James 5

James 5

Warning to the Rich

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

Patience in Suffering

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

The Prayer of Faith

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 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. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


James 5 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

How should we respond to sickness and what is the church’s responsibility?

In Chapter 5, James gives practical advice with a balance between physical and spiritual. First, we read that anyone who is sick has a responsibility to reach out to church leadership (he should call the elders). Unfortunately, many regular churchgoers today do not feel comfortable reaching out to the pastoral staff or elders in their body.

Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord.  15  The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

James 5:14-15 HCSB

It is unclear by this passage whether James is more focused on a metaphorical or literal application. Some say that this is entirely spiritual. In other words, the oil represents the Holy Spirit and the healing is dependent solely on the prayers of the elders. Others say that this is physical. In ancient times, olive oil was not just ceremonial but also medicinal. It has healing and comforting properties and is prescribed elsewhere in Scripture for the treatment of wounds (Luke 10).

I believe James had both in mind. Pastoral care involves meeting both the physical and spiritual needs of your body. Someone who is overcome by sickness needs the encouraging prayers of righteous believers to be healed. However, they also need good medicinal care, and this cannot be overlooked. We know today that olive oil mimics ibuprofen and contains potent anti-inflammatory properties. The anointing of oil is done in the name of the Lord. The type of pastoral care recommended by James shows the love of Christ through two powerful avenues – physical and spiritual.

In all we do, there is a cooperation of practical wisdom and spiritual faith. It is important that we do not overlook one or the other, but that we use the resources provided to us and pray for divine intervention.

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James as you say is a straight forward practical book. Honest, sobering look at what a Christian's life should look like. It makes a person examine their lives to see where they fall short and could be doing better in their walk with the Lord.