James Chapter 3

Welcome to the third of five studies of the Book of James. This lesson covers James Chapter 3.

Since this chapter discusses the miseries we create with our unbridled tongues, I thought I would share these amusing yet regrettable quotes from other unbridled tongues with you.

The following is a list of statements made many years ago by experts in their fields.


“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist-“ – Last words of Gen. John Sedgwick, spoken as he looked out over the parapet at enemy lines during the Battle of Spotsylvania in 1864

“I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” – The San Francisco Examiner, rejecting a submission by Rudyard Kipling in 1889

“The phonograph has no commercial value at all.” – Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1880s

“Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.” – Grover Cleveland, U.S. President, 1905

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." - Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French Military Strategist and Future World War 1 Commander, in 1911

"(Man will never reach the Moon) regardless of all future scientific advances." - Dr Lee De Forest, inventor of the Audion Tube and Father of Radio, in 1926

“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.  It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Albert Einstein, 1932

“You better get secretarial work or get married.” – Emmeline Snively, director of the Blue Book Modelling Agency, advising would-be model Marilyn Monroe in 1944

"(Television) won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night." - Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox in 1946

“Just so-so in center field.” – New York Daily News after the premiere of Willie Mays, 1951

“If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” – W. C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954

"We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out." - Decca Records rejecting the Beatles, in 1962

“With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.” – Business Week, August 2, 1968

"For the majority of people, the use of tobacco has a beneficial effect." - Dr. Ian G. Macdonald, Los Angeles Surgeon, as quoted in Newsweek, November 18, 1969

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home." - Kenneth Olsen, President and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, in 1977

James Chapter 3 - from the King James Version

1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. 2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.

Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Choose Another Translation If You Wish


Daily Study Questions

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Day One

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?

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?

Day Two

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 early church?

2. What are the analogies of the tongue from the following verses of James Chapter 3:

  • Verse 3
  • Verse 4
  • Verses 5-6
  • Verses 7-8
  • Verses 11-12
  • Verses 12

3. James mentioned the tongue or a manner of speaking earlier in this epistle three times. Cite the three verses.

Day Three

1. What are the descriptions and the dangers of the tongue that we see in James Chapter 3 verses 6 and 8?

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?

Day Four

1. What can we do to avoid future regrets and control our tongues? Look at the following verses. What advice do they offer?

  • Mathew 15:19 and Romans 12:2-3
  • Proverbs 13:3
  • Proverbs 14:7 and 20:19
  • Ecclesiastes 3:7

2. Sins of the tongue are so common they have been categorized. What is the sin of the tongue from the following examples from Scripture?

  • Exodus 20:7
  • Exodus 20:16
  • Psalm 10:7
  • Psalm 109:2
  • Proverbs 10:18
  • Proverbs 11:13
  • I Timothy 5:13
  • II Peter 2:3

Day Five

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.

Day Six

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?

2. What is the result of Godly wisdom we see in James Chapter 3 verse 18?

Compare Your Answers for James Chapter 3

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