I. Quintessential Quarrels (v.1-2)
In the second part of verse 1, James wisely points to a two-layered interpretation, just like the one sustained throughout 3:1–12. Just as there are mixed within each of us as individuals motives and emotions wholesome and unwholesome, so within the Christian community there is a wide variety of impulses. James says their disputes come from the desires (hedone) within them. The rabbis believed that the impulses, the yeṣarim, had their seats in various organs or “members” of the human body; therefore, the members of the body were “at war” with one another—pulled one way by conscience, then another way by the evil desire.5
This image is not unknown elsewhere in the New Testament. First Peter 2:11 speaks of “sinful desires,” which “war against your soul.” In Romans 7:22–23 Paul speaks of the two “laws” within him: “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war … and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (cf. also Gal. 5:17).
II. Sloppy Supplications (v.3)