Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (4:8a)
The third command is to draw near in intimate fellowship and communion with the living, eternal, almighty God. Salvation involves submitting to God as Lord and Savior, but also brings the desire for a true relationship with Him. Seeking salvation is seeking God (cf. Ps. 42:1; Matt. 7:7–11).
One of the primary functions of Old Testament priests was to “come near to the Lord [and] consecrate themselves” (Ex. 19:22; cf. Lev. 10:3; Ezek. 43:9; 44:13). Our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who brings us to God, prayed to His Father, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3), and later affirmed and defined those who believe in Him, praying that they “may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (v. 21). Above all else, the apostle Paul sought to “know Him [Christ] and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10).
“Drawing near to God” was in the Old Testament a general expression for the one who sincerely approached God in penitence and humility. Through Isaiah, the Lord said of those who came near Him hypocritically and superficially, “This people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” (Isa. 29:13). But the psalmist declared, “As for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works” (Ps. 73:28).
David assures us that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18). He counseled his own son Solomon, “Know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him” (1 Chron. 28:9; cf. 2 Chron. 15:1–2; Zech. 1:3). Through Jeremiah, the Lord promised, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
Because they are prompted by God’s own Spirit and accepted by the Lord Jesus (John 6:44, 65), those who seek to know, worship, and commune with God will be satisfied. As noted above, that was the Father’s will long before it was theirs (Rom. 8:29: Eph. 1:4–5). When they come to him like the prodigal son—in humility, penitence, and brokenness over their sin—the heavenly Father says to them, in effect, what that earthly father said to his son: “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (Luke 15:22–24).
Jesus told the Samaritan woman from Sychar, “An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24; cf. Phil. 3:3). The writer of Hebrews admonishes believers, “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.… Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 4:16; 10:22).
In his message to the pagan philosophers on Mars Hill, Paul said,
While I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist. (Acts 17:23–28)
The redeemed heart longs for communion with God (Pss. 27:8; 63:1–2; 84:2; 143:6; Matt. 22:37).
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; (4:8b)
The fourth command in this invitation to salvation is Cleanse your hands, you sinners. The origin of this idea was in the Jewish ceremonial prescription for priests before they came before the Lord to offer sacrifices in the tabernacle or temple. God commanded Moses,
You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it; when they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, that they may not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in smoke a fire sacrifice to the Lord. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they may not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations. (Ex. 30:18–21; cf. Lev. 16:4)
The same figure was used by Isaiah to represent unrepented sin in those who presumed to worship God. Through that prophet the Lord warned His people: “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil” (Isa. 1:15–16; cf. 59:2). David rejoiced thankfully that “the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me” (Ps. 18:20).
Paul also used the condition of the hands to represent the external behavior of the life, saying, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Tim. 2:8). “Holy hands” represent a spiritually and morally pure life, apart from which God cannot be approached. It is sin that separates depraved man from the holy God. Therefore, “No one who abides in Him sins,” John declares; “[and] no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him” (1 John 3:6). But although we can resist sin, temptation, and the devil, it is not in any person’s power—even the power of a believer—to cleanse himself spiritually. That is why our gracious Lord promises that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The command to cleanse your hands is therefore a command to submit (see James 4:7a) to God’s divine catharsis.
The fact that this command is specifically addressed to sinners is further evidence that James is speaking to unbelievers, calling them to repentance and a saving relationship with God. Throughout the New Testament, hamartōlos (sinners) is used only of unbelievers (see the texts listed below). Interpreters who insist that this overall passage (4:7–10) is addressed to believers must therefore hold that the use of the plural of hamartōlos in verse 8 is the only exception. But to make such a claim, especially for such a significant and commonly used word, is not justifiable without compelling evidence in the context. Such compelling evidence simply does not exist here.
From their ancient Scriptures, the Jews to whom James was writing would have understood that sinners referred to unbelievers. The perverted, ungodly “men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord” (Gen. 13:13). The book of Psalms begins with these words: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (1:1). Verse 5 of that psalm makes even clearer that “sinners” refers to the unsaved: “The wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” David spoke of teaching transgressors the ways of God in order that “sinners will be converted to You” (Ps. 51:13). Isaiah declares that “transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those who forsake the Lord shall come to an end” (Isa. 1:28) and that “the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it” (Isa. 13:9; cf. Amos 9:10).
Also in New Testament times, as clearly reflected in the gospels, hamartōlos was used of those who were hardened in sin, unrepentant, and blatantly immoral. Jesus admonished His hearers: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13). On another occasion He said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32; cf. Matt. 9:13; Mark 2:17). Before she was saved, Luke calls Mary of Bethany “a sinner” (Luke 7:37; cf. John 12:3). As he stood contritely in the temple, “the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ ” (Luke 18:13). Paul reminds believers that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8) and that, “As through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (5:19). In his first letter to Timothy, the apostle ranks sinners with the “lawless and rebellious, … the ungodly and … the unholy and profane” (1 Tim. 1:9). A few verses later he even more explicitly identifies sinners with the unsaved, saying, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (v. 15).
It therefore seems beyond doubt that, like the Old Testament and the rest of the New, James intended sinners to mean unbelievers, the unsaved.
and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (4:8c)
In this Hebraic parallelism, purify your hearts corresponds to “cleanse your hands” and you double-minded corresponds to “you sinners,” the second phrases adding a more specific dimension. Like David, James associates the outward sins of the hands with the inner sins of the heart. “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?” David asks. “And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully” (Ps. 24:3–4; cf. 51:10). The unbeliever not only is to turn from outward sin but, even more important, from the inner sin of the heart from which all outward sin springs. “Out of the heart,” Jesus said, “come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders” (Matt. 15:19).
