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James 1:27 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of [our] God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, [and] to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Religious observance, pure and undefiled with our God and Father, is, this—to be visiting orphans and widows in their affliction, unspotted, to keep, himself, from the world.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— religion pure and undefiled with the God and Father is this, to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation—unspotted to keep himself from the world.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation and to keep one's self unspotted from this world.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Pure religion and vndefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherlesse and widowes in their affliction, and to keepe himselfe vnspotted from the world.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— For the service which is pure and true before Aloha the Father, is this, to visit the orphans and widows in their afflictions, and that a man keep himself from the world without blemish.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— For the worship that is pure and holy before God the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and that one keep himself unspotted from the world.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Pure 2513
{2513} Prime
Of uncertain affinity; clean (literally or figuratively).
religion 2356
{2356} Prime
From a derivative of G2357; ceremonial observance.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
undefiled 283
{0283} Prime
From G0001 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of G3392; unsoiled, that is, (figuratively) pure.
before 3844
{3844} Prime
A primary preposition; properly near, that is, (with genitive case) from beside (literally or figuratively), (with dative case) at (or in) the vicinity of (objectively or subjectively), (with accusative case) to the proximity with (local [especially beyond or opposed to] or causal [on account of]). In compounds it retains the same variety of application.
God 2316
{2316} Prime
Of uncertain affinity; a deity, especially (with G3588) the supreme Divinity; figuratively a magistrate; by Hebraism very.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
the Father 3962
{3962} Prime
Apparently a primary word; a 'father' (literally or figuratively, near or more remote).
is 2076
{2076} Prime
Third person singular present indicative of G1510; he (she or it) is; also (with neuter plural) they are.
<5748> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - No Voice Stated (See G5799)
Mood - Indicative (See G5791)
Count - 1612
this, 3778
{3778} Prime
Including the nominative masculine plural (second form), nominative feminine signular (third form), and the nominate feminine plural, (fourth form). From the article G3588 and G0846; the he (she or it), that is, this or that (often with the article repeated).
To visit 1980
{1980} Prime
Middle voice from G1909 and the base of G4649; to inspect, that is, (by implication) to select; by extension to go to see, relieve.
<5738> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Middle or Passive Deponent (See G5790)
Mood - Infinitive (See G5795)
Count - 109
the fatherless 3737
{3737} Prime
Of uncertain affinity; bereaved ('orphan'), that is, parentless.
and 2532
{2532} Prime
Apparently a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so, then, too, etc.; often used in connection (or composition) with other particles or small words.
widows 5503
{5503} Prime
Feminine of a presumed derivation apparently from the base of G5490 through the idea of deficiency; a widow (as lacking a husband), literally or figuratively.
in 1722
{1722} Prime
A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest (intermediate between G1519 and G1537); 'in', at, (up-) on, by, etc.
their 846
{0846} Prime
From the particle αὖ [[au]] (perhaps akin to the base of G0109 through the idea of a baffling wind; backward); the reflexive pronoun self, used (alone or in the compound of G1438) of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons.
affliction, 2347
{2347} Prime
From G2346; pressure (literally or figuratively).
[and] to keep 5083
{5083} Prime
From τηρός [[teros]] (a watch; perhaps akin to G2334); to guard (from loss or injury, properly by keeping the eye upon; and thus differing from G5442, which is properly to prevent escaping; and from G2892, which implies a fortress or full military lines of apparatus), that is, to note (a prophecy; figuratively to fulfil a command); by implication to detain (in custody; figuratively to maintain); by extension to withhold (for personal ends; figuratively to keep unmarried).
<5721> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Infinitive (See G5795)
Count - 647
himself 1438
{1438} Prime
(Including all the other cases); from a reflexive pronoun otherwise obsolete and the genitive (dative or accusative) of G0846; him (her, it, them, also [in conjunction with the personal pronoun of the other persons] my, thy, our, your) -self (-selves), etc.
unspotted 784
{0784} Prime
From G0001 (as a negative particle) and G4695; unblemished (physically or morally).
from 575
{0575} Prime
A primary particle; 'off', that is, away (from something near), in various senses (of place, time, or relation; literally or figuratively).
the x3588
(3588) Complement

The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom).
world. 2889
{2889} Prime
Probably from the base of G2865; orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

See commentary on James 1:26-27.

