"Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."
It is so easy to focus on the first clause of this sentence. I actually wrote a whole long discussion about what the clause means. The problem with doing that is that if I focus on the thing I need to "put away" I'll never put it away. I'll never get to thinking about the implanted word of God.
James is thinking about Christ here when he speaks of the implanted logos. He knows both Paul and John, and this usage is distinct: a fusion of Paul's argument that God put Jesus forth as a "propitiation to be received by faith" (see also 2 Cor. 5:17 and Gal. 2:20) and John's argument about the logos in John 1. He could have told us to simply "apply the teachings of Christ" or "follow Jesus" or some such thing. But he doesn't. In discussing putting away filth from us he talks about something very personal -- the implanted word. The "filth" always conjures up pictures of ancient menstrual rags that had to be disposed of because they were ceremonially unclean in judaism. The Implanted Logos is that super-clean One who has come to invade our soul. HE is implanted -- not "it" is implanted.
James is unable to talk academically about Christ. In fact, one of the arguments against including the Epistle of James in the New Testament was that it never mentions Christ by name. I would argue that it doesn't quite BECAUSE James was the brother or perhaps cousin of Jesus and to him the logos was a living being he grew up with, not a concept or set of principles. And James knew that the salvation of his soul didn't have to do with a list of dos and don'ts. It had to do with what Paul calls "putting on" Christ.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.