James 5:8: Exhortation to Patience, Part 2

Verse 8:[1] Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: (Phil. 4:5; Heb. 10:25, 37; 1 Pet. 4:7) for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

[Patient, etc.] In the hope of much greater fruit, watered in the meantime with the rain of the Holy Spirit (Grotius). As a farmer looks for both fruit, and rains, etc., so it is fitting for you with patience to look for both eternal life, and spiritual consolations for the situation, so that ye might bear present evils easily, and become more suited to obtain the fruit of eternity (Estius).

[Stablish, etc., στηρίξατε, etc.] Establish your hearts (Beza, Piscator). Against the temptation of impatience and desperation (Estius). Make yourselves determined: Steel, and keep yourselves in prosperity (Grotius). Plautus uses to steel the heart; Ovid, the soul; Tacitus, the mind. Thus στηρίζειν, Luke 22:32;[2] Romans 1:11;[3] 16:25:[4] στηρίξαι, σθενώσαι, to stablish, to strengthen, 1 Peter 5:10 (Gataker).

[The coming of the Lord has drawn nigh] See verse 7; Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:25 (Grotius): ἤγγικε, it has drawn nigh,[5] past in sound, present in sense (Grotius, similarly Estius), as in Matthew 3:2;[6] 4:17; 26:45;[7] Romans 13:12;[8] 1 Peter 4:7[9] (Grotius). He here understands His coming, either, 1. to destroy Jerusalem (Œcumenius in Estius, thus Hammond). But this is easily refuted. For at that time the faithful did not receive the fruit of patience promised here. Or, 2. for the final judgment (Menochius, thus Estius), as all other Interpreters rightly judge (Estius): which, although it was quite distant from this time (Menochius), is said to approach, both because it comes closer by degrees (Estius); and, because the time of this age is brief (Menochius, similarly Estius, Gataker), either comparatively with respect to eternity, or before God (Gataker), to whom a thousand years are as a day, etc., 2 Peter 3:8; and, because it is closer than we hope, Matthew 24:50; and, because the particular judgment, or time of death, of every man is near (Gataker).

Be ye also patient; viz. in expectation of your harvest, and the fruit of your labours, as the husbandman is in looking for his. Stablish your hearts; let your hearts be stedfast in faith and constant in holiness, encouraging yourselves to both by the coming of the Lord. For the coming of the Lord draweth nigh; as before, his coming to the general judgment, which is said to be nigh, because of the certainty of its coming, and the uncertainty of the time when it will come, and because it is continually drawing on, and the whole time of the world’s duration till then is but short in comparison of the eternity following; and likewise because the particular judgment of every man is nigh at hand. See Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 10:37.

[1] Greek: μακροθυμήσατε καὶ ὑμεῖς, στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Κυρίου ἤγγικε.

[2] Luke 22:32:  “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not:  and when thou art converted, strengthen (στήριξον) thy brethren.”

[3] Romans 1:11:  “For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established (εἰς τὸ στηριχθῆναι ὑμᾶς)…”

[4] Romans 16:25a:  “Now to him that is of power to stablish (στηρίξαι) you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ…”

[5] In the Perfect tense.

[6] Matthew 3:2:  “And saying, Repent ye:  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (ἤγγικε).”  So also Matthew 4:17.

[7] Matthew 26:45:  “Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest:  behold, the hour is at hand (ἤγγικεν), and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

[8] Romans 13:12:  “The night is far spent, the day is at hand (ἤγγικεν):  let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

[9] 1 Peter 4:7:  “But the end of all things is at hand (ἤγγικε):  be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

James 5:7: Exhortation to Patience, Part 1

Verse 7:[1] Be patient (or, be long patient, or, suffer with long patience[2]) 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 (Deut. 11:14; Jer. 5:24; Hos. 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zech. 10:1) the early and latter rain.

[Patient, etc., μακροθυμήσατε, etc.] From impious oppressions (Gataker), he turns his speech toward oppressed Christians (Gataker, thus Grotius, Estius), as the word ἀδελφοί/brethren demonstrates (Grotius); and he comforts them (Estius, Gataker). Be patient therefore (that is, bear ye injuries and ills patiently [Gataker]), brethren, unto the Lord’s (that is, Christ’s [Estius, Grotius, etc.]) coming (Piscator, etc.). Namely, unto judgment (Estius, Menochius, Grotius, Gataker), both, 1. upon the Jewish nation; which is also indicated by the word ἐπανελθεῖν, to return, Luke 19:15 (Grotius): and, 2. universal (Estius, thus Grotius), which is everywhere set forth in the Scriptures, with which all should be concerned, when a full recompense will be made, as much to the good as to the evil (Estius): which [two Judgments] the ancient Christians were supposing to be conjoined in neighboring periods of times; for the reason that they had learned nothing certain concerning this matter, and were always commanded to be intent upon that last day, which was going to liberate good men from all the vexation of evil men. See also 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Compare Romans 8:23 (Grotius).

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord; viz. to judgment, and that either particular, to avenge the quarrels of innocent sufferers upon their tyrannical persecutors; or rather, to the general judgment, in which a full retribution is to be made both to the just and unjust, Romans 2:5, 6, etc. To which judgment the Scripture calls all to look, especially those that are under oppression and persecution, 2 Thessalonians 1:6, 7, etc.

[The farmer (or, whatever farmer [Grotius]) expects (that is, bears delays without vexation, but endures his labors patiently in the hope of gain [Estius]) the precious fruit of the earth] Admirably stated (Grotius); that is to say, fruit useful to himself (Estius), the crop whereby especially we are maintained, and for which there has always been great regard among Jews and Christians (Grotius). Thus the seed is precious, Psalm 126:6 (Gataker). Hope sustains farmers[3] (Grotius). And evils are to be endured patiently by you, in such a way that ye receive eternal life (Estius).

Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth; which cost him hard labour, and by which he receives great benefit, the sustentation of his life.

