablaze life’s valued relationships.￼
- Slander can incite a whole community, propaganda can enflame a nation and nationalistic words can lead to riots in the streets – slander and social media.
- The tongue permits itself to be used by Satanic forces
- The tongue can’t be tamed by man, It’s יהוה who does the taming through His Ruach Ha Kodesh! By itself in our hands the tongue is ungovernable, unruly and an instrument of cruelty and wickedness!
- The point Yaakov continues to make, using nature is that nature is very consistent whereas the tongue is not!
James 3:11 Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet mayim and bitter?
James 3:12 Can the fig eytz, my Yisraelite brothers, bear olive berries? Or, a vine, figs? So likewise saltwater cannot be made sweet.
Epictetus writes in The Discourses 2.20: ‘So strong and unconquerable a thing is human nature! For how can a vine be moved to behave, not like a vine, but like an olive tree? Or an olive tree, not like an olive tree, but like a vine? It’s impossible. It’s inconceivable. Neither, therefore, is it possible for a human being entirely to lose human affections. And even so (now listen to this written thousands of years ago…read today to a generation that witnesses the tragic theatre of Bruce Jenner and national push for the fluidity of gender). And even so those who have their male organs cut off cannot cut off their desires as men.’
Contemplate the tongues position within the body for a brief moment:
The outward senses burn down the inner senses using the conscience and spirit for fuel defiling the whole man if the tongue is let loose!
Proverbs 16:27 ‘A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like a scorching fire.’
Proverbs 26:20 ‘ For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down, Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
A loose tongue can send shockwaves into the future for it’s owner as well as those around the owner.
James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with training among you? Let him show a tov lifestyle with his mitzvoth in meekness of chochmah.
Wisdom isn’t words but works of a good life, wisdom is proved by works!
James 3:￼14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your levavot, boast not, and lie not against the emet. 15 This chochmah descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and from s.a.tan.
False wisdom is the result of an untamable tongue – people speak what’s in their hearts.
Job 33:2 ‘Behold now, I open my mouth, my tongue in my mouth speaks. My words are form the uprightness of my heart, and my lips speak knowledge sincerely.’
Three evidences of earthly wisdom:
- Bitter jealousy or envy, begrudging others success and being resentful
- Discord in your heart – high octane ping! Rivalry, selfish ambition – being unethical
toward others to advance your own station.
- ‘Boast not,’ don’t gloat over another – don’t think yourself superior. ‘Lie not against
the truth,’ don’t, ‘modify the truth’ for your own gain. This refers to the gospel message! How many today have, ‘modified the truth’ of the gospel for their own gain, or their denominations gain?
Yaakov depicts false wisdom as, ‘earthly, sensual and devilish.’ To Yaakov it’s nothing more than demoniacal – it proceeds from an evil spirit – it originates from the three fronts of spiritual warfare:
- The world
- The flesh
- The devil
James 3:16 For where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
James 3:17 but the wisdom from above, first, indeed, is pure, then peaceable, gentle, easily entreated, full of kindness and good fruits, uncontentious, and unhypocritical
James 3:18 And those that make shalom sow the fruit of tzedakah in shalom.
Seven characteristics of true wisdom:
- It’s pure – purity is primary and fundamental – we need to be undefiled and clean – speech, dress, actions. This is the primary internal characteristic from which flow the other six characteristics.
- Peaceable: healing divisions but NEVER at the expense of purity!
- Reasonable: not insisting of ones own rights – taking in consideration others.
- Easily entreated/approached, it means to be submitted to יהוה’s military discipline –
to be ready to obey/ having a heart inclined toward obeying the mitzvoth!
- Full of Rachamin/mercy: compassionate, pity, helpful deeds and kind.
- Uncontentious/without variance: not given to prejudices or partiality – being
- Unhypocritical: free from pretense and genuine!
Righteousness can’t be produced when these conditions aren’t met in the life of the believer!
Psalms 37:30 ‘The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.’
Those who can’t control their tongue are directly associated with a place opposite the Kingdom of Heaven.
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