I have a question about James chapter 5 verses 13 and 14. In verse 13 we are told that if we are afflicted to pray and if we are merry to sing psalms. However, in verse 14, instead of praying for ourselves when we are sick, we are told to call on the elders.
In 13 we do the praying and rejoicing ourselves, but not in 14.
Why does it change gears? Why not tell us to pray for ourselves when we are sick?
Anytime I see an obvious change like this it makes me wonder what God is trying to tell us without actually telling us.
It's All About Jesus
James 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
Hello Brother Gary,
You are right that God is telling us something. God is telling us that we each have a ministry and an individual responsibility, yet there is no room in the Kingdom of the Heavens for mavericks, the rebellious, or those who will not submit to God's authority that He has invested in lowly men in the Church.
One might say, "Well, which group of people claiming to have authority must I follow?" That is a good question, and the answer is plain. God expects you to be close enough to Him and submissive enough to Him that He can reveal the genuine to you and open your eyes to see the counterfeits as counterfeits. Lies set us free from God and free to commit every sin and disorder. The truth sets us free from sin and free to righteousness, which includes every order of God. God has an order for everything: Worship is in 1 Corinthians 14. The gifts of the Spirit is in 1 and 2 Timothy and 1 Corinthians 12. God has an order for the family. There is no part of life that God has not shown an order. In James 5:13, we see the order of individual responsibility to pray and to rejoice. In James 5:14 we see the individual responsibility to fit into the Body of Christ and the order of healing for elders anointing with oil and the elders responsibility to pray the prayer of faith. If they are humble, in unity, and in submission to the apostles, the elders will be able to pray the prayer of faith and see the healing hand of God.
Christians want to pick and choose what they will follow as if it were a smorgasbord. That is rebellion.
Specifically, this passage has to do with the order of elders, which was restored to the Church in the mid 20th Century. Oh, there were elders all along, but they were not functioning as the Bible describes Elders. But it's deeper than even that. This is really important. It's about what the Church is and what the purpose of the Church is. That's a pretty hard thing to hear about since the Church has gone so far from the pattern God gave us in the Scripture that most people have never seen anything that looks similar to the Church in Scripture.
These are orders of the Church. They show how the ministries and the gifts work together. The gifts often overlap, but they are never in conflict. In 1 Corinthians 12:9 we read about the gift of faith, the gifts of healing, and the gift of the working of miracles. These all work healing. And then every member has faith. Every member can pray for healing. Every member can pray for a miracle. You see the wonder of the overlapping workings of the Holy Spirit in every member. In the same way that the human body, when walking, does not rely on just the feet or just the legs but rather the whole body is involved, that is how it is with the Body of Christ. And that's just healing. What about the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus Christ, and 2 Corinthians 14 says we all may prophesy one by one, yet only some have the gift of prophecy, and there are some who are prophets. With all of this, there is overlap but no conflict.
Some Christians have thought that somehow they could be independent of the Church and come into the fullness. That could never happen. God made us interdependent. You might just say that we are stuck with each other. The reality is that the Christ in me needs the Christ in you because I only have that small part that God has given to me. He was broken for our iniquities, but not a bone of Him was broken. He was broken among us so that we could assemble ourselves together into a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. And we need to make sure that we assemble ourselves according to the Pattern (Scripture) and don't neglect doing so--as the manner of some is.
It has a lot to do with 1 Corinthians 1. The folks in Corinth had a problem with divisions and a failure to discern the Body of Christ. They didn't fully realize that the Body of Christ is a specific thing with a specific order and a supernatural kind of unity. They didn't really understand that the Church, the Body of Christ, is not only the method by which God is bringing about God's good purpose, but the Church is also the fulfillment of God's purpose when it is fully completed.
The Corinthians were arguing about which one of the apostles was the best. "1 Corinthians 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. It's easy to see that we should not say that I am of Paul, Apollos, or Cephas, but what is so bad about saying that I am of Christ? Shouldn't we be of Christ? We should be of Christ, of course, but we cannot be of Christ unless we unless we are of His Body. That is what Paul is telling us.
John gave a similar message in John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
God is telling us that we need to abide in Him. We know what it is to have Christ abiding in us, but what about us abiding in Christ. Whatever else abiding in Him may mean, it does mean to abide in His Body. There is a body of Christ and we are to abide in it. None of us is to think of himself or herself more highly than we ought, but according to the free gift, that ministry that God has put within each of us, Christ in us the hope of glory.
John 2:18&19 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Note how serious God is about this. Division is anti-Christ.
John 2:29If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
This is, of course, that righteousness that is by faith--faith has works that God does through us when we walk by faith.
John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
1 Corinthians chapter 12 tells us that God divided Christ among us, but there is no division. There are very specific gifts and very specific ministries or administrations that come out of those gifts. Very specific offices are mentioned as well. These are the structures of the Church, and all of them are necessary. If you remove your eye, you have lost something valuable. If you lose a part of the Body of Christ, it affects every other part. If part of the Body of Christ is out of order, that makes every other part suffer in some sense. Not only are there gifts, ministries and offices, but there are also orders, and every order is important just as the parts of the physical body need to be in order.
These orders are not like the precepts of men, which are just empty forms and rituals. These orders are the very way that the Holy Spirit does His work through the Church. There is the order of being born again, for instance. No one can be born again in his or her own way. Some people would read a verse of Scripture about works and then try to be born again by human-generated works rather than by believing in Jesus.
The order that is mentioned in James 5:13 & 14 is another part of the whole counsel of God. The office of elders of the Church are important part of the Body of Christ. They have a specific role. In most church organizations, the elders are not overseers leading the flock of God as Jesus originally designed the Church. If fact, most local assemblies have a totally different government from the government of elders and deacons. Of course, the order of local elders and deacons can only function under the order of traveling elders and deacons to the universal church, that is apostles. Note that they are plural and that there is no chief elder except for Christ. This is how God designed the Church, the Body of Christ, to function.
It's a wonderful salvation. It's a wonderful way. And God has shed His light upon our pathway. And our way is growing brighter and I want to shout and sing, a creature of eternity, a child of the King.
Last updated: Jan, 2011
v. 13&14 Contradiction?
Toons & Vids
James 5:7 Be Patient Therefore, Brethren, Unto The [Abiding Presence] Of The Lord.
James 5:8 Be Ye Also Patient; Stablish Your Hearts: For The [Abiding Presence] Of The Lord Draweth Nigh.
Feedback Question: James 5:13 & 14 Why does it change gears? Why not tell us to pray for ourselves when we are sick? What is God trying to tell us?
James 5:14-15, The Elders Anoint With Oil For Healing
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