This chapter[ 1 ] begins by warnings to rich people. All Christians are told that they must patiently endure. They are not to swear. Singing and prayer are encouraged. Erring brethren are to be restored (see chart OUTLINE OF JAMES 5).
Chart OUTLINE OF JAMES 5
- Warnings to the rich (Jas 5:1-6).
- Patient endurance (Jas 5:7-11).
- Not to swear (Jas 5:12).
- Singing and prayer encouraged (Jas 5:13-18).
- Erring brethren to be restored (Jas 5:19, 20).
COME NOW, YOU RICH!
5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!
Come now [Go now, go to now].[ 2 ]
You rich [ye rich, ye rich men, rich people].[ 3 ] It is hard for people who have great possessions to enter the kingdom of God (see Mt 19:23, 24; 1Ti 6:10). Were some of James' readers not expected to be faithful Christians? He at least addresses worldly, rich people who had, to say the least, failed in their stewardship. Occasionally, they would attend worship (see Jas 2:2). They may have dragged Christians into court (Jas 2:6). By reckless speech, they could have blasphemed the Holy Name (Jas 2:7).
Some think this section was written for the benefit of poor Christians. They may have been oppressed by non-Christian rich men who lived in the community. A parallel method of this kind of writing is seen in the prophets when they addressed enemies for the apparent benefit of Jewish readers (compare Isa 13:6; 14:31).
WEEP AND HOWL!
Weep and howl [weep howling, and cry out]. [ 4 ] In contrast to James' admonition to "lament and mourn" to erring Christians as they again draw near to God (Jas 4:9), "weep and howl" points toward the grievous punishment of the impenitent rich (see Mt 19:24; Mk 10:25; Lu 18:25). In view of the judgment facing the worldly rich,[ 5 ] humble Christians ought never to envy them.
For your miseries [for the miseries, over your miseries, for the distresses].[ 6 ] Of the wicked, Paul wrote, "Destruction and misery are in their ways" (Ro 3:16). The misery[ 7 ] to come upon the worldly rich is the torment of Hades (Lu 16:23).
That are coming upon you! [that is coming, that shall come, upon you].[ 8 ]
5:2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.
Chart RISKY RICHES (A)
- When your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord (De 8:13, 14).
- If riches increase, do not set your heart on them (Ps 62:10).
- He who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished (Pr 28:20).
Chart RISKY RICHES (B)
- It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 19:23).
- Deceitfulness of riches . . . choke the word (Mk 4:19).
- Temptation and a snare; many foolish and harmful lusts (1Ti 6:9).
- Love of money a root of all kinds of evil (1Ti 6:10).
Your riches are corrupted [your riches have rotted, your wealth is become rotten, your wealth has rotted].[ 9 ] Several great and good men in the Bible were wealthy (see chart GOOD RICH MEN). Certainly not every rich person was guilty of the sins enumerated by James. Wealth, in itself, is not sinful. It depends upon its use and one's attitude toward it. Resources of all kinds may be used for doing good, for richness in good works, generosity and sharing (1Ti 6:17, 18). Trust in riches and a coincident life of pleasure go hand in hand (see charts RISKY RICHES A and B).
And your garments.[ 10 ] In ancient eastern lands, fine clothes represented affluence (see Ge 45:22; Jos 7:21; Jg 14:12, 3; 2Ki 5:5, 22, 23; Mt 6:19; Ac 20:33). By the world's standards, people with more than one or two changes of clothes are considered rich. Many American closets are full of expensive garments of various colors and sizes, especially those too small to fit any longer.
Are moth-eaten.[ 11 ] In his misery, Job said, Man decays like a rotten thing, like a garment that is moth-eaten" (Job 13:28). Extra garments stored away deteriorate. This is partly due to moth larvae eating holes in them.
Chart GOOD RICH MEN
- Abram was very rich (Ge 13:2).
- Isaac continued prospering until he became very prosperous (Ge 26:13).
- Jacob became exceedingly prosperous (Ge 30:43).
- Barzillai had provided the king with supplies . . . for he was a very rich man (2Sa 19:32).
- David died in a good old age, full of days and riches and honor (1Ch 29:28).
- Job: 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys (Job 1:3; 42:10).
- Joseph from Arimathea, a rich man (Mt 27:57).
GOLD AND SILVER RUSTED
5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.
Your gold and silver [your gold and your silver].[ 12 ] Gold and silver coins were often hoarded, hidden or buried by the wealthy.
Are corroded [are rusted, tarnished, have rusted, is eaten away, cankered].[ 13 ] One reason gold makes nice jewelry is that it maintains its luster. It does not rust or discolor. Silver, on the other hand, will tarnish. Nevertheless, what man considers "unrustable" will decay through entropy or through the ultimate world-fire.
The Greek word for "corroded" or "rusted" may be loosely translated cankered or tarnished. Riches stored up tend to deteriorate. Some decay. Others change value. The antidote to "riches-rust" is to lay up treasures in heaven. "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mt 6:19-21). Jesus explained to the rich young ruler how to do that. He said, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Mt 19:21). The same advice was given to the disciples (Lu 12:33). Paul echoed it when he said, "Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (1Ti 6:18, 19).
And their corrosion [and their canker, rust, tarnish, and the rust of them].[ 14 ]
Will be a witness against you [shall be for a testimony, will be evidence, shall witness, against you].[ 15 ] Corroded coins, unused for a long time, indicate, but do not prove, sin. God does not want Christians to store up riches but to use them.[ 16 ] It is not just riches, but riches stored up, that witness against a person. The rich man of Luke 12 was a selfish fool because he failed to use his wealth for God. The rich man in Luke 16 had opportunity to do good laid daily at his door but he neglected it.
Chart SCRIPTURAL USES OF MONEY
- Food (De 2:6, 28).
- Water (De 2:6, 28).
- Taxes (Ro 13:6).
- Contribution (1Co 16:1, 2).
- Children (2Co 12:14).
- Sharing (Eph 4:28).
- Covering (implied in 1Ti 6:8).
- Good works (Tit 3:1, 14).
And will eat your flesh [ and shall eat your flesh].[ 17 ]
Like fire [as fire, as it were fire].[ 18 ]
You have heaped up treasure [ye, you, have laid up your treasure, heaped treasure together, stored up these things].[ 19 ] Is it wrong to store up riches? It can be. "There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: riches kept for their owner to his hurt" (Ec 5:13). There is a lesson here for congregations that save up large amounts of money with no intention of using it to help the poor or spread the gospel. The Lord expects churches to use His money for outreach, not save it for themselves.
In the last days [for the, in your, last days].[ 20 ] In verses 7, 8, the "last days" are before "the coming of the Lord." Notice that versions differ. Some have "for" the last days and others have "in" the last days. If the latter is correct, the view is toward AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem and surrounding cities. If "for" is right, then the rich were merely storing up wealth for their retirement.
BACK WAGES CRY OUT!
5:4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
Indeed [behold].[ 21 ]
The wages of the laborers [the hire of the laborers, the wages of your laborers, the wages of the workers].[ 22 ] This gives an insight into the lives of the rich men. They were employers of field laborers. The Law of Moses was clear that wages were to be paid on time. "The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning" (Le 19:13). "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the Lord and it be sin to you" (De 24:14, 15). God is witness against sinners, including "those who exploit wage earners" (Mal 3:5).
Who mowed [who, who have, reaped, reaped down, harvested].[ 23 ]
Your fields.[ 24 ]
Which you kept back by fraud [which is of you kept back by fraud, wrongfully kept back by you, which you withheld].[ 25 ]
Cry out [cry, crieth, crieth out, against you].[ 26 ]
And the cries [the cries, and the outcries].[ 27 ] God hears the cries and sighs of the poor. "Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them" (Ex 2:23-25).
