by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 60 November 18, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:Pleasing God requires a diligent pursuit of peace by means of the practice of true righteousness.
Introduction:We have come to the end of chapter 3. The verse before us is a translator's nightmare, but an exegete's delight. We want to consider what James was saying as he concluded his section on the false pursuit of glory by the manipulation of the Church of Jesus Christ.
I. James' Focus Upon Peace Viewed Through the Lens of the Words of Jesus in Matthew 5:9.
A. When Jesus said that peacemakers are sons of God, He was telling us of a primary objective held by the God of Life.
1. Sons are images of their fathers.
2. If peacemakers are the sons of God, God is very much interested in making peace.
3. This is reinforced by the reality that the first fruit of justification is peace.
B. Since it will only be sons who inherit within the boundaries of the Kingdom of God, it stands to reason that making peace is a critical issue.
II. James' Focus Upon Peace Viewed Through the Lens of the Context of Chapter 3.
A. Throughout the chapter, it has been James' contention that the pursuit of status at the expense of the Church is a relationship destroying activity.
B. It is no accident that he brings us to the issues of making peace at the end of such a chapter.
III. James' Instruction About the Making of Peace.
A. First, the question is one of accurate translation.
1. The King James gives us an accurate word-for-word translation.
2. The NASB gives us an interpretation based upon the assumption that righteousness is the fruit of which James speaks.
3. The NIV is also an interpretation which plays pretty loosely with the the textual data and also assumes an epexegetical sense.
B. Second, is the question of understanding James' meaning.
1. The initial question is whether it is theologically accurate to say that righteousness is the fruit of peace, or to say that peace is the fruit of righteousness. Which is the seed and which is the fruit?
a. Is it possible to produce unrighteousness by pursuing peace?
b. Is it possible to produce conflict by pursuing righteousness?
2. The next question is the question of what James presents as the objective of the sowers.
a. Are the sowers "making" righteousness or peace?
b. What they are "making" is what their objective is.
3. The third question is the sense of James' statement that the sowers sow "in peace".
a. The context helps here because it is the contentment of the truly wise that keeps them from destruction of relationships by unrighteous behavior.
b. Thus, "sowing in peace" means that they sow while in the state of contentment.
4. The fourth question is what righteousness has to do with it.
a. Righteousness is the seed [note 1 Corinthians 15:37].
b. Harmony of relationships is the full body.
A. James is promising that those who seek real peace will obtain it by sowing actions of true righteousness.
B. The "relational" side of Life is the mechanism of peace. Joy is the essence of Life but one of the requirements of joy is relational harmony.