“Wash your heart from evil, O Jerusalem,” Jeremiah proclaimed, “that you may be saved. How long will your wicked thoughts lodge within you?” (Jer. 4:14). “Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed,” Ezekiel implores his fellow Israelites, “and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” (Ezek. 18:31). When that happens, the Lord promises,
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (36:25–27)
The eighteenth-century evangelist George Whitefield said, “Every man by his own natural will hates God. But when he is turned to the Lord by evangelical repentance, then his will is changed; then his conscience, now hardened and benumbed, shall be quickened and weakened; then his hard heart shall be melted, and his unruly affections shall be crucified. Thus, by that repentance, the whole soul will be changed, he will have new inclinations, new desires, and new habits.”
Dipsuchos (double-minded) literally means “double-souled,” and is used only by James in the New Testament (see also 1:8). This is the person who lacks integrity, who claims one thing and lives another. This is the hypocrite in the assembly of believers who is commonly confronted in James. Here is further proof that James is speaking of and to unbelievers. The Lord Himself made clear that “no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24) and that “he who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (12:30). A double-minded person therefore could not possibly be a Christian.
Isaiah was calling on the double-minded sinner to purify his heart when he implored: “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6–7).
8 By contrast, James exhorts his hearers to “come near to God,” an action that has its own result: “and he will come near to you.” The concept of drawing near to God occurs in relation to approaching God in priestly service (e.g., Ex 19:22; 40:4–6; Lev 10:3), and new covenant believers can draw near because they have a better hope through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb 7:19). To draw near to God means to approach him in prayer, to turn toward him and not away from him. The result will be that God himself will respond by approaching the one who approaches him. In other words, a healthy relationship will be reestablished. As was the case in the old covenant system of worship, part of the process of drawing near to God involves cleansing, which James states in parallel fashion: “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” The images here, of course, are figurative and represent repentance from sin. The author has already mentioned the “double-minded” person in 1:8, and, as in that context, the double-minded people James has in mind are those with a divided commitment and questionable loyalties and therefore those who are unstable spiritually. These are “sinners” because they have not been committed resolutely to the ways of the Lord. Thus repentance is needed.
8 Originally draw near was used of the Jewish priest drawing near in worship (Exod. 19:22; Lev. 10:3; Ezek. 43:19; 44:13), and then by a natural transition, of any approach to God. “God goes out,” as the rabbis taught, “to those who approach him.” On the other hand, the NT emphasis on God’s moving even toward the undeserving is, as C. G. Montefiore perceived, without precedent in Judaism;50 but “God loves,” as St. Bernard said, “both more than you love, and before you love at all.”
The call to cleansing seems to be bound up with the call to God—two aspects of one action. Although the language is Levitical, it is used here, as often by the rabbis, of spiritual and moral cleansing: God himself was once compared to a purifying ritual bath. Here hands and hearts symbolize deeds and thoughts respectively. From David’s prayer for a clean heart (Ps. 51:11) it was concluded that his yetser was unclean. Repentance is the sinner’s first step toward God; the Greek word54 is the usual strong word for sinners, and double-minded56 indicates the fundamental defect of these professing Christians (see 1:8).
22.214.171.124. Drawing Near to God (4:8a)
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” This command, like the previous one, brings in its wake a promise. Both Testaments texts cited above speak of drawing near to God in the context of the flight of the evil one, so it is likely that James is drawing upon a traditional idea. In context, this line stands in dramatic contrast with 4:6b. Opposition to the proud stands in contrast to God’s drawing near to the one who draws near to God, which implies that drawing near is a dimension of humility, submission, and resisting the devil. The metaphor has several connections, not the least of which is to the prophetic summons for God’s people to draw near to God to hear him, to establish covenant relationship, and to turn from sin:
The spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you, while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law; but when in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them (2 Chron 15:1–4).
Therefore say to them, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech 1:3).
Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts (Mal 3:7).
Other connections, and less likely in my opinion, would be the cultic expression of drawing near to the God of the Temple cultus even though the connection of drawing near and consecration is clearly at work in our text (cf. 4:8b). Thus, Exodus 19:22: “Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them” (see also 24:2; Deut 16:16). Drawing on the cultic experience but closer to what James has in mind is Hebrews 4:16: “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (cf. 7:19). Prayer, too, is sometimes described as confessional, elective drawing near to God and God being near to the one praying (Deut 4:7; Ps 145:18), but an important warning is that physical and verbal proximity is no substitute for inner vulnerability to God (Isa 29:13).
Drawing near to God, then, is about a person’s inner repentant disposition of vulnerability to God’s will (cf. Jas 1:21) and is combined with the attentive behaviors of doing God’s will. In short, it is repentance leading to holiness, faith accompanied by works, and hearing and doing. However it is understood, the act of God drawing near is God’s choice of restoring the relationship with those who have fractured the relationship. This language of drawing near to God and God drawing near to us reminds one of the powerful covenant formula of the Old Testament: “I will be your God and you will be my people” (e.g., Gen 17:2, 4, 6–8; Exod 6:2–8). James is speaking to teachers who have fractured the messianic community and is calling them to repentance in terms of drawing near to God if they wish to have God draw near to them.328 What that drawing near of God would look like is not clear, but surely James would be thinking of peace in the community and compassion for those in need—both emerging from a leadership that has been renewed through repentance.
