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The New Testament is considered to be one of the most important parts of the Bible that depicts the true nature of human duties, demands, and desires, that teaches everyone the truths which have to be followed, and that explains what has to be appreciated in this life.
This work consists of numerous gospels, apostles, and epistles which are worthy of recognition and attention, however, right now, I would like to underline the Epistle of James, and to be more exact his ideas about the tongue and its nature. The tongue is one of the most difficult areas for people to control. Very often people just forget about the necessity to control their worlds and thoughts and suffer because of the tongue’s unpredictable power.
James represented a magnificent analysis of people’s words and actions and the outcomes of human mistakes. In spite of its size, tongue has a huge power to control and influence human lives. James as a devoted servant of God made a wonderful attempt to explain the essence and the power of human tongue, the necessity to control the tongue in order to please God, and human unbelievable desire to become teachers without being a perfect example in everything.
James’ role in the New Testament. Before the analysis of the New Testament’s passage written by James, it is necessary to identify the role of James in the Bible and the peculiar features of his contribution to the history. He was “an older stepbrother of Jesus by a conjectural marriage of Joseph preceding his marriage to Mary” (Gundry 474). He became recognizable as the author who paid much attention to law, legalization of rights, and promotion of rightness among the society.
However, it is necessary to admit that for a long period of time, James and his works were under a considerable suspicion by many historians and writer. The point is that James was the only one who was not afraid to conflict with other writers of the New Testament. Due to certain divergences of Paul’s opinion, James views were disputed considerably by many people who regarded his works as something that was less important in comparison to other writing of the New Testament (Ward para. 1).
However, James captivating stories and examples from real life made many people to re-evaluate their attitude to his works, and within a short period of time, the Epistle of James become the brightest example of human revival and attention to the details which fulfilled this life.
General overview of the passage from the New Testament. The Epistle of James is an educative part of the New Testament that helps to analyze this life and our place in this world. It is not enough to know that each person is an integral part of something really important; it is more important to comprehend that people should do to become worthwhile of this world.
This passage evaluates the way of why people are under control of their tongues and why this fact has to be admitted and taken into consideration. The idea that “the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts” (James 3: 5) proves that in this life, there are so many small things which have huge and important consequences on bigger things. This truth is impossible to avoid, neglect, or change the function of the tongue. And it is necessary to accept everything as it is and be very careful with words.
People as teachers. James writings were one of the firsts that criticize the role of teachers in this world and their false ideas and suggestions. He admitted that “not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we, who teach, will be judged more strictly” (James 3: 1).
People make mistakes, so that their actions cannot be right all the time. And only those who “never at fault” can become the best teachers. On the one hand, his suggestion is rather powerful and understandable: people have to consider their maturity and be sure about the correctness of their ideas before they make a decision to teach others.
It is very important to take this aspect into account to present really worthwhile education. On the other hand, these words demonstrate a kind of weakness of the author. “There were teachers who lived out nothing of the truth which they taught, whose lives were a contradiction of what they taught and who did nothing but bring dishonor on the faith they represented (Barclay 92).
It is noticeable that people are still afraid to become responsible for each their word. They cannot be sure about their correctness, and all they can do is to rely on God and his power. People have to be stronger and more powerful to enjoy this life and assist the other to do the same.
Tongue as human gift and curst. The Epistle of James focuses mostly on the role of the tongue in human world and its possible functions. The author underlines that “with the tongue we praise our Lord and Father” (James 3: 9), however, at the same time, he admits that “the tongue also is a fire, a world or evil among the parts of the body” (James 3: 6).
Is it possible to unite such a significant function of the tongue as the communication with God and the idea to promote sins by the same part of the body? Those who are devoted to religion may believe that they do not actually bridle their tongues, however, they deceive their hearts (Painter 257).
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The use of such descriptive words like bits in mouths, small rudder, and animals being tamed by man proves that the author has a kind of negative attitude to such crucial function of the tongue and such miserable attitude of humans to this part. It is difficult to control this part of the body (Kamell 15), but still it is necessary to do it. Our life is incomplete without it, however, its influence of human actions and words can make this life incomplete as well.
In general, the passage under consideration has many positive aspects to deal with. People become so self-assured that they simply forget about the idea of being controlled by somebody or something. It is difficult to believe that some small part of the body may be more important than the body itself.
To enjoy this life, to be able to cope with challenges, to help other people, it is significant to appreciate each detail and every piece around. It is useless to try to teach and explain something if you are not sure about personal abilities to control your words and your thoughts. Gain control over words – this is the main message of the passage. However, these are still only words, and people have to use their actions to achieve the desirable success.
Barclay, William. The Letters of James and Peter. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
Gundry, Robert, H. A Survey of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
James. “Taming the Tongue.” The New Testament 3: 1-12. 1 Apr. 2010. <https://biblehub.com/niv/james/3.htm>
Kamell, Mariam, J. “The Nature of Eternal Security in James: Divine Grace Pairs with the Imitatio Dei.” Testamentum Imperium 2 (2009). 1 Apr. 2010. <http://www.preciousheart.net/ti/2009/38-070_Kamell_Irrevocable_Salvation_James.pdf>
Painter, John. “James as the First Catholic Epistle.” Interpretation 60. 3. (2006): 245 – 259.
Ward, Douglas. “James and the Law Ethics in the Christian Life.” The Voice. 13 Jul. 2006. 1 Apr. 2010. <http://www.crivoice.org/jameslaw.html>