The tongue continued
James 3:5-12
Those who say they are Christ followers, shouldn't be producing the fruit of an evil tongue.
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Published May 20th, 2016
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Main point summary
James 3:5b-12
Main point summary
The natural state of the tongue is untamable and capable of complete destruction in our own lives and others, but this ought not to be the case for the regenerate... we are new creatures who produce fruit that matches our new nature.
James 3:5b-12
James 3:5-12
So also the tongue is a small member, yet h it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze
Action- a great forest is set ablaze
by such a small fire!
BY a small fire
And i the tongue is a fire,
The tongue is a fire
a world of unrighteousness.
THAT IS its a world of unrighteousness
The tongue is set among our members,
AND the tongue is set among our members
j staining the whole body,
WITH THE RESULT THAT it stains the whole body
setting on fire the entire course of life, 1
MOREOVER setting on fire the entire course of life
and set on fire by hell. 2
and its set on fire BY hell.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed
Every kind of creature can be tamed
and has been tamed
AND has been
by mankind,
BY mankind
but no human being can tame the tongue.
BUT no human can tame the tongue
It is a restless evil,
BECAUSE it is a restless evil
k full of deadly poison.
THAT IS, full of deadly poison
With it we bless our Lord and Father,
With it we bless our Lord and Father
and with it we curse people
ON THE OTHER HAND we curse people
l who are made in the likeness of God.
THAT IS those made in the likeness of God
From the same mouth come blessing
Mouths can bless
and cursing.
OR they can curse
My brothers, 1 these things ought not to be so.
These things ought not to be
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?
Does a spring have both fresh and salt water?
Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives,
Can a fig tree bear olives?
or a grapevine produce figs?
or grapevines produce figs?
Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
The answer is no.
I think James is yet again warning the brethren. He goes into great detail describing the damage (its a fire, a world of unrighteousness) amount of control (its untamable) and hypocrisy (blessing the Lord and cursing men) the tongue is capable of. 10c is where the check point comes in.... as if James is saying "If this resembles your life.... it ought not to" We are new creatures who bear fruit that resemble that new creature. Luke 6:43 "For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit" We produce what we are.... if we are a fig tree we produce figs, not olives..if we are a salt pond we produce saltwater not fresh...if we are a good tree we produce good fruit, not bad... if we are a new creature in Christ behold new things have come, old things have passed away. (2 Corinthians 5:17). So again I think its warning that if our life resembles a destructive, untamed, hypocritical tongue...then we may want to really examine ourselves. I again think of "what proceeds out of the mouth comes from the heart". How can we be so sure our heart has been changed if our tongue is untamed. Sure, no man can tame the tongue, but with Christ, yes! We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. Although the christian will struggle with sin in this area, its not a pattern... its no longer a poison, world of unrighteousness or untamable. Praise Jesus that through Him, we can have tamed tongues that can be used for His glory.
Kathleen S
Thank you so much for the input! Still wrestling with this passage but it is very helpful getting feedback and seeing the other arcs on this passage.
Andy Hubert
Both you and Josue saw the emphasis placed on the subtle reference to our new nature in 10c-12. I am seeing the reference there, but I wonder if that really is the emphasis. 

The reason being that all of this connects back up to the beginning of the chapter where we are told that not many believers ought to be teachers. Thus, it seems to me that James is presenting the struggle believers are in, with emphasis on the great difficulty of taming the tongue even with a new nature--and therefore not many should be teachers.
Andy, I appreciate your insights both here and earlier. The address at the beginning of the letter and in the subject passage is to believers in Christ. Even we of new natures continue to struggle with our tongue, even though it should not be so.  James offers a stern warning to all believers, but especially to those who sense a call to explain and teach God´s propositional revelation, that they will undergo a stricter judgement than others.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.