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Bible Commentaries

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

James 5



James 5:4 . Instead of εἰσεληλύθασιν the form εἰσελήλυθαν is, with Tisch. and Lachm., to be preferred (on this form see Ph. Buttm. Ausführl. Gr. Gr. § 87, 8, Note 5, and Winer, p. 70 f. [E. T. 93]).

James 5:5 . The ὡς of the Rec. (after G K, etc.) before ἐν ἠμέρᾳ is, according to the testimonies of A B א , to be regarded as an explanatory addition, and, with Lachm. and Tisch., to be left out; so also Wiesinger, Lange, Brückner; Reiche and Bouman, however, judge otherwise.

James 5:7 . The Rec. after the second ἕως has the particle ἄν (so in א and many min.). Tisch. has omitted it, as, according to his statement, it is not found in A B G K, etc.; Lachm. has retained it (according to Tischendorf’s note: ex errore); so also Buttmann, who adduces no authority for its omission. Already Griesbach regarded ἄν as suspicious. Lachm. and Tisch. have omitted ὑετόν ; it is in A G K, etc., but is wanting in B א , etc.; its addition is easily explained, particularly as in the LXX. it is never wanting with πρώϊμος καὶ ὄψιμος .

James 5:9 . The address ἀδελφοί , in A B, etc. (Lachm. Tisch.), stands before, in G א , etc. (Rec.), after κατʼ ἀλλήλων ; in K, etc., it is entirely wanting. Instead of κατακριθῆτε the simple verb κριθῆτε is, with Griesbach, Scholz, Lachm. Tisch., to be read, according to almost all authorities; so also the article ὁ before κριτής (which in the Rec. is wanting, against almost all authorities) is to be adopted.

James 5:10 . The address according to the Rec. is ἀδελφοί μου (G K, א , etc.); in A B, etc., μου is wanting (Lachm. Tisch.); its correct position is after λάβετε , not after κακοπαθείας .

Instead of κακοπαθείας , א alone reads καλοκαγαθίας .

Before τῷ ὀνόματι , B א , etc., have the preposition ἐν (Lachm.): a correction apparently for the sake of simplification. א alone omits τῷ .

James 5:11 . It is difficult to decide whether we are to read, with the Rec. and Tisch., ὑπομένοντας (G K, etc.), or, with Lachm. and Wiesinger, ὑπομείναντας (A B א , etc.); yet the reading of the Rec. appears to have arisen from an endeavour to generalize the reference of the idea: Bouman certainly judges otherwise.

The Rec. εἴδετε , after B* (teste Majo) K א , etc., Oecumenius (Lachm.), is as a correction to be changed for the more difficult reading ἴδετε , attested by A B G, etc. (Tisch.).

After ἐστιν the Rec. has ὁ κύριος , according to A B (in B, however, the article is wanting) א , several min. vss. etc. (Lachm.); Griesbach regarded it as suspicious, and Tisch. has omitted it, after C K, many min. etc.; the omission can easily be explained from the fact that κυρίου directly precedes (so also Lange; Bouman wavers).

James 5:12 . The reading εἰς ὑπόκρισιν (Ed. Steph., after G K, etc.) has probably arisen from the original ὑπὸ κρίσιν , these two words being taken as one, and then a preposition placed before them.

James 5:14 . The αὐτόν after ἀλείψαντες is wanting in B; it was omitted as being self-evident.

Lachm. and Tisch. have, after A and some min., left out the article τοῦ before κυρίου ; yet G K א , many min. etc., attest its genuineness; in B also κυρίου is wanting; nevertheless Buttmann has received it, but without the article.

James 5:16 . The reading of the Rec. is ἐξομολογεῖσθε ἀλλήλοις τὰ παραπτώματα , καὶ εὔχεσθε κ . τ . λ . (Tisch.); instead of which A B read ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ προσεύχεσθε κ . τ . λ . (Lachm.); for οὖν also K א , several min. Vulg. etc. testify: accordingly οὖν is to be considered as genuine; yet precisely this οὖν might mislead one to find in this verse an extension of the thought going before, and on this account to change the new expressions with the preceding, and thus, instead of παραπτώματα , to put again ἁμαρτίας , and instead of εὔχεσθε , for which also א testifies, and to put again προσεύχεσθε , whereas the opposite change cannot be well explained.

James 5:18 . The Rec. ὑετὸν ἔδωκεν is found in B G K, almost all min. etc. (Tisch.); A, on the contrary, has ἔδωκεν ὑετόν (Lachm.); so also א , but with τόν before ὑετόν . It is possible that this change was occasioned by the following ἐβλάστησεν τὸν καρπόν .

James 5:19 . Tisch. has omitted the pronoun μου after ἀδελφοί , yet the most important authorities, A B K א , etc., attest its genuineness. א alone has, instead of the simple τῆς ἀληθείας , the combination τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ἀληθείας .

James 5:20 . The reading γινώσκετε in B is occasioned by the address ἀδελφοί . Instead of the Rec. ψυχήν , after G K, many min. (Tisch.) Lachm. and Buttm. have adopted ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ . This αὐτοῦ is found in A א , some min. vss. etc. B has it, probably by an error of the scribe, not after ψυχήν , but after θανάτου .

B has as subscription Ἰακώβου ; A: Ἰακώβου ἐπιστολή ; others differently.

Verse 1

James 5:1 . That here the same persons are meant as in chap. James 4:13 , and not others, has already been observed on that passage: by ἄγε νῦν , the ἄγε νῦν of that passage is again resumed. [214]

οἱ πλούσιοι ] see chap. James 1:10 , James 2:6-59.2.7 ; the expression is not to be taken in a symbolical, but in its literal meaning (against Lange).

κλαύσατε ὀλολύζοντες κ . τ . λ .] κλαύσατε is not here to be understood, as in chap. James 4:9 , of the tears of repentance (Estius, Hornejus, Laurentius, de Wette, and others), for there is no intimation of a call to repentance. Correctly Calvin: falluntur qui Jacobum hic exhortari ad poenitentiam divites putant; mihi simplex magis denuntiatio judicii Dei videtur, qua eos terrere voluit absque spe veniae. [215] James already sees the judgment coming upon the rich, therefore the call κλαύσατε ; that for which they should weep are the ταλαιπωρίαι which threatened them. [216]

The imperative is not here used instead of the future (Semler: stilo prophetico imperat, ut rem certissimam demonstret, flebitis; Schneckenburger: aoristus imperativi rem mox certoque eventuram designat), but is to be retained in its full force. The imperative expresses not what they will do, but what they shall even now do, because their ταλαιπωρίαι are nigh. The union of the imperative κλαύσατε with the participle ὀλολύζοντες is not an imitation of the frequent combination of the finite verb with the infinite absolute of the same verb in the Hebrew (Schneckenburger), since here two different verbs are united together (de Wette, Wiesinger); also ὀλολύζειν has not the same meaning as κλαίειν , but, as expressive of a more vehement affection, is added for the sake of strength. ὀλολύζειν frequently in the O. T., Isaiah 13:6 ; Isaiah 14:31 ; Isaiah 15:3 ( ὀλολύζετε μετά κλαυθμοῦ ), and in other places, and indeed chiefly used in reference to the impending divine judgment (Isaiah 13:6 : ὀλολύζετε , ἐγγὺς γὰρ ἡμέρα κυρίου ). Calvin: est quidem et suus poenitentiae luctus, sed qui mixtus consolatione, non ad ululatum usque procedit.

ἐπὶ ταῖς ταλαιπωρίαις ὑμῶν ] for your miseries , i.e. the miseries destined for you , namely, the miseries of the judgment; see James 5:3 : ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις ; James 5:7 : ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου . Thomas Aquinas, Grotius, Mill, Benson, Michaelis, Stier, Lange, Bouman refer this to the then impending destruction of Jerusalem; they are so far right, as the destruction of Jerusalem and the last judgment had not as yet been distinguished in representation; [217] but it is incorrect to refer it to the judgment itself, rather than to the miseries which will precede the advent of Christ; or with Hottinger, to find here only a description of the inconstancy of prosperity.

ταῖς ἐπερχομέναις ] not sc. ὑμῖν (Luther: your misery which will come upon you ; so also de Wette, Lange, and others), but the impending, already threatening miseries; comp. Ephesians 2:7 .

[214] Whilst de Wette, Wiesinger, and others understand by the rich here addressed Christians, Stier has correctly recognised that such are here addressed “who are outside of the Christian church,” namely, those already mentioned in chap. James 2:6-59.2.7 , who practise violence on you , the confessors of the Lord of glory. His remark is also striking: “To them James predicts as a prophet, and entirely in the style of the old prophets, the impending judgment.”

[215] “Wiesinger indeed concedes the point to Calvin, but only in words; for “the design of James, as in the case of the prophets of the O. T., is certainly nothing else than that of moving them by such a threat if possible yet to turn.” If James has this design in these words, he has certainly not indicated it.

[216] That James by this intends the end of the Roman Empire (Hengstenberg), is proved neither from the Epistle of Peter, nor from Revelation 18:0 , nor from any other indications in this Epistle.

[217] Wiesinger: “The question whether James thought on the destruction of Jerusalem or on the advent of Messiah is an anachronism; for to him both of these events occur together.”