Of the reapers [of them, of those, which, that, reaped, have reaped, of the harvesters].[ 28 ]
Have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth [have entered, have entered into, are entered into, the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth the Lord of Hosts].[ 29 ] However, the Hebrew TSABA host appears hundreds of times in the OT.[ 30 ] Close synonyms of "the Lord of Sabaoth" are "the omnipotent God" and "the Almighty God." Some refer this to the Lord being with the armies of Israel; others to the heavenly angelic host. The term has come to mean "the Lord all Sovereign" or "the Lord, Ruler over all." The Lord all-sovereign hears the cries of the poor. There is also a suggestion of punishment for those who hold back the wages of their employees. The only other NT mention of the Lord of Sabaoth is in the book of Romans. "And as Isaiah said before: `Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have been made like Gomorrah'" (Ro 9:29).
Chart LESSONS TO THE RICH
- Your wealth actually belongs to God (Ex 19:5; 1Ch 29:14; Ps 24:1).
- You are only stewards over it (Lu 19:13; Ro 14:8).
- Riches are to be used, not hoarded (Jas 5:3).
- There is harm in extravagant living (Jas 5:3, 4).
- Do not defraud on wages (Jas 5:4).
LUXURIES OF THE OBNOXIOUS RICH
5:5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.
You have lived on the earth in pleasure [ye, you, have lived delicately, in luxury, luxuriously, in pleasure, on the earth].[ 31 ] Life on the earth is temporal but it is not all there is. The future life may be altogether different insofar as pleasure is concerned. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham is quoted as saying to the rich man in Hades, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented" (Lu 16:25).
Arrogance, selfishness and stinginess often go along with luxurious living. This was true of the Sodomites. "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy" (Eze 16:49). Selfishness
was a characteristic of the rich man of Luke 16. "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day:" (Lu 16:19). He allowed poor Lazarus to eat crumbs that fell from his table while the dogs licked his sores. Living in pleasure can be harmful because pleasures wage war within a person (Jas 4:1, 3). Pleasures and riches cannot satisfy the longings of the human soul. "He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity" (Ec 5:10).
And luxury [and taken your, and in, pleasure, and indulged yourselves, and been wanton, and in self-indulgence].[ 32 ]
You have fattened your hearts [ye, you, have nourished your hearts]. yourselves, ye have nourished your hearts, fattening yourselves like cattle].[ 33 ]
In a day of slaughter [as in a day of slaughter].[ 34 ] In Jeremiah's prayer, reference is made to the wicked who were as unaware of their own doom as sheep being dragged off to the slaughter. "But You O Lord, know me, You have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter!" (Jer 12:3).
THE RICH CONDEMN THE RIGHTEOUS
5:6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.
You have condemned [ye have condemned].[ 35 ]
You have murdered the just [and killed, ye, you, have killed, the righteous one, the righteous man, the innocent].[ 36 ] The "just" reminds one of Christ (see Ac 3:14; 7:52; 1Jo 2:1) but here the term probably denotes any righteous person (see Heb 10:38; 1Pe 4:18). An example was Jezebel's murder of Naboth in order to get his vineyard for King Ahab (see 1Ki 21). Some Christians had been killed by Jews (see Ac 7:58, 59). It pleased them when Herod put to death James the brother of John (Ac 12:2, 3). When saints were executed in the Jewish persecution, Saul of Tarsus cast his vote against them (Ac 26:10). Depriving the poor of wages was almost like first degree murder.
He does not resist you [he doth not resist you].[ 37 ] The poor may not have funds to hire a lawyer to represent them when brought into court. They have little choice but to submit to the charges and pay up if they can.
BE PATIENT UNTIL COMING OF THE LORD
5:7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
Therefore [then].[ 38 ] The unbelieving rich were inclined to persecute the righteous. Even though poor Christians were unable to resist, James urges them to be patient.
Be patient [have patience, be steadfast].[ 39 ] The same Greek word for "be patient" is translated "patient" or "longsuffering" in 2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is extremely patient. Some count it "slowness" but, in actuality, He is giving people additional time to repent. Christians must be patient, not short-tempered. They are not to take revenge (Ro 12:19). They must not be given to doubting (Jas 1:6), double-mindedness (Jas 1:8) or swearing (Jas 5:12).
Brethren [brothers, my brothers].[ 40 ] The previous section of warnings to the rich was not primarily addressed to "brethren" in the church. James now seems to make a transition by addressing "brethren" (see also verses 9, 10, 12, 19).
Until the coming of the Lord [till, unto, the coming of the Lord].[ 41 ] The final coming of Christ will be personal and real. At His coming, there will be a harvest[ 42 ] and the judgment.[ 43 ] His final coming is called His "second" coming. "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" (Heb 9:28). When He comes, "Every eye will see Him" (Re 1:7).
See [behold].[ 44 ]
THE PATIENT FARMER
How the farmer waits [the husbandman, the laborer, waits, waiteth, awaits].[ 45 ] The farmer or husbandman is, figuratively, Jesus. In the Parable of the Tares, He said, "I will say to the reapers . . . " (Mt 13:30). His servants plant and water (1Co 3:6). The angels will reap (Mt 13:39).
For the precious fruit of the earth [for the precious fruit of the soil].[ 46 ] Like a farmer whose crop is valuable to him, the Lord places great worth upon faithful Christians. They are His "precious fruit."
Waiting patiently for it [being patient, having patience, and hath long patience, over it, for it ].[ 47 ] The Lord's patience tolerates tares (Mt 13:29, 30) and gives opportunity for repentance (2Pe 3:9; compare Re 2:21).
Chart EARLY AND LATTER RAINS
- Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil (De 11:14).
- God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter in its season (Jer 5:24).
- He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth (Ho 6:3).
- He will cause the rain to come down for you -- the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month (Joel 2:23).
Until it receives the early and latter rain [until it receive the early and latter, the latter, the late, rains].[ 48 ] In Palestine, grain was generally planted in the fall. The "early rain" came very soon afterward from October through early January. The lighter, "latter rain" fell in March-April. The barley harvest at Bethlehem followed about April or May, right after the latter rains ceased (see Ruth 1:22). Wheat was reaped in June or July (see Ge 30:14).[ 49 ] Fruit was gathered from the trees in August, September, October or sometimes earlier, depending on the variety. Christians, like grain, need time to grow, develop and mature. They do this by study, worship and work.
ESTABLISH YOUR HEARTS
5:8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
You also be patient [be ye also patient, ye also have patience, you are to be patient also].[ 50 ] Impatient Christians tend to give up or drift away from Christ (see Mt 13:21; Heb 2:1). Patient endurance is essential to salvation (see chart PATIENT ENDURANCE).
Chart PATIENT ENDURANCE
- And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved (Mt 10:22; compare Mt 24:13).
- By your patience possess your souls (Lu 21:19).
- Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Re 2:10).
Establish your hearts [stablish, strengthen, your hearts].[ 51 ] Christians are to make their hearts stout and strong, firm and sure. The verb "establish" from STEERIX a support literally means to prop or brace. Christians are, therefore, to prop up their hearts by faith and not let them sag into weary moodiness, weakening uncertainty or eventual unbelief."[ 52 ] Paul prayed that the Lord would cause the Thessalonians to increase and abound in love in order that He might establish their hearts "blameless in holiness before our God" (1Th 3:13). "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:13).
For the coming of the Lord is at hand [because the coming of the Lord is drawn nigh, draweth nigh, is near].[ 53 ] If James intended the "coming of the Lord" to be the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, it was literally drawing near. If it is the second coming of Christ, it is presented in a figurative sense. The word PAROUSIA coming may also mean "presence." If that is the meaning here, we are reminded that Christ is near Christians at all times (Mt 28:20).
