Greg Mazak on James 5:14-15
Here’s the ESV for James 5:14-15:
14 Is anyone among you sick (ἀσθενεῖ)? 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. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick (κάμνοντα), and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
All the major English translations (24 that I checked, anyway) agree, translating ἀσθενεῖ and κάμνοντα with “sick” or “ill” (Tyndale’s “defeated” in v. 14 probably means “sick”).
He argued that ἀσθενεῖ and κάμνοντα refer not to physical sickness but to what Lloyd-Jones might call “spiritual depression.” He told the more academic in the audience he’d happily share his sources with them. His view, he said, was not novel.
I asked him if I could post those sources on my blog. Here they are:
- Daniel R. Hayden, “Calling the Elders to Pray,” Bibliotheca Sacra 138:551, July, 1981; pp. 258ff.
- John MacArthur’s commentary on James (see his discussion of James 5).
- Very brief reference in the notes of the Ryrie Study Bible (Expanded edition).
My friend Brian Collins and I think this view makes better sense of the last phrase of v. 15: “And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” If someone is “raised up” from spiritual defeat then certainly he is being forgiven of sins. If he is being raised up from sickness, it’s not immediately apparent how forgiveness of sins is a corollary. This is worth further perusal.