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James Chapter Five


I. Content of the Chapter


The Fourth Trial of Christians’ Faith ---- the Necessity of a Victorious Life

A.  Overcome the entanglement of riches (v.1-6);

1. The helplessness and disaster of riches (v.1-3);

2. The sin of dealing with the riches (v.4-6);

B.  Overcome distressful conditions (v.7-12);

1. Be patient until the coming of the Lord (v.7-8);

2. Do not grumble against one another (v.9);

3. Learn the perseverance of the prophets and Job (v.10-11);

4. Do not swear to prove one’s innocence when treated unjustly (v.12);

C.  Overcome physical and mental weakness (v.13-18);

1. Principle ---- he who suffers shall pray, and he who is cheerful shall sing psalms (v.13);

2. Effective prayer (v.14-18):

a.    Prayers of the elders who anointing the oil ---- be united with the Lord’s body (v.14);

b.    Prayer of faith (v.15);

c.Prayer of the righteous man ---- confess trespasses to one another, and pray for one another (v.16-18);

D.  Overcome spiritual weakness (v.19-20);

1. Let the one wandering from the truth turn back (v.19);

2. Cover many sins (v.20);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


James. 5:1 “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!”

YLT: “Go, now, ye rich! weep, howling over your miseries that are coming upon ;”

Meaning of Words: weep”: wail; “howl”: shriek; “misery”: hardship, wretchedness, calamity; 

Literal Meaning: “come now, you rich”, according to the context, the rich are those who are rich and yet unmerciful. The Holy Bible does not condemn the rich, for example, Abraham possessed great property (see Gen. 13:6), but he was called the friend of God (James 2:23). However, the improper usage of money is condemned by the Holy Scriptures.

  “Weep and howl”, if one has not repented or lamented for his improper usage of money in the past, miseries will come upon him because of God’s judgment. Then he will weep and cry and even wail in mourning.

  “For your miseries that are coming upon you”, “miseries that are coming”: the coming judgment that will bring about unbearable suffering because of punishment;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Riches can be dominated by men, and can dominate men. Apparently, the rich possess wealth, but actually they may be occupied by wealth and be bondservants of wealth and be dominated and ruled by wealth.

2)     Though wealth is good, it still has negative effects. Man’s enjoyment and joy obtained by wealth are short and superficial. However, the disaster and distress caused by wealth are long and deep.

3)     If we are willing to lose the enjoyment of soul life, we will receive more abundant spiritual life. However, if we want to keep our soul life, we will lose spiritual life (see Matt. 16:25). The focal key lies in our attitude toward wealth.


James. 5:2 “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.”

YLT: “your riches have rotted, and your garments have become moth-eaten;”

Meaning of Words: corrupted”: rotted, perish;

The Background: at that time, the rich took the following three marks as wealth: 1) the large amount of substance especially grains of all kinds; 2) gorgeous garments; 3) gold and silver and riches; the rich sought eagerly and spared no efforts to store such three things, but never thought to share with others. Finally, they received little profit and yet were harmed by them (see Luke 12:16-21; 16:19-31).

Literal Meaning: “your riches are corrupted”, “riches”: properties especially grains of all kinds; “corrupted”: the property were stored so long that they became corrupted.

  “And your garments are moth-eaten”, “garments”, it is one of the marks of the rich (see Luke 16:19); “moth-eaten”, the overmuch garments stored in clothes chests were eaten by moths.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Since the earthly treasures may be corrupted and spoiled (see Matt. 6:19), they are not worthy of costing too much energy or mind or time of us nor of being trusted in at all.

2)     Treasures and garments symbolize the temporary and unreliable things now. They have no eternal value and yet will cover our spiritual insight and make us ignore the eternal things.

3)     Riches cannot guarantee themselves, so they can by no means keep our life. If we entrust our precious life to these things, we are too foolish.

4)     If treasures leave unused, they will be naturally consumed. Indeed, believers should not waste money, but we shall also not be slaves of moneygrubber. Instead, we have to give unsparingly for the sake of the Lord and men.

5)     The true value of riches is manifested in normal usage. If they leave unused, they will depreciate in value and bring miseries to the owners (see v.1, 3).


James. 5:3 “Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.”

YLT: “your gold and silver have rotted, and the rust of them for a testimony shall be to you, and shall eat your flesh as fire. Ye made treasure in the last days!”

