- James. James is the English equivalent of Jacob (the “supplanter”). Metaphysically, the name represents judgment in individual consciousness, or justice and discrimination. In His statement, “For judgment came I into this world, that they that see not may see” Jesus showed that spiritual judgment is a necessary part of man’s development.
- twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion. The twelve faculties of man, and the fact that they were dispersed shows that the faculties of the natural man are scattered through want of discipline and understanding.
Faith and Wisdom
1:2Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; 1:3Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. 1:4And let patience have its perfect work1, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.
1:5But if any of you lacketh wisdom2, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 1:6But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. 1:7For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord; 1:8a doubleminded man3, unstable in all his ways.
- let patience have its perfect work. He who withstands temptation gains patience through using his faith as a bulwark against tests. The Spartans not only welcomed the customary trials that come to the natural man, but invented additional hardships with which to wrestle, in the belief that, in surmounting obstacles, man develops nobler character.
- Wisdom. Wisdom is essential to the exercise of good judgment, as well as to the gaining of patience. The wise man does not give way to impatience.
- a doubleminded man. Spiritual discrimination causes a man to affirm his true estate under divine law, regardless of appearances. The affirmation “Ye are gods” is understood by the metaphysician to be true of each man in the ideal sense.
Poverty and Riches
1:9But let the brother of low degree glory in his high estate: 1:10and the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 1:11For the sun ariseth with the scorching wind, and withereth the grass: and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his goings.
Trial and Temptation
1:12Blessed is the man that endureth temptation1; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him. 1:13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil2, and he himself tempteth no man: 1:14but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 1:15Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death. 1:16Be not deceived, my beloved brethren.
1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights3, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.4 1:18Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures5.
- Blessed is the man that endurth temptation. Temptation affords man an opportunity to learn concentration, since he must marshal his forces each time in order to withstand the temptation.
- God cannot be tempted with evil. Evil is not one of the realities; it is the natural man’s reaction to life. Man has free will.
- Father of lights. God as universal principle, which is as unvarying in its application as any mathematical principle that is derived from it.
- shadow that is cast by turning. A shadow falls on the side of an object that is removed from the light, therefore, in order to enjoy wisdom, intelligence, and understanding, man faces the light (the Father). He constantly contemplates Divine Mind and himself as its expression.
- firstfruits of his creatures. In the perfect manifestation, ideal man is the first fruit to ripen, being the largest and finest on the tree.
Hearing and Doing the Word (Meekness)
1:19Ye know this, my beloved brethren. But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath1: 1:20for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 1:21Wherefore putting away all filthiness2 and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word3, which is able to save your souls.
1:22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves.4 1:23For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: 1:24for he beholdeth himself5, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 1:25But he that looketh into the perfect law6, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.
1:26If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man's religion is vain7. 1:27Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
- slow to wrath. As long as he gives way to anger, man cannot enter into the consciousness of universal life and develop towards the perfection of spiritual unity. Anger limits him to a narrow personal standard.
- putting away all filthiness. After we have emptied our minds of material thoughts, through denial, and have affirmed the truth of our being, we then have put the law of Divine Mind into action in our consciousness, we feel an inner urge to do something for the development of our souls and for the good of our fellow man; then, to fulfill the law, we perform the outer act.
- implanted word. The word of Truth that is spoken into the ideal creation by the voice of God. Truth is therefore innate in man, and its manifestation waits only upon his recognition of its presence and his active cooperation with God in all his ways. It is the Logos, whose office in man is explained in the book of John. It is the word of God planted as a seed in the mind of man. We become conscious of the implanted word by cleansing our thoughts of impurity and wickedness, and by making ourselves meek and obedient and receptive to the Spirit of truth.
- deluding your own selves. The hearer who is not a doer is self-deluded because man does not develop according to his passive thinking and understanding, but according to what he applies to both. To hear and understand Truth without trying to apply it practically is to shun spiritual reality and become withered fruit on the tree of life.
- for he beholdeth himself. Many people delude themselves by filling their minds with knowledge for the mere pleasure of learning. There is much running to and fro, reading books, listening to lectures, and many other ways of storing up wisdom, which is not used. People are hungering for Truth, and they often gorge their intellects with more than they can digest. We accomplish nothing of enduring spiritual value. Whatever we accomplish without divine guidance is of no more permanence than the reflection of ourselves that we see in a mirror, which lasts only while we stand before it.
- But he that looketh into the perfect law. How James pictures the outworking of the law.
- this man's religion is vain. Many people accept Jesus’ definition, “God is Spirit,” but their descriptions of God are material, showing that they do not have true understanding of the character of God. “God is Spirit,” and all his creations are spiritual. Man, his image and likeness, is spiritual. The manifest or Adam man is not the direct creation of God, but the formed expression of the image and likeness, that is Jehovah God. In thinking of ourselves, we should always remember that our real ego is Spirit and that personality represents a degree of evolution of this spiritual idea or word implanted in us from the beginning.
Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mark Hicks
Following Entry: James 2