Main point summary
The fruits of righteousness are sown by the wise. Therefore, those who claim to be wise should show their wisdom by their works. For wisdom from above is made visible not from jealousy or selfishness, but from the fruits of a pure heart.
Contrast earth-bound wisdom with the wisdom which comes down from above (v. 15b)
"...most believe that wisdom’s attributes all follow from and are subsequent to that initial term of purity. The root of this word (ἁγνός) denotes ethical blamelessness, and “wisdom which is free from any stain or blemish would be incapable of producing anything evil.” Purity means both that one is “free of the moral and spiritual defects that are the marks of the double-minded,” 34 and that one is “unstained from the world” (cf. 1:27). If “nothing which shows itself as half-good, half-bad, can be accounted wisdom,” 36 then wisdom must show itself as pure, unmixed with anything worldly or demonic. It remains singularly focused on God, without any tugs of loyalty elsewhere." Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell, James , vol. 16, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 175.
Τίς σοφὸς καὶ ἐπιστήμων ἐν ὑμῖν;
Who is wise and understanding among you?
ἐκ τῆς καλῆς ἀναστροφῆς
m By his good conduct
δειξάτω ...τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ
let him show his works
ἐν πραΰτητι σοφίας.
n in the meekness of wisdom.
εἰ δὲ ζῆλον πικρὸν ἔχετε καὶ ἐριθείαν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν,
But if you have bitter o jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts,
μὴ κατακαυχᾶσθε καὶ ψεύδεσθε κατὰ τῆς ἀληθείας.
do not boast and be false to the truth.
οὐκ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ σοφία
This is not p the wisdom
that comes down from above,
but is earthly,
ὅπου γὰρ ζῆλος καὶ ἐριθεία,
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
ἐκεῖ ἀκαταστασία καὶ πᾶν φαῦλον πρᾶγμα.
there will be disorder and every vile practice.
ἡ δὲ ἄνωθεν σοφία πρῶτον μὲν ἁγνή ἐστιν ,
But r the wisdom from above is first pure,
then s peaceable,
open to reason,
μεστὴ ἐλέους καὶ καρπῶν ἀγαθῶν,
t full of mercy and good fruits,
u impartial and v sincere.
καρπὸς δὲ δικαιοσύνης ἐν εἰρήνῃ σπείρεται τοῖς ποιοῦσιν εἰρήνην.
And w a harvest of righteousness x is sown in peace by those who make peace.