Greeting.[a] 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion: greetings.
Exhortation To Practice Patience
Trials—the Test of a Faith in Progress.[b] 2 My brethren, consider it a cause of great joy whenever you endure various trials, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith will develop perseverance. 4 And let perseverance complete its work so that you may become perfect and complete, and not be deficient in any respect.
A Believer’s Prayer.[c] 5 If someone among you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But he is to ask with faith, without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. 7 A man like that should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 since he is of two minds and inconsistent in everything he does.
Rich and Poor.[d] 9 The brother who is in modest circumstances should take pride in being raised up. 10 Likewise, the one who is rich should glory in being brought low, for he will disappear like a flower of the field. 11 Once the sun comes up with its scorching rays and withers the grass, its flower droops and its beauty vanishes. So too the rich man will fade away in the midst of his affairs.
12 Trials and Temptations. Blessed is the man who perseveres when he is tempted, for when he has been proven, he will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.[e]
13 [f]While experiencing temptation, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 Rather, temptation occurs when someone is attracted and seduced by his own desire. 15 Then the desire conceives and gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it reaches full growth, gives birth to death.
16 Light and Life.[g] Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good act of giving and every perfect gift are from above, coming down from the Father of all light. With him there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. 18 By his own choice he gave us birth through the way of truth so that we may be a kind of firstfruits of all his creation.
Exhortation To Practice Faith
19 Living by God’s Word.[h] Remember this, my beloved brethren: everyone should be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to anger. 20 For human anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, rid yourselves of everything sordid and of every wicked excess, and welcome in all humility the word that is implanted in you and is able to save your souls.
22 Be doers of the word and not just hearers who only deceive themselves. 23 For anyone who listens to the word and fails to do it is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror. 24 After seeing his reflection, he goes off and immediately forgets what he looked like. 25 However, the one who looks intently at the perfect law of freedom and perseveres—not forgetting what he has heard but putting it into practice—will be blessed in everything he does.
26 If anyone thinks that he is religious but does not restrain his tongue, he is deceiving himself, and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and undefiled is this: to come to the aid of orphans and widows in their hardships and to keep oneself untarnished by the world.
- James 1:1 Only this verse gives the writing the form of a letter. Concerning the author and the addressees, see the Introduction. Servant: see note on Rom 1:1. Twelve tribes: they prefigured the new People of God (see Acts 26:7; Rev 7:4).
- James 1:2 The Christian is exposed to the opposition of society. Joy . . . various trials: a teaching based on the words of Jesus (see Mt 5:10-12; Jn 10:11).
- James 1:5 A believer’s prayer requires lucidity and courage to pursue a Christian way of life—that is, wisdom.
- James 1:9 In becoming Christians, the rich lose their privileged position in society and the poor wait to be enriched by God. Both of them must live in the spirit of the poor of the Bible (see Ps 72:4, 12; Mt 5:3; Lk 1:52).
- James 1:12 Those who bear trials patiently will go from distress to sharing the joy and life of the Lord.
- James 1:13 The passage from trials to temptations reveals the depths of a person—and is one more reason to be vigilant.
- James 1:16 Light and life are opposed to sin and death. They are the grace of the new birth through the Gospel and Baptism.
- James 1:19 It costs nothing to place oneself among the distracted listeners and let oneself go to the demon of words for the sake of words. Hearing the Gospel for the sake of putting it into practice obliges one to notice the sufferings of others, to be concerned with truth, to cling to the Christian originality in the face of current mentalities and morals.