1. In Word Pictures in the New Testament A.T. Robertson related that verse one of James Chapter 3 could properly be translated “Stop being many teachers” and states that “There is thus a clear complaint that too many of the Jewish Christians were attempting to teach what they did not clearly comprehend.”
Robertson also observes that this “soon became an acute question, as one
can see in I Corinthians 12 to chapter 14.” I Corinthians 12:28 tells
us that God appoints teachers in the church.
Does a reading of the first ten verses of Chapter 23 of the Gospel of Matthew give us an idea of why so many in the early church would want to become teachers?
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them "Rabbi.' 8 "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ.
Everything the teachers of the law and the Pharisees did was done for men to see:
In Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Dr. Edersheim
provides the following insights that help us understand the social
settings that may help us understand the prevalence of desire to become a
teacher in the early church.
(Speaking of the seating arrangements in the Jewish synagogue) The congregation sat facing the ark. On the other hand, "the rulers of the synagogue," Rabbis, distinguished Pharisees, and others, who sought honour of men, claimed "the chief seats," which were placed with their backs to the ark, and facing the worshippers. These seats, which bear the same name as in the New Testament, were made objects of special ambition (Matt_23:6), and rank, dignity, or seniority entitled a Rabbi or other influential man to priority. Our Lord expressly refers to this (Matt_23:6) as one of the characteristic manifestations of Pharisaical pride. That both the same spirit and practice had crept into some of the early churches, appears from the warning of St. James (Jam_2:2-3) against an un-Christ-like "respect of persons," which would assign a place high up in "synagogues" of Christians to the mere possession of "goodly apparel" or the wearing of the "gold ring." Sketches of Jewish Social Life, Alfred Edersheim, D. D., Ph. D.
This desire (to become a teacher) was common among the Jewish people, who coveted the name and the office of “Rabbi,” (or teacher) . . . and who were ambitious to be doctors and teachers. This fondness for the office of teachers they naturally carried with them into the Christian church when they were converted, and it is this which the apostle here rebukes. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible
2. James includes himself as teacher in James Chapter 3 verse 1 and states that teachers will be judged more strictly. Why should teachers be judged more severely? Does a reading of Mark 12:38-40 give us any insight?
The teachers in the early church were not teachers of the law but the principle is the same – those who have a responsibility to provide spiritual leadership but abuse their positions as teachers for personal gain will be punished most severely as Jesus stated in Mark Chapter 12 (see below).
38 As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." Mark 12:38-40
1. We all have regrettable quotes. The examples of
unbridled tongues at the top of this page are regrettable in the sense
that the speakers had bad business sense or judgment regarding the
subjects of their purported expertise. The examples here from James
Chapter 3 are not about business judgment or expertise. What is the
context of James’ writings on the tongue or verbal communication in the
The context is the social aspects of communication to one another; in particular, the results of the tongue or speech between members of the church
2. What are the analogies of the tongue from the following verses of James Chapter 3:
3. James mentioned the tongue or a manner of speaking earlier in this epistle three times. Cite the three verses.
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
1. What are the descriptions and the dangers of the tongue that we see in James Chapter 3 verses 6 and 8?
a fire, a world of iniquity or evil among the parts of the body
defiles or corrupts the whole body or person, and sets on fire the course of nature or one’s course of life
an unruly or restless evil, full of deadly poison.
2. Exam your life. Could you make a list of the top ten
regrettable things you have said to other people? Why was it
regrettable? Why do we say these things?
YOUR ANSWER HERE
1. What can we do to avoid future regrets and control our tongues? Look at the following verses. What advice do they offer?
1. What are the great things we can do to please God with our mouths and with our tongues or speech? List five.
2. In the last five verses of James Chapter 3 the author
contrasts the wisdom of man with the Wisdom of God. Compare the wisdom
of God and the wisdom of man in these verses.
Man's wisdom is:
God's wisdom is:
1. What are the two factors that occur in James Chapter 3 verses 14 and 16 and what is their result shown in James Chapter 3 verse 16?
The two factors are bitter envy and selfish ambition or strife. Their result is disorder or confusion and every evil practice or work.
2. What is the result of Godly wisdom we see in James Chapter 3 verse 18?