James 5

5:1 Now listen, you rich [probably those mentioned in Jas. 2:6-7] people, weep and wail because of the misery [judgment] that is coming upon you.

5:2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.

5:3 Your gold and silver are corroded [tarnished; their hoarded wealth lay idle, not helping anyone]. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

5:4 Look! [the rich were guilty of injustice…] The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

5:5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter [refers to the day of judgment].

5:6 You have condemned [by using the legal system to their advantage] and murdered innocent [literally means “righteous” and signifies the people of God] men, who were not opposing you.

5:7 Be patient [long-tempered; to have endurance for the long-haul; self-restraint that does not retaliate against those who oppress], then [therefore], brothers [those Christians oppressed by the rich (cf. Jas. 5:1-6)], until the Lord’s coming [Gr. “parousia” literally means “presence”; the second coming of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Thess. 2:19)]. See how the farmer waits [conveys idea of eager anticipation] for the land to yield its valuable [because it is vital for survival] crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.

5:8 You too [like the farmer who patiently waits for the harvest], be patient and stand firm [literally “strengthen your hearts”; conveys idea of strength and stability], because the Lord’s coming is near [believers should remain in a constant state of readiness for His return].

5:9 Don’t grumble [indicates a muffled muttering or complaining under the breath] against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge [the Lord] is standing at the door!

5:10 Brothers, as an example [a model or pattern intended for imitation] of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets [God’s instruments and representatives who communicated His word and often suffered mistreatment] who spoke in the name of the Lord [or “with the Lord’s authority”].

5:11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered [literally “to remain under” or “to endure under hardship”]. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about [God vindicated Job: restored his wealth and gave him more children (cf. Job 42:12-15)]. The Lord is full of compassion [literally means “large-hearted”] and mercy.

5:12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear [a Christian should not have to attach an oath to guarantee the truthfulness of His words (cf. Matt. 5:33-37)]—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

5:13 Is any one of you in trouble [refers to suffering or any kind of difficulty (particularly that which comes as a consequence of faith)]? He should pray [the antidote to suffering; should keep on praying]. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

5:14 Is any one of you sick [this word also means weak or without strength; physically ill]? He should call [suggests urgency] the elders [NT identifies office of elder with that of bishop (overseer) and pastor (cf. Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7); gave pastoral and spiritual leadership to churches] of the church to pray over him and anoint [to rub with oil] him with oil [some see this as a reference to medicine (cf. Lk. 10:34) and others see this as a symbol of the Holy Spirit] in the name of the Lord.


5:15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick [the weary or faint one] person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned [sickness may be a result of an individual’s sins (Mk. 2:1-12); not all physical suffering is caused by sin (cf. Jn. 9:3)], he will be forgiven.

5:16 Therefore [appropriately] confess [don’t remain in denial] your [personal] sins to each other [a trusted friend (accountability partner) who will not betray your confidence] and [continually] pray for each other so that you may be healed [even of the lingering guilt that follows an abortion]. The [intercessory] prayer of a righteous [an individual who strives to live in obedience to God] man is powerful and effective.

Note: How have the fervent prayers of others helped you make it through a crisis?

5:17 Elijah was a man just like us [having the same nature as we do]. He prayed [cf. 1 Kings 17:1; 18:42-45] earnestly [literally “he prayed with prayer”] that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.

5:18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

5:19 My brothers, if one of you [a professing Christian; see also 1 Cor. 10:12] should [willful rejection of God’s will] wander [stray from the right path and head in the wrong direction] from the truth [right doctrine and conduct] and someone should [redemptively and responsibly] bring him back [restoration with God and the church],

5:20 remember this: Whoever [gently and compassionately] turns [course correction by forsaking sin and returning to God] a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death [e.g., as in the case of drug abuse or, in the case of abortion, an infant’s life] and cover over [help the sinner avoid] a multitude of sins [and their dire consequences].

Note: In what ways can our redemptive response impact the lives of people involved in sin?

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