126.96.36.199. Cleansing and Purification (4:8b)
The fourth set of categories James uses to summons the teachers to repentance, a classic example of synonymous parallelism, is drawn from the cultic world of purity, and to each imperative is attached a vocative:
|Cleanse your hands,
|Purify your hearts,
The notable development in these two lines is the shift from “hands” to “hearts” to emphasize total purification, body and heart or outer and inner. It is possible, though hard to demonstrate, that “hands” speaks of behaviors and “hearts” of commitment. The more metaphorical and moral these images are, the less likely such a distinction can be sustained. Hands were used to offer gifts and sacrifices (cf. Lev 4:4; 14:15) and were cleansed as a form of purity (cf. Mark 7:2–5).
The first line is aimed at “you sinners.” Calling the teachers “sinners” is rhetorically strong and reminds one of 2:20 and 3:15 and especially of “adulteresses” in 4:4. The emotional intensity of this word, though, is matched by other verses in James, including 1:19–21; 2:4, 5–7, 14–17, 19, 20; 3:10, 15; 4:1–4, 12; and 5:1–6. James perceives the teachers in terms of faithlessness and falling short of God’s design and defilement by their desires and behaviors. Again, we are to think of passages like 3:1–12, 14–16; 4:1–4; and perhaps 2:1–4 to clarify the kind of sin involved. The teachers have defiled their hands with sin and are therefore called to “cleanse your hands.” This expression evokes the purification rituals of the priests (e.g., Exod 29:4; 30:19–21; 40:12; Ps 26:6), the people (Exod 19:10; Lev 15:5–8; 17:15–16), and the sacrifices themselves (Exod 29:17). The community at Qumran is a good example from the time of James (CD 10:11; 1QM 14:2; 4Q514 fragment 1 1:6). Furthermore, this language became metaphorical for moral purification (Isa 1:16; Jer 4:14), and that is the primary sense here. Surely also Psalm 24:3–4 is in the background to James’s statement:
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
And the psalmist’s doubts emerge in similar words in Psalm 73:13: “All in vain I have kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence.”
The second line is directed at the “double-minded,” a word used elsewhere in James of the person whose confidence in God is shaken and whose faith is unstable (1:8). The issue here, however, is not a shaken faith. Instead, the teachers’ zeal and ambition have compromised their moral integrity in desiring friendship with the world (4:4) while leading the messianic community. The particular accusations can be found throughout 3:1–4:12. This is the third strong term in this chapter James uses for the failures of the teachers: “adulteresses” speaks to their infidelities, “sinners” to their failure to accomplish God’s designs, and “double-minded” to their lack of moral integrity. James urges the double-minded teachers to “purify your hearts.” The heart is for Judaism the core or center of a person with respect to behavior, faith, mind and emotion; it is, as it were, the core of one’s being and the moral compass. Thus, in James 1:26 the person who thinks herself religious, but lacks control of the tongue, deceives the heart. Envy and ambition, the central moral failing of the teachers, embed themselves in the heart (3:14) and the rich person’s luxury fattens the heart (5:5). Hence, another central moral exhortation in James is for the community to strengthen the heart in light of the Lord’s coming (5:8). The teachers must get the very center of their being purified. The leading word in James’s list of qualifiers of genuine wisdom is “pure” (hagnē, 3:17). Once again, we are led to the Jewish world of purification and the status of purity—that is, of being in right order before God so that one can enter the Temple. Thus, Moses and Joshua consecrated the people (Exod 19:10; Josh 3:5), the Nazirites were to purify themselves from wine and strong drink (Num 6:3) and the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes (8:21). Purification was made for sacred tasks (1 Chron 15:12, 14; 2 Chron 29:5, 15–19; 2 Macc 12:38). We find the same ideas in the New Testament (John 11:55; Acts 21:24, 26; 24:18). But this term, like “cleanse” in the previous line, became a metaphor for moral purity (1 Pet 1:22; 1 John 3:3).
It is easy to get lost in the variety of images James spills onto the page, and it is also easy to lose contact with James’s intent: to summon the teachers from their zeal, ambition, cravings, desires, and yearning toward envy to repentance. The next verse makes that intent clear.
Come Near to God (4:8)
When we hear “Come near to God,” we might think of public worship or private prayers. “Come near” is sometimes the language of worship (Lev. 21:3; Isa. 29:13; Heb. 7:19), but James has not been discussing worship. Therefore, “come near” could mean returning to God in covenant renewal after straying. For example, God speaks through Malachi, saying, “Return to me, and I will return to you” (Mal. 3:7; cf. Zech. 1:2–3). In Hosea 12:6, the prophet links “return to your God” with “come near to your God.” It is certainly true that we may “come near” to God after sinning (perhaps after succumbing to temptation). But “come near” and “draw near” means more than “repent.” We come near to God to worship him, to serve him, to meet him, to seek help, and to gain assurance, as well as to repent. It is better, therefore, to conclude that James is offering a far-reaching promise, a promise that other gods do not make. When we draw near to God, he also draws near to us. As Moses asked, “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” (Deut. 4:7).
