The Meaning of James 3:18 Explained

James 3:18

KJV: And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

YLT: and the fruit of the righteousness in peace is sown to those making peace.

Darby: But the fruit of righteousness in peace is sown for them that make peace.

ASV: And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace.

What does James 3:18 Mean?

Study Notes

"Righteousness" here, and in the passages having marginal references to this, means the righteous life which is the result of salvation through Christ. The righteous man under law became righteous by doing righteously; under grace he does righteously because he has been made righteous Romans 3:22 .
(See Scofield " Romans 10:3 ")

Verse Meaning

People committed to preserving peace must teach the Word of God peacefully to reap a harvest of righteousness (cf. James 3:17-1811). That good fruit will not come if teachers sow it in words and ways that inflame and antagonize people (cf. 1 Timothy 5:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:24-26).
"To "raise a harvest of righteousness" demands a certain kind of climate. A crop of righteousness cannot be produced in the climate of bitterness and self-seeking. Righteousness will grow only in a climate of peace." [1]
"Winsome speech comes from a wise spirit. A controlled tongue is possible only with cultured thought. A mouth filled with praise results from a mind filled with purity." [2]
To restate James" thought in this chapter, our words are very important as we seek to carry out the ministry God has called us to fulfill. We cannot control our tongues easily. Therefore we should not be too quick to take on a teaching ministry. The only One who can control our tongues is God, who can give us wisdom. The marks of the wisdom He provides are humility, graciousness, and peace.
James warns against anything that does not bear the fruit of good works: unfruitful religion ( James 1:25-26), unfruitful faith ( James 2:26), and unfruitful wisdom ( 1685419026_3).

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 3:18

Is sown in peace [εν ειρηνηι σπειρεται]
Present passive indicative of σπειρω — speirō to sow. The seed which bears the fruit is sown, but James catches up the metaphor of καρπος — karpos (fruit) from James 3:17. Only in peace is the fruit of righteousness found. [source]
For them that make peace [τοις ποιουσιν ειρηνην]
Dative case of the articular participle of ποιεω — poieō See Ephesians 2:15 for this phrase (doing peace), and Colossians 1:20 for ειρηνοποιεω — eirēnopoieō of Christ, and Matthew 5:9 for ειρηνοποιοι — eirēnopoioi (peacemakers). Only those who act peaceably are entitled to peace. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for James 3:18

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed [δικαιοσύνη γὰρ Θεοῦ ἐν ἀυτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται]
Rev., more correctly, therein is revealed a righteousness of God. The absence of the article denotes that a peculiar kind of righteousness is meant. This statement contains the subject of the epistle: Righteousness is by faith. The subject is not stated formally nor independently, but as a proof that the Gospel is a power, etc. This word δικαιοσύνη righteousnessand its kindred words δίκαιος righteousand δικαιόω tomake righteous, play so important a part in this epistle that it is desirable to fix their meaning as accurately as possible. -DIVIDER-
Classical Usage. In the Greek classics there appears an eternal, divine, unwritten principle of right, dwelling in the human consciousness, shaping both the physical and the moral ordering of the world, and personified as Themis ( Θέμις ). This word is used as a common noun in the phrase θέμις ἐστὶ itis right (fundamentally and eternally), like the Latin fas est. Thus Homer, of Penelope mourning for Ulysses, θέμις ἐστὶ γυναικός itis the sacred obligation of the wife (founded in her natural relation to her husband, ordained of heaven) to mourn (“Odyssey,” 14,130). So Antigone appeals to the unwritten law against the barbarity of refusing burial to her brother.“Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,That thou, a mortal man, shouldst overpass The unwritten laws of God that know not change.”Sophocles, “Antigone,” 453-455.See, also, “Odyssey,” 14,91; Aristophanes, “Clouds,” 140; “Antigone,” 880. This divine ordering requires that men should be shown or pointed to that which is according to it - a definite circle of duties and obligations which constitute right ( δίκη ). Thus what is δίκαιος righteousis properly the expression of the eternal Themis. While δίκη and θέμις are not to be distinguished as human and divine, δίκη has a more distinctively human, personal character, and comes into sharper definition. It introduces the distinction between absolute right and power. It imposes the recognition of a moral principle over against an absolutely constraining natural force. The conception of δίκη is strongly moral. Δίκαιος is right; δικαιοσύνη is rightness as characterizing the entire being of man. -DIVIDER-
There is a religious background to the pagan conception. In the Homeric poems morality stands in a relation, loose and undeveloped indeed, but none the less real, to religion. This appears in the use of the oath in compacts; in the fear of the wrath of heaven for omission of sacrifices; in regarding refusal of hospitality as an offense against Zeus, the patron of strangers and suppliants. Certain tribes which are fierce and uncivilized are nevertheless described as δίκαιοι righteous“The characteristic stand-point of the Homeric ethics is that the spheres of law, of morals, and of religion are by no means separate, but lie side by side in undeveloped unity.” (Nagelsbach). -DIVIDER-
In later Greek literature this conception advances, in some instances, far toward the christian ideal; as in the fourth book of Plato's “Laws,” where he asserts that God holds in His hand the beginning, middle, and end of all things; that justice always follows Him, and punishes those who fall short of His laws. Those who would be dear to God must be like Him. Without holiness no man is accepted of God. -DIVIDER-
Nevertheless, however clearly the religious background and sanction of morality may be recognized, it is apparent that the basis of right is found, very largely, in established social usage. The word ethics points first to what is established by custom. While with Mr. Grote we must admit the peculiar emphasis on the individual in the Homeric poems, we cannot help observing a certain influence of social sentiment on morals. While there are cases like the suitors, Paris and Helen, where public opinion imposes no moral check, there are others where the force of public opinion is clearly visible, such as Penelope and Nausicaa. The Homeric view of homicide reveals no relation between moral sentiment and divine enactment. Murder is a breach of social law, a private and civil wrong, entailing no loss of character. Its penalty is a satisfaction to the feelings of friends, or a compensation for lost services. -DIVIDER-
Later, we find this social aspect of morality even more strongly emphasized. “The city becomes the central and paramount source of obligation. The great, impersonal authority called 'the Laws' stands out separately, both as guide and sanction, distinct from religious duty or private sympathy” (Grote). Socrates is charged with impiety because he does not believe in the gods of the state, and Socrates himself agrees that that man does right who obeys what the citizens have agreed should be done, and who refrains from what they forbid. -DIVIDER-
The social basis of righteousness also appears in the frequent contrast between δίκη and βία , right and force. A violation of right is that which forces its way over the social sanction. The social conception of δίκαιος is not lost, even when the idea is so apprehended as to border on the christian love of one's neighbor. There is a wrong toward the gods, but every wrong is not in itself such. The inner, personal relation to deity, the absolute and constraining appeal of divine character and law to conscience, the view of duty as one's right, and of personal right as something to be surrendered to the paramount claim of love - all these elements which distinguish the christian conception of righteousness - are thus in sharp contrast with a righteousness dictated by social claims which limit the individual desire or preference, but which leave untouched the tenacity of personal right, and place obligation behind legitimacy. -DIVIDER-
It is desirable that the classical usage of these terms should be understood, in order to throw into sharper relief the Biblical usage, according to which God is the absolute and final standard of right, and every wrong is a sin against God (Psalm 51:4). Each man stands in direct and primary relation to the holy God as He is by the law of His own nature. Righteousness is union with God in character. To the Greek mind of the legendary age such a conception is both strange and essentially impossible, since the Greek divinity is only the Greek man exaggerated in his virtues and vices alike. According to the christian ideal, righteousness is character, and the norm of character is likeness to God. This idea includes all the social aspects of right. Love and duty toward God involve love and duty to the neighbor. -DIVIDER-
Here must be noted a peculiar usage of δίκαιος righteousand δικαιοσύνη righteousnessin the Septuagint. They are at times interchanged with ἐλεημοσύνη mercyand ἔλεος kindnessThe Hebrew chesed kindness, though usually rendered by ἔλεος , is nine times translated by δικαιοσύνη righteousnessand once by δίκαιος righteousThe Hebrew tsedakah usually rendered by δικαιοσύνη , is nine times translated by ἐλεημοσύνη mercyand three times by ἔλεος kindnessCompare the Heb. and Sept. at Deuteronomy 6:25; Deuteronomy 24:13(15); Genesis 19:19; Genesis 24:27. This usage throws light on the reading δικαιοσύνην , Rev., righteousness (kindness? ), instead of ἐλεημοσύνην mercyA.V., alms, Matthew 6:1. Mr. Hatch (“Essays in Biblical Greek”) says that the meaning kindness is so clear in this passage that scribes, who were unaware of its existence, altered the text. He also thinks that this meaning gives a better sense than any other to Matthew 1:19“Joseph, being a kindly ( δίκαιος , A.V., just ) man.”-DIVIDER-
1. In the New Testament δίκαιος is used both of God and of Christ. Of God, 1 John 1:9; John 17:25; Revelation 16:5; Romans 3:26. Of Christ, 1 John 2:1; 1 John 3:7; Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14. In these passages the word characterizes God and Christ either in their essential quality or in their action; either as righteous according to the eternal norm of divine holiness (John 17:25; 1 John 3:7; Romans 3:26), or as holiness passes into righteous dealing with men (1 John 1:9). -DIVIDER-
2. Δίκαιος is used of men, denoting their normal relation to the will and judgment of God. Hence it means virtuous, upright, pure in life, correct in thinking and feeling. It stands opposed to ἀνομία lawlessness ἁμαρτία sin ἀκαθαρσία impuritya contrast wanting in classical usage, where the conception of sin is vague. See Romans 6:13, Romans 6:16, Romans 6:18, Romans 6:20; Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 6:7, 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:9; Ephesians 6:14; Philemon 1:11; James 3:18. -DIVIDER-
Where δικαιοσύνη righteousnessis joined with ὁσιότης holiness(Luke 1:75; Ephesians 4:24), it denotes right conduct toward men, as holiness denotes piety toward God. It appears in the wider sense of answering to the demands of God in general, Matthew 13:17; Matthew 10:41; Matthew 23:29; Acts 10:22, Acts 10:35; and in the narrower sense of perfectly answering the divine demands, guiltless. So of Christ, Acts 3:14; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:1. -DIVIDER-
3. It is found in the classical sense of it is right, Philemon 1:7, or that which is right, Colossians 4:1. This, however, is included within the Christian conception. -DIVIDER-
Δικαιοσύνη righteousnessis therefore that which fulfills the claims of δίκη right“It is the state commanded by God and standing the test of His judgment; the character and acts of a man approved of Him, in virtue of which the man corresponds with Him and His will as His ideal and standard” (Cremer). -DIVIDER-
The medium of this righteousness is faith. Faith is said to be counted or reckoned for righteousness; i.e., righteousness is ascribed to it or recognized in it. Romans 4:3, Romans 4:6, Romans 4:9, Romans 4:22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23. -DIVIDER-
In this verse the righteousness revealed in the Gospel is described as a righteousness of God. This does not mean righteousness as an attribute of God, as in Romans 3:5; but righteousness as bestowed on man by God. The state of the justified man is due to God. The righteousness which becomes his is that which God declares to be righteousness and ascribes to him. Righteousness thus expresses the relation of being right into which God puts the man who believes. See further, on justified, Romans 2:13.Is revealed ( ἀποκαλύπτεται )Emphasizing the peculiar sense in which “righteousness” is used here. Righteousness as an attribute of God was revealed before the Gospel. Righteousness in this sense is a matter of special revelation through the Gospel. The present tense describes the Gospel in its continuous proclamation: is being revealed.From faith to faith ( ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν )Rev., by faith unto faith. According to the A.V. the idea is that of progress in faith itself; either from Old to New Testament faith, or, in the individual, from a lower to a higher degree of faith; and this idea, I think, must be held here, although it is true that it is introduced secondarily, since Paul is dealing principally with the truth that righteousness is by faith. We may rightly say that the revealed righteousness of God is unto faith, in the sense of with a view to produce faith; but we may also say that faith is a progressive principle; that the aim of God's justifying righteousness is life, and that the just lives by his faith (Galatians 2:20), and enters into “more abundant” life with the development of his faith. Compare 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 6:19; and the phrase, justification of life, Romans 5:18.sa40 [source]

