This semester I am taking Greek Exegesis of James with Dr. Plummer. Our final exam is coming up at the beginning of May. In preparation for this I am creating a short, running commentary on the text. For the reader of this blog it may seem that there is no rhyme or reason to what I choose to include but it is primarily covering aspects that I think will be pertinent for my final exam and what I want documented. Also see my post about the Greek vocabulary of James in formatted PDF and a flashcard app for mobile devices. Feel free to post any comments or questions or email me. The translation and notes are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Dr. Plummer.
5 Εἰ δέ τις ὑμῶν λείπεται σοφίας, αἰτείτω παρὰ τοῦ διδόντος θεοῦ πᾶσιν ἁπλῶς καὶ μὴ ὀνειδίζοντος, καὶ δοθήσεται αὐτῷ. 6 αἰτείτω δὲ ἐν πίστει μηδὲν διακρινόμενος· ὁ γὰρ διακρινόμενος ἔοικεν κλύδωνι θαλάσσης ἀνεμιζομένῳ καὶ ῥιπιζομένῳ. 7 μὴ γὰρ οἰέσθω ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐκεῖνος ὅτι λήμψεταί τι παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου, 8 ἀνὴρ δίψυχος, ἀκατάστατος ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ὁδοῖς αὐτοῦ.
Parsing of Key Words
- ὀνειδίζοντος - Pres Act Part Gen Sing Masc ὀνειδίζω
- δοθήσεται - Fut Pass Ind 3S δίδωμι
- ἔοικεν - Perf Act In 3S ἔοικα
- ἀνεμιζομένῳ - Pres Mid/Pass Part Dat Sing Masc ἀνεμίζω
- ῥιπιζομένῳ - Pres Mid/Pass Part Dat Sing Masc ῥιπίζω
- οἰέσθω - Pres Mid/Pass Imv 3S οἴομαι
Definitions of Key Words
- ὀνειδίζοντος - to find fault in a way that demeans the other, reproach, revile, mock, heap insults upon
- ἁπλῶς - This word is often times translated “generously” (ESV) but the connotation here is probably closer to “without hesitation” or “single intent”. BDAG says, “pert. to being straightforward, simply, above board, sincerely, openly.” Citing Shepherd of Hermas and 2 Clement (Hm 2:4 without having second thoughts about the donation (s.ἁπλότης 1) ἁ. τι τελέσαι fulfill someth. without reservation Hm 2:6a, cp. b. Pray wholeheartedly, with confidence προσευχὰς ἀναφέρειν 2 Cl 2:2. ) The use here is then referring to the single, whole nature in which God gives his gifts. The idea of wholeness of James’ is a major theme in his letter and this idea is present here. See also the discussion in Varner.
- δίψυχος - Varner on the use of δίψυχος, “Whileδίψυχος may very well be a neologism, the practice conveyed by the word was not novel to the reader of Israel’s sacred texts. The concept of “doubleness” is found in Psalm 12:2: “with a double heart [ἐν καρδίᾳ καὶ ἐν καρδίᾳ ] do they speak,” as well as in 1 Chronicles 12:33 and 1 Kings 18:21. It is the opposite of what is commanded in Deuteronomy 4:29: “You shall seek there the Lord your God and you shall find Him when you seek Him with your heart and with all your soul [ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου].” In the appropriate Hebrew parallels, the theme of doubleness is an essential one in the sectarian documents of the DSS.179 Although apparently introduced by James, the word was quickly taken up by subsequent writers, because it appears more than forty times in Shepherd of Hermas.”
- λείπεται σοφίας - σοφίας is a genitive of separation (cf. Jas 2:15 - λειπόμενοι τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς ). BDF - The genitive of separation has been driven out for the most part by ἀπό orἐκ (both are classical in addition to the regular genitive)
- ἐν πίστει - is showing the manner in which one should ask.
If anyone is lacking wisdom, let him ask from God who gives without hesitation and reproach and it will be given to him. Let him ask in faith without doubting. For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea being tossed and driven by the wind. For this man does not supposed that he will lack anything from the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
The idea of wisdom and wholeness intersect here. Wisdom is the God given ability to make choices in situations. A whole person is one where his whole being is dedicated to God, this includes seeking the wisdom from above in faith. Wisdom plays a prominent role in James and it is a good and complete gift given from God with a single intent. If one is doubting the God who gives it reveals a heart that is “double-minded” and he is a person who is trying to use both worldly wisdom and God given wisdom. God desires us to be wholly dedicated to him and this should reflect the believers action in requesting wisdom from God.
This meaning certainly fits in with James’ call for singleness and his aversion to doubleness throughout his discourse. In other words, God’s willingness to give “without hesitation” contrasts vividly with the unanswered prayers of the person who prays “with hesitation.” With this support from sources outside the NT and also from the context, it is difficult to understand why the versions still cling to the “generously” translation. William Varner, James, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris, III and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, Jas 1:5 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012). ↩
William Varner, James, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris, III and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, Jas 1:8 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012). ↩
For the punctuation of v. 8 see Varner on James 1:8 ↩