James 5:1-6

These verses are directed to the RICH unbelievers who through rich-mindedness have habitually oppressed various believers.
James takes a page from the Old Testament prophets and addresses IN PRINCIPLE unbelievers even though it is quite unlikely that any would be reading this letter. Likewise, in many portions of the Old Testament, individuals and nations were addressed in order to indict and pronounce judgment. The intent in many cases was not to directly get the attention of these kings and nations, for it is quite unlikely that any of them would be reading or hearing the prophets. Instead, the purpose was to provide insight into God’s plan and comfort concerning both present and future afflictions.
A few examples of this will suffice to evidence the reality of this prophetic ministry.
Tyre and Sidon at Isaiah 23.
Assyria at Isaiah 33:1.
Chaldea at Isaiah 47.
Many nations in Jeremiah 47-51.
Tyre at Ezekiel 28:1-10
Egypt and Pharaoh at Ezekiel 31-32

Here in James, this indictment against the RICH unbelievers is a proclamation of woe upon them with no invitation to recover. When James addresses the erring believers, there is always a plea to repent and correct the errors. Here, there is just the “command” to react to the judgment that will come upon them.

These RICH unbelievers are clearly contrasted with believers, who are identified as “the righteous” at verse 6, and “brethren” at verse 7.

The “failure” of their wealth to provide true happiness is described as a past reality; “have rotted, have rusted,” etc.

They are presently enjoying the worldly benefits of their rich-mindedness as per verse 5.
“You have lived luxuriously . . . and led a life of wanton pleasure.”
But James warns that this is to be short lived, for there are miseries that are coming upon them. It is not likely that this is prophetic of 70 AD. James is certainly living in expectation of the second coming of the Lord (vs. 8-9) so he could have in mind the “miseries” associated with that return when the Day-of-the-Lord judgments will be poured out on the unbelievers left on the earth.

He writes at verse 3, “it is in the sphere of the last days that you have stored up your treasure.”
This means that the final evaluation and judgment upon these unbelievers will take place when Jesus returns in the last days.
What then, would be these “miseries” that will come upon these unbelievers who continue to persecute and oppress the righteous?
(1) After the rapture of the church, if these rich-minded unbelievers do not accept Christ as The Lord, then they will experience one or more of the trumpet judgments and bowl judgments.
(2) and ultimately they will spend eternity in the lake of fire.
Rev. 14:9-11; 20:11-15

Paul writes about both of these judgments that will come upon the OPPRESSORS; the ones who bring “affliction” upon the believers.
2 Thes. 1:6-10
(1) verse 6, repay with affliction.
(2) verse 9, eternal ruin away from the presence of the Lord.

Verse 1

1. COME NOW: As seen at verse 4:13, This is a Hebrew expression that is designed to get the attention of the hearer and elicit a response. However, in this case, the expression is RHETORICAL and a response is not expected because the UNBELIEVERS who are indirectly addressed will not read this indictment.

2. you rich: These are the rich-minded unbelievers who characteristically oppress THE RIGHTEOUS. Rich-mindedness is the attitude and lifestyle that elevates material possessions a more important and valuable than anything else in life.
For more details see TOPIC in R:  RICH-MINDEDNESS

An example of a public indictment of such a person is found at Psalm 52:1-7, where David has written a song to be sung by the choir. This is both an indictment of Doeg the Edomite, and a general indictment on
. . . “the man who would not make God his refuge, But trusted in the abundance of his riches, {And} was strong in his {evil} desire.”

3. weep and howl: expressions of extreme sorrow and pain which the rich-minded will experience when the justice of God judges the world during the day of the Lord judgments.

4. for your miseries which are coming upon you:
According to the end of verse 3, these miseries will come upon them “in the sphere of” or DURING “the last days.” This refers to the time period known as the day of the Lord when God will begin to judge the unbelievers who remain on the earth after the rapture of the church.
And while DEATH without the Lord is a sad and hopeless encounter, and is certainly well described as “miseries,” James is looking at this specifically in the context of Christ’s second coming.

Verse 3
1. Your gold and your silver have rusted: this indicates that the uselessness of riches has been realized when it comes to SPIRITUAL issues and issues of life and death.
Proverbs 11:4 states this in principle. “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath.”

