James denounces the callous rich in language that recalls that of the Old Testament prophets. Cf. 1:9-11; 2:1-7.
- Verses 1-12. What is the outstanding fact underlying James’ warnings to the rich, and his counsel to the oppressed? Do we, rich or poor, share this eternal perspective? What reasons (verses 7-10) are there for self-control and what grounds for joyful peace of mind?
- Verses 13-20. In what ways are we called upon to help others? In particular, what illustrations are given here of the power of prayer, and what conditions of effective prayer are laid down?
- Verse 3b. NEB translates, ‘you have piled up wealth in an age that is near its close.’
- Verse 6. The reference is probably not to Christ, as some suppose (cf. Acts 7:52), so much as to prevailing social conditions.
- Verse 9. ‘Don’t grumble’: the verse recalls 4:11, 12, where open criticism is discouraged; notices the similar legal language.
- Verse 11. See Job 42:12.
- Verse 12.It seems that James’ readers were notoriously unable to control their tongues: cf. 1:19, 26; 2:12; 3:5ff; 4:11; 5:9.
- Verse 16. ‘Confess your sins’: there must be no hushing up of sin if prayer is to prevail. Cf. Ps. 66:18; Matt. 5:23, 24.