James 5:19, 20: Reclaiming the Erring, Part 3

Verse 19:[1] Brethren, (Matt. 18:15) if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him…

[If any…do err from the truth] That is, from the right rule of living, which embraces these two things, a sound faith, and holy conversation (Estius, similarly Tirinus); or, from that manner of life that the Gospel prescribes, which is by way of eminency called the truth, Romans 15:8; Galatians 2:5, 14; 3:1; 5:7; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:22 (Grotius). He had taught them, that either they themselves might ask from others, or furnish for others, prayers and help in their calamities, for the healing, not only of bodies, but also of souls. He commends this Christian duty in this place from the best effects of that (Gataker).

The truth; the truth of God revealed in the gospel as the complete rule of faith and life: see the gospel called the truth by way of eminency, James 1:18; Galatians 2:5, 14; 3:1; 5:7; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Peter 1:22.

[And, etc., καὶ ἐπιστρέψῃ, etc.] And one convert, etc. (Beza, Piscator, Vulgate), that is, recall to the way (Beza), that is, by applying the helps instituted by God for conversion (Estius); by praying, teaching (Tirinus, thus Estius), rebuking, correcting (Estius), drawing by example or good deeds (Tirinus). If one by good counsel lead him away from unrighteousness, from envy, from hatred, from a readiness to swear, and similar things. It is the mystical sense of the precept which is found in Deuteronomy 22:1 (Grotius).

And one; any one, minister or private believer, who may be an instrument in the conversion of others; though one acts by way of authority, the other by way of charity, yet both out of duty. Convert him; viz. ministerially or instrumentally, in subordination to God. The work is his, Ephesians 2:10, but often is ascribed to the instruments acting under him, and using means appointed by him, and by which he works, Acts 26:18.


Verse 20:[2] Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way (Rom. 11:14; 1 Cor. 9:22; 1 Tim. 4:16) shall save a soul from death, and (Prov. 10:12; 1 Pet. 4:8) shall hide a multitude of sins.

[From the error of his way] That is, of his depraved life, manners, and actions (Menochius). Every sinner errs in judgment of mind (Estius, Gataker), that is, from the way that God has prescribed to him, and from the way that alone leads to the goal and end intended by himself; and that from ignorance either simple or affected (Gataker).

Of his way; of his life and actions, which is contrary to the way which God hath prescribed.

[He shall save a soul, etc.] A manuscript adds his[3] (Grotius). But soul, posited absolutely, has emphasis (Estius). It shall be the cause of salvation to him that had sinned. A similar expression in Romans 11:14; 1 Timothy 4:16; Jude 23. Now, he is rightly said to be rescued from death, not only one who at first is led to Christianity, but also who is led back from a vicious life to a life agreeable with Christianity. See an example in 1 Corinthians 3:15 (Grotius). There are as many arguments as words. He shall save: In his own way he is a Savior, both by bringing the word of salvation, Acts 13:26, and by showing the way of salvation, Acts 16:17; Luke 1:79. Σωτῆρα, etc., I consider him who shows to me my errors and sins, to be my Savior, more than him who heals my sick body, says Galen (Gataker). A soul, that is, a man (Gataker, similarly Piscator), the most noble creature, and the soul, the most excellent part of man, and what is best in the soul, namely, life (Gataker); from death, even eternal death (Estius, Gataker). And hence this office of saving others is the most noble. For even the rescuing of a beast fallen into a pit is a work so pleasing to God, that He wills even His own worship to be subordinated to it, Matthew 12:7, 11 (Gataker).

Shall save; men are said to save in the same way as to convert, viz. instrumentally. A soul; the soul of him that is thus converted, 1 Timothy 4:16: soul for person, as James 1:21. From death: eternal death, unto which he was hastening while he continued in the error of his way, which led him toward destruction.

[And, etc., καὶ καλύψει, etc.] Καλύπτειν, כָּסָה, to cover, is to forgive, as it appears in Psalm 32:1, they are covered, etc.[4] In this sense, a wise man is said to cover the sins of others, in the Talmud, in the title of Bathra 8 (Grotius). And he shall conceal, or cover (that is, there shall be an occasion that they be covered [Drusius]; or, he shall bring it to pass that God covers [Piscator]) a multitude of sins (Erasmus, Vatablus, Drusius, thus Beza, Piscator, etc.). As a testimony, he cites this out of Proverbs 10:12 (certain interpreters out of Gataker). Rather, he alludes to that (Calvin): for Solomon and James speak of diverse matters (Gataker); the former speaks of covering sins among men, the latter of completely erasing them before God (Calvin, similarly Gataker). Now, by sins here he understands, either, 1. his own (Bede in Estius, Vorstius, Hammond, Aquinas, Rickelius, Fevand., Origen, Damascenus[5] in Gataker): that is to say, hence the greatest advantage shall fall, not to the other, whose soul shall be saved; but even to himself (Gataker), whose sins, although they be many and grievous, shall be more readily covered before God (Vorstius, thus Gataker): this work is so pleasing to God that He grants the pardon of sin to the one effecting it, if he himself repents (Hammond). Objection: Thus a man might be said to cover his own sins, but this is the work of God alone (certain interpreters in Hammond). Indeed, he is able properly to cover neither his own nor another’s sins, but figuratively, as it is able to be taken of both (Hammond). Or, 2. another’s (Vorstius), namely, the sins of him whom he converted (Estius, Gataker): that is to say, he shall be responsible for the forgiveness of many sins to him (Gataker): He shall bring it to pass that God would conceal those former sins of the one now converted, and, as it were, place them out of His sight (Grotius, Gataker), Numbers 23:21; Psalm 32:1, 5; Isaiah 38:17; not in such a way that He does not discern them, but rather that He does not regard or avenge them. He who repents of sin is almost innocent, Seneca.[6] God altogether remits to the penitent all their sins, Colossians 2:13; 1 John 1:7, 9 (Gataker). This interpretation is not satisfying. For thus this latter member, he shall cover sins, is included in the former, he shall save a soul, neither does it add anything to it (Hammond).

And shall hide a multitude of sins; in the same sense as before he is said to convert and save his soul, viz. in being instrumental to bring him to faith and repentance, upon which God pardons, i.e. hides his sins, (Psalm 32:1,) though not from the eye of his omniscience, yet from the eye of his vindictive justice, and so as not to bring them forth in judgment against him.

[1] Greek: Ἀδελφοί, ἐάν τις ἐν ὑμῖν πλανηθῇ ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας, καὶ ἐπιστρέψῃ τις αὐτόν,

[2] Greek: γινωσκέτω ὅτι ὁ ἐπιστρέψας ἁμαρτωλὸν ἐκ πλάνης ὁδοῦ αὐτοῦ σώσει ψυχὴν ἐκ θανάτου, καὶ καλύψει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν.

[3] Thus Codices Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus.

[4] Psalm 32:1:  “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (כְּס֣וּי חֲטָאָֽה׃; ὧν ἐπεκαλύφθησαν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, in the Septuagint).”

[5] John Damascenus (c. 676-c. 760) was a monk of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem.  He is remembered for his piety of life, writings, and compilation of chants in the eastern style; and, due to his defense of icons and his summary of the faith of the Fathers (Fountain of Knowledge), he is regarded by many as the last of the Eastern Fathers.

[6] Agamemnon 242.

James 5:17, 18: Reclaiming the Erring, Part 2

Verse 17:[1] Elias was a man (Acts 14:15) subject to like passions as we are, and (1 Kings 17:1) he prayed earnestly (or, in prayer[2]) that it might not rain: (Luke 4:25) and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

[Elijah was a man like, etc., ὁμοιοπαθὴς ἡμῖν] This word occurs in Acts 14:15[3] and Wisdom of Solomon 7:3.[4] It is used by Plato,[5] Aristotle,[6] and Theophrastus[7] (Grotius). Liable to similar, or the same affections, or dispositions, or passions, as we (Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, Vorstius, thus Erasmus, Vatablus). Similarly passible as we (Estius), either, 1. in body (Estius, Gataker); he was liable both to death and to the evils of life (Grotius, similarly Estius), and to the troubles of the body, like hunger, thirst, etc. (Estius, similarly Gataker, Menochius). See 1 Kings 17 (Gataker). Thus Acts 14:15, ὁμοιοπαθεῖς, of like passions, that is to say, not immortal gods, as ye suppose (Estius). Or, 2. in soul (Estius out of Bede, Gataker); as it is evident from 1 Kings 17:20; 19:3, 4. Thus the best men are all subject to fear, unbelief, and impatience, like Abraham, Genesis 12, Moses,[8] and others, etc. (Gataker)

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are; both of body and mind, natural and moral; and so, though he were righteous, yet he was not perfect; though an eminent prophet, yet but a man.