2. and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire.
This is of course, hyperbolic language by James, for neither the actual riches nor the “rust” can directly KILL. However, the rich-mindedness of these unbelievers is evidencd by the amassing of riches, and the RUST indicates that the riches have no value when it comes to facing divine justice.

3. It is in the sphere of the last days that you have stored up your treasure!
A. The preposition, IN, actually indicates a SPHERE or REALM within which the judgment will take place. Thus, the better translation, “in the sphere of the last days.”
B. As noted before, this indicates that James has in mind the eschatological judgment of God that was anticipated and expected by all the apostles up until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
It would be initiated by the physical, bodily return of Jesus in the clouds of the sky as per Mat. 24:29-31. At that time, the world and the church will be in the midst of THE TRIBULATION (affliction) brought by the man of lawlessness; the beast of Rev. 13 and the one who is commonly referred to as the antichrist.
The events that would trigger the rise of the “antichrist” could occur at any moment prior to 70 AD. The covenant of peace between Israel, surrounding peoples and Rome could be cut (agreed upon) any day and the subsequent events would follow on schedule.
James anticipates this possibility in the language of verse 8, “the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

Paul writes of this possibility to the Thessalonian believers at 2 Thes. 1:4-10. Specifically, at verse 7, “ and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”

This indicates that it is possible that sometime in the “life” of these people, and PAUL’S, the Lord could return and deliver them from the AFFLICTION (thlipsis - tribulation) that they are enduring.
This means that the PRESENT affliction COULD escalate at sometime in their future, into THE TRIBULATION of which Jesus spoke at Matthew 24:9-29.

Mat. 24:9, “then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.”
And Mat. 24:21, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.”
And Mat. 24:29-30, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”

James anticipates that if this becomes the case, then the unbeliever OPPRESSORS will be the recipients of the Day of the Lord judgments that will be poured out on the earth after the believers are removed via the rapture. (Mat. 24:29-31, all the tribes of the earth will mourn; Rev. 6:12-17, hide us from the wrath of the Lamb; 1 Thes. 5:1-4, then destruction will come on them suddenly).

At that time, the wealth of the unbelievers will be useless as James states and as was proclaimed by Zephaniah at chapter 1:18,

“Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD’S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth. “

Verse 4
“Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, {and} which has been withheld by you, cries out {against you} ; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”

The indictment continues as James details the unjust labor practices of these unbelievers. This is talking about paying VERY LITTLE to their workers. It does not mean that they pay NOTHING, for then of course, there would be no one to work for them. They believe that they are in control and can do anything they want. Who is there to stop them? Who is there to challenge them? They pay such meager wages that it is practically impossible for the laborers to survive, but the laborers are still dependent on them for barely surviving as it is. And the oppressors get rich from the cheap labor. And if the laborers protest, they are oppressed even more, and even brought before the courts to confiscate what little they do possess.

Verse 5
1. “You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”

Rich mindedness not only pursues wealth, but also uses that wealth to indulge the desires of the sin nature.
Of course, the philosophy of the rich minded has always been, “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die, (1 Cor. 15:32).” But James’ indictment does not just speak of an “eventual” death, but of the experience of a harsh and terrible death in the context of the Day of the Lord judgments.

Isaiah addresses the unbelievers of Israel in a Day of the Lord context at Isaiah 56:9-12.
“All you beasts of the field, All you beasts in the forest, Come to eat.
His watchmen are blind, All of them know nothing. All of them are dumb dogs unable to bark, Dreamers lying down, who love to slumber;
And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; They have all turned to their own way, Each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.
‘Come,’ {they say,} ‘let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; And tomorrow will be like today, only more so.’”

Jesus taught that this philosophy of sensuality would be dominant in society at the time of the second coming. Matthew 24:37-39
“‘For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.
For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.’”

2. “You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.”

The day of slaughter is when the Lord returns and begins the judgments directed against the unbelieving “earthdwellers” who remain on the earth after the believers are removed via the rapture.

This false security of rich mindedness is seen at 1 Thes. 5:2-3,
“For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”

Verse 6
“You have condemned and murdered the righteous one; he does not resist you.”

1. As pointed out before, this CONTRAST between the “rich” and the “righteous,” as well as the “brethren” who are DIRECTLY addressed in this letter at verse 5:7, indicates that the rich who are in view are indeed, unbelievers.

2. Many of the rich minded unbelievers carry their sensuality to the extent of killing the Christians; the righteous. The word, righteous (dikaios) is used to indicate the believer who through his application of divine truth is able to endure and not resist the persecutor. Some have suggested that DIKAIOS, indicates innocent ones in general. However, in that these RIGHTEOUS ones are not resisting, it shows this to be a persecution context, and the believer endures the undeserved suffering as per James 1:1-2 through application of the doctrine of FAITH REST.

3. The “condemned” and “murdered” terms gives a connection to some kind of “judicial” proceeding. We should be reminded of Saul of Tarsus who “pursued threat and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” (Acts 9:1). He was a Jew who used the Jewish legal system to condemn and murder Christians. James has in mind ANY who will promote their own well being through the ruin of others, and especially the Christians.

It needs to be observed that these acts of murder by UNBELIEVERS are not the same as the acts of murder done by the BELIEVERS mentioned at James 4:2. Again, the contrasts in our context should adequately prove this.

These unbelieving OPPRESSORS are such as are described at Proverbs 30:14, “There is a generation whose teeth are swords, and his jaw teeth knives, to devour the afflicted from the earth, and the needy from among men.”

And of course, via OPERATION MARK OF THE BEAST, many Christians will be murdered for their faith as per Mat. 24:9; Rev. 6:8-11; 12:11 and 13:15.

James 5:7-11
With the indictment announced, James can offer comfort to the believers who are currently under normal persecution affliction as well as to the generation that will see the persecution of the great tribulation at the hands of the antichrist. Up until the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD, the eschatological events leading up to the second coming of Christ, could begin at any time.

Verse 7
1. Be patient, therefore, brethren: The exhortation to the Christians is indicated by the verb, makrothumeo. The root, thumos, has a meaning of passion or emotion, and anger. The word, makro, means long. Together, the idea is that you endure "it" a long time before you show emotional anger; lose your temper, etc. One "suffers" a long time before giving in to the pressure. That's why the KJV renders this, longsuffering. PATIENT is the acurate rendering. It is the common word used to communicate the truth of FAITH-REST living.

In view of the certainty of divine justice that is to be expressed toward the oppressors, the believers should be relaxed, stay in fellowship, and continue to trust in the character and plan of God.
In view of the same KIND of “eschatological” affliction that the Thesssalonian believers are experiencing, Paul praises them for their continued endurance and faith. 2 Thes. 1:4,
“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.”

And he exhorts them to remain strong in the face of false teaching concerning the second coming of Christ. 2 Thes. 2:1-2,
“Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”

2. until the coming of the Lord.
It is at this time that the believers will be removed from the affliction taking place on the earth during the reign of the beast.
It is called RELIEF at 2 Thes. 1:7.
“and {to give} relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”
And at 1 Thes. 4:16-17, Paul describes it as caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Jesus calls it DELIVERED at Matthew 24:13 and 22.
Matt. 24:13, “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved (DELIVERED).
Matt. 24:22, “And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved (DELIVERED); but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.”
And He calls it “gathered together” at Matthew 24:31.
“And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
And He calls it RECEIVED (taken to the side of) at Matthew 24:40-41 and John 14:1. The Greek word here is paralambano, which means to take someone to one’s side or to RECEIVE. At Matthew 24:39, the word for “took them all away” is NOT paralambono, but airo. So the idea of “take” at v. 39 is not the same idea at vs. 40-41.
Matthew 24:40-41, “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken (RECEIVED), and one will be left. Two women {will be} grinding at the mill; one will be taken (RECEIVED), and one will be left.”
John 14:1
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, {there} you may be also.”

3. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.

James gives a self-explanatory example of patience in order to illustrate the great benefit of patience toward the second coming of Christ.

James 5:8

1. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts:
Of course, this exhortation to patience and continued growth is a repeat of what James wrote before in chapter one. There, he focused on the experiential benefits of endurance under affliction. Endurance produces further growth and consistent peace and joy.
Here, the issue is the hope for physical deliverance.
Yes, we are to be joyful even in affliction, but we still hope for the physical deliverance that will come at the rapture of the church and resurrection.
Paul writes at Romans 8:18 and 23-25,
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. . . .
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for {our} adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”


2. for the coming of the Lord is at hand:
Yes, it is a wonderful blessing to know that when we die we will be face to face with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8; Philip. 1:23), and away from all the pressures of this life. But for the pre-70 AD believers, the IMMEDIATE expectation was to be delivered by the actual return of Jesus.
The promise of Jesus and the angel to the disciples that He would return was taken very personally by them (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11).
And Paul wrote about 36 years later at Titus 2:13, that the Christians should be -
“Looking for the joyful expectation and appearing of the glory of the Great God and of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The promised return of Christ was an established CERTAINTY for the church, but it was also something that could only occur AFTER certain other events took place in history.
1. The tribulation: Matthew 24:29-31
2. The apostasy and the revealing of the man of lawlessness: 2 Thes. 2:1-3

The verb, “is at hand,” is a perfect active indicative of engidzo. It means to approach or come near. The perfect tense sees the action as a complete idea. The event HAS approached so that its CERTAINTY is unavoidable, and can be depended on.

The term “at hand” does not indicate an imminent return of the Lord as is taught by the advocates of the pre-trib rapture view. It CAN mean that the even in view is “right now” about to occur.
Matthew 26:18, 45-46; Luke 21:20; John 2:13; 6:4; 7:2, 6.

However, it is also used to indicate a CERTAINTY and expectant event.

Matthew 3:2, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The “kingdom of heaven (God)” refers to the arrival of Messiah’s kingdom via His second coming, when He will bring judgment on the world at the Day of the Lord.
The context of John’s message indicates this. Matthew 3:10-12.

The verb, engidzo is in the same construction: Perfect active indicative.
John’s meaning is NOT that it is RIGHT NOW about to occur. He means that the arrival of God’s kingdom is CERTAIN and the effects or consequences of that arrival need to be realized and faced by the hearers of John’s message – RIGHT NOW.

At Matthew 4:17, Jesus also used the term, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Likewise, the disciples carried the same message. Matthew 10:7.
”And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

In each of these three examples there was NO expectation of an imminent arrival of the kingdom of heaven.  There was a CERTAINTY in expectation. But in all three cases, an imminent arrival was neither in view nor even POSSIBLE.

1 Peter 4:7
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”

It should be obvious here that Peter does not have in mind any kind of “imminent” idea.
He is thinking of the CERTAINTY of the event that will occur after the Day of the Lord arrives; an event that will occur at least 1000 years later.
Unless, of course, one can demonstrate that Peter does not have in mind a LITERAL “all things.”

However, in his second letter, he does see the renovation of the universe as directly connected to the arrival of Christ at the Day of the Lord.

It is possible then, that Peter is viewing the entire 1000 + years as a single event that will begin with the arrival of Jesus. But even then, he is seeing it as an established CERTAINTY rather than an imminent event.

Further support of this is the simple fact that “imminence” is just not taught in the Bible.
See Topic: The Eight Blows to Imminence
and: Imminence by Marvin Rosenthal

James 5:9
EXHORTATION TO UNITY in light of the second coming

1. Do not complain, brethren, against one another:
The verb, stenadzo, means to groan as an expression of discomfort or disapproval. In this case, it refers to the mental attitude and verbal disapproval and anger toward a fellow believer. There is some kind of unpleasantness in this other believer. It might be a personality dispute or it might be an actual sin in the other believer. But when such a situation occurs, we are not to JUDGE that person. We are not to elevate ourselves in self-righteousness, thinking that we are so much better.
Both Jesus and Paul taught about this negative attitude, that when present, constitutes sin in the one who is judging.
SEE TOPIC under J: judging

2. that you yourselves may not be judged:
This reflects almost verbatim what Jesus taught on the subject as recorded at Matthew 7:1-6
When you judge, using human viewpoint (with a “log” in your eye, Mat. 7:4-5) as your standard and express a self-righteous attitude, it is sin and places you out of fellowship with God. In such a condition, the believer is subject to divine discipline, which Paul calls, BEING JUDGED, at 1 Cor. 11:31-32.
James is talking about coming under divine discipline for YOUR sin, when you “wrongly” judge your brother.

3. behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
Another statement for the imminence of second coming events for this generation of believers that lived prior to 70 AD.

God disciplines the believer from his heavenly throne room, “for those whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and he scourges every son whom he receives, (Heb. 12:6).”
However, if the believer is out of fellowship when the Lord actually returns, there will be an expression of divine justice that exposes and rejects the sin in that believer’s life.
If nothing else, there is the initial shame and embarrassment when the raptured believer meets the Lord, as John explains at 1 John 2:28, “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

These believers might have great patience when it comes to enduring the affliction of persecution, but it would all be spiritually neutralized if they have petty arguments and disputes among themselves. And of course, James has already addressed some of these issues in previous chapters.

James 5:10

As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

The writer of Hebrews gives us a great summary of this at Hebrews 11:36-38.
“And others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, ({men} of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

James 5:11
1. Behold, we count those blessed who endured.
The phrase, count as blessed, is the verb, makaridzo, and should be translated: “we view as happy . . .”
This of course, reflects verse 1:2, “Consider it real joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.”

2. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings.
The endurance of Job only refers to his faithfulness in his first 6 tests. AND, even though he failed miserably in test number 7, he finally did recover and lived the rest of his days as a spiritually consistent servant of God.
The outcome of the Lord’s dealings refers to the whole process of testing Job, rebuking him for his failure, and restoring him when he recovered.
A brief summary of Job
1. Job was a wealthy believer.
2. Job was a spiritually mature believer.
3. God used Job as an example to Satan.
4. Satan accused God of protecting Job and that’s the reason he trusted in God.
5. God allowed Satan to test Job.
6. Satan brought 5 afflictions on Job but he endured them all with total trust in God’s character and plan.
7. Job even endured the rebellion of his wife; crisis #6.
8. The 7th crisis and test came from Job’s friends.
9. At this time Job took his eyes off of God’s character and plan, and placed his trust in the wisdom that would come from his friends.
10. When his friends failed to provide what Job needed, he lost his focus on God and rebelled against God’s character and plan.
11. Chapters 3 through 31 relate the interaction between Job and his accusatory friends, who were judgmental and wrong.
12. Then Elihu, who is the real hero of the book, finally puts everyone straight in chapters 32-37.
13. In chapters 38-41, God comes on the scene and rebukes the three friends and Job.
14. Job responds with repentance and focuses once again on God’s character and plan.
15. Then God restored Jobs wealth and he was blessed with 10 more children.

3. that the Lord is full of compassion and {is} merciful.
SEE TOPICS under G: The compassion, kindness, love and graciousness of God

We see the compassion and mercy (graciousness) of God toward Job ONLY after Job recovered from his spiritual rebellion in the midst of the 7th test.
The FACT of Divine compassion and mercy (graciousness) is UNCONDITIONAL. God is inherently that way.
God shows His love, compassion, kindness and mercy at all times. But divine justice and righteousness must also be preserved. God does everything possible to keep man from having to feel the negative expressions of divine justice (judgment), but if man fails to respond, then there is no restraint of justice.
A. For the believer who recovers from error via Proverbs 28:13 and 1 John 1:9, he “will find COMPASSION” and “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Thus, the outcome of the Lord’s dealings with Job was forgiveness and blessing.

B. The believer who fails to recover will undergo the 3 stages of divine discipline described at 1 Cor. 11:30, and ultimately encounter the sin unto physical death. This is described as “sleep” at 1 Cor. 11:30 and as the lame limb being put out of joint at Hebrews 12:13.
For more details see topic: DIVINE DISCIPLINE

James 5:12

Here, James once again quotes from Jesus, or from the gospel of Matthew, which is more likely since James was not present at the Sermon on the Mount.
The passage referred to is Matthew 5:33-37.
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’
But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ {or} ‘No, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.”

1. But above all, my brethren:
This is an expression of priority. It does not mean that the issue that follows is the most important thing EVER. It means that in a particular context, this issue is VITAL.

2. do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath:
This refers to making a promise based on the authority or reputation of the thing mentioned. It is done to give MERIT to the promise so that the person will be believed. This practice often times convinces the recipient of the promise to believe you, thinking that YOU have the same VALUE as the thing that you swear by. When the promise is made “under the authority” of some religious factor, then people are more likely to believe it. But, such a promise does not really guarantee that what is said will be performed. Thus, people can often be deceived and convinced into accepting a promise that APPEARS to have the authority of God behind it.
This refers to anything that a person SAYS and claims it to be true by appealing to something that has spiritual or moral value. Saying something such as, “as God is my witness,” or, “God told me.” This has the potential to convince the hearers that what you claim is true and has a divine stamp of approval. That’s why such a claim is dangerous and EVIL, as Jesus said at Mat. 5:37.

