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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 45: Catholic Epistles, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at





1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are in the dispersion, health:

2 Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into various temptations;

3 Knowing that the trying of your faith works patience:

4 But let patience have its perfect work, so that ye may be perfect and entire, in nothing deficient.

5 But if any of you be deficient in wisdom, let him ask it from God, who giveth to all freely, and does not upbraid: and it shall be given to him.

6 But let him ask in faith, by no means doubting; for he who doubts, is like a wave of the sea, which by the wind is driven and tossed to and fro.

7 Let not, then, that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord.

8 A man of a double mind is unstable in all his ways.

9 Now, let a brother who is low, rejoice in his exaltation; and the rich in his lowness:

10 Because as a flower of grass shall he pass away:

11 For the sun rises with heat and withers the grass, and the flower falls, and the beauty of its appearance perishes; so also shall the rich fade away in his riches.

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

13 Let no one, when he is tempted, say, “By God I am tempted:” for God cannot be tempted by evils, nor does he tempt any one.

14 But every one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lusts, and is ensnared.

15 Then lust, having conceived, brings forth sin; and sin, being perfected, begets death.

16 Do not err, my beloved brethren:

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, descending from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change nor shadow of turning.

18 Of his own will has he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some firstfruits of his creatures.

19 Let every man, therefore, my beloved brethren, be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

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

21 Laying aside then all filthiness and redundancy of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 And be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

23 For if any one be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks on his natural face in a glass;

24 For he hath looked on himself and departed, and hath immediately forgotten what manner of man he was.

25 But he who attentively looks on the perfect law of liberty and continues to do so,--this man, being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, shall be blessed in his work.

26 If any one seems to be religious among you and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, his religion is vain.

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


1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons on account of reputation.

2 For if there enter into your assembly a man wearing gold rings, having on a splendid dress, and there enter in also a poor man in sordid clothing;

3 And ye have respect to him who wears a splendid dress, and say to him, “Sit thou here honorably,” and ye say to the poor, “Stand thou there,” or, “Sit here under my foot- stool;”

4 Are ye not condemned in yourselves, and become judges of evil thoughts?

5 Hear, my beloved brethren, Has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them who love Him?

6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not the rich domineer over you, and draw you before judgment-seats?

7 Do they not blaspheme the good name which is called on you?

8 If indeed ye fulfill the royal law, according to Scripture,

9 “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” ye do well: but if ye respect persons, ye commit sin, and are reproved by the law as transgressors.

10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one thing, becomes guilty of all:

11 For he who hath said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” hath said also, “Thou shalt not kill.” Now if thou committest no adultery, yet if thou killest, thou becomest a transgressor of the law.

12 So speak ye and so do, as those who shall be judged by the law of liberty.

13 For judgment will be without mercy to him who hath not shewed mercy; and mercy glorieth against judgment.

14 What does it avail, my brethren, if any one say that he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?

15 Now, if a brother or a sister be naked and in want of daily bread, and one of you say to them, “Go away in peace, be warmed and be filled;

16 Though ye give them not those things which are necessary for the body, what does it avail?

17 Even so faith, if it hath no works, being by itself, is dead.

18 Nay, rather, one may say, “Thou hast faith and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will by my works shew thee my faith.”

19 Then believest that there is one God; thou doest right: the devils also believe and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21 Abraham our father, was he not justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?

22 Seest thou that faith co-operated with his works, and faith was by works made perfect?

23 And fulfilled was the Scripture which saith, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness:” and he was called the Friend of God

24 Ye then see, that by works is man justified, and not by faith only

25 In like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, when she received the messengers, and sent them forth another way?

26 For as the body without the soul is dead, so also faith without works is dead.


1 Be not many masters, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive greater judgment:

2 For in many things we all offend. If any one offend not in word, he is a perfect man, as one who can bridle also the whole body.

3 Behold, we put bridles in horses’ months, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, however large they may be and driven by fierce winds, yet they are turned about by a very small helm wherever the will of the pilot wishes.

5 So also the tongue is a very small member and boasts great things.

6 Behold, a little fire, what quantity of wood it burns! And the tongue is a fire, and a world of iniquity. So is the tongue among our members; it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the whole course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind:

8 But the tongue no man can tame, an unrestrainable evil, full of deadly poison.

9 By it we bless God, even the Father; and by it we curse men made after his likeness!

10 From the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing! These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.

11 Does a fountain from the same opening send forth the sweet and the bitter?

12 Can a fig-tree, my brethren, bear olive-berries; or a vine, figs? so no fountain can bring forth briny and sweet water.

13 Who is wise and intelligent among you? Let him shew by a good conduct his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter emulation and contention in your heart, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This is not the wisdom which comes from above, but earthly, animal, demoniacal:

16 For where emulation and contention are, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom which is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, humane, tractable, full of mercy and of good works, not officiously prying, not dissembling:

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.


1 Whence wars and fightings among you? are they not hence,--from your lusts which war in your members?

2 Ye covet and have not; ye envy and emulate, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye do not ask;

3 Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it on your lusts.

4 Adulterers and adulteresses! know ye not, that the friendship of the world is enmity to God? Whosoever then will be a friend of the world, becomes the enemy of God.

5 Do ye think that the Scripture speaks in vain? Does the Spirit who dwells in us, lust to envy?

6 Nay, he giveth more grace: hence He saith, God resists the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.

7 Be ye then subject to God; resist the devil and he will flee from you.

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you: cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.

9 Be afflicted and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to sorrow.

10 Be humbled before God, and he will exalt you.

11 Defame not one another, brethren; he who defames a brother and judges his brother, defames the law and judges the law; but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

12 One is the lawgiver, who can save and destroy; who art thou who judgest another?

13 Come now ye who say, “To-day, or, to-morrow, we shall go into the city and pass there a year, and trade and make gain:” who know not what is to be to-morrow; for what is your life?

14 It is indeed a vapor, which for a short time appears, and then vanishes away.

15 On the contrary ye ought to say, “If the Lord will, and we live, we shall do this or that.” But now ye glory in your presumptions: all such glorying is evil. He then who knows to do good and doeth it not, is guilty of sin.


1 Come now ye rich, weep and howl for your miseries, which shall come upon you.

2 Your riches are become rotten, and your garments are eaten by moths;

3 Your gold and silver are rusted, and their rust will be a witness against you, and shall eat all your flesh as fire: ye have heaped together a treasure for the last days.

4 Behold the wages of the workmen, who have reaped your fields, fraudulently kept back by you, loudly cry; and the cries of those who have been reaping have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.

5 In pleasures have ye lived on the earth, and have been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he does not resist you.

7 Be patient then, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, having long patience for it, until he receives the early and the latter rain.

8 Be ye then also patient; strengthen your hearts; because the coming of the Lord is nigh.

9 Groan not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned; behold, the Judge stands before the door.

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

11 Behold, we count them blessed who endure: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord, that he is very merciful and compassionate.

12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath; but let yours be, yea, yea; no, no; lest ye fall into condemnation.

13 Is any one afflicted among you? let him pray: is any cheerful? let him sing psalms:

14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;

15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess mutually your sins, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed: the efficacious prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

17 Elias was a man subject to passions in the like manner as we; and he earnestly prayed that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months:

18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

19 My brethren, if any one among you err from the truth, and some one convert him;

20 Let him know, that he who converts a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.

Next: Second Peter