[And with prayer he prayed] That is, intently, or ardently, he prayed (Grotius, Piscator, thus Beza, Estius). A Hebraic repetition (Beza), or a Verbal added to a verb (Grotius); which signifies Vehemence[9] (Grotius).

And he prayed earnestly; with that effectual, fervent prayer before mentioned. It is a Hebrew phrase, and notes vehemency, as Luke 22:15.[10]

[That not, etc., τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι] Τοῦ, that is, ἕνεκα τοῦ, to the end that.[11] In Scripture, we only have ἀνομβρίαν, the lack of rain, foretold by Elijah, and then the rain (Grotius). That it rain not (Beza, Piscator, etc.). Question 1: Whence did James have this? Responses: 1. He was able to gather it from 1 Kings 17:1 and 18:42. He stood before God, that is, he prayed: and according to my word, that is, what he asked of God (certain interpreters in Gataker). 2. He had this by revelation (Grotius). 3. Tradition related that this was done according to his prayers (Grotius, thus Gataker), and this is of itself plausible. For the worship of Baal, everywhere received, from a man full of ardor for God (for, that he was such, the whole History shows), extorted a petition for punishment; and, on the other hand, with the people turned to better things, he readily turned himself toward milder things (Grotius). Question 2: Why did he thus pray? Response: For the punishment of idolatry and of the dreadful butchery of the Prophets and Saints, of which Ahab and the Israelites were guilty. Then, he did this with God both directing and approving. Therefore, this is extraordinary, not to be imitated by us (Gataker).

That it might not rain; this is not expressly mentioned in the history, but this apostle might have it by revelation, or by certain tradition well known in his age. Other passages of the like nature we meet with in the New Testament which are not in the Old: see 2 Timothy 3:8; Hebrews 12:21; Jude 9.

[Upon the land] Namely, of Israel or the Ten tribes (Grotius, Gataker out of Augustine), and its adjoining regions, like Sarepta, 1 Kings 17; Luke 4:25 (Gataker). Of this ἀνομβρίας, lack of rain, Menander makes mention in his history of the Phœnicians, as Josephus relates to us in Antiquities of the Jews 8:7[12] (Grotius).

And it rained not on the earth; or, the land, viz. of the ten tribes, and the places bordering on them, as Sarepta, 1 Kings 17:9; Luke 4:25, 26.

[Three years and six months] As it is sufficiently indicated in 1 Kings 17 and 18 (Junius). So also Luke 4:25; in which place see the things that are said (Grotius).

By the space of three years and six months: so Luke 4:25. Question. How doth this agree with 1 Kings 18:1, where it is said, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year? Answer. Most probably it was in the midst of the third year from his coming to Sarepta; and he was by the brook Cherith a year. 1 Kings 17:7, where the margin reads it, according to the Hebrew, at the end of days,[13] i.e. the days of a year, as the phrase is often used, Genesis 4:3;[14] Judges 17:10;[15] so that his time spent in both places may well make up the three years and six months.


Verse 18:[16] And (1 Kings 18:42, 45) he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

[Again he prayed] 1 Kings 18:45 (Grotius, thus Estius). After the Priests of Baal had been killed, and the people recalled to God (Estius).

And he prayed again; after the destroying the prophets of Baal. Baal-worship especially gave occasion to his former prayer, which he puts up out of his zeal to God’s glory, then laid low by the Israelites’ idolatry, and a desire to have them by some exemplary punishment for their sin awakened to repentance. And the destruction of the idolaters, and reformation of the people, who now acknowledged the Lord to be God, might give occasion to this. And the heaven gave rain; i.e. the air or clouds, which had not been for three years before.

[The land gave, etc., ἐβλάστησε, etc.] It produced, or brought forth (Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagine, Beza). It sprouted (Erasmus, Vatablus, Montanus, Castalio, Piscator). For ἀνομβρία, the lack of rain, was the cause of the want of produce, as we see in 1 Kings 18:2. Add Deuteronomy 28:12, 23, 24. On the other hand, seasonable rains are the cause of fecundity, Isaiah 30:23; James 5:7 (Grotius).

[1] Greek: Ἠλίας ἄνθρωπος ἦν ὁμοιοπαθὴς ἡμῖν, καὶ προσευχῇ προσηύξατο τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι· καὶ οὐκ ἔβρεξεν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐνιαυτοὺς τρεῖς καὶ μῆνας ἕξ.

[2] Greek: προσευχῇ.

[3] Acts 14:15a:  “And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things?  We also are men of like passions with you (καὶ ἡμεῖς ὁμοιοπαθεῖς ἐσμεν ὑμῖν ἄνθρωποι)…”

[4] Wisdom of Solomon 7:3:  “And when I was born, I drew in the common air, and fell upon the earth, which is of like nature (ὁμοιοπαθῆ, which is of like passion, that is, which is trodden alike by all), and the first voice which I uttered was crying, as all others do.”

[5] Republic 409b; Timæus 45c.

[6] Nicomachean Ethics 1:5.

[7] Historia Plantarum 5:7:2.

[8] See, for example, Exodus 3 and 4.

[9] In Hebrew, the verb will sometime be preceded by the Infinitive Absolute form of the same verb in order to express emphasis.

[10] Luke 22:15:  “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired (ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἐπεθύμησα) to eat this passover with you before I suffer…”

[11] This construction, τοῦ followed by the infinitive, can be used to indicate purpose.

[12] Menander of Ephesus (flourished c. second century BC) wrote a history of Tyre.  It is lost, except for quotations in Josephus’ Antiquities and Against Apion.

[13] 1 Kings 17:7:  “And it came to pass after a while (מִקֵּ֥ץ יָמִ֖ים), that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.”

[14] Genesis 4:3:  “And in process of time (מִקֵּ֣ץ יָמִ֑ים) it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.”

[15] Judges 17:10:  “And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten shekels of silver by the year (לַיָּמִים), and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals.  So the Levite went in.”

[16] Greek: καὶ πάλιν προσηύξατο, καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς ὑετὸν ἔδωκε, καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐβλάστησε τὸν καρπὸν αὐτῆς.

James 5:16: Reclaiming the Erring, Part 1

Verse 16:[1] Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. (Gen. 20:17; Num. 11:2; Deut. 9:18-20; Josh. 10:12; 1 Sam. 12:18; 1 Kings 13:6; 2 Kings 4:33; 19:15, 20; 20:2, 4, etc.; Ps. 10:17; 34:15; 145:18; Prov. 15:29; 28:9; John 9:31; 1 John 3:22) The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