Wash Your Hands, You Sinners (4:8)
If a sinner comes near to the holy God, he will naturally want to repent of his sins. James says, “Wash your hands” (4:8). The hands represent actions or deeds (Gen. 3:22; 4:11; Ex. 3:20; Deut. 2:7; Ps. 89:21). Next he says, “Purify your hearts” (James 4:8). The heart represents motives or intentions. James censures the “double-minded.” The double-minded lack integrity. They pursue two things at once—service of God and service of self. James has already warned about double-mindedness, saying that the double-minded man asks and gets nothing (1:8). He is unstable. But godly wisdom is pure; it has clarity of purpose. True believers are bent on one thing, to seek and to find the Lord. The psalmist says:
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart.…
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God his Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (Ps. 24:3–6)
4:8 / Full repentance will mean purification. There is both promise and demand in the call Come near to God and he will come near to you. As a promise, there is the reciprocal promise of God: Turn to him and he will turn to you (Mal. 3:7), return to him and he will return (Zech. 1:3). God is a loving father waiting for the chance to respond to his children in forgiveness, but the demand states that they must repent and come near. This term normally indicates an activity of worship: All their church’s worship is not a coming near, for their community disharmony rooted in preoccupation with worldly success makes it unacceptable. “Come near,” calls God. “Worship me truly! Worship with obedience!” (cf. 1:27).
Continuing the metaphor, James cries, Wash your hands, you sinners. Worship in the Old Testament required cultically clean hands, so they were ritually washed before certain parts of the worship (e.g., Exod. 30:19–21). These Christians are at present unfit for worship because of their sin. The term sinners is strong, for James will not accept any excuse. Their actions are sin—plain, inexcusable sin. They will change their behavior (wash … hands) only when they accept this fact.
James moves from behavior to the inner problem when he demands: Purify your hearts, you double-minded. Again a ritual term from the Old Testament is selected (cf. Exod. 19:10), but the defilement now is not outward (e.g., from having touched a dead body) but inward. The nature of the purification necessary appears in the term double-, the same term found in 1:8, meaning, not a person consciously hiding his or her real motives but one who has divided motives. On the one hand, they wish to follow Christ and be good Christians; on the other hand, they are not willing to give up the world (cf. Rom. 6:8; 2 Cor. 5:11–17). They excuse their following worldly patterns of influence and money making (cf. 4:13–17). But James has already stated that God will not share them with the world; he wants them all (4:4). Thus they need to cleanse themselves inwardly from their worldly motives and to seek Christ and his kingdom alone.
4:8 Come near to God … Wash your hands … purify your hearts. See Psalm 24:3–4. Hands represent actions, and hearts represent attitudes. Those who are engaged in envy and quarrels must both stop their contentious actions and change their proud attitudes. “Wash” and “purify” represent the holiness and separateness that are required for drawing near to God. See also Matthew 5:8; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1; Hebrews 10:22.
double-minded. The same word is used in 1:8 to speak of the person who is of two minds as to whether God will answer the request for wisdom. Here the immediate context is of readers who have been adulterous by being friends with the world while belonging to God. Many adulterers are of two minds as to what will truly make them happy, their spouse or their lover. James is accusing his readers of being of two minds as to whether following God or their own desires is the best way to achieve the blessings of life.
Ver. 8.—Draw nigh to God (ἐγγίσατε τῷ Θεῷ) A phrase used of approach to God under the old covenant (see Exod. 19:22; 34:30; Lev. 10:3). Equally necessary under the new covenant is it for those who draw near to God to have “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4). Hence the following injunction: “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.”
8. Draw nigh to God. He again reminds us that the aid of God will not be wanting to us, provided we give place to him. For when he bids us to draw nigh to God, that we may know him to be near to us, he intimates that we are destitute of his grace, because we withdraw from him. But as God stands on our side, there is no reason to fear succumbing. But if any one concludes from this passage, that the first part of the work belongs to us, and that afterwards the grace of God follows, the Apostle meant no such thing; for though we ought to do this, yet it does immediately follow that we can. And the Spirit of God, in exhorting us to our duty, derogates nothing from himself, or from his own power; but the very thing he bids us to do, he himself fulfils in us.
In short, James meant no other thing in this passage, than that God is never wanting to us, except when we alienate ourselves from him. He is like one who brings the hungry to a table, and the thirsty to a fountain. There is this difference, that our steps must be guided and sustained by the Lord, for our feet fail us. But what some cavil at, and say, that God’s grace is secondary to our preparation, and as it were the waiting-maid, is very frivolous; for we know that it is no new thing that he adds new to former graces, and thus enriches more and more those to whom he has already given much.
Cleanse your hands. He here addresses all those who were alienated from God. And he does not refer to two sorts of men, but he calls the same sinners and double-minded. Nor does he understand every kind of sinners, but the wicked and those of a corrupt life. It is said in John 9:3, “God does not hear sinners;” in the same sense a woman is called a sinner by Luke. (Luke 7:36.) It is said by the same and the other evangelists, “He drinketh and eateth with sinners.” He, therefore, does not invite all indiscriminately to that sort of repentance mentioned here, but those who are wicked and corrupt in heart, and whose life is base and flagitious, or at least wicked; it is from these he requires a purity of heart and outward cleanliness.
We hence learn what is the true character of repentance. It is not only an outward amendment of life, but its beginning is the cleansing of the heart. It is also necessary, on the other hand, that the fruits of inward repentance should appear in the uprightness of our works.
Ver. 8. Draw nigh to God.—
Draw nigh to God:—
- The duty here required of us by the apostle principally implies a life of prayer and devotedness to God, as contrasted with the careless indifference or the dull formality of nominal or pretended Christians.
- The encouragement given to perform this duty. What great reason have we to be animated in our Christian warfare by the presence and support of the Lord of hosts!
