What does James 5:10 mean?
ESV: As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
NIV: Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
NASB: As an example, brothers and sisters, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
CSB: Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience.
NLT: For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
KJV: Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
NKJV: My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.
Verse Commentary:
James is urging his oppressed Christian readers to remain patient in their suffering. They must refuse to give in to the pressure to turn on each other. Instead, they should continue to believe God's promise that the day of the Lord is coming and all will be made right.

Previously, James offered the example of the farmer's patience as he waits for the harvest. Here, James offers the example of the Old Testament prophets. These men delivered God's messages, which often included warnings of God's coming judgment. Many years could go by without those warnings coming to pass, and the prophets often suffered great persecution while they waited for God to keep His word.

These men remained patient in their suffering, James insisted, trusting God to sustain them through it until the promise was kept, or the suffering was over. We should do the same.

Hidden in this encouragement is a truth that James's readers surely would not have missed: Many of the Jewish prophets died while waiting for the Lord's promise. Predictions of the Messiah, for example, were not fulfilled until centuries later. This is a key perspective, because James is not promising that God will necessarily deliver his readers and make all things right before they die. He is urging them to remain faithful, as the prophets did, all the way through this life and into the reward of eternity.

That doesn't mean that the day of the Lord cannot come before our earthly lives run out. Rather, it means this promise from God is not earthly, but eternal. This life is short by definition; God calls us to wait in patience and strength, trusting Him all of the way through it, no matter our circumstances.
Verse Context:
James 5:7–12 shifts focus from the condemnation of the rich oppressors, back to encouragement of the Christians these abusers were hurting. James urges believers to remain patient and strong in their faith. The day of the Lord is coming. They must not turn on each other, but they should be challenged and encouraged by the examples of the Old Testament prophets and Job who remained faithful to God through great suffering.
Chapter Summary:
What was causing fights and quarrels among the Christians to whom James was writing? They were living by the world's wisdom. This false perspective says human beings should do whatever it takes to get what they want in this life, even if it hurts other people. James says that to live that way is adultery, but God gives grace. Christians should repent and move close to God again. We should trust Him to provide, to be the Judge, and to lift us up in His time. In humility, we must acknowledge that all of our plans are dependent on Him, and He can change them at any moment.
Chapter Context:
Prior chapters in this letter focused on the relationship between beliefs and actions, and how to practically apply the concepts of Christianity. In chapter 4, James called his Christian readers to repent of their worldliness and turn back to closeness with God. Now in the last chapter of his letter, James addresses three things: He pronounces to the rich oppressors of the Christians that their judgment is coming on the day of the Lord. He urges those suffering under that oppression to remain patient, strong in their faith, as they wait for the day of the Lord. And he encourages all Christians to show their faith in God by praying in response to every circumstance.
Book Summary:
The book of James is about specifically understanding what saving faith looks like. How does faith in Christ reveal itself in a believer's life? What choices does real trust in God lead us to make? Those are the questions James answers. Most scholars believe the writer was Jesus' half-brother, a son born to Joseph and Mary after Jesus' birth. James may not have come to believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection. Eventually, though, he became one of the leaders of the Christian church in Jerusalem. This is possibly the earliest-written of all the New Testament books, around AD 40–50. James addresses his letter to Jewish Christians scattered around the known world.
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