James 1:22 Meaning of Do Not Merely Listen to the Word

James 1:22
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Explanation and Commentary on James 1:22

How sad it is when Christians pile up Bible knowledge, even memorizing it to the point of having a ready quote for every situation, but do not do what it says. James makes the point that this is a kind of self-deception, a religious exercise that will give no value.

The Word must find its way into the heart of a man or woman to be of eternal value. A Christian must consider what the text truly says and apply it with honesty to his or her life. When you bump up against the Bible, let it change you.

It is worth adding verse 25 of the same chapter: “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” It is so simple, yet so rarely done. Our flesh has a myriad of ways to collaborate with the evil one to keep all the knowledge on the surface of our minds, never letting it transform us.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of James 1:22

#1 “Do not merely listen…”
Faith comes by hearing (Ro 10:17), but what kind of hearing? God has given us his Word so that we can obey it. Every Sunday, Christians sit in churches and “merely listen.” Why is this? They seem to value attending church, but attending is not the point. Worship is the point. It does not bring glory to God to listen with no intent to obey and conform to the example of Christ and the power of his Spirit in us.

#2 “…to the word,”
The Word of God is a mysterious concept. “In the beginning was the Word” (Jn 1:1) refers to the Word being Jesus Christ. Anything God decrees is the Word. The Bible is the written Word. The laws and commands of Scripture are the Word of God. The will of God for us is his Word. God communicates, and when he does, it is the Word that is communicated, even when he sent his only Son, the Word who was God and was with God.

#3 “and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Being a Christian is not Bible reading. Being a Christian is walking in the Truth, in Christ, being a light in the darkness, continuing the ministry of Jesus. Bible reading and listening to preaching is meant to help in the endeavor of obeying God in these things. Knowledge that is an end in itself has no power. Knowledge that leads to obedience will set you free. Those who obey the Word “will be blessed in what they do” (Ja 1:25).

Bible Study on James 1:22

Expert Overview of James

Biblical Translations of James 1:22

NIV
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

NLT
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

ESV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

KJV
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

NKJV
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 1:22 Meaning and Commentary

About the Author of this Blog Post
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. She is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.