James 3:6

The tongue is a fire (h glwssa pur). So necessarily since there is no article with pur (apparently same word as German feuer, Latin purus, English pure, fire). This metaphor of fire is applied to the tongue in Proverbs 16:27 ; Proverbs 26:18-22 ; Sirach 28:22. The world of iniquity (o kosmo th adikia). A difficult phrase, impossible to understand according to Ropes as it stands. If the comma is put after pur instead of after adikia, then the phrase may be the predicate with kaqistatai (present passive indicative of kaqisthmi, "is constituted," or the present middle "presents itself"). Even so, kosmo remains a difficulty, whether it means the "ornament" ( 1 Peter 3:3 ) or "evil world" ( James 1:27 ) or just "world" in the sense of widespread power for evil. The genitive adikia is probably descriptive (or qualitative). Clearly James means to say that the tongue can play havoc in the members of the human body. Which defileth the whole body (h spilousa olon to swma). Present active participle of spilow late Koin, verb, to stain from spilo (spot, also late word, in N.T. only in Ephesians 5:27 ; 2 Peter 2:13 ), in N.T. only here and Judges 1:23 . Cf. James 1:27 aspilon (unspotted). Setteth on fire (plogizousa). Present active participle of plogizw, old verb, to set on fire, to ignite, from plox (flame), in N.T. only in this verse. See anaptei (verse James 5 ). The wheel of nature (ton trocon genesew). Old word for wheel (from trecw, to run), only here in N.T. "One of the hardest passages in the Bible" (Hort). To what does trocon refer? For genesew see James 1:23 apparently in the same sense. Vincent suggests "the wheel of birth" (cf. Matthew 1:1 Matthew 1:18 ). The ancient writers often use this same phrase (or kuklo, cycle, in place of troco), but either in a physiological or a philosophical sense. James may have caught the metaphor from the current use, but certainly he has no such Orphic or Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of souls, "the unending round of death and rebirth" (Ropes). The wheel of life may be considered either in motion or standing still, though setting on fire implies motion. There is no reference to the zodiac. And is set on fire by hell (kai plogizomenh upo geennh). Present passive participle of plogizw, giving the continual source of the fire in the tongue. For the metaphor of fire with geenna see Matthew 5:22 .