DO NOT COMPLAIN
5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
Do not grumble [grudge not, murmur not, complain not, do not complain].[ 54 ] Christians ought to be content with their wages (Lu 3:14), their circumstances (Php 4:11) and with their money (Heb 13:5). They are not to become irritated or exasperated with each other so as to whine, sigh, complain or groan. They must not improperly blame each other or "speak evil of a brother" (Jas 4:11).
Against one another [one against another].
Brethren [brothers, my brothers][ 55 ] (see verses 7, 10, 12, 19).
Lest you be condemned [that ye, you, be not judged].[ 56 ] Is it possible that the "little sin" of complaining about others will lead to eternal condemnation (see Mt 7:1)? James affirms that it is.
Behold.[ 57 ]
The Judge is standing at the door [behold the Judge, stands, standeth, before the door, the doors].[ 58 ] "At the door" sometimes means soon approaching (see Mt 24:33; Mk 13:29). Jesus is near as He knocks at the heart's door (see Re 3:20). He is also near as Judge. The judgment is as certain as if the Judge were standing right outside.[ 59 ] He is able to enter suddenly and unexpectedly to those ready or not.
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God" (1Co 4:5).
ENDURANCE OF THE PROPHETS
5:10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.
My brethren [brethren]. Brethren are addressed once more (see also Jas 4:11; 5:7, 9, 12, 19).
Take the prophets [accept the prophets].[ 60 ] "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt 5:12). Apparently, Job was one of the prophets (see verse 11; chart PROPHETS PERSECUTED).
Who spoke in the name of the Lord [who spake in the name of the Lord, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, who spoke in the name of the Lord].[ 61 ]
As an example [for an example, as an example].[ 62 ] The OT prophets left a pattern for suffering because of righteousness.
Of suffering and patience [of suffering and of patience, of suffering and having patience, of suffering affliction, and of patience, steadfastness in ill treatment endured].[ 63 ] The meaning is made clear by this rendering: "Brethren, for the proper way to endure affliction, follow the example of the prophets."[ 64 ]
Chart PROPHETS PERSECUTED
- Elijah persecuted by Jezebel (1Ki 19:2).
- Micaiah struck (1Ki 22:24); imprisoned with bread and water by Ahab (1Ki 22:27).
- Hanani the seer imprisoned by Asa (2Ch 16:10).
- Zechariah, son of Jehoida, stoned in the court of the temple at the command of Joash (2Ch 24:21).
- Jeremiah in stocks (Jer 20:2); imprisoned (Jer 32:2); in dungeon (Jer 37:16); in muddy cistern (Jer 38:6).
- Daniel cast into lions' den (Da 6:16).
- John the Baptist imprisoned, beheaded (Mt 14:3, 10; Mk 6:17, 27).
THE ENDURANCE OF JOB
5:11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord -- that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
Indeed [behold, see how].[ 65 ]
Chart BLESSED ENDURANCE
- And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved Mt 10:22; Mk 13:13).
- We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (Ac 14:22).
- And let us not grow weary while doing good (Ga 6:9).
- If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons (Heb 12:7).
- Blessed is the man who endures temptation (Jas 1:12).
- For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully (1Pe 2:19).
We count them blessed [we count them happy, those blessed, we call them blessed, those happy].[ 66 ] Christians count as blessed saints who endure and remain faithful to the end of life.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 5:10).
"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled" (1Pe 3:14; see chart BLESSED ENDURANCE).
Who endure [which endure, that endured, who endured, who have endured, who were steadfast].[ 67 ] The Holy Spirit chose Job for a notable example of endurance. For an additional list of those who endured by faith, see Hebrews 11.
You have heard of the perseverance of Job [ye, you, have heard of the patience, the endurance, the steadfastness, of Job].[ 68 ] Abraham, the great example of faith, was justified by works (Jas 2:21). Job is the archetype of patience (Jas 5:11). Elijah is cited as an outstanding man of prayer (Jas 5:17, 18).
Satan took away Job's livestock, his servants and his children. He covered his body with boils. "In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong" (Job 1:22). It did not help when his wife said, "Curse God and die!" He said to her, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:9, 10). He looked toward heaven for his vindication. He believed he would see his Advocate in the resurrection, if not before. He said, "Surely even now my witness is in heaven, and my evidence is on high" (Job 16:19). He further expressed his confidence when he said, "Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another" (Job 19:27).
And seen the end intended by the Lord [and have seen, and you have seen, the purpose, the end, of the Lord].[ 69 ] Job's friends turned out to be critics. Nevertheless he prayed for them. Then the Lord restored his health and wealth. He also gave him additional offspring. "And the Lord restored Job's losses, when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10). Later, God recognized him as one of three who were particularly righteous, along with Noah and Daniel (Eze 14:14, 20).
That the Lord is very compassionate [for, how, how that, the Lord, is compassionate, is very pitiful, is full of pity, is full of compassion, is full of tender compassion].[ 70 ] "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15).
And merciful [and pitiful, and mercy, and of tender mercy].[ 71 ] After Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the second issue of commandments on stone, he later wrote of an event on that mountain. "And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, `The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth" (Ex 34:6).
Chart OATHS PERMITTED IN OT
- Then an oath of the Lord shall be made between them both (Ex 22:11).
- And the priest shall put her under oath (Nu 5:19).
- And shall take oaths in His name (De 6:13).
- The rulers of the congregation swore to [the Gibeonites] (Jos 9:15).
- When anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple, then hear in heaven, and act, and judge Your servants (1Ki 8:31, 32).
- And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, "As the Lord lives" (Jer 12:16).
DO NOT SWEAR
5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes," be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment.
Chart EXAMPLES OF OT SWEARING
- Isaac and Abimelech exchanged oaths (Ge 26:31).
- Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac (Ge 31:53).
- Jacob said to Joseph, "Swear to me." And he swore to him (Ge 47:31).
- Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here" (Ge 50:25).
- King Zedekiah swore secretly to Jeremiah, saying, "As the Lord lives, who made our very souls, I will not put you to death . . . " (Jer 38:16).
But above all [but before, but above, but to, all things].[ 72 ] "Above all" gives importance to what James is about to say about swearing. Note some other passages that direct thought to the significance of certain points. "EN PASIN above all, taking up the shield of faith" (Eph 6:16). "And EPI PASIN above all these things put on love" (Col 3:14). "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper PERI PANTOON in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers" (3Jo 2).
My brethren [my brothers].[ 73 ] James often addresses Christians as his brethren (see Jas 5:7, 9, 10, 19). The sin of swearing was a problem or a potential problem among members of the Lord's church.
Do not swear [swear not].[ 74 ] Foul language of all kinds is unbecoming to a Christian besides being just plain wrong (Col 4:6). However, the present verse deals with making oaths. Especially mentioned are those that do not invoke the name of God.
TAKING THE LORD'S NAME IN VAIN
It is a sin to speak or write the name of God, Christ or the Holy Spirit in a light and vain way. Tricky words or phrases sometimes used to get around the literal name of God are also wrong (see note below on Or with any other oath). Fragmented or "minced" profanity employing words like "Jove," "Gosh," "Golly," "Gol darn," "Gad," "Egad," "Gee whiz," "Jeminy whiskers" and several others had their origin in, or mimic, the name of God or Jesus. Even "mild" oaths like "Good Grief" and "Goodness Gracious" are indirectly related to the name of God. "Goodness knows" presumably means "God knows." The use of this kind of language dishonors deity and is sinful. One of the Ten Commandments is, "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,[ 75 ] for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (De 5:11; see charts USING THE NAME OF GOD A and B).[ 76 ]
Either by heaven [neither by heaven].[ 77 ] "Thus says the Lord: `Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool" (Isa 66:1). "And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it" (Mt 23:22). In a parallel passage, heaven is called "the throne of God" (Mt 5:34),
Or by earth [nor by the earth, neither by the earth, or earth].[ 78 ] The earth is God's footstool (see Isa 66:1).