Philippians 1:11 Fruit of righteousness [καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης]
The phrase occurs James 3:18. Compare Proverbs 11:30. [source]
Hebrews 12:11 It yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness [καρπὸν εἰρηνικὸν ἀποδίδωσιν δικαιοσύνης]
Perhaps with a suggestion of recompense for the long-suffering and waiting, since ἀποδιδόναι often signifies “to give back.” The phrase ἀποδιδόναι καρπὸν only here and Revelation 22:2. Καρπὸν fruitwith διδόναι togive, Matthew 13:8; Mark 4:8: with ποιεῖν tomake or produce, often in Synoptic Gospels, as Matthew 3:8, Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:17; Luke 3:8; Luke 6:43, etc.: with φέρειν tobear, always and only in John, John 12:24; John 15:2, John 15:4, John 15:5, John 15:8, John 15:16: with βλαστάνειν tobring forth, James 5:18. Ἑιρηνικός peaceablein N.T. Only here and James 3:17, as an epithet of wisdom. Quite often in lxx of men, the heart, especially of words and sacrifices. The phrase καρπός εἰρηνικός peaceablefruit (omit the ), N.T.oolxx. The phrase fruit of righteousness, Philemon 1:11; James 3:18, and lxx, Proverbs 3:9; Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:2; Amos 6:13: comp. Psalm 1:3; Psalm 57:11. The genitive of righteousness is explicative or appositional; fruit which consists in righteousness or is righteousness. [source]

What do the individual words in James 3:18 mean?

[The] fruit now of righteousness in peace is sown by those making peace
καρπὸς δὲ δικαιοσύνης ἐν εἰρήνῃ σπείρεται τοῖς ποιοῦσιν εἰρήνην

καρπὸς  [The]  fruit 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: καρπός  
Sense: fruit.
δὲ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
δικαιοσύνης  of  righteousness 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: δικαιοσύνη  
Sense: in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God.
εἰρήνῃ  peace 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: εἰρήνη  
Sense: a state of national tranquillity.
σπείρεται  is  sown 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἐπισπείρω 
Sense: to sow, scatter, seed.
τοῖς  by  those 
Parse: Article, Dative Masculine Plural
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ποιοῦσιν  making 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: ποιέω  
Sense: to make.
εἰρήνην  peace 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: εἰρήνη  
Sense: a state of national tranquillity.