3. but let your yes be yes, and your no, no:
All promises should be made based on one’s own reputation.
The promise of one’s own word is the only factor that should be considered. Then the recipients can evaluate the reputation of the promiser and believe or not believe based on that knowledge, while comparing all the factors with revealed and established divine truth.

4. so that you may not fall under judgment:
Once again, the judgment refers to discipline from God because of sin.
To claim divine authority for your promise is not wrong in itself, for ultimately, the keeping or breaking is still based on one’s own promise.
However, when you base your promise on divine authority, and then fail to keep the promise, this defames the character of God and this is sin.
Jesus said that anything beyond the simple and genuine, “yes, yes” or “no, no,” is out from the evil.
He used the Greek word, poneros and the preposition, ek (out from) to indicate that the practice of attempting to claim divine approval for your promise OR statement defames God and true Christianity.
The issue of claiming divine authority to support your oaths, viewpoints and belief system is forbidden by the third commandment at Exodus 20:7.
SEE Commentary on Exodus 20 for details

A. Is anyone among you suffering?
This refers to the trials of verse 1:2.
Any experience of pressure and affliction gives the functional believer an opportunity to further TRUST in the character and plan of God and experience true peace. As studied in verses 1:3-4 and Romans 5:3-5, such trusting/endurance enhances the growth process producing ultimately and ideally a quality of life where the believer will be “mature and whole, lacking in nothing.”

B. Let him pray. This is the prayer of faith-rest, which simply relaxes and trusts in the character and plan of God in the face of any and every crisis. Phil. 4:6; Acts 16:25; 1 Peter 5:6-7
When we practice faith-rest living, we experience the abundant life of peace, joy and inner stability. Phlippians 4:6, and the PEACE of God will guard your hearts and your minds.


1. Definition: Faith rest is the attitude and practice
of being totally relaxed and confident in the
character and plan of God based on knowledge and trust
in His word.

2. The premise for faith rest is the absolute
character and plan of God. Because of WHO He is, we
can depend on Him to meet all our needs.
A. Romans 8:32 - Since He has provided the most for us
by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us, once we
accept Him as our savior and enter into the family of
God, He will continue to provide just what we need to
be successful as a child of God here on earth.
"How will He not with Him, freely give us all things?"
B. Romans 8:28 - God works all things together for
benefit. There is nothing that happens in our life
that God cannot mold for our benefit AS LONG AS we are
walking with Him in fellowship ie, "Those who love

C. 2 Pet 1:3 - God has provided everything we need for
life and worship through His word.

D. 1 Peter 5:7 - And then when all is said and done,
it boils down to the simple fact that God The Almighty
actually "cares for us."

3. The imperative of Faith rest.
Hebrews 11.6,
"without faith it is impossible to please Him."

Indeed, the only way that God can bless us here on
this earth is for us to "live by faith." When we "give
up" and fret and worry about "what we shall eat or
drink or what we shall put on," etc., God is UNABLE to
give us the "peace of God which surpasses all human
logic." That is only experienced by those who BY FAITH
trust God's character and plan for every situation in
there life.
4. Faith rest is an extension of salvation faith into
the Christian way of life.
A. Salvation: We are saved by trusting in the
character and plan of God as represented in the gospel
message, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you
shall be saved." Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2.8-9

B. The Christian way of life: And we live as a child
of God by faith. Colossians 2.6,
"As you received Christ, so walk in Him"

We "received" Christ by faith and we continue to
"live" after salvation by faith. 2 Cor. 5.7,
"we walk by faith not by sight."
We walk by trusting in the character and plan of God
as revealed in His word. We do not live by "reacting"
to the varied circumstances of life but by trusting in
the "absolute" character and plan of God.
6. The peace of faith rest: Only as we trust in God
for all the little details of our life will we be able
to experience the PEACE that Jesus has promised to
give us. John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
Not as the world gives, I give to you.
don't let your heart be troubled or intimidated.

Phil. 4.6-7
Be worrying about nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,
shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Is. 26.3-4
The stabilized of mind
You will keep in perfect peace,
BECAUSE he trusts in Thee.
Trust in Yahweh forever,
For in Yah, Yahweh, is an everlasting Rock.

"In everything, taking up the SHIELD OF FAITH
by which you will be able to extinguish
all the fiery missiles of the evil one. . .
And take . . . the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
which is THE WORD OF GOD."
Find more details about the Faith-rest life see:  PROMISES

When the believer consistently practices faith-rest living, he will experience the abundant life through sinless consistency. The testimonial expression of this quality of life is verbal praise; singing and testifying of the wonderful grace of God.