[Until, etc., ἕως ἂν λάβῃ ὑετὸν πρώϊμον καὶ ὄψιμον] While, or until, he receive rain (or, shower [Zegers, Drusius]) seasonable (or, sudden [Erasmus, Zegers], early [Valla, Erasmus, Beza], or, of sowing, which in Hebrew is יוֹרֶה,[4] or מוֹרֶה[5] [Grotius], which falls when seed is cast, and causes it to germinate [Menochius, similarly Erasmus, Vatablus, Beza, Estius, Piscator]) and late (Erasmus, Vatablus), or, that which precedes reaping, which in Hebrew is מַלְקוֹשׁ:[6] which falls just before the time of the harvest (Piscator), so that what has been sown might grow and vegetate (Erasmus, similarly Estius), and mature (Menochius). See Deuteronomy 11:14; Proverbs 16:15; Jeremiah 5:24; Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1 (Grotius). Or, evening (Valla, Erasmus). But this distribution of morning and evening in rains has no, or little, significance with respect to the prayers of farmers (Estius). Ἕως ἂν, until, here does not signify the end of his hope, but the intervening time, just as also עַד in Hebrew. See Genesis 28:15,[7] and what things are on Matthew 1:25[8] (Grotius).

Until he receive the early and latter rain; the rain soon after the sowing, which caused the corn to spring up; and that before the harvest, which plumped it, and made it fit for reaping, Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23.

[1] Greek: Μακροθυμήσατε οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἕως τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ Κυρίου. ἰδού, ὁ γεωργὸς ἐκδέχεται τὸν τίμιον καρπὸν τῆς γῆς, μακροθυμῶν ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ, ἕως ἂν λάβῃ ὑετὸν πρώϊμον καὶ ὄψιμον.

[2] Greek: μακροθυμήσατε.  From μακρός, lasting long, and θυμός/spirit.

[3] Nucleus Emblematum Selectissimorum 94.  Gabriel Rollenhagen (1583-1619) was a German playwright and poet.

[4] Deuteronomy 11:14:  “That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain (יוֹרֶ֣ה וּמַלְק֑וֹשׁ; πρόιμον καὶ ὄψιμον, in the Septuagint), that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.”

[5] Joel 2:23:  “Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God:  for he hath given you the former rain (הַמּוֹרֶה) moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain (מוֹרֶ֥ה וּמַלְק֖וֹשׁ; ὑετὸν πρόιμον καὶ ὄψιμον, in the Septuagint) in the first month.”  Both יוֹרֶה and מוֹרֶה are from the verbal root יָרָה, to throw.

[6] From לקשׁ, to be late.

[7] Genesis 28:15:  “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until (עַ֚ד אֲשֶׁ֣ר) I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”

[8] Matthew 1:25:  “And knew her not till (ἕως οὗ) she had brought forth her firstborn son:  and he called his name Jesus.”

James 5:6: The Wicked Rich are Warned, Part 6

Verse 6:[1] (Jam. 2:6) Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

[Addixistis,[2] ye have sentenced, etc.] That is, to death (Menochius, thus Estius): as the following word relates. Many Codices read, adduxistis, ye have brought up or led away, but incorrectly (Estius).

[Κατεδικάσατε, ἐφονεύσατε τὸν δίκαιον] Ye have condemned (not with a private censure, as in James 4:12, but by judicial process; not that they themselves were sitting as a tribunal, but that they were procuring a judgment against those [Gataker]), ye have killed (either, 1. by unjustly oppressing him in judgment; by which they were making life bitter and brief to him: Compare Isaiah 1:15; Amos 4:1: Oppression is in the place of death by a Metonymy of the effect in the place of the cause [Gomar]: Or, 2. by procuring a sentence of death against him [Gataker]: ye have killed, not with your hand, but by fraud [Piscator]: Or, 3. by withdrawing the supports of life from him [Gataker]) the just (Beza, Piscator, etc.). He understands, either, 1. definitely, some certain person, whether John the Baptist, or Stephan (Lorinus[3] in Gataker), or James himself, so that here he predicts his own death (Œcumenius and Bede in Gataker); or rather, Christ (Œcumenius, Bede, Gagnæus, and Titelmans in Estius, Hugo,[4] Aquinas, Catharinus,[5] and Salmasius in Gataker, Grotius, Zegers), killed by the Jews, who is called ὁ δίκαιος, the Just, par excellence, Acts 3:14; 22:14 (Grotius); 7:52; whom the Jews killed on the day of slaughter, that is, on the day of the solemn Passover (certain interpreters in Estius). And rightly are the Jews said to have done that, of which they were not only the authors, but also the instigators, Acts 2:23, 36; 3:15; 1 Corinthians 2:8 (Grotius). And the whole preceding threat is a prediction of the slaughter which the Jews suffered as vengeance for the death of Christ (Bede in Estius). But against this interpretation it is objected, 1. that here the rich are reproved, but Scripture does not impute the death of Christ to the rich, but to the leaders and priests of the Jews: 2. that Christ was killed thirty years before, and hence few of His murderers would have survived: 3. that he writes to believing Jews, whom he did not wish to reprove with this crime. Or, 2. indefinitely, and collectively (Gataker), that is, whatever just men (Beza, Gataker out of Cajetan, etc., thus Estius). He says the just man in the singular number, either, 1. emphatically, so that it might signify that each and every just poor man, although he appear to be solitary and deserted, nevertheless is cared for individually by God, as if he were singular and unique (Estius): or, 2. by a common Enallage of numbers, Isaiah 3:11, 12; 1 Timothy 1:9. Now, here he calls him just, that is, either, 1. because of the righteousness of his cause, that is to say, innocent and undeserving (Gomar): or, 2. comparatively with respect to his persecutors (Gataker).

Ye have condemned and killed; i.e. procured by your wealth and power the passing unrighteous sentences, and thereby the destruction of the just. The just; indefinitely and collectively, the just for any just man, viz. such as were innocent and just in comparison of their persecutors.

[And not, etc., καὶ οὐκ ἀντιτάσσεται ὑμῖν] A Passive in the place of a Reflexive:[6] which happens in a great many words, but especially in those which are derived from τάσσω, to place (Grotius). And he does not oppose, or does not resist (or, did not resist [Vulgate]: Enallage of the present tense in the place of the past tense [Cameron in Gataker, thus Vatablus]) you (Beza, Piscator, etc.): either, 1. Christ[7] (certain interpreters in Gataker). After the manner of the Hebrews, a Verb is put in the place of a Participle, Him who opposes nothing to you. There is in this place both a λιτότης/litotes,[8] for on the contrary He was very useful, by expelling Demons, healing the diseased, reforming life both by words and example; and a Metonymy, for that that set themselves against others are wont to plan it, that they themselves might do harm (Grotius). Or, 2. the oppressed poor man, whose patience, or impotence, he here denotes (Gataker out of Calvin, similarly Estius): or, 3. God, who nevertheless could resist and impede (Gataker out of Cajetan): or, 4. Anyone, so that it might be taken passively, or at least indefinitely; that is to say, And he is not opposed to you; that is to say, No one dares to set himself against you; whatever pleases you, that ye do, with no one restraining (Gataker). The just are left without any protection. He signifies that hence the audacity of the rich swells (Calvin).

