The Full Circle

➡ Average Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Full Circle
Attacks, Faith, Wisdom : James 5.13-20

Anyone in trouble/afflicted: These words are speaking about misfortune, not an illness. It is a personal situation that causes distress. The antidote to this is not a complaint or even bearing the affliction in quiet resignation. Rather, one should pray to God and trust in him to redress the wrong and correct the evil. It is not a time to indulge in self-pity. It is time to pray.

Anyone happy: One should not forget God when the going is smooth, and attacks are not prevalent. One should learn to sing and praise God. James wants God remembered in all situations, good as well as bad. God is not just an errand boy to help human need, but one who deserves worship and praise at all times. The good news is that we may relate to him no matter what the circumstances are.

Anyone sick: The person who is sick should call the elders of the ecclesia to pray and anoint him. James use of the word “elders” means “men and women” of gravity and soundness in the faith. The word does not carry the idea that is often forced upon it as being a “pastor” or “members of a church board.” It is not a church position. It means folks in an ecclesia who are older in the faith.

The prayer offered in faith will save the sick person. Sickness and sin are often connected. Because of the possibility, Jesus followers are to confess their sins to one another. This is an open and public acknowledgment of guilt. Wow! Wouldn’t that be a significant change in the life of an ecclesia!

The subject of the prayer of faith often brings more heat than light. The context of this passage centers around the ministering of Jesus followers one to another. In regard to sickness, James does not conceive of sickness and suffering being of the same substance. He offers different remedies in verses 13 and 14 (see RSV for more clarity). The Good News Bible gives the most accurate translation of these verses when it says, …This prayer made in faith will heal the sick person; the Lord will restore him to health, and the sins he has committed will be forgiven. So then confess your sins to one another, so that you will be healed. One must note that the confession of sins is important in the process of healing. There is nothing in this passage, which implies that if one only has a sufficient degree of faith, then one can receive healing. Rather, the passages draw attention to what is emphasized—there is no circumstance of life where faith is impossible. Therefore, there is no situation in which one cannot resort to prayer.

The prayer of Elijah serves as an illustration of the effectiveness of prayer.

James closes his letter by encouraging his readers to turn those in error back to the truth, i.e., that our justification is demonstrated to each other by the works of God in which we participate.

For Further Study

The following articles and books would be useful for a more thorough study of James.


The following articles are from Holman Bible Dictionary. Butler, Trent C. Editor. 1991


There are some interesting comparisons between James and Proverbs and James and Matthew. Here are some of them:

Comparison of James and Proverbs
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Comparison of James and Matthew
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Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


Happy Reading!

Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)