James 1:4
(4) Let patience have her perfect work.--Do not think the grace will come to its full beauty in an hour. Emotion and sentiment may have their place in the beginning of a Christian career, but the end thereof is not yet. Until the soul be quite unmoved by any attack of Satan, the work cannot be deemed "perfect." The doctrine is not mere quietism, much less one of apathy, but rather this, that the conscious strength of patient trust in God is able to say at all times (comp. Psalm 63:8)--

"My soul hath followed hard on Thee;

Thy right hand hath upholden me."

And if in this patience we can learn to possess our souls (Luke 21:19) the perfect work of God will be wrought within us.

That ye may be perfect and entire (or, complete).--A special proof herein for religious people may be taken with regard to temper. Few trials are harder; and sweetness of disposition often melts away from physical causes, such as ill-health or fatigue. But the great test remains; and it is one which the world will ever apply with scorn to the nominally Christian, refusing to admit the claims of saintliness on the part of any whose religion is not of the household as well as the Church. The entirety and completeness of the life hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3) are manifested most by self-restraint.

Wanting nothing.--The older version, "lacking," found in Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Genevan Bible seems decidedly better. Here is no wish that the faithful should be free from care, heeding nothing; but rather that their whole lives might be without fault or flaw: a perfect sacrifice, as it were, offered up to God. And this idea is confirmed by reflecting on the original meaning of the word translated "entire" above in the Authorised version=complete, i.e., as an offering, with no blemish.

Verse 4. - Patience alone is not sufficient. It must have scope given it for its exercise that it may have its "perfect work." That ye may be perfect (ἵνα ῆτε τέλειοι); cf. Matthew 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect." Both τέλειος and ὁλόκληρος were applied to the initiated, the fully instructed, as opposed to novices in the ancient mysteries; and as early as 1 Corinthians 2:6, 7 we find τέλειος used for the Christian who is no longer in need of rudimentary teaching, and possibly this is the thought here. The figure, however, is probably rather that of the full-grown man. Τέλειοι, equivalent to "grown men" as opposed to children; ὁλόκληροι, sound in every part and limb (cf. ὁλοκληρίαν in Acts 3:16). From this τέλειος assumes a moral-complexion, that which has attained its aim. Compare its use in Genesis 6:9 and Deuteronomy 18:13, where it is equivalent to the Latin integer vitae, and the following passage from Stobaeus, which exactly serves to illustrate St. James's thought in vers. 4 and 5, Τὸν ἀγαθὸν ἄνδρα τέλειον εϊναι λέγουσιν, διὰ τὸ μηδεμίας ἀπολείπεσθαι ἀρετῆς The "perfection" which is to be attained in this life may be further illustrated from Hebrews 12:23 - a passage which is often misunderstood, but which undoubtedly means that the men were made perfect (πνεύμασι δικαίων τετελειωμένων), and that not in a future state, but here on earth, where alone they can be subject to those trials and conflicts by the patient endurance of which they are perfected for a higher state of being. The whole passage before us (vers. 2-6) affords a most remarkable instance of the figure called by grammarians anadiplosis, the repetition of a marked word at the close of one clause and beginning of another. "The trial of your faith worketh patience; but let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing. But if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of the giving God... and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing doubting, for he that doubteth," etc.

1:1-11 Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God's love; and trials in the way of duty will brighten our graces now, and our crown at last. Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not passion, is set to work in us: whatever is said or done, let patience have the saying and doing of it. When the work of patience is complete, it will furnish all that is necessary for our Christian race and warfare. We should not pray so much for the removal of affliction, as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who does not want wisdom to guide him under trials, both in regulating his own spirit, and in managing his affairs? Here is something in answer to every discouraging turn of the mind, when we go to God under a sense of our own weakness and folly. If, after all, any should say, This may be the case with some, but I fear I shall not succeed, the promise is, To any that asketh, it shall be given. A mind that has single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in devotion, and rise above trials and oppositions. When our faith and spirits rise and fall with second causes, there will be unsteadiness in our words and actions. This may not always expose men to contempt in the world, but such ways cannot please God. No condition of life is such as to hinder rejoicing in God. Those of low degree may rejoice, if they are exalted to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God; and the rich may rejoice in humbling providences, that lead to a humble and lowly disposition of mind. Worldly wealth is a withering thing. Then, let him that is rich rejoice in the grace of God, which makes and keeps him humble; and in the trials and exercises which teach him to seek happiness in and from God, not from perishing enjoyments.But let patience have her perfect work,.... Or effect; or be brought unto perfection; which may denote both the sincerity and continuance of it unto the end, with constancy: patience may be said to be perfect, when it appears to be real and sincere, and not dissembled; for as there may be a feigned faith, a dissembled love, and an hypocritical hope, so likewise a mere show of patience: and certain it is, that as there is a patience which is commendable, there is one that is not, 1 Peter 2:20. And this phrase may also design the constant exercise of this grace to the end; for he that endures, or is patient, and continues so unto the end, shall be saved, and enjoy that perfection of glory and happiness expressed in the next clause:

that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing; which cannot be understood of the saints in this present life; only as they are in Christ, and in a comparative sense; or as perfection may denote sincerity, and uprightness; or of a perfection of parts, but not of degrees; for the saints are very imperfect in themselves, and are very far from being complete in soul, body, and spirit; and want many things, and are wanting in many things, both in the exercise of grace, and in the discharge of duty; but when patience has had its perfect work, and has been tried to the uttermost, and is found right, and has held out to the end; then shall the saints be perfect in holiness and happiness, and be entire, whole, and complete; as they will be in the resurrection morn, both in soul and body, and will want no good thing, and will be free from every sorrow, nor will they be deficient in any service; and to this sense agrees James 1:12.

James 1:3
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