What does James 4:4 mean?
ESV: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
NIV: You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
NASB: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
CSB: You adulterous people! Don't you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.
NLT: You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
KJV: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verses, James has been blunt: His readers have been living according to worldly wisdom. The wisdom of the world says that to be successful, we must do whatever it takes to get what we want out of life. We must provide for ourselves; nobody else is going to. We must be willing to fight for what we want.

The wisdom of heaven calls us to a far different approach: Christians should trust God to provide all the good we need. That's what He does (James 1:17). And because we trust His love and goodness and power to provide, we don't have to abuse each other to get what we want. Instead, we are free to obey Him. This means serving each other. It means meeting each other's needs.

Because James's readers were unwilling to trust God in this way, He now calls them adulteresses. He equates their choice to continue following the wisdom of world with the sin of a wife who sleeps with another man. Spiritually speaking, these Christians are cheating on God with the world.

James says something which should be obvious to us, but it's not: We can't be friends both with the world and with God. Worse, anyone who continues to be friends with the world is living as God's enemy. It's important to understand what James is not saying here: He is not saying Christians should never be friends with non-Christians. Nor is he saying that Christians should never engage their culture, or with the people they meet. That's not what this passage is about.

James is clear: Christians who choose to continue to live according to the wisdom of the world, driven by envy and ambition, seeking what they want above all else, are not living as friends of God. They are living in adultery as God's enemies.
Verse Context:
James 4:1–12 builds on the end of chapter 3, describing how living according to the world's wisdom has led to great conflict among James's Christian readers. They were fighting with each other because they couldn't get what they wanted. James says that living that way is adultery. It's ''cheating'' on God. He calls them to quit their friendship with the world, humble themselves, repent from their sin, and receive God's grace. God is the Lawgiver and Judge, not man.
Chapter Summary:
What was causing fights and quarrels among the Christians to whom James was writing? They were living by the world's wisdom. This false perspective says human beings should do whatever it takes to get what they want in this life, even if it hurts other people. James says that to live that way is adultery, but God gives grace. Christians should repent and move close to God again. We should trust Him to provide, to be the Judge, and to lift us up in His time. In humility, we must acknowledge that all of our plans are dependent on Him, and He can change them at any moment.
Chapter Context:
The book of James is about what it means for a Christian to live a life of complete trust in God. Chapter 4 builds on the end of chapter 3, where James described the self-seeking wisdom of the world. Following this worldliness was the cause of fights among James's Christian readers. He called them to repent and, in humility, receive God's grace. He called them to stop making their plans for business as if they could accomplish anything without God. In chapter 5, he will continue to talk about the dangers of trusting riches instead of the Lord.
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.
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