“Is Any among You Afflicted?” A Study of James 5:13-20 -- By: Carl Armerding

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 095:378 (Apr 1938)
Article: “Is Any among You Afflicted?” A Study of James 5:13-20
Author: Carl Armerding


“Is Any among You Afflicted?”
A Study of James 5:13-20

Carl Armerding

The last few verses of James’ epistle present difficulties to not a few devout readers of Scripture. The divergent views held, and the disappointments experienced by some as they seek to apply the views they hold, all indicate that there is room for further study of the passage. In doing this one has no thought of controversy; one’s sole desire is to give help as enabled by the Spirit of God.

Perhaps one of the things that has hindered some from making full use of this part of Scripture is the fact that it is part of an epistle addressed to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” But we remember that this is part of “all Scripture” “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16).

Moreover, in the very verses now under consideration, James speaks of “the elders of the church.” Why consult them if the church has no interest in such things? To say, as some do, that it would be impossible in these days of confusion to call for the elders of the church is hardly satisfactory. Guided by such Scriptures as 1 Tim 3 and Titus 2 we believe that we can still recognize elders wherever and whenever they may be found. To deny this is to assign a very temporary value to an important part of the Word of God.

But to begin with let us ask just what it is that the Apostle James is dealing with here. It must be admitted by all who

recognize the tripartite nature of man that he has spiritual as well as physical ailments. Psalm 103, carefully read, speaks of the soul’s diseases. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” the Psalmist sings, and then without any change in the address he continues, “Who healeth all thy diseases.” With that in mind let us consider the verses now before us.

(1) “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.” Earlier in the chapter (verse 10) James uses the word κακοπαθείας in a way which shows that he has no thought of bodily ailments, unless indeed the prophets there referred to were being tortured because of their testimony. But then that is a totally different thing from suffering with some bodily disease. What it means to Hebrew believers to stand for Christ in the midst of a nation which, as such, has definitely rej...

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