A. Is anyone cheerful? The verb is euthumeo and occurs as a present middle indicative. The base word is THUMOS, which means passion in general. Of course there is good and bad passion so sometimes thumos is translated as anger. The adverb, EU, in front indicates GOOD passion.
This refers to experiencing the fullness of emotional stability and true contentment. This word SUMS UP all three legs of the abundant life; peace, joy and inner stability. This is the “mature and whole” quality of life that results in maximum glorification of God in the believer’s life.

B. Let him sing praises.
At Ephesians 5:19 Paul calls this, “singing and making melody in your heart TO THE LORD.”
And at Colossians 3:16, “singing with grace in your hearts to God.”

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “ Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

Verses 14-16

Verse 14
1. Is anyone among you sick? Sickness is an historical reality in the human race. It is present because of the degenerating effects of the curse on the earth. At Romans 8:20-21, Paul writes that the creation has been made subject to the process of emptiness; a “running down” idea that will eventually result in the total annihilation of the physical universe unless God intervenes to heal it. This of course, He will do based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and through the events of the Day of the Lord.
Sickness in the believer can be because of -
(1) the normal historical reality that will affect some more than others because of genetic weaknesses and environmental conditions.
1 Timothy 5:23
(2) direct intervention from God as disciplinary judgment.
1 Corinthians 11:29-30; Psalm 39:11b; Job 33:19-22

The cases discussed in this passage are those where sin is involved.
If it was dealing with normal sickness issues, then that sickness would be covered under the word, SUFFER, at verse 13, and dealt with via the application of faith-rest trust.
But this is a different situation. This believer IS or suspects that he is under discipline from God. In such a case, he is to appeal to the leadership of the church to help him recover. Of course this requires the attitude of repentance toward sin.

2. Let him call for the elders of the church:
The church leaders who should be stable and functional Christians will be able to help the person deal with his sins and use 1 John 1:9.
Church leadership, elders, fall into two categories according to 1 Tim. 5:17.
(1) Ruling elder: The elders who rule well
(2) teaching elder: especially those who work hard at the word (study) and teaching.

3. and let them pray over him: They pray for wisdom and for guidance from God.

4.anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord: The annointing with olive oil (Greek, elaion) is for medicinal reasons. In this case they are not certain that the sickness is from discipline, so will attempt to alleviate the pain through this application of medicinal oils. Another example of such an application is found at Luke 10:33-34. And Isaiah 1:6 speaks of the medicinal value of oil applied to wounds.

Verse 15
1. and the prayer offered in faith (literally, the prayer OF faith): This is the 2nd requirement for successful prayer which is found at Matthew 21:22, “and all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.” This was also taught at James 1:6-7.
The first requirement is that one must be IN FELLOWSHIP with God. That is, there must be no un-confessed sin in the life. Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
The third requirement is that one must pray with wisdom. That is, according to His will and not just from any emotional or even logical whim of the mind. 1 John 5:14, “and this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

2. will restore the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up: The restoration in view is indeed healing. But this healing will still be dependent on some other factors, not JUST the prayer of the church leaders.
A. It still must be according to God’s will. That is, it must be something that CAN be allowed by God without compromising His specific will for a particular situation. God allows many options within the life of the believer. Some are NOT according to His will and some are. In other words, the believer can actually have MORE THAN one choice in a particular situation, and each choice can be according to His will. Many times something that IS ALLOWABLE by God does not happen because it is not prayed for with the first two requirements for successful prayer.
Thus, if it is not God’s ALLOWABLE (or permissive) will for the discipline to be removed, then the prayer will not be answered.
B. The believer who is under the discipline, must get back into fellowship as the verse indicates.

3. and if he has committed sins: This suggests that the believer in view is under discipline because of personal sin.
See TOPIC: Believer’s divine discipline

4. they will be forgiven him:
According to 1 John 1:9, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This refers to confession to God. However, when the sick believer appeals to the leadership of the church, it will often involve a public acknowledgment to them. But it is confession to the Father that brings forgiveness, not confession to others.

