James 5:3

3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. 1You have laid up treasure 2in the last days.

James 5:3 Meaning and Commentary

James 5:3

Your gold and silver is cankered
Or grown rusty like iron, by lying long without use; this is not easily and quickly done, but in length of time gold and silver will change, and contract a rustiness; and so this conveys the same idea of hoarding up riches and laying up money, without making use of it in trade, for the support of the poor, and without distributing it to their necessities:

and the rust of them shall be a witness against you:
at the day of judgment; which will be a proof that they have not been employed to such services, and for such usefulness, for which they were designed and given.

And shall eat your flesh as it were fire;
that is, a remembrance of this, a sense of it impressed upon them, shall be like fire in their bones; shall distress their minds, gnaw their consciences, and be in them the worm that never dies, and the fire that shall never be quenched:

ye have heaped treasure together for the last days;
either for many years, as the fool in the Gospel, for the times of old age, the last days of men, for fear they should then want; or for the last days of the world, or of time, as if they thought they should live for ever: the Vulgate Latin version reads, "ye have treasured up wrath for yourselves in the last days"; instead of riches, as they imagined; and that by their covetousness and wickedness, by a wicked disuse of their riches, and an unrighteous detention of them; but this supplement seems to be taken from ( Romans 2:5 ) though the sense is confirmed by some copies which connect the phrase, "as it were fire", in the preceding clause, with this, "ye have treasured up as it were fire"; and the Syriac version renders it, "ye have treasured up fire"; the fire of divine wrath; this is the fruit of treasuring up riches in an ill way, and without making a proper use of them.

James 5:3 In-Context

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you.
2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.
3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.
4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Matthew 6:19; Luke 12:21; Romans 2:5
  • 2. [ver. 8, 9]