And he doth not resist you; this notes not only the patience of such in bearing injuries, but their weakness, and being destitute of human help against their adversaries’ power.

[1] Greek: κατεδικάσατε, ἐφονεύσατε τὸν δίκαιον· οὐκ ἀντιτάσσεται ὑμῖν.

[2] In the Vulgate.

[3] Johannes Lorinus, or Jean Lorin (1559-1634), was a French Jesuit; he wrote several Biblical commentaries, including commentaries on Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon, Psalms, Acts, Jude, and Leviticus.

[4] Hugh of St. Cher, also known as Hugo Cardinalis because he was the first Dominican to achieve the office of cardinal (c. 1200-1263), was a French Dominican Biblical scholar.  His exegetical works, covering the entire canon, have been gathered into eight substantial volumes.

[5] Lancelot Politi, also known as Ambrosius Catharinus (1483-1553) was an Italian Dominican scholar, who played a prominent role at the Council of Trent in defense of the Papacy against the Reformation.  In spite of theological eccentricities, he was considered to be an orthodox Romanist.  He wrote a commentary on the Catholic Epistles.

[6] That is, he does not set himself over against.

[7] That is, Christ does not resist you.

[8] A rhetorical device in which an affirmation is made by negating its contrary.

James 5:5: The Wicked Rich are Warned, Part 5

Verse 5:[1] (Job 21:13; Amos 6:1, 4; Luke 16:19, 25; 1 Tim. 5:6) Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

[Ye have feasted, etc., ἐτρυφήσατε—ἐσπαταλήσατε] תתענגו ותשלו, ye have lived delicately and been at ease. See Isaiah 57:4;[2] Ezekiel 16:49;[3] Luke 7:25;[4] 1 Timothy 5:6[5] (Grotius). Τρυφῆ, soft living, Luke 7:25; 2 Peter 2:13,[6] from θρύπτω, to weaken, because it renders the souls of men soft, effeminate, delicate, and unsuitable for serious matters. Τρυφὴ μαλακία τὶς, luxuriousness is a softness, Ethics 7:7; it is softness, opulence, luxury in diet and in clothing. Τρυφὴ, γαστριμαργία/gluttony, in Hesychius. Σπαταλᾶν either is a synonymous word: σπατάλη, τρυφὴ/luxuriousness, in Suidas; σπαταλᾶν, τρυφᾶν, to live luxuriously, in Hesychius: or rather, it is distinguished from the former and denotes wantonness, unchaste gestures, etc., although these two things are conjoined in Isaiah 5:11 (Gataker). Σπαταλῶσαι is properly to leap and sport after the manner of lambs (Vorstius). The verbs are in the past tense (Piscator), but are to be read in the present (Gataker), as expressing continuous acts, ye are living, ye are sporting (Gataker, Piscator). The former word is referred to banquets, the latter to the bedchamber (Estius). [Thus they translate it:] Ye have taken pleasure (or, ye have luxuriated [Castalio], ye have lived in luxuries [Erasmus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, thus Tremellius and Dieu out of the Syriac]) upon the earth (that is, in this mortal life upon the earth [Estius, similarly Gataker]: He indicates, either, 1. that their character is not heavenly, but earthly, Philippians 3:19, 20 [Gataker], and that they are not mindful of the future life [Estius]: or, 2. that the bounds of these pleasures are narrow [Gataker], inasmuch as this pleasure is in goods earthly, transient, and quickly passing [Estius]: or, 3. that in the place of pleasures on the earth punishments are kept in store elsewhere for them, according to Luke 6:24; 16:24, etc. [Gataker]), and been wanton (Montanus, Pagnine, Erasmus, Beza, Castalio, Piscator, etc.). Ye have placed your joys, and made use beyond measure, in this earthly life (Grotius). Whoever have taken away the hire owed to laborers, yet have from which they luxuriate. Luxury supported by the oppression of others is intolerable: Jeremiah 22:13; Amos 2:6-8; Habakkuk 2:9-11 (Gataker).

Ye have lived in pleasure; luxuriously and deliciously, giving up yourselves to your sensual appetites, Amos 6:4-6; Luke 16:19, 25. On the earth; where you place your happiness without looking higher, and from whence you fetch your delights, Philippians 3:19. And been wanton: the same word is used 1 Timothy 5:6; it seems to imply effeminate, lascivious behaviour, as the effect of their riotous living.

[Ye have nourished your hearts (that is, yourselves: Thus בְּלִבּוֹ, in his heart, is translated ἐν αὐτῷ, in himself, Exodus 4:14;[7] Esther 6:6;[8] and בִלְבָבֶךָ, in thine heart, is translated ἐν σεαυτῷ, Job 10:13;[9] and לְבָבִי, my heart, is translated ἐμαυτῷ, to myself, Job 27:6[10] [Grotius]: or, by nourishing your bodies ye gladden your souls by a metonymical Synecdoche [Piscator]; ye have indulged yourselves [Beza, Estius]: ye eat not that ye might live, but ye fatten yourselves like beasts: Θρέμμα/nursling,[11] like σιτευτόν, a thing fattened, Luke 15:30; all the joy of your hearts is set in these things: Thus Luke 12:19, I will say to my soul; and in Luke 16:19, εὐφραινόμενος, was merry[12] [Gataker]: Nourish ye your hearts; it is not to consume according to the measure of necessity, or the rule of reason, but to the extent the heart desires, that is, to satisfy your concupiscence in the feeding of the body: The Syriac translates hearts as bodies [Estius]) in, etc., ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς] As, or as if, in a day (or, in days, as it is in Menochius [Grotius]) of slaughter, or of sacrificial slaying (Valla, Erasmus, Vatablus, Estius, Vorstius), or, of sacrifice (Estius, Vorstius), or, of feasting (Beza, Piscator), that is, in a day when many sheep and fatlings are sacrificed (Tirinus, similarly Menochius, Erasmus, Vatablus, Piscator). He has regard, either, 1. to any joyful and sumptuous banquet (Piscator, Gataker, similarly Erasmus, Vatablus). Compare Isaiah 22:12, 13; Ezekiel 39:17. That is to say, Ye treat every day as a feast, Luke 16:19; 2 Peter 2:13 (Gataker). Or, 2. to solemn and sacrificial feasts (certain interpreters in Estius, thus Piscator, Vorstius, Beza), which were more sumptuous than others (Estius). See 1 Samuel 9:13; 16:3; Proverbs 7:14. Μεθύειν, to be drunken, μετὰ τὸ θύειν, after sacrificing[13] (Gataker). Thus ye have fed yourselves daily, just as it was wont to be done on days of solemn feasting after σωτηρίους, thank-offerings for deliverance. Thus נכסא/slaughtering/sacrifice is taken metonymically, which the Syriac has here, answering to the Hebrew זֶבח, as can be seen in Genesis 31:54;[14] Proverbs 7:14;[15] Amos 5:25[16] (Grotius). Others: as unto the day, etc., so that ἐν/in is in the place of εἰς/unto, as in verse 3[17] (Estius, Gomar); so that the sense might be, Every day they feed and fatten themselves, as unto a day of slaughter, that is, on which they are to be slaughtered; that is, unto the day of judgment (Estius), when they shall be slaughtered by the Romans (Œcumenius in Estius). Thus it is not a description of the sin, but of the imminent punishment. Similar to this passage are Jeremiah 12:3; 46:20, 21 (Gomar). But the particle ὡς/as hinders this sense (most interpreters in Estius). But the Latin omits the ὡς/as (Beza). Others: These words are able to be conjoined with the following verse. In, or as in, a day of slaughter ye have condemned, etc. (Bede in Gataker, Beza).

Ye have nourished your hearts: either by a Hebrew phrase, ye have nourished your hearts, for ye have nourished yourselves, Esther 6:6; Job 10:13; or, ye have cheered up and encouraged your hearts in your luxury by pampering your flesh, (Luke 12:19,) and feeding not to the satisfaction of nature, but the inflaming of your lusts. As in a day of slaughter; either securely, and without fear of the destruction coming upon you, as sheep graze quietly, though by and by to be brought to the shambles; or rather, in a day of slaughter, i.e. in a day of solemn feasting, when many beasts were killed in sacrifice, on which they were wont to feast, Proverbs 7:14; 17:1. They made every day a feasting day, and that, too, lavishing out other men’s dues upon their own flesh, and sparing from their labourers that they might spend upon their lusts. This he brings to aggravate their sin.

[1] Greek: ἐτρυφήσατε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐσπαταλήσατε· ἐθρέψατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν ὡς ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς.

[2] Isaiah 57:4a:  “Against whom do ye sport yourselves (תִּתְעַנָּגוּ; ἐνετρυφήσατε, in the Septuagint)?”

[3] Ezekiel 16:49:  “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness (וְשַׁלְוַ֣ת הַשְׁקֵ֗ט; ἐν εὐθηνίᾳ οἴνου ἐσπατάλων, in the Septuagint) was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

[4] Luke 7:25:  “But what went ye out for to see?  A man clothed in soft raiment?  Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately (τρυφῇ), are in kings’ courts.”

[5] 1 Timothy 5:6:  “But she that liveth in pleasure (σπαταλῶσα) is dead while she liveth.”

[6] 2 Peter 2:13:  “And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count living sumptuously (τρυφήν) in the day time pleasure.  Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves (ἐντρυφῶντες) with their own deceivings while they feast with you…”

[7] Exodus 4:14b:  “And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee:  and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart (בְּלִבּוֹ; ἐν ἑαυτῷ, in the Septuagint).”

[8] Esther 6:6b:  “Now Haman thought in his heart (בְּלִבּוֹ; ἐν ἑαυτῷ, in the Septuagint), To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?”

[9] Job 10:13:  “And these things hast thou hid in thine heart (בִלְבָבֶךָ; ἐν σεαυτῷ, in the Septuagint):  I know that this is with thee.”

[10] Job 27:6:  “My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go:  my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live (לֹֽא־יֶחֱרַ֥ף לְ֜בָבִ֗י מִיָּמָֽי׃; οὐ γὰρ σύνοιδα ἐμαυτῷ ἄτοπα πράξας, for I am not conscious to myself as having done wrongs, in the Septuagint).”

[11] Θρέμμα/nursling is related to τρέφω, to nourish or feed.

[12] Luke 16:19:  “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously (εὐφραινόμενος—λαμπρῶς) every day…”

[13] Note the verbal similarity between the two Greek expressions.

[14] Genesis 31:54:  “Then Jacob offered sacrifice (וַיִּזְבַּ֙ח יַעֲקֹ֥ב זֶ֙בַח֙; καὶ ἔθυσεν Ιακωβ θυσίαν, in the Septuagint) upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.”

[15] Proverbs 7:14:  “I have peace offerings with me (זִבְחֵ֣י שְׁלָמִ֣ים עָלָ֑י; θυσία εἰρηνική μοί ἐστιν, in the Septuagint); this day have I payed my vows.”

[16] Amos 5:25:  “Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings (הַזְּבָחִ֙ים וּמִנְחָ֜ה הִֽגַּשְׁתֶּם־לִ֧י; μὴ σφάγια καὶ θυσίας προσηνέγκατέ μοι, in the Septuagint) in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?”

[17] James 5:3b:  “Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days (ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις).”

James 5:4: The Wicked Rich are Warned, Part 4

Verse 4:[1] Behold, (Lev. 19:13; Job 24:10, 11; Jer. 22:13; Mal. 3:5; Ecclus. 34:21, 22[2]) the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and (Deut. 24:15) the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

[Behold] It is a note, either, 1. of wonder, as in Isaiah 7:14; that is to say, This is a strange and monstrous thing, devoid of all reason, humanity, and equity: or, 2. of demonstration, or conviction, as in John 1:29; that is to say, The matter is clear, and manifest proof of your guilt is at hand: or, 3. of consideration [that is, by inciting], as in Psalm 52:7; that is to say, Weigh this matter earnestly, and thus this sin shall no longer appear small to you: or, 4. of confirmation, as in Job 13:15;[3] Jude 14; that is to say, These threats are not hollow: be assured that they are going to be fulfilled (Gataker).

Behold; this is either a note of demonstration, as John 1:29; q.d. The case is plain, and cannot be denied; or of excitation; q.d. Seriously consider it; or rather, of confirmation, to intimate, that the threatenings here denounced should certainly be made good upon them: see Jude 14.

[The hire, etc., ὁ μισθὸς— ὁ ἀπεστερημένος] The hire of the laborers (that is, of the farmers, who were from their labor supplying bread for them; which increases the shamelessness of the matter [Estius, similarly Gataker])…by you (or, through you [Piscator]) intercepted (Pagnine, Montanus, Illyricus), or, diverted (Piscator), or, which is embezzled (Vulgate), or, which by fraud is not rendered (Erasmus, Tigurinus, Vatablus), in which ye have defrauded them (Beza), or, robbed; verbatim, stolen by you, that is, in which they were deprived by you (Piscator): or, kept back (Castalio, thus Estius), or, taken away either by fraud, or by tenacity of grip alone, that is, the unjust and inhuman defrauding, or withholding, of hire. He here touches upon this one sort of injury as especially odious, and against the express precept of the Law (Estius). He not only reproves those rich men for their illiberal tenacity (Grotius), but also for their injustice against the precepts both of Christ, and of Moses, Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15 (Grotius, similarly Estius), to which passage he here alludes (Estius). Add Job 31:38, 40; Jeremiah 22:13; Malachi 3:5 (Gataker). Evidently they were delaying to pay the hire of the peasant’s labor, so that they might sit upon the money for a longer time and make use of it in trade. Sins, so openly disturbing human society, are said to cry to God, as we see in Genesis 4:10; Exodus 22:23, 27; and elsewhere. Now, he properly calls it μισθὸν ἀπεστερημένον, as לֹא־תַעֲשֹׁק, thou shalt not oppress, Deuteronomy 24:14, is translated οὐκ ἀποστερήσεις μισθὸν, thou shalt not keep back the hire by fraud:[4] for, as the Lawyers say, he pays less who does not pay on time[5] (Grotius). The sin here was manifold, against charity, mercy, humanity, equity, justice, and gratitude. It was a sin, that they did not give of their wealth to the needy, although they owed them nothing; and that they were not discharging their obligations, when they were able, Psalm 37:21; Romans 13:8. Now, this is aggravated, because these were rich and abounding in blessings from God, and because they were not paying their debts to the poor (whose living and life depend on them, Ecclesiasticus 34:21, 22; etc.), and to those that had spent their strength on their behalf, Genesis 31:6, 7; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18, and to those through whom God had blessed the rich themselves, Genesis 30:27, etc.; Deuteronomy 15:14 (Gataker). Ἀπὸ here[6] means the same thing as ὑπό/by (Piscator out of Beza).

[It cries] Namely, unto heaven, or unto God (Estius), asking vengeance of Him (Piscator, similarly Estius, Menochius). It signifies that this sin is conspicuous and manifest (Estius, similarly Menochius), which is not able to be excused or hidden (Estius). Oppression is a most clamorous sin, Exodus 22:23; Job 24:11, 12; Isaiah 5:7; Habakkuk 2:11, 12 (Gataker).

[And the cry, etc.] That is, the cause of the clamor, the injury, the violence, the oppression, which they suffer (Estius).

The hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields; the wages of those by whose labour and sweat ye yourselves live and are nourished. Which is of you kept back by fraud; either wholly denied them, or detained from them when due to them, contrary to the law, Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14, 15. Deferring payment is a sort of defrauding, as it bereaves the creditor of the benefit of improvement; and so they are taxed here with injustice, as well as covetousness, in that they lived upon other men’s labours, and starved the poor to enrich themselves. Crieth; viz. to God for vengeance, as such sins are said to do, which either are so openly and boldly committed, as to dare the justice of God, or so secretly, or securely, that they are like to escape the justice of men, Genesis 4:10; 18:20, 21. Among others, oppression of the poor is a loud crying sin, Exodus 2:23; Job 24:11, 12; Habakkuk 2:9, 11, 12.

[Into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, Σαβαὼθ] Hebrew: צְבָאוֹת/hosts (Grotius). Of armies (Estius, Hammond, Piscator). Armies both celestial and terrestrial (Drusius, Gataker), of Stars and Angels (Grotius), and of all other creatures (Tirinus, similarly Beza, Piscator); and hence the almight (Grotius), more powerful than rich oppressors (Gataker, thus Beza), Ecclesiastes 5:8; Amos 4:13[7] (Gataker), whose power ye shall not be able to escape (Menochius); who is the patron and protector of the poor, Exodus 22:22, etc.; Psalm 74:19; 82:3, 4; Proverbs 23:11; Zephaniah 2:10. Ἀεὶ νομίζονθ᾽ οἱ πένητες τοῦ Θεοῦ, Laborers are always to be reckoned as belonging to God. A miserable man is a sacred object, Seneca (Gataker). This power of God he sets over against those who are powerful in this world, and have no concern about human tribunals (Estius).

The Lord of sabaoth; i.e. the Lord of hosts, as having all the creatures above and below, of all sorts, ranked under him as their great Commander, whose will they are ready to execute. He mentions God by this title, not only for the encouragement of the poor oppressed, whose Patron and Protector he avows himself to be, Exodus 22:23, 24, 27; Proverbs 23:11; but for terror to the powerful oppressors, who think themselves out of the reach of men’s judgment.

[1] Greek: ἰδού, ὁ μισθὸς τῶν ἐργατῶν τῶν ἀμησάντων τὰς χώρας ὑμῶν, ὁ ἀπεστερημένος ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν, κράζει· καὶ αἱ βοαὶ τῶν θερισάντων εἰς τὰ ὦτα Κυρίου Σαβαὼθ εἰσεληλύθασιν.

[2] Ecclesiasticus 34:21, 22:  “The bread of the needy is their life:  he that defraudeth him thereof is a man of blood.  He that taketh away his neighbour’s living slayeth him; and he that defraudeth the labourer of his hire is a bloodshedder.”