Meaning of Words: corroded”: rust down; “corrosion”: rust, poison; “heap up”: lay up, keep in store, treasure up;

Literal Meaning: “your gold and silver are corroded”, gold and silver are originally uneasy to be corroded. However, here the moneygrubbers know only to store up and are unwilling to use them properly and let them circulate. Gradually, gold and silver fade away and change in appearance.

  Note that “are corrupted” and “are moth-eaten” (see v.2) and “are corroded” here are all in the past perfect tense in the original. Here the author sees the inevitable end of treasures with spiritual eyes and reveals the vanity and uselessness and uncertainty of wealth (see Luke 16:9).

“And their corrosion will be a witness against you”, the physical change of the gold and silver that are not circulated or properly used is a proof, proving that the owners have failed to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted by God and are thus judged.

“And will eat your flesh like fire”, after judgment, the subsequent punishment will be painful as that the flesh is burned by fire.

Note that the future tense of “will be a witness against you” and “will eat your flesh like fire” shows that our conditions after the coming judgment depend on our present ways of dealing with properties.

“You have heaped up treasure in the last days”, “the last days”: the days before the Lord’s coming. Here it shows that we do not have many days. “Have heaped up treasure”, here it does not condemn deposit, but condemns the deposit for one’s own without knowing the responsibilities after receiving the riches given by God. In other words, God will judge those who know to heap up treasure without knowing using them.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The desire of men’s hope for obtaining wealth is like the corrosion of metal, corroding their bodies and souls mercilessly. And the great irony is that men heap up treasure for them but such treasure will finally become fire burning these men.

2)    According to this verse, heaping up “treasure” is like laying up “fire”. If we “know only” to heap up treasure, we are treasuring up the fire of judgment in the last days. And the more treasure we heap up, the fiercer the judging fire will be.

3)    God bestows wealth to us for the purpose of not only our own enjoyment but also entrusting us with a duty that we have to care for the need of others.

4)    John Wesley said, “Christians shall earn much money and save much money and then give much money”. It is not wrong of earning and saving money. But the unwillingness of giving money is wrong.

5)    There is much harm of laying up treasures upon the earth. And there is more and greater profit of laying up treasures in the heavens (see Matt. 6:19-24)? If harm can be changed into profit, why not?

6)    In the last days, the all important thing we have to know is not “how to lay up treasures” but how to “use money properly”. The principle of believers’ financial operation is not measuring outgoings to income, but measuring income to outgoings.


James. 5:4 “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”

YLT: “lo, the reward of the workmen, of those who in-gathered your fields, which hath been fraudulently kept back by you -- doth cry out, and the exclamations of those who did reap into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth have entered;”

Meaning of Words: kept back”: defraud, destitute; “cry out”: call aloud, entreat; “cries”: shout; “the Lord of Sabaoth”: “the Lord of Armies”;

Literal Meaning: “the laborers who mowed your fields”, “laborers”: servants or workers; “mowed your fields”: work for the purpose of increasing the output of the land; it also refers to any work for the purpose of increasing value or treasure, including direct and indirect works.

  “You kept back by fraud”, it includes practices of exploitation such as lowering the wages, and delaying the time of payment and taking out some of the wages by an excuse etc;

“Indeed the wages of … cry out”, this is personification writing, revealing that any practice of exploitation of wages will cause penalty.

“And the cries of the reapers”, “reapers”: those who are exploited; “cries”: the voices of complaints, including appealing to public opinion, administrative petition, industrial action, judicial proceedings or even complaint in no way and yet only groaning or praying to God etc.

“Have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth”, “the Lord of Sabaoth”: the almighty and fearful God, who is the Lord of judgment upon all; “have reached the ears of …”, God has received the petitions of those who have cried (see Deut. 24:15; Ps. 18:6).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    It is the law of nature that workers should receive wages (1Tim. 5:18). God tells us that we have to work and eat by our own hands (2Thess. 3:10) and He pleases that man works to distribute to him that has need (Eph. 4:28). Therefore, anything that owes money has directly gone against the will of God, and God must judge such things.

2)    Apparently, workers work for the masters on the earth. However, no matter workers or masters, both of them are working for the Lord in the heavens (see Eph. 6:5-9) and are servants of “the Lord of Sabaoth”. Therefore, receiving and giving of workers and masters should be done according to the will of God.


James. 5:5 “You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.”

