Pearls of the Word

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Pure and undefiled religion

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"Pure and undefiled religion [threskeia] before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in theirs afflictions, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27 Interlinear).

The word religion comes from the Latin word religio meaning bond, attachment, and the Roman philosopher Cicero used this word for the first time in the first century BC to describe a person in the service to Greek gods. Indeed, religion is a bond that just as in Cicero's day enslaves to a god. The Greek word threskeia means service to the deity, worship of God, and Darby translates it as 'church service'.

But here James is speaking of genuine service to God because, in Christ, we are freed from any bond in order to have an authentic relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son (John 8:31-32). The Greek word threskeia therefore defines a practice of true faith before God. And because we have this personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, our faith naturally translates into good works.