James 1:27

_ _ Pure ... and undefiled — “Pure” is that love which has in it no foreign admixture, as self-deceit and hypocrisy. “Undefiled” is the means of its being “pure” [Tittmann]. “Pure” expresses the positive, “undefiled” the negative side of religious service; just as visiting the fatherless and widow is the active, keeping himself unspotted from the world, the passive side of religious duty. This is the nobler shape that our religious exercises take, instead of the ceremonial offices of the law.

_ _ before God and the Father — literally, “before Him who is (our) God and Father.” God is so called to imply that if we would be like our Father, it is not by fasting, etc., for He does none of these things, but in being “merciful as our Father is merciful” [Chrysostom].

_ _ visit — in sympathy and kind offices to alleviate their distresses.

_ _ the fatherless — whose “Father” is God (Psalms 68:5); peculiarly helpless.

_ _ and — not in the Greek; so close is the connection between active works of mercy to others, and the maintenance of personal unworldliness of spirit, word, and deed; no copula therefore is needed. Religion in its rise interests us about ourselves in its progress, about our fellow creatures: in its highest stage, about the honor of God.

_ _ keep himself — with jealous watchfulness, at the same time praying and depending on God as alone able to keep us (John 17:15; Jude 1:24).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

See commentary on James 1:19-27.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

James 1:27

The only true religion in the sight of God, is this, to visit — With counsel, comfort, and relief. The fatherless and widows — Those who need it most. In their affliction — In their most helpless and hopeless state. And to keep himself unspotted from the world — From the maxims, tempers, and customs of it. But this cannot be done, till we have given our hearts to God, and love our neighbour as ourselves.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

James 1:27

(19) Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To (z) visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, [and] to keep himself unspotted from the world.

(19) The fourth: the true service of God exists in charity towards our neighbours, especially those who need the help of others (fatherless and widows), and purity of life.

(z) To care for them and to help them as much as we can.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Psalms 119:1 ALEPH. Blessed [are] the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Luke 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:
1 Timothy 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

To visit:

Job 29:12-13 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and [him that had] none to help him. ... The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
Job 31:15-20 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? ... If his loins have not blessed me, and [if] he were [not] warmed with the fleece of my sheep;
Psalms 68:5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, [is] God in his holy habitation.
Isaiah 1:16-17 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; ... Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
Isaiah 58:6-7 [Is] not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? ... [Is it] not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Matthew 25:34-46 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: ... And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. ... As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
1 John 3:17-19 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ... And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

to keep:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
John 17:14-15 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. ... I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Colossians 3:1-3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. ... For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. ... And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. ... Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
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Jb 29:12; 31:15. Ps 68:5; 119:1. Is 1:16; 58:6. Mt 5:8; 25:34. Lk 1:6. Jn 17:14. Ro 12:2. Ga 1:4; 5:6; 6:9, 14. Col 3:1. 1Ti 1:5; 5:4. Jm 3:17; 4:4. 1Jn 2:15; 3:17; 5:4, 18.

