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Dave Burnette's Commentary

James Chapter 5

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: James
Date Penned: (49 AD)
Overview: James' Concern for the Persecuted Christians (c 1-5)
Theme: General Wisdom (c 4-5)
Message: Instructions for the believer (v 1-20)

James 5 Commentary

(5:1-6) Warning to the Rich - Chapter 1 included the challenge to see that humble circumstances have distinct spiritual benefits (see 1:9-11) as opposed to riches, which require humility. In chapter 2, James warned about the destructiveness of preferential treatment based on wealth. At the end of chapter 4, James warned against being seduced by the world. He begins chapter 5 by warning wealthy non-Christians of their hopeless end and the worthlessness of their riches. Their wealth will not save them from God’s judgment. This should comfort the believers, knowing that any wrongs against them will be avenged. It should also be a clear warning that they shouldn’t make riches the focus of their desires because, ultimately, riches amount to nothing.

(:7-12) Patience in Suffering - The believers, most of whom were poor, were frequently exploited by the rich and were persecuted because of their faith. This external pressure led to problems in the church as their frustration reached the boiling point. James encouraged the believers to be patient until the Lord’s return. But the patience he describes is not passive. It is patience that involves action. In this section, James illustrates some helpful sources for personal application. After speaking of the need for patience, he proceeds to reveal a number of different lessons that reinforce and apply his theme. The principle of patience will not mean much unless we can apply it to our lives. By looking at life through James’s eyes, we discover there are many ways God gives us guidance and encouragement.

(5:13-18) Faithful Prayer - James closes his letter as he began it, with a call to prayer. James uses his closing words to describe effective prayer. He details prayer in several forms (praise, intercession, confession) and connects prayer with several other important spiritual disciplines (healing, confession, anointing, correction, praise, and mutual forgiveness). If we can say that James’s letter summarizes the work of faith, his conclusion focuses on faith’s finest work—believers effective in prayer.

(5:19-20) Restore Wandering Believers - Behind this question about the identity of the wanderer is a pastoral concern. In practice, it makes no difference whether the wanderer was actually a believer or not—we are commanded to attempt to turn the person back to the faith (see Ezekiel 3:18-21; 33:9; 1 Timothy 4:16). If the wanderer should die while wandering, the pastor or group is left to wonder about the eternal state of that person. Families sometimes agonize over the fate of a loved one who has wandered away from the faith. Frankly, we cannot know. To determine what was really occurring within that person we would have to be God. If we have done what we could to reach out to wanderers while they were still living, we must then turn their eternal destiny over to God. James urges Christians to help backsliders return to God. By taking the initiative, praying for the person, and acting in love, we can meet the person where he or she is and encourage his or her return to God.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Trust the Lord

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of James with Chapter 5 and in our text we see James reminding us to be content with our posessions, to be paitent in our circumstances, be faithful in prayer, and restore others that loose their way. In making application we see that our lives will not always be filled with ease, comfort, and pleasure but we need to know our Lord is in control, He knows what we truly need. How about you? Do you trust the Lord? Let us learn from our text today and the reminder of James that we are to live our lives knowing that our Lord loves us, that He knows our every need, so let us live in faith, seasoning everything in prayer, close to the body of Christ, letting the Lord live in and through our lives.


James 5

James 5

 1Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

 2Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

 3Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

 4Behold, 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 ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

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

 6Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

 7Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. 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.

 8Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 17Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

 18And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

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

 20Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.