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James Chapter 5

Memory verses for this week:  Mark 10:45  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. 

Introduction:  In chapter 4, we studied how the lust of the flesh causes strife in the life of the Christian.  Friendship of the world is against the Lord, and we are commanded to not love this present world, but to strive for the perfection found in our Savior Jesus Christ.  At the end of the chapter, we discussed how we need to put God in all our plans, as we never know what tomorrow may bring.  We conclude our study on James this week as we begin with a warning to the rich.


I.  A Warning to the Rich who are Ungodly

James 5:1  Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

We know in our current world society, nothing seems to bring greater stature than to be rich.   But we know that riches are uncertain, and can be taken away very quickly.  In Ecclesiastes, it says that money answers all things, but no man can be certain it will abide.

Eccl 10:19  A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

Eccl 10:20  Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

Money can not buy salvation, although there is no possible way to put a price on its value.  Salvation is a free gift from the Lord.

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

A day is coming when those who trust in their riches will weep and howl in misery.

Prov 11:4  Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.

Prov 11:5  The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.

Jer 17:11  As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool. 

In Luke we have a record of the rich man who laid up much wealth but it did not do him any good in that day.

Luke 12:16  And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

Luke 12:17  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

Luke 12:18  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

Luke 12:19  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Luke 12:20  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

Luke 12:21  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Job knew that he would not take his wealth with him when his time to die came.

Job 1:21  And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Job 1:22  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.


James 5:2  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.

James 5:3  Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

James tells the rich men that the rust of their treasures would one day be a witness against them.   They had heaped treasures together for the last days, but they were not worth anything in that day.   We are warned to put our treasures in heaven where nothing can harm them.

Mat 6:19  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Mat 6:20  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Mat 6:21  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


Mark 8:34  And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Mark 8:35  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

Mark 8:36  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:37  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

The reality is that there is nothing more important than to obtain salvation.   As I said earlier, if it could be bought, people would flock to God to pay.  But it is a gift that has the greatest value of any possession we could obtain.

James 5:4  Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

James 5:5  Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

James 5:6  Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

James warns the rich men that the cry of their employees had reached into the ear of God.  He charges these with living in pleasure here on earth, and condemning and killing the just. God is one who is concerned for all men and women, boys and girls, and his concern surpasses class, race, nationality, or creed.    Every person, and every soul is precious in the sight of the Lord.

1 Tim 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1 Tim 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

1 Tim 2:6  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

When Israel was under bondage in Egypt, God heard the cries of the slaves when they were treated evil by their taskmasters.   And not only did God hear, but raised up Moses to lead them out of the land.

Exo 3:1  Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

Exo 3:2  And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Exo 3:3  And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

Exo 3:4  And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

Exo 3:5  And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Exo 3:6  Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

Exo 3:7  And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

Exo 3:8  And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Exo 3:9  Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

Exo 3:10  Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

II.  The Answer to our Problems (the Coming of our Lord)

James 5:7  Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

James 5:8  Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

James reminds us that the coming of the Lord is drawing nigh.   When we become discouraged, we need to always remember that we have a promise that Jesus is returning for us, and that day is not far off.  If it was considered near in James’ day, we are on the brink of his coming today.  Not until the Lord takes over the reins of government will conditions ever be right in this world.  In verse 7, we are told to be patient, and uses a parable to show Christ as a Man of Patience while He sits on the Father’s Throne and waits for the fruit from the earth.   As our Lord is patient, we as believers need to learn to be patient also.

J. Vernon McGee said this about verse 7.

The Word of God has a great deal to say about the fact that when Christ comes and sets up His kingdom, the poor are going to get a good deal, a right and honest deal, for the first time in the history of the world. This is something that all of the prophets mentioned and which they emphasized. In Isaiah 11:4 we read, “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor….” Believe me, the poor have not had a good deal yet. If you think that by changing a political party you will somehow get a good deal for the poor, you are wrong. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, my friend, but you simply cannot look to mankind, to men who are grasping for power and money, and expect them to act righteously. It does not matter what they promise, they are not going to take care of the poor. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ. If there is any group of people who ought to be interested in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the poor people of this world, because He is going to give them the right kind of deal when He establishes His kingdom here upon earth.

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” This is a tremendous statement. The coming of Christ will correct the wrongs of the world. We can read this again and again in Scripture. Not only do the prophets mention it, but Christ Himself made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount (which will be the law of His kingdom) that He intends to give the poor a square deal under His reign (see Matt. 6:19–24).

“Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” In other words, when the farmer plants his grain, he doesn’t go out the next morning to see if it is time to harvest it. James says, “Be patient. The harvest is coming.”  [1] 

James 5:9  Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

James 5:10  Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

It is not for us to judge one another as we mentioned in last week’s lesson, but we are to look to Christ who comes back the second time as a Righteous Judge.  When evil is done to us here on earth, we are not to repay evil back.  As the Righteous Judge, Jesus stands at the door waiting for the appointed time when He will deal with all who defy the divine law of love.   Verse 10 says for us to look at all the examples of the prophets of the past.   There are so many examples of men like Job, Joseph, Daniel, and David who endured great hardship with patience.   And everyone that had faith and stayed with it came out greater on the other side of the trial.  The prophets are an outstanding example of suffering, afflictions, and patience.

James 5:11  Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

James 5:12  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

I mentioned Job as an example, as does James here in verse 11.   Job was a man who did not understand what God was doing, but he knew that he had lived a good life and that when the truth came forth, he would come forth as gold.

Job 23:10  But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

We are warned not to swear.   He says to swear not by heaven or earth.   We should be honest people, and not use double tongued words.   We are to say yes and no, and to mean exactly that.   That is God’s desire… us speaking yea for yea, and nay for nay.

III.  Prayer for the Sick

James 5:13  Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

James 5:14  Is any sick among you? 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:

We are commanded to do three things in verse 13.  Pray, sing Psalms, and call upon the elders of the church to pray for the sick.   Some have mistakenly took verse 14 to teach that the oil did the healing.   But it is not the oil that does the healing, but God himself.  Verse 15 tells us to pray, and that the prayer of faith shall save the sick.

James 5:15  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

James 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

It appears that the sickness mentioned in this chapter was due to sin in the people’s lives.  It is important that we understand that much sickness has nothing to do with sin, but God certainly can use sickness to bring our lives back into fellowship with Him.   Confessing our faults to one another means that when we sin against a brother or sister, we confess to that person our wrong.   It doesn’t hurt to have accountability partners, but we are not to go around broadcasting all of our sins to everyone.   We are to seek help and encouragement, and we sure need to pray and exhort one another.  When we sin, the most crucial thing we need to do is bring it to the Lord, repent of it, and get things right.   Verse 16 contains a great promise.  It says the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.   Because of Christ, we can be righteous, and when we pray seriously, and consistently, our prayers are heard and God answers those prayers.

Mark 11:23  For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Mark 11:24  Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

IV.  Power In Prayer

James 5:17  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

James 5:18  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

Elijah was a man that prayed for it to not rain, and it did not rain for 3 and a half years.  We need to realize that Elijah was not some type of super human prophet, but it says he was a man of like passions just like us.   The reason many times we don’t receive answers is because we do not have enough faith.   As we read there in Mark, we need to pray and believe.  God is pleased when we put our total trust in Him.

James 5:19  Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

James 5:20  Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

When someone errs from the truth, and we convert that soul, that person has a soul that is saved from death and an eternity of punishment in hell.   Christ can save anyone who truly seeks forgiveness, and comes with faith trusting Christ as Lord and Savior.

Believers Study Bible said this about verses 19 and 20.

5:19, 20 The one who “wanders from the truth” is either (1) a professing, though not genuine, Christian who is in danger of spiritual death, or (2) a brother in Christ who has fallen into sin and is in danger of the most severe discipline of the heavenly Father by the loss of physical life. Both realities are taught in Scripture and the interpretive step is not an easy one, though the content of the passage would seem to favor the first option. In v. 20, the wanderer is called “a sinner,” not a brother, and it is his “soul” which he is in danger of losing. “Soul” in this passage has the meaning of “life,” and more particularly, his “eternal life” that will forever continue in either heaven or hell. James may again be echoing the words of the Lord Jesus, who said in Matt. 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”  [2]



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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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