It is the excellency of the word of God that it teaches us not only divine wisdom for another world, but human prudence for this world, that we may order our affairs with discretion; and this is one good rule, To avoid suretiship, because by it poverty and ruin are often brought into families, which take away that comfort in relations which he had recommended in the foregoing chapter. 1. We must look upon suretiship as a snare and decline it accordingly, v. 1, v. 2.
This week's Sabbath School Bible Study Guide considers Getting Ready for the Harvest. The following commentary by Matt Reeves considers the topic through the lens of the Matthew's telling of the Parable of the Ten Virgins. -Ed
A cry was heard that night in Palestine. “Look! The bridegroom is coming! Hurry!”
After firmly condemning the rich, James then turns to his readers/listeners and admonishes them to be patient. After nearly inciting them to riot by condemning the rich landowners (or so it might seem), he then counsels them to accept their troubles with patience. James refers to the prophets and to Job as examples of those who suffered and were patient.
After the call to patience, James seems to drop in another unconnected admonition: Don’t swear at all, either by heaven or by earth (5:12). The connection with what precedes or what follows does not seem to be clear.
James 5:1-6 is the third frontal attack on the rich in the book, and this one the most brutal. Here the oppressive rich are the wealthy landowners who abuse their workers. In short, they have kept back the wages of their workers (5:4).
The attacks against the rich represent different groups within society. In 3:6 the offending ones are the bankers who drag the poor into court; in 4:13-17 the offenders are the traveling merchants; in 5:1-6 the offenders are the wealthy landowners.
Questions for Discussion:
In 1:26 James dropped a small bombshell against the unbridled tongue. Now in 3:1-12 he drops a large one, a blistering attack against the tongue. He does not really explain why this issue is so important to him, given his concern for social justice. Nor does he give us any direct help in controlling the tongue. But it is an urgent issue that deserves our attention.
Questions for Discussion:
The most highly visible passage in James involves the apparent tension between Paul and James on the question of faith and works. The most striking “contradiction” is between James 2:24 – “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” – and Romans 3:28: “For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.”
Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind, a change not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. It is the same with making a new heart and a new spirit-new dispositions and inclinations, new sympathies and antipathies; the understanding enlightened, the conscience softened, the thoughts rectified; the will bowed to the will of God, and the affections made spiritual and heavenly: so that the man is not what he was-old things are passed away, all things are become new; he acts from new principles, by new rules, with new designs.