James 5:15 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 5:15, NIV: And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

James 5:15, ESV: And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

James 5:15, KJV: 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.

James 5:15, NASB: and the prayer of faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.

James 5:15, NLT: Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

James 5:15, CSB: The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

What does James 5:15 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Verse 15 must be read in context with verse 14 to be fully understood. Grasping that verse, and its meaning, is crucial to understanding what James is and is not saying in this passage. In verse 14, James instructed those who are "weak"—probably spiritually but possibly physically—to call for the elders or spiritual leaders of their local church. Those elders should both pray over that person and anoint that person with oil.

Here, in verse 15, James describes the expected result to that "prayer offered in faith" by the elders: The Lord will raise the person up. Any sins he has committed will be forgiven. If these two verses are describing a person who is physically ill, the promise is of a physical healing. If they are describing a person struggling with a weak faith, the promise is for a restored trust in God. In either case, if the cause of the problem is because of sin in that person's life, that sin will be forgiven.

Any verse that seems to be offering an unconditional promise of physical healing, even in response to a prayer of faith, may well cause confusion. Will every person who follows these specific steps in this specific order be healed of any illness at any time?

It's a delicate question, but the promise of the verse requires us to look at the language closely. When the elders of the church pray on behalf of this person with sincere faith, while anointing him or her with oil, the Lord will raise this person up. The promise doesn't seem to suggest when or how God will raise him up. Perhaps it will be immediate. Perhaps it will be in eternity, which is certainly a less satisfying answer. In any case, the believer in Christ will always be raised eventually and forever, we can be assured.

James's larger point is that Christians should not suffer in private. We should pray, yes, but we should also get others to pray for us. And we should expect God to answer.