Verse 2

James 5:2 . Description of the judgment destroying all riches: ὁ πλοῦτος ὑμῶν σέσηπεν ] In a prophetical manner the future is described as having already taken place (Hottinger, Schneckenburger, de Wette, Wiesinger, Bouman, and others). By πλοῦτος is not here as Estius, Raphelius, Wolf, Semler, Gebser, Bouman on account of σέσηπεν think to be understood such things (fruit, etc.) as undergo literal rottenness, but is to be understood generally; and σέσηπε as a figurative expression denotes generally the destruction to which riches is abandoned. The explanation of Calvin is incorrect: hic immensa divitum rapacitas perstringitur, dum supprimunt, quicquid undecunque possunt ad se trahere, ut inutiliter in area computrescat (similarly Hornejus, Laurentius, Grotius, Bengel, Theile [218] ); James “does not here intend to give the natural result of covetousness, and thus the reason of the judgment, but the effect of the judgment breaking forth” (Wiesinger). [219] James describes the reason from James 5:4 and onwards.

The verb σήπω , to cause to rot , in the passive and second perfect to corrupt , is in the N. T. ἅπ . λεγ ., but often occurs in the LXX.; comp. Job 33:21 ; Job 40:7 ; as here in a general sense (= φθείρεσθαι ) it is found in Sir 14:19 .

καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια ὑμῶν κ . τ . λ .] The general idea πλοῦτος is here and in what follows specialized.

σητόβρωτος ] moth-eaten , in the N. T. ἅπ . λεγ ., does not occur in the classics, but in Job 13:20 , LXX.: ὥσπερ ἱμάτιον σητόβρωτον ; comp. Isaiah 51:8 . σκωληκόβρωτος in Acts 12:23 is similarly formed.

[218] Theile, who takes the preterite in its literal sense, thus explains the passage: divitiae a vobis coacervatae perierunt nulla vestra aliorumque utilitate … atque ideo vos coram judice perdent. Ita causa additur istarum calamitatum perferendi, gravi oppositione eorum quae per absurda et impia ipsorum avaritia jam facta sunt eorumque, quae pro justa Dei retributione adhuc fient.

[219] In agreement with his explanation of πλούσιοι , Lange understands also τλοῦτος in a symbolical sense, namely, the externalized Judaistic righteousness “connected, of course, with worldly prosperity.” His assertion is also incorrect, that here not the last judgment, but “the natural immanent judgments of sinners” are meant.

Verse 3

James 5:3 . Continuation of the description of the judgment: ὁ χρυσὸς ὑμῶν καὶἄργυρος ] a further specification of riches. κατίωται ] in the N. T. ἅπ . λεγ . ( Sir 12:10 ), equivalent to the simple verb, only in a stronger signification. Correctly Hornejus: loquitur populariter, nam aurum proprie aeruginem lion contrahit; so in the Epistle of Jeremiah 11:0 , where it is said of gold and silver images: οὐ διασώζονται ἀπὸ ἰοῦ ; see also in the same, Jeremiah 5:23 . With too minute accuracy, Bretschneider justifies the use of the verb here, that we are to think on gold and silver vessels which are alloyed with copper (similarly Bouman). It is no less incorrect, with Pott, to weaken the idea κατίωται , that it is to be understood only of amisso auri et argenti splendore, de mutato auri colore ex flavo in viridem; against this is ὁ ἰός directly following. Wiesinger thinks that because κατίωται is here used figuratively, it is a matter of indifference that rust does not affect gold; but the ideas must suit each other in the figurative expression. The verb is rather here to be justified by the fact that since rust settles on metals generally, James in his vivid concrete description did not scrupulously take into consideration the difference of metals, which, however, is not to be reckoned, with de Wette, as a “poetical exaggeration.” [220]

καὶἰὸς αὐτῶν (namely, τοῦ χρυσοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἀργύρου ), εἰς μαρτύριον ὑμῖν ἔσται ] Most expositors agree with the explanation of Oecumenius: καταμαρτυρήσει ὑμῶν , ἐλέγχων τὸ ἀμετάδοτον ὑμῶν ; accordingly, “The rust which has collected on your unused gold and silver will testify to your hardness, and that to your injury = κατʼ ὑμῶν .” But since the preceding κατίωται describes the judgment overtaking earthly glory, ἰός can only be understood with reference to it; correctly Wiesinger: “the rust is a witness of their own destruction; in the destruction of their treasures they see depicted their own.” [221] Augusti superficially explains it: “will convince you that all riches are transitory.” After their riches are destroyed, the judgment seizes upon themselves; therefore καὶ φάγεται τὰς σάρκας ὑμῶν . The subject is ὁ ἰός , “the corroding rust seizes also them, and will eat their flesh” (Wiesinger). The figurative expression, although bold and peculiar, is not unsuitable, since ἰός is considered as an effect of judgment. φάγεται ] is not the present (Schneckenburger), but in the LXX. and N. T. the ordinary future for ἔδεται ; see Buttmann, Ausf. gr. Sprach. § 114 [E. T. 58], under ἐσθίω ; Winer, p. 82 [E. T. 110]. The object τὰς σάρκας ὑμῶν belonging to φάγεται is neither = ὑμᾶς (Baumgarten), nor yet in itself indicates “bloated bodies” (Augusti, Pott: corpora lautis cibis bene pasta); also Schneckenburger lays too much stress on the expression, explaining it: emphatice, quum ejusmodi homines nihil sint nisi σάρξ . According to usage, αἱ σάρκες denotes the fleshy parts of the body, therefore the plural is also used with reference to one individual; comp. 2 Kings 9:36 : καταφάγονται οἱ κύνες τὰς σάρκας Ἰεζάβελ ; further, Leviticus 26:29 ; Jdt 16:17 ; Revelation 19:18 ; Revelation 19:21 ; in definite distinction from bones, Micah 3:2-33.3.3 . It is to be remarked that in almost all these passages the same verb is united with the noun. [222] The context shows that what is spoken of is not “the consuming of the body by care and want” (Erasmus, Semler, Jaspar, Morus, Hottinger, Bouman), but the punishment of the divine judgment (Calvin, Grotius, Pott, Schneckenburger, de Wette, Wiesinger, and others). The words ὡς πῦρ may be united either with what goes before or with what follows. Most expositors prefer the first combination; yet already A, the Syriac version (where ὡς is wanting), and Oecumenius in his commentary put a stop after ὑμῶν . Grotius, Knapp, and Wiesinger, considering this construction as correct, accordingly explain it: tanquam ignem opes istas congessetis; Wiesinger states as a reason for this, that without the union with ὡς πῦρ the words ἐθησαυρίσατε κ . τ . λ . give too feeble a meaning. But this is not the case, since the chief stress rests on ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις (so also Lange); also James could not well reckon riches as a fire of judgment. Besides, in the O. T. the judgment is frequently represented as a devouring consuming fire, which was sufficient to suggest to James to add ὡς πῦρ to φάγεται ; see Psalms 21:10 , LXX.: καταφάγεται αὐτοὺς πῦρ ; Isaiah 10:16-23.10.17 ; Isaiah 30:27 ( ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θυμοῦ ὡς πῦρ ἔδεται ); Ezekiel 15:7 ; Amos 5:6 . [223] The sentiment is: After the judgment has overtaken the wealth of the rich, it will attack themselves. Kern gives the sentiment in an unsatisfactory manner: “The destruction of that which was everything to the rich will punish him with torturing sorrow, as if fire devoured his flesh.” That the ΤΑΛΑΙΠΩΡΊΑΙ already draw near is said in James 5:1 , and James by the words ἘΘΗΣΑΥΡΊΣΑΤΕ ἘΝ ἘΣΧΆΤΑΙς ἩΜΈΡΑΙς indicates that the judgment is close at hand, so that this time is the last days directly preceding the judgment; accordingly, the heaping up of treasure appears as something so much the more wicked. Estius, Calvin, Laurentius, and others incorrectly supply to the verb the word ὀργήν in accordance with Romans 2:5 (comp. Proverbs 1:18 ). The object to be supplied to ΘΗΣΑΥΡΊΖΕΙΝ , which is often used absolutely (comp. Luk 12:21 ; 2 Corinthians 12:14 ; Psalms 38:7 ), is contained in the verb itself, and also follows from what has preceded. The preposition ἘΝ is not used instead of ΕἸς , and ἜΣΧΑΤΑΙ ἩΜΈΡΑΙ are not the last days of life (Wolf: accumulavistis divitias extremae vitae parti provisuri; Morus: cumulastis opes sub finem vitae vestrae), but the last times which precede the advent of Christ (James 5:7 ), not merely the final national judgment (Lange). Jachmann most erroneously takes the sentence as interrogative: Have ye collected your ( spiritual ) treasures on the day ( i.e. for the day) of judgment, in order to exhibit them?

[220] Lange strangely thinks that it is here intended to bring out the unnatural fact that the princes of Israel are become rebellious and companions of thieves: “It is as unnatural for gold and silver to be eaten up with rust, as for the glory of Israel to be as corrupted as the glory of other nations corrupts, which may be compared to base metals.”

[221] Stier incorrectly understands by rust “the guilt of sin which cleaves to mammon.”

[222] Although σάρκες in itself indicates only flesh according to its separate parts, yet the expression is here chosen in order to name in a concrete manner that which is carefully nourished by the rich. According to Lange, αἱ σάρκες are “the externals of religious, civil, and individual life;” and the thought of James is that “the rotten fixity described as rust in its last stage transforms itself in the fire of a revolutionary movement!”

[223] Pott: Aerugo describitur, quasi invadat membra divitum, eaque quasi, ut metallum, arrodat atque consumat et quidem … ὡς πῦρ , tanquam flamma membra quasi circumlabens carnemque lento dolore depascens.

Verse 4

James 5:4 . Description of the sins of the rich to the end of James 5:6 , by reason of which they become liable to the judgment. The first sin mentioned is their injustice toward those who work for them.

ἰδού ] an interjection often occurring in the N. T. to draw attention to the object in question.

τῶν ἐργατῶν ] emphatically put first; comp. the proverb: ἄξιοςἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὑτοῦ (1 Timothy 5:18 ). τῶν ἀμησάντων ( ἀμᾷν = θερίζειν , in the N. T. ἅπ . λεγ .) τὰς χώρας ὑμῶν ] χώρα = fields , as in Luke 12:16 ; John 4:35 .

In the following words, expositors conjoin ἀφʼ ὑμῶν with ἀπεστερημένος ( ἀποστερέω , to keep back , Plato, Gorg. 519 c , so also LXX. Malachi 3:5 ; Sir 34:26 ); whilst they either explain ἀπό = ὑπό , or, as Wiesinger, retaining the distinction of the prepositions, observes, that “not the direct origin, but the proceeding of the act of robbery from them is indicated” (comp. Winer, p. 332 [E. T. 464]; Al. Buttmann, p. 280 [E. T. 326]). But it would be more suitable to join ἀφʼ ὑμῶν to κράζει (so also Lange); the kept back hire crieth from the place where it is; comp. Genesis 4:10 : φωνὴ αἵματοςβοᾷἐκ τῆς γῆς ; Exodus 2:23 : ἀνέβηβοὴ αὐτῶν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων . The chief stress is put on ὁ ἀπεστερημένος ; the same kind of conjunction as in chap. James 4:14 . The injury of our neighbour, by diminished payment or withholding of the wages due to him, was expressly forbidden in the law; comp. Leviticus 19:13 ; Deuteronomy 24:14 ; Jeremiah 22:13 ; particularly also Malachi 3:5 : ἔσομαι μάρτυς ταχὺς ἐπὶτοὺς ἀποστεροῦντας μισθὸν μισθωτοῦ ; comp. also Job 31:38-18.31.39 ; Tob 4:14 ; Ecclus. 34:27 ( ἐκχέων αἵμαἀποστερῶν μισθὸν μισθίου ).

κράζει ] Calvin: vindictam quasi alto clamore exposcit; comp. Genesis 4:10 .

In the following words it is stated that the cry has been heard by God; comp. on this expression, particularly Psalms 18:7 ; Isaiah 5:9 : ἠκούσθη εἰς τὰ ὦτα κυρίου σαβαὼθ ταῦτα ; besides Genesis 18:21 ; Genesis 19:13 ; Exodus 2:23 f., Exodus 3:9 , Exodus 22:22 f.; 2 Samuel 22:7 , and other passages. By the designation of God as κυρίου σαβαώθ , His power as the Lord of the heavenly hosts is emphasized; the reference occurring in the O. T. likewise to the earthly hosts is here evidently not admissible (against Lange); it is the transference of the Hebrew יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת , often occurring in the LXX., particularly in Isaiah; in other places the LXX. have κύριος παντοκράτωρ , 2 Samuel 5:10 ; 2 Samuel 7:27 , or κύριος τῶν δυνάμεων , Psalms 24:10 .

James, in his graphic style, instead of the general word labourer, mentions specially the reapers, not on account of their multitude (de Wette), but because their laborious work in the sweat of their brow most strongly represents the work which is worthy of wages. Thus Calvin not incorrectly observes: quid est indignius quam eos, qui panem ex suo labore nobis suppeditant, inedia et fame conficere? It is more remote to explain it thus: “because selfish hard-heartedness is here most sharply stated, when even the joy of the harvest does not induce them to give to the poor their hardly-earned portion” (Brückner). [224]

[224] Here also Lange comes in with his symbolical interpretation, understanding by the harvest “the time when the theocratic seed of God in Israel has ripened unto the harvest of God,” and by the reapers “the apostles and first Christians.”

Verse 5

James 5:5 . A second sin of the rich, namely, their luxurious and gluttonous life , which forms a sharp contrast to the toilsome life of the labourers.

ἐτρυφήσατεἐσπαταλήσατε ] synonymous terms: τρυφᾶν , in the N. T. ἅπ . λεγ , in the LXX. Nehemiah 9:25 ; Isaiah 66:11 (Isaiah 57:4 ). σπαταλᾷν , only here and in 1 Timothy 5:6 ; in the LXX. Ezekiel 16:49 ; Amos 6:4 , and other places. Hottinger thus states the distinction between them: τρυφᾷν deliciarum est et exquisitae voluptatis; σπαταλᾶν luxuriae atque prodigalitatis; comp. the description of the rich man in Luke 16:19 . These and the following verbs are in the aorist, not “because the conduct of the rich is described as viewed from the day of judgment” (1st ed. of this commentary; similarly also Wiesinger), for “this does not suit the present ἀντιτάσσεται ” (Gunkel), but because James will mark the present conduct as a constant occurrence. The addition ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ] forms a sharp contrast to the preceding εἰς τὰ ὦτα κυρίου σαβαώθ . Whilst the Lord in heaven hears the complaints of the unjustly oppressed, the rich on earth enjoy their lusts, undisturbed by the wrath of God, which shall be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18 ).

ἐθρέψατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν ] does not add a new idea to the preceding, but brings forward the fact that the rich in their luxurious living find the satisfaction of the desires of their heart. Luther’s translation: “Ye have pastured your heart,” does not sufficiently correspond to the idea τρέφειν ; something bad is evidently denoted by it. Since τρέφειν is literally “to make firm, thick,” it is best here to render it by “to satiate. ” Other expositors translate it by “to fatten; “Lange, by “to make fat.τὰς καρδίας is equivalent neither to τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν nor to ὑμᾶς ; comp. Acts 14:17 , and Meyer on that passage; [225] Winer, p. 141 [E. T. 195].

ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς ] corresponds to the preceding ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις . These last times are designated by James with reference to the rich as ἡμέρα σφαγῆς , the day of slaughter , because the sentence of death, which they have incurred, will be directly executed, upon them at the approach of the παρουσία of Christ (comp. James 5:7 ) and the judgment; so also Wiesinger, Brückner, Lange, only the latter arbitrarily understands by the day of slaughter, the day of Israel’s judgment, comprehending the time from the death of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem. This designation of the day of judgment is also found in the O. T., particularly Jeremiah 12:3 , LXX.: ἅγνισον αὐτοὺς εἰς ἡμέραν σφαγῆς αὐτῶν ; Jeremiah 25:34 . By the reading ὡς before ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφ . a comparison occurs, namely, with the beasts who are to be slaughtered, so that Pott after ὡς directly supplies θρέμματα . De Wette explains it: “Ye have pastured your hearts as in the day of slaughter; i.e. according to the comparison with beasts, who on the day on which they are to be slaughtered feed carelessly and devour greedily;” so also Bouman. But the idea “carelessly and greedily” is introduced; also the comparison is unsuitable, since beasts on the day of slaughter do not eat more greedily than on other days. Other expositors, as Wolf, Augusti, Hottinger, and others, take ἐν as equivalent to εἰς ; Hottinger: corpora vestra aluistis, tanquam pecora, quae saginari solent ad mactationem; but this change of prepositions is arbitrary. Several expositors, as Calvin, Beza, Grotius, Laurentius, Bengel, and others, understand by ἡμέρα σφαγῆς the day of sacrifice; Calvin: addit similitudinem, sicut etc., quia solebant in sacrificiis solemnibus liberalius vesci. quam pro quotidiano more; the meaning then is: tota vita vestra est quasi perpetuum epulum ac festum continuum (Laurentius); but that expression never elsewhere occurs in this signification. Had James thought on the sacrificial feast or the like, he would have expressed it more definitely; besides, by this explanation the reference to the judgment is entirely awanting, and only the luxurious life is described; but this contradicts the character of the whole section, for if James, from James 5:4 onwards, assigns the reason of ταλαιπωρίαι , he does this not without an earnest pointing to the judgment and its nearness.

[225] Meyer: “The heart is filled with food, inasmuch as the sensation of being filled, the pleasant feeling of satisfaction, is in the heart.”

Verse 6

James 5:6 . The third sin, the persecution of the just , by which the ungodliness of their disposition is most strongly indicated. By δίκαιος is not meant Christ (Oecumenius, [226] Bede, Grotius, Lange), for, on the one hand, there is nothing in the context to indicate this, and, on the other hand, the present ἈΝΤΙΤΆΣΣΕΤΑΙ , is opposed to it; also, if this were the case, the perfect must be put instead of the aorist, as here only one deed is mentioned, not, as before, a repetition of deeds. Wiesinger, in an unsatisfactory manner, explains ΤῸΝ ΔΊΚΑΙΟΝ by the innocent. Not merely the unjust conduct of the πλούσιοι founded on covetousness is here intended to be described, but the reason of persecution is implied in the expression ΤῸΝ ΔΊΚΑΙΟΝ itself; comp. Wisd. of Song of Solomon 2:12-22.2.17 ; as also 1 John 3:12 . The singular is to be taken collectively, and the expression absolutely, as in James 5:16 . Several expositors assume that the verbs ΚΑΤΕΔΙΚΆΣΑΤΕ , ἘΦΟΝΕΎΣΑΤΕ , are not meant in their literal sense; but evidently without reason. ΚΑΤΕΔΙΚΆΣΑΤΕ shows that here primarily judges are meant; yet the accusers, if these are to be distinguished from them, are not to be considered as excluded, since their accusation points to nothing else than to a sentence of condemnation. [227] The asyndeton sharpens the climax, which is contained in the addition of the second verb to the first. Bouman directs attention to the paronomasia between κατεδικάσατε and δίκαιον .

