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.

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