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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

James 5



Verse 1

Come now, ye rich (αγε νυν οι πλουσιοιage nun hoi plousioi). Exclamatory interjection as in James 4:13. Direct address to the rich as a class as in 1 Timothy 6:17. Apparently here James has in mind the rich as a class, whether believer, as in James 1:10., or unbeliever, as in James 2:1., James 2:6. The plea here is not directly for reform, but a warning of certain judgment (James 5:1-6) and for Christians “a certain grim comfort in the hardships of poverty” (Ropes) in James 5:7-11.

Weep and howl (κλαυσατε ολολυζοντεςklausate ololuzontes). “Burst into weeping (ingressive aorist active imperative of κλαιωklaiō as in James 4:9), howling with grief” (present active participle of the old onomatopoetic verb ολολυζωololuzō here only in N.T., like Latin ululare, with which compare αλαλαζωalalazō in Matthew 5:38.

For your miseries (επι ταις ταλαιπωριαις υμωνepi tais talaipōriais humōn). Old word from ταλαιπωροςtalaipōros (Romans 7:24) and like ταλαιπωρεωtalaipōreō in James 4:9 (from τλαωtlaō to endure and πωροςpōros a callus).

That are coming upon you (ταις επερχομεναιςtais eperchomenais). Present middle participle of the old compound επερχομαιeperchomai to come upon, used here in futuristic prophetic sense.

Verse 2

Riches (ο πλουτοςho ploutos). Masculine singular, but occasionally neuter το πλουτοςto ploutos in nominative and accusative (2 Corinthians 8:2). Apparently πλεοτοςpleotos fulness (from πλεοςpleos full, πιμπλημιpimplēmi to fill). “Wealth.”

Are corrupted (σεσηπενsesēpen). Second perfect active indicative of σηπωsēpō (root σαπsap as in σαπροςsapros rotten), to corrupt, to destroy, here intransitive “has rotted.” Only here in N.T. On the worthlessness of mere wealth see Matthew 6:19, Matthew 6:24.

Were moth-eaten (σητοβρωτα γεγονενsētobrōta gegonen). “Have become (second perfect indicative of γινομαιginomai singular number, though ιματιαhimatia neuter plural, treated collectively) moth-eaten” (σητοβρωταsētobrōta late and rare compound from σηςsēs moth, Matthew 6:19. and βρωτοςbrōtos verbal adjective of βιβρωσκωbibrōskō to eat John 6:13. This compound found only here, Job 13:28, Sibyll. Orac. Proem. 64). Rich robes as heirlooms, but moth-eaten. Vivid picture. Witness the 250 “lost millionaires” in the United States in 1931 as compared with 1929. Riches have wings.

Verse 3

Are rusted (κατιωταιkatiōtai). Perfect passive indicative (singular for χρυσοςchrusos and αργυροςarguros are grouped as one) of κατιοωkatioō late verb (from ιοςios rust) with perfective sense of καταkata to rust through (down to the bottom), found only here, Sir. 12:11, Epictetus (Diss. 4, 6, 14).

Rust (ιοςios). Poison in James 3:8; Romans 3:13 (only N.T. examples of old word). Silver does corrode and gold will tarnish. Dioscorides (V.91) tells about gold being rusted by chemicals. Modern chemists can even transmute metals as the alchemists claimed.

For a testimony (εις μαρτυριονeis marturion). Common idiom as in Matthew 8:4 (use of ειςeis with accusative in predicate).

Against you (υμινhumin). Dative of disadvantage as in Mark 6:11 (εις μαρτυριον αυτοιςeis marturion autois) where in the parallel passage (Luke 9:5) we have εις μαρτυριον επ αυτουςeis marturion ep' autous “To you” will make sense, as in Matthew 8:4; Matthew 10:18, but “against” is the idea here as in Luke 21:13.

Shall eat (παγεταιphagetai). Future middle (late form from επαγονephagon) of defective verb εστιωesthiō to eat.

Your flesh (τας σαρκαςtas sarkas). The plural is used for the fleshy parts of the body like pieces of flesh (Revelation 17:16; Revelation 19:18, Revelation 19:21). Rust eats like a canker, like cancer in the body.

As fire (ως πυρhōs pur). Editors differ here whether to connect this phrase with παγεταιphagetai just before (as Mayor), for fire eats up more rapidly than rust, or with the following, as Westcott and Hort and Ropes, that is the eternal fire of Gehenna which awaits them (Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:44). This interpretation makes a more vivid picture for ετησαυρισατεethēsaurisate (ye have laid up, first aorist active indicative of τησαυριζωthēsaurizō Matthew 6:19 and see Proverbs 16:27), but it is more natural to take it with παγεταιphagetai f0).

Verse 4

The hire (ο μιστοςho misthos). Old word for wages (Matthew 20:8).

Labourers (εργατωνergatōn). Any one who works (εργαζομαιergazomai), especially agricultural workers (Matthew 9:37).

Who mowed (των αμησαντωνtōn amēsantōn). Genitive plural of the articular first aorist active participle of αμαωamaō (from αμαhama together), old verb, to gather together, to reap, here only in N.T.

Fields (χωραςchōras). Estates or farms (Luke 12:16).

Which is of you kept back by fraud (ο απυστερημενος απ υμωνho aphusterēmenos aph' humōn). Perfect passive articular participle of απυστερεωaphustereō late compound (simplex υστερεωhustereō common as Matthew 19:20), to be behindhand from, to fail of, to cause to withdraw, to defraud. Pitiful picture of earned wages kept back by rich Jews, old problem of capital and labour that is with us yet in acute form.

The cries (αι βοαιhai boai). Old word from which βοαωboaō comes (Matthew 3:3), here only in N.T. The stolen money “cries out” (κραζειkrazei), the workers cry out for vengeance.

That reaped (των τερισαντωνtōn therisantōn). Genitive plural of the articular participle first aorist active of τεριζωtherizō (old verb from τεροςtheros summer, Matthew 24:32), to reap, to harvest while summer allows (Matthew 6:26).

Have entered (εισεληλυτανeiselēluthan). Perfect active third person plural indicative of εισερχομαιeiserchomai old and common compound, to go or come into. This late form is by analogy of the aorist for the usual form in ασι̇asi the Lord of Sabaoth (Κυριου ΣαβαωτKuriou Sabaōth). “Of the Lord of Hosts,” quotation from Isaiah 5:9 as in Romans 9:29, transliterating the Hebrew word for “Hosts,” an expression for the omnipotence of God like ΠαντοκρατωρPantokratōr (Revelation 4:8). God hears the cries of the oppressed workmen even if the employers are deaf.

Verse 5

Ye have lived delicately (ετρυπησατεetruphēsate). First aorist (constative, summary) active indicative of τρυπαωtruphaō old verb from τρυπηtruphē (luxurious living as in Luke 7:25, from τρυπτωthruptō to break down, to enervate), to lead a soft life, only here in N.T.

Taken your pleasure (εσπαταλησατεespatalēsate). First aorist (constative) active indicative of σπαταλαωspatalaō late and rare verb to live voluptuously or wantonly (from σπαταληspatalē riotous living, wantonness, once as bracelet), in N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 5:6.

Ye have nourished (ετρεπσατεethrepsate). First aorist (constative) active indicative of τρεπωtrephō old verb, to feed, to fatten (Matthew 6:26). They are fattening themselves like sheep or oxen all unconscious of “the day of slaughter” (εν ημεραι σπαγηςen hēmerāi sphagēs definite without the article) ahead of them. For this use of σπαγηςsphagēs see Romans 8:36 (προβατα σπαγηςprobata sphagēs sheep for the slaughter, σπαγηsphagē from σπαζωsphazō to slay), consummate sarcasm on the folly of sinful rich people.

Verse 6

Ye have condemned (κατεδικασατεkatedikasate). First aorist active indicative of καταδικαζωkatadikazō old verb (from καταδικηkatadikē condemnation, Acts 25:15). The rich controlled the courts of justice.

Ye have killed the righteous one (επονευσατε τον δικαιονephoneusate ton dikaion). First aorist active indicative of πονευωphoneuō (James 2:11; James 4:2). “The righteous one” (των δικαιονtōn dikaion) is the generic use of the singular with article for the class. There is probably no direct reference to one individual, though it does picture well the death of Christ and also the coming death of James himself, who was called the Just (Eus. H.E. ii. 23). Stephen (Acts 7:52) directly accuses the Sanhedrin with being betrayers and murderers (προδοται και πονειςprodotai kai phoneis) of the righteous one (του δικαιουtou dikaiou).

He doth not resist you (ουκ αντιτασσεται υμινouk antitassetai humin). It is possible to treat this as a question. Present middle indicative of αντιτασσωantitassō for which see James 4:6. Without a question the unresisting end of the victim (τον δικαιονton dikaion) is pictured. With a question (ουκouk expecting an affirmative answer) God or Lord is the subject, with the final judgment in view. There is no way to decide definitely.

Verse 7

Be patient therefore (μακροτυμησατε ουνmakrothumēsate oun). A direct corollary (ουνoun therefore) from the coming judgment on the wicked rich (James 5:1-6). First aorist (constative) active imperative of μακροτυμεωmakrothumeō late compound (Plutarch, lxx) from μακροτυμοςmakrothumos (μακροσ τυμοςmakrosυπομονηthumos of long spirit, not losing heart), as in Matthew 18:26. The appeal is to the oppressed brethren. Catch your wind for a long race (long-tempered as opposed to short-tempered). On the exhortation to patience (υπομενωhupomonē) see James 1:3., James 1:12 and repeated in James 5:11. They will need both submission (μακροτυμιαhupomenō James 5:11) and steadfastness (εως της παρουσιαςmakrothumia James 5:10).

Until the coming of the Lord (ο γεωργοςheōs tēs parousias). The second coming of Christ he means, the regular phrase here and in James 5:8 for that idea (Matthew 24:3, Matthew 24:37, Matthew 24:39; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, etc.).

The husbandman (γη εργωho geōrgos). The worker in the ground (εκδεχεταιgēεκδεχομαιergō) as in Matthew 21:33.

Waiteth for (τιμιονekdechetai). Present middle indicative of τιμηekdechomai old verb for eager expectation as in Acts 17:16.

Precious (μακροτυμων επ αυτωιtimion). Old adjective from μακροτυμεωtimē (honor, price), dear to the farmer because of his toil for it. See 1 Peter 1:19.

Being patient over it (εως λαβηιmakrothumōn ep' autōi). Present active participle of εωςmakrothumeō just used in the exhortation, picturing the farmer longing and hoping over his precious crop (cf. Luke 18:7 of God).

Until it receive (λαμβανωheōs labēi). Temporal clause of the future with προμον και οπσιμονheōs and the second aorist active subjunctive of υετονlambanō vividly describing the farmer‘s hopes and patience.

The early and latter rain (προμοςprokai opsimon). The word for rain (πρωhueton Acts 14:17) is absent from the best MSS. The adjective προμοςpro(from πρωςprōearly) occurs here only in N.T., though old in the form οπσιμονproand οπσεprōSee Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24, etc. for these terms for the early rain in October or November for the germination of the grain, and the latter rain (opsimon from opse late, here only in N.T.) in April and May for maturing the grain.

Verse 8

Ye also (και υμειςkai humeis). As well as the farmers.

Stablish (στηριχατεstērixate). First aorist active imperative of στηριζωstērizō old verb, (from στηριγχstērigx a support) to make stable, as in Luke 22:32; 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

Is at hand (ηγγικενēggiken). Present perfect active indicative of εγγιζωeggizō common verb, to draw near (from εγγυςeggus), in James 4:8, for drawing near. Same form used by John in his preaching (Matthew 3:2). In 1 Peter 4:7 the same word appears to have an eschatological sense as apparently here. How “near” or “nigh” did James mean? Clearly, it could only be a hope, for Jesus had distinctly said that no one knew when he would return.

Verse 9

Murmur not (μη στεναζετεmē stenazete). Prohibition with μηmē and the present active imperative of στεναζωstenazō old verb, to groan. “Stop groaning against one another,” as some were already doing in view of their troubles. In view of the hope of the Second Coming lift up your heads.

That ye be not judged (ινα μη κριτητεhina mē krithēte). Negative purpose clause with ινα μηhina mē and the first aorist passive subjunctive of κρινωkrinō As already indicated (James 2:12.; James 4:12) and repeated in James 5:12. Reminiscence of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1.

Standeth before the doors (προ των τυρων εστηκενpro tōn thurōn hestēken). Perfect active indicative of ιστημιhistēmi “is standing now.” Again like the language of Jesus in Matthew 24:33 (επι τυραιςepi thurais) and Mark 13:29. Jesus the Judge is pictured as ready to enter for the judgment.

Verse 10

For an example (υποδειγμαhupodeigma). Late word for the old παραδειγμαparadeigma from υποδεικνυμιhupodeiknumi to copy under, to teach (Luke 6:47), here for copy to be imitated as in John 13:15, as a warning (Hebrews 4:11). Here predicate accusative with τους προπηταςtous prophētas (the prophets) as the direct object of λαβετεlabete (second aorist active imperative of λαμβανωlambanō).

Of suffering (της κακοπατιαςtēs kakopathias). Old word from κακοπατηςkakopathēs (suffering evil, κακοπατεωkakopatheō in James 5:13; 2 Timothy 2:3, 2 Timothy 2:9), here only in N.T.

Of patience (μακροτυμιαςmakrothumias). Like μακροτυμεωmakrothumeō in James 5:7. See both μακροτυμιαmakrothumia and υπομονηhupomonē in 2 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 1:11 (the one restraint from retaliating, the other not easily succumbing).

In the name of (εν τωι ονοματιen tōi onomati). As in Jeremiah 20:9. With the authority of the Lord (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 198).

Verse 11

We call blessed (μακαριζομενmakarizomen). Old word (present active indicative of μακαριζωmakarizō), from μακαριοςmakarios (happy), in N.T. only here and Luke 1:48. “We felicitate.” As in James 1:3, James 1:12; Daniel 12:12.

Ye have heard (ηκουσατεēkousate). First aorist (constative) active indicative of ακουωakouō As in Matthew 5:21, Matthew 5:27, Matthew 5:33, Matthew 5:38, Matthew 5:43. Ropes suggests in the synagogues.

Of Job (ΙωβIōb). Job did complain, but he refused to renounce God (Job 1:21; Job 2:10; Job 13:15; Job 16:19; Job 19:25.). He had become a stock illustration of loyal endurance.

Ye have seen (ειδετεeidete). Second aorist (constative) active indicative of οραωhoraō In Job‘s case.

The end of the Lord (το τελος κυριουto telos kuriou). The conclusion wrought by the Lord in Job‘s case (Job 42:12).

Full of pity (πολυσπλαγχνοςpolusplagchnos). Late and rare compound (πολυσ σπλαγχνονpolusοικτιρμωνsplagchnon), only here in N.T. It occurs also in Hermas (Sim. v. 7. 4; Mand. iv, 3). “Very kind.”

Merciful (οικτειρωoiktirmōn). Late and rare adjective (from oikteirō to pity), in N.T. only here and Luke 6:36.

Verse 12

Above all things (προ παντωνpro pantōn). No connection with what immediately precedes. Probably an allusion to the words of Jesus (Matthew 5:34-37). It is not out of place here. See the same phrase in 1 Peter 4:8. Robinson (Ephesians, p. 279) cites like examples from the papyri at the close of letters. Here it means “But especially” (Ropes).

Swear not (μη ομνυετεmē omnuete). Prohibition of the habit (or to quit doing it if guilty) with μηmē and the present active imperative of ομνυωomnuō The various oaths (profanity) forbidden (μητεmēte thrice) are in the accusative case after ομνυετεomnuete according to rule (ουρανον γην ορκονouranonητωgēnειμιhorkon). The Jews were wont to split hairs in their use of profanity, and by avoiding God‘s name imagine that they were not really guilty of this sin, just as professing Christians today use “pious oaths” which violate the prohibition of Jesus.

Let be (εστωētō). Imperative active third singular of ινα μη υπο κρισιν πεσητεeimi late form (1 Corinthians 16:22) for ινα μηestō “Your yea be yea” (and no more). A different form from that in Matthew 5:37.

That ye fall not under judgment (πιπτωhina mē hupo krisin pesēte). Negative purpose with ινα μη κριτητεhina mē and the second aorist active subjunctive of Κρισιςpiptō to fall. See κρινωhina mē krithēte in James 5:9. κριμαKrisis (from krinō) is the act of judging rather than the judgment rendered (krima James 3:1).

Verse 13

Is any suffering? (κακοπατει τισkakopathei tis̱). See James 5:10 for κακοπατιαkakopathia The verb in N.T. occurs only here and in 2 Timothy 2:3, 2 Timothy 2:9; 2 Timothy 4:5. The lively interrogative is common in the diatribe and suits the style of James.

Among you (εν υμινen humin). As in James 3:13.

Let him pray (προσευχεστωproseuchesthō). Present middle imperative, “let him keep on praying” (instead of cursing as in James 5:12).

Is any cheerful (ευτυμειeuthumei̱). Present active indicative of ευτυμεωeuthumeō old verb from ευτυμοςeuthumos (Acts 27:36), in N.T. only here and Acts 27:22, Acts 27:25.

Let him sing praise (πσαλλετωpsalletō). Present active imperative of πσαλλωpsallō originally to twang a chord as on a harp, to sing praise to God whether with instrument or without, in N.T. only here, 1 Corinthians 14:15; Romans 15:9; Ephesians 5:19. “Let him keep on making melody.”

Verse 14

Is any among you sick? (αστενει τις εν υμινasthenei tis en humiṉ). Present active indicative of αστενεωastheneō old verb, to be weak (without strength), often in N.T. (Matthew 10:8).

Let him call for (προσκαλεσαστωproskalesasthō). First aorist (ingressive) middle imperative of προσκαλεωproskaleō Note change of tense (aorist) and middle (indirect) voice. Care for the sick is urged in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (“help the sick”). Note the plural here, “elders of the church,” as in Acts 20:17; Acts 15:6, Acts 15:22; Acts 21:18; Philemon 1:1 (bishops).

Let them pray over him (προσευχαστωσαν επ αυτονproseuxasthōsan ep' auton). First aorist middle imperative of προσευχομαιproseuchomai Prayer for the sick is clearly enjoined.

Anointing him with oil (αλειπσαντες ελαιωιaleipsantes elaiōi). First aorist active participle of αλειπωaleiphō old verb, to anoint, and the instrumental case of ελαιονelaion (oil). The aorist participle can be either simultaneous or antecedent with προσευχαστωσανproseuxasthōsan (pray). See the same use of αλειπω ελαιωιaleiphō elaiōi in Mark 6:13. The use of olive oil was one of the best remedial agencies known to the ancients. They used it internally and externally. Some physicians prescribe it today. It is clear both in Mark 6:13 and here that medicinal value is attached to the use of the oil and emphasis is placed on the worth of prayer. There is nothing here of the pagan magic or of the later practice of “extreme unction” (after the eighth century). It is by no means certain that αλειπωaleiphō here and in Mark 6:13 means “anoint” in a ceremonial fashion rather than “rub” as it commonly does in medical treatises. Trench (N.T. Synonyms) says: “ΑλειπεινAleiphein is the mundane and profane, χριεινchriein the sacred and religious, word.” At bottom in James we have God and medicine, God and the doctor, and that is precisely where we are today. The best physicians believe in God and want the help of prayer.

Verse 15

The prayer of faith (η ευχη της πιστεωςhē euchē tēs pisteōs). Cf. James 1:6 for prayer marked by faith.

Shall save (σωσειsōsei). Future active of σωζωsōzō to make well. As in Matthew 9:21.; Mark 6:56. No reference here to salvation of the soul. The medicine does not heal the sick, but it helps nature (God) do it. The doctor cooperates with God in nature.

The sick (τον καμνονταton kamnonta). Present active articular participle of καμνωkamnō old verb, to grow weary (Hebrews 12:3), to be sick (here), only N.T. examples.

The Lord shall raise him up (εγερει αυτον ο κυριοςegerei auton ho kurios). Future active of εγειρωegeirō Precious promise, but not for a professional “faith-healer” who scoffs at medicine and makes merchandise out of prayer.

And if he have committed sins (καν αμαρτιας ηι πεποιηκωςkan hamartias ēi pepoiēkōs). Periphrastic perfect active subjunctive (unusual idiom) with και εανkai ean (crasis κανkan) in condition of third class. Supposing that he has committed sins as many sick people have (Mark 2:5.; John 5:14; John 9:2.; 1 Corinthians 11:30).

It shall be forgiven him (απετησεται αυτωιaphethēsetai autōi). Future passive of απιημιaphiēmi (impersonal passive as in Matthew 7:2, Matthew 7:7; Romans 10:10). Not in any magical way, not because his sickness has been healed, not without change of heart and turning to God through Christ. Much is assumed here that is not expressed.

Verse 16

Confess therefore your sins one to another (εχομολογειστε ουν αλληλοις τας αμαρτιαςexomologeisthe oun allēlois tas hamartias). Present middle (indirect) of εχομολογεωexomologeō Confession of sin to God is already assumed. But public confession of certain sins to one another in the meetings is greatly helpful in many ways. This is not confessing to one man like a priest in place of the public confession. One may confess to the pastor without confessing to God or to the church, with little benefit to anybody.

Pray for one another (προσευχεστε υπερ αλληλωνproseuchesthe huper allēlōn). Present middle imperative. Keep this up.

That ye may be healed (οπως ιατητεhopōs iathēte). Purpose clause with οπωςhopōs and the first aorist passive subjunctive of ιαομαιiaomai Probably of bodily healing (James 5:14), though ιαομαιiaomai is used also of healing of the soul (Matthew 13:15; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 12:13) as Mayor takes it here.

Availeth much (πολυ ισχυειpolu ischuei). “Has much force.” Present active indicative of ισχυωischuō (from ισχυςischus strength).

In its working (ενεργουμενηenergoumenē). Probably the present middle participle of ενεργεωenergeō as Paul apparently uses it in Galatians 5:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:7, meaning “when it works.” The passive is possible, as is the usual idiom elsewhere. Mayor argues strongly for the passive here, “when it is exercised” (Ropes).

Verse 17

Of like passions with us (ομοιοπατης ημινhomoiopathēs hēmin). Associative-instrumental case ημινhēmin as with ομοιοςhomoios This old compound adjective (ομοιοσ πασχωhomoiosπροσευχηι προσηυχατοpaschō), suffering the like with another, in N.T. only here and Acts 14:15.

He prayed fervently (προσευχομαιproseuchēi prosēuxato). First aorist middle indicative of προσευχηιproseuchomai and the instrumental case πευγειν πυγηιproseuchēi (cognate substantive), after idiom for intensity in classical Greek, like του μη βρεχαιpheugein phugēi to flee with all speed (βρεχαιfigura etymologica), but particularly frequent in the lxx (Gen 2:17; 31:30) in imitation of the Hebrew infinitive absolute. So Luke 22:15; John 3:29; Acts 4:17.

That it might not rain (βρεχωtou mē brexai). Genitive of the articular infinitive (μηbrexai first aorist active of ενιαυτους τρεις και μηνας εχbrechō old verb, to moisten, Luke 7:38, to rain, Matthew 5:45) with negative mē used either for direct purpose, for an object clause as here and Acts 3:12; Acts 15:20, or even for result.

For three years and six months (eniautous treis kai mēnas hex). Accusative of extent of time.

Verse 18

Gave rain (υετον εδωκενhueton edōken). This idiom is in the lxx of God as here of heaven (1 Sam 12:17; 1 Kings 18:1) and also in Acts 14:17 instead of εβρεχενebrexen of James 5:17. υετονHueton is old word for rain (from υωhuō to rain), genuine here, but not in James 5:7.

Brought forth (εβλαστησενeblastēsen). First aorist active of βλαστανωblastanō old verb, to sprout (intransitive as Mark 4:27), here as occasionally in later Greek transitive with accusative καρπονkarpon f0).

Verse 19

If any one among you do err (εαν τις εν υμιν πλανητηιean tis en humin planēthēi). Third-class condition (supposed case) with εανean and the first aorist passive subjunctive of πλαναωplanaō old verb, to go astray, to wander (Matthew 18:12), figuratively (Hebrews 5:2).

From the truth (απο της αλητειαςapo tēs alētheias). For truth see James 1:18; James 3:14; John 8:32; 1 John 1:6; 1 John 3:18. It was easy then, and is now, to be led astray from Christ, who is the Truth.

And one convert him (και επιστρεπσηι τις αυτονkai epistrepsēi tis auton). Continuation of the third-class condition with the first aorist active subjunctive of επιστρεπωepistrephō old verb, to turn (transitive here as in Luke 1:16., but intransitive often as Acts 9:35).

Verse 20

Let him know (γινωσκετωginōsketō). Present active imperative third person singular of γινωσκωginōskō but Westcott and Hort read γινωσκετεginōskete (know ye) after B. In either case it is the conclusion of the condition in James 5:19.

He which converteth (ο επιστρεπσαςho epistrepsas). First aorist active articular participle of επιστρεπωepistrephō of James 5:19.

From the error (εκ πλανηςek planēs). “Out of the wandering” of James 5:19 (πλανηplanē from which πλαναωplanaō is made). See 1 John 4:6 for contrast between “truth” and “error.”

A soul from death (πσυχην εκ τανατουpsuchēn ek thanatou). The soul of the sinner (αμαρτωλονhamartōlon) won back to Christ, not the soul of the man winning him. A few MSS. have αυτουautou added (his soul), which leaves it ambiguous, but αυτουautou is not genuine. It is ultimate and final salvation here meant by the future (σωσειsōsei).

Shall cover a multitude of sins (καλυπσει πλητος αμαρτιωνkalupsei plēthos hamartiōn). Future active of καλυπτωkaluptō old verb, to hide, to veil. But whose sins (those of the converter or the converted)? The Roman Catholics (also Mayor and Ropes) take it of the sins of the converter, who thus saves himself by saving others. The language here will allow that, but not New Testament teaching in general. It is apparently a proverbial saying which Resch considers one of the unwritten sayings of Christ (Clem. Al. Paed. iii. 12). It occurs also in 1 Peter 4:8, where it clearly means the sins of others covered by love as a veil thrown over them. The saying appears also in Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love hides all transgressions” - that is “love refuses to see faults” (Mayor admits). That is undoubtedly the meaning in 1 Peter 4:8; James 5:20.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on James 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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