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James 5

July 8, 2010
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James 5:1 - 20

5:1 COME NOW, you rich [people], weep aloud and lament over the miseries (the woes) that are surely coming upon you.

1.       Not all rich men, but only the class of them who are specified as unjust and oppressive.

2.       There is no sin in being rich, only from the sinful manner in which wealth is acquired.

2 Your abundant wealth has rotted and is ruined, and your [many] garments have become moth-eaten.

1.       They hoarded; they accumulated more than they needed for their own use; and instead of distributing them to do good to others, or employing them in any useful way, they kept them until they rotted or spoiled.

2.       It is to be remembered, that a considerable part of the treasures which a man in the East would lay up, consisted of perishable materials, as garments, grain, oil, etc.

3.       Garments are moth-eaten: the fashions in the East did not change as they do with us, wealth consisted much in the garments that were laid up for show or for future use.

4.       When Alexander the Great was going to take Persepolis, the riches of all Asia were gathered there together, which consisted not only of huge amounts of gold & silver, but also of garments.

3 Your gold and silver are completely rusted through, and their rust will be testimony against you and it will devour your flesh as if it were fire. You have heaped together treasure for the last days.

1.       You have heaped together, by injustice and fraud, a large amount and have kept it from those to whom it is due, until it has become corroded with rust, or spotted with rust.

2.       It’s true that gold and silver do not properly rust, or become oxidized, and they will not corrode like iron or steel; but by being kept long in a damp place they will contract a dark color, resembling rust in appearance.

3.       He speaks of gold and silver as they appear after having been long laid up without use.

4.       The rust or discoloration shall bear testimony against you that the money is not used as it should be; among the ancients, the gold and silver which anyone possessed was laid up in some secret and safe place.

5.       There were not banks to deposit money, there were few ways of investing money so as to produce regular interest; no corporations to employ money in joint operations, and it was not very common to invest money in real estate, and stocks and mortgages were little know.

6.       The effect of heaping up treasure will be as corroding as fire in the flesh.

7.       In the last days, or the days of judgment, this heaped up treasure will do no good.

8.       Every man who is rich should examine himself closely to see whether there is anything in the manner in which he has gained property, or in which he now holds it, that will expose him to the wrath of God in the last day.

9.       Zacchaeus [zack KEY us] (pure) - a chief tax collector of Jericho who had grown rich by overtaxing the people for the hated Roman government. When Jesus visited Jericho, Zacchaeus, who was "of short stature" (Luke 19:3) climbed a tree in order to see Jesus. Jesus asked him to come down and then went to visit Zacchaeus as a guest. As a result of Jesus' visit, Zacchaeus became a follower of the Lord, repented of his sins, and made restitution for his wrongdoing. He gave half of his goods to the poor and restored fourfold those whom he had cheated through over-collection of taxes. In associating with people like Zacchaeus, Jesus showed that He came to call sinners to repentance.

4[But] look! [Here are] the wages that you have withheld by fraud from the laborers who have reaped your fields, crying out [for vengeance]; and the cries of the harvesters have come to the ears of the Lord of hosts.

1.       In the previous verses, the form of the sin which the apostle specified was that they had hoarded their property; He now states another form of their guilt, that while doing this, they withheld what was due from the very laborers who had cultivated their fields.

2.       The phrase “who have reaped down your fields,” is used to denote labor in general; day to day laborers, mechanics, etc.

3.       The voices of these wrongs go up to heaven and cry out to God for punishment.

4.       The Lord Almighty: Lord of sabaoth, or Lord of hosts, hears every cry of injustice.

a.       James often conceives in Hebrew though he writes in Greek.

b.      It is well know that Yahweh tsbaowt, is a frequent appellation of God in the Old Testament and signifies his uncontrollable power of defending his followers and punishing the wicked.

5[Here] on earth you have abandoned yourselves to soft (prodigal) living and to [the pleasures of] self-indulgence and self-gratification. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

1.       You lived luxuriously; feeding yourselves without fear, pampering the flesh.

2.       You have indulged all your sinful and sensual appetites to the uttermost; and your lives have been scandalous.

3.       You have fattened your hearts, and have rendered them incapable of feeling, as in a day of slaughter; the day of feasting where many feasted upon the sacrifices turning , on that occasion, a holy ordinance into a riotous festival. (The Corinthians????)

6 You have condemned and have murdered the righteous (innocent man), [while] he offers no resistance to you.

1.       In a court of law these poor righteous had none to plead their case, and if they had it would be useless, because their oppressors (unjust rich men) had all power and influence and those who sat on these judgment seats were lost to all sense of justice and right.

7 So be patient, brethren, [as you wait] till the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits expectantly for the precious harvest from the land. [See how] he keeps up his patient [vigil] over it until it receives the early and late rains.

1.       Because God is coming to execute judgment on this wicked people, therefore be patient until he comes.

2.       The seed of your deliverance is already sown, and the harvest of your salvation will take place.

3.       The rain of seed time and the rain of ripening before harvest: the first fell in Judea about the beginning of Nov., after the seed was sown; and the second toward the end of April, when the ears were filling, and this prepared for a full harvest.

a.       Without these 2 rains, the earth would have been unfruitful.

4.       In Deut 11:14, God promised these 2 rains; they were to wait patiently, but also to pray (Zech 10:1)

8 So you also must be patient. Establish your hearts [strengthen and confirm them in the final certainty], for the coming of the Lord is very near.

1.       Wait for God’s deliverance even as you patiently wait for the rains.

2.       Take courage, do not sink under your trials.

3.       The Lord is already on His way to destroy the wicked.

4.       Perhaps many thought that judgment would occur at that time, and Jesus would set up a personal reign on the earth.

5.       This Epistle was written, it is supposed, some ten or twelve years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and it is not improbable that there were some indications of the approaching event: this would bring an end to the whole system of Jewish sacrifices and religious systems.

9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you [yourselves] may not be judged. Look! The Judge is [already] standing at the very door.

1.       There are some who are always grumbling, they have a sour dissatisfied, discontented temper, they are displeased that others are more prospered, honored, and beloved than they are themselves.; they’re always complaining of what others do, not because they are injured, but because others seem to them to be weak and foolish; and they complain if everything isn’t done as they think it should; this is the offspring of pride and is contrary to the spirit of the gospel.

2.       Judging others with this spirit, in fact this spirit is judging them and the Lord Jesus, who is soon to come to judge the world, is now so near that he can hear all that you say.

10[As] an example of suffering and ill-treatment together with patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord [as His messengers].

1.       In your trials and persecutions remember the prophets who were in general persecuted by the very people to whom they delivered the divine message; imitate their example.

11 You know how we call those blessed (happy) who were steadfast [who endured]. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the Lord's [purpose and how He richly blessed him in the] end, inasmuch as the Lord is full of pity and compassion and tenderness and mercy. [Job 1:21,22; 42:10; Ps 111:4.]

1.       Matt 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

2.       The book of Job was written, among other reasons to show that true faith would bear any form of trial to which it could be subjected.

3.       The Devil’s end was to drive Job to despair and cause him to blaspheme God, but God’s end was to bless Job doubly.

4.       As the Lord showed deep compassion to Job, we have equal reason to suppose that he will in our own.

12 But above all [things], my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath; but let your yes be [a simple] yes, and your no be [a simple] no, so that you may not sin and fall under condemnation.

1.       The habit of swearing by various things was a very common one among the Jews, and it was important to guard those who from among them had been converted to Christianity on that subject.

2.       Condemnation for profaning the name of God. “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain,” Ex. 20:7.

13 Is anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil)? He should pray. Is anyone glad at heart? He should sing praise [to God].

1.       Afflicted: Gr.: kakopatheo: to undergo hardship; to suffer evil of any kind.

2.       Happy: cheerful, pleasant, agreeable: a state of mind free from trouble – the opposite of affliction.

a.       The Greek: euthumei : means, literally, “to have the mind well” that is, to have it happy, or free from trouble.

3.       The heart naturally gives utterance to its emotions in songs of thanksgiving and praise.

14 Is anyone among you sick? He should call in the church elders (the spiritual guides). And they should pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Lord's name.

1.       The previous verse the reference was to affliction in general and all forms of trial.

2.       Sick: Gr. Astheneo: to be feeble.

3.       In the name of the Lord: Jesus said “John 16:23-24 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name . 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name . Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

15 And the prayer [that is] of faith will save him who is sick, and the Lord will restore him; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

1.       Shall save: Gr. Sozo: to save, deliver, protect.

2.       The sick: Gr. Kamno: to toil, to tire, faint, sicken, be wearied.

3.       He will be forgiven (see Matt 9:1-6)

16 Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].

1.       Compare 1 Cor. 11:30

2.       If the mind was troubled by the recollection of guilt, the calmness and peace resulting from confession would be favorable to a restoration of health. (Getting rid of the guilt brings healing)

17 Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months. [1 Kings 17:1.]

1.       Prayed earnestly: Gr. “He prayed with prayer” – a Hebraism, to denote that he prayed earnestly.

2.       James referenced 1 Kings 17:1 (In this reference it is not said that Elijah prayed, but James interprets this as a prayer, because the miracle could be accomplished only by prayer.

18 And [then] he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops [as usual]. [1 Kings 18:42-45.]

1.       The 1 Kings reference didn’t specifically say that Elijah prayed, but that “He cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,” (1 Kings 18:42) 

19[My] brethren, if anyone among you strays from the Truth and falls into error and another [person] brings him back [to God],

1.       See reference in Luke 22:32

20 Let the [latter] one be sure that whoever turns a sinner from his evil course will save [that one's] soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins [procure the pardon of the many sins committed by the convert].




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