The Meaning of James 3:17 Explained

James 3:17

KJV: 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.

YLT: and the wisdom from above, first, indeed, is pure, then peaceable, gentle, easily entreated, full of kindness and good fruits, uncontentious, and unhypocritical: --

Darby: But the wisdom from above first is pure, then peaceful, gentle, yielding, full of mercy and good fruits, unquestioning, unfeigned.

ASV: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy.

Discover James 3:17

What does James 3:17 Mean?

Verse Meaning

In contrast, the wisdom God gives has several characteristics. It is pure, meaning free of the defilements mentioned. It is peaceable, namely, peace-loving, peace-practicing, and peace-yielding. It is gentle or considerate of others. It is reasonable, that Isaiah , open to reason and willing to yield to reasonable requests. It is full of mercy in that it is actively sympathetic to the needy, and it is full of good fruits (good works). It is unwaveringly single-minded in its devotion to God rather than double-minded. It Isaiah , finally, without hypocrisy, namely, true to appearances.
"Thus "purity" is not just one quality among others but the key to them all." [1]

Context Summary

James 3:13-18 - Seek Wisdom From Above
The true wisdom is not the child of the intellect, but of the heart. It consists not only in what we know, but in what we are. It is in this sense that it is used in the earlier chapters of the book of Proverbs and in Job 28:1-28. Some who profess to be wise are jealous and factious, despising others and confident in their superiority. This spirit and temper are from beneath.
Notice this exquisite string of qualities-like a thread of pearls-that characterize true wisdom: First, pure; then peaceable-this is God's order, never peace at any price. First the holy heart, then the quiet and gentle one. Mercy and good works follow, "free from favoritism and insincerity"; and as the peace-loving soul goeth through the world, dropping the seeds of peace, those seeds produce harvests of righteousness. Those that in peace sow peace, shall reap a harvest of righteousness, the fruit of peace. Such a springtime! Such an autumn! [source]

Chapter Summary: James 3

1  We are not rashly or arrogantly to reprove others;
5  but rather to bridle the tongue, a little member,
9  but a powerful instrument of much good, and great harm
13  The truly wise are mild and peaceable, without envy and strife