Verse 16

1. Therefore, confess your sins to one another: This confession refers to the acknowledgment to the elders and not to a public confession before an assembly of the church, although it would also include private communication with a fellow believer. The “one another” idea here indicates that the provision of such a meeting with the elders is available to all members of the church who find themselves needing help with their weaknesses. And again, this does not exclude such confession to a trusted fellow believer.
When the troubled believer confides in the mature leaders of the church or to a fellow Christian, they are able to help him as per Galatians 6:1 and Romans 15:1-2.

2. and pray for one another: Of course, assistance includes prayer.

3. so that you may be healed: Again, the confession of the sin and the recovery from the sin as per Proverbs 28:13 establishes forgiveness of sins and a restoration to fellowship. It is then likely that the discipline would be removed so that the believer can begin anew to grow and serve. However, there are actually occasions where it is God’s specific will that the discipline remain.

4. The effective prayer of a righteous man:
The word, effective, is a present middle participle of energeo. The verb means to energize. As a participle, it is adjectival and means ENERGIZING; a prayer that produces adequate ENERGY and is therefore EFFECTIVE. This means that the THIRD requirement for successful prayer has been met. It is prayer that is ACCORDING TO HIS WILL.

The RIGHTEOUS one is the believer who is IN FELLOWSHIP (first requirement) and knows how to pray with faith (2nd requirement) and according to the will of God. Thus, all three requirements are met and the result is VERY POWERFUL.

5. can accomplish much: The verb is ischuo as a present active indicative PLUS the adverb, polus. The verb means to be strong or powerful. This should read, IS VERY POWERFUL.
Prayer can be answered, and prayer that is ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, will ALWAYS be answered as per 1 John 5:14-15.

Verses 17-18
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit. The story of Elijah can of course be found at 1 Kings 17-18.

There are times when prayer can accomplish something that would not otherwise happen.

Verse 19
One of the primary areas of our priestly service is to minister to other believers. Romans 15:1
“Now we who are strong ought to carry/remove the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.”

1. My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth:
At Romans 15:1, this is “the weaknesses of those without strength.”
At Galatians 6:1, it is the one who is “discovered in any trespass.”
In the context of James, it would of course include all of the areas of failure mentioned by James.
In general, according to 1Tim. 6:3, it is any violation of the ”sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness.”

2. and one turns him back: the verb is epistrepho to indicate a reversal of a particular course of action or way of life. In this case, it is recovery from a sinful act or pattern of behavior based on the exhortational ministry of a strong believer.

Verse 20
1. let him know: This is assurance from James that a successful exhortational ministry has lasting effects.

2. that he who turns: The same verb to indicate a successful recovery from failure.

3. a sinner from the error of his way: The believer out of fellowship and in any degree of sinful behavior.

4. will save his soul from death: the verb, sodzo, here refers to DELIVERANCE from TEMPORAL death and not salvation. The person who is in sin is a believer; “if any out from among you.”
Temporal death refers to a NEUTRALIZED spiritual life. It is the “death” of being out of fellowship with God that results when sin is committed as at James 1:15.
Paul describes this at 1 Timothy 5:6, “But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead (out of fellowship with God) even while she lives (is alive physically, or possibly, “saved”).”
At Revelation 3:1, the church at Sardis is seen as ALIVE, but dead.
The LIFE that is in view could refer to either physical life or SALVATION life, although the contrast seems to be a SPIRITUAL issue, so salvation life would be more reasonable. The death refers to a neutralized spiritual function while living here on earth as a believer out of fellowship with God (walking in the darkness, as at 1 John 1:6).
This DELIVERANCE from death at James 5 probably refers to the cessation of temporal death so that the believer can renew his spiritual function as a believer, walking in the light.

It COULD refer to deliverance from maximum or ultimate divine discipline which is the sin unto death.
See Topic: sin unto death

5. and will cover a multitude of sins:
The COVERING of sins refers primarily to the cleansing from all past sins through confession as per 1 John 1:9.
However, it certainly would include the prevention of any further sins that would result if the erring believer remained out of fellowship.

The letter thus ends on a very positive note.
The letter has been pretty negative throughout; warning about this and warning about that.
But there is hope for the erring believer.
There is support from other believers and the church leadership.
Sin should be avoided, but for the believer who has failed to maintain sinless consistency and errs in whatever degree he does, there is always the grace of God that provides the way of recovery.
Just as John encourages us with his truth at 1 John 2:1-2.
“My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the satisfaction for our sins.”


Questions and comments are always welcome

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