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 (James & 1, 2 Peter)
Taming the Tongue
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6: Taming the Tongue (Jas 3:1-12)

I.       The Basics

A.     Setting

In the first chapter of the epistle, we learned that practicing God’s word involves controlling our tongues (1:19, 26). After an extensive discussion on faith and works, James now returns to the subject of the tongue and applies the principle of faith and works to this area of daily life. He warns us of the unruly nature of the tongue and teaches us why we as believers must control our speech.

B.     Key Verse

“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (3:10).

C.     Did You Know…?

1.      Teacher (3:1): “The privilege of anyone speaking—thus “teaching”—in the meetings of the early groups of Jewish Christians was a carry over from the Jewish synagogue services, where even strangers were allowed to speak. Recall from the gospels how Jesus took advantage of this opportunity (Matt. 12:9 ff.; Mark 1:39; Luke 6:6 ff.). The book of Acts also reveals that the apostles used this synagogue privilege to preach the gospel (e.g., Acts 13:15 ff.).” 1/81

II.    Observation

A.     Outline






B.     Key Words/Phrases

III. Segment Analysis

A.     3:1-2

1.      When James says, “Let not many of you become teachers,” does he have in mind those who have the divine gift to teach in the church? (cf. 1Tim 1:6-7).

2.      What motive is James warning us against by this command?

3.      What should be the correct motivation for teachers?

4.      Why would teachers receive a stricter judgment?

5.      How does that fact that we all stumble in many things relate to the command in verse 1?

6.      Why is a person who does not stumble in word able to also bridle the whole body?

7.      Think of common mistakes we make with our tongue.

B.     3:3-6

8.      What illustrations does James use to describe the tongue?

9.      What do these illustrations teach us about the tongue?

10.  How does the tongue “defile the whole body”?

11.  What does it mean that the tongue “sets on fire the course of nature”?

12.  What is the source of the tongue’s destructive power?

13.  Based on your own experience, what damages can the tongue do?

C.     3:7-8

14.  Why is man able to tame beasts, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures, but unable to tame the tongue (8)?

15.  What are some examples of speech that carries “deadly poison”?

D.     3:9-12

16.  According to James, why is it wrong for a believer of God to curse others?

17.  How does it help us in our daily lives to remind ourselves that everyone is created in God’s image?

18.  What lesson does James want us to learn from nature?

E.     Final Thoughts

19.  Should we just keep quiet all the time in order to avoid stumbling in our speech? Knowing the source of the tongue’s destructive power, how can we let our tongues bring a positive influence?

20.  Think of examples in the Bible where the tongue is put to good use.

21.  What guidelines do you use to help you decide what speech is appropriate for you as a Christian?


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