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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

James 5

Verse 1

Go to. See on ch. James 4:13.

Weep and howl [κλαυσατε ολολυζοντες] . Lit., weep, howling. The latter is a descriptive word, ol - ol - uz - o. Only here in New Testament, and denoting a more demonstrative and passionate expression of grief than weeping.

Miseries [ταλαιπωριαις] . Only here and Romans 3:16. See on be afflicted, ch. 4 9.

That shall come upon [επερχομεναις] . Present participle. More correctly, as Rev., that are coming.

Verse 2

Are corrupted [σεσηπεν] . Only here in New Testament.

Are moth - eaten [σητοβρωτα γεγονεν] . Lit., have become moth - eaten. Only here in New Testament, but compare skwlhkobrwtov, eaten of worms, Acts 12:23; and see Matthew 6:19, Matthew 6:20.

Verse 3

Is cankered [κατιωται] . Only here in New Testament, from ijov, rust, as in the following sentence. Also poison, as ch. 3 8. The preposition kata indicates thoroughness, completely rusted.

Flesh [τας σαρκας] . The noun is plural : the fleshy parts of the body. So Sept. (2 Kings 9:36) : " the flesh [τας σαρκας] of Jezebel. So Revelation 19:18.

Verse 4

Reaped down [αμησαντων] . Only here in New Testament. The primary meaning is to reap corn; also in classical Greek of mowing down in battle. The secondary, which some mistake for the primary sense, is to gather, as for harvest. Rev., mowed.

Fields [χωρας] . The more general word, place, for ajgrov, the ordinary word for a field; though the usage is warranted by classical Greek, and occurs Luke 12:16; John 4:35, the only two instances besides this in the New Testament. It implies a larger tract than ajgrov, as is evident in all the New Testament passages cited. In two cases it refers to a rich man's estates; and in John 4:35, the Lord directs the attention of the disciples to a broad area or series of fields.

Crieth [κραζει] . An inarticulate cry. Compare Genesis 4:10.

Lord of Sabaoth. Lord of hosts. The only instance in which the phrase is used by a New Testament writer. Romans 9:29, is quoted from Isaiah 1:9.

Verse 5

Ye have lived in pleasure [ετρυφησατε] . Only here in New Testament. See on 2 Peter 2:13, on the kindred noun trufh, riot or revel. Rev., ye have lived delicately.

Been wanton [εσπαταλησατε] . Only here and 1 Timothy 5:6.

'Etrufhsate denotes dainty living : this word, luxurious or prodigal living. Rev., taken your pleasure, is colorless, and is no improvement on the A. V.

As in a day of slaughter [ως εν ημερα σφαγης] . All the best texts reject wJv, as. The meaning of the passage is disputed. Some find the key to it in the words last days (ver. 3). The phrase day of slaughter is used for a day of judgment, Jeremiah 12:3; Jeremiah 25:34 (Sept.). According to this, the meaning is, the day of judgment, at the supposed near coming of Christ. Others explain that these men are like beasts, which, on the very day of their slaughter, gorge themselves in unconscious security.

Verse 7

Be patient [μακροθυμησατε] . From makrov, long, and qumov, soul or spirit but with the sense of strong passion, stronger even than ojrgh, anger, as is maintained by Schmidt (" Synonymik "), who describes qumov as a tumultuous welling of the whole spirit; a mighty emotion which seizes and moves the whole inner man. Hence the restraint implied in, akroqumia is most correctly expressed by long - suffering, which is its usual rendering in the New Testament. It is a patient holding out under trial; a long - protracted restraint of the soul from yielding to passion, especially the passion of anger. In the New Testament the word and its cognates are sometimes rendered by patient or patience, which conceals the distinction from uJpomonh, uniformly rendered patience, and signifying persistent endurance, whether in action or suffering. As Trench observes, "uJpomonh is perseverantia and patientia both in one." Thus Bishop Ellicott : "The brave patience with which the Christian contends against the various hindrances, persecutions, and temptations that befall him in his conflict with the inward and outward world." 'Upomonh contains an element of manliness Thus Plato joins it with the adverb ajndrikwv, in a manly way, and contrasts it with ajnandrwv, unmanly, cowardly. roqumia is exercised toward persons; uJpomonh, toward things. The former is ascribed to God as an attribute (Luke 18:7; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:9, 2 Peter 3:15), the latter never; for the God of patience (Romans 14:5) is the God who imparts patience to his children. "There can be no resistance to God nor burden upon him, the Almighty, from things. Therefore uJpomonh cannot find place in him" (Trench). Rev. retains A. V., be patient. The thought links itself naturally with that in the preceding verse : the righteous doth not resist.

Therefore. Since things are so. Referring to the condition of things described in the previous passage.

Brethren. In contrast with the rich just addressed.

Waiteth [εκδεχεται] . With expectation. Compare Matthew 13:30; Mark 4:27.

The early and latter rain [υετον πρωιμοα και οψιμον] . Both adjectives only here in New Testament. 'Ueton, rain, is rejected by all the best texts. The early rain fell in October, November, and December, and extended into January and February. These rains do not come suddenly, but by degrees, so that the farmer can sow his wheat or barley. The rains are mostly from the west or southwest (Luke 12:54), continuing two or three days at a time, and falling mostly in the night. Then the wind shifts to the north or east, and fine weather ensues (Proverbs 25:23). The latter rains, which are much lighter, fall in March and April. Rain in harvest was regarded as a miracle (1 Samuel 12:16-18). See Introduction, on James' local allusions.

Verse 9

Grudge not [μη στεναζετε] . Better, as Rev., murmur not. The verb means to sigh or groan.

Standeth before the doors. In the act of entering.

Verse 10

Example [υποδειγμα] . See on 2 Peter 2:6.

Of suffering affliction [κακοπαθειας] . Only here in New Testament. The word does not mean the endurance of affliction, but affliction itself. Hence, Rev., rightly, suffering.

The prophets. Compare Matthew 5:12.

Verse 11

Endure [υπομενοντας] . Present participle. But the later texts read uJpomeinantav, the aorist participle, which endured; referring to the prophets in the past ages. So Rev. On endured and patience, see on ver. 7. The end of the Lord [το τελος κυριου] . A peculiar expression. The happy conclusion to which God brought Job's trials.

Very pitiful and of tender mercy [πολυσπλαγχνος και οικτιρμων] . The former adjective only here in New Testament; the latter here and Luke 6:36. Rev., full of pity and merciful. Polusplagcnov, is from poluv much, and splagcna the nobler entrails, used like our heart, as the seat of the emotions. Hence the term bowels in the A. V. (Philippians 1:8; Colossians 3:12, etc.). Compare eusplagcnoi, tender - hearted, Ephesians 4:32. The distinction between this and oijktirmwn, merciful, seems to be that the former denotes the general quality of compassion, while the latter emphasizes the sympathy called out by special cases, being the feeling which is moved to pain at another's suffering.

Verse 12

Any other oath. See the common formulas of swearing, Matthew 5:35, Matthew 5:36.

Verse 13

Is afflicted [κακοπαθει] . See on the kindred word kakopaqeia, suffering, ver. 10. Only here and 2 Timothy 2:3, 2 Timothy 2:9; 2 Timothy 4:5.

Let him sing psalms [ψαλλετω] . The word means, primarily, to pluck or twitch. Hence of the sharp twang on a bowstring or harp - string, and so to play upon a stringed instrument. Our word psalm, derived from this, is, properly, a tune played upon a stringed instrument. The verb, however, is used in the New Testament of singing praise generally. See 1 Corinthians 14:15; Romans 14:9.

Verse 15

The sick [τον καμνοντα] . Rev. gives, better, the participial force, him that is sick. The word originally means to work. Hence, "him that is laboring under disease."

And if he have committed sins [καν αμαρτιας η πεποιηκως] . The Greek gives a shade of meaning which can hardly be transferred neatly into English, representing not merely the fact that the man has sinned, but his condition as a sinner. Literally the words read, if he be having committed sins; i e., in a state of having committed, and under the moral or physical consequences of transgression.

They shall be forgiven [αφεθησεται] . Better, Rev., "it shall be forgiven," supplying the commission as a subject. The verb means to send forth or discharge, and is the standard New Testament word for forgiving. Forgiveness [αφεσις] is a putting or sending away of sins, with a consequent discharge of the sinner; thus differing from paresiv (Romans 3:25), which a passing by of sin, a pretermission as distinguished from a remission. See, farther, on Romans 3:25.

Verse 16

Confess [εξομολογεισθε] . The preposition ejx, forth out, implies full, frank, open confession, and so in every case of its use in the New Testament. See on Matthew 3:6.

Faults [παραπτωματα] . See on Matthew 6:14.

The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much [πολυ ισχυει δεησις δικαιου ενεργουμενη] . Lit., much availeth (ijscuei, is strong), the prayer of a righteous man working or operating. The rendering of the A. V., besides being unwarranted by the text, is almost a truism. An effectual prayer is a prayer that avails. The Rev. is at once more correct and more natural : The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.

Verse 17

A man [ανθρωπος] . The generic word; human like ourselves, this thought being emphasized by the succeeding epithet of like passions. See the same expression, Acts 14:15.

Of like passions [ομοιοπαθης] . Only here and Acts 14:15. There is some danger of a misunderstanding of this rendering, from the limited and generally bad sense in which the word passions is popularly used. The meaning is rather of like nature and constitution. Rev. puts nature in margin, which would be better in the text.

He prayed fervently [προσευχη προσηυξατο] . Lit., he prayed with prayer. See a similar mode of expression, Genesis 2:17 (Sept.), ye shall surely die [θανατω αποθανεισθε] ; lit., ye shall die with death. Compare Luke 22:15; John 3:29; Acts 4:17. The addition of the cognate noun gives intenseness to the verb.

Hide - sins. A familiar Hebrew phrase. See Psalms 32:1; Psalms 85:2; Proverbs 10:12.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on James 5". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/james-5.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.