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Bible Commentaries

Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

James 5

Verse 1

Ye rich men ; for the class of persons addressed.

That shall come upon you ; on account of your sins, especially the wicked manner in which you have obtained and used riches. There is a reference here and in verses James 5:3 ; James 5:5 , to the awful calamity that was about to come upon the Jewish people, and in which these rich men would be involved in common with the rest of their country-men. But this is not the full meaning of the words. That judgment shadowed forth the more dreadful retributions that shall overtake all sinners at the last day.

Verse 2

Are corrupted ; riches in those days consisted much in large quantities of grain and clothing, which were liable to become worthless by decay.

Verse 3

Cankered ; from having been hoarded up, instead of being used.

Eat your flesh ; the same rust that bears witness against them shall consume them as fire; that is, shall bring upon them the consuming judgments of God.

Treasure ; of ill-gotten wealth.

For the last days ; more literally, in the last days; when the vengeance of God is ready to fall upon you. See note to verse Hebrews 5:1 . Riches bring with them great responsibilities; and to hoard them, instead of using them in doing good, is a great sin, and one which draws down upon their possessor the judgments of heaven.

Verse 4

Crieth ; to God for vengeance.

The Lord of sabbath ; the God of hosts; the Almighty. Persons who work for others have a righteous claim to full compensation; and the withholding of it from them is fraud, which will be visited with divine indignation.

Verse 5

Nourished your hearts ; made them fat by luxurious living. Fat is said to have no feeling, and the luxurious have few sympathies.

As in a day of slaughter ; he compares them to beasts that feed to excess on the very day of slaughter. See note to verse Hebrews 5:1 .

Verse 6

He doth not resist you ; after the example of his Lord, he commits his cause to God, knowing that He will execute judgment in his behalf. Compare 1 Peter 2:23 . With these words the apostle passes from the false professors of Christianity, whose sins he has been rebuking, to the truly humble and godly in Christ, whom he exhorts to patience under the trials that they are enduring.

Verse 8

Stablish your hearts ; in the faith and practice of the gospel.

The coming of the Lord ; for the deliverance of his friends and the destruction of his enemies. The giving of directions by God to his people, as to the manifestation of a Christian spirit under wrongs, was not designed to justify or excuse those who wronged them, but to show the excellence of the Christian religion, and to increase the graces and promote the happiness of believers.

Verse 9

Grudge not one against another ; the apostle here rebukes that murmuring and complaining spirit between brethren which has its root in worldly lust and envy.

The Judge ; who will punish all sin, and render to all their just reward.

Verse 11

The patience of Job ; his endurance of trials.

The end of the Lord ; the happy end to which he brought Job’s sufferings. Job 42:10 ; Job 42:12 .

Verse 12

Swear not ; in ordinary conversation.

Let your yea , be yea ; and your nay , nay ; let your yea and nay be steadfast and reliable, so that they shall need no oath to support them. Profaneness is a great sin, every form of which should be carefully avoided by all, and especially by professors of religion.

Verse 14

The elders of the church ; who in the days of the apostles were often endued with miraculous powers.

Anointing him with oil ; as was customary among the Jews. Mark 6:13 .

In the name of the Lord ; Acts 3:6 ; Acts 3:16 . The appeal of popish priests to the directions here given for the healing of the sick, to justify them in anointing with oil those who are expected to die, or administering what they call extreme unction, is a gross perversion; and it is only by perverting the scriptures, that they can gain even a seeming support for their practice.

Verse 15

They shall be forgiven him ; on his being penitent, and exercising faith in Christ.

Verse 16

One to another ; where you have injured one another.

Be healed ; that the calamities which your sins have occasioned may be removed.

Effectual ; sincere, earnest, believing.

Availeth much ; has great influence in procuring blessings from God. Interpreting this verse as if it said, Confess your sins to the priest, is another gross perversion of scripture, which, when the Bible shall be read by all, will be seen. It is not strange, therefore, that the pope warns his people against reading it and judging of its meaning; because when they do, they will see that it condemns him.

Verse 17

Elias ; Elijah. 1 Kings 17:1 ; 1 Kings 18:42-11.18.45 .

Subject to like passions as we are ; as much as to say, Do not think of Elias as some superhuman being, whose prevalent intercession with God you are forbidden to imitate. He was a fellow-man with you, and a sharer with you of all the infirmities of human nature.

Verse 18

Prayer, humble, believing, earnest, and persevering, has great influence with God, and is the means of procuring unspeakable blessings for men. All should therefore pray for whatever they need, in the name of Christ the one only Mediator; confessing their sins, not to the priest, but to God, who alone has power to forgive them, and thanking him for his mercies.

Verse 19

Err from the truth ; depart from the faith and practice of the gospel.

Convert him ; turn him from his error to the belief and practice of truth and duty. Brethren in Christ who turn aside from the path of truth and duty, must be brought into it again, or they will perish; and he who, from love to Christ and to them, is instrumental in doing this, and thus saving their souls from death and hiding a multitude of sins, will be hailed by them as an everlasting benefactor, and with them bless God for ever and ever.

Verse 20

Hide a multitude of sins ; cover them, by leading the person who has committed them to obtain, through repentance and faith in Christ, forgiveness of them. Compare Psalms 32:1 ; "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on James 5". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.