What does 'wisdom' refer to in James 1:5?


(Dean Schmucker) #1

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
James 1:5 KJV
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What is this wisdom that God grants all who ask?
Is it not the wisdom of the Cross?


(SeanO) #2

@manbooks I think there are three important things to understand about this passage in James:

1 - It is given in the context of Christians who are facing serious trials
2 - James is often noted for being similar to wisdom literature - like Proverbs - so examining similar statements in Proverbs can help us understand the meaning
3 - Biblical wisdom is learned through community / God’s Word and is not always immediate in revealing itself - sometimes it takes time to learn wisdom as we trust in God

We can start by looking at Proverbs, which is clear that wisdom comes from God and that if we seek it like treasure we will find the knowledge of God:

Proverbs 2:1-11 - My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.

So, in my opinion, here is what James is doing: James is reminding suffering Christians of the Biblical proverb that God grants wisdom to those who seek it if they will put their trust fully in Him - he is exhorting them to seek the Lord in the midst of their trials

You had mentioned the wisdom of the cross. I think the mention of joy in the midst of trials in James 1:2 definitely reminds us of the reality that we rejoice in suffering because of the hope we have in Christ - the resurrection unto glory. So I think the full context definitely supports that type of thought process, but this verse specifically looks to me like wisdom literature.


(Dean Schmucker) #3

James chapter one is actually one of my favourite passages of scripture
Key word: Consider
Joy in the midst of trial is possible only with the revelation of “the glory to be revealed in us”


(Matt Western) #4

In case you have not seen them, these videos are a great starting point to explore further … could be of interest?