YLT: “ye did live in luxury upon the earth, and were wanton; ye did nourish your hearts, as in a day of slaughter;”

Meaning of Words: pleasure”: live extravagantly and easefully; “luxury”: indulge in luxury; “slaughter”: kill, butcher; “fat”: nourish, bring up;

Literal Meaning: “you have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury”: live on the earth to seek the enjoyment of soul and covet for pleasures;

  The word “pleasure” is derived from the word “dissolution”, which suggests that the earthly pleasures will finally corrode and destroy our bodies and souls. And the original word “luxury” describes the ugly performance of indulgence in lusts.

  “In the day of slaughter”, in the day of judgment, God’s judgment will be upon the evil men as slaughter of animals (see Is. 34:5-6; Jer. 12:3; 25:34).

“You have fattened your hearts”: follow one’s inclinations to satisfy his flesh and lusts; it is an irony here ---- the masters who raising cattle always choose the fat ones to slaughter first. Now, those who covet for pleasures fat themselves and have not realized that they have treasured up the wrath of God unto themselves and made them the objects of God’s slaughter.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     The rich men know only to seek fleshly pleasures by wealth to satisfy their lusts, forgetting their social responsibilities. Therefore, they will eat their bitter fruit in the last days.

2)     Eating and drinking and entertainment cannot do without slaughter of animals. However, in the last days, man himself shall be slaughtered as animals. Please remember today you cut the flesh of animals and the other day God may cut your flesh.

3)     He who “fats” his heart today before God is just like the fat animals that will be slaughtered. Such man shall be the object of God’s slaughter in the last days.


James. 5:6 “You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.”

YLT: “ye did condemn -- ye did murder the righteous one, he doth not resist you.”

Meaning of Words: condemn”: pronounce guilty; “resist”: oppose, range oneself against;

Literal Meaning: “you have condemned, you have murdered the just”, “the just” the definite article is before the singular word, so “the just” is a collective group, namely, believers who keep the faith in Christ ---- they are united with the suffering and death of “the just one” (Acts 7:52; 3:13), the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:5).

“He does not resist you”, it shows that He does not go against you, for believers do not war against blood and flesh, but against the devil and evil spirits (see Eph. 6:12).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The Lord Jesus is the holy and righteous one (Acts 3:18). The governor Pilate declared repeatedly, “I have found nothing criminal in this man” (Luke 23:4, 14, 22). But the Jews would kill Him (see John 19:7), and He did not resist (see John 19:9-11).

2)    Christ has died for our sins, just for unjust (1Pet. 3:18). All those who believe Him shall be justified (Gal. 2:16; Rom. 3:26). Therefore, we have to deal with carefully all believers who have been justified, lest we should commit the fault in this verse.

3)    The principle of Christians is not resisting evil (Matt. 5:39), and being reviled, reviling not again (1Pet. 2:23), not avenging yourselves, but give place to wrath (Rom. 12:19).


James. 5:7 “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.”

YLT: “Be patient, then, brethren, till the presence of the Lord; lo, the husbandman doth expect the precious fruit of the earth, being patient for it, till he may receive rain -- early and latter;”

Meaning of Words: patient”: patiently endure, suffer long (note: “patient” from verse seven to ten in the original belongs to the same subgroup of word, and “perseverance” in verse eleven belongs to another subgroup of word); coming”: presence, being near; precious”: dear, honorable; fruit”: production, outcome;

Literal Meaning: “therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord”, “therefore”, it teaches us that we shall not be as the above-mentioned rich men who regard the present and yet ignore the future; “be patient”: it suggests that the present life of the brethren is not so ideal and they have to be undergo various trials (see 1:2); “until the coming of the Lord”, when the Lord comes, every problem before us shall be resolved.

See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, the farmers labor in cultivation, and enjoy in harvest. Here it takes the example of farmers to show the basic attitude of Christians in conversation ---- do not covet for coziness in life but confront various difficult situations and seek spiritual growth in life with diligence and endure to wait for the maturity of life and bear spiritual fruit.

“Waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain”, “early rain”: the source of water that is needed when the seed is sprout after sowing; “latter rain”: the source of water that is needed when the crops grow and bear fruit; the whole sentence shows that though we have to labor with diligence, we still need to look upon God to perfect us through the Spirit so as to obtain full fruit.  

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Christians shall obey all the guidance and arrangements of God in our life thanksgiving and meekness. We need to look upon the mercy and grace of God in patience in any situation (1Cor. 13:4-7; Gal. 5:22; Heb. 10:36).

2)     The Holy Scriptures have not told us when the Lord comes again, so we have to prepare us at any moment and wait for His coming. Though His coming seems to be delayed, it is not delay, but long-suffering toward us (see 2Pet. 3:9).

3)     When we wait for the coming of the Lord with patience, He, the true farmer, is still waiting for our growth to maturity to become the first-fruit and harvest of the earth (Rev. 14:4, 14-15). Therefore, we shall seek the growth and maturity of life with diligence.

4)     On one hand, we Christians spare no efforts to run and work. On the other hand, we look upon Jesus the leader and completer of faith (Heb. 12:1-2). And in due time the Spirit Himself shall perfect us and accomplish His work.


James. 5:8 “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

YLT: “be patient, ye also; establish your hearts, because the presence of the Lord hath drawn nigh;”

Meaning of Words: establish”: strengthen, steadfastly set; “coming”: near; 

Literal Meaning: “you also be patient”, it shows that we shall also learn the example of the farmer’s patience. The emphasis of “patience” in the previous verse is “waiting”, and that in this verse is “establishing your hearts”, namely, “establishing and strengthening one’s heart”

  Establish your hearts, all the labor of our patience depends on our “hearts”. Discouragement of heart is difficult to be patient. Therefore, our hearts shall be firstly strengthened without any waving.

“For the coming of the Lord is at hand”, “for”, it shows that the following word is the reason why we shall be patient and establish our hearts; “the coming of the Lord is at hand”, there are two meanings: 1) it indicates that the “time” of the Lord’s coming is at hand and we need to be patient for a short time only; 2) the presence of the Lord is “spatially” at hand. He is near us and in us. Therefore, we do not endure lonely, but the Lord endures with us.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Christians are not resigned to everything with patience, but positively equip us to pass the coming judgment (see v.9).

2)     “Establish your hearts”, it is a habitual Hebrew phrase. Sometimes, in the Old Testament, it is used to relate to strengthening one’s body by food. Therefore, Christians shall still establish our spirits by the food of life.

3)     The steadfast heart and mind are established upon the Lord Himself, who is the power of our patience unto the end. Without Him, we will fail.

4)     That the Lord’s coming is near is the motive for our patience. And that the presence of the Lord is at hand is the energy of our patience.


James. 5:9 “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!”

YLT: “murmur not against one another, brethren, that ye may not be condemned; lo, the Judge before the door hath stood.”

Meaning of Words: grumble”: complain, groan, sigh, make in straits; 

Literal Meaning: “do not grumble against one another, brethren”, “grumble against one another”, the dissatisfaction with someone that is manifested in countenance and words; “do not grumble against one another”, it shows that we shall be patient toward one another (see Col. 1:11; 2Tim. 3:10). This is the other “perseverance” in this paragraph (v.7-11), emphasizing the perseverance “toward men”.

  “Lest you be condemned”, it means that: 1) if one cannot forgive his brother from his heart, he will be the same treated by the Lord (see Matt. 18:35); 2) grumble means “avenging oneself”, which violates the authority of the Lord that “vengeance to me” (see Rom. 12:19); 3) the words and deeds of grumbling may be to an undue extent, which may cause the judgment of the Lord; 4) if one mistakes the things or objects that he grumbles, he has treated unjustly and shall be more judged. 

  Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” “The Judge” refers to Christ. When He comes again, we believers shall receive His judgment before the judgment-seat (2Cor. 5:10; 1Cor. 4:4-5); “standing at the door”, it shows that the Lord is near (see Matt. 24:33; Mark. 13:29).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     When man falls into distress and undergoes various trials and sufferings, it is easy to grumble against others and shift off his sins upon others. Therefore, pay attention to bridling our tongues in patience and do not grumble against one another.

2)     “Grumble”, it contains a meaning of judgment upon others. Today, if we judge others, He will be under the Lord’s judgment on that day. With what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us (see Matt. 7:2).

3)     If we grumble against one another, men may suffer slightly. But if we are under the judgment of God, we cannot bear the serious loss. Therefore, it is not worthwhile grumbling against one another.


James. 5:10 “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.”

YLT: “An example take ye of the suffering of evil, my brethren, and of the patience, the prophets who did speak in the name of the Lord;”

Meaning of Words: example”: pattern, exhibit for imitation or warning; 

Literal Meaning: “my brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord”, “spoke in the name of the Lord”, it means: 1) be sent by the Lord to speak for Him; 2) what they had said revealed the will of the Lord; 3) speak by the authority and power of the Lord; 4) “name” represents the Lord Himself. Therefore, when man has been united into oneness with the Lord, his words equal to the Lord’s words; “prophets” refer to all the prophets in the Old Testament who were sent by God to speak for Him;

  “As an example of suffering and patience”, “suffering”: the suffering of persecution; “patience”: endure the suffering of persecution; “example”: the object worthy of learning and imitation;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Do not speak any word that cannot be spoken in the name of the Lord. The Lord will take all the responsibilities of the word that is spoken in His name.

