COMING ON THE
PATIENT UNTO THE
1. Go to now--Come now. A phrase to call solemn attention.
ye rich--who have neglected the true enjoyment of riches, which
consists in doing good. James intends this address to rich Jewish
unbelievers, not so much for themselves, as for the saints, that they
may bear with patience the violence of the rich
knowing that God will speedily avenge them on their oppressors
miseries that shall come--literally, "that are coming upon you"
unexpectedly and swiftly, namely, at the coming of the Lord
primarily, at the destruction of Jerusalem; finally, at His visible
coming to judge the world.
2. corrupted--about to be destroyed through God's curse
on your oppression, whereby your riches are accumulated
CALVIN thinks the sense is, Your riches perish
without being of any use either to others or even to yourselves, for
instance, your garments which are moth-eaten in your chests.
garments . . . moth-eaten--referring to
Mt 6:19, 20.
3. is cankered--"rusted through" [ALFORD].
rust . . . witness against you--in the day of
judgment; namely, that your riches were of no profit to any, lying
unemployed and so contracting rust.
shall eat your flesh--The rust which once ate your riches, shall
then gnaw your conscience, accompanied with punishment which shall prey
upon your bodies for ever.
as . . . fire--not with the slow process of
rusting, but with the swiftness of consuming fire.
for the last days--Ye have heaped together, not treasures as ye
but wrath against the last days, namely, the coming judgment of the
Lord. ALFORD translates more literally, "In
these last days (before the coming judgment) ye laid up (worldly)
treasure" to no profit, instead of repenting and seeking salvation
4. Behold--calling attention to their coming doom as no vain
of you kept back--So English Version rightly. Not as
ALFORD, "crieth out from you." The "keeping
back of the hire" was, on the part OF the
rich, virtually an act of "fraud," because the poor laborers
were not immediately paid. The phrase is therefore not, "kept back
by you," but "of you"; the latter implying
virtual, rather than overt, fraud. James refers to
De 24:14, 15,
"At this day . . . give his hire, neither shall the
sun go down upon it, lest he CRY against thee unto
the Lord, and it be sin unto thee." Many sins "cry" to heaven for
vengeance which men tacitly take no account of, as unchastity and
injustice [BENGEL]. Sins peculiarly offensive to
God are said to "cry" to Him. The rich ought to have given freely to
the poor; their not doing so was sin. A still greater sin was their not
paying their debts. Their greatest sin was not paying them to the poor,
whose wages is their all.
cries of them--a double cry; both that of the hire abstractly,
and that of the laborers hired.
the Lord of sabaoth--here only in the New Testament. In
it is a quotation. It is suited to the Jewish tone of the Epistle. It
reminds the rich who think the poor have no protector, that the Lord of
the whole hosts in heaven and earth is the guardian and avenger of the
latter. He is identical with the "coming Lord" Jesus
5. Translate, "Ye have luxuriated . . . and wantoned."
The former expresses luxurious effeminacy; the latter,
wantonness and prodigality. Their luxury was at the
expense of the defrauded poor
on the earth--The same earth which has been the scene of your
wantonness, shall be the scene of the judgment coming on you: instead
of earthly delights ye shall have punishments.
nourished . . . hearts--that is glutted your bodies
like beasts to the full extent of your hearts' desire; ye live to eat,
not eat to live.
as in a day of slaughter--The oldest authorities omit "as." Ye
are like beasts which eat to their hearts' content on the very
day of their approaching slaughter, unconscious it is near. The phrase
answers to "the last days,"
which favors ALFORD'S translation there, "in," not
6. Ye have condemned . . . the just--The Greek
aorist expresses, "Ye are accustomed to condemn . . .
the just." Their condemnation of Christ, "the Just," is foremost in
James' mind. But all the innocent blood shed, and to be shed, is
included, the Holy Spirit comprehending James himself, called "the
Just," who was slain in a tumult. See my
This gives a peculiar appropriateness to the expression in this verse,
the same "as the righteous (just) man"
The justice or righteousness of Jesus and His people is what peculiarly
provoked the ungodly great men of the world.
he doth not resist you--The very patience of the Just one is
abused by the wicked as an incentive to boldness in violent
persecution, as if they may do as they please with impunity. God doth
"resist the proud"
but Jesus as man, "as a sheep is dumb before the shearers, so He opened
not His mouth": so His people are meek under persecution. The day will
come when God will resist (literally, "set Himself in array against")
His foes and theirs.
7. Be patient therefore--as judgment is so near
(Jas 5:1, 3),
ye may well afford to be "patient" after the example of the
unresisting Just one
brethren--contrasted with the "rich" oppressors,
unto the coming of the Lord--Christ, when the trial of your
patience shall cease.
husbandman waiteth for--that is, patiently bears toils and
delays through hope of the harvest at last. Its "preciousness" (compare
"precious seed") will more than compensate for all the past. Compare
the same image,
Ga 6:3, 9.
hath long patience for it--"over it," in respect to it.
until he receive--"until it receive"
[ALFORD]. Even if English Version be
retained, the receiving of the early and latter rains is not to be
understood as the object of his hope, but the harvest for which
those rains are the necessary preliminary. The early rain fell at
sowing time, about November or December; the latter rain, about March
or April, to mature the grain for harvest. The latter rain that shall
precede the coming spiritual harvest, will probably be another
Pentecost-like effusion of the Holy Ghost.
8. coming . . . draweth nigh--The Greek
expresses present time and a settled state.
"is at hand." We are to live in a continued state of expectancy of the
Lord's coming, as an event always nigh. Nothing can more
"stablish the heart" amidst present troubles than the realized
expectation of His speedy coming.
9. Grudge not--rather "Murmur not"; "grumble not." The
Greek is literally, "groan": a half-suppressed murmur of
impatience and harsh judgment, not uttered aloud or freely. Having
exhorted them to patience in bearing wrongs from the wicked, he now
exhorts them to a forbearing spirit as to the offenses given by
brethren. Christians, who bear the former patiently, sometimes are
impatient at the latter, though much less grievous.
lest . . . condemned--The best manuscript authorities
read, "judged." James refers to
"Judge not lest ye be judged." To "murmur against one another"
is virtually to judge, and so to become liable to be
judge . . . before the door--referring to
The Greek is the same in both passages, and so ought to be
translated here as there, "doors," plural. The phrase means "near at
which in the oldest interpretations [Targums of Jonathan and
Jerusalem] is explained, "thy sin is reserved unto the
judgment of the world to come." Compare "the everlasting doors"
whence He shall come forth). The Lord's coming to destroy Jerusalem is
primarily referred to; and ultimately, His coming again visibly to
10. the prophets--who were especially persecuted, and therefore
were especially "blessed."
example of suffering affliction--rather, simply, "of
affliction," literally, "evil treatment."
11. count them happy--
which endure--The oldest authorities read, "which have endured,"
which suits the sense better than English Version: "Those who in
past days, like the prophets and Job, have endured trials." Such, not
those who "have lived in pleasure and been wanton on the earth"
patience--rather, "endurance," answering to "endure": the
Greek words similarly corresponding. Distinct from the
Greek word for "patience"
The same word ought to be translated, "endurance,"
He here reverts to the subject which he began with.
Job--This passage shows the history of him is concerning a real,
not an imaginary person; otherwise his case could not be quoted as an
example at all. Though he showed much of impatience, yet he always
returned to this, that he committed himself wholly to God, and at last
showed a perfect spirit of enduring submission.
and have seen--(with the eyes of your mind).
ALFORD translates from the old and genuine
reading, "see also," &c. The old reading is, however, capable of being
translated as English Version.
the end of the Lord--the end which the Lord gave. If Job had
much to "endure," remember also Job's happy "end." Hence, learn, though
much tried, to "endure to the end."
that--ALFORD and others translate,
"inasmuch as," "for."
pitiful . . . of tender mercy--The former refers to
the "feeling"; the latter, to the act. His pity is shown
in not laying on the patient endurer more trials than he is able
to bear; His mercy, in His giving a happy "end" to the trials
12. But above all--as swearing is utterly alien to the Christian
meek "endurance" just recommended.
swear not--through impatience, to which trials may tempt you
(Jas 5:10, 11).
In contrast to this stands the proper use of the tongue,
James here refers to
let your yea be yea--Do not use oaths in your everyday
conversation, but let a simple affirmative or denial be deemed enough
to establish your word.
condemnation--literally, "judgment," namely, of "the Judge" who
"standeth before the doors"
13. afflicted--referring to the "suffering affliction"
let him pray--not "swear" in rash impatience.
merry--joyous in mind.
sing psalms--of praise. Paul and Silas sang psalms even in
14. let him call for the elders--not some one of the
elders, as Roman Catholics interpret it, to justify their usage in
extreme unction. The prayers of the elders over the sick would
be much the same as though the whole Church which they represent should
anointing him with oil--The usage which Christ committed to His
apostles was afterwards continued with laying on of hands, as a token
of the highest faculty of medicine in the Church, just as we find in
the Church's highest judicial function. Now that the miraculous