[Confess, etc., ἐξομολογεῖσθε ἀλλήλοις τὰ παραπτώματα] In a Manuscript οὖν/therefore is added,[2] by which this is connected with what precedes, not without some propriety. Thus the Latin reads (Grotius, thus Hammond). Confess one to another (or, mutually [Valla], among yourselves by turns [Erasmus], one to another by turns [Erasmus]) lapses (Piscator, Estius), or, offenses (Beza), errors (Erasmus, Vatablus, Estius), faults (Vatablus). He treats here, either, 1. Of the mutual confession of offenses and profession of repentance, for reconciliation of an offended brother, concerning which is that word in Matthew 5:25 (Gomar, certain interpreters in Estius, similarly Erasmus, Zegers); Luke 17:4; Colossians 3:13 (Gomar). And, because the injuries of many are mutual, he commands that they mutually and freely confess them and forgive (certain interpreters in Estius). Or, 2. Concerning the confession of sins made to brethren (Estius out of Augustine, thus Calvin), or, for the sake of Counsel, that they might treat sins and shun them for the future; or, for the sake of Help (Estius out of Augustine), so that by their intercession they might find favor (Estius, Calvin). He teaches, therefore, that this Confession is useful for us, because those that are aware of our necessity are incited to pray for us (Calvin). The Church effectually prays for the sins known to it, at the same time applying suitable remedies to the hurt, lest one fall back into it. See what things are on Matthew 3:6; Acts 19:18; and what things Maimonides[3] has in “Concerning Repentance”[4] (Grotius). Or, 3. Concerning the Confession of the sick, general at least, or concerning every category of his faults, to be made to the Elders, so that he might approve himself to them, and receive Absolution from them (Hammond). Or, 4. Concerning the sacramental Confession of sins (Estius), or auricular and secret, whereby all are bound under the Papacy once each year to enumerate secretly in their own Priest’s ear particular sins exactly with all circumstances, and that necessarily, and by Divine law, as the Papists determine (Laurentius). To which it is objected, 1. that he says ἀλλήλοις, that is, among yourselves mutually; not to Priests (Erasmus, thus Cajetan), but one to another (Laurentius). But this does not denote in this place mutually (certain interpreters in Gomar), but, that is to say, not to God alone, but men to men, etc. Thus the word, ἀλλήλοις, is taken elsewhere, as in Ephesians 5:21, being subject mutually, that is, each to his superiors:[5] and in 1 Peter 4:9, 10, be hospitable mutually; that is, ye that have houses receive those in need of shelter (Estius); each one…unto another, etc., yet the ignorant are not able to teach the learned[6] (certain interpreters in Gomar). And such words ought to be explained in a manner suited to the subject matter (Tirinus). But those gifts were able to be mutual, either specifically, like hospitality, or, at least generally, that thanks might be rendered for preaching, according to Romans 12:5, 6; Galatians 6:6. And, even if the word is thus to be taken elsewhere, nevertheless, the following words and the analogy of Scripture teach that it is to be taken properly here (Gomar). 2. That this is followed by pray for one another (Laurentius, Gomar). Finally, that this Confession either is of Divine right, or is understood in this place, some Papists deny, as Gregory of Valencia[7] and Lorinus testify (Laurentius).

[And pray (both privately, and publicly [Menochius]) for one another] That is, Some for others (Estius), the Elders for the infirm (certain interpreters in Estius); or, it is to be understood more generally (most interpreters in Estius), the healthy for the infirm, the righteous for those that have confessed sins (Estius), those standing for the lapsed (Grotius).

Confess your faults; some copies have the illative particle, therefore, in the text, but even without that here seems to be a connexion between this and the former verse: he had said, the sick man’s sins should be forgiven upon the elders’ praying; and here he adds, that they must be confessed. One to another; either, that ye may be reconciled to one another when offended, or rather, confess when admonished or reproved for sin, or wounded in your consciences with the sense of it: and so this is not meant of auricular confession made to a priest, but such as should be made, though especially to ministers, yet, when need is, even to godly, experienced Christians, for the easing and disburdening men’s consciences, and getting the help of others’ prayers. And pray one for another; both in other ordinary cases, and chiefly upon occasion of your mutual confessions, and those soul-troubles that prompted you to them.

[That, etc., ὅπως ἰαθῆτε] That ye may be healed (Beza, Piscator). Both bodily (Gataker), that ye may recover health (Bede in Estius); and, principally spiritually, as in Matthew 13:15; Luke 4:18; Hebrews 12:13; 1 Peter 2:24 (Gataker). That God might cleanse you lapsed again (Grotius, similarly Estius). Health is Scripture is often referred to the soul (Estius). That ye may obtain the salvation of soul and body (Menochius, thus Tirinus).

That ye may be healed; not only recover bodily health when sick, but spiritual, when weakened or wounded by sin. Healing is often applied to the soul as well as the body, Matthew 13:15; Luke 4:18; Hebrews 12:13; 1 Peter 2:24.

[For availeth much (that is, it has great power to obtain [Estius]) the supplication of the righteous (that is, man [Piscator]: For just is used sometimes strictly, as in Ecclesiastes 7:20; Matthew 27:19; Acts 3:14; 22:14; sometimes broadly, for a good man, as in Job 1:1; Matthew 1:19; Luke 1:6: God hears the prayers of such only: See Proverbs 15:8, 29 [Gataker], and what things are on John 9:31 [Grotius]: Ὁς κε θεῷ ἐπιπείθηται μάλα ἔκλυεν αὐτοῦ, whoever obeys god, to him he gladly gives ear[8] [Gataker]: Hence it appears that the preceding part is directed principally to the just [Estius]), the assiduous supplication, ἐνεργουμένη] It is the same thing as ἐνεργής/powerful, Hebrews 4:12, and as ἐκτενὴς/fervent, Acts 12:5[9] (Gataker). Effectual (Erasmus, Tigurinus, Vatablus, Beza, Grotius, Menochius). Working, or, when it is at work (Erasmus, Vatablus). Ardent (Piscator). Energetic, or painstaking (Beza, Piscator, Menochius). Intent (Grotius, Erasmus, Vatablus). Constant, or firm (Cameron). Importunate (Gataker), that is, full of zeal and ardor, not tepid, not rash (Gataker); not perfunctory (Beza), not wavering (Gataker), of which sort is that in James 1:6 (Beza), not languid. Here, after the Hebrew manner, the Participle is in the place of the Verbal ἐνεργής/powerful/effectual, 1 Corinthians 16:9; Philemon 6; Hebrews 4:12 (Grotius). Incited, and, as it were, aroused by a certain movement and impetus, whence ἐνεργούμενοι, those that are moved by demons; that is, vehement, fervent, and diligent, which is performed with great affection of devotion (Estius), poured forth from the soul (Vatablus). Others: Inspired, that is to say, the Prayer of the man of God, incited by the Holy Spirit, as were both the Prophets when they prayed, and those in the New Testament that were strong in the gift of miracles, shall be most efficacious, and shall bring about a miraculous healing (Hammond).

The effectual fervent prayer: our translators use two words (and little enough) to express the significancy of the Greek word in this place: some translate it in-wrought; it seems to be a prayer wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit, and so may imply both the efficiency of God’s Spirit, (the Spirit of supplications, Zechariah 12:10,) and the vehemency of holy affections caused by him in prayer, Romans 8:26. Of a righteous man; one sincerely righteous, and in a gospel sense; the following instance of Elias shows that it is not to be understood of a man absolutely righteous. Availeth much; is very powerful with God for obtaining what is desired, 1 John 5:14; whereas God heareth not sinners, Proverbs 15:8, 29.

[1] Greek: ἐξομολογεῖσθε ἀλλήλοις τὰ παραπτώματα, καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων, ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη.

[2] Thus Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus.

[3] Moses Maimonides, or Rambam (1135-1204), is reckoned by many to be the greatest Jewish scholar of his age.  Maimonides’ command of the Hebrew Scriptures, Rabbinic tradition, natural science, and Aristotelian philosophy is staggering.

[4] Mishneh Torah 1:5.

[5] Ephesians 5:21:  “Submitting yourselves one to another (ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις) in the fear of God.”

[6] 1 Peter 4:9, 10:  “Use hospitality one to another (φιλόξενοι εἰς ἀλλήλους) without grudging.  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another (εἰς ἑαυτοὺς), as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

[7] Gregory of Valencia (c. 1550-1603) was a Spanish Jesuit.  He taught scholastic theology at the University of Dillingen, and later at Ingolstadt.

[8] Homer’s Iliad 1:218.

[9] Acts 12:5:  “Peter therefore was kept in prison:  but prayer was made without ceasing (ἐκτενὴς) of the church unto God for him.”

James 5:15: Healing by Anointing with Oil? (Part 2)

Verse 15:[1] And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; (Is. 33:24; Matt. 9:2) and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

[And the prayer (both of the Elders and of the sick man himself [Gomar]) of faith (that is, believing [Gataker], resting upon faith [Estius], arising from faith [Estius, Piscator, Grotius]: Genitive of the efficient [Piscator, thus Grotius]) shall save (with the salvation of the body [Estius, Grotius, Gataker], as nearly all take it, because he speaks of bodily infirmity: which, nevertheless, is to be related here to the salvation of the soul [Estius]: Σώζειν, to save, is taken here just as σώζεσθαι[2] in Matthew 9:21, 22;[3] 14:30;[4] Mark 6:56;[5] and often elsewhere [Grotius]: it shall raise up, or, it shall heal [Cameron]) the sick, τὸν κάμνοντα] The sick (Tremellius out of the Syriac, thus Piscator, Cameron). The toiling (Erasmus, Pagnine, Montanus, Castalio, Beza, Piscator, Estius, etc.). It denotes the peril of the sick, as failing, and succumbing to disease (Estius). It shall save, that is, unless it would not be expedient to him for eternal salvation. See 2 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20 (Grotius).

And the prayer of faith; i.e. proceeding from faith; the cure is ascribed to prayer, the moral means, and standing ordinance, not to the anointing, which was but ceremonial and temporary; and to faith in prayer, to show that this remedy was effectual only when faith (requisite to the working of miracles) was active, viz. in a certain persuasion that the sick person should be healed. Shall save the sick; restore to health, (if God see it fit, and the health of the body be good for the soul,) Mark 10:52; Luke 7:50; 18:42.

[And, etc., καὶ ἐγερεῖ, etc.] And shall raise (or, shall lift [Vatablus, Zegers, Estius], that is, shall uncover, shall disburden, that is, by mitigating the suffering [Estius]; or, shall cause to rise [Cameron]: Thus Mark 1:31,[6] הֵקִים, to cause to rise: The expression comes from this, that those that are gravely ill are wont to lie down: Hence also the Latins say that those that recover health rise [Grotius]) him the Lord[7] (Menochius). Namely, Christ (Estius, Grotius), in whose name he was anointed (Estius), not the Elder (Grotius).

And the Lord shall raise him up; the elders pray, but the Lord raiseth up, being prayed to in faith. Raise him up; the same as saving before, only the word seems to respect the sick man’s lying upon his bed, from which he riseth when he is healed, Mark 1:31.

[And if, etc., κἂν—ᾖ πεποιηκώς] And if he have committed sins (Beza, Piscator, etc.). Because of which frequently sicknesses are sent (Beza, similarly Estius, Grotius), Matthew 9:3; John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 11:30 (Grotius), yet not always, John 9:2 (Beza, Cameron). The sense: If by sinning he contracted that illness. For afflictions are not always punishments, but sometimes trials (Cameron).

If he have committed sins; if he have by his sins procured his sickness; or, those sins for which particularly God visits him with sickness; sin being often the cause of sickness, Matthew 9:2; John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 11:30, though not always, John 9:2.

[They shall be remitted to him] That is to say, With the cause removed, the illness shall cease, or yield to health. He aptly adds this for the consolation of the infirm. Thus David, afflicted with illness, seeks the pardon of sins, Psalm 6 and 38 (Estius). Others: They shall be remitted to him, that is, unto a certain effect, lest he be swallowed up by disease. Moreover, the man that was thus healed was obliged to accept penance from the Church in proportion to the sins, to fulfill it, and thus to be received unto the full privilege of communion (Grotius). The sense of the passage: The Lord shall not only heal the disease of the body, but also the disease of the soul (Cameron). Others: He does not say ἀφήσει, He shall remit, namely, the Lord, but impersonally ἀφεθήσεται, that is to say, absolution, or remission, shall be granted to him; not so much by God, as by the Elders, who are bound to grant Absolution to the sick, confessing him more grievous sins to them, and piously promising amendment, etc. (Hammond).

They shall be forgiven him; God will take away the cause as well as the effect, heal the soul as well as the body, and prayer is the means of obtaining both.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἡ εὐχὴ τῆς πίστεως σώσει τὸν κάμνοντα, καὶ ἐγερεῖ αὐτὸν ὁ Κύριος· κἂν ἁμαρτίας ᾖ πεποιηκώς, ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ.

[2] That is, to be made whole, or to be saved bodily.

[3] Matthew 9:21, 22:  “For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole (σωθήσομαι).  But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole (σέσωκέ σε).  And the woman was made whole from that hour.”

[4] Matthew 14:30:  “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me (σῶσόν με).”

[5] Mark 6:56:  “And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment:  and as many as touched him were made whole (ἐσώζοντο).”

[6] Mark 1:31:  “And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up (ἤγειρεν αὐτήν); and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.”

[7] That is, the Lord shall raise him up.

James 5:14: Healing by Anointing with Oil? (Part 1)

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Verse 14:[1] Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, (Mark 6:13; 16:18) anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…

[Is any infirm, etc., ἀσθενεῖ, etc.] Is sick (or, infirm [Gataker]) anyone among you? (Beza, Piscator). If anyone is sick. So this word is taken in Matthew 10:8;[2] 25:36;[3] Mark 6:56;[4] Luke 4:40;[5] Philippians 2:26, 27.[6] The Syriac: is in sorrow. It answers to the Hebrew חָלָה, as it appears in Proverbs 23:35.[7] What is here ἀσθενεῖν, is in the next verse κάμνειν, to be weary or sick[8](Grotius).

Is any sick? Or infirm, though not desperately and incurably.

[Let him induce, etc., προσκαλεσάσθω, etc.] Let him call for the elders of the Church (Piscator, Estius, etc.). Not all (Pareus), but those that were furnished with the gift of healing (Gomar, similarly Pareus). He understands, either, the Pastors and others that govern the Church (Calvin): or, the Bishops (Estius, Hammond), whose duty it was to visit the sick (Hammond), or other Priests (Estius, Hammond), duly ordained by the Bishop (Estius), and delegated by him to this office (Hammond). Question: Why does he say elders, speaking of only one infirm man (Estius)? Responses: 1. At that time the well-being of the faithful was attended to with such zeal that many came together to the sick man (certain interpreters in Estius). Seven Elders are wont to be summoned to this matter in the East (Grotius). 2. Many were the Elders, or Bishops, not indeed in one city, but in this entire Church of dispersed Jews; one sick man was not understood to summon many, but some one of those (Hammond). 3. There is here an Enallage of number, as in Mark 15:32, thieves, in the place of one thief (Estius).

Let him call for the elders; especially teaching elders, they being usually best furnished with gifts who labour in the word and doctrine, 1 Timothy 5:17. It is in the plural number, either by an enallage for the singular; q.d. Let him send for some or other of the elders; or, because there were in those times usually several elders (an ecclesiastical senate) in each church.

[And let them pray over, etc., ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν] In the place of ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, over him (Beza). Over him (Vulgate, Gataker, Vatablus), that is, for his sake (Vatablus). Perhaps he has regard to the rite of the imposition of hands employed in the healing (Beza). For him (Grotius, Beza, Piscator).

And let them pray over him; as it were setting him before God, and presenting him to him, which might be a means to stir up the greater affection and warmth in prayer; see 1 Kings 17:21; 2 Kings 4:33, 34; John 11:41; Acts 20:10; 9:40: or laying on their hands, as Acts 28:8, which yet seems to be for the same end.

[Anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord] That is, in Christ’s stead, or by the Elder as a minister of Christ (Estius): or, with the name of the Lord invoked (Beza): or, by the institution of Christ, Mark 6:13; namely, because among the Jews, Oil was signifying Divine grace: as also the imposition of Hands, which also is wont to be applied with respect to the sick, Mark 16:18; Acts 28:8. Now, all these things were done in the name of Christ, Mark 16:17; Acts 3:6, 16; 19:13. Proculus, a Christian, once healed the Emperor Severus[9] by oil, as Tertullian testifies in To Scapula (Grotius). Now, they understand this place, either, 1. concerning natural healing through oil, which in the East was excellent, copious, and useful for healing bodies (certain interpreters in Estius). But then he would order physicians, rather than Elders, to be called (Estius). But he wills Elders to be called, that they might conjoin with this bodily medicine spiritual medicine, namely, of admonition, consolation, and prayer. This medicinal anointing of the sick was most common among the Jews, as it is related in both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds [see the words in Lightfoot[10]]. But to this the Jews were joining incantations, as the Jerusalem Talmud testifies. Now, James was unwilling that the use of this salutary medicine be abolished because of this abuse, but in the place of these impious incantations he prescribes the prayers of the Elders, etc. (Lightfoot’s Chronicle 145). Or, 2. concerning the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (Estius, Menochius). But it is objected, 1. that that Sacrament, according to the Papists, heals, not the body, except rarely and beyond the purpose of the Sacrament, but the soul. But here it is evident that he treats of the healing of the body, as the words, ἐγείραι, to raise up, σώσαι, to save, κάμνοντα, the one being sick; but then of the healing fo the soul (Cameron). 2. Extreme Unction is only conferred on those that are about to die, and concerning whose life hope is given up, that it might be travel-provision for those departing from this world. But this anointing is designed for restoring health (Hammond). Or, 3. Concerning that gift of healing, which was thriving at that time (Calvin, Cameron, Hammond, thus Gomar), Matthew 10:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28, 30 (Gomar). Now, this healing was accomplished sometimes by a word alone, as in Acts 9:34, 40; 14:10; 16:18; sometimes by clasping of hands and embracing, Acts 3:7, 16; 20:10; sometimes by imposition of hands, as in Mark 16:18; Acts 9:17; 28:8 (Hammond); sometimes by this anointing, as in Mark 6:13 (Gomar, Hammond). But to this opinion it is objected, 1. that the other precepts in this Epistle are perpetual: Therefore, the precept also (Estius). Response: Certain of Paul’s precepts are also temporary, like that concerning Prophecy, 1 Corinthians 14, and concerning the habit of women prophesying, 1 Corinthians 11 (Cameron). 2. Not all Elders, nor only Elders, had this gift. Therefore, Elders would not have been sent for, but those strong in that gift (Estius). Response: That Gift was thriving among the Elders especially (Cameron): And in general gifts of miracles were given especially to Ministers, so that they might confirm the doctrine delivered by them with miracles (certain interpreters). 3. The grace of miracles was not extending itself to the spiritual effects that this anointing has (Estius). Response: Not the anointing, but rather the prayer joined with it, had these effects: then they were often joining the miraculous healing of bodies and the healing of souls, as in Matthew 9 and often elsewhere (certain interpreters). 4. This anointing belonged to the faithful. But the use of miracles was principally for the conversion of unbelievers (Estius). Response: This miraculous healing, although wrought among believers, was nevertheless an apt means for the conversion of unbelievers (certain interpreters). 5. If it was in the power of whatever Elders to heal the sick, then no one would have died (certain interpreters in Cameron). Response: they did not possess this gift in such a way that they might heal whom and as often as they might will, but as often as it was expedient for the glory of God, and for the well-being of the sick; the disclosure of which matter was in the power of the Spirit, by whom he, who was furnished with that gift, was led (Cameron).

Anointing him with oil; an outward rite used in those times, in miraculous healing sick persons, which might then be kept up, while the gift whereof it was the symbol continued; but the gift ceasing, it is vainly used. These cures were sometimes wrought only with a word, Acts 9:34; 14:10; 16:18; sometimes by taking by the hand, or embracing, Acts 3:7; 20:10; sometimes by laying on of hands, Mark 16:18; Acts 9:17; sometimes by anointing with oil, Mark 6:13: and so this is not an institution of a sacrament, but a command, that those elders that had the gift of healing, (as many in those days had,) being called by the sick to come to them, should (the Spirit of the Lord so directing them) exercise that gift, as well as pray over them. In the name of the Lord; either, calling upon the Lord, and so joining prayer with their anointing; or, in the name, is by the authority of the Lord, from whom they had received that gift.

[1] Greek: ἀσθενεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν; προσκαλεσάσθω τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους τῆς ἐκκλησίας, καὶ προσευξάσθωσαν ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν, ἀλείψαντες αὐτὸν ἐλαίῳ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ Κυρίου·

[2] Matthew 10:8a:  “Heal the sick (ἀσθενοῦντας), cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils…”

[3] Matthew 25:36a:  “Naked, and ye clothed me:  I was sick (ἠσθένησα), and ye visited me…”

[4] Mark 6:56:  “And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick (τοὺς ἀσθενοῦντας) in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment:  and as many as touched him were made whole.”

[5] Luke 4:40:  “Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick (ἀσθενοῦντας) with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.”

[6] Philippians 2:26, 27:  “For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick (ἠσθένησεν).  For indeed he was sick (ἠσθένησε) nigh unto death:  but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”

[7] Proverbs 23:35:  “They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick (בַל־חָלִיתִי); they have beaten me, and I felt it not:  when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”

[8] James 5:15a:  “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick (τὸν κάμνοντα), and the Lord shall raise him up…”

[9] Septimius Severus reigned from 193 to 211.

[10] John Lightfoot (1602-1675) was a divine of such distinction and learning that he was invited to sit as a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster.  He specialized in Rabbinic learning and lore.  He brought that learning to bear in his defense of Erastianism in the Assembly and in his comments upon Holy Scripture.

James 5:13: Prayers in Affliction; Psalms in Prosperity

Verse 13:[1] Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) let him sing psalms.

[Is any sad, etc., κακοπαθεῖ, etc.] He had exhorted to patience; now he shows how it is to be acquired, and of what sort it ought to be, not conjoined with a gloomy silence, but what sets itself forth in holy exercises, etc. (Gataker). [They thus render it:] Is afflicted (or, suffereth any evil, whether in body or in soul [Menochius]: Is sorrowful in soul [Beza]) any among you? (Piscator, etc.). If anyone is pressed with adversities. See on James 5:10 (Grotius).

Is any among you afflicted? either troubled or afflicted in mind, as appears by the opposite being merry, or more generally afflicted any way. Not that we need not pray at other times, but when under afflictions God calls us more especially to it, and our own necessities put us upon it.

[Let him pray] So that thence he might carry back strength to bear evils, and some solace (Menochius); because he needs alleviation (Estius). You have examples in Matthew 26:39; Acts 21:5 (Grotius).

Let him pray; for support, patience, sanctification of afflictions, etc.

[Of equanimous mind, etc.; εὐθυμεῖ τις] Is any cheerful? (Castalio, thus Tremellius out of the Syriac, Arabic, Æthiopic). If any is cheerful on account of goods received from God. Thus εὔθυμοι δὲ γενόμενοι, they were of good cheer, Acts 27:36 (Grotius). Of a good (or, equanimous [Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Beza, Montanus, Vulgate], that is, cheerful, peaceful, tranquil [Menochius, similarly Estius]) spirit is anyone? (Piscator), that is, if anyone rejoice in prosperity (Estius, similarly Piscator).

[Let him sing psalms] That is, let him give thanks to God also with singing (Grotius, similarly Menochius). See 1 Corinthians 14:15;[2] Ephesians 5:19.[3] Ψάλλειν is properly to sing with a stringed instrument, but it is taken more broadly among us (Grotius).

Is any merry? let him sing psalms; express his mirth in a holy manner, by praising God with psalms or spiritual songs for mercies received from him, 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; and so keep up his spiritual mirth by a spiritual exercise, lest his cheerfulness degenerate into vanity and frothiness.

[1] Greek: Κακοπαθεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν; προσευχέσθω. εὐθυμεῖ τις; ψαλλέτω.

[2] 1 Corinthians 14:15:  “What is it then?  I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also:  I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also (ψαλῶ τῷ πνεύματι, ψαλῶ δὲ καὶ τῷ νοΐ).”

[3] Ephesians 5:19:  “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς), singing and making melody (ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες) in your heart to the Lord…”

James 5:12: Warning concerning Vain Oaths

Verse 12:[1] But above all things, my brethren, (Matt. 5:34, etc.) 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.

[Before all things] That is, before the other matters attend to this (Drusius, Gataker, thus Estius): Great vigilance is needed on account of the contrary custom (Estius), not to be easily rooted out: The Jews were very prone to oaths. Now, what things we greatly desire to be avoided, we are wont to say that these things are to be avoided before all (Grotius). James dissuades from impatience, and from its effects, whether with respect to men, as in verse 9, or with respect to God, as in this place. Now, he warns that this sin is the greatest, not simply, as if were greater than adultery, murder, etc., but comparatively, with respect to the other fruits of impatience, concerning which verse 9; that is to say, If perhaps impatience causes you to murmur, etc., beware especially that it draw you not away to the abuse of the name of God (Gataker).

Above all things, etc.: Because it is a great sin to swear upon every slight occasion, and it was very usual among the Jews, and it was the more difficult to bring them off from it who were so much accustomed to it; therefore the apostle commands them, that above all things they should not swear, i.e. should take special care they did not, and watch diligently against a sin so many were addicted to, and into which they might so easily fall.

[Swear not] Namely, by promising anything concerning an uncertain matter. Not that there is not also to be an abstaining from an assertory oath,[2] as far as the honor of God and the commands of superiors allows it; but that the context of the sentence shows that he does not treat of that here. Also, the Essenes[3] were abstaining from such oaths, and, following their example, the Pythagoreans. See what things we said on Matthew 5:33, etc., and Concerning the Law of War and Peace 2:13, 21 (Grotius). Now, oaths are prohibited, not simply and absolutely (Estius, Gataker), for they are made use of by men most holy both in the Old and in the New Testaments, Genesis 21:23, etc.; 26:28; 1 Kings 17:1; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 1:20; 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 10: and the use of them is permited and approved by God, Exodus 22:8, 10, 11; Leviticus 5:4; Numbers 5:19, 20; Psalm 15:4; Proverbs 18:18; Hebrews 6:16: but rather oaths precipitous, arising from impatience, 1 Kings 19:1, 2, rash, Leviticus 5:4; Jeremiah 5:2, common (Gataker), or in familiar and daily speech (Estius, Gataker), Matthew 5:37, vain and without just cause (Gataker). There is to be an abstention from oaths always and altogether, as far as it is able to be done by us, and unless just necessity compels (Estius). Swearing is not to be done lightly and rashly (Tirinus). For in this are profanity and atheism (Gataker), irreverence for the Divine name (Estius, Gataker), the indignity of the contempt of our souls against God, for they, having been provoked by men, fly into the face of God (Gataker).

Swear not; all swearing is not forbidden, any more than Matthew 5:34; (for oaths are made use of by holy men both in the Old and New Testament, Genesis 21:23, 24; 24:3; 26:28; 1 Kings 17:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 1:20; and the use of an oath is permitted and approved of by God himself, Psalm 15:4; Hebrews 6:16;) but such oaths as are false, rash, vain, without just cause, or customary and frequent in ordinary discourse, 1 Kings 19:2; Jeremiah 5:2; Matthew 5:37.

[Neither by, etc., μήτε τὸν οὐρανόν, etc.] Νὴ/by[4] is understood, although the Greeks do say ὀμνύναι, to swear, both τὸν Δία, and νὴ τὸν Δία, by Zeus[5] (Piscator). These oaths were exceedingly common at that time (Gataker), among the Jews (Estius, Gataker), either because they were thinking that thus there was no sin against the third Commandment[6] (Gataker); or because they believed that those were able to be violated without great sin (Gataker, similarly Estius). The more superstitious Jews were not using the name of God expressly for common oaths, but other things, like Heaven and Earth. But Christ wills that there be an abstention from these also. For, just as Ulpianus[7] said that he who swears by his salvation appears to swear by God, because he swears with regard to the Divine name; so also he who swears by Heaven prays that Heaven be insalubrious for him, should he fail; and he who swears by Earth prays that Earch be unfruitful to him, should he fail: all which depend upon God (Grotius). There is sin in oaths of this sort, whether, 1. in them respect be had to God; or, 2. we have regard only to the matters themselves, not to God. For thus there is a more grievous sin. To swear by creatures directly is simply unlawful, because in this we attribute to creatures what is proper to God, that is, that they know our hearts, that they are superior to our souls. An oath is a principal part of Divine worship, Deuteronomy 6:13; Jeremiah 5:7, and a type of invocation (Gataker). It is a corruption akin to idolatry, since either the power of judging, or the authority of proving testimony, is conferred upon them (Gataker out of Calvin)

Neither by heaven, neither by the earth; by which the Jews thought they might lawfully swear, as likewise by other creatures, so the name of God were not interposed; not considering that where it is not expressed yet it is implied, Matthew 23:20, 21.

[Neither by another, etc.] For example, by Jerusalem, by the Temple, or Altar, by κορβᾶν/corban,[8] by your own Head, Matthew 5:36; 23:16, 22 (Grotius), μὰ νεφέλας, by the clouds, μὰ δίκτυα, by their nets, μὰ παγίδας, by their traps, μὰ τὰ λάχανα, by the herbs, in Suidas. Now, now mention is made of creatures obliquely in the formulas of oaths, either, 1. by solemn appeal, as far as the glory of God shines in them, as it does through the heavens, etc.; or, 2. by giving in pledge, by things dear to us, and by the head, by the soul, etc.; or, 3. by imprecation, as by this bread, that is to say, let this bread be poison to me (Gataker).

Neither by any other oath; viz. of the like kind.

[Let it be…yea yea, etc.] That is, let your Affirmation, or Negation, be simple and unembellished (Estius), by saying either Yes, or No (Piscator), not sworn (Estius). Others: Constantly and simply affirm truths, and deny falsehoods (Castalio), both in statements, and in promises. It shall be done in such a way that ye merit confidence without oaths (certain interpreters in Estius). What ye promise in word, fulfill in deed, whether it consist in doing, or in not doing. Ναὶ/yea signifies both a Promise, and the fulfillment of a Promise, as it is seen in 2 Corinthians 1:18-20. Therefore, there is here πλοκὴ, a harmony, as in a similar saying of the Jews, The Just man’s אִין/Yea is אִין/Yea, and No is No. That אִין is of one promising, as ναὶ or μάλιστα/certainly is to the Greeks (Grotius).

But let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay: either, 1. Let your speech be yea, yea, and nay, nay; i.e. by plain affirmations and negations, without the addition of any oath for confirmation, Matthew 5:37: or, 2. Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, i.e. let your words be in truth and sincerity, your speech seconded by your actions; accustom yourselves to truth and plainness in speaking, and that will take away the occasion of swearing. See the like, 2 Corinthians 1:17-19.

[Lest, etc., ἵνα μὴ ὑπὸ κρίσιν πέσητε] So it is read by the Syriac, and the Arabic, and the Latin (Grotius), and by one old Manuscript codex[9] (Beza), and a codex of Robert, and in the margin of the Royal Bible[10] (Estius). [Now, thus they translate it:] Lest ye fall into condemnation (Beza, thus Illyricus, Pagnine, Piscator, Menochius), or, under judgment (Tremellius out of the Syriac, Estius, thus the Vulgate), namely, of condemnation (Estius, thus Menochius), on account of the violated law of God concerning not swearing (Estius). Lest ye be liable to judgment by swearing rashly (Dieu). Κρίσις/judgment in the place of κατάκρισις/condemnation, judgment against (Piscator). Others read, ἵνα μὴ εἰς ὑπόκρισιν πέσητε, as the Complutensian edition has it[11] (Vorstius). [Thus Grotius, Vorstius, etc. Now, thus they render it:] Lest ye fall into hypocrisy (Erasmus, Tigurinus, Castalio, Arabic); that is, Lest ye be discovered as feigners of probity (Vatablus). Lest ye be found liars. Thus lest I lie, Proverbs 30:9.[12] For ὑπόκρισις/hypocrisy is taken for lying in 1 Timothy 4:2;[13] and ὑποκρίνεσθαι is in the place of to lie in Symmachus’ version of Proverbs 16:28; and ὑποκριτὴς in Job 34:30[14] and 36:13.[15] It appears that this express, not having been well comprehended, was the cause of the other reading (Grotius).

Lest ye fall into condemnation; viz. for taking the name of God in vain, Exodus 20:7, which is always done in an unwarrantable oath.

[1] Greek: Πρὸ πάντων δέ, ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ὀμνύετε, μήτε τὸν οὐρανόν, μήτε τὴν γῆν, μήτε ἄλλον τινὰ ὅρκον· ἤτω δὲ ὑμῶν τὸ ναί, ναί, καὶ τὸ οὔ, οὔ·  ἵνα μὴ ὑπὸ κρίσιν πέσητε.

[2] That is, an oath pertaining to the past or present, but not to the future.

[3] The Essenes were an ascetic Jewish sect, flourishing from the second century BC to the first century AD.

[4] With the Accusative of the person or thing by which one swears.

[5] For example, Aristophanes’ Plutus 202.  The meaning is not affected by the presence or absence of the preposition.

[6] Exodus 20:7:  “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”

[7] Domitius Ulpianus (c. 170-228 AD) was a Roman jurist.

[8] See Mark 7:11.

[9] Thus Codex Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus.

[10] Robert Estienne (1503-1559) was a printer and classical scholar in Paris.  He published the Royal Codex in 1550, an edition of the Greek New Testament, called the Editio Regia because of the handsome Greek font used in the printing.

[11] Thus the overwhelming majority of Byzantine manuscripts.

[12] Proverbs 30:9:  “Lest I be full, and deny (וְכִחַשְׁתִּי, and deceive), and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”

[13] 1 Timothy 4:2:  “Speaking lies in hypocrisy (ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων); having their conscience seared with a hot iron…”

[14] Job 34:30:  “That the hypocrite (אָדָ֥ם חָנֵ֗ף; ἄνθρωπον ὑποκριτὴν, in the Septuagint) reign not, lest the people be ensnared.”

[15] Job 36:13:  “But the hypocrites in heart (וְֽחַנְפֵי־לֵ֭ב; καὶ ὑποκριταὶ καρδίᾳ, in the Septuagint) heap up wrath:  they cry not when he bindeth them.”

James 5:11: Exhortation to Patience, Part 5

Verse 11:[1] Behold, (Ps. 94:12; Matt. 5:10, 11; 10:22) we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of (Job 1:21, 22; 2:10) the patience of Job, and have seen (Job 42:16, etc.) the end of the Lord; that (Num. 14:18; Ps. 103:8) the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

[We beatify (or, we call blessed [Valla, Erasmus, Vatablus, thus Beza, Piscator], or we commend [Beza, Grotius, Piscator], as in Luke 1:48[2] [Piscator]: μακαρίζειν, אֵשֵּׁר, to count blessed, Genesis 30:12, 13;[3] Numbers 24:17;[4] Job 29:11:[5] Hence μακαρισμὸς, declaration of blessing, Romans 4:6, 9[6] [Grotius]) those that endured (thus Grotius out of the Syriac), τοὺς ὑπομένοντας] Those that endure (Erasmus), or, bear affliction (Piscator), or, are bearing (Beza). A manuscript has ὑπομείναντας, have endured,[7] which is more correct. [The sense:] We yet praise the constancy of those that endured such evils; μακάριος ὁ ὑπομένων, blessed is he that endureth, Daniel 12:12[8] (Grotius).

We count them happy which endure; we ourselves count them happy that endure, and therefore should be patient, and not count ourselves miserable if we endure too. Which endure; viz. patiently and constantly, Matthew 5:10, 11.

[The endurance (or, patience [Erasmus, Vatablus, etc.]) of Job] A man that was born and lived outside of Israel (Estius); With his children and goods lost, his entire body in the most grievous pains, and his friends calumniating him. For this history is true, but delivered Poetically (Grotius). It is a history of an actual event, not an argument fabricated for the sake of exhortation, or doctrine, as it is done in comedies and tragedies, as the Anabaptists maintain, together with some ancient Hebrews. For feigned examples do not admonish in earnest. See also Ezekiel 14:14 (Estius). Question: Why does he commend the patience of Job, who showed many signs of impatience? Response: Because, although he sometimes was wavering and in upheaval, yet he always returned to this, that he entrusted himself completely to God, and offered himself to Him to be restrained and governed (Calvin).

Ye have heard of the patience of Job; for which he was as eminent as for his sufferings; and though some signs of impatience be showed, yet his patience and submission to God being prevalent, and most remarkable to him, that only is taken notice of, and his failings overlooked.

[And the end[9] (that is, the conclusion, cheerful or happy [Estius, Piscator]: Synecdoche of genus [Piscator]) of the Lord (that is, either, 1. of Christ, who His own passion, which is here called the end, like ἔξοδος/decease/ departure/exodus, Luke 9:31, endured with the utmost patience [Estius out of Augustine and Bede]: Now, of the faithful there yet survived those that had been witnesses of the passion of Christ [Estius]: Or, 2. of Job [Gataker, Estius]: It is here a Genitive of Cause [Grotius], of the efficient [Piscator, Gataker], like the grace of God, Acts 11:23; that is, the end or conclusion, not which God had [Gataker], but which God gave to him [Grotius, thus Beza, Piscator, Menochius out of the Syriac]; good and firm health, a great many and flourishing children, fame, and honors, and riches [Grotius]) ye have seen] Namely, with the eyes of your mind (Estius); ye know by reading (Grotius); ye have certainly been taught concerning this matter (Gataker): or, ye have heard, as in Exodus 20:18, it saw the voices[10] (Drusius).

And have seen the end of the Lord: Job’s patience is heard of, but God’s end seen: seeing being a clearer way of perception than hearing, is put in this latter clause, because God’s bounty and recompence was more evident than Job’s patience. The end of the Lord; the good issue God gave to all Job’s sufferings, in restoring him to his former state, and doubling his prosperity.

[That, etc., ὅτι πολύσπλαγχνός—καὶ οἰκτίρμων] The former appears to be referred to the Affection, as also σπλάγχνα/bowels in Luke 1:78;[11] the other to Acts agreeing with the affection. The sense is the same in Exodus 34:6; 2 Samuel 24:14 (Grotius). For He is very pitiful, etc. (Piscator, etc.). Therefore, just as He was a liberator and restorer to him, so also shall He be to us (Estius).

That the Lord is very pitiful; full of bowels, Greek; the bowels being the seat of compassion, (in which we feel a stirring when strong affections are working in us,) are frequently put to signify the most tender and movable affections, such as mothers have toward their children, Genesis 43:30;[12] 1 Kings 3:26;[13] Isaiah 63:15;[14] Colossians 3:12:[15] this seems to note the affection itself, or God’s readiness to show mercy, Luke 1:78. And of tender mercy: this may imply acts of mercy suitable to a merciful nature, the former mercy within, and this mercy breaking out.

[1] Greek: ἰδού, μακαρίζομεν τοὺς ὑπομένοντας· τὴν ὑπομονὴν Ἰὼβ ἠκούσατε, καὶ τὸ τέλος Κυρίου εἴδετε, ὅτι πολύσπλαγχνός ἐστιν ὁ Κύριος καὶ οἰκτίρμων.

[2] Luke 1:48:  “For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:  for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed (ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μακαριοῦσί με πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί).”

[3] Genesis 30:13:  “And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed (כִּ֥י אִשְּׁר֖וּנִי בָּנ֑וֹת; ὅτι μακαρίζουσίν με αἱ γυναῖκες, in the Septuagint):  and she called his name Asher (אָשֵׁר).”

[4] Numbers 24:17a:  “I shall see him, but not now:  I shall behold him (אֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ, from שׁוּר, to behold; μακαρίζω, in the Septuagint), but not nigh:  there shall come a Star out of Jacob…”

[5] Job 29:11:  “When the ear heard me, then it blessed me (וַתְּאַשְּׁרֵנִי; καὶ ἐμακάρισέν με, in the Septuagint); and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me…”

[6] Romans 4:6-9:  “Even as David also describeth the blessedness (λέγει τὸν μακαρισμὸν) of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed (μακάριοι) are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed (μακάριος) is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then (ὁ μακαρισμὸς οὖν οὗτος) upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.”

[7] In the Aorist, rather than the Present, Tense.  Thus Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus.

[8] Daniel 12:12:  “Blessed is he that waiteth (אַשְׁרֵ֥י הַֽמְחַכֶּ֖ה; μακάριος ὁ ὑπομένων, in Theodotion), and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.”

[9] Greek: καὶ τὸ τέλος.

[10] Exodus 20:18:  “And all the people saw the thunderings (רֹאִ֙ים אֶת־הַקּוֹלֹ֜ת), and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking:  and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.”

[11] Luke 1:78:  “Through the tender mercy (σπλάγχνα ἐλέους, bowels of mercy) of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us…”

[12] Genesis 43:30:  “And Joseph made haste; for his bowels (רַחֲמָיו; τὰ ἔντερα αὐτοῦ, in the Septuagint) did yearn upon his brother:  and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.”

[13] 1 Kings 3:26a:  “Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels (רַחֲמֶיהָ) yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it.”

[14] Isaiah 63:15:  “Look down from heaven, and behold from the habitation of thy holiness and of thy glory:  where is thy zeal and thy strength, the sounding of thy bowels and of thy mercies (הֲמ֥וֹן מֵעֶ֛יךָ וְֽרַחֲמֶ֖יךָ) toward me? are they restrained?”

