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Ron Miller's Bible Commentary

James 5: Share with Concern

Background and QuestionsNew International VersionRon Miller's Notes

"Misers will have misery"
How much does it take to be considered rich?
Those who use money selfishly will pay a price

{5:1} Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. {5:2} Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. {5:3} Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

Wealth is a gift to be used, not hoarded. It is not simply having much money, but hoarding it and trusting in wealth.


The 'last days' includes the time between Jesus' ascending into heaven and the yet future time when Jesus will return to the earth.

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{5:4} Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. {5:5} You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. {5:6} You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

It is not simply having wealth which is condemned, but how one gets wealth. Is it fair to sell products at a much greater value than they are worth? No. It may be legal, but not fair.

What makes it hard to wait on God's timing?

{5:7} Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. {5:8} You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. {5:9} Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

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The Greek translated "Full of compassion" is from the words for 'much' and 'inner parts'. The emotions are very deep, and are pictured as being deeper in the body than the heart. This points to a central characteristic, a very strong compassion that is an essential part of God.

{5:10} Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. {5:11} As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Do you ever feel like no one knows or cares about your troubles or pain? God cares very deeply. Jesus cares for you.

In the United States, we are not required to take an oath when testifying in a court of law. A few years ago, I testified in a Federal Court, and was permitted to simply state "I affirm that I will tell the truth". But whether we take an oath under special circumstances, or whether we do not take an oath at all, we must always be honest before men and God.

{5:12} Above all, my brothers, do not swear--not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.

Our word must be our oath. This verse means that we should not have to add anything to our word to make it believable. If we say we will do something, we must do it. Can people trust every word you speak?

The words for 'sick' and 'sick person' may also be translated 'weak' and 'weary person'. Anointing with oil was a common grooming in Biblical times. This verse may be directed at any who are weak and weary who will be encouraged and built up.


However, we are encouraged to pray for physical healing, and place our health in God's hands.

{5:13} Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. {5:14} Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. {5:15} And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. {5:16} Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

The Elders of our church will pray and anoint a sick person with oil, following the confession of known sins.


Are you peace with God? Anyone with a serious illness should make peace with God, and put their trust in Him. The elders of a church can help.

The story of Elijah and the famine is in 1st Kings chapters 17 and 18.

{5:17} Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. {5:18} Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

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What is our responsibility toward a friend who has wandered from the truth?

{5:19} My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, {5:20} remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

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What makes it hard to wait on God's timing?

What hinders Christians from praying with confidence?

What situation or person will you pray for in faith this week?


Ron Miller's Bible Commentary (C) Copyright March 2012 by Ronald Miller, All Rights Reserved