James 5 Bible Commentary

The Geneva Study Bible

(Read all of James 5)
5:1 Go 1 to now, [ye] rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon [you].

(1) He denounces utter destruction to the wicked and profane rich men, and such as are drowned in their riotousness, mocking their foolish confidence when there is nothing indeed more vain than such things.

5:4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the a ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

(a) The Lord who is more mighty than ye are, hath heard them.

5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have b nourished your hearts, as in a c day of slaughter.

(b) You have pampered yourselves.
(c) The Hebrews call a day that is appointed to solemn banqueting, a day of slaughter or feasting.

5:7 2 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. 3 Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

(2) He applies that to the poor, which he spoke against the rich, warning them to wait for the Lord's coming patiently, who will avenge the injuries which the rich men do to them. (3) The taking away of an objection: Although his coming seems to linger, yet at the least we must follow the farmer, we who do patiently wait for the times that are fitting for the fruits of the earth. And again, God will not postpone the least bit of the time that he has appointed.

5:9 4 d Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: 5 behold, the judge standeth before the door.

(4) He commends Christian patience, for that which others through impatience use to accuse one another, the faithful on the other hand, do not complain though they receive injury.
(d) By grudging he means a certain inward complaining which indicates impatience. (5) The conclusion: The Lord is at the door and will defend his own and avenge his enemies, and therefore we do not need to trouble ourselves.

5:10 6 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

(6) Because most men will object, that it is good to repel injuries by whatever means, he contrasts that with the examples of the fathers whose patience had a most happy end, because God as a most bountiful Father, never forsakes his.

5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the e end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

(e) What end the Lord gave.

5:12 7 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let f your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

(7) Because even the best men sometimes through impatience slip and speak oaths sometimes lesser, sometimes greater, the apostle warns us to detest such wickedness, and to accustom our tongues to simple and true talk.

5:13 8 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

(8) He shows the best remedy against all afflictions, that is, prayers which have their place both in sorrow and joy.

5:14 9 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with g oil in the h name of the Lord:

9 He shows peculiarly, to what physicians especially we must go when we are diseased, that is, to the prayers of the elders, which then also could cure the body, (for so much as the gift of healing was then in force) and take away the main cause of sickness and diseases, by obtaining healing for the sick through their prayers and exhortations.
(g) This was a sign of the gift of healing: and now seeing we have the gift no more, the sign is no longer necessary.
(h) By calling on the name of the Lord.

5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed i sins, they shall be forgiven him.

(i) He has reason in making mention of sins, for diseases are often sent because of sins.

5:16 10 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. 11 The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

(10) Because God pardons the sins of those who confess and acknowledge them, and not those who justify themselves. Therefore the apostle adds, we ought to freely confer with one another concerning those inward diseases, that we may help one another with our prayers.
(11) He commends prayers by the effects that come of them, that all men may understand that there is nothing more effectual than they are, so that they proceed from a pure mind.

5:19 12 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one k convert him;

(12) The taking away of an objection: all rebukes are not condemned, seeing that on the contrary there is nothing more acceptable to God than to call into the holy way, a brother that was wandering out of the way.
(k) Has called him back from his way.