Or with any other oath [nor by any other oath, neither by any other oath, or any other oath]].[ 79 ] "But I say to you, do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black" (Mt 5:34-36). Using God's name in a vain or flippant manner in everyday swearing is profanity.
Chart USING THE NAME OF GOD (A)
- He who swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth (Isa 65:16).
- And the high priest said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself" (Mt 26:63 NASB; compare Mk 14:62).
- For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son (Ro 1:9).
Chart USING THE NAME OF GOD (B)
- I call God as witness against my soul (2Co 1:23)
- Before God, I do not lie (Ga 1:20).
- For God is my witness (Php 1:8)
- Because He [God] could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself (Heb 6:13).
But let your "Yes," be "Yes" [but yet your yea be yea].[ 80 ] Whatever one says should always be the truth. An oath to enforce it is not necessary. "But let your statement be, `Yes, yes' or `No, no'; and anything beyond these is of evil" (Mt 5:37). Because of Scriptures describing righteous people using the name of God or calling on Him as a witness, some have recommended that Christians go ahead and swear in court. Even if one believes it is not a sin to swear in court, he must realize that the basic tenor of James' teaching is that Christians are to avoid swearing when at all possible. It is my recommendation that in our civil courts one should take advantage of the privilege to "affirm" instead of to swear.
And your "No," "No" [and your nay, nay, and your no be no].[ 81 ] A Christian's word is his bond. His integrity guarantees his truthfulness. He should be of such holy character that others would never expect him to lie.
Lest you fall into judgment [that, so that, ye fall not, you may not fall, lest ye fall, do not fall, under, into, judgment, condemnation].[ 82 ] Light and vain use of the tongue brings one under God's judgment (see Mt 12:37).
Chart SINS OF THE TONGUE
- Coarse jesting.
- Ungraceful speech.
- Unkind words.
PRAYING AND SINGING
5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
Is anyone among you suffering? [Does anyone among you suffer evil, is any among you afflicted?].[ 83 ] The word "suffering" is broad enough to include all kinds of trouble or affliction. Instead of blaming God for it, one should pray. God made a promise to His suffering saints. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (Ps 50:15).
Let him pray [he is to pray].[ 84 ]
Chart ANSWERED PRAYERS
- Jacob: "I will not let you go unless you bless me" (Ge 32:26).
- Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom (Lu 23:42).
- And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do (Joh 14:13).
- And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken (Ac 4:31).
Is anyone cheerful? [Is any merry, happy?].[ 85 ] The word "cheerful" means to be in good spirits or in a happy mood. It does not include the extreme of being frivolous or airy. Cheerful Christians enjoy singing, praying, teaching and serving. "What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding" (1Co 14:15). "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col 3:16).
Let him sing psalms [he is to sing praise, praises].[ 86 ] Paul quotes the prophet David who foretells that Christ would sing. "For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name" (Ro 15:9; compare Ps 18:49). Christians would do well to emulate His example.
CALLING ELDERS OF THE CHURCH
5:14, 15 Is anyone among you sick? 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 will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Is anyone among you sick? [Is any sick, ill, among you?].[ 87 ] "Sick" alludes to physical disease.
Let him call for the elders of the church [let him call to him, he is to call, the elders of the assembly].[ 88 ] Every fully developed congregation has qualified elders. If qualified men who are willing to serve are not available, it is advisable not to appoint anyone for the time being. Note the word "elders" is in the plural number. No congregation described in the NT had only one elder or pastor over it. When James wrote, spiritual gifts were still present in the churches (see 1Co 12:1-12). Some members possessed gifts of miraculous healing and the gift of faith (see 1Co 12:9; 13:2). Elders of the church upon whom the apostles laid hands possessed various gifts (Eph 4:11; compare Ac 8:18; 1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6). No doubt, many of the elders had received gifts of healing.
And let them pray over him [and they will pray over him].[ 89 ] Elders were to pray over the sick in the sense of "on behalf of," not necessarily bending over them physically such as a doctor might bend over a patient.
ANOINTING WITH OIL
Anointing him with oil.[ 90 ] Oil and wine were used by the good Samaritan who took care of the injured Jew (Lu 10:34). This was a medicinal use of oil. On the limited commission, the disciples "cast out many demons and anointed with oil[ 91 ] many who were sick and healed them" (Mk 6:13). Without a doubt, this was miraculous. The oil was used as a token of God's healing power.[ 92 ]
In the name of the Lord.[ 93 ] The blessings of the Lord were to be invoked along with the anointing with oil.
PRAYER WILL RESTORE SICK
And the prayer of faith [and the prayer of the faith].[ 94 ] It was the prayer offered in faith, not the oil, that healed the sick person.
Will save the sick [shall save, shall heal, him that is sick, the sick man].[ 95 ] The sick person would be restored to health. Keep in mind that this Scripture does not cancel man's eventual appointment with death (see Heb 9:27).[ 96 ]
And the Lord will raise him up [and the Lord shall raise him up].[ 97 ] All healing is from the Lord. In fact, every good gift and perfect gift comes from Him (Jas 1:17).
And if he has committed sins [and if he have, and if he be one who has, committed sins].[ 98 ] The sick man may have committed sins. If so, the elders should pray then and there for his forgiveness. There is no requirement to wait until the church assembles for a public prayer to be offered on his behalf (see following note).
He will be forgiven [it, they, shall be forgiven him]. [ 99 ] Erring Christians are commanded to repent and pray (Ac 8:22) as well as to confess their sins (1Jo 1:9).
5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
[Therefore].[ 100 ]
Confess.[ 101 ] The sick person under conviction is to openly acknowledge his sins to the elders who pray for him. The language seems to become general, not limited to the sick and the elders. Confession is to be made "to one another."
Your trespasses to one another [your sins, your offenses, your faults one to another].[ 102 ] Some have argued that one is not to confess sins, only "faults" (KJV). However, a careful study will reveal that the word James uses is HAMARTIAS sins. When John the Baptist was baptizing, people confessed their sins (Mt 3:6). Under the gospel of Christ, there is no command for the alien sinner to confess his sins. Rather, he is to confess his faith in Christ as Lord (Ro 10:9, 10). Erring Christians, however, are to repent of their sins and confess them one to another and to God (see 1Jo 1:9).
PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
And pray for one another [and pray one for another].[ 103 ] Christians are to pray for each other for the forgiveness available from heaven's throne. However, to show that prayer is not limited to asking forgiveness, James cites the example of Elijah. The example of Elijah (verses 17, 18). A prayer for rain is definitely scriptural. Christians may pray for anything spiritual or temporal that is in accordance with the will of God.
That you may be healed [that ye, you, may be, might be, healed, restored].[ 104 ] Miraculous cures in the first century were often, if not altogether, used to confirm the word of God. I am certain that miracles performed by gifted men to confirm the word have ceased. Nevertheless, Christians should pray for the sick. Many have witnessed healing as an answer to prayer. Because, most generally, God uses natural means to cure the sick, some pray that He will bless "the means being used." It is not wise to specify to the all-knowing God the "means" He must use. He may have in mind some other means to heal the sick than by medicines currently prescribed. Again, He may not choose to heal at all (see Heb 9:27). It is my humble opinion that some cases of healing today may be miraculous. At least, to me they seem to defy the "laws of nature." The blanket statement that "miracles have ceased" may go too far. If all miracles have ceased, would that not make the resurrection impossible?
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much [the prayer, the fervent prayer, the effectual fervent prayer, the supplication, the fervent supplication, of a, the, righteous man, person, availeth much, has great, much, power, in its working, effects, there is much strength].[ 105 ] It is important to be righteous and for the righteous to keep on praying.
Chart PRAYERS TO BE ANSWERED
- And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (Mt 21:22).
- If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (Joh 15:7).
- The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (Jas 5:16).
ELIJAH'S PRAYER FOR A DROUGHT
5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
Elijah [Elias].[ 106 ]
Was a man.[ 107 ] The word "man" in Greek is generic. The point is that Elijah was merely a human being.
With a nature like ours [of like nature, with emotions, of like passions, subject to like passions, as we are, with us, to us, like ours, with ourselves].[ 108 ] Elijah had troubles heartaches, temptations and trials, sorrows and joys, like the rest of mankind.
And he prayed earnestly [and he prayed, and he prayed with prayer, fervently].[ 109 ] Elijah was a very sincere and dedicated man. He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life" (1Ki 19:10).
That it would not rain [that it not rain, that it might not rain, that it should not rain].[ 110 ]
And it did not rain on the land [and it rained not, on, upon, the earth].[ 111 ] The "earth" may or may not mean the entire globe (compare the usage in Lu 2:1).
For three years and six months [for, by the space of, three years and a half].[ 112 ] The duration of the drought is confirmed by Jesus. "But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land" (Lu 4:25; compare 1Ki 17:1; 18:1).
ELIJAH'S PRAYER FOR RAIN
5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
And he prayed again [then he prayed again].[ 113 ]
And the heaven gave rain.[ 114 ] Down came the rain (see 1Ki 18:41-45).
And the earth produced its fruit [and the earth, the land, brought forth her fruit, caused its fruit to spring forth].[ 115 ] The Holy Spirit is teaching through the words of James that Christians should be seriously and earnestly in frequent contact with the Heavenly Father by prayer, with the expectation that He will respond to their needs according to His will.
RESTORING A SINNER TO CHRIST
5:19, 20 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
Brethren [my brethren].[ 116 ] James addresses Christians, members of the Lord's church, as his brethren in Christ (see also verses 7, 9, 10, 12).
If anyone among you [if any among, of, you].[ 117 ] What James is about to say about straying from the truth could happen to any Christian. None should think himself above it or an exception to the rule.
Wanders from the truth [wander, err, do err from the truth].[ 118 ] One may stray from the truth in worship, doctrine or morals. Straying from the truth is sin (implied in verse 20).
Chart THE TRUTH
- Made free by it Joh 8:31, 32).
- Sanctified by it (Joh 17:17).
- Saved by it (1Co 15:1-3).
- Brought forth by it (Jas 1:18).
- Souls purified in obedience to it (1Pe 1:22, 23).
And someone turns him back [and one, convert him, bring, brings, him back].[ 119 ]
Let him know [be sure of this, remember this].[ 120 ]
That he who turns a sinner [that whoever, one who, he which, that, who, converts, converteth, brings back, a sinner].[ 121 ]
- Fraud, deception (Mt 27:64).
- Morals (Ro 1:27; 2Pe 2:18; Jude 11).
- Doctrine (2Pe 3:17); 1Jo 4:6).
From the error of his way [from the error of his way].[ 122 ] Error is often brought about by the deception of immoral "friends," false religious teachers, unbelieving professors and ungodly entertainment.
Chart COVERING SINS
- Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Ps 32:1).
- You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin (Ps 85:2).
- Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins (Pr 10:12).
- And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins (1Pe 4:8).
Will save a soul from death [saves, shall save, a soul, his soul, from death].[ 123 ] The person who is brought back from error is saved from spiritual death.
And cover a multitude of sins [and shall, will, cover, hide, a multitude of sins].[ 124 ] The sins of the person restored are covered. That is, they are forgiven by God (see chart COVERING SINS). With this powerful statement about restoration and covering sin, with no formal salutation or closing remarks, James ends his epistle. But then, several other books end without greetings (compare the endings of Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Acts and several other books).
[ 1 ]Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Alternate phrases in brackets are from ASV, Darby, English Study Bible (ESB), KJV and RSV and, occasionally, still another version. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft method.
[ 2 ]AGE NUN, come now (Marshall 905); the Greek could be translated either "go" or "come" (Roberts 175); see note on Jas 4:13).
[ 3 ]HOI PLOUSIOI, the rich men (Marshall 905); an adjective, "ye rich" (Vine 966); vocative case, similar to our nominative of address (Roberts 181).
[ 4 ]KLAUSATE OLOLUZONTES, weep ye crying aloud (Marshall 905); literally, weep, howling. The latter is a descriptive word, ol-ol-uz-o (Vincent 1.759); used of any loud expression of grief, especially in mourning for the dead . . . in exhortations; [howl] is an onomatopoeic verb (expressing its significance in its sound), cry aloud . . . was primarily used of crying aloud to the gods; it is found in James 5:1 in an exhortation to the godless rich (Vine 568, 1218); [howl] means to shriek (Roberts 182).
[ 5 ]Some understand the coming trouble to be the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (see Josephus Wars 5.10.3).
[ 6 ]EPI TAIS TALAIPOORIAIS HUMOON, over the hardships of you (Marshall 905); hardship, suffering, distress [akin to TALAIPOROS wretched, Ro 7:24; Re 3:17], as a concrete noun "miseries" (Vine 749).
[ 7 ]Some associate "miseries" to the destruction of Jerusalem and surrounding towns in AD 70.
[ 8 ]TAIS EPERCHOMENAIS, coming upon (Marshall 905); present participle, that are coming (Vincent 1.759); coming or going upon [EPI upon], (Vine 195).
[ 9 ]HO PLOUTOS HUMOON SESEEPEN, the riches of you have become corrupted (Marshall 905); signifies to make corrupt, to destroy; in the passive voice with middle sense, to become corrupt or rotten, to perish, said of riches (Vine 235); perfect tense denoting the present state resultant upon a past action (Machen 451).
[ 10 ]KAI TA HIMATIA HUMOON, and the garments of you (Marshall 905); the usual word for "garment" (Vine 471).
[ 11 ]SEETOBROOTA GEGONEN, moth-eaten have become (Marshall 905); literally, have become moth-eaten (Vincent 1.759); [from SEES a moth, BIBROOSKOO to eat], moth-eaten (Vine 758); perfect tense denoting the present state resultant upon a past action [garments had been moth-eaten for some time] (Machen 451).
[ 12 ]HO CHRUSOS HUMOON KAI HO ARGUROS, the gold of you and the silver (Marshall 905); perhaps both [gold] coin and ornaments; [silver is] akin to ARGOS shining, denotes silver (Vine 493, 1044).
[ 13 ]KATIOOTAI, has become rusted over (Marshall 905); [from IOS rust]; the preposition KATA indicates thoroughness, completely rusted (Vincent 1.759); an intensive form of IOO to poison [akin to IOS poison, rust], strengthened by KATA down, to rust over, and in the passive voice, to become rusted over (Vine 982); perfect tense denoting the present state resultant upon a past action [gold and silver had been "rusted" for some time] (Machen 451).
[ 14 ]KAI HO IOS AUTOON, and the poison of them (Marshall 905); poison, denotes rust in James 5:3 (Vine 982).
[ 15 ]EIS MARTURION HUMIN ESTAI, for a testimony to (against) you will be (Marshall 905); testimony or witness as borne, a declaration of facts (Vine 1237).
[ 16 ]There is an exception to this in that parents are to "lay up" for their children (2Co 12:14).
[ 17 ]KAI PHAGETAI TAS SARKAS HUMOON, and will eat the fleshes of you (Marshall 905); plural: the fleshy parts of the body (Vincent 1.759); eat, devour, consume (Vine 345).
[ 18 ]HOOS PUR, as fire; or, will eat your flesh, since you have stored up fire (Marshall 906); fire; as illustrative of retributive judgment upon the luxurious and tyrannical rich (Vine 432).
[ 19 ]ETHEESAURISATE, ye treasured (Marshall 906); laid up, stored up [akin to THESAUROS a treasury, a storehouse, a treasure], is used of laying up treasures in the last days (Vine 650).
