My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations – James 1:2
Meaning of James 1:2
The meaning of the verse, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” is that one should find joy in the painful things happening to them. The author uses the term “trials of various kinds” in the ESV version, as his readers were facing persecution by Romans and many trials at that time. James wanted his believers to respond to difficult times and troubles by counting those experiences as joy. The succeeding verses provide better insight into what the author means. The author wanted his readers to know that when their faith was being tested, it produced perseverance. Hence, he wants his readers to mature and complete their journey through trials and troubles.
Interpretations of James 1:2
James 1:2 is a popular verse preached in churches and quoted among Christians. Preachers especially use this verse when talking about a Christian’s attitude toward problems.
Interpretation #1 Christians smile through problems
The interpretation of the verse, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” is that Christians are used to smiling through their problems. The reader assumes that through the influence of the Church and the Bible, a Christian is naturally strong and possesses exceptional strength to face problems with a smile. Additionally, the priests and counselors teach Christians that they must be prepared for any life’s challenges. Also, smiling or a cheerful Christian is equipped with the knowledge and patience how to handle difficult issues.
Interpretation #2 A suffering Christian is closer to God
The meaning of the verse, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” is that only a Christian who suffers is closer to God than the believers who don’t. The reader believes that God has a soft corner for him or her who choose to suffer for God than the ones who run away from problems. Since God himself puts His children through tests and trials, He decides to favor those who suffer till the end and don’t quit. Additionally, when a Christian suffers, they seek God’s help, love, and comfort during those times, which brings them closer to God as a result.
Interpretation #3 Temptations are tests from God
The interpretation of the verse, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” is that temptations and troubles are God’s way of testing His children. The Bible is proof that God puts his followers through tests and trials in order to make them strong in their faith in Him or choose who is worthy to enter heaven. The account of Job in the Old Testament is the best example. He was put through deep troubles and was later blessed for enduring everything in a strong and faithful manner. Thus, a Christian can expect temptations from God in order to be tested.
Interpretation #4 Only Christians go through temptations
In this version of the verse, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” the readers understand that only Christians are subjected to temptations and trials. The reader believes that Christians, in general, face a difficult life because of the number of persecutions they are put through. The Bible gives a warning in the New Testament, through the account of Paul, that Christians, in particular, are put to several trials in order to mold them according to God’s wish. The readers also believe that following commandments in the Bible, especially being joyful, is not easy. However, he or she knows the temptations can be overcome, and they can learn to be happy once they earn the favor of God.
Interpretation #5 A Christian must be joyful through difficult times
The interpretation of the verse, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” is that a Christian must be joyful during their difficult times. The author James regarded trials as inevitable and wanted them to be regarded as occasions for joy and not dejected resignation. He further explains in the next verse is that enduring problems with joy can produce perseverance in a Christian, which in turn would make them strong. He believed that when one is overcome with grief during problems, he or she cannot think clearly and hence will feel physically and emotionally overwhelmed. So, facing problems with happiness will help one make the right decisions and have patience and the presence of mind.
Historical background of James 1:2
The traditional author of the book of James is believed to be James, “a servant of God and the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Letter of James also, according to most scholars, is among the earliest New Testament works. It has no reference to the events in Jesus’ life, but it has a striking testimony to Jesus’ words. Jesus’ sayings are rooted in James’ exhortations in a form that is clearly not dependent on the other Gospels. As it is written by James, brother of Jesus, it could have been written any time before AD 69 (or AD 62), when James was beheaded. The earliest existing manuscripts of James usually date back to the mid-to-late 3rd century. The first chapter of James begins with no greeting or wishes but directly plunges into the essence of the book. The chapter talks about how a Christian should conduct themselves during every circumstance in their lives. The second verse is primarily about staying joyful through trials and tribulations.
Literary Devices of James 1:2
The verse of James 1:2 is a commonly quoted verse from the Bible and is a statement from James. The verse comes with a few noteworthy literary devices. Here are some examples.
Consonance – The verse James 1:2 has consonant sounds in quick repetition, making it a good example of consonance. For example, the sound /n/ in ‘My brethren, count it all joy’ and the sound of /n/, /t/ and /s/ in ‘when ye fall into divers temptations’.
Hyperbole – Here, the author is asking the readers, especially Christians, to rejoice and be glad amidst the challenges and trials. Thus, he is exaggerating the need to be joyful and heroic. Hence, James 1:2 makes a good example of hyperbole.
Ethos – The verse is also a good example of ethos, a rhetorical device of persuasion. Here, the author, James, is using his authority and experience to encourage the readers to learn patience during difficult times.