Translations: Chinese GB Big5

JAMES 5:7-12 (web)

Faith Produces Hope for the Judgment Day

5:7 Be patient therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord.
Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient over it, until it receives the early and late rain.
5:8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

5:9 Don't grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won't be judged.
Behold, the judge stands at the door.

5:10 Take, brothers, for an example of suffering and of patience,

the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
5:11 Behold, we call them blessed who endured. Y
ou have heard of the patience of Job,
and have seen the Lord in the outcome,
and how the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
5:12 But above all things, my brothers, don't swear,
neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath;
but let your "yes" be "yes," and your "no," "no;"
so that you don't fall into hypocrisy.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • In anticipation of Christ's coming, what is it that we should be patient about?
  • What inappropriate things are we impatient about?
  • In looking forward to Christ's coming, what is it about his coming that we are looking forward to?
  • In saying that the Lord's coming is near, it appears that James is off by at least a couple of thousand years. And all the believers of that generation died before the Lord's coming. So what does he mean that it is near?
  • vs 9 What does it mean to grumble against each other? Why would Christians do so?
  • I thought the Christians wouldn't go through the judgment (John 5:24),

  • so why does he say that they will be judged? (xref 1Cor 3:11-15)
  • vs 10 What is an example of a prophet who persevered in the face of suffering?
  • vs 11 Tell the story of Job's perseverance under suffering. In what way did he demonstrate patience and perseverance? What happened to him at the end? How does the way in which God treated Job conflict with many people's concept of one who compassionate and merciful? In what way was God compassionate and merciful to Job?
  • vs 12 Why do people uses phrases like "I swear to God", or "I swear on my mother's grave"?

  • What is wrong with swearing oaths?
    What if you were call into court and was asked to put your hand on a Bible and asked if you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - so help you God?


    CROSS REFERENCES

    vs 7-8 2Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    vs 9 1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

    vs 10 2Chron 36:15,16 The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.

    vs 11 Job 2:3 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason."

     Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes-- I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

    Heb 3:14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

    vs 12 Mt 5:33-37 "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one


    Comments

    Be Patient

    James 5:7-8 
    Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

    Likewise Peter writes, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2Peter 3:9 What is the "crop" of which James speaks of? Very commonly Jesus associates it with people. Notice in John 4: 35,36 "Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.  Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together." Likewise in his parable of the sower and other parables.

    However harvesting crops has both a positive and negative connotation. In Rev 14:18,19 it says, "Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. Likewise in the Old Testament we note that the reason why God waited 400 years before bringing the Israelites into the promise land was because, "the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." Gen 15:16

    What I take all this to mean is that the Lord is waiting until there is a clear distinction between the righteous and wicked, both being matured in their convictions and lifestyle. Such was characterstic of the autumn rain - the early church. But we have yet to see the spring rain where the wheat and the tares are clearly distinct.

    And just a word on the Charismatic spin on this verse - those who claim the latter rain to be an embracing of the elitist, class-distinctive Charismatic/Pentecostal doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it would seem that such a doctrine would lend itself to pride and consequently to the propagation of immaturity among the Christian community given that non-Charismatics are reckoned second class Christians. The emphasis of such a doctrine is on one's subjective experience and is used to justify whatever vain thought comes to one's mind as the Word of  God so as to reckon one's own ideas to be above scrutiny. It's much like the immaturity Paul criticized the Corinthians of in their overinflated view of tongues as the measure of one's spirituality, whereas we are taught that love for one another is the mark of the Christian. When the Christian community can be characterized by its love for one another - that is a measure of the latter rain.


    Forbear Fellow Christians

    James 5:9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

    Hasn't James been grumbling against the Christian community? ("You adulterers and adulteresses" Jam 4:4). Doesn't Paul grumble against the failings of the Christiam community in many of his letters? Apparently their judgments are not considered grumbling. So what constitutes "grumbling"? Making observations is not grumbling. Grumbling is the word "stenazo" in the original Greek, which means to sigh or groan. Here it's combined with "kata" which means "against" in this case. What he means is that Christians are to be patient and longsuffering with one another with regards to lesser matters, just as we must likewise be with regards to circumstances and with regards to offenses committed against us by the wicked, "with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph 4:2  Granted we must hold Christians to a higher standard, as it says, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."" 1Cor 5:12,13, but in fact the particular case Paul was dealing with there was a Christian willfully involved in gross sin, which is generally uncommon.

    And this ties in with his farming analogy. For the farmer must be longsuffering, waiting for the crop to mature. Likewise with regards to Christian's relationships with each other. You may have to lower your expectations in dealing with fellow Christians as you patiently wait for them to mature, just as they likewise may have to do so to you.


    Examples of Patience

    James 5:10,11 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

    Jesus said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!" Mt 23:37a What suffering the prophets faced was largely not at the hand of outsiders, but insiders. Likewise in the Christian community. Often the suffering one faces in service to God comes not from the outside, but from the inside. And concerning Jesus, "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Heb 12:3

    The suffering that Job faced was not just physical. His greater suffering was mental. For in the midst of his physical suffering he had to do mental combat the against accusations of his opponents telling him false, heretical, and slanderous things. Yet his attitude is revealed by his statement of hope:
     "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;  I myself will see him with my own eyes-- I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!  "If you say, 'How we will hound him, since the root of the trouble lies in him, ' you should fear the sword yourselves; for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment." Job 19:25-29
    And while Job's perseverance was not perfect, the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. So let's do the best we can. "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:36


    Vain Vows

    James 5:12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear— not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.

    "Condemned" is too strong a word as the NIV has it. The idea is more along the lines that you will be held accountable - fall under judgement, as the Law of Moses also state concerning pledges, "If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth." Num 30:2 For example if swears to a marriage vow, "Till death do us part", such a person is obligated to keep that vow. And while vows are not forbidden, they shouldn't be taken lightly.

    What James says is also an allusion to Jesus' sermon the mount where he says, "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." Mt 5:33-37

    Why make unnecessary oaths? For example, parents often with good intentions make promises to their children to give them a sense of security, but of which they know they may or may not be able to keep. Don't play God and teach your children to play God. Such is a common motivation in making oaths concerning things which we have little control over. By doing so people put themselves in the place of God, which is the root of all evil.  To swear by this or that - even by your own head and foot is foolish, for even these are not yours but God's.



    Speech - A Theme

    Seems a major theme in James is the control of one's speech.


    JAMES 5:7-12 RAP

    5:7 Be patient my brothers until the Lord come.
    As the farmer waits for the land until autumn
    To yield its fruit with the spring rains
    8 You too be patient and stand firm through the pains.
    For the Lord's coming is really quite near.
    So surely you can with each other bear.
    9 Don't grumble against the brothers, not anymore
    For the Judge is now standing right at the door.
    10 As an example of faith that stands under trial
    Take the prophets who endured for quite a long while.
    11 We count them blessed who have persevered
    Despite what they faced and what they feared.
    Or consider the story of Job and his foes,
    Well I'm sure that you know how that story goes.
    The Lord is full of compassion and grace
    That's why Job wanted to see him face to face.
    12 Above all my brothers, do not swear
    By heaven or earth, or by things here or there.
    Let your "yes" be yes and your "no", no
    Or you'll be condemned by what you sow.


    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


    Nov 02,2011