2 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.James 5:1-6
3 Using wealth badlyThese verses probably refer to the wealthy outside the church who are oppressing believers, and are meant to encourage Christians with a look at the future.The condemnation of the wealthy was not a common theme in Jewish thought, which often equated wealth with blessing.The abuse of the poor may have gone unnoticed on earth, but was seen by God. The title of “Lord of hosts” is used only here in the NT, but was used by the OT prophets, especially Isaiah, to refer to the majesty and power of God.Verse 6 refers to the poor, but also reminds the readers of how the powerful oppressed Jesus.
4 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!James 5:7-9
5 Patient anticipationThe early Christians expected Jesus to return soon. This anticipation has been part of the Christian hope throughout history.The analogy of the farmer teaches us both that we need to wait for the proper time for Jesus’ return and that we need to continue to work faithfully until that time.“Grumbling against one another” is a sign of disunity. With the return of the ultimate Judge imminent, the church needs to remain unified in its love and message.
6 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.James 5:10-11
7 Blessing in perseverance James uses OT illustrations to emphasize the need for patience.Both the prophets and Job suffered for the sake of their faith in God, although in different ways. They remained true to God even when a human perspective might have indicated no reason to do so.Those examples demonstrate the compassion and mercy of God. As a result, later generations saw the blessing of God in the midst of trials and suffering.
8 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.James 5:12
9 True to your wordJames echoes the teaching of Jesus in Mathew 5: It is possible that he uses a shortened form because he expected his readers to be familiar with Jesus’ teaching.This is not a prohibition against “official” oaths, but against the necessity of constantly making oaths to guarantee your honesty. The Christian should be honest in everything they say without the need for an oath.
10 Is anyone among you in trouble. Let them pray. Is anyone happy Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.James 5:13-16
11 The prayer of faith Two general principles: Suffering should lead us to prayer.Joy should lead us to praise.Verses discuss the specific suffering of illness. This illness must be severe, since the person cannot go themselves to where the elders are. This is an application of the first general principle.The presence of elders in the church at the early date of James (around AD 50) shows that local churches began to organize quickly and that leaders were recognized within each church. Since James’ epistle was written to a number of churches spread over a large area, elders must have been a common element in churches of the first century.
12 Note that it is not the oil that brings healing, but prayer. Praying for the sickThe sick person is to call the elders. When we are suffering, we should not assume word gets back to our pastors/elders/deacons; we need to let them know of the need.Oil was often ued in Middle Eastern cultures for medicinal reasons. This anointing may have been due to common use, but coming from the elders it also had a symbolic purpose.Note that it is not the oil that brings healing, but prayer.Is the “prayer of faith” guarantee of a miraculous cure? No, but God often answers prayers in mercy and grace. The fact that it is a prayer offered in faith shows that the one offering the prayer understands how the Lord works, and is submitting to His will.While not all illness is the result of sin, this passage indicates that some is. When caring for the body of a person, we must never neglect the needs of the soul.
13 How to have effective prayer Powerful and effective prayer come from a righteous person.While there is a definite NT idea of a right standing before God through Jesus Christ, James probably also imports the OT idea of a person who is actively living according the God’s standards.James uses the example of Elijah, who was revered by the Jews. It was not the actions of Elijah that brought about the famine and its relief, but his prayers.Ultimately, the power of prayer resides with the God who answers, but we will pray more effectively if we remain in close relationship to Him.
14 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.James 5:19-20
15 Restoration is always the goal of any Christian or church discipline. Bringing back a sinnerWhen we know someone has wandered away from God, our goal should be to bring them back to Him.Restoration is always the goal of any Christian or church discipline.Persistent sin in someone’s life may be an indication that they are not a genuine believer and are headed toward eternal judgment. We should help them understand their need of Christ.The idea of “covering” sin is not that of trying to keep them from being known (God knows all our sins anyway), but of assuring that the sins are forgiven. That forgiveness does not come from a Christian, but from Christ Himself.