“Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:5–10, KJV)
According to John Walvoord (for some reason, Logos keeps attributing every quote I’m reading in the Bible Knowledge Commentary to Ronald Blue, but he was only one of the three who wrote in the BKC), much of the terminology in this section is actually military in nature, probably in keeping with the mention of “war” earlier.
To resist ἀντιτάσσω (antitasso) comes from anti (against) and tasso (determine, designate). Many of the uses of tasso are indeed military – to order, command, renounce, oppose, rebel, rebellious, subordinate. This is a classic example of how “Strong’s Theology” can really lead you astray. The use of the root word does not mean it contains all of the tenses of the various conjugations! “To eat” for example could be wrongly understood to mean “I’ve already eaten” using that logic. So, Strong’s Theologians need to be careful, in that you could say “I’m hungry” to another Strong’s Theologian, and they could interpret that to mean you’ve already eaten!
We get instead a sense of the passage from the various uses of the word. But we render literally what the word, in its present conjugation and tense means. Greek is VERY specific! English tends to be somewhat slippery to translate – Greek does not. I can always spot people who are lying about taking Greek in seminary when I see them make this classic error of trying to translate a Greek word in the same slippery sense we give English words.
God resisteth the proud… resist the devil.
Draw nigh unto God. He will draw nigh unto you.
Contrastive thought, comparitive thought. I’ve described it before as being the fingerprint of God throughout the Bible. For God to resist the proud seems to literally mean in this context, that God wars against them! Humble yourself. Rend your heart. Submit to God.
It’s really amazing that sometimes all God asks for is a minute by minute thing. “be humble. don’t be proud. I will lift up the fallen.”
Whatever questions remain unresolved about verse 5, there is no question about the clear truth of verse 6. God opposes the proud. The word “opposes,” or “resists,” is antitassetai, a military term meaning “to battle against.” To the humble, however, God gives grace. Whether a believer is called to resist his human spirit which tends toward envy or to rejoice in the Holy Spirit who jealously yearns for each believer’s edification, the call is to shun pride and to submit humbly to God’s authority. The cure for conflict is a humble spirit which is rewarded by God’s unmerited favor. James continued by showing in verses 7–12 how humility is related to peaceful justice
J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 830.