James 5:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 5:3, NIV: Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.

James 5:3, ESV: Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.

James 5:3, KJV: Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

James 5:3, NASB: Your gold and your silver have corroded, and their corrosion will serve as a testimony against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

James 5:3, NLT: Your gold and silver have become worthless. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This treasure you have accumulated will stand as evidence against you on the day of judgment.

James 5:3, CSB: Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have stored up treasure in the last days.

What does James 5:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

James continues his harsh condemnation of wealthy non-Christians who had been oppressing the poor. This includes abuse against the very Christians James is writing to. He warns these rich oppressors that their wealth is as good as gone, including their gold and silver.

James's attention is on the day of God's judgment against these wealthy oppressors. The misuse of their gold and silver will testify against them, according to this symbolic description of corrosion. Instead of using their stockpiles of precious metals to help the poor, they just hoarded the money until it began to waste away. When God rules against them, their own flesh will be eaten away by fire in the same way the corrosion has eaten away their gold and silver.

Without doubt, this is a harsh and cutting pronouncement. James offers no grace from God for these unrepentant unbelievers. They will be condemned for their greed and selfishness. They are guilty of laying up earthly treasure for themselves in the last days instead of spending it to help those in need.

James echoes Jesus' own teaching: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).