Bible: What Does James 5 Teach Us About Patience and Prayer?
The Righting of All Wrongs
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James 5: Patience and Prayer/Study Questions
Addressing the Rich
Having discussed the evil practices of worldly businessmen, James now addresses the rich, urging them to start mourning the imminent demise of their wealth (v. 1).
Every valuable that they have been amassing is falling apart; each piece of rusting property will testify of their unrighteousness before the judgment seat (vv. 2-3).
The rich have fraudulently retained workers’ wages, which join with the voice of the reapers in crying out for justice to the Lord of Hosts, the almighty King (v. 4).
James’ mere statement of the facts implies condemnation of the rich for flaunting their sumptuous lifestyle and for practicing “murder” against the submissive righteous in the law courts (vv. 5-6).
Addressing his brethren again, James encourages them to stay patient until Christ returns to Earth and brings about justice.
He draws an analogy between Jesus’ coming in judgment and the reaping of fruit after the proper rains (v. 7).
As the farmer must exercise patience, so James’ brethren must also strengthen their will until that Day (v. 8).
They should not complain against each other, but wait until the Judge enters the picture. If they judge, God will use the same measure to judge their works (v. 9).
James illustrates his definition of “patience” when he refers to OT prophets who suffered and endured great pains (v. 10).
Acknowledging that they all regard the prophets as divinely favored, he proceeds to mention Job as someone who persevered and afterwards received God’s mercy (v. 11).
James sees their making equivocal oaths as especially heinous in their relationships (“above all, my brethren, do not swear”) [v. 12].
[What connection does swearing falsely have to do with the context?]
Do you believe prayer works for all people?
James counsels sufferers to pray, for happy people to sing psalms, and for sick brethren to seek pastoral prayer and ministry in order to help them recover physically and spiritually (vv. 13-15).
[Among other facts, Ryrie notes that believing prayer does not always bring about healing; God heals people only when the miracle brings Him glory].
It is more likely that physical healing will take place when the sufferer confesses sins and his friends pray fervently for his recovery (v. 16).
To illustrate what earnest prayer can accomplish when it accords with God’s will, James mentions Elijah’s petition for a drought to occur and afterwards his prayer for rain to fall (vv. 17-18; cf. 1 Kings 17-18).
Finally, James leaves an encouraging word to anyone who brings a wanderer back to the fold; he should know that he may have prevented the sinner’s premature death and that he has not permitted far more sins from wreaking havoc in the church community (vv. 19-20).
Study Questions for James
- Which James is the author of this work?
- Despite this distinction, how does he regard himself?
- To whom is he writing this epistle?
- For what purpose does God use trials/troubles in the believer’s life?
- How should believers face trials?
- How must they ask God for wisdom in their trials?
- What kind of man will receive nothing from the Lord?
- What kind of man is unstable in everything he does?
- With what will the Lord reward those who persevere through their trials?
- Discuss the word peirasmos in both its noun and verb forms.
- What impulse lures people away from safety?
- What has the “Father of lights” done, and what has He not done?
- What three-fold perspective should believers have toward their trials?
- What is the “perfect law of liberty”?
- What are the constituent elements of a “pure and undefiled religion”?
- Discuss James’ attitude toward the rich and the poor.
- Why does one sin make one liable to God’s punishment?
- What does James mean when he asserts, “Faith without works is dead”?
- How did Abraham’s Genesis 22 work relate to his Genesis 15 faith?
- What ability indicates one’s spiritual maturity?
- What two examples does James use to demonstrate the control of a large object by a small one?
- What metaphor for the tongue does the author use?
- What four analogies from nature does James use to demonstrate that God does not intend His people to be living contradictions?
- What is the primary characteristic of heavenly wisdom?
- What does earthly wisdom foment?
1. What does James mean when he calls his brethren "adulteresses"?
2. What does James say is the cause of the source of interpersonal conflicts?
3. What do believers need to do to inaugurate closer fellowship with Christ?
4. In what way is a believer who is judging another judging the law?
5. When making plans, what question ought believers ask?
1. What virtue does James encourage his brethren to exercise in their pursuit of justice?
2. Why is the Roman Catholic Church's "sacrament of extreme unction" an improper interpretation of the elders' actions?
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