Tag Archives: james 1:9-11

Blogging Through James: James 1:9-11

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.

James 1:9–11

NA28 Text
Parsing of Key Words
Definitions of Key Words
Grammar
Translation
Notes

NA28 Text

9 Καυχάσθω δὲ ὁ ἀδελφὸς ὁ ταπεινὸς ἐν τῷ ὕψει αὐτοῦ, 10 ὁ δὲ πλούσιος ἐν τῇ ταπεινώσει αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου παρελεύσεται. 11 ἀνέτειλεν γὰρ ὁ ἥλιος σὺν τῷ καύσωνι καὶ ἐξήρανεν τὸν χόρτον, καὶ τὸ ἄνθος αὐτοῦ ἐξέπεσεν, καὶ ἡ εὐπρέπεια τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἀπώλετο· οὕτως καὶ ὁ πλούσιος ἐν ταῖς πορείαις αὐτοῦ μαρανθήσεται.

Parsing of Key Words

  • ἀνέτειλεν – Aor Act Ind 3S ἀνατέλλω
  • ἐξήρανεν – Aor Act Ind 3S ξηραίνω
  • ἐξέπεσεν Aor Act Ind 3S ἐκπίπτω

Definitions of Key Words

  • παρέρχομαι – to disappear gradually, die out, fade, disappear, wither of plants
  • πορεία – way of life, conduct (see Pr 2:7 & 1 Cl 48:4)
  • μαραίνω – to disappear gradually, die out, fade, disappear, wither

Grammar

  • v. 9 δὲ – marking a slightly new development but still continuing a similar theme.
  • Καυχάσθω – generally takes its object as ἔν τινι in or about a person or thing (BDAG).
  • v. 11 – the καὶ connection “constrains the connected elements to be closely associated with what comes before” [1] and then the final οὕτως καὶ shows emphasis relating the rich man and the flower of the grass

Translation

9 Let the humble brother boast in his exaltation 10 and the rich (brother) in his lowly state, because like a flower of the grace it will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass, and its flower falls, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed, so too the rich (brother) will fall away in his way of life.

Notes

Is the rich man a believer or an unbeliever? In the context of the verse I opt for the rich man as a believer. In Jas 1:9, Καυχάσθω is assumed in Jas 1:10. I would also argue that ἀδελφὸς should go along with πλούσιος too.

Also see Varner:

“While the language reminiscent of Isaiah 40:6–7 is strong, it should be noted that the verbs (παρελεύσεται in 1:10;μαρανθήσεται in 1:11) are not used of eternal punishment in other biblical passages. There is also the possibility that the fading away refers to the riches and not the eternal passing of the rich person. If we also view Jeremiah 9:23–24 as the background, it should help us to understand that the boast is not ironic but is one in which believers are encouraged to anticipate a day when riches will mean little in light of living in accordance with God’s will (4:17). Finally, the idea that a person should boast or take pride in his own condemnation seems hard to take seriously. Therefore, the entire passage is both an encouragement to poorer believers, as well as a stern warning to richer believers.” [2]


  1. Runge, Steven. Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament : a Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis. Peabody Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, 2010., 26  ↩

  2. William Varner, James, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris, III and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, Jas 1:10 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).  ↩

Download the PDF here

Venerable Bede’s use of Luke in James 1:9-11

 

One of the differences between a modern reading of scripture and an ancient reading is the use of examples in sermons and commentary writing. Often times the Fathers use biblical narrative examples of truths found elsewhere in Holy Scripture, whereas most of our examples in modern day exegesis and preaching come from everyday life. This is not necessarily a negative thing but it is different. I think sometimes we have a phobia of moralizing narratives that we often neglect using them as examples altogether but the Church Fathers were not paralyzed this fear. Venerable Bede provides a good example of this in his exegesis of James 1:9–11, which says:

“Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.”

Bede uses the story from Luke 16:19–31 goes on to describe that being rich isn’t inherently destructive but it is the pride that often times accompanies being rich that cause people to lose their devotion to God. He says:

“For even Abraham, although he was a rich man on the world, nevertheless received a poor man after his death into his bosom, a rich man he left in torments. But he did not leave the rich man because he was rich, which he himself also had been, but because he had scorned being merciful and humble, which he himself had been; and on the contrary, he did not receive Lazarus because he was poor, which he himself had not been, but because he had taken care to be humble and innocent, which he himself had been. Therefore, such a rich man, that is, one who is proud and wicked and places earthly ahead of heavenly joys, will languish in his ways, that is, he will perish in his evil actions because he has neglected to enter the Lord’s straight way. But when he falls off like the hay under the sun’s heat, the righteousness on the same sun, that is, the severity of the judge, unblemished, and in addition brings forth fruits for which he will be rewarded for ever.”

Bede isn’t worried whether or not this is a parable or peek into the afterlife but instead he sees value in the Gospel narratives that sheds light on other parts of Holy Scripture. He knows from the text of Genesis that Abraham is a wealthy man so this sets up alarm bells in Bede’s mind that James cannot condemn being rich but rather it has to be something else. In this case he uses Luke’s Gospel to show that James condemning being rich but rather the pride that accompanies money.

What do you think of Bede’s use of Holy Scripture? Is this helpful or unhelpful?