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Book of James

Lyn Mize

This is a verse-by-verse exegetical discourse on the book of James. James describes the salvation of the soul, which is not the same as the salvation of the spirit. The salvation of the spirit is by faith alone in believing that Jesus is the Christ, but soul salvation is effected by the engrafted Word of God (James 1:21). Spirit salvation is by faith alone, but soul salvation is by faithfulness to the Written Word and the Living Word of God. Spirit salvation is the justification by faith, while soul salvation is the justification by works.

James is a book written by the half-brother of Jesus.  It is addressed to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, so it is thought to be addressed to Jewish Christians.  Some think that the 12 tribes scattered abroad is a metaphor for the whole Church scattered throughout the Roman Empire.  The numerous metaphors used by James throughout the book would tend to confirm this.  The following Scripture confirms the metaphorical meaning of a Jew referring to the Christian believer:

(Rom 2:28 KJV)  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

(Rom 2:29 KJV)  But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

It is my tendency to believe that James was literally addressing Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire.  The majority of the Church in the beginning was made up of Hebrew Christians.  We think it was Paul who wrote Hebrews, and it was addressed to Hebrew Christians, so it seems reasonable that the 12 tribes would also be addressed to Jewish Christians.  In addition, Paul wrote to the Roman Christians who were primarily Gentiles, and to the Corinthians who were primarily Gentiles.

Whether the book of James was initially written to Jews who were Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire, or Christians who were reckoned Jews in accordance with the faith is immaterial for our purposes.  The book is part of the canon of Scripture, so all Christians today can apply it to their lives just as the books of Romans, and Hebrews can be applied to all Christians.

The book of James was not written for a person to test to see if he is a Christian.  It was written to Christians telling them how to become mature and complete Christians.  This is confirmed in the following verse:

(James 1:4 KJV)  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

The word “perfect” has the following meaning in the Greek:

5046  teleios (tel'-i-os);

from 5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with 3588) completeness:

KJV-- of full age, man, perfect.

The word “entire” has the following meaning in the Greek:

3648  holokleros-

complete in all its parts, in no part wanting or unsound, complete, entire, whole

a) used of a body without blemish or defect, whether of a priest or of a victim

b) free from sin, faultless

c) complete in all respects, consummate

The Greek word for entire is only used one other time in Scripture, and it is translated wholly in the following verse written by Paul to the Thessalonian Christians:

(1 Th 5:23 KJV)  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul defines what entire and wholly mean in this verse.  It pertains to the progressive sanctification process that should take place in the Christian, and it means that the whole spirit and soul and body might be preserved blameless until the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Consequently, James is writing to Christians telling them how to live so that they will realize the salvation of their souls.  This is confirmed in the following verse:

(James 1:21 KJV)  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Therefore, with this brief introduction to the book of James, we will now begin our verse by verse exegesis.

Chapter 1

(James 1:1 KJV)  James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

James proclaims himself a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, even though he was the half-brother of Jesus.  It is clear that any sibling rivalry that had existed in James in earlier years had vanished, and James now had a full understanding of the deity of Jesus Christ.  Tradition holds that James spent so much time on his knees praying that his knees were callused like the knees of camels.

We have already mentioned that James addresses the twelve tribes scattered abroad, and this most likely is used in address to all Hebrew Christians throughout the Roman Empire.  The whole book is clearly written to fellow Christians—whether Hebrew, Gentile or both—on maturing in the faith.  This is confirmed in verse 18 below where he addresses the spiritual birth of the ones to whom he is writing.  As stated above, it matters not whether James is addressing Christians who are literal Jews, or all Christians who are spiritual Jews. The purpose of the book is to bring Christians into a maturity in the Christian faith.

(James 1:2 KJV)  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

James exhorts fellow Christians to count it as a joyful thing when we are tempted by many different temptations, and he explains why in the following verse.  The word for fall means to be encompassed about or to be surrounded by temptations.  It does not mean that the person has yielded to these temptations.  The word divers means temptations that vary in character.

(James 1:3 KJV)  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

It is important to note that the ones being addressed have faith, so they are definitely Christians.  This trying of the faith is not to test the faith to see if it is true faith, but it is a trying of the faith to cause the faith to grow and mature.  James explains that the trying or testing of our faith causes us to have patience.  The word for patience has the following meaning:

5281  hupomone-

1) steadfastness, constancy, endurance

a) in the New Testament, the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

b) patiently, and steadfastly

2) a patient, steadfast waiting for

3) a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

(James 1:4 KJV)  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

The work of patience in the life of a Christian helps the Christian to become a mature Christian who is complete.  We have already seen from the introduction that a mature and complete Christian is one who realizes the salvation of his soul.  He is a Christian who is blameless or faultless before Jesus Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ in spirit, soul and body.  If the Christian allows the spirit nature to control, then the soul and body will be in unity with the spirit, and the Christian will be blameless at the Return of the Lord.

(James 1:5 KJV)  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Wisdom means the knowledge and practice of the requirements for godly and upright living.  This means that we can ask God for the knowledge on how we can live godly and upright lives, and He will give it to us without criticizing us or rebuking us for asking.

(James 1:6 KJV)  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

When we ask the Lord for wisdom in living the Christian life, we are to ask in faith (i.e., believing that God will provide), and not staggering or wavering in our faith.  We are to be steadfast in our faith toward the Lord.  Otherwise, we are like a wave of the sea being driven about with the wind, and tossed here and there.  We are to remain faithful to the Word of God, and God will give us the wisdom to grow and mature in the faith.

(James 1:7 KJV)  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

This is talking about receiving what is necessary for living a godly and upright life, and not cars, boats, money, and material possessions.  God promises that he will give any Christian the wisdom he needs to live the Christian life.

(James 1:8 KJV)  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James sums up this thought by saying that the double minded man is unstable or inconsistent in all of his ways.  The words “double minded” literally mean two-souled.  The two-souled man is the man whose interest is divided.  He lives two lives.  He is two-faced, so he is a hypocrite.  He is the man who seeks after both God and mammon.  He lives one way on Sunday and another way during the week.  He is the man that will be rejected at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  This meaning is confirmed in the following verses.

(James 1:9 KJV)  Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

The Christian of low degree is the one who has been humbled.  He is of low estate.  He is unimportant in this world, and he is not in a position of power and authority.  This is a description of the Philadelphia Christian.  The verb for “is exalted” means he is superior in position or status in the eyes of the Lord to the one described in the next verse.  The verb is in the imperfect tense, which means that this superior position and status is not a completed action.  It will continue into the future.

(James 1:10 KJV)  But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

The person who is rich in possessions or status—and both usually go together—is humbled, and he shall pass away.  To pass away means to perish.  Please note that this rich person is still a brother.  He is a Christian.  The perishing of this Christian brother is future tense, and it shall take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

(James 1:11 KJV)  For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

This verse employs the metaphor of the sun when it first rises, it causes the grass to wither and the blossom to fall.  This verse is alluding to the Judgment Seat of Christ when Christ, the sun, first appears to the Christian, his burning heat (i.e., Judgment) burns up the grass (i.e., works) and the flower (i.e., fruit) fails, and the beauty of its outward appearance perishes.  The metaphorical meaning is confirmed by his statement that the rich man (i.e., Christian) in the walk of his life (i.e., his ways) shall fade away.  The meaning of the verb for fade away in Thayer’s Lexicon is as follows:

3133  maraino-

1) to extinguish (a flame, fire, light, etc.)

