James 1:8 (KJV) says,

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

What does this mean?

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2 Answers 2


This is a snippet from the Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

A double minded man,.... A man of two souls, or of a double heart, that speaks and asks with an heart, and an heart, as in Psalm 12:2 who halts between two opinions, and is at an uncertainty what to do or say, and is undetermined what to ask for; or who is not sincere and upright in his requests, who asks for one thing, and means another, and asks amiss, and with an ill design; does not call upon God in truth, and in the sincerity of his soul; draws nigh to him with his mouth, and honours him with his lips, but his heart is far from him.

As an example, it can be someone who asks for one thing with seemingly sincerity in heart, but all the while having an agenda that's personal/political/not in the best interests of all parties (someone who asks with false intentions).


The story goes that Cortez did not want his soldiers to have any option but "forward" so he burned the ships that they arrived on. Now they were fully committed. This notion of "committing" vs "keeping one's options open" appears to be what James has in mind. Jesus spoke of something similar here:

Luke 14: 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2014%3A28-33&version=NIV

We see the same here:

BSB Luke 9: 23Then Jesus said to all of them, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

And here:

New American Standard Bible Genesis 19:26 But his [Lot's] wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

James is saying that one must be "all in".

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