James 4:8 Commentary

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: eggisate (2PAAM) to theo kai eggiei humin. katharisate (2PAAM) cheiras, hamartoloi, kai hagnisate (2PAAM) kardias, dipsuchoi.

Amplified: Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

ASV: Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.

BBE: Come near to God and he will come near to you. Make your hands clean, you evil–doers; put away deceit from your hearts, you false in mind.

ESV: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (ESV)

KJV: Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

NET: Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded. (NET Bible)

NJB: The nearer you go to God, the nearer God will come to you. Clean your hands, you sinners, and clear your minds, you waverers. (NJB)

NLT: Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: Come close to God and he will come close to you. Realise that you have sinned and get your hands clean again. Realise that you have been disloyal and get your hearts made true once more. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse [your] hands, O sinners, and purify [your] hearts, O double-minded. 

Weymouth: Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you who are half–hearted towards God.

Young's Literal: draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you; cleanse hands, ye sinners! and purify hearts, ye two-souled!

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you: eggisate (2PAAM) to theo kai eggiei humin:


Delay not, delay not, O sinner, draw near.
The waters of life are now flowing for thee;
No price is demanded, the Savior is here;
Redemption is purchased, salvation is free.

Delay not, delay not, O sinner, to come,
For mercy still lingers and calls thee today.
Her voice is not heard in the vale of the tomb;
Her message, unheeded, will soon pass away.

Delay not, delay not, the Spirit of grace,
Long grieved and resisted, may take His sad flight,
And leave thee in darkness to finish thy race,
To sink in the gloom of eternity’s night.

Delay not, delay not, the hour is at hand,
The earth shall dissolve, and the heavens shall fade;
The dead, small and great, in the judgment shall stand;
What helper, then, sinner, shall lend thee his aid?

Delay not, delay not, why longer abuse
The love and compassion of Jesus thy God?
A fountain is open, how canst thou refuse
To wash and be cleansed in His pardoning blood?
(Delay Not, O Sinner, Draw Near)

Keep the context in mind, remembering that James 4:7-9 is a description of how to have a humble walk with God and I agree with Thomas Manton who feels that "You may look upon these words as spoken to sinners or to convert."

Hiebert writes that…

Involved in the basic demand of Jas 4:7 are various injunctions to be obeyed. Involved are a wholehearted return to God (Jas 4:8a), personal cleansing (Jas 4:8b), open repentance (Jas 4:9), and humility (Jas 4:10). (D Edmond Hiebert - James)

Near to the heart of God,
Nearer I cannot be,
For in the Person of His Son
I'm just as near as He.

Draw near… He will draw near - This is one of those great commandments that comes "packaged" with the "built in" encouragement of God's promise of fellowship. In the Old Testament the picture of drawing near to God was a general expression for the one who approached God in sincere penitence and humility. (see Isa 29:13 below for the "counterfeit").

The command to draw near implies that their ungodly behavior (Jas 4:1-3) and worldliness (Jas 4:4) has put distance between the readers and God. James is calling for his readers to pursue intimacy with God.

As Blanchard has so aptly stated…

There is only one view more welcome than the backside of the Devil—and that is the face of God. (John Blanchard, Truth for Life. West Sussex, England: H. E. Walter Ltd., 1982)

Draw near - Come close to God by entering His courts with prayer, praise and thanksgiving, by spending time with Him in His Word, by spending time with Him in corporate worship. But don't confuse one time Sunday worship as what James means by his command to draw near. To be sure, worship on Sunday can be a special time of drawing near to God, but the practice of drawing near needs to saturate, permeate and "marinate" our lives throughout the week. If we only draw near to worship God on Sunday, we are not really drawing near, but only making an occasional "visit".

In context, the love of the world (worldliness, cp Jas 4:4-note, cp 1Jn 2:15,16, 17, Gal 6:14) results in straying from God (cp "double minded", Jesus' warning in Mt 6:24-note). James is saying (as recipients of greater grace) we must counter the anti-God influences of this world (and even our own fallen flesh) and draw near to God.

C H Spurgeon exhorts us to…

Hear this command, and practice it; get near to God in Christ Jesus, and you shall soon find him come to your help in every hour of need.

Lehman Strauss offers a provocative analysis of this passage…

Real comfort and courage come to every child of God who experiences His nearness, and it seems to me that the heart of the average man cries out with Job: "Oh that I knew where I might find Him!" (Job 23:3). Many persons facing complex problems yearn for God's nearness. On this hunger many psychiatric quacks are getting rich. Even some Protestant clergymen have resorted to operating clinics where sentimental and emaciated peace of mind gimmicks are offered to resolve inner tension and restlessness. The quiet mood of "positive thinking" is negative compared with what the Bible teaches.

The nearness to God here promised is available to every child of God meeting divine requirements for it. Most expositors hold prayer to be the most prominent element in our drawing near to God. Personally, I feel safer if I commence with the Word of God and then pray according to the Scriptures. We have already indicated that prayers offered contrary to the plain teaching of the Bible remain unanswered, for the heart must be right as a condition to effective prayer. The greatest privilege ever afforded the sinful human race is to draw nigh to God. When we think of God's majesty and might and holiness, we stand in awe that He would allow us to come near to Him. (Lehman Strauss: James, Your Brother: Studies in the Epistle of James)

David gives us a sense of what drawing near looks like in the psalms writing…

(A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.) O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Ps 63:1)

And do not hide Thy face from Thy servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly (Ed: David draws near to God in this prayer and calls on God to draw near). Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it; Ransom me because of my enemies! (Ps 69:17, 18)

Dearest Jesus, draw Thou near me,
Let Thy Spirit dwell with mine;
Open now my ear to hear Thee,
Take my heart and seal it Thine;
Keep me, lead me on my way,
Thee to follow and obey,
E’er to do Thy will and fear Thee,
And rejoice to know and hear Thee.

Underneath Thy wings abiding,
In Thy Church, O Savior dear,
Let me dwell, in Thee confiding,
Hold me in Thy faith and fear;
Take away from me each thought
That with wickedness is fraught,
Tempting me to disobey Thee,
Root it out, O Lord, I pray Thee.
(Dearest Jesus, Draw Thou Near Me)

Isaiah quotes God's description of counterfeit drawing near to God…

Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote (Isa 29:13)

Comment: It follows that if we are to genuinely draw near we must do so both externally (our body and our members) and internally (our heart and soul). Superficial and/or hypocritical drawing near will never please God, and since such worship is ultimately a reflection of pride, the Almighty will actively oppose such feigned worship. Our words and actions should be the outflow of a heart surrendered to God and not a faithless heart that seeks after the emptiness and transience of this present evil age (Gal 1:4), this godless world system. And so James follows his command to draw near with a series of "machine gun-like" commands that if obeyed demonstrate that our drawing near is not sham religiosity (cp Jas 1:26, 27-note).

David explains to his son Solomon the prerequisites for drawing near to God (finding God)…

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. (1Chr 28:9)

Hebrews exhorts believers, that because of the fully atoning work of our sinless Great High Priest, we can now draw near to God through Him…

Let us therefore draw near (proserchomai = literally come before) with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16-note)

Comment: This is an all the more incredible truth when one considers that in ancient times kings were totally unapproachable by the common people and only the Jewish high priest could actually enter the Holy of holies symbolic of the presence of God and then only once per year.

Hence, also, He (Christ) is able to save forever those who draw near (proserchomai = literally come before) to God through Him (As our Great High Priest, through Who we can boldly approach God), since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25-note)

(In light of the truth that we have a Great High Priest, Christ Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father) let us draw near (proserchomai = literally come before) with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water ( Hebrews 10:22-note).

