What does James 5:11 mean?
ESV: Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
NIV: As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
NASB: We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
CSB: See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job's endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about--the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
NLT: We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
KJV: Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
James continues to urge his oppressed Christian readers to remain faithful to God. He calls on persecuted believers to trust Him in their suffering as they wait for the day of the Lord. In the previous verse, he encouraged them to follow the example of the Old Testament prophets who remained faithful to deliver God's message through the difficult circumstances of their own lives.
The goal of worldliness is to avoid suffering. It's the quest to get everything you want in life, no matter what it costs, no matter who it hurts. James makes it clear that the goal for Christians is different. We consider faithfulness to God despite suffering a mark of success. James uses the Greek word makarizomen, which literally means "to count as blessed, or happy, or successful." This praise is given to those who continue to demonstrate their trust in God by obedience and service to others.
Now James points to another example of this kind of faithfulness-despite-suffering. Some would say this is, in fact, the ultimate example. This story is told in the book of Job. Job was a man who endured enormous suffering while refusing to renounce his faith in God. In the end, God rewarded him by restoring all he had lost and giving him much, much more. Suffering Christians in every era should follow Job's example of faithfulness to God in their physical and emotional suffering, and every believer in Jesus should also expect, ultimately, to receive from God far more than we have ever lost.
The verse ends with a declaration about God's character: He is full of compassion, and He is merciful. God's character doesn't change. God's goodness is not greater when our circumstances are better, and lesser when we are suffering. He always has compassion for His people in our suffering, and He is always merciful to those in Christ, now and forever.
We must remind ourselves of that truth when the suffering becomes long and difficult to bear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:40:39 AM
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