Meditations on the Conclusion of James.

The whole reason James wrote this letter is because God’s Spirit does not want any of his children to lose sight of their salvation. It is very easy and part of our human condition to stray off the target and get distracted with other priorities, rather than to stay focused on getting home and helping others get there with us. To “err from the truth” can be disastrous for any Christian because Jesus proclaimed and proved that he is THE Truth, John 14:6. If any Christian wanders away from Jesus as the Christ, we are vulnerable prey, like a lost sheep for the wolves. Take your Shepherd seriously, because once upon the cross, He was the Lamb of God sacrificed for us.  He ends the letter with a plea to encourage each other in the achievement of conversion & salvation. This does not mean we can save ourselves, but rather God mandates our cooperation in His work of conversion and salvation! (5:19-20)

It is notable to see a common theme or context running through His letter and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, it’s almost as if James is quoting from it at times when he writes.

James 1:2 & Mat. 5:10-12 “Trials”

James 1:4 & Mat. 5:48 “Maturity”

James 2:13 & Mat 6:14-15 “Judgment”

James 3:6 & Mat. 5:22 “Judgment”

James 4:11 & Mat. 7:1-2 “Judgment”

James 5:2 & Mat. 6:19 “Treasures”

James (2:1) is the only other author besides Paul to title Jesus as the “Lord of Glory”, 1st Corinthians 2:8, which is similar to what the Psalmist uses in Psa. 24:8, about Jehovah God, as “King of Glory”. When James uses it, it’s in the context of judgment the church exercises in fellowship with each other, James 2:1-4. When Paul uses it, it’s in the context of the world judging Christ as a criminal. So we should see why the title “Lord of Glory” comes to mind for James & Paul when we consider the Judgment Day will be dominated by Christ in glory, see 2nd Thessalonians 1:9. Moses & Elijah saw Christ as glorious, as well as Peter, James & John, Remember how Christ was strengthened during the transfiguration in glory as He prepared for the Cross during his last week with his apostles, Matthew 17:2-3. Do you see Jesus as the Lord of Glory? If so, do not neglect our salvation, Hebrews 2:3.

Meditations on James 5:13-18

“Anyone” is not actually literally anyone. This letter is originally written to anyone IN the church, specifically Christians with a Jewish background, anywhere within the civilized world of the 1st century. So we shouldn’t point this message to the world, but rather we should ensure we apply it’s point to ourselves. Whether or not we as a Christian have a Jewish background or not, the Holy Spirit has preserved it’s message to every and any Christian in any generation until Christ returns. It is the Father’s will that Christians who are suffering in ANY way should pray to our Father and any of us who are cheerful, we should praise our Father. This is not congregational prayer and praise, but personal prayers and praise. We are at liberty to pray and praise Him in ANY way ANY Christian can. We should never discourage any Christian from praying or praising our Father in ANY way they can! Whatever suffering means to you, may not be suffering to someone else, and whatever makes you cheerful, may not make the next person cheerful, but we should still be encouraging prayer & praise, see Psalm 71:14 & Hebrews 13:15. Do you pray to our Father when you are hurting? Do you praise Him when you are happy? If not, why not?

v14-15, this is all about a personal request for spiritual help while undergoing a physical problem. Notice how James describes the effect of Elder’s anointing and praying with the individual Christian, using words like, “save”,  “raise up”, and “forgive”. The word “save” can be translated “restore” and it is the Lord who does this. If it is His will, He will restore them partially, or completely, or physically, or spiritually, but they will in some way be restored! This verse does not talk about eternity or physical utopic conditions, God is talking about what He chooses to do via an Elder’s anointing and prayer.  It’s not always, nor necessarily what we want, but what He wants! The mere idea of a Christian receiving forgiveness via an Elder’s anointing and prayer makes it obvious that it is possible for Christians to be unforgiven. Being unforgiven is worse than being sick or disabled. Being physically sick or disabled or in any kind of physical or mental pain, isn’t as bad as being eternally lost and suffering in hell. This fact should encourage us all to request that Elders pray and anoint us, but rarely do we see this happen by my experience in the church for the past 30 years. Why? It better not be because we have more faith in doctors and less faith in God! By all means, do what your doctor says, but at the same time, keep God’s word and will at the center of your heart and the highest priority in your mind, as you deal with the complicated problems of pain & chaos in this world. 

v16-18, the great power Christians experience in prayer is equated to what Elijah experienced when praying for both a drought and rainfall. In order to fully appreciate the power of God through our prayers from men or women in Christ is to carefully read the story of Elijah during this ordeal, see 1st Kings 17:1-7 & 18:1-2 & 41-46. When we believe what God’s word says and follow through trusting and obeying Him, then His will is performed, no matter what!

Meditations on James 5:7-12

Jesus expects his disciples to “Bear fruit with patience”, Luke 8:15, which may seem odd, since patience is actually part of the fruit of the Spirit. But if you look closely at what Jesus is saying, we find out that patience comes from holding the promises of His Word in a good and honest heart, then patience grows! So if we think that getting better at being patient is only gained by life experiences, Jesus gives better direction. If our heart desires His word, and our heart has insight into His word which leads us to experience His commands then this experience really develops patience. The more a human heart holds His word with integrity, the more we see our patience turn into perseverance! The time it takes to do this with God in everyday life, is why patience is called His fruit, fruit takes time to grow.

v8 repeats the “coming of the Lord” in the context of Harvest. Fruit of the earth yielding its valuable crop is an image of harvest, referencing judgment; which is good for the church, but bad for those who reject Christ (Matt. 13:29-30).

v9, The Judge and “last days,” is a reference to Christ’s second coming and the judgment (Rom. 13:12; Heb. 10:25; 1 Pet. 4:7; Rev. 22:20). This can also convey the idea that our life is short and our time to judgment is near, so we need to “wise up” in Him.

v10, what amazes me about the ancient Jewish prophets and Job himself is their obvious perseverance in painful persecution, yet they often had no example to follow, Christ wasn’t leading them. God’s word through the law and God’s word in their visions is all they had. Job didn’t even see a single miracle, and his life remains righteous, unlike the horrific sins of David. Our advantage is that we have access to the mind of Christ and the presence of his Spirit to teach us God’s message. That is a “blessed” life and why Jesus proclaimed the beatitudes, Matthew 5:3-11. 

v11, “the purpose of the Lord”, They had seen, “truth & grace came by Jesus Christ”, John 1:14-17. That’s what patience as a Christian will get for you!

v12, Swear…oaths. In the Greek, swear means to grasp something hard for support. Here, it refers to a verbal agreement witnessed by an object that represents God. An example would be swearing by the Temple that manipulates God as a witness to our promises, and dealings (Gen. 24: 1-9; Ezra 10:5; Neh. 5:12; Acts 23:12; Heb. 6:13-17). They would go through these long, elaborate oaths, then not live up to them. The OT Law forbids irreverent oaths, especially the misuse of God’s name. It breaks the third commandment (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Duet. 5:11; 6:3; 22:21-33) Without integrity in our words of promise, we are left condemned by our own conscience if we used an oath in a way that left us a loophole.