Introduction: In our study last week, James told the rich a terrible
time was coming upon them. Part of the reason was that they had been
unjust to their workers. This week James addresses a different
audience, church members. The message last week and the message this
week, however, seem to have some relationship to each other. Let’s
plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Patience

    1. Read James 5:7. He says, “Be patient, then.” If James is
      continuing from last week, what are they to be patient
      about? (Last week James said to the rich, “Misery … is
      coming on you” ( James 5:1). Members of the church were
      apparently employees who had been cheated. They should be
      patient because vindication is at hand. God will deal with
      the rich.)

      1. What will vindicate the church members? (The coming
        of the Lord – which is near.)

      2. That is a problem, isn’t it? If James had written
        that they should be prepared for the Second Coming,
        that would be a good message. But, he says that the
        rich are going to get justice and their victims
        vindication if they show patience. The problem is
        that they all died before Jesus came. Is James a
        false prophet? (I would have thought God was going to
        give me justice soon.)

      3. Read James 4:14. James says life is like a mist that
        disappears quickly. When we die, these kinds of
        problems come to a conclusion. Is that what James

    2. Re-read James 5:7 and add James 5:8. Does this sound like
      James is talking about death? (No! The farmer sees the
      autumn and spring rains. They come in a year. James also
      says “the Lord’s coming is near.”)

      1. If the time of vindication is like an annual event,
        and James says the time is “near,” how do you explain
        that it has been 2,000 years?

      2. It seems all the disciples thought Jesus return was
        near. To explain this I’ve heard people say something
        like: “Well, if the disciples had thought that the
        Second Coming was 2,000 years away, they would not
        have been motivated to share the gospel.” What do you
        think about that explanation?

        1. How many people lie to motivate you to buy
          something, because the truth would not be very

    3. Read Acts 1:6-8. What is the last thing that our Lord said
      before He returned to heaven? (He told the disciples that
      God sets the times for future events and it is not for us
      to know.)

      1. Does this put James in an even worse light? He says
        the Second Coming is near when he has no idea – and
        has been told by Jesus that only God knows the time
        of the Second Coming?

      2. These are hard questions, the kind you might expect
        from a lawyer in cross-examination. But, they are not
        unfair questions. Let’s explore an explanation, one
        that does not involve the assertion that James was
        not telling the truth.

  2. Crossing Over

    1. Read John 5:24-25. James and Jesus are speaking of the
      same event – the Second Coming of Jesus. Notice that Jesus
      says that the time of the Second Coming “is coming and has
      now come.” How could Jesus say the Second Coming “has now
      come” when it was thousands of years in the future?

      1. What is the most important part of the Second Coming?
        (Death is defeated. We are given eternal life.
        Because of the way that Jesus phrases this, I think
        He is speaking of the essence of the event (which is
        defeating death), instead of focuses on the timing of
        the Second Coming.)

      2. If you think I might be right about this, what
        evidence is there that death was defeated while Jesus
        was still here the first time? (Look again at John
        5:24. Jesus told those who were listening to Him that
        they could, right now, cross over from death to

      3. Do you think that you can enter into eternal life
        now? (Read John 5:26. Jesus has the power to give us
        eternal life. The essential part of the Second Coming
        – defeating death – can take place right now.)

    2. Read James 5:8-9. What could James be talking about here
      that is true? (Our Judge is constantly “standing by the
      door.” He is willing to open the door to eternal life
      right now. When we give our life to Jesus, He opens the
      door that allows us to cross-over from death to eternal
      life. The essence of the Second Coming is available to us
      now. If we realize that, it helps us to be patient with
      the long wait.)

  3. Examples of Patience

    1. Read James 5:10-11. Why are the prophets a good example
      for the people to whom James is writing?(The prophets
      needed patience because they suffered the most from their
      fellow citizens. Those who claimed to know God were the
      main problem. Recall that James is writing to believers
      who fled persecution from fellow Jews. They are just like
      the prophets in that respect.)

      1. Why is Job an especially good example for these
        people? (Job was not only given a difficult time by
        this friends, but he lost his earthly wealth. That is
        likely the situation of those to whom James is

    2. Look again at James 5:11. James says look at what God
      finally did for Job. What God did for Job occurred during
      his lifetime. How would those to whom James was writing
      understand this “be patient” advice?

      1. Don’t you hate it when people are so theoretical that
        they seem to have no common sense? We started our
        discussion ( James 5:7) with James telling people who
        were abused by the rich to be patient “until the
        Lord’s coming.” I then pointed out the spiritual
        aspect of the Lord’s coming, the cross-over from
        death to life. What about the practical part of
        retribution against the rich? If we take a
        commonsense point of view, is James misleading the
        people to whom he is writing?

      2. Read Matthew 24:1-3, and then skim over the rest of
        the chapter. What is Jesus describing in answer to
        the question of the disciples? (He is describing both
        the fall of Jerusalem and His Second Coming.)

        1. Why is it appropriate for Jesus to mix up the
          two? (Look again at the question the disciples
          asked. They asked about both events. Their
          assumption was that they were the same event.)

        2. Does this discussion help us with the
          practical, retribution aspect of what James
          wrote? (Yes. The fall of Jerusalem was very
          close. The rich who had abused the poor were
          about to suffer some serious retribution.
          Having cheated the poor to gain more money
          would do them no good now.)

    3. Let’s look back at the hard cross-examination questions I
      asked. Is James misleading those to whom he is writing?
      (They were likely to believe the Second Coming was close.
      But, the essence of the message, entering into eternal
      life and retribution for being cheated, those truly were
      both at hand.)

  4. Swearing

    1. Read James 5:12. Is James off on another, unrelated,
      topic? (Read Matthew 5:34-35. Notice that swearing by
      Jerusalem was one of the grounds for claiming you were
      telling the truth.)

      1. How reliable would it be to swear by Jerusalem? (I
        think this advice is related to the prior discussion.
        James tells his readers don’t rely on money, rely on
        God because He will make things right. Now he says
        that when it comes to you doing the right thing,
        don’t suggest reliance on anything God has made,
        rather just do what is right as a child of God.
        Swearing by Jerusalem would soon prove to be a bad

    2. Friend, would you like to cross over from death to eternal
      life right now? James suggests this is a solution to many
      of the problems of life. Why not repent, confess and claim
      Jesus’ promise of entering into eternal life today?

  5. Next week: Prayer, Healing and Restoration.