James Chapter 3 Answers

About These Answers

Questions and Answers

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?

Matthew 23:1-10
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:

  • They make their phylacteries (strips of parchment with scriptues on them worn on the body) wide and the tassels on their garments long
  • They love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues
  • They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them "Rabbi."

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

Questions and Answers

James 3:8-10

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? 

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:

  • Verse 3: a bit in a horse’s mouth
  • Verse 4: a ship’s helm
  • Verses 5-6: a forest fire
  • Verses 7-8: a wild beast
  • Verses 11-12: a fountain
  • Verses 12: a fig tree and a grape vine

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

James 1:19
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

James 1:26
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.

James 2:12
12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

Questions and Answers

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


Verse 6


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

Verse 8

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?


Questions and Answers

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

  • Matthew 15:19 and Romans 12:2-3:

    It begins with me – control my thoughts – be humble

    Matthew 15:19
    For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

    Romans 12:2-3 KJV
    2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

  • Proverbs 13:3:

    Guard yourself

    Proverbs 13:3 NIV
    3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

  • Proverbs 14:7 and 20:19:

    Watch the company I keep

    Proverbs 14:7
    7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.

    Proverbs 20:19
    19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:7:

    Choose to keep silent or the proper time to speak

    Ecclesiastes 3:7
    7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

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: Taking the Lord’s name in vain
  • Exodus 20:16: Bearing False Witness
  • Psalm 10:7: Cursing, Deceit, Fraud, Mischief, Vanity
  • Psalm 109:2: Lies
  • Proverbs 10:18: Slander
  • Proverbs 11:13: Talebearer
  • I Timothy 5:13: Gossip
  • II Peter 2:3: False Preaching

Questions and Answers

1. What are the great things we can do to please God with our mouths and with our tongues or speech? List five.

here's eight

  1. Confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior
  2. Praise God for the great things he has done
  3. Pay to God and thank him for his great love
  4. Tell someone about God’s great love
  5. Sing a Christian hymn or song
  6. Exhort a fellow Christian
  7. Teach or preach the Word of God
  8. Speak the truth in love

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:

  • Earthly or sensual
  • Devilish
  • Unspiritual

God's wisdom is:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Considerate or gentle
  • Easy to be entreated or submissive
  • Full of mercy and good fruit
  • Impartial
  • Without hypocrisy

Questions and Answers

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?