1 2 3 4 5

James 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on James 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

"If any of you lack wisdom ... ask of God ... and it shall be given him."
This is the verse that set the 14-year-old Joseph Smith off to found the Mormon Church. That is just an example of the type of wisdom God can give you.
The wisdom, if any, Joseph Smith got, wasn't from God, as he went on to contradict almost everything in the Bible. For example, if one follows the link the author of the SAB provides, Joseph Smith describes that he saw God, which is impossible. God cannot be seen.
But secondly, Joseph Smith didn't want wisdom, he wanted an extra-ordinary revelation, in addition to the Bible. Instead of studying, what claims of what sects were in agreement with the Bible, he wanted God to just put the answer in him. That is contrary to God's revealed will, as we have not been given an intellect and logic without a reason.
And clearly, after he had seen his vision, he uses it as revelation, in addition and beyond the Bible, to gain followers. But we may not add to the Word of God, Rev. 22:18, or take away from it.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it 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 ways.

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."
Can God be tempted?
Has God ever tempted anyone?
On the first question, if God can be tempted, see Acts 15:10.
On the question if God has tempted anyone, James does not say here that God does not tempt any man, full stop. He says here that God does not tempt any man in order that such a man will sin. God's temptations are not meant to trick us into sinning. God tempts us to teach us to enjoy things hard and disagreeable to our nature. Also see John Gill comments on Matthew 6:13 what is meant with a temptation from God.
The temptations of the devil are different: he tries to get a man to sin and to destroy him.

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

"Sin ... bringeth forth death."
Does hell exist?
The author of the SAB interprets death as the end of existence. But the Bible does not use it that way, see a clear example in Eccl. 3:19-22. Death is the description of what sin has done to us: we are already death in a spiritual sense, Ephesians 2:1, and when our bodies die we will receive the reward for sin, which is eternal death, eternal and everlasting punishment. Unless we found someone who is willing to pay the price for our sins, so we ourselves do not have to suffer the consequences.

16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

"The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning"
Does God repent?
BOM: Mormon 9:9, Alma 7:20
On if God repents, see 1 Sam. 15:11.

18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

"Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."
Seeing that the author of the SAB has been rather hasty in speaking out against supposed contradictions in the Bible, I'm not sure why he likes this verse.

20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

"Pure religion ... is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
If this is "pure religion" then I am all for it.