As noted below the writer of Hebrews uses the same verb as James (eggizo - draw near) writing…

(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope (the New Covenant in His blood, with a Better Mediator than the OT priesthood), through (dia) which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:19-note)

Related Resource: The Happiness of Drawing Near to God - Thomas Watson

Steven Cole writes that when James commands us to draw near, he is not saying…

that God is waiting for sinners to make the first move toward Him, and then He will respond. Not only does that run counter to all of Scripture, it also runs counter to this verse, which is God commanding us to draw near to Him! Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (Jn 6:44). In case we missed it, He repeated, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father” (Jn 6:65). God always makes the first move toward us… these words in James are written primarily to believers. It is easy even for believers to drift away from the Lord. James’ point is, “Guess who moved?” It wasn’t God! If you’re engaging in continuing quarrels and conflicts (Jas 4:1), you are not close to God. You’ve drifted. He is calling you to draw near to Him, with the promise that He is ready and waiting to draw near to you. The thought of not enjoying sweet fellowship with our loving Lord should move you to clear up whatever stands between you and Him. You cannot be close to God at the same time that you’re angry or bitter toward someone else. That’s why immediately after teaching how serious the sin of anger is, Jesus said (Mt 5:23,24), “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” You can’t draw near to God until you first clear up, as much as it is in your power, any relational difficulties. If you think that you’re close to God, but you’re angry and bitter, you’re deceiving yourself! Submit to God; draw near to God. (James 4:7-10 Resolving Conflicts God's Way)

Arthur Pink notes that…

It is one thing to know theoretically the legal way and right of approach unto God—but it is quite another to enjoy conscious access to Him. For that, the aid of the Spirit is imperative—but He will not perform His gracious operations within us if He is grieved (Ep 4:30-note). If we have spent the night in ransacking the newspapers, in worldly conversation—or in backbiting the servants and saints of God (Ed: In other words, we let an "unwholesome word proceed from" our mouth! Ep 4:29-note)—do you think that the Holy Spirit will draw out your heart unto the Father, when you perform your evening devotions? Not so, unless you penitently confess those sins, and sincerely determine there shall be no repetition of them. "Draw near to God—and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8). (Access to God)

In the OT David wrote…

But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works. (Psalm 73:28KJV)

Spurgeon comments on David's declaration: But it is good for me to draw near to God. Had he done so at first he would not have been immersed in such affliction; when he did so he escaped from his dilemma, and if he continued to do so he would not fall into the same evil again. The greater our nearness to God, the less we are affected by the attractions and distractions of earth. Access into the most holy place is a great privilege, and a cure for a multitude of ills. It is good for all saints, it is good for me in particular; it is always good, and always will be good for me to approach the greatest good, the source of all good, even God himself.

(Drawing near) is not one isolated act. It is nor merely turning to God, and saying, "I have come to him." The expression is draw. It is not a single act; it is the drawing, the coming, the habitual walk, going on, and on, and on, so long as we are on earth. It is, therefore, an habitual religion which must be pressed and enforced upon us. Montagu Villiers. 1855.

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. (Ps 145:18)

Spurgeon comments: The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him. Not only near by his omnipresence, but to sympathize and favour. He does not leave praying men, and men who confess his name, to battle with the world alone, but he is ever at their side. This favour is not for a few of those who invoke him; but for each one of the pious company. "All" who place themselves beneath the shield of His glorious name by calling themselves by it, and by calling upon it in supplication, shall find him to be a very present help in trouble. "To all that call upon him in truth": for there are many whose formal prayers and false professions will never bring them into communion with the Lord. To pray in truth, we must have a true heart, and the truth in our heart; and then we must be humble, for pride is a falsehood; and be earnest, or else prayer is a lie. A God of truth cannot be nigh to the spirit of hypocrisy; this he knows and hates; neither can he be far removed from a sincere spirit, since it is his work, and he forsakes not the work of his own hands.

Manton comments that…

Sin is departing from God; grace is returning. Come near to him, aim for the support of his presence; Christ is the way, but you must resolve upon it: I must and I will. “Your face, Lord, I will seek” (Ps 27:8); there must be a concern to bring the soul to this resolve. Note what it says in Jer 30:21, “‘I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the Lord.” But will you devote yourselves? A practical commandment arises from conviction of the necessity and excellence of the duty; as David says, “It is good to be near God” (Ps 73:28).

There is one doubtful point in the text that must be cleared up before we go any further, arising from the use of the phrase come near to God, as if it were in our own power.

Solution. First, this passage and similar ones show not what man wants to do but what he ought to do. We left God before he left us; we should be the first to return, as we were the first to leave. The wronged party may in justice wait for us to submit. Yet such is the Lord’s kindness that He loves us first (1John 4:19).

Second, commandments are not measures of our strength; it is not valid to argue from what ought to be done that it can or will be done. These things are expressed in this way for another purpose: to show God’s right, to convince the creature of weakness, to show us our duty, to show us that we should do our utmost, and to convince us of the things we have failed to do.

Third, these precepts are not useless; they convey grace to those who are chosen. God fulfills what He commands, for, by means of the Spirit working with them, they are stirred up and made to come near to God…

I shall conclude with Bernard’s wonderful saying: “We cannot seek God until we have found him; he wants to be sought in order that he may be found, and found in order that he may be sought: it is grace that must bring us to grace.” The stray sheep cannot be brought home unless it is on Christ’s shoulders…

Coming near to God is not something we must do for an hour, it is not something appropriate merely when we are converted, but it is the work of our whole lives. (A Practical Exposition of James)

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,
Draw me, my Savior—so precious Thou art!
Fold me, oh, fold me close to Thy breast.
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest”;
Shelter me safe in that “Haven of Rest.”

Nearer, still nearer, nothing I bring,
Naught as an offering to Jesus, my King;
Only my sinful, now contrite heart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

Nearer, still nearer, Lord, to be Thine!
Sin, with its follies, I gladly resign,
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.
Give me but Jesus, my Lord, crucified.

Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last.
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee;
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee!
(Nearer, Still Nearer)

The call of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 55 is very similar to James' commands in James 4:8, 9…

Seek (A command in Hebrew; Lxx = zeteo in aorist imperative = command for decisive action!) the Lord while He may be found; Call upon (A command in Hebrew; Lxx =aorist imperative = command for decisive action!) Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6, 7)

The prophet Hosea cries out (primarily to the Northern 10 tribes, called "Israel" or sometimes "Ephraim" the name of the largest tribe)…

Come, (Command in Hebrew) let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him. (Hosea 6:1, 2)

The prophet Zechariah (prophesying to the Jews who returned to Palestine after the 70 year exile in Babylon - his call was to urge them to complete the rebuilding of the Temple) echoes Hosea and clearly parallels James' call to his Jewish readers to draw near to God and He would draw near to them…

“Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return (Command in Hebrew) to Me,” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 1:3)

C. H. Spurgeon Anecdotes.

Prayer, a Drawing Near to God -There was a time, late in the fifties, when Mr. Spurgeon had the use of the Congregational Church, Tunbridge Wells, secured for him by a friend. He preached there many times, and the present writer did not miss any one of the sermons. He remembers especially two of them. "Things that accompany Salvation" was one; the other was on prayer as drawing near to God: "It is good for me to draw near to God." His remarks went to show that, whether in a form of prayer or in extemporaneous supplication, that alone is true prayer in which the soul seeks to draw near to God. The divisions of the sermon were very remarkable and original.

He said: "First, I shall use the text as a Touchstone."

Second, I shall use it as a Whetstone, to sharpen the activity of the soul God-ward.

"Third, I shall set it up as a Tombstone over the myriads of dead prayers, both formal and extempore."

The discourse throughout was striking, telling, and searching. Three evangelical clergymen who were present evidently thought the sermon calculated to be profitable to others besides those who had listened to it, and they sought Mr. Spurgeon's permission to have it printed as a booklet for distribution in the town and neighborhood. Those services in the Congregational Church were the means of much good, and people came in from the country around to listen to the preacher, whose usefulness and popularity were extending on every side.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

(Praise to the Lord, the Almighty)

Draw near (1448) (eggizo) means to approach, draw closer to, draw near, be near, come near. So drawing near in space and drawing closer to some point. In short, to draw near in space. (Mt 21:1, Lk 7:12, 15:1, 25, 18:35. 19:29, 37, 41). Also used of drawing near in regard to time (Lk 22:1).

