James 5:1-10

James 5:1 (KJV)
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
Howl - Wail and Lament
Miseries - Distress
Now James turns to the rich people in the community. (1 Tim 6:17 KJV) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; Rich people are not condemned rather misuse of the wealth is. Abraham and Job were both wealthy. He may be chiding those merchants who have made much wealth at their trade thus causing them to become arrogant. The term “self-made millionaire” is a deception. There is no evidence here that James is chiding believers but unbelievers. However, great riches in anyone’s possession can cause a corruption of values. James is stressing that the rich men, who seem to have it all together, will someday lament concerning the distress that will soon come upon them. What might be in view here is the judgment of God on the misuse of the riches or the loss of them. Whatever is in view, it is going to be so bad that the rich men are going to openly lament.
James 5:2 (KJV)
Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
Corrupted - Rotted
Here the Bible is pointing to the fact that the riches that these men possessed were destined to rot. (Mat 6:19-20 KJV) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: God is probably giving us a view of earthly riches and their inability to withstand the cruelties of earth. A moth could eat lavish clothing. A heavy rain can cause rust of beautiful metal objects. Thieves can steal the valuable coins or golden objects. In modern society, investments can go bad. Stocks can plummet. Interest rates can plummet. Sales can fall off. This is one way to make something rotten which would corrupt the values of it.
James 5:3 (KJV)
Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
Cankered - covered with rust
Witness - Testimony
Fire - The Fires of Judgment Day (Zechariah 14:12)
The rich people were living it up while many were starving. This is the sin which the man in Luke 16 who wanted to build larger barns was guilty of. The great equalizer, Judgment day, will bring to light all the wheeling and dealing of the wealthy to build more wealth for themselves. When we look at the statement in total, we see that what is in view here is the fact that as they were attempting to amass more wealth, in reality, they were really collecting to themselves judgment. Instead of trying to lay up the treasures in heaven, they were ignoring God and continuing to build their kingdoms here on earth. The rusty gold and silver means the value is gone and on Judgment Day, will have no value. The riches that will eat them as fire may be the lust for more and more riches. (Mark 9:44 KJV) Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. The heaping or gathering of wealth is a great sign of the last days. Even Christians who possess wealth care little for those who do not.
James 5:4 (KJV)
Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
Hire - wages
Fraud - Steal or deprive
In ancient times, there was no laws to protect those who worked for the wealthy and sometimes the dishonest rich would not pay any wages or they would pay very little. Since fraud is mentioned here, it is obvious they promised a certain amount to the workers, but did not fulfill their commitment. God knows every detail of fraud that has been perpetrated on these poor people. These rich men will give an account on Judgment Day. This is the arrogance of riches in that those who possess them feel they will never be accountable to anyone. It is the same in modern times. Wealthy people feel they are above the law but their day is coming when they will stand before the Lord and everyone they cheated will be a testimony against them. This applies to those in business who fire employees on false charges or who lay people off just before they are qualified to collect their pension. There are many ways that rich people try to defraud poor people but God knows every intention and deed, they will get away with nothing.
James 5:5 (KJV)
Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
Pleasure - Indulgence
Wanton - Self-gratification
The rich lived lavishly like animals being fattened for the day of slaughter and they indulge themselves in sins for the day of judgment without even giving a thought to it. They would have no problem squandering their substance on themselves in a self-gratifying mode. You have seen it, there is never any money left in the company when someone asks for a raise that is making poverty wages, yet, the CEO will get his $2 million dollar raise every year. The majority of companies cheat their employees with poverty level wages while upper management pulls down millions of dollars in salaries, benefits, and stock options. They are being fattened for the day of slaughter. As an animal has no idea they are being fattened for slaughter, neither does the unbeliever.
James 5:6 (KJV)
Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
The rich and powerful were not satisfied with just cheating their workers, they had them tortured and killed as well. The poor in ancient times had no means of legal recourse against the wealthy since they could not afford lawyers. Spiritually speaking it is the influential in the churches which have the true believers silenced, “killed,” to keep the true gospel out of the church. The situation of the poor in ancient times was very hopeless as they were at the mercy of their oppressors. Even today, a poor person is unable to take a rich person to court because the rich person can tie them up in litigation until they are broke then the case gets dismissed.
James 5:7 (KJV)
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
Patient - Longsuffering
Here James is counseling the Christians that they are to be patient just as the keeper of the vineyard is patient as he waits for the early and latter rain which will produce the great harvest. We are to be patient in that all things will be revealed and recompensed at the judgment seat of Christ at the last day. (2 Th 1:7-8 KJV) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, {8} In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: He counsels patience because maybe some had ideas of exacting a personal retribution on some of the rich people, which could have backfired and caused more poor Christians to be killed. The latter rain is the final period of salvation before the return of Christ. (Deu 11:14 KJV) That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
James 5:8 (KJV)
Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
Stablish - Fix or set firmly
Since the farmer waits for the rains to come to water and grow his crops, these believers were also to wait as the Lord’s return is drawing near. Time seems to drag when things go bad but if you maintain the heavenly perspective time seems to play the least important role since the promises of God are as if they are already fulfilled. James wanted these Christians to be strengthened in the Lord as they wait for the timing of the Lord. He wants them to know that their oppression will have a definite end and they will have relief from these trials. Remember what James starts out his book with. When we face trials, God wants us to be fixed on Him during those trials. He expects us to be in a state of constancy concerning our Christian walk.
James 5:9 (KJV)
Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
Grudge - Groan or impatience
The word “groan” means it has the ability to escalate into murmuring or heavy gossip, which can begin to rip a church apart, which if a person has a problem with someone it can escalate into real faultfinding, even if there is no truth to it. The believers are warned to not make accusations against people because the very accusation may be turned around and brought against the accuser. Judgment is very close, not necessarily Judgment Day alone but the judgment of a person’s actions too. Yet, Judgment Day will judge the very actions taken by everyone, except the believers, since their sins were already atoned for at Calvary.
James 5:10 (KJV)
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.
If one looked back in time the believers would have seen how many of the prophets of God in ancient times were mistreated and killed simply because of their testimony and preaching of the word to a rebellious nation. (1 Pet 2:21 KJV) For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (1 Pet 4:12-13 KJV) Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: {13} But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. James is now telling the Christians that instead of feuding among themselves, they should learn a lesson from the prophets of old who suffered persecution for speaking truth in the name of the Lord. As James said in the previous verse that we should never become impatient with one another. We need to learn the lesson of suffering as the Apostle Paul did. (1 Cor 6:7 KJV) Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? He was wronged many times, one need only look at 2 Corinthians 11. His crime was that he was bringing the truth of the Gospel.