Main point summary
The tongue is the guide of the entire body, and even the smallest of its misuses can bring about great destruction. Therefore, few should become teachers. In other words, one who stumbles with respect to the tongue should not expect his teaching to yield fruit for God.
Verses 11-12 illustrate parabolically the folly of someone becoming a teacher who stumbles with respect to the tongue. He (a salt pond) will not yield fresh water in his ministry. This person should heed the warnings, both positive (the power of the tongue) and negative (the potential destruction of the tongue), before considering the office of teacher.
Μὴ πολλοὶ διδάσκαλοι γίνεσθε , ἀδελφοί μου ,
c Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers,
εἰδότες ὅτι μεῖζον κρίμα λημψόμεθα .
for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
πολλὰ γὰρ πταίομεν ἅπαντες.
For d we all stumble in many ways.
εἴ τις ἐν λόγῳ οὐ πταίει ,
And if anyone does not stumble in what he says,
οὗτος τέλειος ἀνὴρ
e he is a perfect man,
δυνατὸς χαλιναγωγῆσαι καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα.
f able also to bridle his whole body.
εἰ δὲ τῶν ἵππων τοὺς χαλινοὺς εἰς τὰ στόματα βάλλομεν
If we put g bits into the mouths of horses
εἰς τὸ πείθεσθαι αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν,
so that they obey us,
καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα αὐτῶν μετάγομεν .
we guide their whole bodies as well.
ἰδοὺ καὶ τὰ πλοῖα
Look at the ships also:
though they are so large
καὶ ὑπὸ ἀνέμων σκληρῶν ἐλαυνόμενα ,
and are driven by strong winds,
μετάγεται ὑπὸ ἐλαχίστου πηδαλίου
they are guided by a very small rudder
ὅπου ἡ ὁρμὴ τοῦ εὐθύνοντος βούλεται ,
wherever the will of the pilot directs.
οὕτως καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα μικρὸν μέλος ἐστὶν
So also the tongue is a small member,
καὶ μεγάλα αὐχεῖ .
yet h it boasts of great things.
ἰδοὺ ἡλίκον πῦρ ἡλίκην ὕλην ἀνάπτει •
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
καὶ ἡ γλῶσσα πῦρ•
And i the tongue is a fire,
ὁ κόσμος τῆς ἀδικίας
a world of unrighteousness.
ἡ γλῶσσα καθίσταται ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ἡμῶν,
The tongue is set among our members,
ἡ σπιλοῦσα ὅλον τὸ σῶμα
j staining the whole body,
καὶ φλογίζουσα τὸν τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως
setting on fire the entire course of life, 1
καὶ φλογιζομένη ὑπὸ τῆς γεέννης.
and set on fire by hell. 2
πᾶσα γὰρ φύσις θηρίων τε καὶ πετεινῶν, ἑρπετῶν τε καὶ ἐναλίων δαμάζεται καὶ δεδάμασται τῇ φύσει τῇ ἀνθρωπίνῃ,
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
τὴν δὲ γλῶσσαν οὐδεὶς δαμάσαι δύναται ἀνθρώπων,
but no human being can tame the tongue.
It is a restless evil,
μεστὴ ἰοῦ θανατηφόρου.
k full of deadly poison.
ἐν αὐτῇ εὐλογοῦμεν τὸν κύριον καὶ πατέρα
With it we bless our Lord and Father,
καὶ ἐν αὐτῇ καταρώμεθα τοὺς ἀνθρώπους
and with it we curse people
τοὺς καθʼ ὁμοίωσιν θεοῦ γεγονότας ,
l who are made in the likeness of God.
ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ στόματος ἐξέρχεται εὐλογία καὶ κατάρα.
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.
... ἀδελφοί μου ,
My brothers, 1
οὐ χρή ,...ταῦτα οὕτως γίνεσθαι .
these things ought not to be so.
μήτι ἡ πηγὴ ἐκ τῆς αὐτῆς ὀπῆς βρύει τὸ γλυκὺ καὶ τὸ πικρόν;
Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?
... ἀδελφοί μου ,
μὴ δύναται ,...συκῆ ἐλαίας ποιῆσαι
Can a fig tree,...bear olives,
ἢ ἄμπελος σῦκα;
or a grapevine produce figs?
οὔτε ἁλυκὸν γλυκὺ ποιῆσαι ὕδωρ.
Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.