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James 1:18-25 – The Implanted Word of Truth

Summary

Through the implanted power of the word, God has given believers birth as the first fruits of creation and so empowered them to effective action in the world.

Analysis

This passage breathes with its confidence in the purposive and empowering character of God's gifts. In what is likely both an allusion to the word of God experienced in the word made flesh in Jesus Christ as well as an explicit reference to the word of God in creation, the author speaks of the power of God's word to bring about God's longed-for righteousness. The language of "birthing," "implanting," and "first fruits of creation" describes believers who are empowered to act and persevere as not only hearers but doers of that word, that perfect law of liberty summarized in the call to love the neighbor as the self.

James 1:18-25

18In fulfilment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Hearing and Doing the Word

19 You must understand this, my beloved:* let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves* in a mirror; 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

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10 February 2011

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