An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

James 5: 7-12 Be patient

7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.

There are three important hermeneutical principles that need to be taken into account:
1. Context;
2. Context; and
3. Context.
The biblical context, the cultural and social context at the time it was written and our own context, we read scriptures through our own worldview. With that in mind we need quickly to look at the biblical context of this passage.

The RSV starts this verse with a therefore. There’s an old adage that says, ‘Whenever you see a therefore, you have to look what’s there for’. So, what’s the therefore there for? It’s there because of the preceding passage. James 5:1-6 the rich oppressors: injustice and greed. In light of such oppression there is the need for patience. James turns from judgment of the rich to encouragement to the faithful.

It is in the light of the unfairness of life that we need to learn the message of patience.
We need to restrain from revenge or retaliation.

It’s obvious that James is addressing Christian here – he used the term ‘brothers’ three times. (v 7, 9, 10, 12)

What is patience? It’s countercultural and subversive. Watch this Samsung Jet advert: “impatience is a virtue”.
Patience is knowing you're bored and doing nothing about it. Impatience is a virtue.

Impatience is in first, on top, at the front…

(The voice over is by James NcAvoy, with more than a nod to the film Trainspotting. The music is by the The Mae Shi, the title the Lamb and the Lion.)

If you want to know what a society idolises watch its adverts. What’s idolised here? Progress.

Here the message is that impatience is a virtue. Patience is a waste of time. The biblical message totally subverts this view point.

What do the scriptures tell us about patience? (See slides)

What’s linked with patience here in this passage in Jmaes?
Verses 7 and 8: The Lord’s coming.

Patience here has an end in view and a reason: the Lord’s coming. It’s not mindless waiting and doing nothing – it has a purpose in view.
The Lord’s coming gives us a goal – until
And a reason – because

Look at this question
What would you be doing now if you knew Jesus was coming tonight?
How would you answer it?

What is stopping you doing it?

These questions are a great way to see if there is any dualism!

Luther, when asked what he would do if the world would end tomorrow, said: "I would plant a tree today."

Why would he want to do that?

How we answer these questions reveals theological position: continuity or discontinuity/ dualist or not.

Will what we do now make a difference on the new earth?
If it does then planting a tree is important.
Our role as image bearers of God is not (just) to populate heaven!

Here are some responses to the question from the Internet

If you knew Jesus was coming back in the next few hours what would you do differently?
Here are some

I'd let everything else go and make sure I was "prayed up." Then, I'd call my family and friends and tell them the urgency of accepting Jesus as saviour.

Not Applicable.

He's not coming, he never came, and he never will come.

Cancel my party room reservation for December 21, 2012.

Better get on those dishes.

Nothing. I try to be ready whenever He comes.

I would not go to sleep tonight.........I would stay awake.........and sing Holy, Holy, Holy, Come Oh Lord.

I'd be staring out my window and praying.

would fix the hair, cosmetics, possible shower.
pack all the bare necessities

Get my ghostbusting equipment.

Party Time with some good lookin' ladies! May as
well go out with a smile on my face!

Put all my online sales accounts on vacation, make
sure my husband knows where our wills are, and write goodbye notes for my kids.

I would quickly go back into my bank account online and cancel all of the bill payments I just made.

A Right doing
B Example
A’ Right doing

C Right speaking
D God’s character
B’ Example
B’ Example
D’ God’s character
C’ Right speaking


There is a parallel between these two sections, both have as the centre the examples. The examples would be very familiar to James’s hearers – predominantly poor Jewish Christians. Many would be farmers and all would know of the prophets and Job. James is showing continuity between what he is teaching, everyday life and the Old Testament.
We too need to know our history, not only the OT history but also church history; we too need to be able to link our theology with everyday living. All of life is important to God.

9 Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

Some themes keep cropping up – right speaking and judging.

There are three main things a good teacher needs to get his point over: repetition, repetition and repetition. And James makes good use of it!

10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

11 As you know, we consider 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.

12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned.

James’s desire is for Christians who are mature, who have an authentic faith is shown in deeds, single minded and characterised by integrity in all that we say and do. Because what we say we do we will do.

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