Journeying through James 1:21 – What’s the Implanted Word

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21 (ESV)

In verse 21, James uses a farming metaphor: ”implanted.“ The word describes a seed that’s in the ground and ready to sprout. James says just to receive the word with meekness. He doesn’t say what the word is, who planted it or when it was planted.

Jesus told a parable that can help us understand this:

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

The disciples seemed fascinated by this parable because when Jesus “left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.’ 37 He answered, ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.’” Matthew 13:24‑30, 36‑43 (NIV)

The disciples were concerned about the weeds, but Jesus focuses on the good seed. Then, He adds something that’s vitally important for every disciple to take note of: “the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.” The One who sows seed also turns us into seed.

It’s Christ who paid for our sins to make us good seed and not weeds. Christ earned eternal life with His perfect life, and He gave it to us as a gift. The implanted word is the gift of life in Christ. James is focusing on the process of bearing fruit as any good seed should. It’s perhaps obvious that “filthiness and rampant wickedness“ is not what the seed sown by Christ would produce, but how does meekness fit into this transformation? For more fuel for thought, try this Digging Deeper exercise.