Friberg's summary of eggizo - intransitively in the NT approach, draw near, be near; (1) with the dative of person or place draw near to, approach (Acts 9.3); (2) with eis draw near, approach a place (Mk 11.1); (3) absolutely, of approaching in space be near (Mt 26.46); of approaching in time draw near, be at hand (Lk 22.1); perfect have come (Ro 13.12)

Hiebert writes that in eggizo

was used in the Septuagint of the priests in the Tabernacle, duly qualified to approach God with their sacrifices (Lev 10:3; 21:21, 22, 23); it also was used in a wider sense of man's approach to God in worship (Isa. 29:13; Hos 12:6). Thus the term conveys the thought of entering into communion with God as acceptable worshipers. Such drawing near to God marks "those who long to come into the closest possible relation to Him, in contrast to those who are His enemies and who keep at a distance from Him. Their sincere approach is assured of God's favorable response: "and he will come near to you." Like the returning prodigal (Lk 15:20), they will find God waiting to welcome and restore them. (Ibid)

Fruchtenbaum agrees that eggizo that…

is used in the Septuagint for “worship.” It is the Levitical term for worship (cp Lev 10:3, 21:21). The promise is draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you, which is a pledge of fellowship and communion. (Fruchtenbaum, A. G. The Messianic Jewish Epistles : Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude. Page 292. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries

Lenski notes that the aorist imperative

is again decisive and indicates that the readers are not to draw a step or two nearer to God but are to approach him completely. This is said to Christians (Ed: Some feel that Jas 4:6-10 could also apply to non-believers) who are to flee to God by repentance and faith, who will then always find him drawing near to them in grace, pardon, protection. The devil will flee from us, God will draw near to us. James intends to use this contrast. The parable of the Prodigal illustrates the returning to God in repentance and his drawing near to the repentant one. (Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James. Page 632. 1938)

The other NT meaning of eggizo is to draw near in time: the kingdom of Heaven/of God (Mt 3:2, 4:17, 10:7, Mk 1:15, Lk 10:9, 11), hour (Mt 26:45), day (Ezek 12:23; Ro 13:12-note, He 10:25-note), harvest time (Mt 21:34), feast day (Lk 21:8, Mt 21:34, Lk 21:20, 22:1), redemption (Lk 21:28), the end of all things (1Pe 4:7-note)

James uses eggizo in Jas 4:8 of drawing near in a spiritual sense (also used in this sense in Heb 7:19-note), while in James 5:8 he uses eggizo in a temporal sense.

Eggizo - 42x in 41v in the NT - approached(10), approaching(7), at hand(12), came close(1), came up(1), come near(3),comes near(2), coming near(1), draw near(3), drawing near(2).

Mt 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; 21:1, 34; 26:45, 46; Mark 1:15; 11:1; 14:42; Luke 7:12; 10:9, 11; 12:33; 15:1, 25; 18:35, 40; 19:29, 37, 41; 21:8, 20, 28; 22:1, 47; 24:15, 28; Acts 7:17; 9:3; 10:9; 21:33; 22:6; 23:15; Ro 13:12; Phil 2:30; Heb 7:19; 10:25; Jas 4:8; 5:8; 1 Pet 4:7.

Here are some representative uses…

Mt 3:2 (John the Baptist) "Repent (present imperative = make this your continual practice!), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (perfect tense = to have drawn near and as a result to be present or at hand)."

Comment: At hand is in the perfect tense which means in essence that the kingdom (King) has come and is still present. How so since John is on earth not heaven? He is surely referring to the King of the Kingdom Who had arrived. In fact John been prepared to herald the King's coming [Isa 40:3]. The kingdom has a spiritual aspect, a present physical aspect, and a future eternal aspect, depending on context, but always refers to God's reign over His created and redeemed world and its believing inhabitants.

Mt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent (present imperative), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (perfect tense)"

Matthew 26:45 Then He came to the disciples, and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand (perfect tense) and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 "Arise, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"

Luke 21:8 And He said, "See to it that you be not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time is at hand'; do not go after them.

Luke 21:28 "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

Comment: Redemption demands a redeemer and thus this clearly speaks of Messiah's Second Coming.

Luke 22:47 While He was still speaking, behold, a multitude came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him.

Acts 7:17 "But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham (Ge 15:13, 14, 15, 16 - when the "cup" of iniquity of the Amorites who lived in the Promised Land had been filled to the brim), the people increased and multiplied in Egypt,

Acts 9:3 (Paul's encounter with the Risen Christ - and his radical conversion) And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus (see also Acts 22:6), and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;

Romans 13:12-note The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand (perfect tense = to have drawn near and as a result to be present or at hand). Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on (like a new changes of clothes - "Jesus dress"!) the armor of light.

Comment: At hand speaks of the day of the Return of Christ which is the next event on God’s Plan for the Ages and could happen at any moment (Imminent). God delays the Son's return because He is still redeeming those whom He “chose … in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ep 1:4-note). From the human perspective, Christ’s return has been Imminent since He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9, 10, 11) and this assurance has always been the church’s "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13-note).

Philippians 2:30-note because (Epaphroditus - cp Php 2:25, 26, 27, 28, 29) he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.

Hebrews 7:19-note (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

Hebrews 10:25-note not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near (perfect tense).

James 5:8 You too be patient (aorist imperative = command for decisive action); strengthen (firmly fix, be resolute, even in face of trials and persecution!) (aorist imperative = command calling for decisive action) your hearts, for the coming (parousia) of the Lord is at hand (= speaks of the Imminency [see notes] of the Messiah's Return).

Comment: The imminent return (parousia) of the Bridegroom should stimulate every member of His Church (the Bride) to patience and persistence. See related discussion regarding the Second Coming.

MacArthur rightly remarks that "Any view of eschatology which eliminates Imminency (believers in every age living with the hope that Christ could come at any moment) is in conflict with all those passages which provide hope for suffering believers by anticipating the Lord’s coming." (Macarthur J. James. Moody or Logos)

1Peter 4:7-note The end (telos = consummation, an achieved goal) of all things is at hand (perfect tense = to have drawn near and as a result to be present or at hand. The Return of Christ = Imminent = it could occur at any moment); therefore (If you are looking expectantly for Christ at any moment, your daily conduct will [or should] be a clear reflection of such a belief), be of sound judgment (aorist imperative = command for decisive action) and sober spirit (aorist imperative = command for decisive action) for the purpose of prayer.

Eggizo - 103v in the Septuagint (LXX) -

Gen 12:11; 18:23; 19:9; 27:21, 22, 26, 27, 41; 33:3; 35:16; 37:18; 44:18; 45:4; 47:29; 48:7, 10, 13; Ex 3:5; 19:21, 22; 24:2; 32:19; 34:30; Lev 10:3; 21:3, 21, 23; 25:25; Nu 24:17; Deut 4:7; 13:7; 15:9; 20:2; 21:3, 6; 22:2; 25:5; 31:14; Jdg 9:52; 19:13; 20:23; Ruth 2:20; 2Sa 11:20; 15:5; 18:25; 19:42; 20:16; 1Ki 2:1, 7; 8:59; 2 Ki 2:5; 4:6, 27; 5:13; 2Chr 18:23; Ezra 4:2; 9:1; Job 33:22; Ps 27:2; 32:6, 9; 38:11; 55:18, 21; 88:3; 91:7, 10; 107:18; 119:169; 148:14; Pr 3:15; 5:8; 10:14; 19:7; Isa 5:8, 19; 8:15; 26:17; 29:13; 30:20; 33:13; 38:12; 41:1, 5, 21f; 45:21; 46:13; 50:8; 51:5; 54:14; 55:6; 56:1; 58:2; 65:5; Jer 23:23; 51:9; Lam 3:57; 4:18; Ezek 7:7; 9:1, 6; 12:23; 22:4f; 23:5; 36:8; 40:46; 42:13; 43:19; 44:13; 45:4; Dan 4:11, 22; 6:20; Hos 12:6; Amos 6:3; 9:10; Jonah 3:6; Mic 2:9; 4:10; Hab 3:2; Zeph 3:2; Hag 2:14.

Genesis 12:11 And it came about when he came near (Lxx = eggizo) to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman;

Genesis 18:23 And Abraham came near (Lxx = eggizo) and said, "Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

Genesis 27:21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come close (Lxx = eggizo), that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not." 22 So Jacob came close (Lxx = eggizo) to Isaac his father, and he felt him and said, "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau."

Leviticus 10:3 Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the LORD spoke, saying, 'By those who come near (Lxx = eggizo) Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

Job 33:22 "Then his soul draws near (Lxx = eggizo) to the pit, And his life to those who bring death.

Hosea 12:6 Therefore, return to your God, observe kindness and justice, and (Lxx = eggizo = Draw near = present imperative - Command to make this your lifestyle, daily, moment by moment, habitually draw near) wait for your God continually.

