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James 5:2

ESV Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.
NIV Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.
NASB Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten.
CSB Your wealth has rotted and your clothes are moth-eaten.
NLT Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags.
KJV Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
NKJV Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

What does James 5:2 mean?

James continues his condemnation of the group of rich people who had been oppressing James's Christian readers. This is done in a style similar to that of Old Testament prophets. In the previous verse, James told these selfish people to begin wailing in anticipation of the misery coming their way. Here, he says their wealth is as good as rotted away and their expensive garments are as good as moth-eaten rags.

James's point in this section is not to condemn all wealthy people, or all wealth. Rather, James is targeting a particular group of people. These are those rich people who have allowed their wealth to control them and warp their minds. The most tempting failure for those with wealth is to trust their material riches, rather than God (Matthew 19:23–24). When their wealth is gone, what will they have left? Given the brevity and unpredictable nature of life (James 4:13–14), their wealth and the things they purchased with it are already as good as gone.

This is especially true of those who use their riches only for selfish purpose, or who abuse others with what they have.
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