III. The importance of obeying this injunction to our final happiness and security. (John Grose, M.A.)
The reasonableness and blessedness of prayer:—Worshipping with a pious heart is evidently the manner of drawing nigh to God, which the apostle had in mind when he penned the text. Under the Jewish dispensation, drawing near to God in worship was a more literal thing than it is under the Christian dispensation. In the temple, God had His dwelling-place as a King in His palace. It will not be understood from this that Jewish worship was only of this outward, ceremonial character. The heart was required of them as well as of us (Isa. 29:13, 14). Nevertheless, under the Christian dispensation, the worship of God is more strictly of a spiritual character. The duty of worshipping God is no less the dictate of reason and of common sense, than of Scripture. It has been the sentiment of mankind, universally, that children ought to cherish peculiar respect for their parents. So men have always deemed it proper to specially regard and honour those high in authority. Can those who thus honour parents and magistrates deny the obligation to do homage to Him who is at once their Maker, their Sovereign, and their Judge? Prayer.
- Its reasonableness. 1. God has enjoined it. It must be counted reasonable to do what God has commanded, and most unreasonable to disregard His positive injunctions. “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.”—“Continuing instant in prayer.”—“Pray without ceasing.” 2. The reasonableness of prayer may be shown from the example of the Saviour. 3. The reasonableness of prayer is manifest when we consider what we are—(1) As needy and dependent creatures. Every hour of our lives brings with it wants which must be supplied, or we suffer and die. (2) As sinful and unworthy creatures. No one has, or can have, any other idea of prayer, than as being addressed to the mercy of God; and when that mercy invites us freely to come and make known our desires, it is most unreasonable in us not to avail ourselves of the privilege. (3) As dying and accountable creatures. Who can feel easy in view of future accountability, whose heart has never been sufficiently grateful to acknowledge the Divine goodness, nor sufficiently humble to confess its sins and seek the Divine forgiveness? 4. As showing the reasonableness of prayer, consider the benefits of a persevering attendance on this duty. Prayer is the way to a life of communion with God—a means of keeping up an acquaintance with, and of growing in the knowledge of God. It is a most excellent, yea, an essential means of nourishing the new nature, and of causing the soul to prosper. It is a good preservative from sin; as it is said, “praying will make us leave sinning,” or “sinning will make us leave praying.”
- The blessedness of prayer. 1. This may be seen by considering the nature of the exercise itself. Prayer usually embraces three things—praise, confession, and supplication. The ascription of praise to God is certainly a delightful exercise to every grateful heart. A grateful heart is burdened with a sense of obligation until it finds relief in rendering a tribute of thanks to Him who is the Giver of every good and every perfect gift. Confession of sin is a part of prayer full of blessedness. What a blessed hour was that to the poor prodigal when he came to himself, and said, “I will arise and go to my father.” Supplication, too, as a part of prayer, is a blessed exercise. 2. We may learn the blessedness of prayer by its effect on the character of him who offers it, and also by the blessings bestowed in answer to it. (F. Snyder.) Draw nigh to God:—
- Show with what tempers and dispositions of mind we must draw nigh to God. 1. If we are truly and devoutly desirous of drawing nigh to God, one of our earliest considerations will naturally be, how unfit we are to come to Him. This will lead us to a serious examination of ourselves: to a review of our past conversation; and a comparison of it with the rule of His commandments. 2. We must draw nigh to God with firm resolutions of continuing, through His grace, in His service during our whole lives. 3. We must draw nigh with sincerity. By sincerity I mean here a desire to know and do the whole will of God.
- There are proper places and times, as well as due dispositions, of drawing nigh to god. 1. Can we approach without ardent love? 2. It becomes us, when drawing nigh to God, to cherish the spirit of obedience. 3. Our most intense desires should ascend above all temporal blessings.
- The promise afforded. 1. Several things are implied in this promise. (1) It imports the manifestation of His presence. He is ever nigh, but He makes Himself known in a gracious manner only to those who seek Him. (2) It implies infinite condescension. 2. Several benefits are imparted by the fulfilment of this promise. (1) The mind derives from it pure and sacred pleasure. “A soul in converse with her God is heaven.” (2) A state of security ensues. If God draw nigh to us, it is not to forsake us immediately afterwards. But if God be with us, we have nothing to fear.
III. Considerations on the perfections of God and His relations to us, as motives and inducements for drawing nigh to Him. 1. In coming to God, we come to Him who is the blessed and only Potentate; the King of kings, the Lord of lords; who only hath immortality; who, by His word, framed the worlds; and, by the same word of power, upholdeth all things; in whom we live, and move, and have our being. 2. In coming to Him, we come to our Redeemer. 3. In coming to Him, we come to our Judge. (T. Townson, D.D.)
The approach of a devout mind to the Almighty:—1. There are certain indispensable prerequisites. (1) We must possess a knowledge of God. (2) We must be convinced of our dependent state. (3) We must embrace the plan of reconciliation by Jesus Christ. 2. There are certain dispositions which must be the accompaniments of prayer. (3) Communion begets resemblance. And can we have been often with the holy God, and not be holy? (O. A. Jeary.)
