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James 3 1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

2 To show that a Christian man must govern his tongue with the bridle of faith and charity, 6 he declareth the commodities and mischiefs that ensue thereof: 15 and how much man’s wisdom 17 differeth from heavenly.

My [a]brethren, be not many masters, [b]knowing that we [c]shall receive the greater condemnation.

For in many things we [d]sin all. [e]If any man sin not in word, he is a perfect man, and able to bridle all the body.

[f]Behold, we put bits into the horses’ mouths, that they should obey us, and we turn about all their body.

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small rudder, whithersoever the governor listeth.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth of great things: [g]behold, how great a thing a little fire kindleth.

And the tongue is fire, yea, a [h]world of wickedness: so is the tongue set among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and [i]setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell.

For the whole nature of beasts, and of birds, and of creeping things, and things of the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of the nature of man.

But the tongue can no man tame. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

[j]Therewith bless we God even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the [k]similitude of God.

10 [l]Out of one mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing: my brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11 Doth a fountain send forth at one place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bring forth olives, either a vine figs? so can no fountain make both salt water and sweet.

13 [m]Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show by good conversation his works in meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, rejoice not, neither be liars against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is sedition, and all manner of evil works.

17 But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of [n]mercy and good fruits, without judging, and without hypocrisy.

18 [o]And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, of them that make peace.


  1. James 3:1 The sixth part or place: Let no man usurp (as most men ambitiously do) authority to judge and censure others righteously.
  2. James 3:1 A reason: Because they provoke God’s severity against themselves, which do so curiously and rigorously condemn others, being themselves guilty and faulty.
  3. James 3:1 Unless we surcease from this masterlike and proud finding fault with others.
  4. James 3:2 Or, stumble.
  5. James 3:2 The seventh place, touching the bridling of the tongue, joined with the former, so that it is manifest that there is no man which may not justly be found fault withal, seeing it is a rare virtue to bridle the tongue.
  6. James 3:3 He showeth by two similitudes the one taken from the bridles of horses, the other from the rudders of ships, how great matters may be brought to pass by the good moderation of the tongue.
  7. James 3:5 On the contrary part he showeth how great discommodities arise by the intemperance of the tongue, throughout the whole world, to the end that men may so much the more diligently give themselves to moderate it.
  8. James 3:6 An heap of all mischiefs.
  9. James 3:6 It is able to set the whole world on fire.
  10. James 3:9 Amongst other faults of the tongue, the Apostle chiefly reproveth backbiting and speaking evil of our neighbors, even in them especially which otherwise will seem godly and religious.
  11. James 3:9 He denieth by two reasons, that God can be praised by that man, that useth cursed speaking, or to backbite: first because man is the image of God, which whosoever reverenceth not doth not honor God himself.
  12. James 3:10 Secondly, because the order of nature which God hath set in things, will not suffer things that are so contrary the one to the other, to stand the one with the other.
  13. James 3:13 The eighth part which hangeth with the former, touching meekness of mind, against which he setteth envy and a contentious mind. And in the beginning he stoppeth the mouth of the chief fountain of all these mischiefs, to wit, a false persuasion of wisdom, whereas notwithstanding there is no true wisdom, but that is heavenly, and frameth our minds to all kinds of true moderation and simplicity.
  14. James 3:17 He setteth mercy against the fierce and cruel nature of man, and showeth that heavenly wisdom bringeth forth good fruits, for he that is heavenly wise, referreth all things to God’s glory, and the profit of his neighbor.
  15. James 3:18 Because the world persuadeth itself that they are miserable which live peaceably and simply, on the contrary side the Apostle pronounceth that they shall at the length reap the harvest of peaceable righteousness.
1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

Geneva Bible, 1599 Edition. Published by Tolle Lege Press. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations in articles, reviews, and broadcasts.

James 3 New International Version (NIV)

Taming the Tongue

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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