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James 4:2

    James 4:2 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    You are burning with desire, and have not your desire, so you put men to death; you are full of envy, and you are not able to get your desire, so you are fighting and making war; you have not your desire, because you do not make request for it.

    Webster's Revision

    Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not.

    World English Bible

    You lust, and don't have. You kill, covet, and can't obtain. You fight and make war. You don't have, because you don't ask.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not.

    Clarke's Commentary on James 4:2

    Ye lust, and have not - Ye are ever covetous, and ever poor.

    Ye kill, and, desire to have - Ye are constantly engaged in insurrections and predatory wars, and never gain any advantage.

    Ye have not, because ye ask not - Ye get no especial blessing from God as your fathers did, because ye do not pray. Worldly good is your god; ye leave no stone unturned in order to get it; and as ye ask nothing from God but to consume it upon your evil desires and propensities, your prayers are not heard.

    Barnes' Notes on James 4:2

    Ye lust, and have not - That is, you wish to have something which you do not now possess, and to which you have no just claim, and this prompts to the effort to obtain it by force. You desire extension of territory, fame, booty, the means of luxurious indulgence, or of magnificence and grandeur, and this leads to contest and bloodshed. These are the causes of wars on the large scale among nations and of the contentions and strifes of individuals. The general reason is, that others have that which we have not, and which we desire to have; and not content with endeavoring to obtain it, if we can, in a peaceful and honest manner, and not willing to content ourselves without its possession, we resolve to secure it by force. Socrates is reported by Plato to have said on the day of his death, "nothing else but the body and its desires cause wars, seditions, and contests of every kind; for all wars arise through the possession of wealth."

    Phaedo of Plato, by Taylor, London, 1793, p. 158. The system of wars in general, therefore, has been a system of great robberies, no more honest or honorable than the purposes of the foot-pad, and more dignified only because it involves greater skill and talent. It has been said that "to kill one man makes a murderer, to kill many makes a hero." So it may be said, that to steal a horse, or to rob a house, makes a man a thief or burglar; to fire a dwelling subjects him to the punishment of arson; but to plunder kingdoms and provinces, and to cause cities, towns, and hamlets to be wrapped in flames, makes an illustrious conqueror, and gives a title to what is deemed a bright page in history. The one enrolls the name among felons, and consigns the perpetrator to the dungeon or the gibbet; the other, accompanied with no more justice, and with the same spirit, sends the name down to future times as immortal. Yet in the two the all-discerning eye of God may see no difference except in the magnitude of the crime, and in the extent of the injury which has been inflicted. In his way, and according to the measure of his ability, the felon who ends his life in a dungeon, or on the gibbet, is as worthy of grateful and honored remembrance as the conqueror triumphing in the spoils of desolated empires.

    Ye kill - Margin, or "envy." The marginal reading "envy" has been introduced from some doubt as to the correct reading of the text, whether it should be φονεύτε phoneute, "ye kill," or φθονεῖτε phthoneite, "ye envy." The latter reading has been adopted by Erasmus, Schmidius, Luther, Beza, and some others, though merely from conjecture. There is no authority from the manuscripts for the change. The correct reading undoubtedly is, ye kill. This expression is probably to be taken in the sense of having a murderous disposition, or fostering a brutal and murderous spirit. It is not exactly that they killed or committed murder previous to "desiring to have," but that they had such a covetous desire of the possessions of others as to produce a murderous and bloody temper. The spirit of murder was at the bottom of the whole; or there was such a desire of the possessions of others as to lead to the commission of this crime. Of what aggressive wars which have ever existed is not this true?

    Desire to have - That is, what is in the possession of others.

    And cannot obtain - By any fair and honest means; by purchase or negotiation: and this leads to bloody conquest. All wars might have been avoided if men had been content with what they had, or could rightfully obtain, and had not desired to have what was in the possession of others, which they could not obtain by honest and honorable means. Every war might have been avoided by fair and honorable negociation.

    Ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not - Notwithstanding you engage in contentions and strifes, you do not obtain what you seek after. If you sought that from God which you truly need, you would obtain it, for he would bestow upon you all that is really necessary. But you seek it by contention and strife, and you have no security of obtaining it. He who seeks to gain anything by war seeks it in an unjust manner, and cannot depend on the divine help and blessing. The true way of obtaining anything which we really need is to seek it from God by prayer, and then to make use of just and fair means of obtaining it, by industry and honesty, and by a due regard for the rights of others. Thus sought, we shall obtain it if it would be for our good; if it is withheld, it will be because it is best for us that it should not be ours. In all the wars which have been waged on the earth, whether for the settlement of disputed questions, for the adjustment of boundaries, for the vindication of violated rights, or for the permanent extension of empire, how rare has it been that the object which prompted to the war has been secured! The course of events has shown that indisposed as men are to do justice, there is much more probability of obtaining the object by patient negotiation than there is by going to war.

    Wesley's Notes on James 4:2

    4:2 Ye kill - In your heart, for he that hateth his brother is a murderer. Ye fight and war - That is, furiously strive and contend. Ye ask not - And no marvel; for a man full of evil desire, of envy or hatred, cannot pray.