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James 3:7

ESV For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
NIV All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,
NASB For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
CSB Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind,
NLT People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish,
KJV For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

What does James 3:7 mean?

James continues laying out his case that the tongue—our words and how we use them—is uncontrollable and a source of great evil.

Here, James points out the difficulty in taming the tongue using what today we would call the "man on the moon" argument. This is where we respond to some human limitation by looking back to the incredible 1969 moon landing. Then, questions are posed such as: "Why is it that we can put a man on the moon, but we can't cure the common cold?" Or, "Why is it that we can put a man on the moon, but we can't get the trains to run on time?"

James isn't referring to a moon landing, of course, but he is using the same logical form. Here he points to examples of amazing human achievement, specifically when it comes to control. Even at the time James wrote, human beings had learned to tame (figuratively) every kind of animal and bird, reptile, and sea creature. This verse echoes God's command in Genesis 1:28: "…have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

It truly is remarkable to watch well-trained animals obey, perform, and serve their human trainers. We can tame all of these creatures, James asserts, but we can't tame the tongue. Why? For the same reason we can't cure the common cold or make trains run on time: those things are actually much harder than even landing on the moon, for their own reasons.
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