James 4:2

Ye lust (epiqumeite). Present active indicative of epiqumew, old word (from epi, qumo, yearning passion for), not necessarily evil as clearly not in Luke 22:15 of Christ, but usually so in the N.T., as here. Coveting what a man or nation does not have is the cause of war according to James. Ye kill and covet (poneuete kai zhloute). Present active indicatives of poneuw (old verb from poneu, murderer) and zhlow, to desire hotly to possess ( 1 Corinthians 12:31 ). It is possible (perhaps probable) that a full stop should come after poneuete (ye kill) as the result of lusting and not having. Then we have the second situation: "Ye covet and cannot obtain (epitucein, second aorist active infinitive of epitugcanw), and (as a result) ye fight and war." This punctuation makes better sense than any other and is in harmony with verse 1 Corinthians 1 . Thus also the anticlimax in poneuete and zhloute is avoided. Mayor makes the words a hendiadys, "ye murderously envy." Ye have not, because ye ask not (ouk ecete dia to mh aiteisqai uma). James refers again to ouk ecete (ye do not have) in verse 1 Corinthians 2 . Such sinful lusting will not obtain. "Make the service of God your supreme end, and then your desires will be such as God can fulfil in answer to your prayer" (Ropes). Cf. Matthew 6:31-33 . The reason here is expressed by dia and the accusative of the articular present middle infinitive of aitew, used here of prayer to God as in Matthew 7:7 . Huma (you) is the accusative of general reference. Note the middle voice here as in aiteisqe in Matthew 3 . Mayor argues that the middle here, in contrast with the active, carries more the spirit of prayer, but Moulton (Prol., p. 160) regards the distinction between aitew and aiteomai often "an extinct subtlety."