The Agora
Bible Commentary

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James 5

Jam 5:1

YOU RICH PEOPLE: Who can scarcely enter Kingdom: Mat 19:23.

Jam 5:3

AND EAT YOUR FLESH: Strong language, taken from the curses to which Israel agreed: Lev 26:29; Deu 28:53.

Jam 5:4

THE WAGES YOU FAILED TO PAY THE WORKMEN: The attitude of withholding wages draws on the prohibitions of the Law of Moses: Lev 19:13; Deu 24:14.

THE CRIES OF THE HARVESTERS: The cries of those who are oppressed draws on Deu 24:15.

Jam 5:7

BE PATIENT: "I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it" (Charles Swindoll).

"One moment of patience may ward off a great disaster; one moment of impatience may ruin a whole life" (Chinese proverb).

UNTIL: See Lesson, AN, Conditional deferment.

THE LORD'S COMING: See Lesson, "Parousia".

If I can be sure, when the time finally comes for the Great High Priest to return from the Most Holy Place bringing the final blessing.... that I'll still be here, waiting at my post, rejoicing in the tribulations which I endure, and having learned patience.... real PATIENCE...... enough for a lifetime, of broken hearts and broken dreams [sounds like a country western song, doesn't it?], of hurt feelings, of resentments, of disappointments, of bitterness, of ailments and illnesses, of the gradual and insidious decline of all my human powers, and the frustrations of coming short time and again of what I would like to be, but can't quite be, of asking forgiveness for the 490th time for the same sins, of forgiving others for the same number of times.... without throwing up my hands and walking away from the door of the temple. Out into the howling waste of a wilderness of snakes and scorpions -- where there is no hope and no life and no love... the wilderness where Judas went, and Cain, and Saul, and a million others -- who could not truly believe that the High Priest was coming to bring them the last great blessing. Yes, if I can only wait... long enough... then "I WILL BE saved" will turn into "I AM saved"! God give me strength enough to wait... that long. And I won't even care whether that strength should be called the Holy Spirit or something else...

COMING: "Parousia" = a being alongside, demanding a physical presence: 2Th 2:1; 3:13; 2Pe 3:4,12.

Jam 5:8

COMING: See Lesson, "Parousia".

Jam 5:10

PATIENCE IN THE FACE OF SUFFERING: "In pursuing our duties in the Truth, we must be actuated by a higher motive than that of present success. Whether men will hear or forbear, through evil report or good report, we must steadily and cheerfully go on. God more frequently than not permits our labors to be fruitless. 'How few receive with cordial faith the tidings which we bring.' We think of the labour and expense in our big and little efforts, and the infinitesimal results.

"Our failures, too, are not confined to the alien. How often is the faithful word of warning, of counsel, of reproof, treated with heartless contempt by professors in the household? Yes, there is now but little success; failure is the rule.

"Yet so far as the obedient are concerned, it is not really failure, for by means of it inconceivable good is being evolved. This will be apparent when the day arrives for the manifestation of the sons of God. Even the offense given, the misunderstanding created, the enmity and bitterness evoked, aid in developing the sufferings which teach obedience and bring perfection. Christ's service calls for the exhibition of patience and long-suffering. These virtues can only be cultivated by turning a deaf ear to the likes and dislikes of man and performing our duties as unto Christ, who is at the head of affairs, manipulating them as His wisdom sees fit. In our trials, let us think of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and all the prophets, who through their patient endurance have earned the praise of God (Jam 5:10). Let us pray with Paul that we may be 'strengthened with all might, according to His (God's) glorious power unto all patience and long-suffering and with joyfulness' (Col 1:11)" (ATJ).

Jam 5:13

IN TROUBLE: "Kakopatheo" = an "affliction" (KJV) or trial or hardship (cp 2Ti 1:8; 2:3,9).

HE SHOULD PRAY: "A business magazine published an account of a most successful salesman who maintained his efficiency by putting himself through a kind of catechism every morning, to impress upon his mind the excellence of his proposition and his determination to be successful. Perhaps his example might, with advantage, be followed on a higher plane of thought. Men may exhort themselves sometimes more effectively than they can be exhorted. There is a very real wisdom in the institution of special evening and morning prayer, for it is at those times that the mind is most plastic, and habits of thought most easily formed. Let a man deliver his evening prayer from the heart, and then, dismissing worldly thoughts woo sleep by thinking about the kingdom of God, and his mind will be in the right condition for the silent night's work of renovation. It is by the encouragement of such ennobling thoughts that the positive habits are formed and evil habits are excluded" (ConCon 140).

Jam 5:14

SICK: //1Co 11:30; Rom 5:6 ("weak" = asthenes, with no strength). Prob a physical sickness, poss the result of a spiritual illness. Mental, moral sickness are often related to physical sickness.

HE SHOULD CALL: It is alright to seek help! One does not necessarily need to "suffer in silence".

THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH: The elders at Jerusalem were the apostles, given special powers by Christ (Mar 6:13; Act 9:40).

ANOINT HIM WITH OIL: Only one other NT instance of anointing with oil: Mar 6:13. Cp anointing with clay (Joh 9:11). In OT, ref consecration of Aaron and sons (Exo 29:21; 40:13-15). [The Catholic "extreme unction" is for those who are about to die, not to bring recovery!]

Jam 5:15

SICK: "Kamno" = to toil or labor; thus the weary or faint (cp Heb 12:3). Not sw as in v 14. (Poss, again -- but not necessarily -- the result of sin.)


Jam 5:16

Christ takes our weariness and burdens upon himself: Mat 11:28-30.

THE PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN: "Prayer has two main purposes: all else is secondary. (1) Thanksgiving -- perpetual moment-to-moment thankfulness for everything: for to the eye of faith and love all is glorious, all is joyful. And (2) Seeking help to know right and think right and do right -- in every circumstance, every condition. Get these on track as a fixed way of life, and all else will flow in a mighty, irresistible stream of goodness" (GVG).
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