|Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.|
|Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.|
|Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.|
|James 1:27 |
Pure (Gk. katharos) versus impure is the issue, not true versus false. Some people go through religion (Gk. thrēskos), or the external aspects of worship, with an unclean heart. James is confirming that the externals of religious activities are not acceptable to God unless accompanied by a holy life and loving service. Rites and rituals have never been an adequate substitute for service and sacrifice. Corporate worship within the church cannot take the place of individual works outside the church. Private profession must be coupled with the public expression of one's faith. To visit comes from the Greek word usually translated bishop, a person who oversees God's people (1 Tim. 3:1).
Orphans and widows were among the most unprotected and needy classes in ancient societies (Ezek. 22:7). Pure religion does not merely give material goods for the relief of the distressed, it also oversees their care (Acts 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 5:3-16).
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson's new illustrated Bible commentary (Jas 1:26-27). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.