Friday

10 February 2017

“Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.” (v. 7)

Psalm: Psalm 104:1-23

The Methodist Church's Bible Month this year focuses on the letter of James. It takes place in June, although churches and circuits may choose a different time if that is more convenient. For more information (including training and resources), go to www.methodist.org.uk/biblemonth.

Background

In the light of the suffering Christians face in this age, James calls Christians to be patient as they wait for the coming of the Lord. Just like a farmer waits for his crop, Christians should wait for the coming of their Lord. While the wait might be long, the coming is certain - a theme found elsewhere in the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11; 2 Peter 3:1-13), as well as in the Apostle's Creed. James encourages believers to strengthen their hearts as they consider Jesus' coming (verse 8). To strengthen the heart is to resolve to stay faithful, even when circumstances make it difficult.

James also warns Christians against grumbling against one another and that the judge is "standing at the doors" (v. 9). In light of the immediate context, it seems likely that James refers here to Jesus' second coming, though some interpreters argue that this speaks of other ways in which God judges the Church.

Given the reality of suffering in this age, James points to the prophets as examples of "suffering and patience" (v. 10). The figure of Job is one of the best examples, and the story of his suffering also reveals God's compassion and mercy (verse 11).

Verse 12 is a little difficult to fit within the context. It probably comes from the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 5:34-37) and may sit here as a free-floating saying. It also, however, fits the theme of patience, since swearing by an oath can be an example of impatience, or wishing to assure others that you can be trusted. For Jesus and James, however, Christians should always speak truthfully, and so the prohibition on oaths is a further example of speaking with wisdom (cf James 3:1-12).


To Ponder

  • Two thousand years after Jesus' death and resurrection, how can Christians today cultivate the sense that the "coming of the Lord is near"?
  • How can you/we encourage and comfort Christians who are suffering?
  • How might James' teaching on oaths apply today? 


Bible notes author: Ed Mackenzie 

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