James 5

Warning to the Rich (v1-6)

v1: Notice James used “you rich people” instead of “dear brothers” as in the rest of the epistle. His stern tone has continued from chapter 4 to chapter 5.

v2: All of our earthly material treasures will one day corrode and vanished.

v3: James especially rebuke rich people that didn’t share their wealth but hoarded their wealth.

v4: These rich people gained their wealth by unethical methods, like exploiting the poor who work for them, and even condemned and murdered innocent men (v6).

v5: These rich people lives in luxury and self-indulgence, instead of living for God and use their wealth for God’s works.

Wealth by itself is not evil. James is taking about how wealthy Christians should live their life. There are many wealthy christians who love the Lord and have used their wealth for God’s works, to support mission works, to care for the poor and needed, to express God’s love.

Patience in the face of suffering (v7-v12)

v7: The tone has changed from rebuking to consoling.

v7: The used of farmer waiting for rain fall and crops to ripe as analogy for believers to wait for the Lord second coming.

v11: James used Job as an example of perseverance in time of suffering.

Healing of the Weary (v13-20)

v13: Pray and Praise, both are essential to christians’ life.

v14: Can be interpreted in two ways:

1) sick (G770, astheneo) refers to physical sickness. oil refers to the use of medicine. When someone is sick, we need to pray and use medicine.

2) sick refers to spiritual sickness.  Someone who is weak in faith (Rom 14:1), possibly due to sin in his life (v16). Further more the “sick” in v15 is G2577 (Kamno), the only other use in NT is Hebrew 12:3, which refers to spiritually weariness. “Anoint (G218, aleipho) with oil” refers to common practice of using oil as a means of bestowing honor, refreshment, and grooming. The weak and weary (astheneo and kamno) would be refreshed, encouraged, and uplifted by the elders who rubbed oil on the despondents’ head and prayed for them.

v16: pray for each other, a sign of mature christian is someone who has the desire and burden to pray for others. How often do you pray for your own needs compare to the needs of others?

v20: James ended the epistle with a calling for mature believers to care for the one who is weak in faith.

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