By: Daniel Goepfrich
Chapter five concludes this letter with a series of topics, all designed to be final encouragements to James’ readers. James 5:1-6 contain a two-part negative encouragement, patterned after the Hebrew prophets who would encourage their immediate listeners by prophesying judgment on their oppressors (e.g., Amos and Nahum). First, James’ oppressed readers would certainly be encouraged to know that God knew of their suffering. Second, James’ oppressive readers would be encouraged to change their ways (do good deeds) in light of God’s view of their current actions.
Patience and Prayer
Considering God’s awareness of their situation, James 5:7-12 emphasize patience in this life. James used some form of the words patience, wait, and endurance at least seven times in this paragraph. He used examples of a farmer waiting for his crop, the prophets enduring through their suffering, and the perennial favorite – Job, a model of endurance. James was intentional to point out that Job’s suffering was in line with God’s purpose, and that God repeatedly shows himself to be compassionate and merciful.
The final verses refer to prayer, specifically prayer of confession and spiritual restoration (James 5:13-20). Although some teachers attempt to use this section to guarantee supernatural healings, that is not a legitimate interpretation. The emphasis is on the believers’ spiritual state (the Greek words behind both “ILL” and “SICK” can mean either physical or spiritual illness, James 5:14-15), confession (James 5:16), and wandering from the truth (James 5:19-20). So, James concluded his letter encouraging his readers to pray for each other so they may stay true to their faith and complete it by an outworking of godly lifestyles.
Each Thursday, DPH runs a Chapter-by-Chapter blog by Daniel Goepfrich, progressing readers chapter-by-chapter through the New Testament. This series is taken from New Testament Chapter-by-Chapter, published by Trust House Publishers, a division of DPH. Daniel serves as Pastor of Oak Tree Community Church in South Bend, Indiana, and blogs at www.TheologyIsForEveryone.com
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