Drawing near to God:—1. Touching the commandment, and the precept enjoined, is to draw near to God. That we are commanded to draw near unto God, doth it not insinuate unto us that naturally we are estranged and alienated from Him? Isa. 59:2; Jer. 5:25). 2. To which short precept is set down a like promise: draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Which promise is as a reason to move us to draw near to God. He is ready to offer Himself, and is pressed at hand to all such as come near unto Him, to make them to feel the comfort of His presence. God may be said to draw near to man divers ways. (1) By the manifestation of His majesty, as to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and others (Gen. 12:7; 17:1; 18:1; 26:1; 28:13; 32:24; Exod. 33:23; 24:1; 3:2). (2) He draweth near also unto man by the revelation of His will. He drew nearest thus to Israel His people, to whom He gave His law and statutes, whereby He became familiar unto them. (3) By the graces of His Spirit, which imparting unto men He draweth near thereby unto them (John 14:18; Matt, 28:20; Acts 2:1; 3:3). (4) God draweth near to men by pouring out His temporal benefits upon them, health, wealth, honour, and sending them deliverance out of their trouble (Deut. 4:7; Phil. 4:5; Psa. 69:18; 119:151; 34:18; 46:1). (5) God draweth near unto men in offering His mercy, showing His favour, assisting with His help, multiplying His lovingkindness unto them. (6) God finally draweth near unto us in a spiritual union with man, through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, whereby God is united unto us and we to Him, by which means God dwelleth among us, and is made manifest in the flesh, as St. John and St. Paul speak. And therefore Christ is Emmanuel. Where, then, the apostle saith draw near to God, and He will draw near to you, he speaketh chiefly of drawing near by His grace, favour, mercy; who enlargeth His lovingkindness towards all those which with reverence and fear draw near unto Him. 3. These things thus set down, in the last place we are taught how we should draw near to God, which the apostle expresseth in these words: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purge your hearts, you double-minded.” (1) Men draw near to God by outward profession, though it be not always in sincerity of heart. Thus did the people of Israel in outward profession, and with their mouths, draw near to God, which as a token of hypocrisy is condemned (Isa. 24:13; 58:2, 3). (2) Men also draw near to God by faith in Jesus Christ, whereby they have entrance unto Him (Rom. 5:1). (3) Men draw near to God also by prayer, whereby we ascend, as it were, to heaven, and approach near to the presence of God. (4) Neither do men draw near to God by prayer only, but also by repentance, which is a returning again to God, whom, through the sins and iniquities of our lives, we have left and forsaken. (5) Men are said, moreover, to draw near to God when they seek to His holy ark, when they run to His Word to ask counsel. (6) By reposing all trust and confidence in God, and clinging constantly unto Him, whereof Psa. 73:28. (7) Of none of all these the apostle here seemeth to speak properly, bat of another drawing near, which is by purity and sincereness of life, whereof chiefly in this place he speaketh, which he commendeth unto us in these words, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purge your hearts, you double-minded,” which I take not for a new precept, but with Bede and others as the manner of performing that which is now enjoined. Let us then consider the place—1. In calling them sinners he meaneth not them which are subject by natural infirmity to the committing of sin, as all men are so long as they rest and remain upon the face of the earth, but hereby henoteth their heinous and horrible iniquities. 2. By wavering or double-minded he noteth the shameful hypocrisy which was crept in, even into their lives, which made some show of religion, and had a pretence of godliness, but in their hearts were full of ungodliness. 3. The words bearing this signification, the matter followeth, that men in purity and sincerity of their lives draw near unto God, which consisteth in two things. (1) In cleaning of their hands. (2) In purging of their hearts before God. (R. Turnbull.)
Communion with God:—
- The meaning. We are to understand it as conveying a gracious promise of conscious and sensible communion with the Father of our spirits.
- The manner. 1. The sinner must draw nigh unto God by the way of His own appointment, and that way is Christ. 2. In drawing nigh unto God a sinner must have a sense not only of his own unrighteousness, but of his own helplessness. 3. You must draw nigh to God in all His ordinances. 4. With clean hands and a pure heart.
III. The motives. 1. The graciousness of the invitation. 2. The greatness of the benefit to be secured. 3. The certainty of the result. 4. The dreadful consequences of continued estrangement. (Alex. Hislop.)
Communion with God:—If you saw two persons working together in the same shop, or the same field, both blessed with the faculty of speech, and delighting to converse with all others, but never conversing with each other, what would be your conclusion? That they loved each other? By no means; but the reverse. If you saw one person using every art to please another, and to draw him into conversation, and the second person avoided his presence, and refused intercourse, what would you think? That the second person loved the first? Surely not. It is our pleasure to be in the society of those we love, and to converse with them. Prayer is speaking to God. Worship is coming into His presence, and waiting upon Him—is listening to His voice.
Approaches to God:—The mother of Artaxerxes was wont to say, that they who would address themselves unto princes must use silken words: surely he that would approach unto God must consider, and look as well to his words as to his feet. He is so holy and jealous of His worship, that he expects that there should be preparation in our accesses unto Him: preparation of our persons by purity of life (Job 11:13); preparation of our services by choice of matter (John 9:1); preparation of our hearts by finding them out, stirring them up, fixing them, fetching them in, and calling together all that is within us to prevail with God. (Bp. Reynolds.) Let your laughter be turned to mourning.—
Carnal joy exchanged for godly sorrow:—1. It is a good exchange to put away carnal joy for godly sorrow; for then we put away a sin for a duty, brass for gold; yea, we have that in the duty which we expected in the sin, and in a more pure, full, and sweet way. God will give us that in sorrow which the world cannot find in pleasure; serenity, and contentment of mind. When the world repenteth of their joy, you will never repent of your sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10). The saddest duties are sweeter than the greatest triumphs, and the worst and most afflicted part of godliness is better than all the joys and comforts of the world. It is better to have your good things to come, than here (Luke 16:21). 2. An excellent way to moderate the excess of joy is to mix it with some weeping. The way to abate one passion is to admit the contrary: in abundance there is danger; therefore in your jollity think of some mournful objects. (T. Manton.)
Mourning for sin:—Mourn savourly and soakingly, with a deep and downright sorrow, so as a man would do in the death of his dearest friend. The Greek word, πενθήσατε, imports a funeral grief. (J. Trapp.)
