27. θρησκεία. ἄπ. λεγ. in N.T. Cultus, religion in its external aspect, the outward observance of religious rites as opposed to εὐσέβεια or piety. “St James is not here affirming, as we sometimes hear, these offices to be the sum total, nor yet the great essentials of true religion, but declares them to be the body, the θρησκεία, of which godliness or the love of God is the informing soul.” Trench, N.T. Synonyms. Here St James reflects the most enlightened spirit of ancient prophecy: see especially Isa 1:13-17; Mic 6:7-8; and comp. Mat 23:23.
There is a special interest in this definition of θρησκεία by St James, whose assiduity in the θρησκεία of Judaism earned for him the title of ὁ δίκαιος. For the classical use of the word comp. Herod. II. 18 ἀχθόμενοι τῇ περὶ τὰ ἱρὰ θρησκηίῃ (τῶν Αἰγυπτίων), and II. 37 ἄλλας τε θρησκηίας ἐπιτελέουσι μυρίας.
ἐπισκέπτεσθαι ὀρφανοὺς καὶ χήρας. Visitare pupillos et viduas in tribulatione eorum, V.; κρίνατε ὀρφανῷ καὶ δικαιώσατε χήραν, Isa 1:17. The care of widows was one of the earliest notes of the Church, it went on side by side with the continuous worship in the temple. See Act 6:1; 1Ti 5:3. It is a mark of the divine loving kindness, Psa 68:5; Psa 146:9; and on the other hand the helplessness of the orphan and widow made them at all times victims of oppression: Psa 94:6; Isa 10:2; Jer 7:6; Jer 22:3; Zec 7:10; Eze 22:7; Mal 3:6. The Pharisees, who made a boast of θρησκεία, devoured widows’ houses, Mat 23:14.
κόσμου. Originally, order, εὖ κατὰ κόσμον, Hom. Il. x. 472 and frequently in Classical Greek: Herod., Thuc., Plat. and the poets, order in government, conduct, dress. So ornament, 1Pe 3:3 ὁ ἔξωθεν ἐμπλοκῆς τριχῶν … κόσμος: possibly the meaning of the word in ch. Jam 3:6. Then applied by Pythagoras and his followers to the order of the Universe, as opposed to chaos, hence the world. So Plato, Gorg. p. 508 φασὶν δὲ σοφοὶ καὶ οὐρανὸν καὶ γῆν καὶ θεοὺς καὶ ἀνθρώπους τὴν κοινωνίαν συνέχειν καὶ φιλίαν καὶ κοσμιότητα καὶ σωφροσύνην καὶ δικαιότητα καὶ τὸ ὅλον τοῦτο διὰ ταῦτα κόσμον καλοῦσιν. Comp. Plin. H. N. II. 3 Quem κόσμον Graeci nomine ornamenti adpellaverunt, eum nos perfecta absolutaque elegantia mundum. Comp. also Tertullian, Lib. Apol. c. xvii. Deus, qui totam molem istam … de nihilo expressit in ornamentum majestatis suae: unde et Graeci nomen mundo κόσμον accommodaverunt. This sense does not appear in the Canonical books of the O.T., but in the Book of Wisdom we find εἰδέναι σύστασιν κόσμου, Wis 7:17; καὶ κτίσασα τὸν κόσμον ἐξ ἀμόρφου ὕλης, Wis 11:17. This is also a N.T. use: ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, Mat 25:34; Luk 11:50; Heb 4:3; πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, 1Pe 1:20; ὁ κόσμος διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, Joh 1:10. But in the N.T. κόσμος has the further significations of: (α) the world of men and women into which we are born, and in which we live: ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου, Mat 5:14; ὁ δὲ ἀγρός ἐστιν ὁ κόσμος, Mat 13:38; ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον, Joh 1:9. (β) The world as opposed to God, the wicked world: ἡ βασιλεία ἡ ἐμὴ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, Joh 18:36; ὁ τοῦ κόσμου ἄρχων, Joh 14:30; οὐ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου ἐλάβομεν, 1Co 2:12; οἱ χρώμενοι κόσμῳ τούτῳ, 1Co 7:31; with this comp. πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, Eph 6:12.