Motyer offers a practical analysis of this section noting first that…

if we are true to James, we will see this command to draw near as the first obedience required of those who have subordinated themselves to God (Jas 4:7-note) and propose to resist the devil. For James is not snatching haphazard commands out of the air. He is setting out for us an ordered program of obedience. The first element in the conflict is this central battle to live near God, the battle for regularity and discipline in Bible reading, prayer, private and public worship, feasting at the Lord’s Table, devoting ourselves to Christian fellowship, cultivating every appointed avenue whereby we can draw near to him.

Fellowship with God—and its consequent blessing of His fellowship with us—does not ‘just happen’; we cannot drift into it any more than we drift into holiness. It is our first obedience. (The Message of James: The Tests of Faith. The Bible Speaks Today) (Bolding added for emphasis)

The humble souls who mourn and pray,
The Lord approves and knows;
His mark secures them in the day
When vengeance strikes his foes.
(John Newton - The Gathering Clouds, with Aspect Dark)

Thomas Manton writes that God…

will make us find that He is near to us by His favor and blessing. We have a similar promise in Zechariah 1:3, “‘Return to Me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you.’” It is the same in Malachi 3:7.

The way to have God turn to us in mercy is to turn to Him in duty. This is the standing law of heaven, and God will not vary from it; it is the best way for God’s glory and for the creatures’ good. Mercies are most delightful and good to us when we are prepared for them by duty. Do not, then, separate mercy from duty. Expectations in God’s way cannot be disappointed. Ephraim wanted blessings but could not endure the yoke of obedience. We are apt to lie upon the bed of ease and complacently look to see what God will do, but will not stir ourselves to do what we should do.

God will be near those who are careful to hold communion with him. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). Near to bless, to comfort, to give life, to guide, to support them. Let this encourage us to come to God—indeed, to run to him. The father ran to meet the returning prodigal (Luke 15:20). God will be first with loving-kindness: “You will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I” (Isaiah 58:9). God says, in effect, “What have you to say to me? What do you want from me? Here am I to satisfy all your desires.” Elsewhere it says, “Before they call I will answer” (Isaiah 65:24). When we apply ourselves to seeking God, he is near to counsel, to give life, to defend—ready with blessing before our imperfect desires can be formed into requests. (A Practical Exposition of James)

Drawing Near to God - THE nearer we come to God, the more graciously will He reveal Himself to us. When the prodigal comes to his father, his father runs to meet him. When the wandering dove returns to the ark, Noah puts out his hand to pull her in unto him. When the tender wife seeks her husband’s society, he comes to her on wings of love. Come then, dear friend, let us draw nigh to God who so graciously awaits us, yea, comes to meet us. Did you ever notice that passage in Isaiah 58:9? There the Lord seems to put Himself at the disposal of His people, saying to them, “Here I am,” as much as to say: “What have you to say to me? What can I do for you? I am waiting to bless you.” How can we hesitate to draw near? God is nigh to forgive, to bless, to comfort, to help, to quicken, to deliver. Let it be the main point with us to get near to God. This done, all is done. If we draw near to others, they may before long grow weary of us and leave us; but if we seek the Lord alone, no change will come over His mind, but He will continue to come nearer and yet nearer to us by fuller and more joyful fellowship. (Spurgeon, C.. Faith's Checkbook)

ILLUSTRATION - Some of us have tried to have a daily quiet time and have not been successful. Others of us have a hard time concentrating. And all of us are busy. So rather than spend time with God, listening for his voice, we’ll let others spend time with him and then benefit from their experience. Let them tell us what God is saying. After all, isn’t that why we pay preachers? …If that is your approach, if your spiritual experiences are secondhand and not firsthand, I’d like to challenge you with this thought: Do you do that with others parts of your life? …You don’t do that with vacations… You don’t do that with romance… You don’t let someone eat on your behalf, do you? [There are] certain things no one can do for you. And one of those is spending time with God. (Lucado, M., & Gibbs, T. A. Grace for the moment : Inspirational thoughts for each day of the year. Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman)

Cleanse your hands, you sinners: katharisate (2PAAM) cheiras, hamartoloi:

James now calls for his readers to carry out a thorough moral/ethical personal cleansing, for they had become stained with worldliness (cp Jas 1:27, Jas 4:1-4) and only those pure in hand and heart would be allowed to enter into the presence of God's holiness.

David asks…

Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, And has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Ps 24:3, 4, 5)

The prophet Isaiah issued a similar call to Judah…

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil (Isaiah 1:16-note) (Note: Four commands in this verse and five more in Isa 1:17-note. Remove… cease following wash yourselves make it clear that the washing Jehovah is calling for is a spiritual cleansing from the filth and stain of sin.)

How appropriate that cleanse and purify follow God drawing near to us who are sinners, whether we be saved sinners or unconverted sinners! Holiness always highlights the heinousness of sinfulness. It is a spiritual maxim that the closer the Holy One draws to us, the greater is (or should be) our sense of sinfulness. Those who are most conscious of His holiness, logically are those who are most acutely convicted of their sin. Oswald Chambers was right when he said that we should "measure our growth in grace by our sensitiveness to sin". In fact, is not the antithesis of God's holiness, man's sinfulness!

Young's Literal rendering pierces us ever so sharply…

Cleanse hands, ye sinners! and purify hearts, ye two-souled!

Alexander Maclaren spoke to this point in his sermon on Mt 5:4 writing that…

if you and I have ever had anything like a glimpse of what we really are, and have brought ourselves into the light of God’s face, and have pondered upon our characters and our doings in that—not ‘fierce’ but all-searching, ‘light’ that flashes from Him (cp what happens when He draws "near to us"!) , there can be no attitude, no disposition, more becoming the best, the purest, the noblest of us, than that ‘Woe is me, for I am undone!’

Oh, dear friends, if—not as a theological term, but as a clinging, personal fact—we realize what sin against God is, what must necessarily come from it, what aggravations His gentleness, His graciousness, His constant beneficence cause, how facilely we do the evil thing and then wipe our lips and say, ‘We have done no harm,’ we should be more familiar than we are with the depths of this experience of mourning for sin.

I cannot too strongly urge upon you my own conviction—it may be worth little, but I am bound to speak it—that there are few things which the so-called Christianity of this day needs more than an intenser realisation of the fact, and the gravity of the fact, of personal sinfulness. There lies the root of the shallowness of so much that calls itself Christianity in the world to-day. It is the source of almost all the evils under which the Church is groaning. And sure I am that if millions of the people that complacently put themselves down in the census as Christians could but once see themselves as they are, and connect their conduct with God’s thought about it, they would get shocks that would sober them. And sure I am that if they do not thus see themselves here and now, they will one day get shocks that will stupefy them. And so, dear friends, I urge upon you, as I would upon myself, as the foundation and first step towards all the sunny heights of God-likeness and blessedness, to go down, down deep into the hidden corners, and see how, like the elders of Israel whom the prophet beheld in the dark chamber, we worship creeping things, abominable things, lustful things, in the recesses within. And then we shall possess more of that poverty of spirit, and the conscious recognition of our own true character will merge into the mourning which is altogether blessed. (The Second Beatitude)

Motyer comments on the position of the commands to cleanse and purify after we draw near and God draws near explaining that…

when we know the reality of His presence and come under its holy influence that we are at last in a position to face the demands of holiness, and find ourselves motivated by the desire to be like our God. (The Message of James: The Tests of Faith. The Bible Speaks Today)

Remember that it is the greater grace generously given by God (Jas 4:6-note) that makes possible our obedience to these commands calling us to take decisive action.

Cleansepurify - Both verbs are used in Scripture to indicate ritual cleansing, but here James is obviously calling for far more than "going through the motions" as so often happens in religious rituals. These two verbs (katharizo and hagnizo - see following discussions) were frequently used in the Old Testament Bible (The Septuagint) to which many of his Jewish readers had undoubtedly been exposed. As Lenski says these verbs would therefore "retain some of their ritual flavor for Jewish readers."

Hiebert observes that cleanse your hands

employs the language of ceremonial cleansing for the priestly approach to God (Ex 30:19, 20, 21; Lev 16:4), but it is now employed with a moral connotation to denote a definite cleansing from the defilement of sin (2Co 7:1). This figurative usage appears in the Old Testament (Ps 24:4; Isa 1:15,16). As the instruments of ethical conduct, their "hands" are symbolic of their defiling deeds. (Ibid)

Search Me, O God

Search me, O God,
And know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior,
Know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be
Some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin
And set me free.

O Holy Ghost,
Revival comes from Thee;
Send a revival,
Start the work in me.
Thy Word declares
Thou wilt supply our need;
For blessings now,
O Lord, I humbly plead.

Cleanse (2511) (katharizo [word study] from katharos = pure, clean, without stain or spot; English words - catharsis = emotional or physical purging, cathartic = substance used to induce a purging, Cathar = member of a medieval sect which sought the purging of evil from its members) means to make clean by taking away an undesirable part. To cause to become clean as from physical stains and dirt (Mt 23:25). To cleanse from filth or impurity. Click here (and here) for more background on the important Biblical concept of clean and cleansing. This word group conveys the idea of physical, religious, and moral cleanness or purity in such senses as clean, free from stains or shame, and free from adulteration.

Figuratively katharizo referred to cleansing from ritual contamination or impurity as in (Acts 10:15). In a similar sense katharizo is used of cleansing lepers from ceremonial uncleanness (Mt 8:2,3, et al) Other figurative uses that convey a sense similar to James are found in 1Jn 1:9 and Heb 10:2, where katharizo describes the purifying or cleansing from sin and a guilty conscience thus making one acceptable to God and reestablishing fellowship.

Katharizo - 94 uses (35x in Leviticus!) in the Septuagint (LXX) -

Ge 35:2; Ex 20:7; 29:36, 37; 30:10; 34:7; Lev 8:15; 12:7, 8; 13:6, 7, 13, 17, 23, 28, 34, 35, 37, 59; 14:2, 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 17, 18, 19, 23, 25, 28, 29, 31, 48, 57; 15:13, 28; 16:19, 20, 30; 22:4; Nu 6:9; 8:15; 12:15; 14:18; 30:5, 8, 12; 31:23, 24; Dt 5:11; 19:13; Josh 22:17; 1Sa 20:26; 2Ki 5:10, 12, 13, 14; 2Chr 29:15; 34:3, 5, 8; Ezra 6:20; Neh 12:30; 13:9, 22, 30; Job 1:5; Ps 12:6; 19:12, 13; 51:2, 7; Pr 25:4; Isa 53:10; 57:14; 66:17; Jer 13:27; 25:29; 33:8; Ezek 24:13; 36:25, 33; 37:23; 39:12, 14, 16; 43:26; 44:26; Da 8:14; 11:35; Hos 8:5; Mal 3:3

In Second Corinthians Paul uses katharizo to exhort the saints living in a sin soaked society to be set apart…

Therefore (term of conclusion), having these promises (ponder the incredible promises in 2Co 6:16, 17, 18), beloved, let us cleanse (katharizo) ourselves from all defilement (molusmos) of flesh and spirit, perfecting (epiteleo) holiness (hagiosune) in the fear (phobos) of God. (2Cor 7:1-note) (Brethren, beloved of God our Father, let us continually remember that holy privilege and holy promise go hand in hand and should serve to stimulate holy living!)

John Donne spoke of spiritual cleansing when he exhorted believers to…

Sleep with clean hands, either kept clean all day by integrity or washed clean at night by repentance.

Roy Hession (The Calvary Road) noted that one of the dominant themes of the great awakening in East Africa was a constant cleansing from sin which prompted him to write

We do not lose peace with God over another person's sin, but only over our own. Only when we are willing to be cleansed, will we have His peace.

(Revival) is the constant experience of any simplest Christian who "walks in the light," but I saw that walking in a the light means an altogether new sensitiveness to sin, a calling things by their proper name of sin, such as pride, hardness, doubt, fear, self pity, which are often passed over as merely human reaction. It means a readiness to "break" and confess at the feet of Him who was broken for us, for the Blood does not cleanse excuses, but always cleanses sin, confessed as sin: then revival is just the daily experience of a soul full of Jesus and running over. (Hession, R. The Calvary Road)

Hands… heart - Hands speaks of our deeds, which are much employed for carrying out evil deeds, while hearts speaks of the center or seat of the thoughts and will, the inner source of all our evil actions.

Ralph Martin observes that…

The washing of hands, originally a purely external rite (Ex 30:19, 20, 21; Meyer, TDNT 3:421–22; Hauck, TDNT 3:424), soon became associated with the social as well as the internal religious emphasis of the prophets and sages (Isa 1:16; Jer 4:14; Job 22:30; Ps 24:4; 26:6). Thus James connects inward disposition with outward social concern and action. He is calling his readers to a radical repentance-conversion that orients the whole person to God and his ways in this world. Setting aside the affectionate “brethren” (Jas 2:1), James underlines the seriousness of the situation by addressing his readers as “sinners” (cf. Ps 31:1-5; 51:15) and double-minded (both terms are taken as vocative) (Martin, R. P. Vol. 48: Word Biblical Commentary : James. Dallas: Word, Incorporated)

Sinners - Not brethren as used some 15 times in this short epistle! James is emphasizing what needs to be removed and his use of this potent word sinners seems calculated to pierce his reader's heart and conscience.

As someone has well said it is a universal law of the higher life that the better a man becomes, the more sensitive he is to sin. J H Jowett echoed this when he said…

The sorest injury we can do to any man is to lighten his conception of the enormity of sin.

Sinners (268) (hamartolos from hamartano = to miss a mark) is an adjective which describes a person who is continually missing the mark, one who is devoted to sin and thus lives in continual opposition to God's will (as used here by James). As seen in the passages below, religious Jews in the first century interpreted hamartolos as descriptive of those Jews who were not religious or did not observe the burdensome traditions and thus considered them as virtual outcasts, in the same category as despised tax collectors.

Martin Luther, the great reformer, never got very far from an acute awareness of his sinful nature once declaring…

I have no other name than sinner; sinner is my name, sinner is my surname.

The TDNT writes that hamartolos was used as either

a value judgment for a class of people as well as a description of our natural relationship to God (Ro 5:8-note).

Indeed, J I Packer amplified this definition when he said that…

A sense of defilement before God is not morbid, neurotic or unhealthy in any way. It is natural, realistic, healthy, and a true perception of our condition.

Return, O holy Dove, return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
And drove Thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.
(William Cowper - O for a Closer Walk with God)

BDAG writes that hamartolos

pertains to behavior or activity that does not measure up to standard moral or cultic expectations (being considered an outsider because of failure to conform to certain standards is a frequent semantic component. Persons engaged in certain occupations, e.g. herding and tanning, that jeopardized cultic purity, would be considered by some as ‘sinners’, a term tantamount to ‘outsider’.

Non-Israelites were especially considered out of bounds (cp. Acts 10:28)… irreligious, unobservant people, outsiders of those who did not observe the Law in detail and therefore were shunned by observers of traditional precepts

NIDNTT writes that the root verb…

hamartano (Homer onwards) originally meant to miss, miss the mark, lose, not share in something, be mistaken. The Gk. view of a mistake is intellectually orientated. hamartano is the result of some agnoia, ignorance. The cognate noun is hamartia (Aesch. onwards), mistake, failure to reach a goal (chiefly a spiritual one). The result of such action is hamartema, failure, mistake, offense, committed against friends, against one’s own body, etc. From these was derived (in the 5th cent. B.C.) the adj. and noun hamartolos, that thing or person that fails; in Aristoph. it occurs as a barbarism used with a deprecatory and ironic ring. hamartetikos (the better form) is also uncommon and late. The root hamart-, with its meaning of fail, produced many popular compounds, e.g. hamartinoos, madman.

Hamartolos - 47x in 45v - sinful(3), sinner(12), sinners(31).

Mt 9:10, 11, 13; 11:19; 26:45; Mk 2:15, 16, 17; 8:38; 14:41; Lk 5:8, 30, 32; 6:32ff; 7:34, 37, 39; 13:2; 15:1f, 7, 10; 18:13; 19:7; 24:7; John 9:16, 24f, 31; Rom 3:7; 5:8, 19; 7:13; Gal 2:15, 17; 1Ti 1:9, 15; Heb 7:26; 12:3; Jas 4:8; 5:20; 1Pe 4:18; Jude 1:15.