Laughter turned to mourning:—Turn all the streams into one channel, that may drive the will, that may grind the heart. Meal was offered of old, and not whole corn. (Ibid.) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up.—
Living as in God’s sight:—The heart is naturally at enmity with God. Hence humility is the first of Christian virtues: not that God wishes to see us debased, but that self-abasement is in accordance with the truth of our character, and is the way to exaltation. To use a very rude metaphor, just as a man cannot go up another hill till he has gone down the one on which he happens to be, so a soul cannot be exalted in God until it has thoroughly come down from self. And what is that exaltation which God accomplishes for the soul? It must be the only true and permanent exaltation. Exaltation in Satan’s kingdom must be debasement, for it is exaltation in sin, and sin depresses and debases. The exaltation, then, in this case must be an illusion. The true exaltation must be in the truth. It must be in the region where God dwells. It must be in righteousness and holiness. Such an exaltation implies satisfaction and joy. It also implies its own continuance, because of its Divine character. It is man’s finality in the kingdom of God as contrasted with his finality in the kingdom of Satan. There is one phrase especially in our text on which we desire to lay stress: “In the sight of the Lord.” Our humility is to be wrought in His sight. This implies, in the first place—1. That the humility is not a humbling of ourselves before our fellow-men. The abjectness and servility of one man to another are not pleasing to God. If we injure our fellow-man, we are to take the attitude of penitence before him. But, this exceptional case aside, no man is to humble himself before his fellow-man. 2. The believer’s humility is therefore, in the second place, a true humility. It will not do to present to God the outward prostration for the inward repentance, the words of humility for the self-renunciation of the heart. A true humility is alive, and bears fruit in a new and holy life. A true humility sees the truth regarding itself, that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and cries out for God. The man abandons self for God. He abhors self, and finds a refuge in Jesus Christ, who is made unto him wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. This is the glorious “lifting up” which always accompanies a true humility. “What!” says an objector, “is that a true humility which is humble in order to be exalted?” Yes, it is. It would not be if the exaltation were to be in the line of the humility; that is, if the man was to be exalted in the very pride from which he humbles himself. But when the man is to be exalted by the Divine grace and the Divine Spirit, that is a true humility which foresees this exaltation, and acts in view of it. It is not a humility of despair, but of faith. It know its own worthlessness, but it knows also the Lord’s grace. 3. The believer’s humility, being in the sight of the Lord, implies a life in the sight of the Lord. He sees Him who is invisible, and his motives come from that source, so invisible to the world. The Lord’s light shines on him, and that light reveals sin in the heart. He is never found justifying himself, or flattering himself with human purity and excellence. His comfort comes from no such proud and false source, but from resting his evil heart on the pardoning and cleansing love of his Redeemer. And in that love he finds a true holiness springing up in his soul. 4. The believer’s humility implies a life of prayer. We cannot see God without praying to Him as the source of pardon and holiness, the only guardian and guide of the soul. (H. Crosby, D.D.)
Humility explained, and its necessity enforced:—Humility stands opposed to pride. And as pride consists in our entertaining higher ideas of ourselves than truth will warrant, and in our presuming upon these, both in feeling and in practice, as if they were just and correct, so humility consists in our entertaining accurate notions of what we really are in relation to some one above us, and in preserving that station which a regard to our real merits requires us to occupy, as to the sentiments we cherish and the conduct we maintain, with respect to those under whom we are placed. The humility inculcated in my text is humility in reference, not to another creature more exalted than ourselves, but to God, who is immeasurably exalted above all creatures. And in this simple relation, even though we had done nothing to offend Him, humility is at once graceful and necessary; for, as we owe everything to Him, and as we depend upon Him for everything, it would be presumptuous, undutiful, to have one thought towards Him or to make one movement before Him, which proceeded on the supposition that we were not so indebted and so dependent. But the humility enjoined upon us not only respects our relation to God as His creatures, whose every faculty must be traced to Him—it also respects our relation to Him as His sinful creatures—who are thus removed at a still greater distance from Him than they naturally were, and liable to His high and holy indignation. When we exhort you to be humble, we do not exhort you to think yourselves worse or meaner than you really are. We only exhort you to form a just and precise valuation of what you really are, as compared with what you ought to be, according to the rule which has been Divinely enacted, and to maintain the conduct which such an appreciation is calculated to produce. And this exhortation is highly important in the first place, because, unless we have just notions of what we are as sinners, we can neither perceive the value, nor be prepared for the reception of any scheme that may be devised for our deliverance; and in the second place, because, among the principles of our fallen nature, pride is that which has perhaps the greatest ascendancy over our minds, and prevents us from giving heed to those considerations which go to determine what we really are, and by doing so, to fix us at our proper level. The great and vital fact with respect to you is, that you are stained with sin. There may be an endless variety in the mode and in the measure of sinning with which different individuals are chargeable. Do not suppose that you have any refuge in the paucity of your misdeeds. It is the nature of sin itself, and not its multiplicity merely, which subjects you to degradation. It is its power in the soul, and not its actual and manifold exhibition in the outward conduct, by which you are debased. But which of you can venture to say that your transgressions are few in number? Consider the extent—the strictness—the spirituality of that law to which you are subject. That is the measure of your sinfulness; and if your humility should be in proportion to your sinfulness, what limit can be set to it? Humility, however, is so mortifying to the human mind, that before it can obtain a settlement there, every attempt is made to discover reasons for believing that it is neither necessary nor appropriate. And one of the most common refuges in which the natural pride of man fortifies itself, is the self-righteous plea of what is called innocence and amiableness of character. Granting that you are as harmless as amiable, as deserving