[ 20 ]EN ESCHATAIS HEEMERAIS, in the last days (Marshall 906); refers to both the period preceding the Roman overthrow of the city and the land in AD 70, and to the closing part of the age in consummating acts of Gentile persecution including "the time of Jacob's trouble" [compare verses 7, 8] (Vine 641).
[ 21 ]IDIOU, behold[,] (Marshall 906); imperative mood, middle voice, of EIDON to see, calling attention to what may be seen or heard or mentally apprehended in any way; regularly rendered "behold" (Vine 106).
[ 22 ]HO MISTHOS TOON ERGATOON, the wages of the workmen (Marshall 906); wages, hire; [akin to ERGAZOMAI to work and ERGON work], field-laborers, husbandmen (Vine 551, 634).
[ 23 ]TOON AMEESANTOON, having reaped (Marshall 906); primary meaning is to reap corn; also in classical Greek of mowing down in battle. The secondary, which some mistake for the primary sense, is to gather, as for harvest (Vincent 1.759, 760); mowed; the cognate words seem to show the sense of cutting or mowing was original, and that of gathering-in secondary [Liddell and Scott, Lexicon] (Vine 762).
[ 24 ]TAS CHOORAS HUMOON, the lands of you (Marshall 906); the more general word, place, for AGROS, the ordinary word for a field; though the usage is warranted by classical Greek . . . implies a larger tract than AGROS, as is evident in all NT passages cited (Vincent 1.760); spaces, places, then lands, countries, regions, translated "fields" (Vine 422); see Lu 12:16; Joh 4:35.
[ 25 ]HO APHUSTEREEMENOS APH' HUMOON, being kept back from (by) (Marshall 906).
[ 26 ]KRAZEI, cries (Marshall 906); an inarticulate cry (Vincent 1.760); [akin to KRAUGEE clamor], an onomatopoeic word, used especially of the cry of the raven; then of any articulate cries, from fear, pain, etc. . . in James 5:4, metaphorically, of hire kept back by fraud (Vine 251); compare Ge 4:10).
[ 27 ]KAI HAI BOAI, and the cries (Marshall 906); especially cries for help, an onomatopoeic word [compare English boo] (Vine 251).
[ 28 ]TOON THERISANTOON, of the [ones] having reaped (Marshall 906); reaping [akin to THEROS summer, harvest], used literally (Vine 923).
[ 29 ]EIS TA OOTA KURIOU SABAOOTH EISELEELUTHAN, into the ears of [the] Lord of hosts have entered (Marshall 906); Lord of hosts (Vincent 1.760); used with EISERCHOMAI, to enter into [Sabaoth] is the transliteration of a Hebrew word which denotes hosts or armies. While the word "hosts" probably had special reference to angels, the title "the Lord of hosts" became used to designate Him as the One who is supreme over all the innumerable hosts of spiritual agencies, or of what are described as "the armies of heaven." Eventually it was used as equivalent to "the Lord all-sovereign" (Vine 340, 983); the Lord of the armies (Thayer 564); Yahweh or Lord of the Armies, Lord of Hosts (Arndt 738); an appellation of the Lord as Ruler over all (Young 828).
[ 30 ]According to Young, the Hebrew TSABA host appears in Scripture 498 times. In the KJV, it is translated "host" 394 times and "army" 29 times.
[ 31 ]ETRUPHEESATE EPI TEES GEES, ye lived daintily on the earth (Marshall 906); see note on 2Pe 2:13 on the kindred noun TRUPHEE riot or revel (Vincent 1.760); TRUPHEE=food, nourishment (Thayer 631); TRUPHEE=indulgence, revelling . . . in a good sense enjoyment, joy, delight (Arndt 828).
[ 32 ]KAI ESPATALEESATE, and lived riotously (Marshall 906); luxurious or prodigal living (Vincent 1.760).
[ 33 ]ETHREPSATE TAS KARDIAS HUMOON, ye nourished the hearts of you (Marshall 906); reared, fed, nourished [of luxurious living] (Vine 790).
[ 34 ][HOS] EN HEEMERA SPHAGEES, in a day of slaughter (Marshall 906); all the best texts reject HOS as. The meaning of the passage is disputed. Some find the key to it in the words last days (verse 3). The phrase day of slaughter is used for a day of judgment, Jeremiah 12:3; 25:34 [Septuagint] (Vincent 1.760); there is an allusion to Jeremiah 12:3, the luxurious rich, getting wealth by injustice, spending it on their pleasures, are "fattening themselves like sheep unconscious of their doom" (Vine 1052).
[ 35 ]KATEDIKASATE, ye condemned (Marshall 906); signifies to exercise right or law against anyone; hence, to pronounce judgment, to condemn [KATA down, or against, DIKEE justice] (Vine 214).
[ 36 ]EPHONEUSATE TON DIKAION, ye murdered the righteous man (Marshall 906); murdered [akin to PHONEUS a murderer], killed, slew (Vine 620).
[ 37 ]OUK ANTITASSETAI HUMIN, not he resists you (Marshall 906); negatively, of leaving persistent evildoers to pursue their self-determined course, with eventual retribution (Vine 958).
[ 38 ]OUN, therefore (Marshall 906); since things are so. Referring to the condition of things described in the previous passage (Vincent 1.761).
[ 39 ]MAKROTHUMEESATE, be ye longsuffering (Marshall 906); [from MAKROS long, THUMOS soul or spirit], but with the sense of strong passion, stronger even that ORGEE anger . . . a patient holding out under trial; a long-protracted restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially the passion of anger (Vincent 1.760, 761); aorist [constative], emphasizing the command categorically until the event referred to, without reference to the interval; be "long-tempered" [as opposed to being "quick-tempered"] (Roberts 192).
[ 40 ]ADELPHOI, brothers (Marshall 906); in contrast with the rich just addressed (Vincent 1.761).
[ 41 ]HEOOS TEES PAROUSIAS TOU KURIOU, until the presence of the Lord (Marshall 906); literally, a presence [PARA, with, OUSIA being, from EIMI to be], denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with. . . . When used of the return of Christ, at the Rapture of the Church, it signifies, not merely His momentary coming for His saints, but His presence with them from that moment until His revelation and manifestation to the world. In some passages the word gives prominence to the beginning of that period, the course of the period being implied, 1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:15; 5:23; 2Th 2:1; Jas 5:7, 8; 2Pe 3:4 (Vine 201).
[ 42 ]"The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil" (compare Mt 13:39).
[ 43 ]Matthew 25:31, 32.
[ 44 ]IDOU, behold[,] (Marshall 906); imperative mood, middle voice, of EIDON to see, calling attention to what may be seen or heard or mentally apprehended in any way; regularly rendered "behold" (Vine 106).
[ 45 ]HO GEOORGOS EKDECHETAI, the farmer awaits (Marshall 906); with expectation (Vincent 1.761).
[ 46 ]TON TIMION KARPON TEES GEES, the precious fruit of the earth (Marshall 906); precious (Vine 875).
[ 47 ]MAKROTHUMOON EP' AUTOO, being longsuffering over it (Marshall 906); being patient, hath long patience (Vine 840).
[ 48 ][HEOOS LABEE] HUETON PROIMON KAI OPSIMON, until he receives early and latter [rain] (Marshall 906); both adjectives only here in NT. HUETON rain is rejected by all the best texts. The early rain fell in October, November and December and extended into January and February. These rains do not come suddenly, but by degrees, so that the farmer can sow his wheat or barley . . . latter rains, which are much lighter, fall in March and April (Vincent 1.762); PROOIMOS or PROIMOS, a longer and later form of PROIOS, pertaining to the morning, is formed from PROO before; OPSIMOS [is] akin to OPSE and OPSIOS, denotes late, or latter, and is used of "the latter rain" [the most authentic manuscripts omit HUETOS rain; some have KARPOS fruit]; this rain falls in March and April, just before the harvest, in contrast to the early rain, in October; [HUETON is] [from HUOO to rain], rain, used especially, but not entirely, of showers (Vine 341, 642, 917).
[ 49 ]Rain during the harvest was a disaster (see 1Sa 12:16-18).
[ 50 ]MAKROTHUMEESATE KAI HUMEIS, be longsuffering also ye (Marshall 906); be longsuffering (Vine 840).
[ 51 ]STEERIXATE TAS KARDIAS HUMOON, establish the hearts of you (Marshall 906); fix, make fast, set [from STEERIX a prop], used of establishing or stablishing [that is, the confirmation]; James exhorts Christians to "stablish" their hearts (Vine 371); strengthen, make firm . . . render constant, confirm, one's mind (Thayer 588).
[ 52 ]Adapted from Woods 277.
[ 53 ]HOTI HEE PAROUSIA TOU KURIOU EENGIKEN, because the presence of the Lord has drawn near (Marshall 906); literally, a presence [PARA, with, OUSIA being, from EIMI to be], denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with. . . . When used of the return of Christ, at the Rapture of the Church, it signifies, not merely His momentary coming for His saints, but His presence with them from that moment until His revelation and manifestation to the world. In some passages the word gives prominence to the beginning of that period, the course of the period being implied, 1Co 15:23; 1Th 4:15; 5:23; 2Th 2:1; Jas 5:7, 8; 2Pe 3:4; [EENGIKEN means is] near, nigh, frequently rendered [is] "at hand" (Vine 201, 520).
[ 54 ]MEE STENAZETE, not murmur ye (Marshall 906); murmur not; the verb means to sigh or groan (Vincent 1.762); groan [of an inward, unexpressed feeling of sorrow], "murmur" (Vine 508, 509).
[ 55 ]ADELPHOI, brothers (Marshall 906).
[ 56 ]HINA MEE KRITHEETE, lest ye be judged (Marshall 906).
[ 57 ]IDOU, behold[,] (Marshall 906); imperative mood, middle voice, of EIDON to see, calling attention to what may be seen or heard or mentally apprehended in any way; regularly rendered "behold" (Vine 106).
[ 58 ]HO KRITEES PRO TOON THUROON HESTEEKEN, the judge before the doors stands (Marshall 906): in the act of entering (Vincent 1.762); [the] judge [from KRINOO to separate, select, choose, judge, pronounce judgment], of Christ (Vine 610); literally, "standing before the doors," perfect active indicative, and thus ready to execute sentence (Woods 280).
[ 59 ]One reason we know that it did not mean "soon approaching" is that almost 2,000 years have passed since the inspired statement was made.
[ 60 ]LABETE TOUS PROPHEETAS, take ye the prophets (Marshall 906); those who speak forth or openly, proclaimers of a divine message. . . in general, the prophet was one whom the Spirit of God rested [Nu 11:17-29], one, to whom and through whom God speaks [Nu 12:2; Am 3:7, 8] (Vine 894).
[ 61 ]HOI ELALEESAN EN TOO ONOMATI KURIOU, who spoke in the name of [the] Lord (Marshall 906).
[ 62 ]HUPODEIGMA, an example (Marshall 906); literally, that which is shown [from HUPO under, DEIKNUMI to show], hence, an example . . . for imitation (Vine 364).
[ 63 ]TES KAKOPATHEIAS KAI TEES MAKROTHUMIAS, of suffering ill and of longsuffering (Marshall 906); the word does not mean the endurance of affliction, but affliction itself (Vincent 1.762); [from KAKOS evil, PASCHOO to suffer], suffering, affliction [and] long-suffering (Vine 840).
[ 64 ]Woods 281.
[ 65 ]IDOU, behold (Marshall 906); imperative mood, middle voice, of EIDON to see, calling attention to what may be seen or heard or mentally apprehended in any way; regularly rendered "behold" (Vine 106).
[ 66 ]MAKARIZOMEN, we count blessed (Marshall 906); [from a root MAK -- , meaning large, lengthy, found also in MAKROS long, MEEKOS length], hence denotes to pronounce happy, blessed, Luke 1:48 and Jas 5:11 (Vine 125); present active indicative of MAKARIZOO, from MAKARIOS "happy" (Woods 283).
[ 67 ]TOUS HUPOMEINANTAS, the [ones] enduring (Marshall 906, 907); present participle. But the later texts read HUPOMEINANTAS, the aorist participle, which endured; referring to the prophets in past ages (Vincent 1.762); [a strengthened form of MENOO to abide], denotes to abide under, to bear up courageously [under suffering] (Vine 359).
[ 68 ]TEEN HUPOMONEEN 'IOOB EEKOUSATE, the endurance of Job ye hears [of] (Marshall 907); patience, literally, a remaining under [akin to HUPOMENOO to abide under, to bear up courageously (under suffering)] (Vine 359, 360, 839).
[ 69 ]KAI TO TELOS KURIOU, and the end of [the] Lord ye saw (Marshall 907); a peculiar expression. The happy conclusion to which God brought Job's trials (Vincent 1.762); the final issue or result of a state or process (Vine 356); how He blessed Job after all his trials and afflictions (Littrell).
[ 70 ]HOTI POLUSPLANCHNOS ESTIN HO KURIOS, that very compassionate is the Lord (Marshall 907); [from POLUS much, SPLANCHNA the nobler entrails], used like our heart, as the seat of the emotions, denotes general passion (Vincent 1.762, 763); denotes very pitiful or full of pity [POLUS much, SPLANCHNON the heart, in the plural, the affections] (Vine 857).
[ 71 ]KAI OIKTIRMOON, and pitiful (Marshall 907); denotes the sympathy called out by special cases, being the feeling which is moved to pain at another's suffering (Vincent 1.763) adjective, pitiful, compassionate for the ills of others, a stronger term than ELEEEMON merciful, [akin to OIKTIRMOS pity, compassion for the ills of others], "merciful," "of tender mercy" (Vine 734).
[ 72 ]PRO PANTOON DE, before all things but (Marshall 906); PANTOOS when used without a negative, signifies wholly, entirely, by all means (Vine 39); by all means, certainly, probably, doubtless (Arndt 609); it is not possible to determine whether the phrase is temporal ["Before doing anything else, give attention to this"] or designed to indicate priority ["Give particular attention to this matter"] (Woods 288).
[ 73 ]ADELPHOI MOU, brothers of me (Marshall 907).
[ 74 ]MEE OMNUETE, not swear ye (Marshall 907); of affirming or denying by an oath . . . accompanied by that by which one swears (Vine 1111); swear, take an oath (Arndt 566); swear, affirm, promise, threaten, with an oath (Thayer 445).
[ 75 ]The word "vain" is translated from a Hebrew word that means in a light, flippant and contemptuous fashion (Woods 290).
[ 76 ]Although Christians are not specifically under the ten commandments, the principle of honoring God and not taking His name in vain is timeless.
[ 77 ]MEETE TON OURANON, neither by the heaven (Marshall 907).
[ 78 ]MEETE TEEN GEEN, nor by the earth (Marshall 907).
[ 79 ]MEETE ALLON TINA HORKON, nor other any oath (Marshall 907).
[ 80 ]EETO DE HUMOON TO NAI, NAI but let be of you the Yes (Marshall 907).
[ 81 ]KAI TO OU OU, and the No no (Marshall 907).
[ 82 ]HINA MEE HUPO KRISIN PESEETE, lest under judgment ye fall (Marshall 907); the process of judging, rather than the sentence rendered (Woods 294).
[ 83 ]KAKOPATHEI TIS EN HUMIN, suffers ill anyone among you? (Marshall 907); [from KAKOS evil, PASCHOO to suffer], suffering (Vine 30).
