What does James 1:21 mean?
ESV: Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
NIV: Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
NASB: Therefore, ridding yourselves of all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
CSB: Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
NLT: So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
KJV: Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
NKJV: Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Verse Commentary:
James continues to describe what it looks like to truly trust God our Father. How does that show up in our daily lives? Here, he writes that those who trust God reject sin. Sin is what happens when we choose to serve ourselves first, and above all. Because God perfectly provides, what do we need sin for? So let's put sin away, James says. The Greek word used here is apothemenoi, which means to remove something as one would remove clothing.

To take off something is a choice, a conscious action. To live in moral filth, to participate in the evil all around us, is normal for humans. It's how most people continue to live throughout their lives. This is why we speak of "lesser evils," or say certain decisions are "just business." It's why we always want to compare our morals to other people, instead of comparing them to God. Those who trust the Father, though, choose to opt out of sin, no matter how alien that may appear in the culture of the day.

And what do we opt in to? What do we choose instead? It's interesting that James doesn't yet give us a concrete list of good things to do here, instead of the bad things we were doing. He writes that we should, in humility, accept the Word planted in us. Throughout the Bible, Christ is often described as "the Word." James likely refers to Christ, to the message of Christ, when he calls us to accept, with humility, the Word that was planted in us when we believed in Jesus.

James doesn't tell us to stop sinning and just be better people. He tells us to stop sinning and accept—or keep accepting or accept on a deeper level—the message of Christ, with humility. It is Christ's goodness in us that counts, not our own efforts to be good. Christ in us is what will save our souls.
Verse Context:
James 1:19–27 emphasizes that those who truly trust God don't settle for merely appearing religious. They give up trying to control the world with their words and their anger. They humbly receive the Word God has planted in them, listen to it, and proceed to do what it says. Part of what the Word says to us is that we should keep control over our words, to care for those who are weak and suffering, and to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world around us.
Chapter Summary:
How important is it for Christians to trust God? It's so important, James writes, that we should call our worst moments joyful things, because trials help us trust God more. People who trust God ask Him for wisdom—and then take what He gives. People who trust God make a bigger deal about their rewards in the next life than their wealth in this one. People who trust God don't blame Him for their desire to sin; they give Him credit for all that is good in their lives. They look into His Word, and they act on what they see there.
Chapter Context:
This first chapter in the book of James sets the course for the rest of his letter to Christians worldwide. God wants us to trust Him more, and more deeply, as we learn more of Him. This is so important to God that He calls on us to find joy, even in hard times, because hardship helps us trust God more. Those who really trust God will ask Him for wisdom, will be excited about their status in eternity, will recognize Him as the source of all good in their lives, and will work to act on what they find in His Word.
Book Summary:
The book of James is about specifically understanding what saving faith looks like. How does faith in Christ reveal itself in a believer's life? What choices does real trust in God lead us to make? Those are the questions James answers. Most scholars believe the writer was Jesus' half-brother, a son born to Joseph and Mary after Jesus' birth. James may not have come to believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection. Eventually, though, he became one of the leaders of the Christian church in Jerusalem. This is possibly the earliest-written of all the New Testament books, around AD 40–50. James addresses his letter to Jewish Christians scattered around the known world.
Accessed 5/20/2024 8:45:03 PM
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