James 4v5 - help requested

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by NaasPreacher (C4K), Nov 18, 2005.

  1. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Alright, I am stuck. Working on Sunday's message and am working through James so I can't skip it.

    James 4v5 starts "Do you think that the scripture sayeth in vain..." but there is no scripture that says "...the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy."

    My question concerns the use of "the scripture sayeth" when it doesn't appear to.

    Any help would be appreciated folks.
     
  2. Ed Edwards

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    Jam 4:5 Doe ye thinke that the Scripture saith in vaine, the spirit that dwelleth in vs lusteth to enuy?

    If you say that:
    "the spirit that dwelleth in vs lusteth to enuy?"
    for it to be true, it would have to be
    in the Scripture. This saying is not in
    the scripture. This saying is not true.
     
  3. Petrel

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    I've been looking and can't find it, but is it possible it's in the Apocrypha?

    Additionally the NASB translates it, "Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: 'He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us'?" However, I can't think offhand of a passage saying exactly that either.
     
  4. mioque

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    I'm afraid you are out of luck. I just asked my boss and he told me nobody knows.
     
  5. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    This in an interesting one.
     
  6. Mark Osgatharp

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    Have you considered that James was not quoting any particular Scripture but just simply stating what the Scriptures teach?

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  7. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I just looked at MacArthur and that is basically what he says. Thanks Mark, so far that seems to be the best explanation.
     
  8. rsr

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    John Gill lists several possibilities, including Wisdom 1:4, but agrees with Mark.

    " ... but it seems best of all to conclude that the apostle has no regard to any one particular passage of Scripture, in which the following words are expressly had, since no such passage appears; but that his meaning is, the sense of the Scripture everywhere, where it speaks of this matter, is to this purpose: nor does it say this, or any thing else in vain; whatever is written there is to answer some end, as for learning, edification, and comfort, for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; neither with respect to what is before suggested, that what is asked in a right manner, and for a right end, shall be given; and that the love of the world, and the love of God, are things incompatible; nor with respect to what follows: that is, the depraved spirit of man, the spirit of an unregenerate man; that as it is prone to every lust, and prompts to every sin, the imagination of the thought of man's heart being evil, and that continually, so it instigates to envy the happiness of others; see (Genesis 6:5) (8:21) or this may be put as a distinct question from the other, "does the spirit that dwelleth in us lust to envy?" that is, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the hearts of his people, as in his temple: the Ethiopic version reads, "the Holy Spirit": and then the sense is, does he lust to envy? no; he lusts against the flesh and the works of it, and envy among the rest; see (Galatians 5:17,21) but he does not lust to it, or provoke to it, or put persons upon it; nor does he, as the Arabic version renders it, "desire that we should envy"; he is a spirit of grace; he bestows grace and favours upon men; and is so far from envying, or putting others upon envying any benefit enjoyed by men, that he increases them, adds to them, and enlarges them, as follows."
     
  9. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    That makes a lot of sense - though it appears to me that the "spirit" is our natural fleshly spirit.

    Either way the idea would seem that this is the general sense of the Scriptures.

    Thanks folks
     
  10. exscentric

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    I'm working through James also. Several I read suggest this is the most difficult passage of the Bible :) so you are in good company.

    Robertson mentions: "The Scripture (hē graphē). Personification as in Gal_3:8; Jam_2:23. But no O.T. passage is precisely like this, though it is “a poetical rendering” (Ropes) of Exo_20:5. The general thought occurs also in Gen_6:3-5; Isa_63:8-16, etc. Paul has the same idea also (Gal_5:17, Gal_5:21; Rom_8:6, Rom_8:8). It is possible that the reference is really to the quotation in Jam_4:6 from Pro_3:34 and treating all before as a parenthesis. There is no way to decide positively."

    Note that last thought :)

    One suggested it might be from a Hebrew version that we don't have access to. One suggests it is from the tenor of Scripture.

    You might find the ASV's translation of it as two questions interesting. "Or think ye that the scripture speaketh in vain? Doth the spirit which he made to dwell in us long unto envying?"
     
  11. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Now thats an interesting perspective - I guess I'll just say, something like, "It seems that James is giving a summary of what the scripture says about our spirits and their lust..."
     
  12. ituttut

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    Thanks for bringing this up C4K. As those Bereans, we should check, as did the Jews to see if scripture bears out what some one says. Believing scripture does not contradict, or put forth false information, we must prove James (or translators) right or wrong. Have searched some commentaries, and other sources, without any luck, other than “no comment” or James is saying this is what we garner in reading scripture of Old. But I believe James’ wording points directly to a “verse in scripture”.

    There is no better source than His Word to confirm His Word. This reference of James seems to mesh with Psalms 10:3.

    James 4:5, ”Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?”

    Psalms 10:3, ” For (the wicked) boasteth of his (heart's desire), and blesseth the (covetous), whom (the Lord abhorreth).” Parenthesis mine transferred below for understanding with James.