[ 84 ]Charles B. Williams translation.
[ 85 ]EUTHUMEI TIS (is cheerful anyone (Marshall 907); signifies, intransitively, to be cheerful (Vine 176).
[ 86 ]PSALLETOO, let him sing a psalm (Marshall 907); primarily to pluck or twitch. Hence of the sharp twang on a bow-string or harp-string, and so to play upon a stringed instrument. Our word psalm, derived from this, is, properly, a tune played upon a stringed instrument. The verb, however, is used in the NT of singing praise generally (Vincent 1.763).
[ 87 ]ASTHENEI TIS EN HUMIN, is weak anyone among you (Marshall 907); literally, weak, feeble [A negative, STHENOS strength], translated "sick" (Vine 1040); among [here and in verse 14], from EN in. When its object is plural [as here]; among, with, in the midst [see Joh 1:14; 1Co 3:16] (Littrell).
[ 88 ]PROSKALESASTHOO TOUS PRESBUTEROUS TEES EKKLEESIAS, let him summon the elders of the church (Marshall 907); [the comparative degree of PRESBUS an old man, an elder]. . . in the Christian churches, those who, being raised up and qualified by the work of the Holy Spirit, were appointed to have the spiritual care of, and to exercise oversight over, the churches. To these the term bishops, EPISKOPOI, or overseers, is, applied (Vine 351).
[ 89 ]KAI PROSEUXASTHOOSAN EP' AUTON, and let them pray over him (Marshall 907); aorist middle imperative, they are to pray over him, not literally, of course, but figuratively; they are to pray in his behalf (Woods 301).
[ 90 ]ALEIPSANTES ELAIOO, having anointed [him] with oil (Marshall 907); administering whatever medication as might be in order. Oil or ointment was the common "medicine" used like this at that time (Littrell).
[ 91 ]In a separate event, Jesus used a material, "clay and spittle" when he healed a blind man (Joh 9:6, 7).
[ 92 ]Some refer to 1 Samuel 16:13 and postulate that oil alludes to the Holy Spirit.
[ 93 ]EN TOO ONOMATI TOU KURIOU, in the name of the Lord (Marshall 907).
[ 94 ]KAI HE EUCHEE TEES PISTEOOS, and the prayer of faith (Marshall 907); "the faith," indicating a specific faith, the "spiritual gift" kind [see 1Co 12:9; 13:2] (Littrell).
[ 95 ]SOOSEI TON KAMNONTA, will heal the [one] being sick (Marshall 907); him that is sick. The word originally means to work. Hence, "him that is laboring under disease" (Vincent 1.763).
[ 96 ]The Catholics try hard to find in this verse authority for their doctrine of "extreme unction." There is one great problem though. They anoint with oil to prepare a person for dying (or after he is dead) but James said the sick person would be restored!
[ 97 ]KAI EGEREI AUTON HO KURIOS, and will raise him the Lord (Marshall 907); of lifting up a person from physical infirmity (Vine 918).
[ 98 ]KAN HAMARTIAS EE PEPOIEEKOOS, and if sins he may be having done (Marshall 907); the Greek gives a shade of meaning which can hardly be transferred neatly into English, representing not merely the fact that the man has sinned, but his condition as a sinner. Literally the words read, if he be having committed sins; that is, in a state of having committed, and under the moral or physical consequences of transgression (Vincent 1.763); forgiveness would be conditioned by all the Lord says on the matter. Sins of a Christian are forgiven when one repents, confesses and prays [Ac 8:22; 1Jo 1:9; Jas 5:16] (Littrell).
[ 99 ]APHETHEESETAI AUTOO, it will be forgiven him (Marshall 907); it shall be forgiven, supplying the commission as a subject. The verb means to send forth or discharge, and is the standard NT word for forgiving. Forgiveness (APHESIS) is a putting or sending away of sins, with a consequent discharge of the sinner; thus differing from PARESIS (Ro 3:25), which is a passing by of sin, a pretermission as distinguished from a remission (Vincent 1.764).
[ 100 ]OUN, therefore (Marshall 907).
[ 101 ]EXOMOLOGEISTHE, confess ye (Marshall 907); the preposition EX forth, out, implies full, frank, open confession, and so in every case of its use in the NT (Vincent 1.764); [HOMOS same, LEGOO to speak], declare openly by way of speaking out freely, such confession being the effect of deep conviction of facts (Vine 216).
[ 102 ]ALLEELOIS TAS HAMARTIAS, to one another the (your) sins (Marshall 907).
[ 103 ]KAI PROSEUCHESTHE HUPER ALLEELOON, and pray ye on behalf of one another (Marshall 907).
[ 104 ]HOPOOS IATHEETE, so as ye may be cured (Marshall 907).
[ 105 ]POLU ISCHUEI DEEESIS DIKAIOU ENERGOUMENEE, much (very) is strong, a petition of a righteous man being made effective (Marshall 907); literally, much availeth [ISCHUEI is strong], the prayer of a righteous man working or operating (Vincent 1.764); present participle of continuous action, "an upright man's prayer, when it keeps at work" (Williams).
[ 106 ]EELIAS, Elias (Marshall 907).
[ 107 ]ANTHROOPOS EEN, a man was (Marshall 907); the generic word; human like ourselves, this thought being emphasized by the succeeding epithet of like passions (Vincent 1.764).
[ 108 ]HOMOIOPATHEES HEEMIN, of like feeling to us (Marshall 907); the meaning is of like nature or constitution (Vincent 1.764); suffering like another (Woods 308).
[ 109 ]KAI PROSEUCHEE PROSEEUXATO, and in prayer he prayed (Marshall 907); literally, he prayed with prayer. . . . The addition of the cognate noun gives intenseness to the verb (Vincent 1.764).
[ 110 ]TOU MEE BREXAI, not to rain=that it should not rain (Marshall 907).
[ 111 ]KAI OUK EBREXEN EPI TEES GEES, and it rained not on the earth (Marshall 908).
[ 112 ]ENIAUTOUS TREIS KAI MEENAS HEX, years three and months six (Marshall 908).
[ 113 ]KAI PALIN PROSEEUXATO, and again he prayed (Marshall 908);
[ 114 ]KAI HO OURANOS HUETON EDOOKEN, and the heaven rain gave (Marshall 908).
[ 115 ]KAI HEE GEE EBLASTEESEN TON KARPON AUTEES, and the earth brought forth the fruit of it (Marshall 908).
[ 116 ]ADELPHOI MOU, brothers of me (Marshall 908).
[ 117 ]EAN TIS EN HUMIN, if anyone among you (Marshall 908).
[ 118 ]PLANEETHEE APO TEES ALEETHEIAS, errs from the truth (Marshall 908).
[ 119 ]KAI EPISTREPSEE TIS AUTON, and turns anyone him (Marshall 908).
[ 120 ]GINOOSKETE, know ye (Marshall 908); present active imperative, let him keep on knowing (Woods 313).
[ 121 ]HOTI HO EPISTREPSAS HAMARTOOLON, that the [one] turning a sinner (Marshall 908).
[ 122 ]EK PLANEES ODOU AUTOU, out of [the] error of way of him (Marshall 908); a wandering, a forsaking of the right path (Vine 369).
[ 123 ]SOOSEI PSUCHEEN AUTOU EK THANATOU, will save soul of him out of death (Marshall 908).
[ 124 ]KAI KALUPSEI PLEETHOS HAMARTIOON, and will hide a multitude of sins (Marshall 908); a familiar Hebrew phrase.
Copyright ©2001, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington, U.S.A.
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The basic text, and all quotations not designated otherwise, are from the New King James Version, copyrighted ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Bracketed alternatives are drawn from various sources such as the ASV, Darby, KJV and RSV. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft method. To James Chapter Four
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