[3] Job 13:15:  “Though (הֵן/behold; ἐάν, in the Septuagint) he slay me, yet will I trust in him:  but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”

[4] Thus Codex Alexandrinus.

[5] Digest 50:16:12:1. The Digest, or Pandects, was a compendium of Roman law, compiled at the command of Justinian I.

[6] James 5:4a:  “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud (ὁ ἀπεστερημένος ἀφ᾽ ὑμῶν), crieth…”

[7] Amos 4:13:  “For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name (יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵֽי־צְבָא֖וֹת שְׁמֽוֹ׃).”

James 5:3: The Wicked Rich are Warned, Part 3

Verse 3:[1] 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. (Rom. 2:5) Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

[Your gold…has rusted (thus Montanus, Æthiopic), κατίωται] With corrosion (or, rust [Syriac]) it has been vitiated (Erasmus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, Estius); and therefore corrupted and decayed (Gataker). He continues in similar figures. For, just as Garments are wont to be corrupted by moths, so Iron by rust: see Menander[2] [in Grotius]. But gold is ἄφθαρτον/incorruptible, says Pindar, ἰὸν οὐ παραδέχεται, does not admit rust, says Methodius[3] in Photius,[4] and Philo (Gataker). So also in Pliny’s Natural History 31:3. Which things are thus to be understood, that it is not vitiated or cheapened easily or quickly: but it does finally contract rust, as Baruch testifies, Epistle of Jeremiah 6:4,[5] 24[6] (Menochius). Others: What was proper to Iron, that he also transferred to Gold and Silver; not because that very thing is wont to happen, but because there is often a similar outcome. Compare Ezekiel 24:11;[7] χαλκὸς ἰοῦται, the brass rusteth, Ecclesiasticus 12:10;[8] and concerning a Looking-glass κατίωσεν, it became rusty, is used[9] (Grotius).

[For a testimony (that is, a sign and evidence of your avarice and cruelty [Menochius]) to you[10] (that is, against you, as in Matthew 8:4;[11] 10:18;[12] 23:31[13] [Piscator]; Acts 13:51[14] [Gataker]) shall it be] Namely, on the day of judgment (Piscator, thus Estius). A Prosopopœia, of which sort you may find in Habakkuk 2:11; Luke 19:40; Galatians 4:2 (Gataker). Concerning this expression, see on Mark 1:44;[15] 6:11;[16] Luke 5:14;[17] 21:13.[18] Is it not so that it is shameful that those things were reserved as useless, in such a way they might go to waste both to you and to others, things often obtained through injustice and mercilessness, as he is now about to say? See on Matthew 6:24 (Grotius).

Your gold and silver is cankered; the most precious and lasting metals; yet even they, with long disuse, canker, and go to decay. Under these, other metals in esteem among them may be understood. And the rust of them shall be a witness against you: by a prosopopœia, that which properly belongs to living persons is ascribed to dead things, as Habakkuk 2:11; Luke 19:40. It is as much as if he had said: The rust shall be a certain evidence against you, and which will as effectually convict you, as any living witness could do, of your folly in putting your trust in perishing things, your greediness in hoarding them up, your unmercifulness in not supplying the wants of others, and your unreasonableness in denying the use of them to yourselves, when you had rather let them lie by and perish, than enjoy the comfort of them, or do good with them. The like expression we have, Mark 6:11.

[And it shall eat (or, eat up [Beza, Piscator], that is, consume [Drusius]: Φάγεται is a word elegantly Greek: For the Greeks say φάγομαι, ἔδομαι, πίομαι, I shall eat, I shall consume, I shall drink, and thus φάγεσαι, ἔδεσαι, πίεσαι, thou shalt eat, etc., and φάγεται, ἔδεται, πίεται, he shall eat, etc., in the place of φαγοῦμαι, ἐδοῦμαι,[19] and so the rest: This came for the Æolic dialect into common use [Grotius]) your flesh (namely, ὁ ἰὸς, the rust, shall do so, which a manuscript repeats here [Grotius]: Rust, which shall some day consume their riches, shall at that time beset the memory and bite the conscience [Estius, thus Gataker]) like fire] That is, it shall torment both their bodies and souls forever (Estius). In the Syriac and certain manuscripts the ὡς/ like/as is wanting, which here is superfluous, unless it be taken in the place of ὄντως, in reality, as in John 1:14[20] (Drusius). The sense: Your very goods, reserved unto such abundance, beyond the use of men, inasmuch as they have often perished without use, shall be the cause of the most grievous punishments to you after the time of Judgment, quite as if ye had reserved fire in [perhaps the Printer omitted them] to your hurt. Fire is said to devour flesh, Isaiah 30:27;[21] 33:11.[22] And under the name of fire the Divine anger is wont to be denoted, or its instruments (Grotius).

And shall eat your flesh; the rust (the witness of your covetousness and cruelty) which now eats your money, shall hereafter devour yourselves, soul and body, (which he means by flesh,) viz. by procuring and kindling the wrath of God upon you, (compared to fire,) and likewise by galling your consciences with a vexatious remembrance of your sin and folly; and so what in the judgment is a witness against you, in hell will be a tormentor to you. As it were fire; as if you had reserved fire in your treasure, as well as treasure in your chests.

[Ye have gathered up treasure, etc., ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις] In the place of εἰς ἐσχάτας, unto the last (Piscator, Grotius). Ye have heaped together treasure (either, 1. of wealth [Gataker out of Piscator, etc., Pareus, thus Estius our of Cajetan]: or, 2. of wrath, which the Latin here supplies [Gataker, similarly Estius]: It is irony [Gataker]; that is to say, Ye have heaped up, not riches, as ye suppose, but wrath [Gataker, similarly Estius]: take θησαυρίζειν here as in Romans 2:5[23] [Grotius]: This is to be joined with the preceding ὡς πῦρ, as it were fire [Hammond], as also the Arabic appears to have read it [Grotius]; that is to say, Ye have heaped up riches like fire, that is, in such a way that they do not at all support, but rather destroy, you [Hammond]) at the last days (Pagnine), or, in the final days (Erasmus), that is, in the last age of the world (Vorstius): or, now being in extreme old age, that is, the more travelers exert themselves, the less remains of the journey (certain interpreters in Estius). Or, for the last days (Beza, Piscator), either, 1. of the age, or life, of man (Piscator, thus Vorstius); for many years, as in Luke 12:19[24] (Piscator): or, 2. of the Jewish Republic, when the Romans shall plunder all your goods: which is thought to have been the reason why those Christian Jews would have sold their fields, Acts 4. Which is called the time of the end, 1 Peter 4:7 (Mede’s Works 3:819), and the coming of the Lord, James 5:7; John 21:22 (Mede’s Works 3:872). That expression, when it is speech to the Jews, is wont to be referred to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, of the Temple, and of the Republic, at which time many thousands of Jews perished in the worst way, especially by fire: which is a type of the universal Judgment (Grotius). Or, 3. of the world. The sense is, either, 1. that rich men, as if they are going to live forever, amass what might be sufficient unto the end of the world: or rather, 2. that they heap up the wrath of God against the last day (Calvin).

Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days: either this may be understood metaphorically, ye have heaped a treasure of wrath for the last days, Romans 2:5; or literally, ye have hoarded up your wealth against the last and fatal days, in which God is bringing those judgments upon you which will consume all.

[1] Greek: ὁ χρυσὸς ὑμῶν καὶ ὁ ἄργυρος κατίωται, καὶ ὁ ἰὸς αὐτῶν εἰς μαρτύριον ὑμῖν ἔσται, καὶ φάγεται τὰς σάρκας ὑμῶν ὡς πῦρ. ἐθησαυρίσατε ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις.

[2] Menandrea 540:3.  Menander (342-291 BC) was a Greek playwright.  He wrote more than a hundred comedies, but they remain only in fragments.

[3] Banquet of the Ten Virgins 8.  Methodius (died c. 311) was Bishop of Olympus in Lycia.  He was an accomplished theologian and author, heavily influenced by Platonic philosophy, and an opponent of Origen.

[4] Photius (c. 820-893) was a Patriarch of Constantinople.  He is most remembered for his controversies with Rome.  His Bibliotheca preserves extracts from two hundred and eighty works of classical antiquity (including Methodius’ Banquet).

[5] Epistle of Jeremiah 6:4:  “Now shall ye see in Babylon gods of silver, and of gold, and of wood, borne upon shoulders, which cause the nations to fear.”

[6] Epistle of Jeremiah 6:24:  “Notwithstanding the gold that is about them to make them beautiful, except they wipe off the rust, they will not shine:  for neither when they were molten did they feel it.”

[7] Ezekiel 24:11:  “Then set it empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it (נְחֻשְׁתָּהּ; ὁ χαλκὸς αὐτῆς, in the Septuagint) may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum/rust of (חֶלְאָתָהּ; ὁ ἰὸς αὐτῆς, in the Septuagint) it may be consumed.”

[8] Ecclesiasticus 12:10:  “Never trust thine enemy:  for like as iron rusteth (ὁ χαλκὸς ἰοῦται), so is his wickedness.”

[9] Ecclesiasticus 12:11:  “Though he humble himself, and go crouching, yet take good heed and beware of him, and thou shalt be unto him as if thou hadst wiped a looking-glass, and thou shalt know that his rust hath not been altogether wiped away (ὅτι οὐκ εἰς τέλος κατίωσεν, that not unto an end hath it rusted).”  Note again in James 5:3a:  “Your gold and silver is cankered (κατίωται); and the rust (ὁ ἰὸς) of them shall be a witness against you…”

[10] Greek: εἰς μαρτύριον ὑμῖν.

[11] Matthew 8:4:  “And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).”

[12] Matthew 10:18:  “And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).”

[13] Matthew 23:31:  “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves (μαρτυρεῖτε ἑαυτοῖς), that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.”

[14] Acts 13:51:  “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them (ἐπ᾽ αὐτούς), and came unto Iconium.”

[15] Mark 1:44:  “And saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man:  but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).”

[16] Mark 6:11:  “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).  Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”

[17] Luke 5:14:  “And he charged him to tell no man:  but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).”

[18] Luke 21:12, 13:  “But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.  And it shall turn to you for a testimony (ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον).”

[19] These forms were introduced later in the history of the Greek language.

[20] John 1:14:  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as (ὡς, in reality) of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

[21] Isaiah 30:27:  “Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy:  his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire (כְּאֵ֥שׁ אֹכָֽלֶת׃; ὡς πῦρ ἔδεται, in the Septuagint)…”

[22] Isaiah 33:11:  “Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble:  your breath, as fire, shall devour you (אֵ֖שׁ תֹּאכַלְכֶֽם׃; πῦρ ὑμᾶς κατέδεται, in the Septuagint).”

[23] Romans 2:5:  “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up (θησαυρίζεις) unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God…”

[24] Luke 12:19:  “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years (εἰς ἔτη πολλά); take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

James 5:2: The Wicked Rich are Warned, Part 2

Verse 2:[1] Your riches are corrupted, and (Job 13:28; Matt. 6:20; Jam. 2:2) your garments are motheaten.

[Your riches have decayed (thus Beza, Piscator, etc.)] Here the Active is in the place of a Passive, as in the Glossa, σήπω, to decay, to rot: for so it is to be read there (Grotius). He here reprehends, either, their foolish trust in things that are perishable; or rather, their insatiable greed, because they gather together wealth only for this, that they might perish without any use (Calvin), and they prefer them thus to perish than to be expended for the poor (Estius, similarly Menochius). He reproves them for their extreme miserliness and lack of mercy (Estius). Here, a species has been set down in the place of the genus. For he means to say that things thus sought, and thus guarded, often perish without use, not [only] to others, but also to themselves: which is the mystical sense of that which is signified in the Manna, Exodus 16:20 (Grotius).

Your riches are corrupted: either by riches he means the general, and by garments, gold and silver, the particulars in which their riches consisted; and then being corrupted, is to be taken generally, as comprehending the several ways whereby the several kinds of their riches were spoiled: or else, by riches he understands such things as were liable to corruption, or putrefaction, as corn, wine, oil, which were a great part of their riches.

[By moths, etc., σητόβρωτα[2]] You have the word in Job 13:28.[3] Thus σκωληκόβρωτος, eaten of worms,[4] in Acts 12:23. By moths eaten (Montanus, Vulgate), or rather, gnawed, or gnawed away (Estius, Tremellius out of the Syriac, Castalio), or, devoured (Beza, Piscator). In your chests, they uselessly decay (Calvin), and you are not able to defend them from the moths. It denotes an excess of garments (Estius). The suits of clothes, by which you were able lighten the misery of the poor, often kept too long from human use, perish to you, whether gnawed away by moths, or otherwise. See Matthew 6:19, 20; Luke 12:33 (Grotius).

And your garments are moth-eaten; costly garments, in which rich men are wont to pride themselves; and under them may be comprehended all such clothes as may be eaten by worms or moths.

[1] Greek: ὁ πλοῦτος ὑμῶν σέσηπε, καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια ὑμῶν σητόβρωτα γέγονεν·

[2] From σής/moth, and βρωτός/eaten.

[3] Job 13:28:  “And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten (כְּ֜בֶ֗גֶד אֲכָ֣לוֹ עָֽשׁ׃; ὥσπερ ἱμάτιον σητόβρωτον, in the Septuagint.”

[4] From σκώληξ/worm, and βρωτός/eaten.

James 5:1: The Wicked Rich are Warned, Part 1

Verse 1:[1] Go (Prov. 11:28; Luke 6:24; 1 Tim. 6:9) to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

[Go to now[2]] See James 4:13[3] (Grotius).

Go to now: see James 4:13.

[Ye rich men] That is, bound in heart to riches (Tirinus), avaricious, unjust, proud, and immersed in lusts: whom, after avaricious and proud men, he here opportunely reproves. He had spoken against them in chapter 2, but here now again, and much more sharply, he assails them. Now, the rich men he addresses here are, either, 1. Christians, as we said on James 2. For in an Epistle that is written to believers he would not address those that are without (Estius). Or, 2. the unbelieving oppressors of poor Christians (Bede in Estius). He addresses rich Jews, with whom Christians were combined. For he will next turn his speech particularly toward Christians. For he spoke concerning other rich men in James 2:6, but he did not address them, since they were not of his flock. The Apostles and their hearers do not expel those that are rich, and wish to remain such, from the Church; but they show to them that their state is dangerous, and that they have need of many cautions, so that they might be kept. See 1 Timothy 6:17. Now, these things were able to be useful even to good Christians, in order to convert Jews to the Gospel, to whom Judaism had been of so little profit (Grotius). He returns here to that with which he began, namely, to the consoling and confirming of the poor and afflicted servants of Christ against the insolence and injuries inflicted upon them by worldly and wealthy men (Gataker).

Ye rich men; he speaks to them not simply as rich, (for riches and grace sometimes may go together,) but as wicked, not only wallowing in wealth, but abusing it to pride, luxury, oppression, and cruelty. Against these, either as looking on them as incurable, or upon supposition of their impenitency, he denounceth God’s judgments; and that whether they were unconverted Jews, vexing the believing Jews; or Gentiles, oppressing the Christian Jews; or Christians in profession and name, who yet were so vile in their practice, as to condemn and kill the just; and that they might more speciously do it, to draw them before the judgment-seats, etc.

[Howling (thus Erasmus, Montanus, etc.), ὀλολύζοντες] Wailing (Beza, Piscator, Castlio). It appears to have regard to Joel 1:5; Zechariah 11:2 (Grotius).

Weep and howl; to denote the extremity of the calamities coming upon them, in which they should not only weep like men, but howl like wild beasts: see Jeremiah 4:8; Micah 1:8; Joel 1:11, 13.

[Over, etc., ἐπὶ ταῖς ταλαιπωρίαις ὑμῶν ταῖς ἐπερχομέναις] Ἐπὶ here is because of, as in Matthew 26:50[4] and often elsewhere (Grotius). On account of your miseries about to come upon (Vatablus, etc.), verbatim, coming upon, that is, now looming over (Piscator) (understanding you [Hammond]): or, it is an Enallage of the present tense in place of the future (Vorstius, thus Piscator). He here foretells calamities (Grotius), either, 1. temporal (certain interpreters in Estius), soon about to happen to the Jews, concerning which we spoke on James 4:9. After the razing of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the nation, also in other places the Jews began to receive the worst treatment, under whose name the Christians were also lying at the time. See Josephus’ The Jewish War 7. Also, the didrachm,[5] which they were wont to give for the use of the Temple, was applied to the use of Capitolium.[6] See on Matthew 17:24 (Grotius). Or, 2. eternal, the agonies of gehenna. Consider these, says he, so that, being awakened by the sorrow and fear thus conceived, ye might do penance (Estius). But he meant, not so much to exhort, but to terrify: for whatsoever things he says have regard unto a hopeless condition. Wherefore, he does not address those, but he rather has regard unto believers; that they might bear their injuries quietly, knowing that God is the avenger, and that they might not envy the rich, etc. (Calvin). The avaricious are ἀνίατοι/incurable, says Aristotle, Nicomachian Ethics 4:1 (Pareus). Rich men are saved with the utmost difficulty, Matthew 19:23 (Gataker).

For your miseries that shall come upon you; or, are coming upon you, to signify the certainty and nearness of them. The miseries he means may be both temporal and eternal.

[1] Greek: Ἄγε νῦν οἱ πλούσιοι, κλαύσατε ὀλολύζοντες ἐπὶ ταῖς ταλαιπωρίαις ὑμῶν ταῖς ἐπερχομέναις.

[2] Greek: ἄγε νῦν.

[3] James 4:13a:  “Go to now (ἄγε νῦν), ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city…”

[4] Matthew 26:50a:  “And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore (ἐφ᾽ ᾧ) art thou come?”

[5] The Didrachm was about eight and a half grams of silver.

[6] The Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus began to be built at Ælia (a Roman colony founded upon the ruins of Jerusalem) around 130 AD; the Bar Kokhba Revolt began in 132 AD.

Chapter 5 Outline

Wicked rich men are warned of God’s impending judgment, 1-6. The brethren are exhorted to patience, after the example of the prophets and of Job, 7-11, to abstain from swearing, 12, to pray in affliction and sickness, and sing psalms in prosperity, 13-15, to acknowledge mutually their faults, and to pray for one another, 16-18, and to endeavour to reclaim sinners, 19, 20.