2) to render arid, to make to waste away, to consume away, to perish

3) to have a miserable end

We need to keep in mind that this is telling us what happens to the Christian brother who is rich in possessions or status.  The lives of these Christians shall perish or be consumed at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

(James 1:12 KJV)  Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

James continues the explanation by stating that the Christian brother who endures temptation when he is tried shall receive the crown of life.  The crown of life is soul salvation, and it is awarded to Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  The crown of life goes to Christians who love the Lord.  It does not go to all Christians.  It is important to note that the opposite of receiving the crown of life is to be hurt by the Second Death.  The is confirmed in the following Scripture:

(Rev 2:10 KJV)  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

(Rev 2:11 KJV)  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

The Christian who is an overcomer receives the crown of life (i.e., soul salvation), but the Christian who is not an overcomer shall “be hurt” of the Second Death.  His life shall perish in the Lake of Fire.

(James 1:13 KJV)  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

It is not God who tempts us (i.e., Christians) to do wrong, but He allows us to go through temptations so we can mature in the faith.  God does not solicit us to sin.

(James 1:14 KJV)  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Every man (i.e., Christian) is tempted when he is lured or seduced by his own lust.  It is our flesh nature or old man that tempts us to commit sin.  The more we put off the old man and put on the new man, the less we will succumb to the temptations of sin.

(James 1:15 KJV)  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

The victory point for overcoming sin is to kill it before it is conceived in the mind.  The Christian should not entertain the thoughts of sin in his mind for this is where the victory over sin is won or lost.  As soon as the temptation to sin enters the mind, the Christian should rebuke it and call upon the Lord in His power and authority.  When lust is conceived in the mind, it brings forth sin, and if it is allowed to complete its work, it will bring forth death.  This death pertains to the Christian, and it is speaking of the death or perishing of the soul—not the spirit.  This is confirmed throughout the book of James and the other epistles.

Lust is the desire of the old man for that which is forbidden by God.  Lust comes from the old man or old flesh nature, and not the new man or the new spirit nature.

(James 1:16 KJV)  Do not err, my beloved brethren.

This verse confirms and nails down the fact that the warning of death is to the brother in Christ or the fellow Christian.  This is again confirmed in verse 18 below where the ones being addressed are described as being begotten with the word of truth.  These may be Jews who are being addressed, but they are also born-again believers who have been begotten of God.

The word for err means to be led away into sin and error off the correct path or way.  Only a Christian who is on the right path can be led away from the right path.  The whole context is a warning to believers to not get off of the path of virtue and truth, for it will end in the death or perishing of the soul, but not the loss of spirit salvation.

(James 1:17 KJV)  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

All good gifts and mature gifts come from our heavenly Father, Who is light, and He does not turn this light away from us so that we are in the shadow.  If we are in the shadow, it is because we have turned away from Him.

(James 1:18 KJV)  Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

The ones being addressed have been begotten or born as a result of the manifestation of truth, that we should be a certain firstfruits of his creatures.  This appears to be in reference to the Church being begotten (i.e., spiritually regenerated) from above for the express purpose of being the firstfruits of his creatures who are part of his family.  This fits with the order of redemption in Revelation where the Church is redeemed first during the tribulation period, then the Jews and Gentiles to complete the harvest.  In type, the Church is the grain harvest, the Jews are the olive harvest, and the Gentiles are the grape harvest.

There are different kinds of firstfruits.  There are the Firstfruits of the Church who mature earlier than the rest of the Church.  There are also the Firstfruits of the Jews (i.e., the 144,000) who come to Christ very early in the tribulation period.  In addition, “firstfruits” as used in this verse states that the Church is a kind of firstfruits of all of God’s creatures to be redeemed.  We must remember that the word must always get its meaning from the context, and not the context receiving its meaning from a particular word.  The word kind is used to distinguish this firstfruits from the others.

(James 1:19 KJV)  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

Since we in the church are a kind of firstfruits of all of God’s creatures, we should be serious about our walk with the Lord.  This entails that we be quick to hear, and this means we are quick to attend to and pay attention to what God has to say.  We should also be slow to speak.  This means we should study, think about and meditate upon the things of God before we speak about them.  Quick conclusions are not accurate conclusions.  We should be in the spirit before we speak, or the old flesh nature will come out and speak for us.  That old expression that we should put our mind in gear before we put our lips in motion is applicable in this situation.  We could add to this and say that we should be sure the spirit is in charge of our lips before we allow them to speak.

The last phrase in this verse is translated “slow to wrath”, but the Greek word translated wrath is orge, and its literal meaning is “desire”, and it refers to the natural impulses and desires of the soulical or flesh nature.  The figurative meaning of orge is anger, since anger is the most violent emotion of the soul, but this warning is much broader than anger, as in confirmed in the following verses.  It is a warning against the unchecked arousal of the natural desires of the depraved human heart.  This would include such base natural desires as covetousness, lying, stealing, selfishness, sexual immorality, gossip, gluttony, vengeance, and any base desire that follows the old sin nature.  The definition of orge in Strong’s Concordance is as follows:

3709  orge (or-gay');

from 3713; properly, desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy,) violent passion (ire, or [justifiable] abhorrence); by implication punishment:

KJV-- anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.

The equivalent English word, which comes from the Latin, is libido, defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as follows:

li·bi·do  n., pl. li·bi·dos. 1. The psychic and emotional energy associated with instinctual biological drives. 2.a. Sexual desire. b. Manifestation of the sexual drive. [Latin, desire. See leubh- below.] adj. --li·bid“i·nal·ly adv. 3. LIBIDO, from Latin libºd½, pleasure, desire.

Libido has come to mean sexual desire just as orge has come to mean anger, but the first definition is much broader in scope, meaning all basic desire for pleasure.  It is the desires of the flesh nature or the lust of the flesh as described in verse 14 above.

(James 1:20 KJV)  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

With the above understanding of the meaning of orge, this verse could be accurately paraphrased as follows:

(James 1:20 Paraphrase) For the natural desires of man’s sin nature does not bring about that which is righteous in God’s sight.

An accurate literal translation would be:

(James 1:20 Literal) For the libido of man worketh not the righteousness of God

(James 1:21 KJV)  Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

(James 1:21 NKJV) Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

The literal meaning of orge is confirmed in this verse by elaborating on what we are to do with these natural desires that come from the soulical man or the old flesh nature.  The words “filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness” refer back to orge, so this confirms that there is more sin involved here than just the emotion of anger.  The word “Wherefore” ties this verse to the previous verse.  The Greek word for “Wherefore” also means “Consequently” and means as a consequence of what was just stated about the natural desires of man not bringing about that which is righteous in God’s eyes, the Christian needs to put away all moral depravity (i.e., filthiness) and super abounding evil.  The Christian is told to put away, cast off or lay apart his old depraved nature, and the super abounding evil that goes along with this depraved nature.  The next step is to receive with meekness or humility the engrafted or implanted word (i.e., the Bible).  If the Christian is successful in receiving the engrafted word with meekness, he will realize the saving of his soul.

This verse clearly and succinctly states that the saving of the soul is dependent upon the Christian’s success is putting off the old flesh nature, reading and studying the Bible, and applying the precepts or teachings of the Bible to his life.  There is absolutely no hint that this is a test to see if a person is really a Christian.  The passage is addressed to Christians, and the passage is telling Christians how to save their souls.  It is only by the implanted Written Word of God that the soul can be saved.  The following verse confirms this with a comparison between hearers of the word, and doers of the word.  All Christians are hearers of the word, but not all Christians are doers of the word.

(James 1:22 KJV)  But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

The word “But” ties this verse to the previous verse, and implies that those Christians who are able to receive the engrafted word with meekness are the doers of the word.  This means they are successful in applying the teachings, commandments and precepts in the Bible to their lives.  This verse emphatically states that if a Christian is a hearer only and not a doer, then he is deceiving himself.

