James 5:1-16

Warning to Rich Oppressors

1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.
2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.
3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[a]
6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

Patience in Suffering

7 Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.
8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
9 Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

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James 5:1-16 Meaning and Commentary


In this chapter the apostle reproves the vices of rich men, and denounces the judgments of God upon them; exhorts the saints to patience under sufferings; warns them from vain and profane swearing, and presses to various duties and branches of religious worship, private and public, and to the performance of several good offices of love to one another. He represents the miseries of wicked rich men as just at hand, Jas 5:1 because they made no use of their riches, either for themselves, or others, and because of the trust they put in them, heaping them up against a time to come, Jas 5:2,3, and because of their injustice in detaining the hire of labourers from them, Jas 5:4 and because of their wantonness and luxury, Jas 5:5 and because of their cruelty to the innocent, Jas 5:6 and such who suffer at their hands are exhorted to exercise patience, from the instance of the husbandman waiting patiently for the fruit of the earth, and the rain to produce it; and from the consideration of the coming of Christ, the Judge, being near at hand, Jas 5:7-9 and from the example of the prophets of the Lord, who suffered much, and were patient, and so happy; and particularly from the instance of Job, his patience, the end of the Lord in his afflictions, and his pity and compassion towards him, Jas 5:10,11. But of all things the apostle entreats them, that they would take care of profane swearing, and all vain oaths, since these bring into condemnation, Jas 5:12 and from hence he passes to various exercises of religion; the afflicted he advises to prayer; and those in comfortable circumstances of body and mind to singing of psalms, Jas 5:13, and such that are sick, to send for the elders of the church to pray over them, and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord, whereby not only the sick man would be delivered from his sickness, the Lord raising him up, but even his sins would be declared to be forgiven, Jas 5:14,15. And not only it became the elders to pray for sick persons, but also the saints in general, one for another, and to acknowledge their faults to each other, since the fervent prayer of every righteous man is of great avail with God, Jas 5:16 of which an instance is given in Elias, whose prayer, though a man subject to like passions as other men, against, and for rain, was very successful, Jas 5:17,18. And Christians should not only be concerned for the health of each other's bodies, but also for the good of their souls; wherefore, whenever it is observed that any are straying from the path of truth, methods should be taken to restore them, and turn them from the error of their ways; and whoever is the happy instrument of such a restoration is the means of saving a soul from death, and hiding a multitude of sins, Jas 5:19,20.

Cross References 34

  • 1. James 4:13
  • 2. Luke 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:9; James 2:2-6
  • 3. Isaiah 13:6; Ezekiel 30:2
  • 4. Job 13:28; Psalms 39:11; Isaiah 50:9; Matthew 6:19,20
  • 5. ver 7,8
  • 6. Leviticus 19:13; Jeremiah 22:13; Malachi 3:5
  • 7. Deuteronomy 24:15
  • 8. Romans 9:29
  • 9. Ezekiel 16:49; Amos 6:1; Luke 16:19
  • 10. Jeremiah 12:3; Jeremiah 25:34
  • 11. James 4:2
  • 12. Hebrews 10:38
  • 13. S 1 Corinthians 1:7
  • 14. Galatians 6:9
  • 15. Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23
  • 16. S 1 Corinthians 1:7
  • 17. S Romans 13:11; 1 Peter 4:7
  • 18. James 4:11
  • 19. Psalms 94:2; 1 Corinthians 4:5; James 4:12; 1 Peter 4:5
  • 20. Matthew 24:33
  • 21. S Matthew 5:12
  • 22. Matthew 5:10
  • 23. Job 1:21,22; Job 2:10; S Hebrews 10:36
  • 24. Job 42:10,12-17
  • 25. Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalms 103:8
  • 26. Matthew 5:34-37
  • 27. Psalms 50:15
  • 28. Colossians 3:16
  • 29. S Acts 11:30
  • 30. Psalms 23:5; Isaiah 1:6; Mark 6:13; Mark 16:18; Luke 10:34
  • 31. James 1:6
  • 32. Matthew 3:6; Acts 19:18
  • 33. Hebrews 12:13; 1 Peter 2:24
  • 34. S Matthew 7:7; S John 9:31

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "yourselves as in a day of feasting"
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