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James 3 The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Power of Your Words

My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be so eager to become a teacher in the church since you know that we who teach are held to a higher standard of judgment. We all fail in many areas, but especially with our words. Yet if we’re able to bridle the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way, and that means our character is mature and fully developed. Horses have bits and bridles in their mouths so that we can control and guide their large body. And the same with mighty ships, though they are massive and driven by fierce winds, yet they are steered by a tiny rudder at the direction of the person at the helm.

And so the tongue is a small part of the body yet it carries great power![a] Just think of how a small flame can set a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! It can be compared to the sum total of wickedness[b] and is the most dangerous part of our human body. It corrupts the entire body[c] and is a hellish flame![d] It releases a fire that can burn throughout the course of human existence.[e]

For every wild animal on earth including birds, creeping reptiles, and creatures of the sea and land[f] have all been overpowered and tamed by humans, but the tongue is not able to be tamed. It’s a fickle, unrestrained evil that spews out words full of toxic poison! We use our tongue to praise God our Father[g] and then turn around and curse a person who was made in his very image![h] 10 Out of the same mouth we pour out words of praise one minute and curses the next. My brothers and sisters, this should never be!

11–12 Would you look for olives hanging on a fig tree or go to pick figs from a grapevine? Is it possible that fresh and bitter water can flow out of the same spring? So neither can a bitter spring produce fresh water.[i]

Wisdom from Above

13 If you consider yourself to be wise and one who understands the ways of God, advertise it with a beautiful, fruitful[j] life guided by wisdom’s gentleness. Never brag or boast about what you’ve done and you’ll prove that you’re truly wise. 14 But if there is bitter jealousy or competition hiding in your heart, then don’t deny it and try to compensate for it by boasting and being phony. 15 For that has nothing to do with God’s heavenly wisdom but can best be described as the wisdom of this world, both selfish[k] and devilish.[l] 16 So wherever jealousy[m] and selfishness are uncovered, you will also find many troubles[n] and every kind of meanness.

17 But the wisdom from above is always pure,[o] filled with peace, considerate and teachable.[p] It is filled with love[q] and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy[r] in any form 18 and it always bears the beautiful harvest of righteousness! Good seeds of wisdom’s fruit will be planted with peaceful acts by those who cherish making peace.


  1. 3:5 Or “boasts of great things.” The Aramaic can be translated “the tongue has dominion.”
  2. 3:6 As translated from the Latin Vulgate. The Greek is “a world of wrongdoing.”
  3. 3:6 It is possible that the body Jacob refers to here is the body of believers (a local church).
  4. 3:6 Or “is set ablaze by gehenna [hell].” The Aramaic does not mention gehenna but is simply “burns with fire.” Gehenna is taken from the concept of “The Valley of Hinnom” where rubbish was burned outside the city of Jerusalem, becoming a Hebrew metaphor for the fires of hell.
  5. 3:6 The Aramaic can be translated “a fire that passes through successive generations, rolling on like wheels.”
  6. 3:7 Implied in the Greek and made explicit in the Aramaic.
  7. 3:9 Some Greek manuscripts have “Lord and Father.” The Aramaic can be translated “Lord God” (MarYah, the Aramaic equivalent to Yahweh).
  8. 3:9 The Aramaic can be translated “we curse a person and pretend to be God!”
  9. 3:11–12 As translated from the Aramaic.
  10. 3:13 As translated from the Aramaic.
  11. 3:15 Or “unspiritual.”
  12. 3:15 Or “behaves like a demon.”
  13. 3:16 The Greek word for jealousy implies an obsession to promote one’s self at the expense of others.
  14. 3:16 The Aramaic can be translated “chaos.” The Greek can be translated “instability” or “disorder.”
  15. 3:17 Or “holy.”
  16. 3:17 A beautiful concept that means “easy to correct” or “ready to be convinced” or “willing to yield to others.” Is this true of your life?
  17. 3:17 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “mercy.”
  18. 3:17 Or “never wears a mask.”
The Passion Translation (TPT)

The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017, 2018, 2020 by Passion & Fire Ministries, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

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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