2)    It seems that speaking for the Lord among Christians now is rather easy. Many people speak and bear witness and even preach flippantly without any effect or even persecution. However, the word truly out of the Lord will prick believers’ hearts and the speaker himself shall be persecuted (Acts 4:29; 5:18, 40).

3)    He who really speaks for the Lord shall pay the cost of suffering, so he shall endure to the end (see Matt. 10:22). The Scriptures are full of examples of sufferings and patience for the sake of speaking for the Lord and thus becoming overcomers (see Rev. 12:11).


James. 5:11 “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”

YLT: “lo, we call happy those who are enduring; the endurance of Job ye heard of, and the end of the Lord ye have seen, that very compassionate is the Lord, and pitying.”

Meaning of Words: endure”: persevere, suffer, undergo, stay under; count”: pronounce, call;end”: result;compassionate”: pitiful;merciful”: of tender mercy;

Literal Meaning: “them … who endure”, “endure”, the word in the original is different from the word “patient” from verse seven to verse ten. “Patient” in previous verses contains a meaning of passive patience, and the word “endure” in this verse means positive perseverance, just like that a woman suffers the tribulation of giving birth to a child without any fear in the expectation of a new life. “Them … who endure”, it refers to all the saints who have undergone tribulations and endure to the end, represented by Job here.

  “We count them blessed”, it is generally admitted among the children of God that they have been favored and blessed by God.

“You have heard of the perseverance of Job”, “the perseverance of Job”, Job suffered the tribulations of life and endured the misunderstandings and criticisms and mockery of his friends and yet persevered in keeping his faith in God steadfastly (see Job 2:9-10; 13:15; 16:19; 19:25).

  “And seen the end intended by the Lord”, “end”: the final decision or solution; “the end intended by the Lord”, it is the end of the Lord according to the original, containing two meanings: 1) the will and purpose of God who let Job be tried; 2) the result of Job’s endurance to the end that God granted him double grace and blessings (see Job. 42:12).

  The Bible expositors call “Job’s perseverance” is “the perseverance with an end”. And one has to undergo the following processes and conditions if he desires to arrive at the end: 1) such perseverance shall be continued for a period of days before God; 2) man shall undergo some hard trials; 3) man shall learn something in the trials; 4) man shall endure and wait for the end of the Lord. 

  “That the Lord is very compassionate and merciful”, it means that the difficult trials God lets Job endure have finally manifested that God’s motive and His strengthening in the process and final blessings are all out of His loving and merciful bowel.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     The tribulations Christians suffer are not the final purpose, but a process. And the real purpose is to enable us to obtain the blessed end intended by the Lord.

2)     When we are tried, the problem does not lie in how much serious the trials are, but whether we have reached God’s goal (the Lord’s end) through the trials.

3)     If we have not reached the end intended by the Lord, all sufferings and endurance are in vain and we have to learn and experience again.

4)     God is merciful and is faithful, who will not duffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will with the temptation make the issue also, so that should be able to bear (see 1Cor. 10:13).


James. 5:12 “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment.”

YLT: “And before all things, my brethren, do not swear, neither by the heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath, and let your Yes be Yes, and the No, No; that under judgment ye may not fall.”

Meaning of Words: swear”: oath;

Literal Meaning: “but above all, my brethren, do not swear”, “do not swear”, one swears because his words are not reliable, so he tries to show his sincerity by his attitude toward heaven and earth. In other words, one swears because he cannot bear misunderstanding of others. However, he ignores the judgment though he has passed the judgment of men.

  “Either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath”, “either by heaven”, because the heaven is the throne of God (Matt. 5:34) and is not ruled by us; “or by earth”, because the earth is the footstool of God’s feet and is not dominated by us; “or either any other oath”, any form of oath has violated the authority of God’s judgment.

  “But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No,"”, the purpose of our words is to manifest the fact. The more the words approach the fact, the simpler the words are. The words of us should be simple and frank and true. If our words are more or less than the fact, they are more or less relevant to lies.

  “Lest you fall into judgment”, in the coming day of judgment, our words shall be the important proof of condemnation or justification (see Matt. 12:36-37). Therefore, let us take heed of our words.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     “Yes” and “No” can not be in exchange for one another. Otherwise, we cannot be witnesses of the Lord on the earth.

2)     Christians should be faithful and true in words. Let our “Yes” be “Yes” without any extra proof. We need not to invite heaven or earth to bear witness, nor say that I do not lie as a Christian (if one earns trust of others by the confession of a Christian, it also contains a tone of oath).

3)     We should be honest and true in conversation. Even though men may not trust in us, we need not to defend for ourselves by swearing, and to believe or not believe depends on each man himself.

4)     If we want to avoid the word of “yes and no”, we have to speak in Christ, for yes is in Him, did not become yes and no (1Cor. 1:18-20).


James. 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”

YLT: “Doth any one suffer evil among you? let him pray; is any of good cheer? let him sing psalms;”

Meaning of Words: suffering”: undergo hardship, be afflicted; cheerful”: be of good cheer;sing psalms”: make melody, play on a stringed instrument;

Literal Meaning: “is anyone among you suffering?” It indicates that prayer will enable us to be strengthened by God to endure the suffering.

Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms, praise is to confess God is the origin of joy. Through praise and singing psalms, we are kept and remain in the joy of the Lord.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    When Christians are surrounded by difficulties and are afflicted, though there is no way around, there is still a way upward, namely, prayer to God. There is no window in the four sides of the ark of Noah, and only a light kept above (see Gen. 6:16) for Noah to look upon God and have fellowship with God.

2)    Many Christians learn to pray to God in suffering, but few have learned to sing psalms when cheerful. We should know that “God dwells amid the praises of Israel” (Ps. 22:3). What touches the heart of God most is praise and psalms.


James. 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? 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.”

YLT: “is any infirm among you? let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, having anointed him with oil, in the name of the Lord,”

Meaning of Words: sick”: feeble, weak; oil”: the oil of olive;anoint”: put oil on…;

Literal Meaning: “is anyone among you sick?”, “sick”: be weak because of sickness; on one hand, we may fall sick because of physical infirmity (see 1Cor. 11:30); and on the other hand, we may become physically infirm because of sickness.

  “Let him call for the elders of the church”, “the elders of the church”: those who shepherd the flocks (Acts 20:28; 1Pet. 5:1-2) ---- they take care of the flocks before the Lord;

  “And let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”, “in the name of the Lord”: be united with the Lord (see v.10); “anointing him with oil”: it typifies the anointing and flowing of the Spirit (see Acts 10:38; Ps. 133:2); the Spirit has flown from the Head (Christ) to the whole body. If any member is estranged from the body because of sins (see v.15-16) and then falls sick, he has to firstly invite the elders who represent the church to anoint the oil to recover the fellowship with the body so as to receive the provision of life.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     The sickness of believers is sometimes caused by the violation of the natural physiological law, which requires medical treatment. However, sometimes it is caused by the infraction of spiritual law of life, which needs the elders’ prayer. And “anointing of oil” is connected with both (note that the ancient Jews believed the olive oil was of the medical effect).

2)     Christians should not pay only and ignore the effect of medicine, lest we have really obtained the word of the Lord. Our duty is to pray to the Lord for healing, but whether we will be healed lies in the Lord who heals (anointing of the oil is done in the name of the Lord, indicating that the final authority is in the Lord).

3)     Believers are members of the body of Christ. It is mentioned in the scriptures that if one member suffer, all the member suffer with it (1Cor. 12:26). Therefore, the condition of any brother or sister is closely connected with the church.

4)     Watchman Nee said: “if one falls sick because of violation of God’s administration instead common sins, he will fall into the hands of God’s administration. His will not be healed until the hands of God’s administration move away”. The elders’ prayers and anointing of oil are asking for God’ forgiveness. Once the element that causes his sickness is eliminated, he will be healed.


James. 5:15 “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

YLT: “and the prayer of the faith shall save the distressed one, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if sins he may have committed, they shall be forgiven to him.”

Meaning of Words: save”: heal, cure; “the sick”: the faint; “forgive”: remit;

Literal Meaning: “the prayer of faith will save the sick”, “the prayer of faith” here is not the faith of the sick, but that of the one who prays; faith is utter reliance on the Lord and complete union with the Lord. Therefore, the prayer of faith can drive the Lord’s hands to work. Once the Lord’s hands work, there will be miracles and the sick “will be saved”.

