Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Blessed Man

Today we come to the conclusion of James’ treatment on the subject of trials found in James 1:2-12. As we conclude today, we end on the subject of the one who is considered by James as “the blessed man.” He says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

The word “blessed” (makarios) means, “happy,” “blissful,” and refers to an “inner contentment that is not affected by outward circumstances.” James is not saying that happiness comes in freedom from trials but in victory over them. The individual that James has in mind “is the man.” That is, the man who “endures temptation.” The word “temptation” is the Greek word peirasmos (noun) and should be translated “trials” (NASB). James says in 5:11 that “we count them blessed who endure.” Enduring trials is the necessary ingredient needed to pass the test. This test takes us back to 1:3-4 where verse 3 says,  “the testing of your faith produced patience” (literally “endurance.”). Verse 4 continues: “But let patience (lit. endurance) have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Endurance is to “hold up under pressure, to be steadfast, to stand firm” (Doersken). James continues in verse 12 by saying, “For when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

The Greek word “Proved” (dokimos), “was the term used for the testing of coins when determining their genuineness. The aorist participle suggests that the test is over and the person has demonstrated to be a genuine believer” (Doersken). “As the believer steadfastly endures each trial and temptation that comes his way, there is increased proof of his faithfulness to God and the genuineness of his character” (Doersken). The approval results in an eternal crown. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The “crown of life” that James mentions is the stephanon or victor’s crown. It was a “head wreath or circlet which was the victor’s prize in the Greek games; it might also be given to a man the public wished to honor and it was worn in religious and secular feasts” (Fritz Rienecker, The Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament 723). The phrase “crown of life” is an appositional genitive in Greek which literally means, “a crown which is life.” The crown is “eternal life, which God promised to those who love Him.” Paul mentions in 2 Tim.4:8 the “crown of righteousness.” Peter mentions in 1 Peter 5:4 the “crown of glory.” Jesus mentions in Revelation 2:10 the “crown of life” We will receive the same crown consisting of the rewards of eternal life, righteousness, and glory. The promise is to “those who love Him.” Those who endure trials are those who love Him. This is a frequent designation of the people of God. Paul uses this phrase “those who love Him” in 1 Cor.2:9 when he says, “But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’” He also uses it in Romans 8:28 when he says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NAS). Implicit in the concept of love is obedience – to love God is to obey Him (1 Jn.2:5-6; 5:3). “The Christian who is undergoing difficult times can rejoice on two counts; in the present life he is being perfected, and for the future he has the promise of life” (Doersken).

In verses 2-12 we have talked about the proper response that you’re to have when responding to trials: They were: a joyous attitude, an understanding mind, a submissive will, a believing heart, and a humble spirit. If this is your response in your trials, you will come through your trial as having been “proved” and join with the rest who are counted “blessed” who endure. But most important of all your faith will have been validated as being genuine. You will “receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to [you] who love Him.”

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