(James 1:23 KJV)  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

This verse uses an analogy to describe the Christian who is not a doer of the Word.  He is compared to a man who looks at himself in the mirror and sees his face.  The figurative meaning is involved here, and it means that when the person is a hearer, he is able to see his base (i.e., natural) self or person (i.e., face) and perceive that he is a depraved sinner.

When a person is spiritually regenerated, he realizes that he is a sinner, and he believes or accepts that Jesus Christ died on the cross and paid this sin debt.  The person who has not been spiritually regenerated does not see himself as a depraved sinner needing a redeemer.  He must receive the new birth from above in order to do this.  The following verse continues the description of this Christian who has received the new birth.

(James 1:24 KJV)  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

Please note that he does see himself as he really is at the time that he is a hearer, but he does not come to repentance.  The phrase “beholdeth himself” means that he fully observes or perceives his true base nature, but he immediately goes away and loses out of his mind what manner of person he is or the true nature of his depravity.  This person is a hearer of the Word, and he believes it as a result of spiritual rebirth, but he then goes and forgets about it and does nothing about it.  A person cannot perceive his true sinful nature without the new spiritual birth.  Many Christians are born again spiritually, but never come to a point of repenting or turning away from their sin.  They have participated in the Feast of Passover, but they have never celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They have come to the Cross, but they have not progressed to the brazen laver. They have received the imputed righteousness of Christ, but they have not yet sought after the practical righteousness of God. They have entered into the unconditional Covenant of Grace, but they have not entered into the conditional Covenant of Works. Repentance is a work and pertains to the Covenant of Works and not the Covenant of Grace.

(James 1:25 KJV)  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

This verse completes the analogy and describes the doer in contrast to the hearer.  The “perfect law of liberty” refers to the completed or mature principles of liberty with true liberty being the ability to live as we should and not as we desire.  The Greek word for “looketh” is figurative, and it means to look at something carefully, to inspect curiously, and to become acquainted with it.  The Christian who carefully looks at and becomes thoroughly acquainted with his new spiritual ability to live as he should (perfect law of liberty), and not as his base desires tempt him to live, is likened as a doer of the work that is prescribed for him in the Bible.  This Christian shall be blessed in his deeds or in his works.  This is speaking of works and blessings or reward for work, and not a test to see if the person is truly a Christian.

(James 1:26 KJV)  If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

This verse states that if any Christian in the Church is accounted or reputed to be ceremonious in worship (i.e., demonstrative) or pious, but he is unable or refuses to hold in check or restrain his tongue, this Christian is deceiving his own heart or mind.  This man’s religious ritual is in vain.  There will be no rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  James is describing the hypocrite in this verse.  The Christian who pretends to be very spiritual, but does not control his speech is deceiving himself, and his pretended spirituality will be found worthless at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

(James 1:27 KJV)  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Pure or true religious ceremony and piety that is undefiled before God is to look after (i.e., visit) the orphans and widows in their affliction, tribulation or distress.  It is also for a Christian to keep himself clean from the world.  This means we are to keep ourselves clean from all stain of sin.  This comes from growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord, and confessing our sins regularly.

Chapter 2

Chapter two of James contains the famous passage that is so often misinterpreted by those in the Church that adhere to the false teaching of Lordship Salvation.  Those who teach Lordship Salvation have reversed the famous cry of The Reformation, “Sola Fide”, which means “faith alone”, and now teach that faith alone is not enough, if it does not have works to go along with it.  Martin Luther also misunderstood this passage and felt that the book of James should not be in the canon of Scripture, since it taught justification by works, which is contrary to the justification by faith taught in Romans.

What Martin Luther did not understand was the difference between spirit and soul salvation and the simple statement, “Salvation is by faith, but rewards are according to works.”  Spirit salvation is by faith and faith alone, but soul salvation is in accordance with works or the bearing of spiritual fruit.  The statement that faith without works is dead means that it is unfruitful, and it is not brought to maturity.  The faith is still there, and faith alone still saves—the spirit—even though it is alone and without fruit.  Consequently, the justification by faith pertains to the spirit of man, and the justification by works pertains to the soul of man.  Justification by faith guarantees that a person will enter heaven, while justification by works guarantees that a person will enter the kingdom of heaven.  Heaven is a place, but the kingdom of heaven is a position of authority granted to Christians who realize the justification by works.  Faith brought to maturity results in reward or the salvation of the soul (i.e., life) at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Faith that is not brought to maturity results in the loss of reward or the loss of the soul at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  The loss of the soul means a life that is wasted (i.e., lost) because it was lived in the power of the old flesh nature instead of the new spirit nature.

(James 2:1 KJV)  My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

This verse simply states that Christians should not show favoritism to certain Christians over other Christians, and the following verses confirm that this favoritism pertains to the outward appearance of a Christian.  “The faith” means our walk with the Lord, and “respect of persons” means partiality.

(James 2:2 KJV)  For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

This verse confirms that we are not to be partial to Christians who have jewels and fine clothes.  In the current Laodicean church age, wealth is seen as a blessing from God, and evidence that the person is faithful.  Laodicean Christians apparently do not comprehend that Satan is currently the god of this age, and he blesses—in a sense—those whom he favors with money and possessions.  The Christian who strives after fame and fortune in this world is striving in the wrong kingdom.  Satan knows that wealth is the greatest temptation to Christians today, and wealth is probably responsible for the destruction of more souls of Christians than poverty.  The wealthy Christian seldom walks with the Lord, since he depends primarily on his wealth.  The carnal Laodicean church is a carnal church, while the faithful Philadelphia church is a poor church in relation to worldly goods.  Consequently, the Laodicean church shows partiality or favoritism to wealthy Christians.  The book of James contains many warnings to wealthy Christians.  What most do not understand is that these warnings are to Christians, and not to unsaved people.  The book of James was written to Christians, so the warnings apply to Christians.  Of course, the Laodicean Christian will say that these warnings are to unsaved people.

(James 2:3 KJV)  And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

This verse confirms that Christians do show partiality to other Christians who are wealthy.  The clothing that a person wears reflects the status of that person in society, but it says nothing about the condition of that person’s heart (i.e., soul).  Interestingly, the robes and glory that a person will have in the heavenly kingdom will reflect the condition of that person’s heart at the time of the Rapture or death of that person.  There will be a reversal in the kingdom of heaven in that those Christians who are wealthy and have superior status in the Church today will have little or no glory, and an inferior status in the coming kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Bible has much to say about the status of the rich Christian in the millennial kingdom, and it is not good.  All that the Bible states about the rich man can be summed up in one verse as follows:

(Mat 6:24 KJV)  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

(James 2:4 KJV)  Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

This verse confirms that Christians show partiality toward rich Christians, and they have become judges of others with corrupt or bad reasoning (i.e., evil thoughts).  This verse not only applies to judging other Christians, but it also applies to judging oneself.  The wealthy Laodicean Christian looks at himself, and states that since he is wealthy and has need of nothing (in regard to personal possessions), he must be a faithful Christian blessed by God.  This is confirmed in the following verse:

(Rev 3:17 KJV)  Because thou (Laodiceans) sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

(James 2:5 KJV)  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

This verse confirms that it is the poor in this world who are rich in faith who will be heirs of the kingdom.  The inheritance will go to those Christians who love the Lord, and we know that those who love the Lord are those who keep His commandments.  Satan is not opposed to a Christian becoming wealthy as long as this Christian is caught up in this things of the world, and does not study his Bible and serve the Lord faithfully.  The Christian who is wealthy and faithful will use his wealth for the Lord’s work.  Faithful Christians of the past who had large amounts of wealth pass through their hands used the money for the Lord’s work, and did not accumulate a large fortune for themselves.  Oftentimes the Christian who has the gift of giving will have large amounts of money come into his possession, but the money will be utilized for the Lord’s work. An accumulation of wealth is a great hindrance to faithfulness on the part of the Christian.

(James 2:6 KJV)  But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

This verse can be paraphrased as follows:

(James 2:6 Paraphrase) But you have maltreated the poor Christian.  Isn’t it the rich men who exercise dominion over you and drag you into court with lawsuits.

(James 2:7 KJV)  Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

(James 2:7 Paraphrase) Don’t these rich people blaspheme the honorable name of Jesus Christ, by which you are called to salvation.

James is chastising the rich Christians for treating their fellow poor Christians the same way that those rich people of the world treat them.

(James 2:8 KJV)  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

James sums this up by saying that if the rich Christian fulfills the law according to Scripture, he will do well by loving his neighbor as himself.  The Christian who loves his neighbor will help his neighbor when he is in need.

(James 2:9 KJV)  But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

James then states that if a Christian does show partiality to certain fellow Christians because of their socioeconomic status, then these Christians are sinning, and they are convicted by the Holy Spirit as transgressors or breakers of the law.

(James 2:10 KJV)  For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

James continues and states that if a Christian keeps every other commandment, but he shows partiality to wealthy Christians, then he is guilty of breaking all of the commandments.  This is a sobering thought for it states, in essence, that a Christian who favors or shows partiality to rich Christians over poor Christians is also guilty of adultery, drunkenness, homosexuality, and any other sin that Christians frequently assign as being committed by professing Christians who are not “truly saved”.  If homosexual Christians are not truly saved, then neither are those church pastors and church leaders who show partiality to Christians because of their socioeconomic status.  Neither are those Christians who gossip and look down on their fellow Christians as not being worthy to fellowship with them because of some other judgment of discrimination because of some outward perception.  We Christians need to be very merciful in our judgments of our fellow Christians, since the mercy that we show to our fellow Christians in our judgments is the mercy that the Lord is going to show us at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  This is confirmed in the following Scripture:

(Mat 7:1 KJV)  Judge not, that ye be not judged.

(Mat 7:2 KJV)  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

(James 2:11 KJV)  For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

James uses an example to show that if we break one law of the commandments, we break all of the commandment.  It is easy for a Christian to look at this verse, and say I have not killed anyone, but we must remember what Jesus stated about our hating our fellow Christians:

(1 John 3:15 KJV)  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

Many Christians will state that they do not hate their fellow Christians, but the Greek word for hate also means to show favoritism to one Christian over another.  This is seen in the following definition in Strong’s Lexicon of Greek:

3404  miseo (mis-eh'-o);

from a primary misos (hatred); to detest (especially to persecute); by extension, to love less:

KJV-- hate (-ful).

It is also seen in the following Scripture:

(Rom 9:13 KJV)  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

This verse simply means that God chose Jacob over Esau to be the line that God’s elect people would come through.  It does not mean that God actually hated Esau in our normal sense of the word.  It simply means that he loved Esau less than he loved Jacob.

(James 2:12 KJV)  So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

James tells his fellow Christians that they should speak and do things as ones that will be judged based on their ability to live as they should according to the perfect law of liberty.  All Christians will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ for their works in accordance with how much knowledge and opportunity these Christians were given in this life to live for the Lord.  This is confirmed in the following verse:

(Luke 12:47 48 KJV)  And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. (48) But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

This is why no Christian can determine in his own mind that he has qualified for the Firstfruits Rapture or the bride of Christ, since only God (i.e, Jesus Christ) has the perfect knowledge necessary to judge us with all the facts about how much opportunity and talents we have been given in order for us to serve Him.  One thing seems certain from Scripture:  The Christian who thinks he is living a wonderful Christian life is probably not doing so well in his Christian walk.  The Christian who has his focus upon Jesus is very much aware of the depravity of his own flesh nature, and he is greatly humbled by this knowledge and the mercy and kindness of God.  The Christian who has his eyes upon the world sees himself as being a relatively religious person, and he is prideful about how he sees himself in relation to the world.

(James 2:13 KJV)  For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

This verse confirms that the mercy that the Lord shows us will be determined by the mercy that we show our fellow Christians.  Those Christians who have looked down upon their fellow Christians and judged them unmercifully will receive the same severe judgment without mercy.  This is a sobering thought, and it should instill in us a strong attitude of mercy in our judgments of our fellow Christians.  The last clause of this compound sentence states that mercy rejoiceth against, boasts against or triumphs over judgment.  This verse implies that there will be many Christians who go to church weekly, and have a self-righteous and judgmental attitude toward fellow Christians caught up in the sins of the flesh will very likely have a more severe judgment than these Christians caught up in the sins of flesh, assuming that these Christians have a merciful attitude toward their fellow Christians.  This is confirmed in the following verses:

(Mat 7:1 KJV)  Judge not, that ye be not judged.

(Luke 6:37 KJV)  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

(James 2:14 KJV)  What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

This verse has confused more Christians than probably any other verse in the Bible simply because they do not understand the difference between spirit salvation and soul salvation.  The salvation referred to here is not the salvation of the spirit, but the salvation of the soul.  As stated earlier, the whole book of James is addressing the salvation of the soul, and soul salvation is the reference in this verse.  The statement is that a Christian who says that he believes in Christ, but does not have works will not realize the salvation of his soul.  He will not have any profit or reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  His soul or life will be lost when he is judged.  The whole context is our judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so there is nothing in this passage that indicates works is the proof of spirit salvation.

(James 2:15 KJV)  If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

This verse confirms that fellow Christians are being warned about their treatment of other Christians, and in providing for their needs—both physical and spiritual.

(James 2:16 KJV)  And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

If we see a fellow Christian without the necessities of life such as food and clothing, then it is our duty to provide for these Christians, even if it means giving up some of our luxuries.  If we refuse to help out our fellow Christians, then it will result in the loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

(James 2:17 KJV)  Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

James continues the thought in his summation that faith that does not have works is dead.  This verse has also confused many Christians into thinking that faith without works is nonexistent or not real faith, but that is not the point.  The word “dead” means unfruitful.  James is stating that if your faith does not produce works, then your faith is unfruitful, and it is alone.  Faith alone is all that is necessary for spirit salvation, but faith without works is unfruitful, and it will not result in soul salvation and the receipt of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  The definition of a dead faith is given here as being alone.

Christians who state that these Christians without works are not really saved spiritually are not only guilty of judgment without mercy, as explained above, but they are also attempting to reverse the Protestant Reformation.  The cries of the Reformation were Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura.  Sola Fide means “Faith Alone” is all that is necessary for spirit salvation.  Sola Scriptura means “Scripture Alone” is all that is necessary for growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord.  We have already seen in James 1:21 that the engrafted Word of God is all that is necessary for soul salvation.  Consequently, the two main points of the Protestant Reformation pertained to faith and Scripture, which actually referred to the two salvations of spirit and soul. Spirit salvation is the justification by faith, while soul salvation is the justification by works. Spirit salvation results in imputed righteousness, while soul salvation results in practical righteousness. Spirit salvation pertains to the covenant of grace, while soul salvation pertains to the covenant of works. Spirit salvation is often referred to as justification, while soul salvation is often referred to as sanctification. Spirit salvation is past tense, while soul salvation is present tense.

In summation, the above verse simply states that faith without works is an unfruitful faith and it is alone.  This Christian is saved spiritually, but he will not receive reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  It is the faith that is barren or unfruitful (i.e., dead), and not the spirit that is dead.  The following two verses in the New Testament confirm the meaning of the word dead as referring to being barren or unfruitful:

(Rom 4:19 KJV)  And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:

Abraham’s body was not dead, and Sarah’s womb was not dead.  They were simple barren or unfruitful as to offspring, but God changed this and they both became fruitful in the birth of Isaac.  This is seen in the following verse:

(Heb 11:12 KJV)  Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

(James 2:18 KJV)  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

James is arguing that our faith is only revealed and demonstrated in our works.  The Christian who has faith, but no works is not producing evidence of his faith.  It is absurd to extend the meaning of this verse to say that if there is not evidence of the faith, then the faith is nonexistent or that the person is spiritually dead.  There are many Christians who are spiritually alive, but they do not produce spiritual fruit.  If Christians automatically produced spiritual fruit, then the book of James and 99% of the Bible would be unnecessary, since the great majority of the Bible is filled with warnings and exhortations for us to produce fruit in our lives.

(James 2:19 KJV)  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

James is stating that it good to believe that God exists, but even the devils believe this, and they tremble, because they know that they are going to be judged by Him.  The following verse is a warning to Christians beginning with this verse that even the devils know that judgment day is coming, and it would behoove us Christians to realize that we too will be judged for our works.

(James 2:20 KJV)  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

James repeats that faith without works is unfruitful or barren.  James is not questioning the faith of these believers, but he is exhorting them to produce fruit in their lives.

(James 2:21 KJV)  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

James refers to the justification by works, which is soul salvation.  This confirms that James is addressing soul salvation, since spirit salvation is the justification by faith that Paul addressed in the following Romans passage:

(Rom 4:24-5:1 KJV)  But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Abraham received the justification by faith when he left Ur of the Chaldeas, but he received the justification by works when he offered his only son Isaac upon the altar.

(James 2:22 KJV)  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

The NIV provides a good sentence translation of the above verse:

(James 2:22 NIV)  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Please note that the works or actions were not to prove that he was saved spiritually, but to bring his faith to completeness or maturity.  There are many Christians whose faith will not be brought to maturity at the time of the Judgment Seat of Christ.  We have already seen in 1 Peter 1:9 that the end of our faith is the salvation of our souls, if we are found faithful through the trials and tribulations of this life.  If we are not found faithful then the end is the loss of our souls, or the failure of our faith to be brought to maturity in this life.  These Christians will still be in heaven, but they will suffer the loss of reward.

All Christians are guaranteed three things: (1) The redemption of our spirits, (2) the redemption of our souls, and (3) the redemption of our bodies.  If we crucify the old man in us now, and allow Christ to live his life in us now, then we lose our souls now, and we will realize the salvation of our souls at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  If we live our lives in accord with our old man now, then the Lord will destroy our old man at the Judgment Seat of Christ and our souls will be lost at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is what is meant in the following verses:

(Mat 16:24-27 KJV)  (24) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (25) For whosoever will save his life (soul) shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life (soul) for my sake shall find it. (26) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (27) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Please note in verse 27 that the salvation of the soul pertains to reward, and not going to heaven—which is guaranteed to every Christian whether his soul is saved or not saved.

(James 2:23 KJV)  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

Abraham was not only saved by faith with the imputed righteousness of God, but he was also called the friend of God, which means that he lived a faithful life resulting in the justification by works, or the salvation of his soul.  The Greek word for friend comes from the word phileo, which means “to love”. Abraham was not only justified by his faith, but he loved God, and God loved him.

(James 2:24 KJV)  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

James sums this up by saying that a Christian has two justifications that he should receive.  He receives the first justification by faith, which is the salvation of his spirit.  The second justification must be in accordance with works, and this is the salvation of the soul.  We must remember that the whole book of James addresses the salvation of the soul.

(James 2:25 KJV)  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

James then provides an example of someone who was justified by works by helping the Israelites.  Rahab is a type of those Gentiles in the last half of the tribulation period who will assist Israel in escaping from the persecution of Antichrist.

(James 2:26 KJV)  For as the body without the spirit (i.e., pneuma) is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

James sums up this passage by saying that just as the body without the spirit (i.e., pneuma or the breath of life) is without life, faith without works (righteous deeds) is also without life.  The life referred to is soul life, which comes from allowing Christ to live His life in us.  A Christian has spirit life, but he may not have soul life.  Soul life requires dying to self in order to have the life of Christ abiding in us.  The following Scriptures pertain to soul life and not spirit life:

(1 John 3:14 KJV)  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

(1 John 3:15 KJV)  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

(1 John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

(1 John 3:17 KJV)  But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

The whole context of the above passage is in reference to Christians who either do or do not have the love of God abiding in them.  If a Christian hates his brother, then he does not have the life of Christ abiding in him.  He is still a Christian, and he will go to heaven, but he will not realize the salvation of his soul.  Only a Christian can hate his brother, since an unsaved reprobate is not a brother.  Throughout the Scriptures “eternal life” pertains to the soul, and reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and not to spirit life, which every Christian has regardless of how he lives.  The following verse provides the Biblical definition of “eternal life”:

(Rom 2:5 KJV)  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

(Rom 2:6 KJV)  Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

(Rom 2:7 KJV)  To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

(Rom 2:8 KJV)  But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

(Rom 2:9 KJV)  Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

(Rom 2:10 KJV)  But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

Paul addresses this whole passage to Christians, and he is warning these Christians about the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Verse 6 confirms that this is the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the only ones who will appear at this judgment are Christians.  Verse 7 confirms that the definition of “eternal life” is to receive glory, honor and immortality.  The immortality pertains to the soul of the Christian.  Everyone’s spirit is immortal, but the soul of the Christian can perish and fail to receive glory, honor and immortality.  Verse 9 confirms that this passage is pertaining to the soul and not the spirit.

Chapter 3

The whole context of chapter 3 is teaching, so it deals primarily with the tongue and how it can be used for good or evil.  The passage relates how much evil the tongue can cause by the teaching of false doctrine.  Verses 1, 13, and 14 confirm that teaching is primarily in view throughout the chapter, though many applications can be made against gossip, backbiting, and other damage that the tongue can cause without resorting to false teaching or false doctrine.

(James 3:1 KJV)  My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James is warning fellow Christians that they should be very careful about choosing to be teachers or instructors of Bible doctrine, since teachers will receive a stricter judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  It is one thing for an individual person to misunderstand Bible doctrine and follow this doctrine, but there is a more severe consequence for a person to teach others to follow this false doctrine.  Formal teaching or instruction is in view here, and not just witnessing to others and using Bible doctrine in this witnessing.

(James 3:2 KJV)  For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

(James 3:2 Paraphrase) For we stumble or sin in many things, but if a Christian is able to avoid stumbling in his speech, then he is a complete or mature Christian.  He is also able to control his whole body.

James is making a comparison in saying that a Christian who is able to control his tongue is also able to control the rest of his body.

(James 3:3 KJV)  Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

James then uses an analogy of a horse and a bridle, and states that the bridle bit controls the tongue by putting pressure on it, and it is effective in turning the whole body of the horse.

(James 3:4 KJV)  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

James provides another analogy using a large ship that is blown about by the strong winds, but it can be steered with a small rudder to go wherever the helmsman wants it to go.

(James 3:5 KJV)  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

Just as the bit in a horse’s mouth and the rudder on a ship are small and can perform large feats, the tongue is a small member of the body, but it is capable of performing proud and arrogant things derogatory to the majesty of God. The tongue can overstep the province or boundary of the things that Christians are supposed to do or say.  The tongue or speech of man can do a world of damage to other Christians or the body of Christ.  This is why teachers should not take their positions lightly, since they are in positions to do great and wonderful things, but they are also capable of doing great damage, if they are not led by the Holy Spirit.  This is confirmed in the very next verse in our text:

(James 3:6 KJV)  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

James compares the tongue to a fire that destroys or consumes.  It is the unrighteousness or evil in the Church (i.e., kosmos), as it works among the members of the Church and defiles the whole Church.  The tongue causes or sets in motion the destruction that progresses in a circuitous route (i.e., course) through the whole Church Age (nature = Age). The tongue is set on fire by hell itself.  Hell is metaphorically used for those fallen angels who will occupy hell when they shall be punished.  It is Satan and his emissaries that cause Christians to destroy or defile the whole Church with false teaching and false doctrine.

(James 3:7 KJV)  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

James then makes another analogy by stating that every kind of wild beast, birds, serpents and even things in the sea have been curbed or restrained by mankind, but there is one thing that man is unable to restrain.

(James 3:8 KJV)  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Man is unable to curb or restrain his tongue.  The tongue or speech is an unstable or restless evil, and it is full of poison.  Poison is that which kills or destroys.  The context of this is still among the Church.  Many Christians will be destroyed or lose their souls because of the destructive power of speech.

(James 3:9 KJV)  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

It is with the tongue that we bless God the Father, and it is with the tongue that we curse or doom our fellow Christians who were made in the image of God.  We must remember that the context of this whole passage is in regard to those who teach fellow Christians false doctrine.

(James 3:10 KJV)  Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

It is out of the same mouth that those who teach bless God at the same time that they are teaching false doctrine that dooms or curses our fellow Christians.  James interjects a statement that it should not be this way in the Church.

(James 3:11 KJV)  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

James states that a well fed by a spring does not spew out sweet water and bitter water at the same time.  The meaning is that a Christian who allows the Holy Spirit to be teacher will not bring forth false doctrine mingled with his worship.

(James 3:12 KJV)  Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

James continues with the comparisons using a fig tree that cannot bear olives, a grape vine that cannot bear figs and a spring that cannot produce salt water.

(James 3:13 KJV)  Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

James then asks who is the wise man among fellow Christians who is filled or endued with knowledge.  James says to let him teach whose manner of life has been approved because of his meek and gentle spirit and his broad knowledge of Biblical truths.

(James 3:14 KJV)  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

(James 3:14 Paraphrase)  But if ye have a bitter and contentious rivalry or spirit of contention in your hearts, then do not glory in this and speak deliberate falsehoods about the truths of God.

James is addressing those Christians who presume to be teachers, but they are contentious and divisive and rail against the truths of God’s Word.  A person who rails is a person who expresses his objections or criticisms in bitter, harsh, or abusive language.  It is futile or useless to argue with such people.

(James 3:15 KJV)  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

The wisdom from these Christians who rail against the truths of God’s Word is not wisdom from above, but it is an earthly, sensual or devilish knowledge.  These are the three sources of false doctrine.  They either come from the world (i.e., earthly), the soulical or flesh nature (i.e., sensual), or Satan (i.e., devilish).  As Christians, we are to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. If our knowledge or wisdom comes from one of these sources, then the Holy Spirit is not leading us.  We are instead doing great harm to the Church or body of Christ when we teach our fellow Christians.

(James 3:16 KJV)  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

When a Christian is envious of another Christian’s knowledge and work for the Lord (i.e., envying), and the envious Christian desires to put himself forward in the Church (i.e., strife), then there is a state of disorder or confusion, and worthless works are being performed (i.e., evil work).

(James 3:17 KJV)  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

If the wisdom or knowledge is from above, then it is first pure, which means it excites reverence and holiness.  This knowledge is also peaceable, gentle, easily received, full of mercy and producing fruit.  This wisdom does not show partiality to certain Christians and it is without hypocrisy.  In other words, the Christian who grows from this wisdom does not show partiality to other Christians, and he is not a hypocrite.

(James 3:18 KJV)  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

And this wisdom or the fruit of righteousness is sown in them that make or desire peace.  In other words, those who are sincerely seeking the truth or the peace of God will receive true wisdom from God’s word.  If a person is not seeking the peace of God, then he will not receive true wisdom from God’s word.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 addresses the spiritual conflicts and quarrels that occur among Christians.  It is important to note that James is still speaking in reference to Christians, and not to the unsaved reprobate. This chapter confirms that the conflicts and quarrels among Christians occur because of the flesh nature that is still present in Christians.

(James 4:1 KJV)  From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

We must remember that James is addressing Christians, and the admonitions and warnings in this chapter are for Christians.

James asks these Christians where the wars and fighting originate among these Christians.  The word for war is hyperbole, which is a figure of speech that employs gross exaggeration to make a point.  We employ the same hyperbole today when we say that a man and wife are at war with each other.  The word for fighting is a metaphor for spiritual conflict or quarrels that occur among Christians.

After posing the question, James then proceeds to answer it by saying that the fights and quarrels among Christians come from the conflict between the spirit and flesh natures that are within all Christians.  The spirit nature and the flesh nature in each Christian wars against each other, and the flesh nature frequently wins out over the spirit nature.  It has been stated that our old flesh nature wars against our new spirit nature and the one that wins is the one that we feed the most.  This is a strong lesson that we should be feeding our spirit nature on the unleavened Word of God, as stated earlier in James. It is the engrafted Word of God that is able to save our souls (James 1:21).

(James 4:2 KJV)  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

James expands on the operation of the old man or old flesh nature in Christians.  Lust is the desires of the old nature, and the lusts of the old nature result in murder and covetousness (i.e., kill and desire to have).  David lusted after Bathsheba, so he had her husband killed on the battlefront so he could have her.

Covetousness more often results in the frustration of not having that which is coveted.  The second part of this verse about not having because we do not ask God actually belongs with the following verse.  The correct way for a Christian to have his legitimate needs met is to ask God, and the reason God does not grant many of our requests are explained in the following verse.

(James 4:3 KJV)  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Many of the petitions by Christians are not granted simply because we ask out of our lusts rather than a spirit-filled petition.  It is not wrong to ask God for our physical needs, but we often ask in regard to our wants, which exceed those things that we need.  If we petition God out of a humble and spirit-filled life, then he will more often than not grant these petitions.  This is confirmed in the following verse:

(1 Pet 3:12 KJV)  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

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

The righteous man does not pray for wealth and things that the flesh lusts after, but he prays for things that are in accordance with God’s will.  These things can be physical needs, but they are more often spiritual things.  This is why I believe that the Christian who consistently prays to be part of the Firstfruits Rapture and to be the bride of Christ will most likely be granted these petitions.  The Christian who greatly desires these things will not only pray for them consistently, but he will live his life purposely to be pleasing to God in all things.  He may fail daily, but the purpose of his heart is to please God.

(James 4:4 KJV)  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

“Ye adulterers” is not in the Nestle text.  James calls these Christians “Ye adulteresses” instead of brethren, since the Church is likened unto a betrothed bride for Jesus Christ, but many have committed spiritual harlotry, which is idolatry.  James states that Christians who have an illegitimate relationship with the world are at enmity with God.  The Christian who is a friend to the world is an enemy of God, and James is referring to born again Christians.

(James 4:5 KJV)  Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

This is a difficult verse to understand, but it basically states that the Scriptures confirm that the Holy Spirit yearns for us to be faithful to God.  The Holy Spirit envies or desires our faithfulness.  This is not a selfish envy, but an envy that would result in our best interests being realized.  The Holy Spirit greatly desires to control us for our own good, so that we might become the bride of Christ and enter into the kingdom of heaven.  This is not a selfish desire of the Holy Spirit, but a desire that results in our good.  The Holy Spirit envies the friendship that unfaithful Christians have with the world.

The word “lusteth” means to desire greatly to the point of envy, but this desire of the Holy Spirit is something that is good and not detrimental to the individual. The Holy Spirit desires that we all be found faithful to God.

(James 4:6 KJV)  But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

The Holy Spirit provides more grace or unmerited favor to those who humble themselves before God.  The call is to shun pride and to submit humbly to God’s authority.  The Greek word for “resisteth” means to battle against.  God battles against the prideful, but he provides grace to the humble.

(James 4:7 KJV)  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

The Christian is to submit himself to the control of the Holy Spirit.  If the Christian resists the devil, he will flee.  This is a promise to Christians who are under attack by the devil and/or his demons.

(James 4:8 KJV)  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

If the Christian will draw near to God, then God will draw near to the Christian.  It is our decision to be close to God or to continue in the world.  James tells Christians that we are to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts, and he refers to Christians who are defiled as being double minded.  We have already discussed the double-minded person.  A person who is double minded is two-souled.  He seeks after the things of the spirit and the things of the flesh.  He tries to serve both God and mammon, and this is impossible to do. The Christian who tries to serve both God and mammon will fare worse at the Judgment Seat of Christ than a Christian who seeks solely after the things of the world.  The Christian who seeks solely after the things of the world is not a hypocrite, and God prefers that we be cold instead of merely lukewarm.

(James 4:9 KJV)  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

The recognition of the need for cleansing has no room for merriment.  Christians who need cleansing should grieve (i.e., be afflicted), mourn and weep over their sins.  The Christian in need of cleansing should exchange merriment for mourning, and gaiety for gloom (literally, a downcast look that is expressive of sorrow).

(James 4:10 KJV)  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

If we humble ourselves in God’s sight, then he will lift us up or exalt us in due time.  Humility will eventually bring honor.  This is confirmed three times in the Gospels.

(Mat 23:12 NIV)  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

(Luke 14:11 NIV)  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

(Luke 18:14 NIV)  "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

(James 4:11 KJV)  Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

To slander and judge (i.e., condemn) one another is inconsistent with the humility that God requires in Christians.  To judge another Christian is a judgment of God’s law itself, and his law is mandatory for all people.  No one should dare assume a haughty position over God’s Law, as he usurps the authority of God as Judge.  The slanderer shall be sentenced by the Law, and the presumptuous judge is in jeopardy of the Law, for the mercy that these Christians lack will also be lacking in Jesus when they are judged.  We Christians should be very merciful in our attitudes toward our fellow Christians.  Slander and judgment should give way to love and mercy.

(James 4:12 KJV)  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

God is the lawgiver, and He shall be the judge.  We are not qualified to judge as we do not know all of the facts as God does.  This saving and destroying is pertaining to the soul of the Christian, and has nothing to do with the unsaved person.  The souls of all Christians will either be saved or destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Heaven and hell are not in the picture here, but the receipt or loss of reward is the focus.

(James 4:13 KJV)  Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

This verse and the next three pertain to boasting and bragging, which proceeds out of arrogance rather than a humble and contrite spirit.  The NIV translates this very well:

(James 4:13 NIV)  Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."

(James 4:14 KJV)  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

(James 4:14 NIV)  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

(James 4:15 KJV)  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

This verse does not just give us words that we should say, but it reflects that our total attitude should be in deference to God and his will for us.  It is arrogant to boast about what we are going to do, and arrogance is evil or sin.

(James 4:16 KJV)  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

The Christian who boasts of what he is going to do is trusting in his own power and abilities rather than the power and abilities of God.  The Christian who rejoices or glories in his own boasting is committing sin.

(James 4:17 KJV)  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James sums up the passage in saying that the Christian who knows the good that he should do, but does not do it is committing sin.

Chapter 5

In chapter 5 James focuses his attack on unfaithful Christians who are rich in material possessions.  I must reiterate that these rich men being rebuked by James are Christians.  There is no hint throughout the chapter that these are unsaved reprobates.

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

James continues his attack on unfaithful Christians, and he focuses his attack on the rich ones who have hoarded wealth, and centered their lives on the accumulation of riches instead of seeking spiritual maturity.  God has a great deal to say against the accumulation of wealth, and the accumulated wealth shall be a witness against the rich man.

James warns the rich men that they should go into great mourning because of the afflictions and miseries that are to come upon them.  This warning appears to be to all Christians throughout the Church Age, and not just to those who will be cast into the tribulation period under Antichrist, although that would be part of the warning. It is confirmed in verses 7 and 8 below that it is referring to Christians alive at the time of the coming of the Lord.

As to the warning being for all Christians throughout the Church Age, it appears that Christians who serve mammon instead of the Lord will never find true happiness in their wealth.  There will be tribulations and the lack of blessings from the Lord throughout their lives.  Rich Christians will have peace with God, but they will not likely have the peace of God.

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

James uses a figure of speech in saying that their riches or wealth are corrupted or destroyed, and the moths destroy their garments.  This is an allusion to the Judgment Seat of Christ where all accumulated riches will perish, and the works of these Christians (i.e., their outer garments) will be worthless.  The picture is the destruction or perishing of the souls of Christians who have devoted their lives to the accumulation of wealth.

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

The rich have always sought after gold and silver.  Cankered means that their gold and silver have corroded. Corrosion happens to metals when they are stored without being used.  The Christian who hoards his wealth without using it in the Lord’s work will see it corrode.  The word for rust means poison, and poison is that which kills.  The poison of the hoarded wealth shall be a witness against Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and it shall cause their flesh to be eaten as if the poison were a fire.  The allusion is to the destruction of the soul or the old flesh nature of Christians by the lake of fire.  This is referring to the trial by fire that all Christians will experience. The souls of many Christians will perish in the lake of fire. This pertains to the loss of reward and not eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

To heap treasure means to store up or hoard wealth upon the earth.  The last days refers to the two thousand years since the coming of Christ.  We have been in the last days since Christ came the first time.  The ages of God are broken down into seven days with a day being equal to a thousand years in accordance with the following Scripture:

(2 Pet 3:8 KJV)  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The last two days or two thousand years of man are the last days of man.  The seventh thousand years will be the day of God.  Many Christians have heaped together wealth for themselves during the last two thousand years (i.e., the Church Age), but it will perish or be destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

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

The warning continues against rich Christian employers who have taken advantage of their employees by not paying them a fair wage.  The cries of these poor employees have reached the ears of Jesus Christ who is the Lord of the Sabbath.  In other words, there will be a just recompense of reward during the Sabbath Day or the Millennium.  There is going to be a reversal of positions during the millennial kingdom.  The rich Christians who cheated their fellow Christians out of a fair wage will be ruled over by these very same Christians.  This is confirmed in the following Scriptures:

(Mat 19:30 KJV)  But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

(Mat 20:16 KJV)  So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

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

These rich Christians that have cheated their employees by not paying them a fair wage have themselves lived in luxury and pleasure on the earth.  The word “wanton” means that these rich Christians have been “gratuitously cruel”.  It means that they have been so selfish with their riches that they are guilty of cruelty.

“Nourished your hearts,” means that these Christians have pampered themselves and lived luxuriously, as if they were cattle being fattened up for the slaughter.  The words “as if” shows that this is a figurative expression.  The picture is that many rich Christians are enjoying the luxuries of life without realizing that they will be destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  When dumb animals are fattened up for slaughter, they simply enjoy the plenteous food without realizing what will shortly come to pass.  James is warning these rich Christians that they can enjoy the pleasures now, but there is a price to be paid later, and that price is the destruction of the souls of these Christians. The Laodicean Christians of today ignore this warning by assigning it to unsaved reprobates.

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

The word for condemned means that these rich Christians have pronounced judgment against the poor Christians, and they have figuratively killed them in this pronouncement of judgment.  The Laodicean church of today sees wealth as a blessing from God, so the Christian without wealth is adjudged as lost.  The word just means those Christians who have been justified by works.  It is important to note that these faithful Christians who have been justified by works do not resist the rich Christians who have condemned and hated them.  The Christian who hates another Christian is guilty of the murder of that Christian, even though the physical act of murder has not taken place.  At the Judgment Seat of Christ these rich Christians will be guilty of the unmerciful judgment and killing of their fellow Christians.

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

James changes from addressing the unfaithful rich Christians to addressing those Christians who are looking for the Return of the Lord.  The Christians who are looking for the Return of the Lord are the ones who are condemned and hated by the rich Christians.

James is telling these faithful Christians to be patient in their watch for Jesus, since he is very patient in waiting for the precious fruit of the Church. The words “early” and “latter” refer to the precious fruit and not the early and latter rains of the harvest season. The word for “rain” is not in the oldest manuscripts. An accurate translation of this verse is as follows:

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

The early fruit is the Firstfruits Rapture of the Church. The latter fruit is the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church.

The Christians who have condemned and hated their fellow Christians will not be taken in the Firstfruits Rapture, but they must go through the period of summer, which is the first half of the tribulation period.  They must suffer the afflictions that were mentioned in verse 1 above.

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

James exhorts these Christians who are being persecuted to establish their hearts in their waiting for the Return of the Lord.  “Stablish your hearts” means to turn resolutely in a certain direction and do not turn or waiver from this aim or goal.  Even if you have to wait for what seems like a long period of time, do not be removed from your purpose to remain faithful to the Lord.  Even if a person must die first, he will be resurrected and taken with the Firstfruits of the Church.  Paul called this the “out-resurrection”.

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

James tells us not to murmur or complain against our fellow Christians, or we might be judged or punished for our murmuring and complaints.  The warning is given significance or meaning by the statement that the Judge, Jesus Christ, is standing at the door ready to enter and judge.  We should always be ready to meet the Lord for Judgment.  The word for grudge literally means to cause grief for our fellow Christians by our behavior.  James is warning us Christians not to cause grief for our fellow Christians. The word for condemned means to be judged, and there is a consequence for this judgment in the form of punishment or loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  The following Scriptures are referring to the punishment for smiting our fellow Christians:

(Mat 24:48 KJV)  But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

(Mat 24:49 KJV)  And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

(Mat 24:50 KJV)  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

(Mat 24:51 KJV)  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This punishment is being separated (i.e., cut asunder) from the faithful Christians and being left at the Firstfruits Rapture to go through the first half of the tribulation period.  This is prior to the Judgment Seat of Christ, so this Christian would still have an opportunity to become a faithful Christian.

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

James tells us that we should look at the prophets of old as our example of suffering affliction, and being patient for the Return of the Lord.  These old prophets spoke in the power and authority (i.e., in the name) of the Lord, and they suffered greatly for it.  We should not expect anything less today during the Church Age.  When we speak and teach the deeper truths of the Bible, we should expect persecution, and we should not murmur and complain about this persecution.  Instead, we should pray for those who persecute us.  We should love them, realizing that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is up to the Lord to judge them for their actions, and not us.  The Lord shall judge us in the same way that they will be judged, and we should desire and strive to be blameless before the Lord at the time of our judgment.

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

The Christians who patiently endure unto the end shall be counted as being among the blessed (i.e., happy).  James gives the example of Job who suffered through his afflictions and was rewarded greatly after his suffering.  The word pitiful means the Lord is very compassionate.  He is also very merciful.

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

For some reason James places primary importance on Christians not taking oaths about things.  This is not profanity but an oath or swearing that what we say is true.  James says that we should just simply affirm or deny something without swearing or taking an oath about it.  Oaths are very dangerous for the Christian, for the simple reason that God holds us accountable for keeping these oaths.  If we make these oaths, and then do not live up to them, then we will be judged for this failure at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  God takes our oaths seriously, and this verse establishes just how serious He takes them.  The following Scripture passage confirms the importance of Christians refraining from making oaths:

(Mat 5:33 KJV)  Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

(Mat 5:34 KJV)  But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:

(Mat 5:35 KJV)  Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.

(Mat 5:36 KJV)  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

(Mat 5:37 KJV)  But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

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

In this verse James emphasizes the two most important activities that a Christian can perform: prayer and praise.  Afflicted means to suffer hardships or evils.  The simple solution is prayer.  If things are going well and the Christian is joyful and happy, he should praise the Lord in singing hymns or songs of praise.

(James 5:14 KJV)  Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

The Greek word for “sick” in this verse means to be weak or weary in the faith.  It is not in reference to being physically sick.  It means those Christians who have been morally or spiritually weak.  The elders of the church are to pray over this Christian, and the anointing with oil is not the ritualistic act of anointing, but the mundane act of actually rubbing or grooming the individual with oil.  This grooming with oil is to be done in the name—power and authority—of the Lord.  I believe the anointing with oil is a figurative expression that means to infuse the person with the Holy Spirit by invoking the power and authority of Jesus Christ.  My modern day paraphrase of this verse is as follows:

(James 5:14 Paraphrase) Is anyone in your fellowship spiritually weak or weary?  Let him call for the most faithful in the fellowship to pray over him.  This will infuse him or strengthen him with the Holy Spirit by the prayers of these faithful Christians who speak in the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The reason for the above understanding is that oil is a type or symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the purpose of rubbing the oil on a person is to cause it to enter into or be infused into the skin or body of the person.  New Testament Greek is a highly figurative language, so the meaning here is not to infuse oil into the body of the spiritually weak believer, but to infuse the Holy Spirit into the believer by the strong faith of the elders in the Church.  This meaning is confirmed in the following verses.

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

The prayers of these faithful elders in the church will save this spiritually weak Christian.  Of course, the salvation is the salvation of the soul, which is confirmed in the last verse of this chapter.  It is the salvation of the soul that causes this Christian to be raised up or exalted at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  This infusing of the Holy Spirit by the power of prayer will cause the individual to repent and be cleansed of any sins that he has committed.

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

This verse confirms that we are to confess our sins to one another, so we can pray for one another and be made whole.  The wholeness has reference to the complete or mature Christian that James referred to in the first chapter.  This verse confirms the reason that the spiritually weak Christian is to call upon the elders (i.e., the ones with strong faith) to pray for him.  The prayers of the faithful and strong Christian who lives righteously has a lot of power to assist and strengthen other Christians.  The reason is that the Christian who is walking in the power of the spirit prays with the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

James gives the example of Elijah as a man whose prayers were highly effective.  James initiates his explanation of Elijah as a faithful man of prayer by stating that he was a man subject to the same temptations as any believer.  James is implying that the excuse of the attitude “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen!” is not a valid excuse for being a weak and faithless Christian.  Elijah was subject to the same temptations as we are, yet he was a faithful man who prayed powerful prayers.

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

James continues the example of Elijah’s powerful prayers, even to the point of effecting a change in the forces of nature.

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

James completes his epistle by warning Christians that we need to do our best to convert wayward Christians from the error of the path on which they are traveling.  The Christians who do this are soul winners.  The soul winner is the Christian who helps other Christians to become faithful in their Christian walk.  The evangelist is not a soul winner in the strict sense of the meaning.

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

The Christian who causes a wayward brother to repent will save that Christian’s soul, and cause his sins to be covered or atoned for via the confession of sins in accordance with the following verse:

(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


The book of James was written to believers warning us about the salvation of our souls, and exhorting us to faithfulness.  James confirms that it is the engrafted Word of God that can save our souls, and that it is the responsibility of fellow Christians to assist fellow believers in soul salvation.  The failure to do this results in the death of the soul.  This does not mean to be cast into hell for all eternity, but it does mean the loss of a wasted life lived in self-indulgence.  It is the life or soul that is lost at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the loss of reward. The death and destruction of the souls of Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ is a primary theme of the Bible.