The Way

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Summary

As we read the concluding words of Jame’s letter, we hear about sickness and healing, confession of sins, the prayers of the righteous, and bringing people back to the Way.

But how should we understand all this?

Is anointing related to the modern day service of unction? If so, how? And, are we to really expect a sick person to become well through prayer?

Also, is James’s confession of sins to one another the same as modern day confession? If so, how?

Finally, is there a connection between unction and confession? Is so, what is it?

The Bottom Line: Jame’s Christian vision is one where there’s power in community, so much so that it leads to our salvation.

Show Notes

(James 5:13-20)

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (NRSV)

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up—and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and there was no rain on the land for three years and six months! Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land sprouted with a harvest.
My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, he should know that the one who turns a sinner back from his wandering path will save that person’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (NET)

Is anyone among you suffering evil? Let him pray. Is anyone of good cheer? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you ill? Let him summon the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, having anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is ailing, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he should be someone who has committed sins it will be forgiven him. Therefore fully acknowledge your sins to one another, and pray on one another’s behalf, so that you might be healed. An upright man’s petition, when it is put into effect, is very powerful. Elijah was a man, with feelings like ours, and he prayed a prayer that it might not rain, and no rain fell upon the earth for three years and six months; And again he prayed, and the sky gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth, and anyone should turn him back, Be aware that the one who turns a sinner back from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover over a multitude of sins. (David Bentley Hart)

Are any among you suffering? Let them pray. Are any cheerful? Let them sing psalms. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over the sick person, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Faithful prayer will rescue the sick person, and the Lord will raise them up. If they have committed any sin, it will be forgiven them. So confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
When a righteous person prays, that prayer carries great power. Elijah was a man with passions like ours, and he prayed and prayed that it might not rain – and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, the sky gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
My dear family, if someone in your company has wandered from the truth, and someone turns them back, know this: the one who turns back a sinner from wandering off into error will rescue that person’s life from death, and cover a multitude of sins. (N.T. Wright)

Κακοπαθεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν, προσευχέσθω· εὐθυμεῖ τις, ψαλλέτω· ἀσθενεῖ τις ἐν ὑμῖν, προσκαλεσάσθω τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ προσευξάσθωσαν ἐπʼ αὐτὸν ἀλείψαντες o[αὐτὸν] ἐλαίῳ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι ⸂τοῦ κυρίου⸃. καὶ ἡ ⸀εὐχὴ τῆς πίστεως σώσει τὸν κάμνοντα καὶ ἐγερεῖ αὐτὸν ὁ κύριος· κἂν ἁμαρτίας ᾖ πεποιηκώς, ⸁ἀφεθήσεται αὐτῷ. ἐξομολογεῖσθε oοὖν ἀλλήλοις ⸂τὰς ἁμαρτίας⸃ ⸆ καὶ ⸀εὔχεσθε ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ὅπως ἰαθῆτε. Πολὺ ⸇ ἰσχύει δέησις δικαίου ἐνεργουμένη. Ἠλίας ἄνθρωπος ἦν ὁμοιοπαθὴς ἡμῖν, καὶ προσευχῇ προσηύξατο ⸂τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι⸃, καὶ οὐκ ἔβρεξεν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐνιαυτοὺς τρεῖς καὶ μῆνας ἕξ· καὶ πάλιν προσηύξατο, καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς ⸉ὑετὸν ἔδωκεν⸊ καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐβλάστησεν τὸν καρπὸν αὐτῆς.
Ἀδελφοί oμου, ἐάν τις ἐν ὑμῖν πλανηθῇ ⸂ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας⸃ ⸄καὶ ἐπιστρέψῃ τις⸅ αὐτόν, ⸂γινωσκέτω ὅτι⸃ ὁ ἐπιστρέψας ἁμαρτωλὸν ἐκ πλάνης ὁδοῦ αὐτοῦ σώσει ⸆ ψυχὴν ⸄αὐτοῦ ἐκ θανάτου⸅ καὶ καλύψει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν. ⸇

What is The Way?

Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.