James 5:13-18

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Text: James 5:13-18

Prayer and the Healing of the Sick

In verses 13-18 James suggests a variety of circumstances in which believers should pray.

I. Whenever someone is suffering affliction or misfortune, he should pray. Whenever someone is cheerful, he should be singing praise. In either situation, he is pouring out his heart to God - 5:13

James 5:13 - 13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

Is anyone afflicted is understood in the sense of is anyone suffering misfortune.

The answer is, Let him pray, i.e. he must be praying.

Is any merry? means, Is anyone cheerful? or, Is someone keeping up his courage?

The answer is, Let him sing psalms, i.e. he must be singing or he must be singing praise.

II. Whenever a believer is sick, he should ask the pastors of the church to pray for him and get medical help - 5:14

James 5:14 - 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Is any sick among you? is, Is any among you sick? Among you must be understood with any rather than with sick. It is not telling where someone might be sick; it is speaking of someone who is part of the group to whom James is writing this epistle. It speaks of bodily weakness.

Let him call for means he must call for (i.e. summon, call to himself, or invite). It is his responsibility. If sick people would call their pastors and let them know that they are sick and/or hospitalized, it would help the pastors to know with the result that they might visit them. It is difficult for a pastor to know that someone is in the hospital and needs a visit if no one informs him of it, especially when revelation has ceased.

The elders are the pastors.

Of the church suggests of the local church. They are not elders of some invisible congregation. Of the church suggests that James' readers are not merely fellow Jews but, although Jewish, are fellow believers.

Let them pray over him indicates that it is the responsibility of the elders, i.e. the pastors, of the local church to pray for the sick person.

Over him suggests they are in his presence standing up while he is apparently lying down because of his illness. You might say he is bedridden.

Anointing him with oil, i.e. with olive oil.

Some have understood this oil as symbolical of the Holy Spirit and believe it means anointing them with the Holy Spirit. Thus, the elders apply a drop of oil on the individual and pray for him.

It is better, however, to understand it literally, as meaning that the oil is applied to the individual medicinally. Olive oil was the universal medicine of the day and was applied externally or taken internally. It suggests that when ill, an individual ought to seek medical care and pray. Isaiah 1:6 , Mark 6:13 , and Luke 10:34 speak of oil for medicinal use.

Isaiah 1:6 - From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified (i.e. softened or soothed) with ointment.

Mark 6:13 - And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Luke 10:30-35 - (30) And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

(31) And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

(32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

(33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

(34) And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

(35) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

In the name of the Lord, where the name represents the Lord and everything about Him, suggests in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer is made to God the Father in the name of Christ.

III. Their prayer will deliver the sick one from his illness; and if his illness is the result of sins in his life, his confession of these sins will result in their forgiveness - 5:15

James 5:15 - 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

The prayer of faith suggests the prayer offered in faith, particularly the prayer of the elders who are praying over the sick individual. It is the elders' faith rather than the sick person's faith. Also, their prayer is based on their faith (or belief) in what the Scriptures say. It is not the quality or quantity of their faith as if the sick person can be healed if the elders have enough faith or if the sick person has enough faith to be healed.

Shall save is will save or will deliver.

The sick is the sick person who summoned the elders.

The Lord shall raise him up suggests that the Lord Jesus Christ will raise him up from his sick bed.

The condition, if he have committed sins (i.e. he is guilty of sins), may or may not be true. There may be a connection between his sin and sickness, or there may be no connection. He may not have sinned at all, and his sickness may be for some other reason.

If the condition is true, the conclusion will also be true; but if the condition is false, the conclusion will also be false. It suggests the possibility that he has committed sin but stops short of actually stating that he has.

Some may be guilty of sin and have become sick as a result; whereas, others are sick but not because of any sin on their part. Some may have even committed sin and not become sick.

They shall be forgiven is shall be remitted (i.e. pardoned or canceled).

The thought is that he has recognized that his sickness is the result of his sin and that he has confessed and forsaken his sin. As a result, the sickness may also (but not necessarily always) be removed.

IV. Believers should also acknowledge sins they have committed against each other and pray for each other in order that they may be healed - 5:16a

James 5:16 a - 16a Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. . . .

Confess is be confessing (i.e. be acknowledging or be admitting).

Your faults is your false steps (i.e. transgressions or sins).

One to another is to one another or to each other.

It is important that the believer make the circle of confession equal to the circle of offense. He should limit his confession to those affected by his sin. Some will have no knowledge of his sin and have no business learning of it.

Pray, i.e. be praying, one for another, i.e. on behalf of one another (or each other).

That ye may be healed is a purpose clause where that is in order that or for the purpose that you may be cured.

It suggests that they were in need of one another's prayers.

It also suggests that at least some of their physical ailments may have come as the result of sin. If the cause of the sickness or ailment is removed, the suggestion is that healing may well take place.

Prayer on behalf of other believers is always good, both for the one praying as well as for the one in need.

V. An effective prayer of a righteous person is able to accomplish much - 5:16b

James 5:16 b - 16b . . . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The effectual fervent prayer is an effective (i.e. a working, active, or operating) prayer.

Of a righteous man is of a righteous (i.e. upright or just) person

Availeth much is has power (i.e. is competent or is able) to do much.

VI. Elijah is cited as an example of a righteous man who, as a normal human being, prayed effectively. He prayed that it would not rain, and it did not rain for three and a half years - 5:17

James 5:17 - 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Elias was a man = Elijah was a human being.

Subject to like passions as we are suggests with the same nature we have, i.e. like us.

And he prayed earnestly is literally, And he prayed with prayer. This is a Hebraism which shows emphasis.

What Elijah prayed is that it might not rain, i.e. in order that (or for the purpose that) it not rain. - See I Kings 17-18

The result of Elijah's prayer was it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

It rained not is it did not rain.

On the earth would not necessarily mean the entire planet because earth is sometimes used in the sense of land or ground and should be understood in this sense in this verse.

By the space of three years and six months is throughout three years and six months.

VII. He prayed again, and rain again began to fall - 5:18

James 5:18 - 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

He prayed again is, Again he prayed or, Once more he prayed.

The result of his praying was the heaven gave rain.

A second result of Elijah's prayer was the earth brought forth her fruit.

The earth is the ground, and brought forth her fruit is put forth (or sprouted) its fruit.