Here are a few of these NT uses…

Matthew 9:10 And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?"… 13 "But go and learn what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Matthew 11:19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

Matthew 26:45 Then He came to the disciples, and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Luke 6:32 "And if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 "And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 "And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount.

Luke 7:39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner."

Luke 13:2 And He answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate?

Luke 15:1 Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. 2 And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."… 7 "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance… 10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Jesus Sinners Doth Receive

Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live
And from God and Heaven wander!
Here is hope for all who grieve—
Jesus sinners doth receive.

Luke 18:13 "But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'

Luke 19:7 And when they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."

Jesus! what a Friend for SINNERS!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Luke 24:7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."

John 9:16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, "This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." But others were saying, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And there was a division among them… 24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner." 25 He therefore answered, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."… 31 "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him.

Romans 3:7-note But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner?

Romans 5:8-note But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us… 19-note For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Romans 7:13-note Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

1Timothy 1:9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers… 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

Hebrews 7:26-note For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

Hebrews 12:3-note For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

James 5:20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

1Peter 4:18-note And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?

Jude 1:15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

Hamartolos is used 85 times in the Septuagint (LXX) -

Ge 13:13; Nu 16:38; 32:14; Deut 29:19; 1Ki 1:21; 2Chr 19:2; Ps 1:1, 5; 3:7; 7:9; 9:16f; 10:3, 15; 11:2, 6; 28:3; 32:10; 34:21; 36:11; 37:10, 12, 14, 16f, 20f, 32, 34, 40; 39:1; 50:16; 55:3; 58:3, 10; 68:2; 71:4; 73:3, 12; 75:8, 10; 82:2, 4; 84:10; 91:8; 92:7; 94:3, 13; 97:10; 101:8; 104:35; 106:18; 109:2, 6; 112:10; 119:53, 61, 95, 110, 119, 155; 125:3; 129:3f; 139:19; 140:4, 8; 141:5, 10; 145:20; 146:9; 147:6; Pr 11:31; 12:13; 23:17; 24:19; Isa 1:4, 28, 31; 13:9; 14:5; 65:20; Ezek 33:8, 19; Dan 12:10; Amos 9:8, 10

Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,

Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Jesus ready stands to save you,

Full of pity, love and power.



I will arise and go to Jesus,

He will embrace me in His arms;

In the arms of my dear Savior,

O there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,

God’s free bounty glorify;

True belief and true repentance,

Every grace that brings you nigh.


Come, ye weary, heavy laden,

Lost and ruined by the fall;

If you tarry till you’re better,

You will never come at all.


View Him prostrate in the garden;

On the ground your Maker lies.

On the bloody tree behold Him;

Sinner, will this not suffice?


Lo! th’incarnate God ascended,

Pleads the merit of His blood:

Venture on Him, venture wholly,

Let no other trust intrude.


Let not conscience make you linger,

Not of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness He requireth

Is to feel your need of Him.


and purify your hearts, you double-minded ("double-souled") : ekai hagnisate (2PAAM) kardias, dipsuchoi:

O blessèd souls are they
Whose sins are covered o’er;
Divinely blessed, to whom the Lord
Imputes their guilt no more.

They mourn their follies past,
And keep their hearts with care;
Their lips and lives without deceit
Shall prove their faith sincere.
(O Blessèd Souls Are They)

Purify your hearts speaks of the attitude and motives leading to the actions while cleanse your hands speaks of our actions. These two ethical/moral actions clean both the outside and the inside of "the cup" (see Jesus address to the Pharisees below) and by His Spirit bring about both external and the internal cleansing (cp 2Co 7:1-note).

Beloved, we cannot initiate these actions in our own power, but that which God commands, He always gives provision. And His provision is the Holy Spirit, Who before we were saved, convicted us of sin, righteousness and the judgment to come and after salvation is in us, continually "working in (us) to help (us) want to do (Ed: Left to ourselves we don't have the "want to"!) and be able to do what pleases Him." (NCV, Php 2:13NLT-note)

Jesus addressed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the "religious" folks of His day with a series of "Woes!"…

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Mt 23:25, 26, 27, 28)

Mitton writes that…

"It is not, of course, that our lives have to be made entirely satisfactory, before we may draw near to God. Otherwise, who would ever be able to come? Often it is the very act of drawing near which first awakens the desire to have things put right, and then bestows the means for this to be done. But he who comes to God must be willing to be put right. Faith is not identical with obedience, but it must imply the readiness to be obedient, if only the power to obey is granted to us. Genuine faith, therefore, while fully aware that only God can really heal a sick soul will at the same time want to put right immediately those things which lie within its own power" (Mitton, C. Leslie. The Epistle of James. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1966)

Arnold Fruchtenbaum remarks that cleanse your hands you sinners, purify your hearts you double-minded is in a grammatical structure which…

is typical Hebrew parallelism: a double line with the second line referring back to the first in some way. The first line is, Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; the second line is, purify your hearts, ye double-minded. The first line refers to outward acts of sin, the language of ceremonial cleansing for the priestly approach to God; the expression ye sinners is addressed to believers who need cleansing. The second line, purify your hearts, refers to the inward aspect of ceremonial cleansing. The word double-minded, as in the previous passage, means “two-souled.” Trying to hold onto God, and yet hankering for the world, it describes a struggle in the mind between the heart and the hands. The hands are not fulfilling what the heart knows is right. Therefore, guilty of trying to serve two masters (Mt 6:24-note), the end result for the believer is spiritual instability. The origin of these concepts is Psalm 24:3,4 (note). (Fruchtenbaum, A. G. The Messianic Jewish Epistles : Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude. Page 292. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries)

Purify (48) (hagnizo from hagnos [word study] = freedom from defilements or impurities; see also word study on related word hagios = holy, saint) in the literal sense refers to ceremonial washings and purifications undertaken to purify oneself from ritual defilement. In the context of this ceremonial purification the idea was withdrawal from the profane (common) and dedication to God, thereby making one ceremonially ready. This sense is seen in the OT uses in the Septuagint (LXX), where hagnizo was used of the the Nazirites who took upon themselves a temporary or a life-long vow to abstain from wine and all kinds of intoxicating drink, from every defilement and from shaving the head. Luke seems to make allusion to a similar Nazirite-like practice by Paul in Acts 21:24, 26, 24:18.

Hagnizo basically denotes a removal of that which disqualifies one for acceptable worship, resulting in a condition of purity and chastity.

Three NT uses of hagnizo refer not to literal (ritual/ceremonial) purification, but to ethical/moral or internal/heart purification (Jas 4:8, 1Pe 1:22-note; 1Jn 3:3), emphasizing the idea of one's heart being fully devoted to the Lord and His will and way. Peter says a person is purified when he obeys the truth (the Word of God, the Gospel) and in this context Peter is referring to the initial experience of salvation (justification) by grace through faith. Here is James the

In sum, hagnizo is a verb used in Scripture to describe ceremonial and/or spiritual purification, and addressing both the external and internal aspects of our being. As stated, James is commanding his readers to undertake an internal cleansing.

The root word hagnos describes what is morally undefiled and when used ceremonially describes that which has been so cleansed that it is fit to be brought into the presence of God and used in His service. James uses this root word hagnos in his list of characteristics of heavenly wisdom (Jas 3:17). Hagnos describes a purity which affects a not only a person’s motives but also their conduct.

