The Book of James Bible Study

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James 5

The Trouble with Wealth - James 5:1-6

Hoarding Wealth

Until the Lord's Coming - James 5:7-9

You also be Patient

Patience and Perseverance - James 5:10-11

James and the Sermon on the Mount

Until the Lord's Coming

BACKGROUND: Three times James reminds us of the coming of the Lord (James 5:7-9). This is the blessed hope of the Christian (Titus 2:13). We do not expect to have everything easy and comfortable in this present life (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). We must patiently endure hardships and heartaches until Jesus returns.

Life is marked by pressure and problems that the outlook in the present is not very bright for many of God’s children. The social problem arising out of conflict between capital and labor, employer and employee, of which James has just written, is but a sample of the causes of hardship the Christian must
face. Should believers seek a cure for the world’s social ills apart from Christ? We all desire the part of the world where we live to be influenced for good. However, there is no cure-all for the mounting multiplicity of problems before the personal return of Jesus Christ. Until the Lord’s coming, James gives instructions on how to approach life.

James makes it very clear what kind of world we live in. It's a big, bad world with a dog-eat-dog
philosophy. Those who are climbing up the ladder of riches are stepping on the fingers of others as they go up. Should Christians join some organization and go all out for good government? Certainly we ought to be interested in trying to elect the best men. However, we cannot change this world, my friend. What, then, can we do? Listen to God; He is speaking now to His own children in James 5:7-9.

JAMES 5:7 a: In this chapter, James employs two different Greek words that are sometimes translated patience: (1) makroyumew (makrothumeo) which means “to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart” (James 5:7-8); and (2) upomonh (hupomone), which denotes perseverance, steadfastness, constancy, endurance (James 1:3-4, 12; 5:10-11). Many Greek scholars think that “long-suffering” refers to patience with respect to persons, while “endurance” refers to patience with respect to conditions or situations.

Webster’s definition of patience is “the power or capacity to endure without complaint something difficult or disagreeable.” Christ was an example of patience and we are to be like Him.

Among the words for "patience" that occur in the NT, the one in this command, "Be patient, then, brethren," stresses non-retaliation—to be long-tempered instead of short-tempered. It means to hold one's spirit in check. "Restrain your temper" is the idea. The believer is not to allow mistreatment and oppression to drive him to hatred, bitterness, or despair. Such feelings might be directed against the persons causing the pressure, or against God, who was allowing it to happen.

This non-retaliatory acceptance must be the response "until the coming of the Lord." James was referring to the return of Christ, which he thought might occur at any time. That understanding of Christ's promise was correct and should be the attitude of every Christian. His attitude was not mistaken. Although James set no dates, he recognized that Jesus had commanded His followers to maintain a spirit of watchfulness, and he was conveying that to his readers. Until Jesus comes and rights all wrongs, the Christian's obligation is to leave vengeance with Him and meanwhile maintain a patient spirit (cf. Psalm 82).

JAMES 5:7 b: The illustration of the farmer is drawn from Palestinian agriculture, with which James and most of his first readers were very familiar. He described the farmer as sowing seed on ground that experienced no rain at all during much of the year. The fields were brown and the soil was dry. Modern irrigation techniques were unknown, and dependence upon the rains was the only resource. Therefore, he must accept that factor and plan accordingly.

The phrase "early and late rains" refers to the fall rains in October and November, which soften the ground after the blistering heat of summer, and to the spring showers of April and May, which enable the grain to ripen. This reference to well-known features of Palestinian climate (Deuteronomy 11:14; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23) takes no notice of the heavy winter rains, which also fall on that land. The subject of the verb "gets," or "receives," is probably "it," referring to "the earth" (tes ges), rather than to the fruit (which does not exist when the early rains fall). The subject could also be "he," referring to the farmer.

Why does the farmer wait many weeks for his seed to produce fruit? The fruit is “precious” or
“valuable”—worth waiting for! Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Jesus taught: “All by itself the soil produces corn—first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:28-29).

James pictured the Christian as a “spiritual farmer” looking for a spiritual harvest. Our hearts are the soil, and the “seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). There are seasons to the spiritual life just as there seasons to the soil. Sometimes, our hearts become cold and “wintry,” and the Lord has to “plow them up” before He can plant the seed (Jeremiah 4:1-4). What is the harvest God is producing in our life? (Isaiah 5:1-7; Hosea 10:12; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:9-11; Galatians 5:22-23).

Next Section - You also be Patient

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