Greek Commentary for James 3:17

First pure [πρωτον μεν αγνη]
First in rank and time. αγνος — Hagnos is from the same root as αγιος — hagios (holy), old adjective, pure from fault, not half-good and half-bad, like that above. [source]
Then peaceable [επειτα ειρηνικη]
Old adjective from ειρηνη — eirēnē (peace), loving peace here, bringing peace in Hebrews 12:11 (only N.T. examples). But clearly great as peace is, purity (righteousness) comes before peace and peace at any price is not worth the having. Hence Jesus spurned the devil‘s peace of surrender.Gentle (επιεικης — epieikēs). Old adjective (from εικος — eikos reasonable, fair), equitable (Philemon 4:5; 1 Peter 2:18). No English word renders it clearly.Easy to be entreated Old adjective Practical help (James 2:13, James 2:16).Good fruits αδιακριτος — Kaloi karpoi in Matthew 7:17. Good deeds the fruit of righteousness (Philemon 1:11).Without variance (διακρινω — adiakritos). Late verbal adjective (from alpha privative and διακρινομενος — diakrinō to distinguish). “Unhesitating,” not doubting (ανυποκριτος — diakrinomenos) like the man in James 1:6. Here only in N.T. This wisdom does not put a premium on doubt.Without hypocrisy Late and rare verbal adjective (alpha privative and hupokrinō). Not hypocritical, sincere, unfeigned (Romans 12:9). [source]
Gentle [επιεικης]
Old adjective (from εικος — eikos reasonable, fair), equitable (Philemon 4:5; 1 Peter 2:18). No English word renders it clearly. [source]
Easy to be entreated [ευπειτης]
Old adjective Practical help (James 2:13, James 2:16).Good fruits αδιακριτος — Kaloi karpoi in Matthew 7:17. Good deeds the fruit of righteousness (Philemon 1:11).Without variance (διακρινω — adiakritos). Late verbal adjective (from alpha privative and διακρινομενος — diakrinō to distinguish). “Unhesitating,” not doubting (ανυποκριτος — diakrinomenos) like the man in James 1:6. Here only in N.T. This wisdom does not put a premium on doubt.Without hypocrisy Late and rare verbal adjective (alpha privative and hupokrinō). Not hypocritical, sincere, unfeigned (Romans 12:9). [source]
Mercy [καρπων αγατων]
Practical help (James 2:13, James 2:16). [source]
Good fruits [Καλοι καρποι]
αδιακριτος — Kaloi karpoi in Matthew 7:17. Good deeds the fruit of righteousness (Philemon 1:11).Without variance (διακρινω — adiakritos). Late verbal adjective (from alpha privative and διακρινομενος — diakrinō to distinguish). “Unhesitating,” not doubting (ανυποκριτος — diakrinomenos) like the man in James 1:6. Here only in N.T. This wisdom does not put a premium on doubt.Without hypocrisy Late and rare verbal adjective (alpha privative and hupokrinō). Not hypocritical, sincere, unfeigned (Romans 12:9). [source]
Without variance [διακρινω]
Late verbal adjective (from alpha privative and διακρινομενος — diakrinō to distinguish). “Unhesitating,” not doubting (ανυποκριτος — diakrinomenos) like the man in James 1:6. Here only in N.T. This wisdom does not put a premium on doubt. [source]
Without hypocrisy [υποκρινω]
Late and rare verbal adjective (alpha privative and hupokrinō). Not hypocritical, sincere, unfeigned (Romans 12:9). [source]
First []
Emphasizing its inner quality, pure, as distinguished from its outward expressions. The idea is not first numerically, but first essentially. The other qualities are secondary as outgrowths of this primary quality. [source]
Gentle [ἐπιεικής]
See on 1 Peter 2:18. [source]
Easy to be intreated [εὐπειθής]
Only here in New Testament. [source]
Without partiality [ἀδιάκριτος]
Only here in New Testament and very rare in classical Greek. Rev., without variance or doubting. See on James 1:6. [source]

What do the individual words in James 3:17 mean?

- But the from above wisdom first indeed pure is then peaceable gentle reasonable full of mercy and of fruits good impartial sincere
δὲ ἄνωθεν σοφία πρῶτον μὲν ἁγνή ἐστιν ἔπειτα εἰρηνική ἐπιεικής εὐπειθής μεστὴ ἐλέους καὶ καρπῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀδιάκριτος ἀνυπόκριτος

  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἄνωθεν  the  from  above 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ἄνωθεν  
Sense: from above, from a higher place.
σοφία  wisdom 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: σοφία  
Sense: wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters.
πρῶτον  first 
Parse: Adverb, Superlative
Root: πρῶτον 
Sense: first in time or place.
μὲν  indeed 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: μέν  
Sense: truly, certainly, surely, indeed.
ἁγνή  pure 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἁγνός  
Sense: exciting reverence, venerable, sacred.
εἰρηνική  peaceable 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: εἰρηνικός  
Sense: relating to peace.
ἐπιεικής  gentle 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐπιεικής  
Sense: seemingly, suitable.
εὐπειθής  reasonable 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: εὐπειθής  
Sense: easily obeying, compliant.
μεστὴ  full 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: μεστός  
Sense: full.
ἐλέους  of  mercy 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root: ἔλεος  
Sense: mercy: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.
καρπῶν  of  fruits 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: καρπός  
Sense: fruit.
ἀγαθῶν  good 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: ἀγαθός 
Sense: of good constitution or nature.
ἀδιάκριτος  impartial 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀδιάκριτος  
Sense: undistinguished, unintelligible.
ἀνυπόκριτος  sincere 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀνυπόκριτος  
Sense: unfeigned, undisguised, sincere.

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