Says “for the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat”. Is this saying when Jesus returns these worldly things will burn away? More so, what is the meaning of “no sooner ”

3 Answers 3


In the context, James is developing the metaphor of the previous verse, when he says about the rich man "like the flower of the grass he will pass away" (RSV). Your quotation continues "and withers away the grass", which is exactly what happens in nature (not quite instantly, though). James in Palestine would be in a good position to know that and will have seen it happen. V11 ends by returning to the original verdict; "So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits".

At the same time, James is likely to be referring to, and expecting his readers to be aware of, the prophecy in Malachi ch4 v1; "For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes will burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root not branch". The same metaphor.

In practice, the idiom "no sooner.. than" is an equivalent of "as soon as", sometimes used in reports like "No sooner had he walked in the door than the boss started shouting at him." In other words, the event which follows on so sharply from the first event is likely to be an unwelcome one. The Authorised Version, which you are evidently quoting, says "no sooner... but" in this verse, but the effect is the same.


The text in question:

James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:
1:10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
1:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

The lowly... Most people fall in that category, with not a lot of money, not in a social position, basically struggling to make it in life. These lowly Christians see other people, who may not even be that devoted to God, seemingly much better off and more blessed with temporal things.

They seem to ask the same question as we find in Ps. 73:10-18, what's the use of living a godly life, if we have to toil so hard just to make ends meet, while the worldly have an easy and prosperous life?

But the lowly Christian is exalted in Christ, while the worldly rich will lose it all.

The present life is like the flower or grass, here today and dead tomorrow. But those in Christ will life forever!

But both, rich or lowly, can be in Christ, if they chose Him. The lowly is exalted in Christ The rich is humbled as he too, needs a Savior, just as much as the lowly.

Life is very short. All die, like the plants in the field, some bloom, some not so much, but all live only a short while and then die, no matter if they are lowly, or rich.

No sooner does a person reach the full sunshine and strength of their prime, the heat of responsibility upon them, and they start to whither away. Their splendor, and all on which they built up their security, shall vanish.

Isaiah 40:6-8 All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

The comparison of people to grass, is usually used to describe the brevity of life, not the final destruction, yet the thought that it is more important to prepare for the here after, not on the temporal is implied.


"No Sooner" of James 1:11

The phrase "no sooner" is not part of the Greek text, but was inserted for some inexplicable reason by th KJV translators. Here is a very literal rendering of the Greek from BLB:

For the sun has risen with its burning heat and withered the grass, and its flower has fallen, and the beauty of its appearance has perished. Thus also the rich man will fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

The meaning of this verse is rather simple - James is using a simple, common metaphor to say that the wealthy and their wealth with wither like a flower/blossom used the hot sun.

There is nothing about judgement nor any eschatological meaning here. It is simply saying that wealth is ultimately transitory. James is simply discussing the trials of this life and how they effect the Christian.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.