THE EPISTLE OF JACOB

    (Traditionally called James)

  1. Jacob, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greeting.
  2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into many afflictions, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience; but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, ask God, who gives to all liberally and upbraids not, and it shall be given you; for the one that wavers is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed; for do not let that one think that they shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
  3. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich, in that he is made low, because as the flower of the grass, he shall pass away; for the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withers the grass and the flower thereof falls, and the grace of the fashion of it perishes. So also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
  4. Blessed is the man that resists temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted: I am tempted of God. For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man, but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
  5. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will, he begot us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God.
  6. Wherefore lay aside all filthiness and excess of wickedness, and receive with meekness the grafted word, which is able to save your souls. But, be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves, for if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholds himself and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
  7. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridles not his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the vices of the world.
  8. My brethren, you cannot have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, and yet have respect to persons. Now if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in fine apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment, and you have respect to him that wears the fine clothing and say unto him, Sit here in a good place, and say to the poor, Stand there, or sit here under my footstool, then are you not in yourselves partial judges? And become evil in your thoughts?
  9. Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to them that love him? But you have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you and draw you before the judgment seats? Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by which you are called?
  10. If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture — You shall love your neighbor as yourself — you do well. But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin and are convicted of the law as transgressors; for whoever shall keep the whole law — save in one point — he is guilty of all, for he that said: Do not commit adultery, also said: Do not kill. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty; for he shall have judgment without mercy who has shown no mercy, and mercy rejoices against judgment.
  11. What profit is it, my brethren, for a man to say he has faith, and has not works? Can faith save him? Yea, a man may say, I will show you I have faith without works. But I say, show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works. For if a brother or sister be naked and destitute, and one of you say, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled — notwithstanding, he give not those things which are needful to the body — what profit is your faith unto such? Even so, faith, if it has not works, it is dead, being alone. Therefore will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead and cannot save you?
  12. You believe there is one God. You do well. The devils also believe and tremble. You have made yourself like unto them, not being justified. Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works when he had offered Isaac, his son, upon the altar? You see how works wrought with his faith, and by works was faith made perfect. And the scripture was fulfilled which says: Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God. You see then that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also, Rahab the harlot was justified by works, when she had received the messengers and sent them out another way. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.
  13. My brethren, strive not for the mastery, knowing that in so doing we shall receive the greater condemnation; 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. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 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, wherever the helmsman wills. Even so, the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. Behold, how great a forest a little fire kindles; and the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. So is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beast, and of bird, and of serpent, and of thing in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed of mankind; but the tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless God, even the Father; and with it we curse men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Does a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain yield both saltwater and fresh.
  14. Who is a wise man, and endowed with knowledge among you? Let him show out of good conduct his works with meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish; for where envying and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
  15. From where do wars and fightings come among you? Do they not come even of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not. You kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain. You fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.
  16. Adulterers and adulteresses: Don’t you know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do you think that the scripture says in vain: The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy? But he gives more grace. Wherefore he says: God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
  17. Do not speak evil one of another, brethren. He that speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you that judges another?
  18. Come now, you that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain; whereas you know not what shall be in the morning. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. You ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this or that. But now you rejoice in your boastings; all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin.
  19. Come now, rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is kept back of you by fraud, cries; and the cries of them who have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived in pleasure on the earth and been wanton. You have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, killed the just, and he does not resist you.
  20. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth and has long patience for it, until he receives the autumn and spring rain. You also be patient; establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draws near. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the judge stands before the door.
  21. Take, my brethren, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy who endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is full of pity and of tender mercy.
  22. But above all things, my brethren, swear not — neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath — but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; lest you fall into condemnation.
  23. Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. And if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
  24. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
  25. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth and one convert him, let him know that he who converts the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.






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