οὐκ ἀντιτάσσεται ] opposes the calm patience of the just to the violence of the wicked: he doth not resist (comp. Acts 18:6 ; Romans 13:4 ; James 4:6 ). Schneckenburger: οὐκ ἀντιτ . sine copula et pronomine ponderose additur. The present is explained from the fact that in what goes before not a single instance, but the continued conduct of the rich is described, and opposed to this is placed the similarly continued conduct of the δίκαιοι . Lange, by the reference of τὸν δίκαιον to Christ, misinterprets the force of the present, arbitrarily attributing to the verb the meaning: “He stands no longer in your way; He does not stop you (in the way of death); He suffers you to fill up your measure.”

It is unnecessary to supply in thought ὅς or γάρ ; also οὐκ ἀντιτάσσεται is not to be converted into οὐ δύναται ἀντιτάσσεσθαι (Pott). For the correct construction there is no reason, with Bentley, for conjecturing ὁ κύριος instead of οὐ , or, with Benson, to take the sentence as interrogative, and to supply ὁ κύριος . The object of the addition of the clause is not so much the more strongly to mark the violent conduct of the rich, as rather by implication to point to the proximity of the vengeance of God, who interests Himself in the suffering just, as is definitely asserted in the previous verses. With this verse are to be compared, besides the already cited passage in Wis 2:12-17 , particularly Amos 2:6-30.2.7 ; Amos 5:12 ( καταπατοῦντες δίκαιον ), Amos 8:4 , which testify for the correctness of the explanation here given.

[226] Oecumenius, indeed, says: ἀναντιῤῥήτως τό , ἐφον . τ . δικ ., ἑπὶ τὸν Χριστὸν ἀναφέρεται ; but he thinks that James likewise understands by this: τοὺς ἄλλους τοὺς τὰ ὅμοια παρὰ τῶν Ἰοιδαίων παθόντας ; and he closes with the remark: ἴσως δε καὶ προφητικῶς τὸ περὶ ἐαυτὸν ὑπεμφαίνει πάθος .

[227] Wiesinger correctly observes that φονεύειν is here not to be explained according to Sir 31:21 : φονεύων τον πλησιονἀφαιρούμενος τὴν ἐμβίωσιν ; but he maintains without reason that the death of the just is not to be considered as the direct design of the πλούσεοι , but only as the result of their oppressions. Also de Wette thinks that the killing is not to be understood literally, but of extreme violence, deprivation of liberty, and the like. This interpretation is, however, occasioned by the assumption that the rich are Christians.

Verse 7

James 5:7 . Exhortation to the brethren to patient waiting, on to James 5:11 .

μακροθυμήσατε οὖν ] μακροθυμεῖν ; literally, to be long-suffering to those who do an injury; opposed to ὀξυθυμεῖν ; see Meyer on Colossians 1:11 . On its distinction from ὑπομένειν , see on 2 Timothy 3:11 ; here the meaning appears to run into that of ὑπομένειν ; comp. the following μακροθυμῶν and James 5:8 ; but it is here well put, in order to exclude the feeling of disquieting doubt; comp. Hebrews 6:12 ; Hebrews 6:15 .

οὖν ] refers to the preceding sentiment (also to that indicated in οὐκ ἀντιτάσσεται ὑμῖν ), that the judgment is near (de Wette, Wiesinger [228] ).

ἈΔΕΛΦΟΊ ] contrast to the ΠΛΟΎΣΙΟΙ .

Patience is to endure ἝΩς Τῆς ΠΑΡΟΥΣΊΑς ΤΟῦ ΚΥΡΊΟΥ . On ἜΩς as a preposition, see Winer, p. 418 [E. T. 590]. As regards the meaning which ἜΩς here has, Schneckenburger correctly observes: non tempus tantum sed rem quoque indicat, qua ΘΛῖΨΙς ΜΑΚΡΟΘΎΜΩς toleranda tollatur. By ΠΑΡΟΥΣΊΑ ΤΟῦ ΚΥΡΊΟΝ , according to constant Christian usage, is to be understood the advent of Christ (Wiesinger, Brückner, Lange, Bouman), not the coming of God (Augusti, Theile, de Wette); although James by κύριος chiefly designates God, yet he also uses this name for Christ, chap. James 2:1 .

The exhortation is strengthened by the reference to the patient waiting of the husbandman (the same figure in Sir 6:19 ). As he waits ( ἘΚΕΔΈΧΕΤΑΙ ) for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with reference to it, until it has received the early and latter rain, so should the Christian patiently wait for the precious fruit of his labour, for which he hopes. The καρπός is designated as ΤΊΜΙΟς , because it is its preciousness which occasions the ΜΑΚΡΟΘΥΜΊΑ . By ΜΑΚΡΟΘΥΜῶΝ ἘΠʼ ΑὐΤῷ , ἘΚΔΈΧΕΤΑΙ is more definitely stated, since that verb does not necessarily include in itself the idea here intended. On ἘΠʼ ΑὐΤῷ = in reference to the ΚΑΡΠΌς , comp. Luke 18:7 .

ΓΕΩΡΓΌς is not the subject of ΛΆΒῌ (Luther), but ΚΑΡΠΌς (Stier).

The question whether we are here to read ἝΩς with or without ἌΝ (see critical remarks) cannot be answered from the usage of the N. T.; see Matthew 10:11 , and, on the other hand, Luke 12:59 . According to Tischendorf, the authorities are decisive for the omission of ἌΝ . See Al. Buttmann, p. 198 f. [E. T. 230 f.]. [229] ( ὙΕΤῸΝ ) ΠΡΏΪΜΟΝ ΚΑῚ ὌΨΙΜΟΝ ] the autumnal and spring rains; see Deuteronomy 11:14 ; Jeremiah 5:26 ; Joel 2:23 ; Zechariah 10:1 : not “the morning and the evening rain” (Luther); see Winer’s Realwörterb . under “ Witterung. ” [230]

[228] Schneckenburger correctly observes: ad judicii divini propinquitatem respicit; but the remark is erroneous: neque cam infitias, si quis pariter versui 6 hunc jungat, ita ut exemplo τῆς μακροθυμίας ad eandem animi lenitatem usque servandam excitentur.

[229] It is peculiar that in the parallel sentences, Exodus 15:16 , Jeremiah 23:20 , at first ἕως stands and then ἕως ἄν .

[230] In a peculiar manner Oecumenius allegorizing says: πρώϊμος ὑετός , ἡ ἐν νεότητι μετἀ δακρύων μετάνοια · ὄψιμος , ἡ ἐν τῇ γήρᾳ .

Verse 8

James 5:8 . Resumption and completion of the exhortation. The καί after μακροθυμήσατε is explained from the reference to ὁ γεωργός .

By the asyndeton addition στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν , the conduct which is the condition of μακροθυμία is emphasized. Not weak, but strong hearts are able to cherish μακροθυμίαν ; on this expression, comp. 1Th 3:13 ; 1 Peter 5:10 . The strengthening is indeed, on the one hand, an affair of God; but, on the other hand, it depends on the man himself, just like everything else that is obtained by the man surrendering himself to the love of God working in him.

ὅτιπαρουσία κ . τ . λ .] Calvin: Ne quis objiceret, nimium differri liberationis tempus, occurrit dicens, prope instare Dominum, vel (quod idem est) ejus adventum appropinquasse.

On the expression, comp. especially 1 Peter 4:7 .

Verse 9

James 5:9 . To the preceding exhortation a new one is added: μὴ στενάζετε , ἀδελφοί , κατʼ ἀλλήλων , since with impatience in affliction a sinful irritability of the sufferers toward each other is easily conjoined. στενάζειν κατά is to be understood neither of invidia alienis bonis ingemiscente (Grotius), nor of impatientia mutuis lamentationibus augenda; it rather denotes the gemitus accusatorius (Estius, Calvin, and others), without, however, necessarily supposing a provocatio ultionis divinae malorumque imprecatio (Theile, and similarly Calvin, Morus, Gebser, Hottinger, Lange, and others) united with it. Augusti incorrectly renders it: “Give no occasion to one another for sighing.”

From κατʼ ἀλλήλων it does not follow that the πλούσιοι (James 5:1 ff.) belong to the Christian church (against de Wette and Wiesinger); the reference here is rather to the conduct of Christians toward each other under the oppressions to which they were exposed by the πλούσιοι . [231]

Since στενάζειν κατά involves the judging of our brother, and is opposed to that love of which Paul says: μακροθυμεῖ , χρηστεύεται , … οὐ παροξύνεται , οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόνπάντα ὑπομένει , James adds the admonition ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε (comp. Matthew 7:1 ), and then, for the purpose of strengthening the warning, points to the nearness of the Judge. The κριτής is none other than the Lord, whose παρουσία is at hand. As His nearness should comfort Christians in their distress, so it, should likewise restrain them from the renunciation of love to one another (comp. chap. James 2:13 ). Incorrectly Theile: non tam, qui impatientius ferentes certo puniat (quamquam nec hoc abesse potest), quam: qui vos ulciscatur, ut igitur ne opus quidem sit ista tam periculosa impatientia (so also de Wette); for ὁ κριτής evidently points back to ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε . [232]

On πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν ἕστηκεν ] i.e. he stands already before the door , on the point of entering, see Matthew 24:33 ; Mark 13:29 (Acts 5:23 ).

[231] Hornejus: Quos ad manifestas et gravissimas improborum injurias fortiter ferendas incitarat, eos nunc hortatur, ut etiam in minoribus illis offensis, quae inter pios ipsos saepe subnascuntur, vel condonandis vel dissimulandis promti sint. Contingit enim, ut qui hostium et improborum maximas saepe contumelias et injurias aequo animo tolerant, fratrum tamen offensas multo leviores non facile ferant.

[232] Wiesinger, indeed, recognises that the statement is added as a warning; but yet he thinks that the chief idea is: “Ye may with perfect calmness leave the judgment to Him” (so also Lange).

Verses 10-11

James 5:10-59.5.11 . Old Testament examples adduced for the sake of strengthening the exhortation to patience.

ὑπόδειγμα λάβετε ] ὑπόδειγμα (instead of the classical παράδειγμα ) here, as frequently in the N. T. and LXX., an example, a pattern; in sense equivalent to ὑπόγραμμον , 1 Peter 2:21 ; τύπος , 2 Thessalonians 3:9 ( εἰς τὸ μιμεῖσθαι ).

τῆς κακοπαθείας καὶ τῆς μακροθυμίας ] κακοπάθεια , in the N. T. ἅπ . λεγ ., is not synonymous with μακροθυμία = vexationum patientia (Hottinger), but denotes suffering, affliction , synonymous with ξυμφοραί , Thue. vii. 77; in 2Ma 2:26-27 , it is used in a somewhat attenuated sense. Schneckenburger arbitrarily combines it with the following words into one idea = τῆς ἐν κακοπαθείᾳ μακροθυμίας ; by this combination the point of κακοπάθεια is weakened. On the sentiment, see Matthew 5:12 .

By the relative clause οἳ ἐλάλησαν ( ἐν ) τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου , belonging to τοὺς προφήτας , is indicated that the prophets, as servants of God, stand opposed to the world, even as believing Christians do. The dative τῷ ὀνόματι (see critical remark) is not to be explained, with Meyer (see on Matthew 7:22 ), “by means of the name, i.e. that the name of the Lord satisfied their religious consciousness and was the object of their confession;” but, as is commonly understood = ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου (Wiesinger: jussu et autoritate; de Wette: “by virtue of the name”); this is evident from the fact that the Hebrew דִּבֵּר בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה is translated in the LXX. not only by ἐν ( τᾷ ) ὀν . κυρίου (Daniel 9:6 ) or by ἐπὶ τῷ ὀν . (Jeremiah 20:9 ), but also by λαλεῖν τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου (Jeremiah 44:16 ). [233]

[233] Also in union with other verbs the LXX. translate בְּשֵׁם sometimes by the simple dative; thus Exodus 33:19 ; Exodus 34:5 : καλεῖν τῷ ὀνόματι ; Jeremiah 12:16 : ὀμνύειν τῷ ὀν . μου ; see also Isaiah 41:25 ; Isaiah 43:7 ; Isaiah 45:4 . Though this usage were not decisive, yet it would be most natural to explain the dative τῷ ἐνόματι = through the name, by which the name of the Lord would be conceived as the objective power by which the prophets were induced to speak.

Verse 11

James 5:11 assigns a new reason for the exhortation: Behold, we count happy them who endure; the μακαρίζειν of them is founded on the consciousness that God does not leave them unrewarded (Matthew 5:12 ), which is clearly manifested in the life of Job, on which account James, in conclusion, refers to him. By the reading τοὺς ὑπομένοντας the idea is to be taken quite generally; whereas by the better attested reading τοὺς ὑπομείναντας it is to be limited to sufferers of the past time; the latter is more in conformity with the context (Wiesinger). The “restricted reference” to τοὺς προφήτας (Grotius, Baumgarten, Pott, Hottinger, Theile) is not to be justified.

τὴν ὑπομόνην Ἰὼβ ἠκούσατε ] ὑπομόνη is not = perpessio (Storr), but the patience which Job displayed both in his afflictions and in his replies to the contradictions of his friends; Tob 2:12-14 (Vulg.; the text in the Greek ed. Tisch. reads differently) refers to the same example; also in Ezekiel 14:14 ; Ezekiel 14:20 , Job is mentioned as a righteous man along with Noah and Daniel.

ἠκούσατε ] may refer specially to the reading in the synagogue, but may be understood generally.

καὶ τὸ τέλος κυρίου ] is, according to the connection given above, to be referred to and explained of the issue in which the sufferings of Job terminated: finem, quern a Domino habuit; so that κυρίου is the genit. subj. or causae (2 Corinthians 11:26 ); thus most expositors explain it. Others, as Augustin, Bede, Lyra, Estius, Thomas, Pareus, Wetstein, Lange, assume that by τέλος κυρίου the death of Christ is to be understood. Against this is not only the concluding clause, but also the context, which points to the end to which the pious sufferer is brought by the mercy of God, and on account of which he is accounted happy; apart altogether from the improbability that James should connect the example of Christ immediately with that of Job. [234]

With the reading εἴδετε this can only be understood of “indirect seeing, namely, of clear perception by hearing” (de Wette). The better attested reading, however, is ἴδετε , and it can only be regarded as an oversight that Wiesinger translates this ἴδετε by “audiendo cognovistis,” as it is not the indicative, but the imperative. The imperative is here certainly surprising, and was on that account changed into the indicative. Tischendorf has connected ἴδετε with what goes before, and then it is to be explained: Ye have heard of the patience of Job, look also at the end which the Lord gave. The connection with what follows would, however, be more suitable: Ye have heard of the patience of Job and the end which the Lord gave; see ( i.e. recognise from this) that the Lord is πολύσπλαγχνος and οἰκτίρμων . Such an imperative, introduced ἀσυνδέτως , is not foreign to the style of James; comp. chap. James 1:16 ; James 1:19 . With the Receptus , and also with the union of ἴδετε with τὸ τέλος κυρίου , ὅτι is not a particle of proof = for (de Wette, Wiesinger, Lange), since in the preceding words no thought is expressed which would be confirmed by this clause; [235] but an objective particle that; a twofold object is joined to the verb, the second definitely bringing forward the point indicated in the first; arbitrarily Theile translates it and certainly.

The subject to ἔστιν is at all events ὁ κύριος , which, according to the most important authorities, is to be retained as genuine.

πολύσπλαγχνος ] is a complete ἅπ . λεγ . “coined after the Hebrew רַב הֶסֶד ” (Wiesinger), which the LXX. translate πολυέλεος , see Exodus 34:6 , etc.; in Eph 4:32 , 1 Peter 3:8 , is the related expression εὔσπλαγχνος .

οἰκτίρμων ] in the N. T. only here and in Luke 6:36 (comp. Colossians 3:12 : σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ ), frequently in O. T.; comp. with this passage, particularly Exodus 34:6 ; Psalms 103:8 ; and Sir 2:7 ff.

The reference to the mercy of God was to impress the readers, in their sufferings, with the hope that the reward of their patience would not fail them, and to encourage them to stedfast endurance.

[234] In a most unsatisfactory manner Lange seeks to justify this, by observing that James “did thus connect the example of Abraham with that of Rahab.” It is evidently inappropriate to place together Job as “the great sufferer of the Old Testament,” with Christ as “the great sufferer of the New Testament.”

[235] In a peculiar but highly arbitrary manner, Lange refers ὅτι to what directly precedes, uniting it with τὸ τέλος κυρίου in the sense that it is thereby specified what Christ was able to effect in entering upon His sufferings.

Verse 12

James 5:12 . The warning contained in this verse against swearing is in no other connection with the preceding than what lay in the conduct of the readers. The Epistle of James was occasioned by manifold faults in the churches, and therefore he could not conclude without referring to the inconsiderate swearing prevalent among them. It is as little indicated that he refers to the warning against abuse of the tongue (chap. 3; Hornejus) as that this swearing arose from impatience, against which the preceding verses are directed (against Gataker, Wiesinger). How important this warning was to the author the words πρὸ πάντων δέ show, by which it is indicated that it of all other exhortations is to be specially taken to heart. James assigns the reason of this in the words ἵνα μὴ ὑπὸ κρίσιν πέσητε .

The warning μὴ ὀμνύετε is more exactly stated in the words μήτε τὸν οὐρανόν , μήτε τὴν γῆν , μήτε ἄλλον τινὰ ὅρκον . It is to be noticed that swearing by the name of God is not mentioned. This is not, as Rauch along with others maintains, to be considered as included in the last member of the clause, but James with μήτε ἄλλον τινὰ ὅρκον has in view only similar formulae as the above, of which several are mentioned in Matthew 5:35-40.5.36 . Had James intended to forbid swearing by the name of God, he would most certainly have expressly mentioned it; for not only is it commanded in the O. T. law, in contradistinction to other oaths (Deuteronomy 6:13 ; Deuteronomy 10:20 ; Psalms 63:1-19.63.2 ), but also in the prophets it is announced as a token of the future turning of men to God (Isaiah 65:16 ; Jeremiah 12:16 ; Jeremiah 23:7-24.23.8 ). The omission of this oath shows that James in this warning has in view only the abuse, common among the Jews generally and also among his readers, of introducing in the common every-day affairs of life, instead of the simple yea or nay, such asseverations as those here mentioned; so that we are not justified in deducing from his words an absolute prohibition of swearing in general, [236] as has been done by many expositors of our Epistle, and especially by Oecumenius, Bede, Erasmus, Gebser, Hottinger, Theile, de Wette, Neander (comp. also Meyer on Matthew 5:33 ff.); whereas Calvin, Estius, Hornejus, Laurentius, Grotius, Pott, Baumgarten, Michaelis, Storr, Morus, Schneckenburger, Kern, Wiesinger, Bouman, Lange, [237] and others, refer James’ prohibition to light and trifling oaths. The use of oaths by heaven etc., arises, on the one hand, from forgetting that every oath, in its deeper significance, is a swearing by God; and, on the other hand, from a depreciation of the simple word, thus from a frivolity which is in direct contrast to the earnestness of the Christian disposition. The construction of ὀμνύειν with the accusative τὸν οὐρανόν , etc., is in accordance with classical usage, whereas the construction with ἐν and εἴς (in Matt.) is according to Hebraistic usage.

To the prohibition James opposes the command with the words ἤτω δὲ ὑμῶν τὸ ναὶ ναὶ καὶ τὸ οὒ οὔ , which do not express a new exhortation (Schneckenburger), but the contrast to ὀμνύειν τὸν οὐρανόν , etc. Most expositors (Theophylact, Oecumenius, Zwingli, Calvin, Hornejus, Grotius, Bengel, Gebser, Schneckenburger, Kern, Stier, and others) find here a command to truthfulness expressed; but incorrectly, as in the foregoing μὴ ὀμνύετε a reference to the contrast between truth and falsehood is not in question at all. De Wette correctly explains it: “let your yea be (a simple) yea, and your nay (a simple) nay” (so also Estius, Piscator, Hottinger, Neander, Wiesinger, and others; comp. Al. Buttmann, p. 142 [E. T. 163]). [238] Not the sentiment itself, but its form only is different from Matthew 5:37 (see Tholuck and Meyer in loco ).

The form ἤτω (1 Corinthians 16:22 ; Psalms 104:31 , LXX.) instead of ἔστω is found in classical Greek only once in Plato, Rep. ii. p. 361 (see Buttmann, Ausführl. Gr. § 108, Remark 15 [E. T. 49]; Winer, p. 73 [E. T. 95]).

ἵνα μὴ ὑπὸ κρίσιν πέσητε ] assigns the reason why one should not swear, but should be satisfied with the simple yea or nay. According to its meaning, the expression is equivalent to ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε , James 5:9 . There is nothing strange in πίπτειν ὑπό ]; comp. 2 Samuel 22:39 ; Psalms 18:39 . By κρίσις is to be understood judicium condemnatorium. The swearing forbidden by James subjects to the judgment, because it is founded on and in every instance promotes frivolity.

[236] Rauch says: “One should give honour to the truth, and freely and without prejudice recognise that according to the clear words of the text here, as in Matthew 5:34 ff., a general and unconditional prohibition of all oaths is expressed.” To this it is replied that honour is given to the truth when one is not taken by appearance , but seeks without prejudice to comprehend the actual meaning. In opposition to the view that Christ by the prohibition of oaths, in Matthew 5:33 ff., has in view the ideal condition of the church, Wiesinger with justice observes: “It can no longer be said, in reference to our passage, that only an ideal requirement is expressed calculated for entirely different circumstances than those which were in reality, for there can be no doubt that James demands for his requirement complete practice under the actual and not the ideal circumstances of his readers.”

[237] Lange by this understands more exactly: “conspiracy, which is a swearing accompanied by hypothetical imprecations or the giving of a pledge.” Moreover, his view of the design of the Epistle misled him to find the reason of this prohibition in Jewish zeal to enter into conspiracies.

[238] Lange would unite the two points together; and he is so far not in the wrong, as James presupposes truthfulness.

Verse 13

James 5:13 . If one among you suffers, let him pray; if one is of good courage, let him sing psalms. This exhortation stands in no assignable connection with what goes before. The sufferings to which James 5:7 ff. refer are those of persecution; but κακοπαθεῖν has here an entirely general meaning. On account of the following εὐθυμεῖ , many expositors (Beza, Semler, Rosenmüller, Hottinger) incorrectly explain κακοπαθεῖν = “ to be dejected ” (Vulgate: tristatur quis). It rather means to be unfortunate, to suffer , in which aegritudo animo is certainly to be considered as included. Pott incorrectly takes it as equivalent to the following ἀσθενεῖν , which is only a particular, kind of κακοπαθεῖν .

προσεύχεσθαι ] denotes prayer generally; there is no reason to limit it here to petition.

ψάλλειν ] literally, to touch, used particularly of stringed instruments; in the LXX. the translation of נִנֵּן and זִטֵּר = to sing psalms; comp. particularly 1 Corinthians 14:15 . Both joy and sorrow should be the occasion of prayer to the Christian. The form of the sentence is the same as in 1 Corinthians 7:18 ; 1 Corinthians 7:27 . Meyer: “The protases do not convey a question, being in the rhetorically emphatic form of the hypothetical indicative;” see Winer, p. 152 [E. T. 213], p. 255 [E. T. 355], p. 478 [E. T. 678]. [239]

[239] Lachmann has after the sentence containing the hypothesis put a mark of interrogation. Al. Buttmann, p. 195 [E. T. 226], rightly declares this to be unnecessary, but has in his edition of the N. T. adopted the same punctuation.

Verse 14

James 5:14 . From the general κακοπαθεῖν a particular instance, that of sickness, is selected. ἀσθενεῖν ] = aegrotare, as in Matthew 10:8 , Luke 4:40 , and many other passages; the opposite: ὑγιαίνειν .

By ἀσθενεῖ τις James hardly means any sick person, but only such a person who under the burden of bodily suffering also suffers spiritually, being thereby tempted in his faith.

The sick man is to call to himself the presbyters of the congregation. προσκαλεσάσθω ] in the middle expresses only the reference to himself; not that the call is by others, which is here taken for granted.

τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους τῆς ἐκκλησίας ] the presbyters of the congregation , namely, to which the sick man belongs. It is arbitrary to explain τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους as unum ex presbyteris (Estius, Hammond, Laurentius, Wolf); the whole body is meant (Wiesinger), as the article shows; not some of its members, as Theile considers possible. The following words: καὶ προσευξάσθωσαν κ . τ . λ ., express the object for which the presbyters are to come; they are to pray over him, anointing him in the name of the Lord. The prayer is the chief point, “as also James 5:15 teaches: ἡ εὐχὴ τ . πίστεως κ . τ . λ .” (Wiesinger); the anointing is the act accompanying the prayer. ἐπʼ αὐτόν ] is generally inaccurately explained as equivalent to pro eo, pro salute ejus; ἐπί with the accusative expresses figuratively the reference to something, similarly as the German über with the accusative; thus κλαίειν ἐπί τινα , Luke 23:28 . How far the author thought on a local reference, he who prayeth bending over the sick, or stretching forth his hands over him, cannot be determined; see Acts 19:13 .

With the prayer is to be conjoined the anointing of the sick, for what purpose James does not state. According to Mark 6:13 , the disciples in their miracles of healing applied it, when at the command of Jesus they traversed the Jewish land; but the reason of their doing so is not given, nor at a later period is there any mention of it in the miracles of the apostles. [240] Probably James mentions the anointing with oil only in conformity with the general custom of employing oil for the refreshing, strengthening, and healing of the body, [241] since he refers the miracle not to the anointing, but to the prayer, and, presupposing its use, directs that the presbyters should unite prayer with it, and that they should perform it ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι ( τοῦ ) κυρίου , that is, in a believing and trustful mention of the name of Christ (less probably of God). That ἘΝ Τῷ ὈΝ . ΚΥΡ . cannot mean jussu et auctoritate Christi is evident, because there is no express command of Christ to employ it. Gebser incorrectly unites this particular with ΠΡΟΣΕΥΞΆΣΘΩΣΑΝ ; Schneckenburger with both verbs; it belongs only to ἈΛΕΊΨΑΝΤΕς (de Wette, Wiesinger). The question why the presbyters should do this is not to be answered, with Schneckenburger: quia ΤῸ ΧΆΡΙΣΜΑ ἸΑΜΆΤΩΝ (1 Corinthians 12:9 ) cum iis communicatum erat; for, on the one hand, it is an arbitrary supposition that the presbyters possessed that ΧΆΡΙΣΜΑ , and, on the other hand, there is here no mention of it; incorrectly also Pott: quia uti omnino prudentissimi eligebantur, sic forte etiam artis medicae peritissimi erant. Bengel has given the true explanation: qui dum orant, non multo minus est, quam si tota oraret ecclesia; and Neander: “the presbyters as organs acting in the name of the church.” [242]

[240] Meyer in loco considers this anointing, as also the application of spittle on the part of Jesus Himself, as a conductor of the supernatural healing power, analogous to the laying on of hands. But in this the distinction is too little observed, that according to general custom oil, but not spittle, and the laying on of hands, was applied to the sick.

[241] See Herzog’s Real-Encycl. on Oel, Oelung, Salbe.

[242] It is well known that the Catholic Church, besides Mark 6:13 , specially appeals to this passage in support of the sacrament of extreme unction. Chemnitz, in his Examen Conc. Trid. , has already thoroughly shown with what incorrectness they have done so. Even Cajetan and Baronius doubt whether James here treats of that sacrament, as he does not speak of the sick unto death, but of the sick generally. See Herzog’s Real-Encycl. on the word Oelung.

Verse 15

James 5:15 mentions the result of the prayer conjoined with the anointing.

καὶεὐχὴ τῆς πίστεως ] That the prayer of the presbyters must proceed from faith was not asserted in the preceding, but was evidently presupposed; it is now directly characterized as such. τῆς πίστεως is gen. subj.: the prayer which faith offers; inaccurately Schneckenburger: preces fide plenae. πίστις is used here in the same signification as in chap. James 1:16 ; it is sure confidence in the Lord, in reference to the case in question. Grotius, Gomarus, Schneckenburger, Theile, and others define the prayer more closely, as that of the presbyters and of the sick man. On the other hand, Wiesinger refers ἡ εὐχὴ τ . π . to προσευξάσθωσαν , accordingly the intercession of the presbyters; so also de Wette. This is correct; it is, however, to be observed that James has certainly supposed as self-evident the prayer of the sick man who called the elders. The following words: σώσει τὸν κάμνοντα , state the effect of the prayer of the presbyters.

τὸν κάμνοντα ] takes up again ἀσθενεῖ τις . κάμνειν , in the N. T. except here only in Hebrews 12:3 in a figurative sense, has even with classical writers very commonly the meaning to be sick.

σώσει ] equivalent to will recover. This meaning is required by reference to τὸν κάμνοντα , and to the context generally; the word occurs in the same signification in Matthew 9:22 ; Mark 5:23 ; John 11:12 , and elsewhere.

By the following clause: καὶ ἐγερεῖ αὐτὸνκύριος , what is said is more exactly specified; the prayer of faith effects σώζειν , by which the Lord (apparently Christ) on its account helps; ἐγείρειν , to raise up from the sick-bed , see Mark 1:31 , etc.; not “to raise up from sickness” (Lange; “to cause him to recover,” de Wette); the word never occurs in this meaning in the N. T.

A particular case is added to the general. κἂν ἁμαρτίαςπεποιηκώς ] κἄν is not, as is done by most expositors, but against linguistic usage, [243] to be resolved by and if , but by even if (so also Lange). By the sins here meant are such as formed the special reason of the sickness. Accordingly, the meaning is: even if he has drawn his sickness upon himself by special sins (unsatisfactorily Lange: “if his sickness has become by them very severe”). By ᾖ πεποιηκώς the effect of the sins is represented as existing.

The apodosis ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ expresses that even in this case the healing will not fail. The forgiveness of sins is here meant, which is confirmed by the removal of the special punishment produced by the particular sins. The explanation of Hammond is evidently entirely erroneous: non tarn a Deo, quam a Presbyteris, qui aegroto peccata ipsis confitenti … absolutionem dare tenentur. As regards the construction of the sentence, κἂν πεποιηκώς may be joined to what goes before, and ἀφεθήσεται considered as an asyndeton addition: and the Lord will raise him up, even if he has committed sins … ( for ) it will be forgiven him. But the usual construction, according to which ἀφεθήσεται is simply the apodosis to κἂν κ . τ . λ ., is to be preferred on account of the close connection of ideas; thus: even if he hath committed, sins, it will be forgiven him; by which the idea is included in ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ , that he will be healed of his sickness.

τὸ πεποιηκέναι is to be supplied from the preceding to ἀφεθήσεται (Bengel, Theile, Wiesinger).

The promise ( σώσειἐγερεῖ ) so positively expressed by James is founded on his confidence in the Lord, who hears believing intercession, so that it is not in vain. It is certainly surprising that James gives this assurance without any restriction. Although we cannot say, with Hottinger: si certus et constans talium precum fuisset eventus, nemo unquam mortuns esset, since the nature of the condition, on which James makes the event dependent, is not considered; on the one hand, it is self-evident that true πίστις includes the humble πλὴν οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω ἀλλʼ ὡς σύ (Matthew 26:39 ); and, on the other hand, it is to be observed that although James here evidently speaks of bodily sickness and its cure, yet he uses such expressions as point beyond the sphere of the corporeal to the spiritual, so that even when the result corresponds not to the expectation in reference to the bodily sickness, yet the prayer of faith does not remain unanswered in the higher sense. [244]

[243] In no passage of the N. T., except perhaps Luke 13:9 , is the καί in κἄν the simple copula uniting two sentences, but it has everywhere the meaning though, even. The N. T. usage is here in conformity with the classical; see Pape on the word κἀν .

[244] It must be designated as arbitrary when Lange understands this passage also as symbolical, and thus interprets it: “If any man as a Christian has been hurt, or become sick in his Christianity, let him seek healing from the presbyters, the kernel of the congregation. Let these pray with and for him, and anoint him with the oil of the Spirit; such a course, wherever taken, will surely restore him, and his transgressions will be forgiven him.”

Verse 16

James 5:16 annexes a new thought to what has been said, which is, however, as the strongly attested οὖν shows, in close connection. From the special order James infers a general injunction, in which the intervening thought is to be conceived that the sick man confessed his sins to the presbyters for the purpose of their intercession; Christians generally are to practise the same duty of confession toward each other. It is incorrect, with Chrysostom ( de sacerd. I. III.) and several ancient and other expositors, to refer the injunction contained in this verse to the above-mentioned relation of the presbyters and the sick to each other, and accordingly to paraphrase it, with Pott: ὑμεῖς ἀσθενούντες ἐξομολογεῖσθε τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις τὰ παραπτώματα ὑμῶν καὶ ὑμεῖς πρεσβύτεροι εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀσθενούντων ; for by this not only is violence done to the language, but also an intolerable tautology arises. ἀλλήλοις can only be referred to the relation of individual believers to each other, so that Cajetan correctly says: nec hic est sermo de confessione sacramentali. Some expositors incorrectly restrict the general expression παραπτώματα to such sins which one commits against another; Wolf: de illis tantum peccatis sermo est, quae alter in alterum commisit, quorumque veniam ab altero poscit; Bengel: aegrotus et quisquis offendit, jubetur confiteri; offensus orare. The passage treats not of human, but of the divine forgiveness; and thus of sins not as offences against our neighbour, but as violations of the law of God. [245]

καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ] Το ἐξομολόγησις intercession for one another is to be conjoined; indeed, the former takes place in order that the latter may follow. The contents of the prayer is naturally the divine forgiveness, but the aim to be attained thereby is ὅπως ἰαθῆτε . The word ἰᾶσθαι is in the N. T. used both literally and figuratively (Hebrews 12:13 ; 1 Peter 2:24 ). After the example of several expositors (Hottinger, de Wette, Wiesinger), the first meaning has hitherto in this commentary been ascribed to ἰαθῆτε , on account of the connection of this verse with what goes before; but since among ἀλλήλοις are certainly to be understood not only the sick, and James indicates by nothing that his injunction refers only to them, it is more correct to take ἰαθῆτε here, in its proper reference to παραπτώματα , in a figurative sense (Estius, Carpzov, Grotius, Gebser, and others); whether James likewise thought on a bodily healing taking place in the cases occurring (Schneckenburger, Kern) must remain undetermined.

It is to be remarked that the prayer of the presbyters does not exclude the common intercession of the members of the church, and that the efficacy attributed to the latter is not less than that attributed to the former.

πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη ] is added by James for the purpose of strengthening the above exhortation; the asyndeton connection is with him not remarkable. The stress is on πολὺ ἰσχύει , consequently it stands first. δίκαιος , equivalent to the Hebrew צַרִּיק , is, according to the Christian view of James, he who in faith performs the works of νόμος ἐλευθερίας .

With regard to ἐνεργουμένη , expositors have introduced much that is arbitrary. Most take the participle as an adjective belonging to δέησις , and then attempt to explain the expression δέησις ἐνεργουμένη . Oecumenius leaves the word itself unexplained, but he lays stress on the point that the prayer of the righteous is only then effectual when he, for whom it is offered, συμπράττδιὰ κακώσεως πνευματικῆς with the suppliant. Michaelis explains it: preces agitante Spiritu sancto effusae; Carpzov: δέησις διὰ πίστεως ἐνεργουμένη ; Gebser understands prayer in which the suppliant himself works for the accomplishment of his wish; similarly Calvin: tunc vere in actu est oratio, quum succurrere contendimus iis, qui laborant. According to the usual explanation, ἐνεργουμένη is assumed to be synonymous with ἐνεργής or ἐνεργός ( ἐκτενής , Luke 22:44 ; Acts 12:5 ), “strenuus,” “intentus,” “earnest,” etc., and this qualification of the prayer of the righteous man is attached to πολὺ ἰσχύει as its condition; Luther: “if it is earnest” (so Wiesinger, and similarly Erasmus, Beza, Gataker, Hornejus, Grotius, Wolf, Baumgarten, Hottinger, Schneckenburger, Theile, Bouman, and others). This explanation, however, has not only, as Wiesinger confesses, N. T. usage against it, but this qualification cannot be taken as the condition of πολὺ ἰσχύει , but is rather the statement of the characteristic nature of the prayer of the righteous man. It would be more correct to adhere to the verbal meaning of the participle (so Pott, whose paraphrases, however: ΠΟΛῪ ἸΣΧΎΕΙ [ ΔΎΝΑΤΑΙ ] ἘΝΕΡΓΕῖΝ , or: ΠΟΛῪ ἸΣΧΎΕΙ ΚΑῚ ἘΝΕΡΓΕῖ ΔΈΗΣΙς , are arbitrary), and to explain it: the prayer of the righteous man availeth much, whilst it works (not: “if it applies itself to working,” de Wette), i.e. in its working. That it does work is assumed; that, besides working, it ΠΟΛῪ ἸΣΧΎΕΙ , which James brings forward and confirms by the following example of Elias. [246]

[245] Lange primarily understands by this “the sins of the Judaizing disposition.”

[246] Lange translates: “which is inwardly effectual (working),” and thinks that ἐνεργεῖσθαι expresses a passive-active working.

Verses 17-18

James 5:17-59.5.18 . James, wishing to show in the example of Elias the power of prayer, observes beforehand on the objection that, owing to his peculiar greatness (see Sir 48:1-15 ), the example of Elias was inapplicable to ordinary men, that Ἐλίας ἄνθρωπος ἦν ὁμοιοπαθὴς ἡμῖν .

ἄνθρωπος ] is not here pleonastic (Schneckenburger), but denotes the point on which James insists, which is still more strengthened by ὁμοιοπαθὴς ἡμῖν . This idea contains no reference to the sufferings which Elias had to endure (Laurentius, Schneckenburger, Bouman), but signifies only of like disposition and nature; see Meyer on Acts 14:15 ; comp. also Wisd. of Song of Solomon 8:3 , and Grimm on 4Ma 12:13 . Lange inappropriately explains it “similarly conditioned.” Gebser assumes a contrast to δίκαιος , strangely explaining it: “having the same sentiments and passions as we; James inferred how much more will the prayer of a δικαίου avail.”