Vincent writes that hagnizo was used in…

The Septuagint translation of the Old-Testament (as a) technical term for the purification of the people and priests (Josh 3:5; 1Chr 15:12; 1Sa 16:5). Also, of the separation from wine and strong drink by the Nazirite (Nu 6:2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Hagnos means free from admixture of evil, and is once applied to God, John writing that

everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (hagnos) (1Jn 3:3)

Barclay (critique) emphasizing the secular origin and use of the root word hagnos writes that…

hagnos and its root meaning is pure enough to approach the gods. At first it had only a ceremonial meaning and meant nothing more than that a man had gone through the right ritual cleansings. So, for instance, Euripides can make one of his characters say, “My hands are pure, but my heart is not.” At this stage hagnos describes ritual, but not necessarily moral, purity. But as time went on the word came to describe the moral purity which alone can approach the gods. On the Temple of Aesculapius at Epidaurus there was the inscription at the entrance: “He who would enter the divine temple must be pure (hagnos); and purity is to have a mind which thinks holy thoughts." (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)

The TDNT says Hagnizo

The word means “to set in a state of cultic qualification,” and thus applies to the various measures serving this end (e.g., washing garments in Ex 19:10). (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)

NIDNTT has this note on the classic use in Greek…

hagnos, adj. from the verb. hazomai which is in turn derived from hagiomai, to stand in awe of someone, originally meant that which inspires (religious) awe, tabu (Godliness, art. sebomai). In secular Gk. usage hagnos is found from Homer onwards. In religious language it is primarily an attribute of deity; then it refers to things having some relation to the deity. It thus comes to mean holy, in the sense of pure. Ritual purity is in mind here, e.g. avoidance of blood-guilt, touching corpses. Since to the primitive mind sexual intercourse also makes a person ritually unclean, hagnos came to mean chaste. The originally cultic, religious term was then transferred to the sphere of morality, and is frequently used in the Hellenistic period in the sense of innocent, morally faultless. It is also used as a compliment for faultless execution of office. From hagnos are derived the verb hagnizo, to purify (by means of expiatory rites), first found in Soph., and the cognate noun hagnismos, purification. Both terms are limited to the cultic sphere. hagneia, a noun derived from hagnos, is likewise found first in Soph., and is used of cultic purity, chastity, purity of mind. Another noun derived from hagnos is hagnotes, which is unknown outside the NT and means purity, moral blamelessness.

More common in the LXX is the verb hagnizo, which describes the measures taken to achieve eligibility for the cult. Whereas hagios (holy) always includes the thought of the power and might of that which is holy, hagnizo expresses consistently the removal of what is not seemly (e.g. Ex 19:10, washing of garments; Nu 6:3, abstinence from alcohol [Nazirites]), especially in the sense, to purify oneself from sin or uncleanness (hith. of chata', e.g. Nu 8:21; 19:12). hagneia also refers in the OT (Nu 6:2-21, law of the Nazirite; 2Chr 30:19, sanctuary) and Apocrypha (1Macc. 14:36, temple) to ritual purity. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan)

Here are the 7 uses of hagnizo in the NT…

John 11:55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover, to purify themselves.

Comment: John of course refers here to ceremonial purification, which in context had more to do with external than internal (heart) purification, for the very ones who "purified" themselves called out the crucifixion of the Passover Lamb of God (1Co 5:7, Jn 1:29). The Jewish readers of James' epistle would have been familiar with this and similar ceremonial uses of hagnizo.

Acts 21:24 take them and purify (aorist imperative) yourself along with them, and pay their expenses in order that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law.

Comment: Here Luke uses the passive voice meaning to be purified, while James 4:8 uses the active voice which speaks of the reader making a decision of their will to carry out the necessary action to purify oneself).

Acts 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.

Acts 24:18 in which they found me occupied in the temple, having been purified, without any crowd or uproar. But there were certain Jews from Asia--

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

1Peter 1:22-note Since you have in obedience to the truth purified (perfect tense = describes a past action with continuing results which speaks of the permanence of our salvation) your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

Comment: Clearly it is God Who purifies our souls when we are saved, for we as fallen men do not have the power to bring about personal purity as occurs when we are saved and made holy (hagios [word study]). Hagnizo thus is used as a figure of speech to describe those who have experienced purification when they believed. In this passage the "instrument" which the Holy Spirit uses to purify us is the "living and abiding word" (1Pe 1:23).

1John 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Comment: Vine writes that hagnizo "here is used with a moral significance. The purification is from everything that is inconsistent with the character and will of the Lord. This truth is directed against the Gnostic teaching that sin does not pollute the enlightened person. The tense is the continuous present and thus indicates the habit of resisting every defiling influence and keeping oneself free from it. Compare and contrast 1Jn 1:7, where cleansing from sin that has been committed is bestowed on the ground of the blood of Christ.

Hagnizo - 25 times in the non apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Ex 19:10;

Num 6:3; 8:21; 11:18; 19:12; 31:19, 23; Josh 3:5; 1 Sam 21:5; 1Chr 15:12, 14; 2Chr 29:5, 15ff, 34; 30:3, 15, 17f; 31:18; Isa 66:17; Jer 12:3

The Lxx uses hagnizo to translate Hebrew words that have to do with making oneself ritually pure or to consecrate oneself. Below are some representative uses…

Exodus 19:10 The LORD also said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate (Heb = qadash = to set apart; Lxx = hagnizo) them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments;

Numbers 8:21 The Levites, too, purified (Heb = chata = to sin or to purify from uncleanness; Lxx = hagnizo) themselves from sin and washed their clothes; and Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the LORD. Aaron also made atonement for them to cleanse them.

Joshua 3:5 Then Joshua said to the people, "Consecrate (Heb = qadash = to set apart; Lxx = hagnizo) yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."

Jeremiah 12:3 But Thou knowest me, O LORD; Thou seest me; And Thou dost examine my heart's attitude toward Thee. Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter And set them apart (Heb = qadash = to set apart; Lxx = hagnizo) for a day of carnage!

Isaiah 66:17 "Those who sanctify (Heb = qadash = to set apart; Lxx = hagnizo) and purify (Heb = taher = to cleanse; katharizo = make clean) themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine's flesh, detestable things, and mice, Shall come to an end altogether," declares the LORD.

Comment: Notice that this passage uses the same two Greek verbs James uses here in Jas 4:8!

Thomas Manton writes that …

If you want to have a holy life, you must get a clean heart. True conversion begins there; spiritual life, as well as natural life, is in the heart first. “Abstain from sinful desires … live … good lives” (1Pe 2:11,12). First mortify the sinful desires, then the deeds of the body of sin. If you want to cure the disease, purge away the sick matter; otherwise sin may return and put salt in the spring: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts” (Isa 55:7). Notice that it is not only his “way,” or course of life, but his “thoughts,” the frame of his heart; the heart is the womb of thoughts, and thoughts are the first things that come from corruption (see Mt 15:19). What God looks for and loves is “truth in the inner parts” (Ps 51:6). Do not be concerned only for honor before people, but for your hearts before God; and let conscience be dearer to you than reputation. Many people are aware of failings in their behavior because they expose them to shame; we should be as aware of things that are not right in the heart. Sinful desires must not be digested without regret and remorse any more than acts of sin. (A Practical Exposition of James)

Lehman Strauss writes…

My Christian friends, James is speaking to us, as well as to the Christians of his own day, and he calls us "sinners" and "double minded" men and women. Too often we give way to the soft sentimental jargon that winks at the sins of saints. You and I need God's presence in these days, and the need will increase with the passing of time; but we cannot expect God to draw nigh to us if we fail to draw nigh to Him, and we cannot draw nigh to Him with soiled hands and stained hearts (cp Ps 24:3, 4). All hypocrisy and double-mindedness must be put aside. (Lehman Strauss – James, Your Brother: Studies in the Epistle of James)

Heart (2588)(kardia [word study]) does not refer to the physical organ but is always used figuratively in Scripture to refer to the seat and center of human life. The heart is the center of the personality, and it controls the intellect, emotions, and will. No outward obedience is of the slightest value unless the heart turns to God. The heart denotes their whole inner life (cf. Jas 1:26; Jas 3:14). A similar purity of hand and heart is called for in Psalm 24:4 for those approaching God. As David asks…

Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully. (Ps 24:3, 4)

Spurgeon comments: Outward, practical holiness is a very precious mark of grace. To wash in water with Pilate is nothing, but to wash in innocence is all important. It is to be feared that many professors have perverted the doctrine of justification by faith in such a way as to treat good works with contempt; if so, they will receive everlasting contempt at the last great day. It is vain to prate of inward experience unless the daily life is free from impurity, dishonesty, violence, and oppression. Those who draw near to God must have clean hands. What monarch would have servants with filthy hands to wait at his table? They who were ceremonially unclean could not enter into the Lord's house which was made with hands, much less shall the morally defiled be allowed to enjoy spiritual fellowship with a holy God. If our hands are now unclean, let us wash them in Jesu's precious blood, and so let us pray unto God, lifting up pure hands. But "clean hands" would not suffice, unless they were connected with a pure heart. True religion is heart work. We may wash the outside of the cup and the platter as long as we please; but if the inward parts be filthy, we are filthy altogether in the sight of God, for our hearts are more truly ourselves than our hands are. We may lose our hands and yet live, but we could not lose our heart and still live; the very life of our being lies in the inner nature, and hence the imperative need of purity within. There must be a work of grace in the core of the heart as well as in the palm of the hand, or our religion is a delusion.

