Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
jam 3:1Be not many teachers - Let no more of you take this upon you than God thrusts out; seeing it is so hard not to offend in speaking much. Knowing that we - That all who thrust themselves into the office. Shall receive greater condemnation - For more offences. St. James here, as in several of the following verses, by a common figure of speech, includes himself: we shall receive, - we offend, - we put bits, - we curse - None of which, as common sense shows, are to be interpreted either of him or of the other apostles.
jam 3:2The same is able to bridle the whole body - That is, the whole man. And doubtless some are able to do this, and so are in this sense perfect.
jam 3:3We - That is, men.
jam 3:5Boasteth great things - Hath great influence.
jam 3:6A world of iniquity - Containing an immense quantity of all manner of wickedness. It defileth - As fire by its smoke. The whole body - The whole man. And setteth on fire the course of nature - All the passions, every wheel of his soul.
jam 3:7Every kind - The expression perhaps is not to be taken strictly. Reptiles - That is, creeping things.
jam 3:8But no man can tame the tongue - Of another; no, nor his own, without peculiar help from God.
jam 3:9Men made after the likeness of God - Indeed we have now lost this likeness; yet there remains from thence an indelible nobleness, which we ought to reverence both in ourselves and others.
jam 3:13Let him show his wisdom as well as his faith by his works; not by words only.
jam 3:14If ye have bitter zeal - True Christian zeal is only the flame of love. Even in your hearts - Though it went no farther. Do not lie against the truth - As if such zeal could consist with heavenly wisdom.
jam 3:15This wisdom - Which is consistent with such zeal. Is earthly - Not heavenly; not from the Father of Lights. Animal - Not spiritual; not from the Spirit of God. Devilish - Not the gift of Christ, but such as Satan breathes into the soul.
jam 3:17But the wisdom from above is first pure - From all that is earthly, natural, devilish. Then peaceable - True peace attending purity, it is quiet, inoffensive. Gentle - Soft, mild, yielding, not rigid. Easy to he entreated - To be persuaded, or convinced; not stubborn, sour, or morose. Full of good fruits - Both in the heart and in the life, two of which are immediately specified. Without partiality - Loving all, without respect of persons; embracing all good things, rejecting all evil. And without dissimulation - Frank, open.
jam 3:18And the principle productive of this righteousness is sown, like good seed, in the peace of a believer's mind, and brings forth a plentiful harvest of happiness, (which is the proper fruit of righteousness,) for them that make peace - That labour to promote this pure and holy peace among all men.