Chapter CONTEXT from MHCC: After the inscription and salutation (v. 1) Christians are taught how to conduct themselves when under the cross. Several graces and duties are recommended; and those who endure their trials and afflictions as the apostle here directs are pronounced blessed and are assured of a glorious reward (v. 2-12). But those sins which bring sufferings, or the weakness and faults men are chargeable with under them, are by no means to be imputed to God, who cannot be the author of sin, but is the author of all good (v. 13-18). All passion, and rash anger, and vile affections, ought to be suppressed. The word of God should be made our chief study: and what we hear and know of it we must take care to practise, otherwise our religion will prove but a vain thing. To this is added an account wherein pure religion consists (v. 19-27).
There is a lot going on in this verse:
- We have a Blessed Man
- He is blessed because he will endure Temptation
- The same said man will be tried
- “IF” the man is found worthy at trial he receives the “Crown of Life“
- The Crown is “conditional” only for those who “Love” God through their trials and tribulations.
This verse is still after some 2000+ years very controversial. Let us start with those Greek experts who decide that because the words used are more for a laurel wreath put upon one’s head than an ornate crown James can not be speaking about eternal life. Jesus wore a crown of thorns and it pointed to eternal life so that argument holds little water with me.
Some who read into it claim James is saying you must work for your salvation, your crown or key to eternity. My answer here is a resounding sort of 🙃. By saying in the text the Crown of Life will only go to those who have not faltered in their love for God during times of temptation, James is echoing Paul writing in Phillipian 2:12: (AMP) So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ].