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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary
James 5

 

 

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Verse 13

Personal advancement without God (4:13-5:6)

Another sign of worldliness appears when Christians arrange their lives as if God does not exist, as if they control the future. Christians should view life differently from non-Christians. They should not live as if their lives on earth are going to last for ever, but should consider the eternal purposes of God and arrange their affairs accordingly. Their chief consideration should be to do God's will, not to look for personal gain and advancement (13-16). If they know this is the way they should live, but do not put their knowledge into practice, they are guilty of sin (17).

Then follows a pronouncement of judgment on the greedy landowners. These people hoard wealth and goods that only perish with age and disuse, but show no interest in helping the poor and needy around them. They grow rich through oppressing and cheating their workers. But God takes notice of all this. They are only building up evidence against themselves, which will bring for them a heavier punishment (5:1-4). Like animals they are fattening themselves only to be slaughtered. Because of their wealth they have power to do as they wish, but all their achievements will not save them on the day of judgment (5-6).


Verses 7-20

5:7-20 THE NEED FOR PATIENCE AND PRAYER

Many Christians were poor and oppressed, some of them no doubt farmers who suffered because of the rich landowners. James encourages them to wait patiently for the Lord's return (which will bring them victory in the end), just as the farmer waits patiently for the rain that will bring his crops to final harvest (7-8). God is using these trials to teach them patience, so they must not fight against his purposes by grumbling. Some Old Testament examples show that those who cooperate with God's purposes experience the enjoyment of his love and mercy (9-11; cf. Job 1:20-21; Job 2:10). James further warns that swearing rash oaths will not help them bear their trials. He suggests that they would do better to speak and act normally (12).

When believers are going though times of trouble, they should not complain or swear, but pray. When they are happy they should not act foolishly, but sing (13). Christians should realize the power that is available to them through prayer. If they are sick they may ask the elders to pray for them. (The act of pouring oil would give the sick person a symbolic reassurance of the divine help being given.) In certain cases physical suffering may be the result of personal sin, in which case healing will assure the sufferer that the sin is forgiven (14-15).

If Christians confess their faults to each other, they can pray more intelligently for each other's needs (16). The example of Elijah is an assurance that God answers the prayers of his people (17-18; cf. 1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:1; 1 Kings 18:42-46).

Christians should be concerned for all people, not just for those who meet regularly in the church. They should always be looking for opportunities to bring people to God, so that those people can have their sins forgiven (19-20).

 


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Bibliography Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on James 5:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/james-5.html. 2005.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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