James 5

James denounces the callous rich in language that recalls that of the Old Testament prophets. Cf. 1:9-11; 2:1-7.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?


  1. Verse 3b. NEB translates, ‘you have piled up wealth in an age that is near its close.’
  2. Verse 6. The reference is probably not to Christ, as some suppose (cf. Acts 7:52), so much as to prevailing social conditions.
  3. Verse 9. ‘Don’t grumble’: the verse recalls 4:11, 12, where open criticism is discouraged; notices the similar legal language.
  4. Verse 11. See Job 42:12.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.