Lesson 29r. The Practice Of Endurance (James 5:7-11) PART 1
by John Lowe
7Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
The Need for Patience. Given the oppressions mentioned in vv. 3-6, James encourages Christians to be patient until the coming of the Lord, and he cites the farmer, the prophets, and Job. “Patience” or “long-suffering” is mentioned four times and “steadfastness” (“endurance”) twice in this section. The first expresses patience in respect of persons and the second in respect of things. James shared with the other NT writers the conviction that the coming of the Lord was near (Lk. 21:31 4; I Th. 4:13-18).
The apostle exhorts these who were suffering under these wrongs to exercise patience, James 5:7-11. He encourages them with the hope that the Lord would come; he refers them to the example of the farmer, who waits long for the fruit of the earth; he cautions them against indulging in hard feelings and thoughts against others more prosperous than they were; he refers them, as examples of patience, to the prophets, to the case of Job, and to the Lord Jesus himself.
7. BE PATIENT, THEN, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, UNTIL THE LORD’S COMING. SEE HOW THE FARMER WAITS FOR THE LAND TO YIELD ITS VALUABLE CROP, PATIENTLY WAITING FOR THE AUTUMN AND SPRING RAINS.
BE PATIENT, THEN, BROTHERS, and SISTERS, under wrongs like the apostle described in the previous verses. Those whom he addressed were undoubtedly suffering under those oppressions, and his object was to encourage them to bear their wrongs without murmuring and without resistance. One of the methods of doing this was by showing them, in an address to their rich oppressors, that those who injured and wronged them would be suitably punished at the day of judgment or that their cause was in the hands of God. Another method of doing it was by the direct implanting of the duty of patience. Compare the notes at Matthew 5:38-41, Matthew 5:43-45. The meaning here is, “be long patient,” or “suffer with long patience.” The sense of the Greek is, “be long-suffering,” or “let not your patience be exhausted.” Your courage, vigor, and patience is not to be short-lived, but is to be permanent. Let it continue if there is need of it, even to the coming of the Lord. Then you will be released from sufferings.”
UNTIL THE LORD’S COMING. - The coming of the Lord Jesus - either to remove you by death, or to destroy the city of Jerusalem and end the Jewish institutions, or to judge the world and receive his people to himself. The “coming of the Lord” by any means was an event that Christians were taught to expect, and which would relate to their deliverance from troubles. Since the time of his appearing was not revealed, it was not improper to refer to that as an event that might be near; and as the removal of Christians by death is denoted by the phrase “the coming of the Lord” - that is, his coming to each one of us - it was not improper to speak of death in that way. On the general subject of the expectations entertained among the early Christians of the second advent of the Saviour, see 1 Corinthians 15:515 note; 2 Thessalonians 2:2-3 note.
“THE AUTUMN AND SPRING RAINS” are also known as the early and late rains. The first germinates the seed; the second matures it. A few of the best MSS omit “rain,” and it has been thought that “fruit” (which is found in a few good MSS) should be repeated, but OT parallels (e.g., Deut. 11:14 1; Jer. 5:24; Zech. 10:1) favor the common rendering. The words naturally recall our Lord’s comparison of the consummation of the age to a harvest (Mat. 13:39) 2, and Joel’s prophesy of the former and latter rains after God’s judgment upon His enemies (2:23). Still, it is unsafe to make a simple illustration the basis of prophetical interpretation.
Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth - The farmer waits patiently for the grain to grow. It requires time to mature the crop, and he does not become impatient. The idea seems to be, that we should wait for things to develop themselves in their proper season and should not be impatient 3 before that season arrives. In time we may expect the harvest to be ripened. We cannot hasten it. We cannot control the rain, the sun, the season; and the farmer therefore patiently waits until in the regular course of events he has a harvest. So, we cannot control and hasten the events which are in God’s own keeping; and we should patiently wait for the developments of his will, and the arrangements of his providence, by which we may obtain what we desire.
And hath long patience for it - That is, his patience is not exhausted. It extends through the whole time in which, by the divine arrangements, he may expect a harvest.
Until he receives the early and latter rain - In the climate of Palestine there are two rainy seasons, on which the harvest depends - the autumnal and the spring rains - called here and elsewhere in the Scriptures the early and the latter rains. See Deuteronomy 11:141; Job 29:23; Jeremiah 5:24 4. The autumnal or early rains of Scripture usually commence in the latter half of October or the beginning of November; not suddenly, but by degrees, which gives opportunity for the husbandman to sow his fields of wheat and barley. The rains come mostly from the west or south-west, continuing for two or three days at a time, and falling especially during the nights. The wind then hops round to the north or east, and several days of fine weather follow. During the months of November and December the rains continue to fall heavily; afterwards, they return only at longer intervals and are less heavy; but at no period during the winter do they entirely cease to occur.
Snow often falls in Jerusalem, in January and February, to the depth of a foot or more, but it does not last long. Rain continues to fall through the month of March, but it is rare after that period. At the present time there are not any periods of rain, or successions of showers, which might be regarded as distinct rainy seasons. The whole period from October to March now constitutes only one continual rainy season, without any regularly intervening time of prolonged fair weather. Unless, therefore, there has been some change in the climate since the times of the New Testament, the early and the latter rains for which the husbandman waited with longing, seem rather to have implied the first showers of autumn, which revived the parched and thirsty earth, and prepared it for the seed; and the latter showers of spring, which continued to refresh and advance the ripening crops and the fresh products of the fields. In ordinary seasons, from the cessation of the showers in spring until their commencement in October or November, rain never falls, and the sky is usually serene.
8. YOU TOO, BE PATIENT AND STAND FIRM, BECAUSE THE LORD’S COMING IS NEAR.
“BE PATIENT AND STAND FIRM:” (1 Chron. 15:7 7; 1Cor. 15:58)
Be ye also patient - in time, as the farmer expects the return of the rain, so you may anticipate deliverance from your trials.
Establish your hearts - Let your purposes and your faith be firm and unwavering. Do not become weary and fretful; but bear with all that is laid upon you, until the time of your deliverance shall come.
BECAUSE THE LORD’S COMING IS NEAR.
Compare Revelation 22:108, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20; the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:51. It is clear, I think, from this place, that the apostle expected that that which he understood by “the coming of the Lord” was soon to happen; for it was to be that by which they would obtain deliverance from the trials which they then endured (See James 5:7) 9. Whether it means that he was soon to come to judgment, or to end the Jewish policy and to set up his kingdom on the earth, or that they would soon be removed by death, cannot be determined from the mere use of the language. The most natural interpretation of the passage, and one which will agree well with the time when the Epistle was written, is, that the predicted time of the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24) was at hand; that there were already indications that that would soon occur; and that there was a prevalent expectation among Christians that that event would be a release from many trials of persecution, and would be followed by the setting up of the Redeemer‘s kingdom.