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I choose Jesus' method of theorizing...brief, simple, relational to the era and society of the day. When being pressed by the political and religious intelligentia of that time, he responded in parables or with scripture that they were familiar. Theorizing James 1:27 to the inth degree still says no more than the first and second commandment, which if we could all fulfill those, without the aid of God's spirit within us, then Jesus would not have had to come and pay the price of sin that he didn't owe for our debt that we couldn't pay. Reference Matthew 22:36-40. He profoundly stated, "On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets." (Love God ... Love Neighbor.....) If we loved God as much as we should and the way we should, then we would love our Neighbor as much as we should and the way we should.....but history has shown that we can't do this by Jesus came to show the way, by teaching, example, and sacrifice. This James 1:27 verse is, as often we see in scripture, a synopsis of the instructions already given in the verses preceding as well as the following verses, and of course includes the great commission. Did we forget that Jesus ministered to physical, spiritual, and material? He fed the multitudes, healed the sick, brought salvation to the oppressed, made good wine at a wedding (which could have been fresh grape juice) and paid taxes. By specifically naming the fatherless and widows, James was referring to the most needy and oppressed of that time, because without family and its inheritances, the fatherless and widows were at the mercy of the world. James defines throughout the book HOW to keep oneself unspotted from the world, as well as, HOW to treat the poor and needy respectfully. He tells us in 2:17 that faith and works (physical as well as spiritual) coincide, and in 4:7 that we can keep ourselves unspotted and cause the devil to flee from us by "submitting ourselves to God". Remember that a thought or subject rarely begins or ends with one verse nor the beginning or ending of a chapter. Much bad theology has been birthed from isolating scripture from scripture. Never forget to consider the whole.
love, prayers, blessings.

- Blanch (4/23/2014 5:41:26 AM)
One day I chanced to reread this verse and realized something (or more like I was allowed to realize that something). Pure religion certainly cannot be about visiting the physically fatherless or physically widowed in their affliction, without distinction as to whether such are Christian or not. Neither can keeping oneself unspotted from the world have anything to do with taking oneself out of the world and living as a monk in a monastery. Compare Matthew 5:15-16; John 17:15. Speaking of monks in monasteries, this does seem to be the natural man's reading of this passage and the Catholic reading as well. Helping (with one's flesh those who are in the flesh) orphans and widows, and keeping oneself unspotted from the world (in a monastery) does seem to be their application of this verse. Nevertheless, I believe Scripture makes clear that the verse speaks of the great commission. For what else could be considered pure and undefiled religion if not to preach the gospel to those who, whether orphaned or widowed and comfortless in this present age, will perish forever if a preacher is not sent unto them to preach the gospel? See Romans 10:14-17. To my mind, the fatherless are those who had no father and that to me would be the gentile sheep that will wander lost until the shepherd finds them. For such were never God's children, and neither could they be the Devil's, (for these resist the Spirit), but were rather fatherless and afflicted as any lost sheep would be. Second, "the widows" clearly allude to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, the jews, who are similarly afflcited without a shepherd. In Romans 7:1-4, (and elsewhere), we are told that the chosen people's husband perished on that cross and are now free from the law and able to be married to another, the one who rose from the dead, i.e. Jesus Christ. They too are lost sheep, afflicted and waiting to hear the gospel. Finally, to keep oneself unspotted from the world is simply an exhortation not to become a friend of the world, (James 4:4), or a partner in its works, (Ephesians 5:11), for the whole world lieth in wickedness (1 John 5:19), and whosoever should be a friend of such a world, would be an adulter or an adultress who left his first love: her husband: Jesus Christ. See James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-16. Some have told me that the verse is both spiritual and physical, but I beg to differ. If we look at the Sheep and the Goats parable in Matthew 25, we see that those whom Christ considers goats pride themselves on having, in fact, clothed, fed, and visited Christians in the flesh, see Matthew 25:44, whereas the sheep claim not have known the good they have done. See Matthew 25:37-39. Clearly, in those verses therefore, Christ is speaking of Christians who have satiated the souls of the hungry, of the thirsty, of the captives, and of the naked, by the preaching of his words, and not alleviated temporal suffering by ministering to the physically hungry, thirsty, captive, and naked, in a visible way, which, of course, the whole world highly esteems. For we must remember brethren, that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God. Luke 16:15. Well, this is my comment. May the grace and peace of our Lord be with all who call on the name of the Lord in spirit and in truth. Pray for and preach to the lost dear brethren for there is no greater expression of love.

- Daniel (3/29/2014 3:32:08 PM) []
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