Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Gospel of Peace: Making It Real - Lesson 12 - “Fights, Wars, and Pride” - James 4:1-12

Lesson 12 - “Fights, Wars, and Pride” - James 4:1-12
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”) 
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.) 
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
 1.      Context:   Review James 3:11-18 and the rest of chapter four.  Verse 4:17 gives a good closing application to this section.
2.      ID: (1) What causes fights and quarrels?  (What are some “desires” that cause fighting and quarreling around you?)
3.      ID: (2-3) Why does the passage say we do not have what we want/need? How does that relate to conflict?
4.      ID: (4) How can you make yourself an enemy of God?   What does it mean to be a friend of the world? (Look especially at the surrounding verses for additional insights.)
5.      ID: (4) Why is it impossible to be a friend of the world and of God?  What does that teach us about what it means to submit to God?
6.      CR: (6-7) Who does God give grace to? (Make note of the words used in Proverbs 3:31-35 in place of proud and humble.) What should be your response to His grace?
7.      ID: (7-11) List (and think about) the imperatives in verses 7-11 with any of their cause/effects, etc.
8.      ID: (10) What encouragement does verse 10 give us for when we are in a conflict? (James 1:2-4)
9.      ID: (11-12) What reason(s) does James give to not speak against a brother?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.      What is your usual response when your desires (needs) are frustrated?
2.      How does pride inflame our frustrations during a conflict?
3.      How does this passage illustrate (explain) how our relationship with God is reflected in our relationships with others around us?
4.       Discuss this quote.  “Satan prefers that we do not recognize his role in our conflict.  As long as we see other people as our only adversaries and focus our attacks on them, we will give no thought to guarding against our most dangerous enemy.  Both James and Peter were aware of this danger, and they warn us to actively resist Satan’s schemes (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9).”  (Ken Sande, The Peacemaker, p. 51)

Translations and Punctuation
The apparent allusion to the Old Testament “the Scripture says” in verse five is puzzling because there is not an obvious Old Testament verse that is directly quoted. D. A. Carson makes the following observation about this allusion in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.
“No Old Testament passage qualifies, despite various attempts to stipulate allusive references. Some have therefore trawled through the noncanonical Jewish literature, but no suggestion has been convincing.  Others have supposed that James has a lost apocryphal text in mind.  Such speculation is unnecessary.  Sometimes the singular “Scripture says” refers to a theme rather than to a specific quotation.  So, most likely, here: the God of the Bible is a jealous God, a point established not only in the Decalogue but also in many passages, perhaps most movingly in the prophecy of Hosea.  For this reason, then, the ESV* is ill-advised to use direct quotation marks: in Greek there is no orthographically unambiguous distinction between a direct quotation and an indirect quotation, and in this context it would be wiser to side with the latter because the former, with its quotation marks, falsely signals the preservation of the actual words of a quotation when none appears to be present.”
This explanation is a good reminder that all the punctuation and capitalization in your English version is supplied by the translator to aid you in understanding what the text says.  As such they are almost always accurate and very helpful. If you take issue with a particular punctuation mark, remember that the translators are scholars and experts who should be respected for their great learning, even though they are not infallible.
In situations like this comparing different translations is very helpful.  I have Bible software that allows me to put several versions side by side in order from the most literal crossing the spectrum of translations to the more dynamic paraphrases (Young’s Literal, KJV, NASB, NKJV, ESV, NIV, TNIV, New Living Translation).  I can easily see trends in the transitions from the literal to the dynamic translations.  When the differences are jumbled or big, it is my clue that the Greek or Hebrew is either ambiguous, difficult to translate into English, or obscure.  Those are places where I should check into it more carefully.  Occasionally there is a minor difference between different manuscripts that accounts for a different reading.
The expensive software puts those translations in a convenient format for me, but they are available online for free. and both allow you to compare one verse in a large number of translations at once.  The Great Treasures web site allows you to view a passage with side by side comparison of the KJV, NASB, ESV, and NIV.  Reading a passage you are going to study in more than one translation allows you to benefit from additional scholarship and perspective.
Even though there are some non-critical differences between translations (and Greek and Hebrew texts), we have been blessed with some very good translations from the Hebrew and Greek into English.  You should feel confident reading your English version and be thankful that we have good tools available to work through some of the finer points.
* The ESV is not the only version that has quotations around this sentence.

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