  “And the Lord will raise him up”, note that here it is “the Lord” that raises him up, not “faith” or other elements like “the one who prays” or “medicine”.

  Some Bible expositors think “save” in this verse emphasizes the deliverance from spiritual death and “raise” refers to the recovering of one’s physical condition (see Matt. 9:6; Mark. 1:31; Acts 3:7).

  “And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven”, “committed sins”, it is often the reason for sickness (John 5:14), so sins shall firstly be dealt with. “Will be forgiven”, forgiveness is often the prerequisite for being healed (see Matt. 9:2, 5-7; Mark 2:5).

Controversial Clarification: the prayer of faith will save the sick”, there have been two extreme kinds of views and practices. One is blind reliance on physician and medical treatment, and the other is the refusal of physicians and medicines but giving prayer to God for healing by faith. The editor thinks both are right but tend to be extreme and should be balanced. In fact, seeing a physician does not conflict with prayers. There are many such records in the Bible. The Lord said, “they that are strong have not need of a physician, but those that are ill” (Matt. 9:12), showing that it is natural of seeing a physician for the sick. However, the Scriptures also mention that “Jesus seeing their (not the one who was ill) faith … he arose … daughter, they faith hath made you whole … according to your faith be it unto you”; (Matt. 9:2, 22, 29). Therefore, the Lord also approves prayers for healing by faith.

  The just and balanced seeking for healing should be: 1) if someone suffers, “let him pray” (see v.13) to seek the reason for sickness; 2) once the sin is found, we have to confess trespasses to one another (see v.16a); 3) he who falls sick needs “intercessions” of the elders of the church and other members (see v.16b); 4) any sickness caused by physiologic reasons should seek help of physicians and medicines (see v.14 “anointing of oil”); 5) “prayer of faith” (see v.15); we need to pray by faith for even which physician we are going to see and which medicine we will take; 6) deal with sins and become holy; for “fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (see v.16b).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)     Two resources avail believers in sickness, namely, prayers and medicines. Both of them are balanced and supplement each other without any conflict.

2)     Apparently, sickness is the personal affair of believers, and has nothing to do with the whole church. However, all the illnesses and needs of each believer in spirit and soul and body are connected with the church.

3)     If prayer is without faith, it is like the ship without rudder. Rudder is used to control the direction. And faith is as the rudder, telling us which direction to go.


James. 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

YLT: “Be confessing to one another the trespasses, and be praying for one another, that ye may be healed; very strong is a working supplication of a righteous man;”

Meaning of Words: a righteous man”: a man who is in keeping with the heart of God; pray”: will, wish; effective”: powerful, strong; 

Literal Meaning: “confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, “confess your trespasses to one another”, if one member is sick, the whole body shall be affected. Therefore, believers shall confess trespasses to one another. “Pray for one another”, not only do elders pray for the sick, but also the sick prays for the elders.

“That you may be healed”, the result of confession of trespasses and prayers for one another is to stop the element that causes sickness. Then men shall be healed.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”, this verse emphasizes the effect of prayer. “Avails much”, it shows that: 1) the power of prayer shall be much great; 2) the power of prayer is manifested in its “effect” or “result”;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Effective prayer demands for confession of trespasses to one another and to God. In our life, it is easier to confess trespass to God, and harder to men. Therefore, James here mentions “the confession of trespasses to one other”.

2)    The power of prayer is infinite. Pray is the channel of grace and power, through which we obtain the power of God to deal with all problems in our life.


James. 5:17 “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.”

YLT: “Elijah was a man like affected as we, and with prayer he did pray -- not to rain, and it did not rain upon the land three years and six months;”

Meaning of Words: a nature like ours”: the same character; 

Literal Meaning: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, it means that Elijah is a man of the same nature with us. He is not a super man. We can also do everything that he can do.

“And he prayed earnestly that it would not rain”, “pray earnestly”: it is praying with prayer---- he prayed in the prayer according to the will of God, so his prayer was granted. According to the words of Jewish rabbis, it was the description of Elijah’s total devotion to prayer that he went up to the top of Carmel and bowed down on the earth and put his face between his knees (1King 18:43). This is the manifestation of “his earnest prayer”.

“And it did not rain on the land for three years and six months”, it is recorded in 1King 17:1 and 18:1.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    There is no respect of persons (Col. 3:25). God heard the prayer of Elijah and also that of us, but the problems is whether we have prayed like Elijah.

