Κόσμος, primarily, means order, and is applied to the world or universe as an orderly system. A world of iniquity is an organism containing within itself all evil essence, which from it permeates the entire man. World is used in the same sense as in the latter part of Proverbs 17:6 (Sept.), which is not given in the A. V. “The trusty hath the whole world of things, but the faithless not a groat.”
Is the tongue (καθίσταται)
This differs a little from the simple is, though it is not easy to render it accurately. The verb means to appoint, establish, institute, and is used of the tongue as having an appointed and definite place in a system (among our members). It might be rendered hath its place.
Lit., defiling. Only here and Jud 1:23. See on 2Pe 2:13.
Setteth on fire (φλογίζουσα)
Lit., setting on fire. Only in this verse in New Testament.
The course of nature (τροχὸν τῆς γενέσεως)
A very obscure passage. Τροχός, (only here in New Testament), from τρέχω, to run, applies generally to anything round or circular which runs or rolls, as a wheel or sphere. Hence, often a wheel. Used of the circuit of fortifications and of circles or zones of land or sea. From the radical sense, to run, comes the meaning course, as the course of the sun; and from this a place for running, a race-course. Γενέσεως rendered nature, means origin, beginning, birth, manner of birth, production, and is used by Plato for the creation, or the sum of created things. It also means a race, and a generation or age. In the New Testament it occurs but twice outside of this epistle, viz., at Mat 1:1, “the book of the generation of Jesus Christ,” where the meaning is origin or birth; the birth-book of Jesus Christ. The other passage is Mat 1:18, according to the best texts, also meaning birth. In Jam 1:23, as we have seen, πρόσωπον τῆς γενέσεως, is the face of his birth. We may then safely translate τροχός by wheel; and as birth is the meaning of γένεσις in every New-Testament passage where it occurs, we may give it the preference here and render the wheel of birth - i.e., the wheel which is set in motion at birth and runs on to the close of life. It is thus a figurative description of human life. So Anacreon:
“The chariot-wheel, like life, runs rolling round,”
Tertullian says: “The whole revolving wheel of existence bears witness to the resurrection of the dead.” The Rev., which gives nature, puts birth in margin. This revolving wheel is kindled by the tongue, and rolls on in destructive blaze. The image is justified by the fact. The tongue works the chief mischief, kindles the most baleful fires in the course of life.