The history, to which James refers, is contained in 1 Kings 17:1 ; 1Ki 18:1 ; 1 Kings 18:41 ff. The account of James differs in two points from the O. T. narrative; first, the point on account of which James appeals to Elias, namely his twofold prayer, is not mentioned; and, secondly, it is stated that it began to rain in the third year. Both in 1 Kings 17:1 and in 1 Kings 18:41 , Elias only announces what will take place; in the first passage, that it will not rain these years, and in the second passage, that it will soon rain. Neither in what Elias says of himself in 1 Kings 17:1 : אֲשֶׁר עָמַדְתִּי לְפָנָיו , nor in what is related in 1 Kings 18:41 , is it stated that Elias offered up such a prayer as James mentions; for although in 5:42 Elias is represented as praying, yet it is not hinted that the rain took place in consequence of his prayer, since rather the promise of rain (James 5:1 ) preceded the prayer. Yet those statements, and particularly the word of Elias in 1 Kings 17:2 : כִּי אִס־לְפִי דְבָרִי , are to be considered as the foundation of the statement of James, whether he followed a tradition (see Sir 48:2-3 ) or a view peculiar to himself.

With regard to the second deviation, the same statement concerning the duration of the drought is found in Luke 4:25 (see Meyer in loco), and in the Jalkut Schimoni on 1 Kings 16:0 , where it is said: Anno xiii. Achabi fames regnabit in Samaria per tres annos et dimidum anni. It is certainly correct, as Benson remarks, that if the rain, according to the word of Elias, was stayed at the beginning of the rainy season, and it again began to rain in the third year at the end of the summer season, the drought would continue in all three and a half years; but according to the statement of James, the drought began with the prayer of Elias, and continued from that three and a half years. Accordingly, Wiesinger is wrong in finding in the remark of Benson a sufficient reconciliation of the difference. [247]

προσευχῇ προσηύξατο ] the same construction as ΘΑΝΆΤῼ ἈΠΟΘΑΝΕῖΣΘΕ , Genesis 2:17 , LXX., as the Greek rendering of the Hebrew union of the infinite absolute with the finite tense, which the LXX. usually express by the union of the participle with the finite tense (see Winer, p. 317 f. [E. T. 427]). This addition of the substantive serves to bring out the verbal idea (de Wette), not to denote that the prayer of Elias was earnest (Schneckenburger, Wiesinger, Lange), but that nothing else than his prayer produced the long drought.

τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι ] the genitive of design after ΠΡΟΣΗΎΞΑΤΟ , because the contents of the prayer agreed with its object. This construction corresponds to the frequent use of ἽΝΑ with verbs of asking in the N. T.; see Winer, p. 292 [E. T. 410].

ΒΡΈΧΕΙΝ ] is here used, as in the later classics, impersonally; otherwise in Matthew 5:45 ; Genesis 2:5 ; Genesis 19:24 . Baumgarten incorrectly supplies ΘΕΌς as the subject.

ΚΑῚ ΟὐΚ Κ . Τ . Λ . ] the result of the prayer. Schneckenburger: quis non sentit pondus dictionis ΤΟῦ ΜῊ ΒΡΈΞΑΙ , ΚΑῚ ΟὐΚ ἜΒΡΕΞΕΝ ; comp. Genesis 1:3 , fiat lux, et facta est lux.

ἘΠῚ Τῆς Γῆς ] not on the land, i.e. Palestine (Grotius, Wolf, Baumgarten, Stolz, Lange, and others), but on the earth (Luther); comp. Luke 4:25 (Genesis 7:12 ).

[247] It is otherwise with regard to Luke 4:25 , where the simple duration of time during which it would not rain is stated. has erred in making the prayer of Elias mentioned by him precede this whole period; whereas what is mentioned in 1 Kings 17:1 , is that it commenced after the summer during which it had not rained. According to Lange, the reconciliation consists in this, that in 1 Kings 18:0 only the duration of the real famine is stated, which did not begin until one year after the announcement of the drought; but there is no indication of this statement.

Verse 18

James 5:18 . The second prayer of Elias, and its result.

οὐρανὸς ὑετὸν ἔδωκεν ] a popular form of expression; comp. Acts 14:17 .

καὶγῆ κ . τ . λ .] contains not a further description, but added to mark more strongly the effect of the prayer: heaven and earth acted according to the prayer of Elias.

ἐβλάστησεν ] properly an intransitive verb; so in Matthew 13:26 ; Mark 4:27 ; Hebrews 9:4 . The first aorist here, as frequently in the later classics, in a transitive signification; comp. Genesis 1:11 , LXX. With respect to the form, see Winer, p. 77 [E. T. 92].

τὸν καρπὸν αὑτῆς ] Schneckenburger: fruges suas i. e. quas ferre solet.

Verses 19-20

James 5:19-59.5.20 . To the exhortation to mutual confession and intercession is annexed “the reference to an important matter the reclaiming of an erring soul” (Wiesinger). James 5:19 forms the supposition; this is expressed in two co-ordinate sentences, of which the first is subordinate in thought to the second: “if any convert one who has erred from the truth.”

πλανηθῇ ] the passive aorist here, as frequently in the signification of the middle.

ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας ] With this is meant not a single practical aberration, but an alienation from the Christian principle of life, an inward apostasy from the λόγος ἀληθείας by which the Christian is begotten (James 1:18 ), disclosing itself in a sinful course of life (so also Wiesinger, Brückner, Lange [248] ).

ΚΑῚ ἘΠΙΣΤΡΈΨῌ ] sc. ἐπὶ τὴν ἀλήθειαν ; comp. Luke 1:16-42.1.17 .

[248] Arbitrarily, Lange defines the aberration more precisely “as an aberration into Judaistic and chiliastic doings and fanatical and seditious lusts.”

Verse 20

James 5:20 forms the apodosis.

γινωσκέτω ] The τις mentioned in the second half of the preceding verse is the subject the converter and not the converted. The remarkableness of the repetition of the subject after ὅτι disappears, when it is considered that the idea to be taken to heart is expressed as a sentence which is universally valid. [1] Calvin rightly draws attention to the fact that the tendency of the verse is to excite zeal for the conversion of the erring.

The word ἁμαρτωλόν is to be retained in its general signification, and not to be referred simply to τὸν πλανηθέντα ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας ; it denotes the genus to which he that errs from the truth belongs as species.

ἐκ πλάνης ὁδοῦ αὐτοῦ ] not = ex erroris vita (Schulthess); correctly Luther: “from the error of his way.” πλάνη states the nature of the way on which the ἁμαρτωλός walks, and forms the contrast to ἀλήθεια .

σώσει ψυχὴν [ αὐτοῦ ] ἐκ θανάτου ] i.e. he will save a ( his ) soul from the death to which otherwise it would have fallen a prey. The future is here used because James “has in view the final result of such a saving deed” (Wiesinger). On ψυχήν , comp. chap. James 1:21 ; on the reading of the Receptus Estius remarks: absolute posita emphasin habet. But probably ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ is the correct reading. θάνατος , eternal destruction, as in chap. James 1:15 . Lange strangely explains it as “the moral dissolution of the ontological life eternally self-generating itself.”

καὶ καλύψει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν ] is to be understood not of the sins of the converter, who by his good work obtains forgiveness, whether on the part of God (Zacharias, ep. I. ad Bonifac.; Bede, Erasmus, Bouman, and others) or on the part of man (Augusti: “his own offences will not be remembered”), but of the sins of the converted (so most expositors). The words are an echo of Proverbs 10:12 (comp. 1 Peter 4:8 ), although it is doubtful if James had this passage actually in view; especially καλύπτειν here does not, as a strict translation of the Hebrew כִּסָּה , see Neh. 3:36 (LXX. ed. Tisch. James 4:6 ); Psalms 32:1 ; Psalms 85:3 , signify to forgive , but the figurative expression is used by James in the sense that the sins of the converted are by the converter covered or concealed from the eyes of God, i.e. their forgiveness is effected. By ΠΛῆΘΟς ἉΜΑΡΤΙῶΝ are meant not the sins which the ἉΜΑΡΤΩΛΌς would otherwise commit (Jaspar: peccata adhuc patranda), and which were now prevented by his conversion (Pott: multa futura impediet), but the multitude of sins which he committed before his conversion. [2] Lange thinks: “this restriction misapprehends the progressive nature of guilt;” but how could sins which have not been committed be forgiven? [3] That the mention here is not of human, but of divine forgiveness, the close connection of the idea with the preceding σώσει ψυχὴν ἐκ θανάτου shows. Correctly Wiesinger: “ καλύψει carries on further the σώσει ψυχήν , and states the ground of this salvation.”

[1] Wiesinger: “ ὁ ἐπιστρέψας is not to be taken as equivalent to he who , in strict reference to the subject of γινωσκέτω , but expresses the general idea that every one who converts a sinner performs a great work; it is the general statement, under which he who is designated by γινωσκέτω subordinates his doing.”

[2] De Wette takes objection to the strong expression πλῆθος , as he thinks that the reference here is only to aberration , and not to a vicious life; and on this account he will consider, along with this, the sins of those who stand in reciprocal action with him who has erred, and were or might have been injured and led astray by him; but without reason; especially πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν corresponds entirely to the idea πλανηθῆναι ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας , provided it be not arbitrarily weakened (so also Brückner).

[3] “In order to give prominence to the noble historical import of the Epistle, which has been only too much missed and neglected,” Lange maintains that James here, at the conclusion, invites the believing part of his people to engage in intercession and in “the work of salvation, that many individuals may be saved from death, and a multitude of sins might be atoned for.”

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Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on James 5". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.