1Ἄγε νῦν οἱ πλούσιοι, κλαύσατε ὀλολύζοντες ἐπὶ ταῖς ταλαιπωρίαις ὑμῶν ταῖς ἐπερχομέναις. 2ὁ πλοῦτος ὑμῶν σέσηπεν καὶ τὰ ἱμάτια ὑμῶν σητόβρωτα γέγονεν, 3ὁ χρυσὸς ὑμῶν καὶ ὁ ἄργυρος κατίωται καὶ ὁ ἰὸς αὐτῶν εἰς μαρτύριον ὑμῖν ἔσται καὶ φάγεται τὰς σάρκας ὑμῶν ὡς πῦρ. ἐθησαυρίσατε ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις. 4ἰδοὺ ὁ μισθὸς τῶν ἐργατῶν τῶν ἀμησάντων τὰς χώρας ὑμῶν ὁ ἀπεστερημένος ἀφ’ ὑμῶν κράζει, καὶ αἱ βοαὶ τῶν θερισάντων εἰς τὰ ὦτα κυρίου σαβαὼθ εἰσεληλύθασιν. 5ἐτρυφήσατε ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐσπαταλήσατε, ἐθρέψατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς, 6κατεδικάσατε, ἐφονεύσατε τὸν δίκαιον· οὐκ ἀντιτάσσεται ὑμῖν.
James begins this section in a way similar to 4:13-17, with ἄγε νῦν + vocative substantive element (οἱ πλούσιοι, “the wealthy.” See 4.13 for discussion about the use of ἄγε νῦν. In this context he does follow it with aorist imperative κλαύσατε. We know that οἱ πλούσιοι is vocative because the verb is 2nd pers. pl. and an imperative tense form. Presumably the groups addressed in 4:13 and 5:1 have some overlap, given the writer’s description of their activities and status. ὀλολύζω is an onomapoetic verb form (the sound of the verb imitating the activity being described) meaning “cry out with a loud voice either in joy or mourning. This is its only use in the NT. ὀλολύζοντες is an adverbial, present act. participle describing the manner of the weeping, an action contemporaneous with the action of the main verb. The writer defines the cause of the wailing in the adverbial prepositional phrase ἐπὶ ταῖς ταλαιπωρίαις ὑμῶν ταῖς ἐπερχομέναις. James used the cognate verb ταλαιπωρέω in 4:9. The related noun ταλαιπωρία describes a state of wretchedness, distress. ὑμῶν functions as an objective genitive. The noun is modified by the attributive present mid. participle ταῖς ἐπερχομέναις(“come, arrive; happen, come about” (BDAG, 361). What is the writer referring to by this reversal in circumstances?
He provides more reason for his instruction in v. 2. The subject ὁ πλοῦτος ὑμῶν describes “wealth” and ὑμῶν functions as a possessive genitive. According to BDAG the intransitive perfect tense form of σήπω means “to decay, rot,” describing a state or condition. In the second clause the subject is τὰ ἱμάτια ὑμῶν and it is modified by a predicate adjective σητόβρωτα, meaning “moth-eaten” (cf. Mt. 6:18). The predicate is another perfect verb form γένονεν. If these perfect verb forms describe a condition based upon the action previously defined, then the clauses might be translated as “your wealth stands rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.” The writer continues in v. 3 to describe what has happened to their monetary wealth, namely ὁ χρυσὸς ὑμῶν καὶ ὁ ἄργυρος, modified by another genitive of possession. κατίωται is the perf. pass. form of κατιόω “to become rusty, tarnished, corroded” (BDAG, 534). Again, the perfect tense form describes a condition. The “corrosion” presumably results from disuse indicating that commerce has died, or it may indicate the poor quality of the refined metal and thus is poor value. The noun ἰός can mean “poison, venom” (BDAG, 477; Rom. 3:13) or “corrosion, rust,” that seems to be its sense here. αὐτῶν would be a subjective genitive, i.e., “they have corroded.” ὑμῖν would appear to be a dative of disadvantage, referencing the wealthy introduced in v. 1. εἰς μαρτύριον is an adverbial prepositional phrase indicating the purpose or result of this corrosion, namely that it serves “for evidence, testimony” in some kind of legal proceedings. All of this is cast into the future frame by the verb form ἔσται. The subject of φάγεται is undefined (v. 3). It could be this “corrosion of valuable metals” has a harmful effect because “it consumes your flesh.” Or, perhaps the term πλοῦτος in v. 2 is the subject. He compares this destructive power to the action of πῦρ. The last clause has no connecting particle linking it with the preceding, but the semantic content shows relationship. ἐθησαυρίσατε is an aorist act. imp. meaning “store up treasure” (BDAG, 456). This command links back to κλαύσατε in 5:1. The adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις defines a time within which certain action is advised. Would James regard his time period as ἔσχαται ἡμέραι? Could the distress mentioned in v. 1 be a reference to Jesus’ prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple?
James now proceeds to criticize the actions of the wealthy with respect to their treatment of agricultural workers (on their estates), namely τῶν ἐργατῶν τῶν ἀμησάντων τὰς χώρας ὑμῶν. The interjection ἰδού draws specific attention to this injustice, a possible disjunction between faith and works. τῶν ἐργατῶν is a possessive genitive modifying the subject ὁ μισθός (“wages, pay” (BDAG, 653)). The aorist active attributive adjective τῶν ἀμησάντων is a form of the verb ἀμάω, meaning “to mow” (BDAG, 52) and only occurs in the NT in this context. τὰς χώρας (“fields, cultivated land” (BDAG, 1094)) is the direct object of the participle and is modified by a possessive genitive. ἀποστερέω (“to steal, rob” (BDAG 121; cf. Mk. 10:19)) occurs as a second attributive participle, but this time as a perf. mid/pass. form, modifying the subject and describing a current state of affairs. ἀφ’ ὑμῶν modifies ἀπεστερημένος and indicates who is the source or cause of this theft. The main verb κράζει is a pres. act. ind. indicating that these wages are “crying out.” This sounds like the warning that Yahweh gives to Israel in Ex. 22:21-24, 27. βοαί describe “cries, shouts” (BDAG) without indication of their cause. The verb θερίζω means “to reap, harvest” (BDAG, 453) and James employs it as a substantival, aorist participle to describe employees, i.e., the harvestors. The main verb εἰσεληλύθασιν is a perfect active indicative form whose subject is βοαί. The perfect tense form suggests that this action has already happened and resulted in a certain state or condition. It is modified by the adverbial preposition phrase εἰς τὰ ὦτα κυρίου σαβαὼθ. εἰς reflects the prefix used in the compound verb. The genitive κυρίου reflects possession. The writer makes sure his readers understand his reference to Yahweh by adding the epithet σαβαώθ. This is the transliteration of a Hebrew plural noun צבאות meaning “military troops, heavenly hosts.” Only certain LXX translators employed it, such as OG Greek Isa (1:9). This phrase occurs in a judgment oracle in Isa. 5:8ff as the prophet warns his audience that “these things have been heard in the ears of Yahweh Sabaoth.” Perhaps James uses this expression to communicate the gravity of the situation.
The writer continues with his critique in v. 5 as he describes their kind of life with the aorist active verb ἐτρυφήσατε (“to lead a life of self-indulgence, live for pleasure, carouse” (BDAG, 1018), its only occurrence in the NT. ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς indicates the context of this self-indulgent life. ἐπί + genitive indicates location upon something. The verb σπαταλήσατε in the second clause has a parallel meaning, namely “to live indulgently, luxuriously” (BDAG, 936). Again, this verb only occurs here in the NT. ἐθρέψατε is the aorist form of τρέφω, meaning “to care for by providing food or nourishment, feed, nourish support; raise [children]” (BDAG, 1014-15). James may be making a word play on verbs τρύφω…τρέπω. The object is τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν that probably as the sense “yourselves,” i.e., they have looked out for number one! ἐν ἡμέρᾳ σφαγῆς is a very dramatic time reference. σφαγή means “slaughter” (BDAG, 979) and perhaps we might say in English “during the massacre.” While others experience death and destruction in turbulent times, the rich are able to survive and even flourish. This phrase occurs in OG Jeremiah 12:3, where the prophet heralds judgment because the people of the land have confessed God, but live as if he was not concerned with them. The result will be the destruction of the Exile.
