corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

James 5




Questions For James Chapter Five

1.Against what men does James now write?

2.How does this differ from second chapter?

3.For what are these men told to weep?

4.What are against them?

5.In what condition had their riches become?

6.Are garments moth-eaten that are in use?

7.What would the condition here indicate?

8. State what is indicated by rusting of metal.

9.What constitutes the witness here?

10.In what sense will it eat their flesh?

11.For what days is their treasure waiting?

12.How had these rich men become so?

13.Is it wrongto hire reapers?

14.What soundreaches the divine ears?

15.Explain theword "sabaoth" in4th verse.

16.How had these men lived?

17.What fact made their pleasure a sin?

18.Explain the figure in last of verse five.

19.At whose expense had they lived thus?

20.How had they dealt with the just?

21.Who is "he" in verse six?

22.Find these persons in verse seven.

23.State the conditions calling for patience.

24.At what event may they expect justice?

25.What occupation is used as illustration?

26.Explain "early and latter rain."

27.What will patience do for our hearls?

28.How does close of verse8 agree with our date?

29.Why not grudge against each other?

30.Who stands at the door?

31.To what men does James then refer?

32.How had they been able to speak?

33.State what example they set.

34. Which ones were counted happy?

35.Of what special case does he speak?

36.Does he refer to him as a real person?

37.Explain expression "end of the Lord."

38.On what subject does James write above all?

39.Who else has given teaching on this subject?

40.What words show the restriction to be total?

41.Instead of swearing what must we say?

42.Lest we fall into what?

43.By whom would we be condemned?

44.Those pressed with hardships should do what?

45.What may the merry appropriately do?

46.Were these the days of miracles?

47.Did Elders possess miraculous gifts?

48.Was oil ever used in miraculous cases? Mark 6:13.

49.Would use of oil preclude miracle act?

50.What does he say prayer of faith will do?

51.What is promised in addition to healing?

52.Would sins constitute spiritual sickness?

53.Does this not come after the other healing?

54Would this not show the other not to be spiritual?

55. Must we confess our faults to a priest

56.Would this make verse16 mean spiritual healing?

57.Does this come after healing of14th verse?

58.Why could Elias accomplish the miracle?

59.When does a brother need converting?

60.What is accomplished by the reformer?

Verse 1

G0 to is the same phrase as that in James 4:13. There it is a rebuke for those who are boastful of their expected gain, here it is against those who have obtained it by wrongful means which will be considered at verse4. The miseries will come upon them at the day of judgment.

Verse 2

Wealth that is not needed and especially that has been accumulated in an evil manner, will deteriorate by the simple fact of hoarding.

Verse 3

Witness against you means that the fact of their cankering and rusting will prove they did not need them and that they had been hoarded. For the last days denotes that these treasures will be against them at the last great day of judgment.

Verse 4

The mere possession of wealth does not condemn one as may be seen from Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50-51; Mark 10:24; 1 Timothy 6:17-19. The question is as to how a man obtains his wealth and the use he makes of it. In the present verse the men became rich by withholding the wages of their employees. This does not have any bearing on disputes about what should be the wages, but is considering only what was kept back by fraud. Sabaoth means "hosts" or armies, and the thought is that He who is able to command the armies of Heaven will be able to deal with all unjust men.

Verse 5

Day of slaughter signifies a day of great preparation for gratification of self at the expense of others. Been wanton means they had lived in luxury upon the things they had fraudulently taken from the poor.

Verse 6

This verse might seem to be a break into the line of thought but it is not. The poor people who had been imposed upon were not receiving their just dues, and they would naturally feel disturbed over the seeming neglect of the Lord. James mentions the fact of the condemnation and slaying of the Just One, meaning Christ, that even He did not resist. (See Isaiah 53:7 and Acts 8:32.)

Verse 7

James now addresses the poor brethren who had been unjustly treated, and on the basis of facts and truths just revealed, exhorts them to be patient unto the coming of the Lord when all wrongs will be adjusted. As an example of patience he refers to the husband-man or farmer as he proceeds in his business. Early and latter rain actually means the fall and spring rains. I shall quote from Smith"s Bible Dictionary as follows: "In the Bible ‘early rain' signifies the rain of the autumn, and ‘latter rain' the rain of spring. For six months in the year, from May to October, no rain fa-lls, the whole land becomes dry, parched and brown. The autumnal rains are eagerly looked for, to prepare the earth for the reception of the seed."

Verse 8

Also patient has reference to the patience of the husbandman commented upon in the preceding verse. Christians can well afford to be patient for their interests are far more valuable than those of a farmer. Draweth nigh. Whether James has reference to the destruction of Jerusalem which was then only a few years away, at which time the persecutions of the disciples were to be somewhat eased, or to the personal appearance on earth of Jesus for the judgment, the time would be comparatively short when the endless duration after the judgment is considered.

Verse 9

To grudge means to murmur against another because of oppression. Christians not only were told to be patient under the persecutions from enemies in the world, but to exhibit the same patience toward their brethren who are so unthoughtful as to mistreat them. Lest ye be condemned when Jesus comes to summon all before the judgment, at which time he will condemn all who did not maintain patience under difficulties as well as those who caused the difiiculties. Judge standeth at the door is explained by the comments on the preceding verse.

Verse 10

A few verses above James refers to the farmer who sets an example of patience under times of anxiety. He now makes reference to the teaching prophets of old time for the same purpose of a lesson in patience.

Verse 11

Those who endure afflictions are to be counted happy because of what it indicates for them. (See James 1:2-3.) Just after using the word endure James makes mention of the patience of Job which verfies the definition often given of the word patience, namely, that it means endurance. End of the Lord means the outcome of the case under the blessing of the Lord. It shows that He is merciful even though he suffers a righteous man to be afflicted for a good purpose ( Job 42:12-17).

Verse 12

Swear not. Jesus taught that his disciples should not make oaths in Matthew 5:34-35, and the reader should see the comments at that place. Sometimes an attempt is made to justify making oaths by saying Jesus was only condemning false oaths. But James spoils that theory by his words neither by any other oath, which rules out every shade and grade of swearing. Besides, there is nothing that should urge the Christain to make oaths, for this is a case where he can obey the command of the Lord and satisfy the laws of the land also. Instead of making an oath the Christian can notify the oflicer saying "I will afiirm," and his word will be taken for the same value as an oath. That is what the scripture here and at Matthew 5:37 means by directing that your yea be yea and your nay be nay. The fundamental difference between an oath and an afiirmation is that the latter does not use the name of God; also that one says "I affirm" instead of "I swear." Lest ye fall into condemnation is another way of saying that if a disciple makes an oath he will be condemned, because both Jesus and James have forbidden it.

Verse 13

Afilicted is from KAKOPATHEO, and Thayer defines it, "To suffer evils; hardship, troubles." It does not refer to physical diseases which will come in the next verse. When a disciple is beset with these trials he should be in the frame of mind that would lead him to go to God in prayer for strength and encouragement. Merry does not mean to be gay or frivolous, for the original is defined to denote "Be of good cheer." The phrase let him sing psalms is from the noted Greek word PSALLO, and Thayer defines it as follows: "In the New Testament to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song." There are times when a person is not in the "mood" for singing and James recognizes that truth in this verse. David also recognizes it in Psalm 137:2-4. Solomon likewise had the thought in mind when he spoke of the inappropriateness of the man "that singeth songs to an heavy heart" ( Proverbs 25:20).

Verse 14

The Word sick is from ASTHENEO, which Thayer defines at this place, "To be feeble, slck." Robinson defines it, "A sick person, the sick." It is the word that is used in the Greek text at Luke 7:10; John 4:46; John 11:3; Acts 9:37 and other similar passages. From the above information we are sure the word in our passage has the regular sense of bodily disease, and not a figurative or spiritual condition as some teach. This verse should be regarded in the same light as Mark 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; 1 Corinthians 14:1-40; Ephesians 4:8-13; Hebrews 2:3-4 and all other passages dealing with the subject of spiritual gifts. In the early years of the church the Lord granted miraculous demonstrations to confirm the truth that had been preached while the New Testament was being completed. Among those miracles was that of healing the sick and since elders (or pastors, Ephesians 4:11) were among those receiving such gifts, it is reasonable that they should be called in such a case. The use of oil does not signify anything contrary to these remarks, for Jesus sometimes used material articles in connection with His miraculous healing, such as clay in the case of the blind man in John 9:6-7. Just why such things were done in connection with the miracles we are not told and we need not speculate as to why.

Verse 15

Prayer of faith means miraculous faith which was one of the spiritual gifts discussed in the preceding paragraph ( 1 Corinthians 12:9). The forgiveness of sins is mentioned in addition to the healing of sickness. This shows that sickness is not spiritual for that would be the same as guilt of sins. It would be meaningless to speak of healing spiritual sickness or a condition of sin and then add that the man"s sins also would be forgiven. That would be equivalent to saying the Lord would heal a man of his sins (would forgive him) and would also forgive his sins. It would not alter the discussion to say that the sins were what caused the man to be sick, for that would still leave the truth that it refers to sickness of the body.

Verse 16

Confess your faults does not mean merely to confess that we have faults, but the faults themselves are to be acknowledged. One to another denotes that we are to confess the faults that we have committed against another; we are to confess such faults to him. Sins which are known to God only need only be confessed to Him. That ye may be healed. This is said in direct connection with the mention of faults, hence we know the last word is used figuratively-or concerning a spiritual cure. No man can do another man"s praying for him, but both can pray together for the forgiveness of the one at fault. Effectual means active or practical, and it is used to indicate a man who not only prays to God but who also makes it his business to serve Him. The prayers of such a man will be regarded by the Lord.

Verse 17-18

The account of this event with Elias (Elijah in the Old Testament) is in 1 Kings 17:1-7; 1 Kings 17:1 Kings18:41-46. The prophet did not perform the feat merely to demonstrate his miraculous power, for such kinds of evidence were not necessary at that time. The connection shows that Ahab was a wicked king of Israel, and the Lord saw fit to punish him with a dearth by withholding the rain. The prayer of Elijah is not recorded, but he was a righteous man and realized that the wicked king would not be brought to repentance but by some severe judgment. Accordingly, when he prayed to the Lord on the subject his prayer was accepted as just and the chastisement was sent on the king and his country. It was therefore a miracle granted because of the righteousness of the request. Yet even at such a time, had he not been a righteous man his prayer would not have availed any, to say nothing about its availing much. Subject to like passions means he was only a human being, yet because of his good life his prayer was heard, since that was yet in the days of special providence.

Verse 19

To err from the truth means to wander to one side according to the comments at James 1:16. To convert such a person means to induce him to turn and reenter the pathway of truth. since the word convert literally means to reverse a direction.

Verse 20

A sinner is any person who is doing wrong, whether he be a man of the world or an erring disciple. No man can repent for another but he may be able to persuade the guilty one to repent. If he succeeds he will save a soul from death because the one in error was going the way that leads to spiritual death. Hide is from KALUPTO. and both Thayer and Robinson explain it to mean that by reason of the repentance of the erring one, the Lord will overlook and not punish the one who had gone astray. This act of the Lord"s mercy would be equivalent to hiding the sins because they would not be brought up to judgment afterward.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on James 5:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology