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James 3:5

    James 3:5 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasts great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindles!

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire!

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    Even so the tongue is a small part of the body, but it takes credit for great things. How much wood may be lighted by a very little fire!

    Webster's Revision

    So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire!

    World English Bible

    So the tongue is also a little member, and boasts great things. See how a small fire can spread to a large forest!

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire!

    Clarke's Commentary on James 3:5

    Boasteth great things - That is, can do great things, whether of a good or evil kind. He seems to refer here to the powerful and all commanding eloquence of the Greek orators: they could carry the great mob whithersoever they wished; calm them to peaceableness and submission, or excite them to furious sedition.

    Behold, how great a matter - See what a flame of discord and insubordination one man, merely by his persuasive tongue, may kindle among the common people.

    Barnes' Notes on James 3:5

    Even so the tongue is a little member - Little compared with the body, as the bit or the rudder is, compared with the horse or the ship.

    And boasteth great things - The design of the apostle is to illustrate the power and influence of the tongue. This may be done in a great many respects: and the apostle does it by referring to its boasting; to the effects which it produces, resembling that of fire, James 3:6; to its untameableness, James 3:8-9; and to its giving utterance to the most inconsistent and incongruous thoughts, James 3:9-10. The particular idea here is, that the tongue seems to be conscious of its influence and power, and boasts largely of what it can do. The apostle means doubtless to convey the idea that it boasts not unjustly of its importance. It has all the influence in the world, for good or for evil, which it claims.

    Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! - Margin, "wood." The Greek word ὕλην hulēn, means a wood, forest, grove; and then fire-wood, fuel. This is the meaning here. The sense is, that a very little fire is sufficient to ignite a large quantity of combustible materials, and that the tongue produces effects similar to that. A spark will kindle a lofty pile; and a word spoken by the tongue may set a neighborhood or a village "in a flame."

    Wesley's Notes on James 3:5

    3:5 Boasteth great things - Hath great influence.