James 5 - Outline of James (MENU page)
I. The Testings of Faith (1:1- 2:26)
II. A true faith will control the tongue. 3:1-18
III. The rebuke of worldliness. 4:1-17
IV. The rich warned. 5:1-6
1. Go to now {Come now}, [ye] rich men,
weep and howl for your miseries
{calamities} that shall come upon [you].
James speaks of rich men, in two categories:
  1. Rich brothers, in Christ, are to rejoice that they have been humbled before the Lord (Jam 1:9-11),
    and, thus, delivered from the pride of possession, and enabled to use their financial means in the Lord's work, in ministry to others (1Tim 6:17-19).
  2. Rich men, of the world, persecute God's children and blaspheme His Name (Jam 2:6,7).
    In v.1-6, James warns unsaved rich and powerful men, of coming judgment. cp. 1Tim 6:9,10; Rev 6:15-17
    His warning identifies some of the calamities which will befall them. Luk 6:24,25
2 Your riches are corrupted {rotted}, and your garments are motheaten.
Their wealth and treasures will become worthless. Jer 17:11; Mat 6:19,20
3 Your gold and silver is cankered {corroded};
and the rust of them shall be a witness against you,
and shall eat
{consume} your flesh as it were fire.
Ye have heaped treasure together for
{in} the last days.
They will be consumed with regret, upon realizing that they have invested poorly (eg., Luk 12:20,21), without regard for the 'end of all things.' cp. 1Cor 7:29-31; 1Pet 4:7
4 Behold, the hire {wages} of the labourers
who have reaped down
{harvested} your fields,
which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth:
and the cries of them which have reaped
are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth
{hosts, armies, multitudes}.
The ungodly rich men, who defraud their employees and contracted laborers, will be held accountable by the One who is Lord over all. Psa 9:8-12; Mal 3:5
5 Ye have lived in pleasure {luxuriously} on the earth,
and been wanton
ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
6 Ye have condemned [and] killed
{murdered} the just; {Joh 16:2,3; Jam 2:6,7}
[and] he doth not resist you.
{Mat 5:39; 1Pet 2:19-23}
They continually satisfied their own selfish appetites 'as in a day of slaughter' {ie., as when animals were slain for food or sacrifice, in celebration of the harvest, or at the periodic religious feasts}. They lived to celebrate and serve themselves with the finest of everything, while the humble godly people could barely eek out a living (eg., Isa 22:12,13; 56:11- 57:4; Amos 6:4-6; Rev 6:6).
     They not only ignore the needs of the righteous, but also condemn and persecute the godly, for their own advantage.
     Their judgment will come upon them suddenly and unexpectedly. Luk 18:7,8; Rev 6:9-17
     "The last days" {GK=eschatois hemerois} (v.3) is defined by v.4-8, as the time of the Lord's return to earth in judgment. [In the NT, phrases similar to 'the last days' must be interpreted by the context. See the Book Notes at 1Tim 4:1.]
V. Exhortations in view of the coming of the Lord. 5:7-20
A. Be Patient. 5:7-11
7 Be patient {GK=makrothumeo, long-suffering} therefore, brethren,
unto the coming
{GK=parousia, personal presence} of the Lord.
Behold, the husbandman
{farmer} waiteth {waits expectantly}
for the precious fruit of the earth,
and hath long patience
{GK=makrothumeo} for it,
until he receive the early and latter rain.
8 Be ye also patient
stablish your hearts:
{Psa 27:14; 37:7; 130:5,6}
for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Believers can stand firm for Christ, though they suffer long, under the persecution of the rich and powerful, because they know that the Lord will return to judge His enemies (v.4-6), and to refresh His people with His Presence. Psa 72:4-8; Hos 6:3; Rom 8:22-25 (where 'hope' means 'expectation')
9 Grudge {murmur, complain} not one against another, brethren,
lest ye be condemned:
behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Believers also need to be long-suffering toward their brethren, not judging one another for petty offenses and minor differences of opinion or practice. The Lord will judge each of His own at His coming.
See Jam 4:11,12 (and the related Book Notes); 1Cor 4:5; Mat 7:1-5
10 Take, my brethren, the prophets,
who have spoken in the name of the Lord,
for an example of suffering affliction,
and of patience
{GK=makrothumeo}. {Mat 5:11,12; 1The 2:13-15}
11 Behold, we count them happy
which endure
{GK=hupomeno, lit., 'abide under' (hardship)}. {Jas 1:12; Psa 94:12; Mat 5:10}
Ye have heard of the patience
{GK=hupomone, endurance} of Job, {Job 1:20-22}
and have seen the end
{GK=telos, goal, purpose} of the Lord; {Job 42:10; 1The 3:13; 1Pet 1:6-7,13}
that the Lord is very pitiful
{ie., full of compassion}, and of tender mercy. {Psa 86:15; Eph 2:4-10}
In the days of their flesh, the Lord's servants will all suffer some degree of toil and weariness, offenses and persecutions. The intensity of one servant's difficulties may differ from that of another. But they share the same confident expectation, knowing that their temporary trials will soon be displaced by everlasting joy at the Lord's return for His own. 2Cor 4:14-18; eg., Rev 2:10,11
V. Exhortations in view of the coming of the Lord. 5:7-20
B. Be Truthful. 5:12
12. But above all things, my brethren, swear not,
neither by heaven, neither by the earth,
neither by any other oath:
but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay;
lest ye fall into condemnation.
As representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Truth personified (Joh 14:6; 1Joh 5:20; Rev 3:14), believers are to live and speak honestly and truthfully, lest they be found guilty of discrediting the Gospel message. Mat 5:34-37; 2Cor 1:17-20
V. Exhortations in view of the coming of the Lord. 5:7-20
C. Be Praying. 5:13-18
13 Is any among you afflicted {suffering hardship}? let him pray. {Psa 34:15}
Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
{Eph 5:19; Col 3:16,17}
In every circumstance of life, the believer belongs to the Lord, and ought to continually acknowledge Him: seeking His grace in difficult times, and praising His name in good times. Rom 14:8; Heb 4:16; 13:15
14 Is any sick {GK=astheneo, lit., 'without strength,' ie., infirm, feeble} among you?
let him call for the elders of the church;
and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick
{GK=kamno, weary one, distressed one},
and the Lord shall raise him up;
and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Note the different words for 'sick' (in v.14,15, above).
The focus of v.14 is on the weakness of the body, while v.15 considers the resulting distress of mind.
let them pray... anointing him with oil {ie., olive oil}...
Anointing with oil is rarely associated with healing (ie., in v.14 and Mark 6:13). The significance may be symbolic of the Lord's blessing (as in Psa 45:7; 92:9,10) or medicinal (eg., Psa 23:4,5; Luk 10:33,34). That "anointing...with oil" is not essential for healing is declared in the next verse:
...the prayer of faith shall save the sick...
Healing will come in answer to "the prayer of faith." Such prayer is voiced with the assurance that the request is according to God's will (cp. Mark 11:24; 1Joh 5:14,15). The prayer is unlikely to be answered, if those who pray lack the assurance of God's mind on the matter (Jam 1:6,7; cp. Acts 9:40; 28:8).
...if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Observe the "if." Physical infirmity may or may not be a punishment for sin (eg., Joh 9:1-3; 1Cor 11:29-32). But where the root cause of the illness is personal sin, forgiveness of sins may be accompanied by bodily healing (eg., Mat 9:2-7; 1Joh 5:16,17).
     Notice that the remainder of this chapter is focused on the need to deal with sin. The prayer of faith for healing (v.14,15) cannot be separated from the need for confession of sin and conversion of the sinner.
16 Confess {openly acknowledge} [your] faults {offenses, trespasses} one to another,
and pray one for another, that ye may be healed
{cured, made whole}.
Before the elders can effectively pray for others (v.14,15), they must confess their own miss-steps among themselves, and support each other in prayer as each seeks to correct personal failures, and as they (together) seek to correct disunity between themselves and within the church. Then...
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much {has great strength}.
With the exception of a prayer of repentance, the prayer of unrighteous men will not be accepted before the Holy God. Isa 59:2; Psa 34:15,16; 145:18,19; 1Joh 3:22
     'Effectual fervent' is one word in the original text {GK=energeo, active, efficient, working}.
"In Jam 5:16 the RV omits the superfluous word 'effectual,' and translates the sentence 'the supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working,' the verb being in the present participial form. Here the meaning may be 'in its inworking,' i.e., in the effect produced in the praying man, bringing him into line with the will of God, as in the case of Elijah." [in quotes, from Vine] cp. Php 2:13 (where 'energeo' is applied in this sense)
17 Elias {Elijah} was a man subject to like passions as we are, {cp. Acts 14:15}
and he prayed earnestly
{lit., prayed with prayer} that it might not rain:
and it rained not on the earth
by the space of three years and six months.
{Luk 4:25}
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain,
and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Elijah was a man, just like us.
James presents him as an example of a righteous man whose prayer was effective.
...he 'prayed with prayer' that it might not rain... and it rained not...
Most translations say that he prayed 'earnestly' or 'fervently.' However, this wording seems to credit the intensity of Elijah's 'passions' (his emotional investment) for the answer to his prayer. No doubt, his praying was intense. Yet, the prophets of Baal prayed much more fervently, but without an answer (1Kin 18:25-29,36-38).
     Elijah prayed to the true and living God, according to His revealed will. As God's prophet, he declared that there would be no rain, and prayed accordingly (1Kin 17:1). When God told him it was time, he prayed for the rains to return (1Kin 18:1,41-45).
     Likewise, we cannot know what or how to pray, apart from the Holy Spirit's intercession {prayer in our behalf}, for He knows both the will of God and the heart of the supplicant. Rom 8:26,27; Eph 6:18 (where 'praying...with...prayer' is 'in the Spirit')
V. Exhortations in view of the coming of the Lord. 5:7-20
D. Be Caring for erring brothers. 5:19,20
19 Brethren, if any of {among} you do err {wander, stray} from the truth,
and one convert him
{turns him back (to the truth)}; {Gal 6:1; Heb 12:12,13; Jude 1:22,23}
20 Let him know, that
he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way
shall save a soul from death,
{Jas 1:15; Prov 10:2; Rom 6:20,21; Joh 5:24}
and shall hide a multitude of sins.
{Psa 32:1; Prov 10:12; 1Pet 4:8}
Through Holy Spirit empowered prayer, faithfulness to God's Word, and righteousness of life, godly elders (and all believers) are to seek the spiritual well-being of 'any among you' {professed believers}, who stray into false doctrine and/or worldly ways, by leading them back to God's Truth. 1Tim 4:16; 2Tim 2:24-26; 3:16,17; Heb 10:24-29

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