of esteem as you are thought to be, still it is all unavailing. The essential excellence of what is done by a moral agent, consists in its recognition of the existence, and in its submission to the will of Him who ruleth over all. And yet God has not been in all your thoughts, and God has not been in all your ways. And the pervading guilt which such a consideration throws into it is incalculably aggravated by your not only resting upon its merits with satisfaction, but actually supposing it sufficient to secure the favour of that very Being whom it has so dishonoured, neglected, and disowned. But we must not neglect to remind you of that affecting display of the evil of sin, and of the degradation of the sinner, as these appear in the sight of the Lord which has been made in the Cross of Christ. Could such a sacrifice as this, think you, have been demanded by “the Father of mercies,” the possessor of infinite wisdom, the God of righteousness and justice, if it had not been necessary for the purpose for which it was required—the expiation of human guilt, and the deliverance of those to whom it attached, from the degradation and the ruin into which it had brought them? Had we nothing more to tell you than that you are sinners, it would only fill you with mortification, hopelessness, and anguish. But after having told you all that we can add intelligence as pleasing as that which went before it was painful. We can speak of blessings that are to follow in its train, and that are sufficient to compensate you a thousand-fold for all the distress which may have been inflicted upon your feelings by our delineations of the abject state to which you are reduced as transgressors. We would persuade you to humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, that He may, in consequence, “lift you up.” This is the arrangement established by the Author of salvation. The humility that is enjoined is connected with the privilege that is to follow it, in another way than that of either natural or acquired right. The connection is just as necessary, but it is of a different kind. When the sinner is made humble, he is merely undergoing a part of that moral process which must take place, in order that he may be raised from the death of sin to the life of holiness and peace. If you feel and cherish that humbleness of mind which just conceptions of your guilty and depraved and wretched condition are calculated to generate; and if in the midst of this self-reproach you are ready to throw your fortunes unreservedly upon the merits of that dispensation which Divine grace offers to you as your all-sufficient refuge, then there is no insuperable barrier between you and the salvation which you need. The devices of God’s wisdom become acceptable to you, the offers of His mercy become welcome to you, the hopes of His favour become precious to you, the whole manifestation of His redeeming love becomes available to you. (A. Thomson, D.D.)
Humility in God’s sight:—In one of our western cities is a physician who is very skilful in doctoring the human eye. I went one day into his office. On the wall was a large painting of an eye. It seemed to look at me when I went in. I could get into no part of the room without the eye seeing me; and the last thing that I saw as I went out was that eye looking at me. 1 have often thought of that picture, and said to myself, that in some such way God’s all-seeing eye follows me all my life through. And it makes me feel humble, and leads me to be careful; humble, because I must be so small, so weak, and so wicked in God’s sight; careful, for surely I shall want God to see only that which will please Him as He shall look me through and through. (J. G. Merrill.)
Deep root, tall growth:—As a tree, the more deeply it is rooted in the earth, the taller it groweth and mounteth the higher; even so a man, the more humble and lowly that he is, the more and higher doth the Lord exalt him.
Christian humility the way of an exaltation:—Our humiliations work out our most elevated joys. The way that a drop of rain comes to sing in the leaf that rustles in the top of the tree all the summer long, is by going down to the roots first, and from thence ascending to the bough. (H. W. Beecher.)
4:8 “Draw near to God” This is an AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. This verse reflects OT regulations for the priests that now are applicable to all believers (cf. Ex. 19:22). The collective title for the OT Levitical priests has now been transferred to all of the NT saints (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). Notice the covenantal reciprocal requirement—believers draw near and God draws near (cf. 2 Chr. 15:2; Zech. 1:3; Mal. 3:7).
© “He will draw near to you” This is not a works-righteousness emphasis, but a promise that God responds to faith (cf. Ps. 145:18).
© “Cleanse your hands, you sinners” This is another AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. (cf. Ps. 24:3–6; Isa. 1:16). Notice that James calls believers “sinners”! This also relates to the ceremonial purification worship rites of OT priests (cf. Ex. 30:17–21; Ezek. 44:15). It became an OT idiom for the turning from and removal of sin (cf. Deut. 21:1–9; Ps. 24:4; 26:6). The “hand” becomes a revealer of the “heart.” We become what we think, what we dwell on mentally. Believers need to have clean hearts and hands, as well as a single commitment to God (which is the exact opposite of a double-minded person, cf. 1:8; 4:5).
There is a good article on “Washing Hands” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, pp. 362–3.
© “purify your hearts” This is another AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. This is not just outward ceremonial cleansing but inward spiritual cleansing (cf. Jer. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 3:3). The covenant has requirements!
© “you double-minded” This same descriptive term is used of believers with unanswered prayers in 1:5–8. Here it is used of believers again. James is clearly asserting that believers’ motives and lifestyles make a real difference in the way one experiences the Christian life. Peace, security, joy, and effectiveness are not automatic.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 205–210). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 256). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Adamson, J. B. (1976). The Epistle of James (pp. 174–175). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 McKnight, S. (2011). The Letter of James (pp. 349–353). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 Doriani, D. M. (2007). James. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 149–150). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
 Davids, P. H. (2011). James (pp. 102–103). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Samra, J. (2016). James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 53). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). James (p. 56). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles (pp. 334–335). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: James (pp. 379–384). Cincinnati; Chicago; Kansas City: Jennings & Graham.
 Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Jesus’ Half-Brothers Speak: James and Jude (Vol. Volume 11, pp. 56–57). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.