HOW MANY MINI-SERMONS TODAY? We've been reminded throughout James that the letter is comprised of several independent lessons. One of the challenges translators have is determining when one section ends and another begins. We've already seen in other books that we can't always trust chapter and verse designations to help determine that, as these were added centuries later and are not always in the best spots. To make it even more complicated, the original Greek manuscripts were written with no spaces in between the words, only a few paragraph breaks, and very little punctuation. That means that paragraph indentations, commas and periods are interpretive and somewhat subjective. This screenshot from BibleGateway shows how three major English translations all format James 4 differently:
Another great resource is the NET Study Bible, which has thousands of translator notes, letting you peek behind the curtain at why they arrived at certain translation decisions.
We can be very grateful for the men & women who have dedicated their lives to making sure our English translations are as accurate as possible in conveying what the original author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, meant to say. As preachers, we often quibble about one word or another and how we would have translated it differently, but know that you can absolutely trust your favorite translation to accurately convey God's Word.
But at the same time, when you really want to dig into a passage, get in the habit of reading it from two or three different translations. Begin to wonder why the translators sometimes choose different words, or in this case, different ways of formatting? Does this affect your understanding of a certain passage?
These questions are not meant to confuse you, rather, they will help lead to a richer, deeper understanding of scripture, so get in the habit of digging deeper often!
CALL FOR THE QUESTION: This whole rabbit trail we went down today came from one simple little question I had: are v1-3 a separate passage from v4-10, with still a third passage represented in v11-12? What do you think, and why? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is the giver of all good things (v2) and He opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble (v6, Proverbs 3:34).
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up (v10).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: You do not have because you do not ask God (v2).