[15] Colossians 3:12:  “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies (σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμῶν), kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…”

James 5:10: Exhortation to Patience, Part 4

Verse 10:[1] (Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:35, etc.) Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

[An example, etc., ὑπόδειγμα—τῆς κακοπαθείας, etc.] Take ye…for an example (to which ye ought to conform yourselves, as in John 13:15 [Grotius]) of affliction (or, of labor/toil [Vulgate, Grotius], of vexation [Grotius out of the Glossa, Gataker out of Stephanus, Beza], or, of bearing evils [Gataker, thus Vorstius]: Here the adjective in composition[2] declares, not an adjunct, but the object [Vorstius]: Κακοπαθεῖν is to be vexed with evils, as in verse 13[3] and 2 Timothy 2:9:[4] Hence κακοπάθεια, Malachi 1:13;[5] 2 Maccabees 2:26, 27:[6] It is used by Cebes[7] and others: Concerning these evils that the Prophets endured, see Hebrews 11:35, etc. [Grotius]), and of patience (concerning μακροθυμίᾳ see on verse 4[8] and Colossians 1:11[9] [Gataker]: here is a patience that is constant in adversity, as in Hebrews 6:12[10] [Grotius]), the prophets, who have spoken (namely, to the people, whether foretelling future things, or recalled them from their sins to God and His true worship [Estius]) in the name (that is, by the mandate [Piscator, Estius, Gataker, Grotius]) of the Lord (Piscator, etc.), that is, of God (Estius, Grotius). For, although Κυρίος/Lord in the New Testament is wont to be used of Christ, nevertheless, when there is treatment of matters of the Old Testament, after the manner of the Septuagint Translators it is wont to be put in the place of יְהוָה/Jehovah, which is read אֲדֹנָי/Adonai/ Lord, as in Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 3:3; Acts 2:21; 3:22; 15:17; and elsewhere (Grotius). He adds this so that he might indicate that they had suffered on account of righteousness, etc. (Estius).

Take, my brethren, the prophets; as being most eminent among God’s people, and leaders of them; he intimates that it is an honour to suffer among the best. Who have spoken in the name of the Lord; by his command and authority, and so were employed in the highest services in the church, and thereby appeared to be approved of God, and most dear to him. For an example of suffering affliction: as much as God honoured and loved them, yet they were not exempted from afflictions, but were maligned, traduced, and persecuted by men, 1 Kings 18:13; 19:14; 2 Kings 6:31; Amos 7:10; Hebrews 11; and therefore when they suffered such hard things, it is no shame for you to suffer the like, Matthew 5:12. And of patience; as the example of their sufferings should prevent your discouragement, so the example of their patience should provoke your imitation; God having set them forth as examples of both, that if you suffer the same things, you may suffer with the same minds.

[1] Greek: ὑπόδειγμα λάβετε τῆς κακοπαθείας, ἀδελφοί μου, καὶ τῆς μακροθυμίας, τοὺς προφήτας οἳ ἐλάλησαν τῷ ὀνόματι Κυρίου.

[2] Κακοπάθεια is a composite of κακός/bad and πάθη/suffering.

[3] James 5:13:  “Is any among you afflicted (κακοπαθεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν)? let him pray.  Is any merry? let him sing psalms.”

[4] 2 Timothy 2:9:  “Wherein I suffer trouble (κακοπαθῶ), as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.”

[5] Malachi 1:13a:  “Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it (הִנֵּ֙ה מַתְּלָאָ֜ה; ταῦτα ἐκ κακοπαθείας ἐστίν, in the Septuagint)! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts…”

[6] 2 Maccabees 2:26, 27:  “Therefore to us, that have taken upon us this painful labour (τὴν κακοπάθειαν) of abridging, it was not easy, but a matter of sweat and watching; even as it is no ease unto him that prepareth a banquet, and seeketh the benefit of others: yet for the pleasuring of many we will undertake gladly this great pains (τὴν κακοπάθειαν)…”

[7] Cebes of Thebes (c. 430-c. 350 BC) was a Greek philosopher and disciple of Socrates.  He is one of the speakers in Plato’s Phædo.  None of his own works survive, with the possible exception of the Tabula; but it is a matter of some controversy whether the Tabula ought to be attributed to Cebes.

[8] See also James 5:7, 8:  “Be patient (μακροθυμήσατε) therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience (μακροθυμῶν) for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.  Be ye also patient (μακροθυμήσατε καὶ ὑμεῖς); stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”

[9] Colossians 1:11:  “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering (μακροθυμίαν) with joyfulness…”

[10] Hebrews 6:12:  “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience (μακροθυμίας) inherit the promises.”

James 5:9: Exhortation to Patience, Part 3

Verse 9:[1] (Jam. 4:11) Grudge not (or, groan, or, grieve not[2]) one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge (Matt. 24:33; 1 Cor. 4:5) standeth before the door.

[Do not, etc., μὴ στενάζετε κατ᾽ ἀλλήλων, etc.] Do not groan (or, sigh [Beza]) one against another, brethren (Pagnine, Piscator, Tremellius out of the Syriac, Estius, thus Erasmus, Illyricus, Vulgate). It is the same as in James 4:11. Envy not one another (Grotius, thus Hammond). For it is μετωνυμία/ Metonymy. For Envy is wont to groan at the goods of others. But is that saying in Genesis 4:6 regarded, Why art thou wroth? (Grotius). An internal complaint, not entirely bursting forth, he calls a groan (Estius). He understands an accusatory groan (Estius out of Calvin, Gataker out of Catharinus), when one in his heart and with a sigh (which he does not dare to do with free voice) accuses and condemns his neighbor, whom he feels to be troublesome to himself (Estius); and concerning him he complains in the presence of God, and asks for vengeance against him (Calvin, thus Gataker). In which matter there are multiple sins: impatience; and the usurpation of the judgment concerning the neighbor (Estius); and it is the effect of pride and φιλαυτίας/self-love, as if it were intolerable for us to suffer anything; and it is an indication of a lack of charity, Luke 9:54. It also imputes to God injustice, or negligence, as if He were ignorant of what ought to be done and when: finally, it is repugnant to Christ’s precept, Mark 11:25, and example, Luke 23:34 (Gataker). He urges patience, not only in bearing the injuries of the wicked, but also in covering and bearing with a patient and placid spirit the offenses and infirmities of brethren, lest they condemn them before themselves or by their own judgment. There is a similar precept in Luke 6:37 (Estius). Such is the argument: Injuries are to be patiently borne by you, even from those that are within the Church; much more those inflicted upon you by the impious Rich (Dickson). Others: The sense: In injuries and pressures do not be overly grieved, do not show impatience, do not be angry at each other, etc. (Menochius, similarly Lyra and Lorinus in Gataker). It is the same as if he had said, μὴ καταστενάζετε ἀλλήλων, groan not one against, or over, another; or, do not mutually grieve yourselves. Κατὰ with the Genitive is over (Knatchbull).

Grudge not; Greek: Groan not; the sense may be, either, Envy not one another, (or, as we translate it: Grudge not,) it being the nature of envy to groan at other men’s good; or, Groan not by way of accusation or complaint to God against others, desiring him to avenge your quarrels, as if you were too good to suffer injuries, or God were unjust or forgetful of righting you. One against another; brother against brother, Christian against Christian: they were injured not only by rich worldlings and open oppressors, but by their fellow professors, and gave one another mutual cause of sighing and groaning.

[Lest ye be condemned] That is, punished by God, like Cain (Grotius), with a punishment either temporal, or eternal (Estius). Lest the vengeance, which ye longed for with respect to others, fall upon you, according to Matthew 7:1 (Gataker, thus Calvin); lest all be accused and condemned. For there is no one that does not injure or offend any, and furnish material for groaning (Calvin).

Lest ye be condemned; lest God punish you all; there being none of you but have given others cause of grief and complaint, as well as others have given you, Matthew 7:1.

[The Judge (namely, Christ [Estius]) before the door, etc.] As in Matthew 24:33; Mark 13:29. Thus Plutarch, πυρετοῦ περὶ θύρας ὄντος, fever being at the door[3] (Gataker). [The sense:] He is near (Estius, thus Menochius), who shall fulfill these imprecations (Calvin). The sense is the same as in Genesis 4:7, sin lies at the doors. This also has regard to the now imminent punishments of the Jewish nation (Grotius).

Behold, the Judge standeth before the door; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Judge of you all, is at hand, (Philippians 4:5,) in a readiness either to bring those evils upon you which you wish may fall upon others, or to give you your reward, if through patient continuance in well doing you seek for it, Romans 2:7. The like phrase we have, Matthew 24:33; Mark 13:29; or it may allude to Genesis 4:7.

[1] Greek: μὴ στενάζετε κατ᾽ ἀλλήλων, ἀδελφοί, ἵνα μὴ κατακριθῆτε· ἰδού, ὁ κριτὴς πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν ἕστηκεν.

[2] Greek: μὴ στενάζετε.

[3] Parallel Lives “Demetrius” 19.