2)    Andrew Murray said, “a true prayer is the indwelling Christ prays to the Christ sits on the throne”. This is the meaning of “praying with prayer”.


James. 5:18 “And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

YLT: “and again he did pray, and the heaven did give rain, and the land did bring forth her fruit.”

Meaning of Words: produce”: bring forth, spring up;

Literal Meaning: “and he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, it is recorded in the First Book of Kings (18:42-45).

“And the earth produced its fruit”, rain produces fruit. Rain typifies the Spirit and the earth typifies believers and fruit typifies the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “Pray” refers to the concentrated prayer (see v.16). “Prayed earnestly”, it means prayer according to the will of God (see v.17). “Prayed again”, it refers to perseverant prayer (v.18).

2)    May the Lord also give us the mind of Elijah (see Luke 1:17) to pray for the church and all the saints to bring heavenly blessings.


James. 5:19 “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,”

YLT: “Brethren, if any among you may go astray from the truth, and any one may turn him back,”

Meaning of Words: wanders”: go astray; “turn back”: come again, convert;

Literal Meaning: “brethren, if anyone you wanders from the truth, wanders from the truth”: be deceived to go astray from the truth; 

“And someone turns him back”, seek back the lost sheep (see Matt. 18:12-14);

Enlightenment in the Word: many Christians have zeal for preaching the gospel to sinners, but ignore the believers lost from the truth and even repel them sometime. Such condition has gone against the teachings of the Scriptures. 


James. 5:20 “let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

YLT: “let him know that he who did turn back a sinner from the straying of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.”

Meaning of Words: err”: wrong way; cover”: hide, conceal; a multitude”: large; 

Literal Meaning: let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way”, “sinner”: it is not unbeliever but believer who has lost from truth; “turns from”: the false way turning aside from the truth.

“Will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins”, “a soul from death”, it is not deliverance from the eternal perdition, but saving a believer from the chastening of God, namely, death in the flesh (see 1John 5:16-17). “Cover a multitude of sins”, it means that forgiving many sins and preventing him from sinning any more.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Prayers of the elders cure believers who are sick in spirit and soul and body (see v.14-16). Elijah’s prayer makes the rebellious Israelites turn to God (see v.17-18). If we are really willing to take care of believers erring from the truth, there will also be great effects (see v.19-20).

2)    There are always many uncommon conditions in the church ---- weakness, sickness, hardness, withering, error and sins etc. All believers in normal conditions shall present more prayers instead of despise or rebuke or repulsion.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


How to Face the Coming Judgment?

A.  Deal with money properly, lest it should be a witness against us (v.1-3);

B.  Deal with the workers, lest the cries reach the ears of God (v.4-6);

C.  Be patient and wait for the fruit of the earth, lest you should be judged by the Lord (v.7-8);

D.  Do not grumble against one another, lest you should be condemned (v.9);

E.  Do not swear but speak honestly, lest you should be fall into judgment (v.13);


Various Sorts of Patience

A.  “Be patient until the coming of the Lord” (v.7a) ---- patience in time;

B.  “How the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain” (v.7b) ---- patience of waiting for being perfected by the Spirit;

C.  “You also be patient. Establish your hearts” (v.8) ---- patience of establishing one’s heart;

D.  “Do not grumble against one another” (v.9) ---- patience of being tolerant toward others;

E.  “Take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience” (v.10) ---- patience of being persecuted for the Lord;

F.  “Indeed we count them blessed who endure” (v.11a) ---- blessed patience;

G.  “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord” (v.11b) ---- perseverance with an end;


Responses that Are Required in Various Situations

A.  Do not curse or swear in hard trials (v.12);

B.  Pray and sing psalms in sufferings or joy (v.13);

C.  In sickness, let us call for the elders of the church to pray over us, anointing us with oil (v.14-15);

D.  If one member has committed sins, confess our trespasses to one another and pray for one another (v.16-18);

E.  If anyone among us wanders from the truth, we shall turn him back (v.19-20);


Knowledge of Prayer

A.  Let us pray in suffering and sing psalms in joy (v.13);

B.  Let us pray for the sick (v.14);

C.  Prayer should be of faith (v.15);

D.  Confess our trespasses to one another and pray for one another (v.16a);

E.  The effective and fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (v.16b);

F.  Prayer should be earnest (v.17);

G.  Prayer should be perseverant and continued earnestly ---- “prayed again” (v.17-18);


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou