The coming of the Lord
Rich oppressors will be judged
Come now, you rich, howl as you weep over your distresses that are coming upon you! Your wealth has decayed and your clothes have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded,* and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire—you stored it up for the last days. Look, the wages of the workers who cut your fields, that were unjustly held back by you, cry out, and the loud cries of the reapers have entered the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived on the earth in self-indulgence and luxury, you fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You condemned, you murdered the righteous—he offers you no resistance.§
Patience and perseverance
Therefore, brothers, be patient until the coming of the Lord. Consider, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and late rain. You also be patient. Keep your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord has approached. Do not groan against one another, brothers, lest you be judged. Look, the Judge is standing at your doors! 10 Brothers, take as an example the patient bearing of hardship and the steadfastness of the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.* 11 Indeed we count as blessed those who endure—you have heard of the perseverance of Job and have seen the final outcome given by the Lord, that He is very compassionate and merciful.
12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or any other oath. Let your “Yes” be “Yes”, and your “No”, “No”, lest you fall into pretense.
Righteous prayer is powerful
13 Is anyone among you suffering hardship? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the congregation, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will deliver the one who is sick,§ and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sin, it will be forgiven him.* 16 Confess your transgressions to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous one, being operative, is very powerful. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth produced its fruit.
Help the wanderer
19 Brothers, if anyone among you should wander away from the truth, and someone should turn him back, 20 let him know that the one who turns a sinner back from the error of his way will deliver a soul from death§ and will remove from sight a multitude of sins.*
* 5:3 For some reason they just hoarded their wealth; they did not invest it, did not put it to work. They are doubly at fault—they acquired the wealth unjustly, and then just sat on it. 5:3 They probably thought they were hoarding if for a future ‘rainy day’, but they were actually hoarding it against themselves at the Day of Judgment. 5:5 Back in the old days, when an animal was slaughtered you got to eat more than usual; things like liver, heart, tongue could not be preserved, so had to be eaten up. § 5:6 The tense of the verb changes from past to present, and I do not understand why. How can he offer resistance after he is dead? Or is this giving the rationale of the murderer, ‘might makes right’; someone who offers no resistance is like a sheep asking to be shorn. * 5:10 According to the Record, the OT prophets generally did not have an easy time of it. 5:11 See Job 42:10-13. God gave him double what he had lost. 5:12 Some 5% of the Greek manuscripts read ‘judgment’ instead of ‘pretense’ (as in NIV, TEV, LB, NASB, etc.). The more we talk, the more likely we are to say things that are not precisely true. § 5:15 The implication is that the person is really sick, confined to a bed (that is why the elders have to go to him). Note that it is the faith of the elders. * 5:15 The clear implication is that some sickness is the result of sin, but not all: “and if”. 5:16 In my own experience, praying by myself for my own healing does not always work. When I ask others to pray for me, the Lord usually answers. God likes to promote ‘mutuality’ or interdependence. 5:16 Just because we ourselves do not see, or are not allowed to see, an immediate result to our praying, does not mean that God is not answering. ‘The just shall live by faith’, and that includes praying. § 5:20 In spite of the demands of our doctrinal packages, I don't see how this can be referring to mere physical death. Apart from the Rapture, all Christians die physically. * 5:20 Most of the letter has been about sin, sinning and sinners, one way or another, so this is a fitting conclusion. As we help each other, it will reduce the level or incidence of sin, and therefore of the consequences thereof.