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

James 5:5, NIV: You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

James 5:5, ESV: You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

James 5:5, KJV: Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

James 5:5, NASB: You have lived for pleasure on the earth and lived luxuriously; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

James 5:5, NLT: You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.

James 5:5, CSB: You have lived luxuriously on the earth and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

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

James continues his condemnation of the wealthy landowners who had been oppressing the poor, including James's Christian readers. In this verse he uses sharp, cutting imagery to drive home the reality of the coming judgment. In a time of great need, these wealthy people had lived out lives of luxury and self-indulgence. They had used their wealth to provide for themselves the easiest, softest lives possible. In doing so, they had fattened themselves, or their hearts, for the day of slaughter. And they had done this while not only ignoring the plight of others (James 5:3), but while abusing them in order to become even richer (James 5:4).

Most of James's first-century readers had firsthand experience seeing an animal fattened over time, in order to be slaughtered for food or sacrifice. These wealthy unbelievers had fattened themselves with luxury, just in time to be symbolically slaughtered in judgment. Their sin seemed pleasant at the time, but it was just setting them up for a more dramatic fall later on.

This supports the idea that James is not condemning wealth or all rich people. Rather, he is criticizing the sinful temptations that come with wealth: selfishness and greed.