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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

James 5

Verses 7-20


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 1:20-18.1.21; 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 18:42-11.18.46).

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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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on James 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.