James 5:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

James 5:6, NIV: You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

James 5:6, ESV: You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

James 5:6, KJV: Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

James 5:6, NASB: You have condemned and put to death the righteous person; he offers you no resistance.

James 5:6, NLT: You have condemned and killed innocent people, who do not resist you.

James 5:6, CSB: You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous, who does not resist you.

What does James 5:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

James offers his final charge against the wealthy oppressors he has been condemning: murder. Not only were they guilty of hoarding wealth while others suffered in poverty, of cheating their workers out of earned wages, and of living in self–indulgent luxury, they had literally caused an innocent—or righteous—man to die.

Wealthy landowners had great power in the court systems of the day. Unfortunately, then as now, court systems can be a rigged game. The wealthy can drag poor people into court on charges, legitimate or not. And with little resources to defend themselves in a corrupt system, the poor are mostly helpless against such tactics. In James's era in particular, a poor man who was sued would usually lose what little they had left. As a result, they may have been unjustly executed or simply left to die of starvation.

With that, James concludes his condemnation of these wealthy, non-Christian oppressors.

What should we, as Christians, take away from this? Scripture does not teach that possessing wealth is in itself a sin. Obviously, not all wealthy people oppress others, and many Christians in the world today possess great riches. Having said that, the Bible does warn against the trap of desiring to become rich (1 Timothy 6:9–10) and of trusting in riches once you possess them (1 Timothy 6:17–19).