At the climax of this list of charges (v. 6) is the declaration that these people “have condemned/pronounceδ guilty” (κατεδικάσατε) and “have murdered/killed” (φονεύσατε), two aorist active indicative verbs, τὸν δίκαιον accusative of direct object. In Acts 3: 14; 7:52; 22:14 this articulated adjective refers to Jesus, the innocent victim of crucifixion. It is possible that James may be referring to the Messiah’s death here, but more likely to the mistreatment of innocent people by ruthless, wealthy land-owners. He concludes by referring to τὸν δίκαιον as the subject of ἀντιτάσσεται, a present mid. indicative form meaning “to resist, oppose” and with the negative modifier James declares that “this just/innocent person does not resist.” The dative ὑμῖν marks the object. It is possible to read this last clause as question expecting a positive answer.
7Μακροθυμήσατε οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἕως τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου. ἰδοὺ ὁ γεωργὸς ἐκδέχεται τὸν τίμιον καρπὸν τῆς γῆς μακροθυμῶν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ, ἕως λάβῃ πρόϊμον καὶ ὄψιμον. 8μακροθυμήσατε καὶ ὑμεῖς, στηρίξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου ἤγγικεν. 9μὴ στενάζετε, ἀδελφοί, κατ’ ἀλλήλων, ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε· ἰδοὺ ὁ κριτὴς πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν ἕστηκεν. 10ὑπόδειγμα λάβετε, ἀδελφοί, τῆς κακοπαθείας καὶ τῆς μακροθυμίας τοὺς προφήτας οἳ ἐλάλησαν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου. 11ἰδοὺ μακαρίζομεν τοὺς ὑπομείναντας· τὴν ὑπομονὴν Ἰὼβ ἠκούσατε καὶ τὸ τέλος κυρίου εἴδετε, ὅτι πολύσπλαγχνός ἐστιν ὁ κύριος καὶ οἰκτίρμων.
The particle οὖν connects vv. 7-11 to the previous discussion, drawing an inference and providing encouragement for those mistreated it seems. The writer continues with another aorist active imperative μακροθυμήσατε (“be patient, be forbearing” (BDAG, 612)) and probably it addresses the abused labourers. The theme of endurance returns in vv. 10-11. The vocative ἀδελφοί indicates that the writer considers them part of the community. ἕως τῆς παρουσίας is an adverbial prepositional phrase defining the endpoint of the period for which they need to forbear, i.e., “until/as far as the presence.” ἕως can function as a preposition or a conjunction (second occurrence). The noun παρουσία means “presence” (BDAG, 780), but in the NT frequently refers to the future “presence” of the Messiah. Paul uses it to define his “presence” at certain locations (1 Cor. 16:17; 2 Cor. 7:6; Phil. 2:12). The writer clarifies its sense here by adding the subjective genitive κυρίου.
James illustrates the importance of patience by using a farming metaphor. The initial ἰδού draws attention to the analogy that follows. He places the subject ὁ γεωργός first, giving it prominence in the clause. ἐκδέχεται is a present mid. indicative verb form meaning “await an event, expect” (BDAG, 300). The accusative object defines what is awaited, namely τὸν τίμιον καρπὸν τῆς γῆς, i.e., the crop. τίμιον functions as an attributive adjective with the sense “valuable, precious” (BDAG, 1005). τῆς γῆς probably is a genitive of source. The writer uses the present active participle μακροθυμῶν to tie the analogy closely to his initial instruction. ἐπ’ αὐτῷ is an adverbial prepositional phrase with the sense “because of it,” perhaps indicating motivation (Smyth, 379 §1689.2c). The referent for the pronoun is probably καρπός. He adds a temporal subordinate clause marked by the conjunction ἕως + subjunctive. λάβῃ is a 2nd aorist active subjunctive, whose subject could be γεωργός or καρπός. If the two-termination adjectives πρόϊμον καὶ ὄψιμον are used substantively as the object of the verb and reference καρπός, then the subject of the verb is the farmer who receives the early and late crop; if the subject is καρπός, then the adjectives refer to “early and late rains,” necessary for a good harvest. The point seems to be that the farmer can do nothing but wait either for the harvest or for the rain.
James repeats the command μακροθυμήσατε in v. 8, emphasizing the subject with the ascensive καί modifying the explicit pronominal subject. A second aorist command follows, στηρίξατε (see 1 Pet. 5:10), “fix firmly, strengthen” (BDAG, 945). Its direct object is τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν with ὑμῶν functioning as a genitive of possession. These plural forms are in concord with the subject and verb ending. He provides a rationale for these two commands in the concluding causal clause marked by ὅτι. Again he places the subject first (ἡ παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου), repeating the same phrase he used in v. 7. The verb ἤγγικεν is a perfect active indicative expressing the sense “stands near, has drawn near” and therefore “the presence of the Lord” is imminent in some sense.
According to BDAG στενάζω in this context has the connotation of “groan, as in complaining.” James expresses a prohibition with μή + present imperative. The implication of the present imperative might be “do not be complaining.” κατά + genitive usually has a hostile connotation when modifying verbs that express conflict of some kind. James uses the vocative ἀδελφόι to maintain their attention. ἵνα + μή can often best be expressed in English as “lest,” i.e., a negative purpose or result clause. κρίθητε is aorist passive subjunctive. Although he does not identify the agent in this clause, he does so in the clause that immediately follows. ἰδού once again functions as an attention grabber. James places the subject first, giving it prominence (ὁ κριτής), probably a reference to “the Lord.” The adverbial prepositional phrase πρὸ τῶν θυρῶν describes place “before.” For the plural θυρῶν see Mt. 24:33; Mk. 13:29. ἕστηκεν is a perfect active indicative form of ἵστημι, perhaps with the sense “stands, is standing.”
In v. 10 James begins to invoke several biblical examples of patient endurance for the completion of the divine plans. ὑπόδειγμα functions as the first object of 2nd aorist active imperative λάβετε (LSJ, 1026, I.6. “take something as something”). James again uses the vocative ἀδελφοί. The genitive nouns τῆς κακοπαθείας (misfortune) καὶ τῆς μακροθυμίας (patience) define the nature of the example that his audience should note. The genitive could be objective or attributive. τοὺς προφήτας is the second object related to ὑπόδειγμα and is the referent for the relative pronoun οἳ. The adverbial prepositional phrase ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι κυρίου defines the authoritative manner in which the prophets ἐλάλησεν. Note the anarthrous κυρίου that might reflect the use of κύριος in the OT to translate יהוה.
For the third time in this short section James uses ἰδού (v.11). He switches to first person plural with the present active indicative verb μακαρίζομεν “we bless.” The object is the substantive aorist active participle τοὺς ὑπομείναντας “those who endured” (see 1:12). In the next clause James places the object τὴν ὑπομονήν first. It is cognate to ὑπομένω that just preceded. He uses the indeclinable proper noun Ἰώβ as the subjective genitive modifier of ὑπομονή. James assumes that they “have heard” (ἠκούσατε) about his experience. Perhaps this is a reference to the oral reading of Scripture? Because they have heard Job’ story, εἴδετε “you know” something. Again, James places the object of the verb τὸ τέλος first in its clause, giving it prominence. This noun here may have the sense of “the outcome.” Anarthrous κυρίου would be a subjective genitive, indicating the outcome designed by Yahweh. Does James use ὅτι to mark indirect speech, following εἴδετε, or does it function causally? The ὅτι clause incorporates an equative verb ἔστιν whose subject is indicated by the article (ὁ κύριος), presumably another reference to Yahweh. James characterizes Yahweh with two predicate adjectives, placing one at at the head of the clause (πολύσπλαγχνος) and the other at the end of the clause (a two termination adjective οἰκτίρμων).
12Πρὸ πάντων δέ, ἀδελφοί μου, μὴ ὀμνύετε μήτε τὸν οὐρανὸν μήτε τὴν γῆν μήτε ἄλλον τινὰ ὅρκον· ἤτω δὲ ὑμῶν τὸ ναὶ ναὶ καὶ τὸ οὒ οὔ, ἵνα μὴ ὑπὸ κρίσιν πέσητε.
James seems to indicate a new instruction with the particle δέ (pointing to a new topic), the imperative verb form, the vocative, and the prepositional phrase πρὸ πάντων. This extensive marking suggests that this is a particularly important principle (see Mt. 5:34-37). The phrase πρὸ πάντων expresses priority in time or importance and modifies the verb. ἀδελφοί μου is a vocative and the possessive pronoun emphasizes the writer’s connection with them. The instruction is a prohibition indicated by μή + present active imperative (see v. 9), i.e., “do not be swearing [oaths]” (ὀμνύω “take an oath” (BDAG, 705)). The following accusatives identify persons or things by which one swears. τὸν οὐρανόν may be an example of synecdoche, referring in fact to the deity. The third item ἄλλον τινὰ ὅρκον means “any other oath” and the sense changes to “swear any other oath.” τινά is the indefinite pronominal adjective.
James introduces the second clause with an adversative δέ as he presents the approved alternative. ἤτω is the third pers. sg. present imperative of εἰμι. The adverbs ναί, οὔ mean “yes, no” in response to statements or questions. The nominalized τὸ ναὶ functions as subject and the non-nominalized ναὶ is the predicate. James places the possessive pronoun ὑμῶν before the noun it modifies and it functions as a subjective genitive. τὸ οὒ οὔ repeats the first clause with the implied verb and pronoun. ἵνα μὴ marks a negative purpose or result clause, with the sense “lest” (see v. 9). ὑπὸ κρίσιν is an adverbial prepositional phrase with ὑπό + accusative indicating movement to a position under or beneath something. πέσητε is a 2nd aor. act. subjunctive from πίπτω. Failing to fulfill a sworn oath is an example of duplicitous speech.
13Κακοπαθεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν, προσευχέσθω· εὐθυμεῖ τις, ψαλλέτω· 14ἀσθενεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν, προσκαλεσάσθω τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ προσευξάσθωσαν ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ἀλείψαντες αὐτὸν ἐλαίῳ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου. 15καὶ ἡ εὐχὴ τῆς πίστεως σώσει τὸν κάμνοντα καὶ ἐγερεῖ αὐτὸν ὁ κύριος· κἂν ἁμαρτίας ᾖ πεποιηκώς, ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ. 16ἐξομολογεῖσθε οὖν ἀλλήλοις τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων, ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. πολὺ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. 17Ἠλίας ἄνθρωπος ἦν ὁμοιοπαθὴς ἡμῖν καὶ προσευχῇ προσηύξατο τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι, καὶ οὐκ ἔβρεξεν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐνιαυτοὺς τρεῖς καὶ μῆνας ἕξ· 18καὶ πάλιν προσηύξατο, καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς ὑετὸν ἔδωκεν καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐβλάστησεν τὸν καρπὸν αὐτῆς.
James turns his attention to prayer in vv. 13-18. In v. 13 κακοπαθεῖ is a present act. indicative (see v. 10) meaning “suffer misfortune” (BDAG, 500). The subject, as NA28 accentuates the terms, is the indefinite pronoun τις (enclitic). Some scholars however read τις as the interrogative and regard these first two clauses as interrogatives. ἐν ὑμῖν has a sense similar to a partitive genitive, but with the focus on location and thus association, i.e., “among you.” James defines the appropriate, Christian response to such a situation with the present mid. imperative (third pers.) προσευχέσθω “let that person pray/be praying.” James then gives instructions in the opposite circumstance defined by the present active indicative εὐθυμεῖ “is cheerful” (BDAG, 406). Again, the subject is the indefinite pronoun τις. The injunction this time is ψαλλέτω, present act. imperative (third pers.) of ψάλλω, used here absolutely in the sense “sing praise.” So the appropriate response to good or bad circumstances is worship of God.
Having stated the principle, James proceeds to give an example dealing with the misfortune of illness (v. 14). He uses the same construction ἀσθενεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν as in v. 13a. So if you understand the previous construction to be an interrogative, this clause should be understood in the same way. ἀσθενεῖ is a present act. indicative form of ἀσθενέω “suffer a debilitating illness, be sick” (BDAG, 142). The instruction follows with two compounded aorist third person imperatives: προσκαλεσάσθω… καὶ προσευξάσθωσαν. προσκαλέω means “to summon, invite” (BDAG, 881). προσευξάσθωσαν is an aorist formation from προσεύχομαι. τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους τῆς ἐκκλησίας functions as the object of προσκαλεσάσθω. Presumably τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους refers to identified leaders in the assembly, whether an informal group of seasoned believers or some kind of officials. The masculine form does not preclude females from being included necessarily. The nature of the genitive τῆς ἐκκλησίας depends upon how one construes the head noun. The second verb is modified by the adverbial prepositional phrase ἐπ’ αὐτόν indicates reference, i.e., “the one to whom, for whom, or about whom something is done” (BDAG, 366.14). The verb is also defined by the adverbial aorist active participle ἀλείψαντες formed from ἀλείφω (“anoint” (BDAG, 41.1). The aorist tense form suggests that this action precedes the action of the main verb. αὐτόν is the accusative object of the participle; ἐλαίῳ is a dative of means modifying the participle; ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου functions in the same way it does in v.10. Who is the referent of τοῦ κυρίου?
James expresses in v. 15 the anticipated result of the instructions given in v. 14. He connects his thought with a resultative καί. Again he gives the subject ἡ εὐχή “prayer” (BDAG, 416) prominence by placing it first in its clause. The genitive τῆς πίστεως could be defining the kind of prayer or it might identify the source of the prayer, i.e., the faith expressed by the elders and the sick person. James uses the future tense form σώσει to indicate what he anticipates will be the outcome. He employs a substantive present active participle τὸν κάμνοντα “the one who is weary; one who is ill” (BDAG, 506) to define the object of the deliverance. A second clause indicates the nature of the deliverance, using the future verb form ἐγερεῖ, from ἐγείρω “to rouse, rise, get up” (BDAG, 271). Whether this refers to getting off the mat or to the resurrection is debated. The reference to healing in v. 16 suggests that the sick person is restored to the point they can get up. ὁ κύριος is the subject and αὐτόν serves as direct object. James adds a third class conditional sentence marked by κἄν + subjunctive. κἄν is a contraction of καὶ ἐάν and can have a concessive sense, i.e., “even if.” James places the object, the anarthrous ἁμαρτίας, before the verbal phrase. He also employs a periphrastic perfect subjunctive tense form ᾖ πεποιηκώς, “if he should be in a state of having committed sins.” The apodosis has a future passive form ἀφεθήσεται from ἀφίημι (BDAG, 156), meaning “shall be cancelled, remitted, pardoned.” αὐτῷ marks the person who receives the pardon. Although the implied subject ἁμαρτία is plural and feminine in the previous clause, James uses a singular verb form. Does he regard the ‘sins’ as a collective singular?
In v. 16 James expresses an inference from his exhortations and declarations in vv. 13-15, marking it with οὖν. He uses another present mid. imperative ἐξομολογεῖσθε (“confess, admit” (BDAG, 351)) as the main verb. It takes a direct object in the accusative (τὰς ἁμαρτίας) and an indirect object in the dative (ἀλλήλοις). A second injunction follows expressed with a present mid. imperative εὔχεσθε “pray” (BDAG, 417). ὑπέρ + genitive defines the focus of the petition, expressing “for, in behalf of, for the sake of” (BDAG, 1030). The subordinate conjunction ὅπως marks a less certain outcome, i.e., so that somehow….” The verb in the clause usually is in the subjunctive mood (ἰαθῆτε aorist passive subj. from ἰάομαι “to heal”). The last clause offers a rationale for this advice. δέησις occurs frequently in the NT as another word for prayer, defined by BDAG as “an urgent request” (213). δικαίου functions as a subjective genitive defining whose prayer it is. The main verb ἰσχύει is a present active indicative form of ἰσχύω (“to have power, force” (BDAG, 484). The neuter adjective πολύ, neuter accusative singular (adverbial accusative), probably modifies ἰσχύει. The present middle participle ἐνεργουμένη from ἐνεργέω “to be active, operate, be effective” (BDAG, 335) could be attributive or adverbial, but probably is adverbial in this context, indicating why such a prayer is powerful.
James illustrates his principle by referencing the effectiveness of Elijah’s (Ἐλίας) prayers (1 Kings 18:42-45). The proper name is more specified and this is the subject of the equative clause (ἦν) and ἄνθρωπος fills the predicate nominative slot. It is modified by the adjective ὁμοιοπαθής “with the same nature” (BDAG, 706). ὁμοίος is one of the adjectives in the NT that takes a dative complement (ἡμῖν) to define the comparison. Although the verbal phrase προσευχῇ προσηύξατο imitates forms found in the LXX translating an infinitive absolute and cognate verb, here the dative προσευχῇ is a dative of means that emphasizes the seriousness of Elijah’s prayer. προσηύξατο is an aorist middle indicative form. τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι is a genitive, articulated infinitive of purpose, incorporating the aorist active infinitive of βρέχω “to rain” (BDAG, 114). μή is the usual negative with infinitives. καί may have a resultative force here, i.e., “and so….” ἔβρεξεν is an aorist act. indicative form. The subject is undefined and it could be impersonal, i.e., “there was no (οὐκ) rain.” ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς is an adverbial prepositional phrase indicating the place where the rain fell (spatial). ἐνιαυτοὺς τρεῖς καὶ μῆνας ἕξ defines the duration of the drought, using an accusative of time.
James concludes the story in v. 18 by describing Elijah’s second prayer, marked by καὶ πάλιν προσηύξατο. καί 2˚ would have a resultative nuance “and so….” The subject of the second clause is ὁ οὐρανός, followed by the accusative object ὑετόν that is placed in the focal point of the clause prior to the verb ἔδωκεν (aorist act. indicative form of δίδωμι). The result of the rains after three years, six months is that ἡ γῆ “produced its fruit” (ἐβλάστησεν (aorist active indicative from βλαστάνω) τὸν καρπὸν αὐτῆς). The genitive αὐτῆς would be a possessive genitive.
19Ἀδελφοί μου, ἐάν τις ἐν ὑμῖν πλανηθῇ ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας καὶ ἐπιστρέψῃ τις αὐτόν, 20γινωσκέτω ὅτι ὁ ἐπιστρέψας ἁμαρτωλὸν ἐκ πλάνης ὁδοῦ αὐτοῦ σώσει ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἐκ θανάτου καὶ καλύψει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν.
The letter concludes with a final word of encouragement. James (v. 19) once again uses the vocative ἀδελφοί μου to attract the attention of his audience. He employs a third class condition marked by ἐάν + subjunctive verbs (πλανηθῇ… καὶ ἐπιστρέψῃ), the first being an aorist pass. subjunctive form and the second being an aorist act. subjunctive form. Both verbs have the indefinite pronoun τις as the subject, but it references different individuals. ἐν ὑμῖν describes association as in v. 13. ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας is an adverbial prepositional phrase indicating separation. The article probably has a specifying function, i.e., this truth in contrast to other “truth.” πλανάω here could describe a simple action, i.e., “wander away” (BDAG, 822.2.c.β), or it might be causal, i.e., “be led astray.” ἐπιστρέφω can mean “to turn around” with a moral sense (BDAG, 382.2). It has an object here and so is transitive, i.e., “and someone should turn him around.”
The apodosis occurs in v. 20 and its main verb is the 3rd pers. sing. present act. imperative γινωσκέτω, with the subject being the subject of ἐπιστρέψῃ. The ὅτι marks a content clause of indirect discourse functioning as the object of γινωσκέτω. The subject of the ὅτι clause is the substantival aorist active participle ὁ ἐπιστρέψας, reflecting the use of this term in v. 19. The object of the participle is the anarthrous ἁμαρτωλόν. ἐκ + genitive defines separation “out of, away from” something (BDAG, 295) and in this case it is πλάνης ὁδοῦ αὐτοῦ. James uses three genitives in this sequence. The second one ὁδοῦ probably is a subjective genitive. αὐτοῦ is probably a possessive genitive. Some scholars suggest that ὁδοῦ is the head noun, modified by πλάνης, but this would violate the general principle that in chains of genitives each one in the sequence tends to be dependent upon the previous. James has also used the cognate verb πλανάω in v. 19 and this suggests that the cognate noun πλάνη is probably the focus. James repeats the future verb σώσει (see v. 15) as the main verb. Its object is ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ, with the genitive defining whose life is involved. ἐκ θανάτου indicates separation and the danger that in this case is adverted. He adds a second clause to this indirect discourse unit, using καί that again may reflect a resultative nuance. καλύψει is a future form of καλύπτω “to hide, conceal” (BDAG 505; see 1 Pet. 4:8; Prov. 10:12). πλῆθος is a neuter noun and so its accusative form is the same as the nominative form. Here it functions as object of the verb. ἁμαρτιῶν functions as a partitive genitive. Note that the majority of nouns in the ὅτι clause are anarthrous.