    This says to me (the Lord abhorreth) “The spirit that dwelleth in us” (the wicked) “lusteth” (heart’s desire), to envy (covet). Christian faith, ituttut
     
  13. Artimaeus

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    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible:

    Jam 4:5 -
    Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain - Few passages of the New Testament have given expositors more perplexity than this. The difficulty has arisen from the fact that no such passage as that which seems here to be quoted is found in the Old Testament; and to meet this difficulty, expositors have resorted to various conjectures and solutions. Some have supposed that the passage is spurious, and that it was at first a gloss in the margin, placed there by some transcriber, and was then introduced into the text; some that the apostle quotes from an apocryphal book; some, that he quotes the general spirit of the Old Testament rather than any particular place; some regard it not as a quotation, but read the two members separately, supplying what is necessary to complete the sense, thus: “Do you think that the Scripture speaks in vain, or without a good reason, when it condemns such a worldly temper? No; that you cannot suppose. Do you imagine that the Spirit of God, which dwelleth in us Christians, leads to covetousness, pride, envy? No. On the contrary, to such as follow his guidance and direction, he gives more abundant grace and favor.” This is the solution proposed by Benson, and adopted by Bloomfield. But this solution is by no means satisfactory. Two things are clear in regard to the passage:
    (1) that James meant to adduce something that was said somewhere, or which could be regarded as a quotation, or as authority in the case, for he uses the formula by which such quotations are made; and,
    (2) that he meant to refer, not to an apocryphal book, but to the inspired and canonical Scriptures, for he uses a term ἡ γραφὴ hē graphē - the Scripture) which is everywhere employed to denote the Old Testament, and which is nowhere applied to an apocryphal book, Mat_21:42; Mat_22:29; Mat_26:54, Mat_26:56; Joh_2:22; Joh_5:39; Joh_7:38, Joh_7:42; Joh_10:35, et al. The word is used more than fifty times in the New Testament, and is never applied to any books but those which were regarded by the Jews as inspired, and which constitute now the Old Testament, except in 2Pe_3:16, where it refers to the writings of Paul. The difficulty in the case arises from the fact that no such passage as the one here quoted is found in so many words in the Old Testament, nor any of which it can fairly be regarded as a quotation. The only solution of the difficulty which seems to me to be at all satisfactory, is to suppose that the apostle, in the remark made here in the form of a quotation, refers to the Old Testament, but that he had not his eye on any particular passage, and did not mean to quote the words literally, but meant to refer to what was the current teaching or general spirit of the Old Testament; or that he meant to say that this sentiment was found there, and designed himself to embody the sentiment in words, and to put it into a condensed form.
    His eye was on envy as at the bottom of many of the contentions and strifes existing on earth, Jam_3:16, and of the spirit of the world which prevailed everywhere, Jam_4:4; and he refers to the general teaching of the Old Testament that the soul is by nature inclined to envy; or that this has a deep lodgement in the heart of man. That truth which was uttered every where in the Scriptures, was not taught “in vain.” The abundant facts which existed showing its developement and operation in contentions, and wars, and a worldly spirit, proved that it was deeply imbedded in the human soul. This general truth, that man is prone to envy, or that there is much in our nature which inclines us to it, is abundantly taught in the Old Testament. Ecc_4:4, “I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor.” Job_5:2, “wrath killeth, and envy slayeth the silly one.” Pro_14:30, “envy is the rottenness of the bones.” Pro_27:4, “who is able to stand before envy?” For particular instances of this, and the effects, see Gen_26:14; Gen_30:1; Gen_37:11; Psa_106:16; Psa_73:3. These passages prove that there is a strong propensity in human nature to envy, and it was in accordance with the design of the apostle to show this. The effects of envy to which be himself referred evinced the same thing, and demonstrated that the utterance given to this sentiment in the Old Testament was not “in vain,” or was not false, for the records in the Old Testament on the subject found a strong confirmation in the wars and strifes and worldliness of which he was speaking.
    Saith in vain - Says falsely;” that is, the testimony thus borne is true. The apostle means that what was said in the Old Testament on the subject found abundant confirmation in the facts which were continually occurring, and especially in those to which he was adverting.
    The spirit that dwelleth in us - Many have supposed that the word “spirit” here refers to the Holy Spirit, or the Christian spirit; but in adopting this interpretation they are obliged to render the passage, “the spirit that dwells in us lusteth against envy,” or tends to check and suppress it. But this interpretation is forced and unnatural, and one which the Greek will not well bear. The more obvious interpretation is to refer it to our spirit or disposition as we are by nature, and it is equivalent to saying that we are naturally prone to envy.
    Lusteth to envy - Strongly tends to envy. The margin is “enviously,” but the sense is the same. The idea is, that there is in man a strong inclination to look with dissatisfaction on the superior happiness and prosperity of others; to desire to make what they possess our own; or at any rate to deprive them of it by detraction, by fraud, or by robbery. It is this feeling which leads to calumny, to contentions, to wars, and to that strong worldly ambition which makes us anxious to surpass all others, and which is so hostile to the humble and contented spirit of religion. He who could trace all wars and contentions and worldly plans to their source - all the schemes and purposes of even professed Christians, that do so much to mar their religion and to make them worldly-minded, to their real origin - would be surprised to find how much is to be attributed to envy. We are pained that others are more prosperous than we are; we desire to possess what others have, though we have no right to it; and this leads to the various guilty methods which are pursued to lessen their enjoyment of it, or to obtain it ourselves, or to show that they do not possess as much as they are commonly supposed to. This purpose will be accomplished if we can obtain more than they have; or if we can diminish what they actually possess; or if by any statements to which we can give currency in society, the general impression shall be that they do not possess as much wealth, domestic peace, happiness, or honor, as is commonly supposed - for thus the spirit of envy in our bosoms will be gratified.
     
  14. whatever

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    Interesting question. Robertson says
    That seems a little too 'creative' to me. He goes on to say "there is no way to decide positively", and that seems to be the case.
     
  15. HankD

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    Hi C4K,

    I don't exactly remember the time and place but when I first took note of this passage in James

    "Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?"

    The First Commandment came to mind:

    Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

    Exodus 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

    Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

    Psalm 78:58 For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images.

    So then as now the Spirit which dwells in us (in this age) desires and is jealous for the attention which we lavish on things and people around us.

    Ephesians 4
    30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

    HankD

    [ November 19, 2005, 11:21 AM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  16. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Hmm, thats an interesting perspective. It gives more credence to the spirit in the passagfe being the Holy Spirt....

    and I thought I was ready for tomorrow ;) .
     

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