Bible Questions

Journey with me through a study of the Epistle of James and beyond. Each entry is a question, and with it the answer I propose. Your answers and all relavant discussion are also welcome.

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Current Study Verse James 1:3 (ESV)

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Friday, July 29, 2005

1.2.6 What is meant by the term diverse temptation (trials of many kinds)?

According to my interlinear and other sources I checked, the Greek words “poikilois peirasmos” translate directly to “diverse temptation.” Diverse meaning “of many kinds” and the word for temptation also having possible connotations as trial or difficulty.

The Greek words poikilois peirasmos are the words translated here. I struggled with the different languages of NIV vs KJV, but with a little help from an online interlinear I gleaned a few things to help clarify.

The Greek word poikilois is translated as “diverse” in KJV and as “of many/varied kinds” in the NIV/ESV. These are all reasonable.

Greek word peirasmos is translated in KJV as “temptation,” but in NIV and ESV as “trial.” It was used more often in the NT mostly as what we traditionally think of as temptation, as from the devil. Some other places used include Mt 6:13, Mt 26:41, Lk 4:13, 1 Co 10:13, 1 Ti 6:9, to name a few. Here’s the literal translation:

an experiment, attempt, trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul.
the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy
1. an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances
2. an internal temptation to sin
3. of the temptation by which the devil sought to divert Jesus the Messiah from his divine errand
a. of the condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from the faith and holiness
b. adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness
4. temptation (i.e. trial) of God by men
a. rebellion against God, by which his power and justice are, as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves

The Greek word more commonly translated as “trial” is “dokime.” It literally means proving, trial, approved, tried character, or a proof - as in a specimen of tried worth. In James 1:2 it seems either trial or temptation is acceptable, though later in James 1 the subject of temptation is dealt with in more detail. Temptation makes more sense in a no-nonsense view of what God wants to tell us. Trial, however, is more all-inclusive to the overall message James is conveying in this paragraph. Since either word is arguably valid we shall discuss both. We need to look for the good that comes from difficult challenges, whether presented by men, Satan, or God. Trials or temptations aren’t typically fun in and of themselves, but certainly when we persevere the gold we’ve purchased was well worth the price (ref Rev 3:18).


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