The Tongue Is a Fire

(A)Let not many of you become teachers, (B)my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a [a]stricter judgment. For we all (C)stumble in many ways. (D)If anyone does not stumble in [b]what he says, he is a (E)perfect man, able to (F)bridle the whole body as well. Now (G)if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it (H)boasts of great things.

(I)See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And (J)the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which (K)defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our [c]life, and is set on fire by [d](L)hell. For every [e]species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human [f]race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of (M)deadly poison. With it we bless (N)our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, (O)who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both [g]fresh and bitter water? 12 (P)Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce [h]fresh.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? (Q)Let him show by his (R)good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter (S)jealousy and [i]selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against (T)the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down (U)from above, but is (V)earthly, [j](W)natural, (X)demonic. 16 For where (Y)jealousy and [k]selfish ambition exist, [l]there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom (Z)from above is first (AA)pure, then (AB)peaceable, (AC)gentle, [m]reasonable, (AD)full of mercy and good fruits, (AE)unwavering, without (AF)hypocrisy. 18 And the [n](AG)seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace [o]by those who make peace.


  1. James 3:1 Or greater condemnation
  2. James 3:2 Lit word
  3. James 3:6 Or existence, origin
  4. James 3:6 Gr Gehenna
  5. James 3:7 Lit nature
  6. James 3:7 Lit nature
  7. James 3:11 Lit sweet
  8. James 3:12 V 11, note 1
  9. James 3:14 Or strife
  10. James 3:15 Or unspiritual
  11. James 3:16 V 14, note 1
  12. James 3:16 I.e. in that place
  13. James 3:17 Or willing to yield
  14. James 3:18 Lit fruit of righteousness
  15. James 3:18 Or for

Taming the Tongue

Not many of you should become teachers,(A) my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged(B) more strictly.(C) We all stumble(D) in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say(E) is perfect,(F) able to keep their whole body in check.(G)

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.(H) Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.(I) Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire,(J) a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body,(K) sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.(L)

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.(M)

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.(N) 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?(O) Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it(P) by their good life, by deeds(Q) done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition(R) in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.(S) 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven(T) but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.(U) 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition,(V) there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven(W) is first of all pure; then peace-loving,(X) considerate, submissive, full of mercy(Y) and good fruit, impartial and sincere.(Z) 18 Peacemakers(AA) who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.(AB)

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