James 4:5

Beta-user Rob Elkington (elkington@igubu.saix.net)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 14:54:37 +0000

Dear B-Greekers

I am working on James 4:1-12 for my Sunday morning sermon. I have a
question concerning the very difficult "pros fthonon epipothei to
pneuma katwkisen en hmin".

Adamson states {1984: 172};
"The source of the saying in the scriptures is totally unknown to
us. It has been traced variously to: i.LXX. Gen 6:3-7 and Exodus
20:5; Zech 1:14. ii. New Testament: mixture of Matt 6:24; Rom 8:7; 1
John 2:15. The meaning of this statement is greatly disputed - four
main versions being offered: 1. He yearns jealously over the spirit
which he has made to dwell within us. 2. He yearns jealously for the
spirit he set within us. 3. That spirit which he made to dwell in us
yearneth for us even unto jealous envy; 4. The spirit which dwelleth
in us lusteth to envy.

Thus, the questions arising include: Does the spirit mean the Spirit
of God or the spirit of man? Can the Greek word phthonos possibly be
imputed to God? Notwithstanding Mayor and Mitton, we think the
question answers itself.The root idea of pthonos is "malice" or "ill
will" and ought to be distinguished from zelos." (end quote)

My two questions:
1. Can such a sharp distinction be made between zelos and pthonos? (I
have undertaken an extensive word study on zelos and found it has
negative connotations of jealousy as well. Also in DNTT - Colin
Brown Vol III.)

2. the strong adversative "de" of verse 6 points to the greater Grace
being given and surely implies that this would thus not be the Holy
Spirit who envies intensely in v. 5.

Can you shed any further light on this either grammatically or


Rob Elkington
Rev. R. Elkington
Community Baptist Church
P.O. Box 366
South Africa