May God grant that our inward powers may be cleansed by the sanctifying Spirit (1Pe 1:2-note), so that we may love holiness (cp Ro 12:9-note) and abhor all sin (1Th 5:21-note). The pure in heart shall see God (Mt 5:8-note), all others are but blind bats; stone blindness in the eyes arises from stone in the heart. Dirt in the heart throws dust in the eyes.

Kardia represents the inner man, the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality (including emotions, feelings) and also includes the thinking process. For example, Jesus asked a group of scribes, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” (Mt 9:4). The heart is the control center of mind and will as well as emotion.

The Scottish writer John Eadie says that…

The “heart” belongs to the “inner man,” is the organ of perception as well as of emotion; the centre of spiritual as it is physically of animal life.

Vine writes that kardia

came to denote man’s entire mental and moral activities, and to stand figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life, and so here signifies the seat of thought and feeling. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson )

MacArthur commenting on kardia writes that…

"While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” Mt 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Pr 4:23-note). In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions." (Drawing Near- Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith)

MacArthur adds that

In most modern cultures, the heart is thought of as the seat of emotions and feelings. But most ancients—Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—considered the heart to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, and wisdom. The New Testament also uses it in that way. The heart was considered to be the seat of the mind and will, and it could be taught what the brain could never know. Emotions and feelings were associated with the intestines, or bowels." (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. 1986. Chicago: Moody Press)

Tony Evans writes that…

Cleansing the hands refers to confessing and getting rid of the wrong things we are doing. But notice that James goes beyond the hands to the heart. We must purify our hearts, because if we merely stop doing wrong things without dealing with the internal problem that caused the wrong behavior, we will soon go back to the wrong behavior.

This is why so many people’s New Year’s resolutions fail and why so many Christians’ good intentions never get fulfilled. What they are doing is not the main problem. They need to fix the root that is producing the fruit. (Evans, A. T. The Battle is the Lord's: Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press)

We mourn that e’er our hearts should be
One with a world that loves not Thee;
That with the crowd we passed Thee by,
And saw, but did not feel, Thee die.
Not till we knew our guilt and shame
Did we esteem our Savior’s Name.
(We Worship Thee, O Crucified)

Double-minded (1374) (dipsuchos from dís = twice + psuche = soul, mind) is an adjective which literally describes one who has two minds or one who is two-spirited. In context it is the "sin of being two-faced with God, of wavering inconsistency" (Motyer). Double psyche. See also notes on use of dipsuchos in James 1:8.

James sharply reproves those readers who had divided affections, on one side longing for the world's trifles while all the while trying to hold on to God! This "spiritual schizophrenia" is exactly what Jesus had warned against in Matthew 6:24 (note). Speaking on behalf of the Holy One of Israel, James is saying that God demands not only undivided affection (single minded heart) but undefiled conduct ("clean hands").

Dipsuchos is the one who hesitates or vacillates between two or more opinions. This person in a sense has a divided loyalty which is manifest by indecision and doubting. Some might see such a person as "fickle" (marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability -- given to erratic changeableness). This is the man or woman who is uncertain about the truth of something.

Spurgeon warns us that…

if you are double-minded, your hands and your hearts must both need to be cleansed. The apostle does not say, "Concentrate your thoughts," but he does say, "Cleanse your hearts;" for, to have two objects in life, is a kind of spiritual adultery, from which we need to be purged, so the command is, "Purify your hearts, ye double-minded."

Ralph Martin observes that double-minded…

is of special importance in this letter. Dipsuchoi (“double-minded”) characterizes those obviously in need of this type of repentance. James had used the term to depict the one who was unstable, who doubted God (Jas 1:8). But in our present context the idea is expanded and made more specific, involving the double-nature (or two-world) syndrome (Sir 2:12: “woe to … the sinner who leads a double life,” neb). The reader who is double-minded seeks to be friendly with the world and with God (Jas 4:4-note). But such double allegiance is impossible. To befriend the world (i.e., resort to worldly methods to bring in the kingdom) is to oppose God and his way. This is reflected in the inconsistent behavior in the Jacobean church (Jas 3:9, 10, 11, 12). (Martin, R. P. Vol. 48: Word Biblical Commentary : James. Dallas: Word, Incorporated)

Richison writes that…

A double-souled person has a problem with integrity, unity and harmony of soul because he wants to have a soul devoted to God and a soul devoted to the devil at the same time. (James 4:8 James 4:8b James 4:8c)

Barton writes that dipsuchos in this verse

refers to someone who is trying to maintain a friendship with both God and the world. Purity of heart, then, implies single-mindedness. (Barton, B. B., et al. Life Application Bible Commentary. Romans: Tyndale House Publishers)

Double minded literally means "Two souled" as if two distinct souls were effecting this man's attitudes and actions! One of the souls is oriented as it were toward God and trusts in God, while the other is oriented toward the natural world and disbelieves God. As one writer has put it James is describing a man who is "a walking civil war in which trust and distrust of God wage a continual battle against each other." John Bunyan in Pilgrims Progress (The Seventh Stage) gives a similar picture in his description of "Mr. Facing-both-ways"!

Lenski remarks that double-minded

fittingly describes the bad condition of the heart; it is like adulteresses which was used in Jas 4:4-note. They have a hankering after the world while they think that they are holding to God. (Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James. Page 633. 1938)

ILLUSTRATION OF DOUBLE MINDED - Driving in country at night when headlights showed up a field mouse dead ahead. He first started toward the left, then right, then left, and finally stood still as the car passed over him.

CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO WORLDS - Once when the Cleveland Symphony was performing The Magic Flute by Mozart, an electrical storm caused the lights to go out. Undaunted by the difficulties, the members of the orchestra knew the music so well that they completed the performance in the dark. At the end of the performance, the audience burst into thunderous applause, and a stagehand illuminated the orchestra and conductor with a flashlight so that they could take their bows. It is much the same in the spiritual realm. If you know the Master, you can play His music even in the dark. You can live a holy life in an unholy realm. When caught between two worlds, the secret is learning to see beyond the style of this world to the substance of the next. (Discipleship Journal, May/June 1987)

A similar thought is described in the OT passages which describe a person with a divided (versus a whole) heart (1Ki 8:61, 11:4, 15:3,14, 2Ki 20:3, 1Ch 12:38, 28:9, 29:19, 2Chr 15:17, 16:9, 19:9, 25:2).

James 1:8-note helps define double-minded as one who is unstable. This is the person who lacks integrity, who claims one thing and lives another. This is the hypocrite in the assembly of believers.

The Puritan writer Thomas Manton says that dipsuchos…

signifies a person who has two souls, and so it may imply:

(1) A hypocrite, since the same word is used with that meaning in Jas 4:8… As he speaks to open sinners to cleanse their hands, so he speaks to secret hypocrites (whom he calls double-minded since they pretend one thing but mean another) to purify their hearts—that is, to grow more inwardly sincere. This word is similar to the Hebrew word for “deceive.” “Their flattering lips speak with deception” (Ps 12:2); in the Hebrew this is “with a heart and a heart,” which is their way of expressing something that is double or deceitful (deceitful weights are “a weight and a weight” in the Hebrew of Pr 20:23). As Theophrastus says of the partridges of Paphlagonia that they had two hearts, so every hypocrite has two hearts or two souls.

(2) It implies a person who is distracted and divided in his thoughts, floating between two different opinions, as if he had two minds or two souls. In the apostle’s time there were some Judaizing brethren who sometimes sided with the Jews, sometimes with the Christians. They were not settled in the truth. See also 2Ki 17:33 , “They worshiped the Lord , but they also served their own gods”; they were divided between God and idols. The prophet says this shows a double or divided heart: “Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt” (Hos 10:2). Thus Athanasius applied this description to the Eusebians, who sometimes held one thing and then another.

(3) In the context of James this may refer to those whose minds were tossed to and fro with various ideas: now lifted up with a wave of presumption, then cast down in a gulf of despair, being torn between hopes and fears concerning their acceptance with God. I prefer this latter sense, as it conveys the apostle’s purpose best. (Manton, T. Exposition of James)