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 (James & 1, 2 Peter)
Lesson 07
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Lesson 6



The Tongue and the Person (3:1-2)

The Tongue’s Influence (3:3-5a)

The Tongue Is A Fire (3:5b-6)

The Tongue Has Not Been Tamed (3:7-8)

The Tongue Needs to Be Consistent (3:9-12)

Key Words/Phrases

Teachers, judgment, stumble, tongue, perfect, bridle.

Segment Analysis

1.      The ability to teach is a divine gift that the Holy Spirit distributes to individuals in the church according to His will (Rom 12:6-8; 1Cor 12:28-30; Eph 4:11). James’ command has to do with those who have not been given the spiritual gift to teach but presume to be teachers.

2.      Teachers were in a position to educate the congregation and speak out against the wrongdoings of individuals. Those who presumed to be teachers probably desired the prestige associated with this responsibility or the opportunity to judge others.

3.      Teachers must teach with humility, gentleness, patience, and love (2Tim 2:24,25; 1Cor 4:14,15; 8:1; 16:14)

4.      Teachers are supposedly more knowledgeable of God’s word. Having more knowledge, more will be required of them (Lk 12:47,48). Their own teaching will also judge them (Rom 2:1). Furthermore, if they are not careful with their tongues but mislead others with wrong teachings, they will be judged all the more severely.

5.      Since we all stumble in many things, especially in our speech, no one should take the role of a teacher upon themselves. But if we have been given the divine gift to teach, we should teach with humility because we ourselves have many shortcomings.

6.      Since the tongue is the most difficult to control, anyone who is able to control his tongue and not sin in his speech would be able to also keep himself from committing other sins.

7.      For references on various kinds of evil speech, see Ex 22:28; Ps 12:3; 106:33; Prov 6:16-19; 10:11; 15:1; 16:28; 25;23; Rom 1:29,30; 3:13,14; Eph 4:31; 5:4; Tit 1:10,11; 3:2; 1Pet 2:1; Jude 8-10.

8.      Bits that bridle horses; rudders that turn ships; fire that kindles a forest.

9.      Although it’s small, the tongue can have a great influence. With the tongue, a person can mislead multitudes or turn the course of events by “boasting great things” (5).

10.  The tongue itself, in the sense of a physical organ, cannot defile the body. Rather, this verse refers to the wicked mind that causes the tongue to sin that is able to defile the person (Mt 15:10,11,16-20).

11.  “Course of nature” is also translated as “course of life.” The tongue can have a life-long destructive influence. Another translation renders the phrase as “whole round of existence” (The New Berkeley Version). This existence may include the entire human existence. In other words, the tongue is able to impact the whole human race.

12.  The source of the tongue’s destructive power is hell (6). In other words, this power comes from the evil one (cf. Mt 5:37).

13.  Man’s inability to tame his tongue shows that no one has power over his sinful nature (See verse 2, which states the universality of sin: “We all stumble in many things”).

14.  A person who curses his fellow human beings, who are created in the likeness of God, despises God Himself. Praising God while cursing others constitutes hypocrisy and false worship.

15.  We will love everyone equally with the love that God deserves from us.

16.  James wants us to learn the consistency in nature. We cannot have double standards in our speech and actions.

17.  Since evil speech comes from evil thoughts, controlling our tongues starts with having a pure heart (Prov 4:23). If our hearts are filled with God’s love, and if our mind always meditates on the word of God, we will naturally speak words of edification.

18.  Gideon (Judg 8:1-3); Abigail (1Sam 25:26-34); the wise woman of Sheba (2Sam 20:15-22); Naaman’s servant girl and servant (2Kgs 5:1-3,13,14); Philip (Jn 1:43-46); Gamaliel (Acts 5:33-40). Besides these examples, the prophets and apostles have left us good examples where the tongue was used for God’s glory. The greatest example of all is the Lord Jesus Christ, who spoke with authority and grace (Lk 4:22, 32).


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