James 5:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 5:4, NIV: Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

James 5:4, ESV: Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

James 5:4, KJV: Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.

James 5:4, NASB: Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of armies.

James 5:4, NLT: For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The wages you held back cry out against you. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

James 5:4, CSB: Look! The pay that you withheld from the workers who mowed your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Armies.

What does James 5:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

James continues his criticism of wealthy landowners who had been oppressing the poor, including James's Christian readers. He had written of a coming judgment in which they would be condemned. They would be punished for hoarding wealth while so many suffered in great need. James phrases much of this as if it had already happened, which is a common technique seen in the Old Testament.

Here, James charges these abusive rich men not just with neglect and selfishness, but with outright fraud. These wealthy businessmen cheated their own employees out of the wages they had earned working in the fields. In the Old Testament Law, employers were commanded to pay their laborers at the end of the work day, because the workers needed the money and they might cry out to the Lord if cheated by their employer (Deuteronomy 24:15). James describes the unpaid money itself as crying out against the oppressive landowners, along with the voices of the workers.

The landowners should be sure of this: Those voices have reached the Lord of Hosts. That name, "Lord of Hosts", is one often used throughout Scripture in association with God's judgment. The Lord commands powerful armies, and He is coming for you, James is saying.