|Dr. Couch, what about James 5:15-16! Some say that this guarantees that the sick will be healed. What do you say?|
ANSWER: The final focus of these two verses has to do with sin, though the sickness is certainly mentioned. Many believe James is focusing on that fact that the sin brought about the illness and the confession is what brings restitution and recovery.
The great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson believes this and writes: "Supposing that the sick one has committed sins as many sick people have, ... it shall be forgiven him." "His sickness has been healed, but not without change of heart and turning to God through Christ." However, he adds, "Much is assumed here that IS NOT EXPRESSED." "Confession of sin to God is already assumed. ... Confession to the pastor without confessing to God is with little benefit."
Davids adds: "Verse 15 connects the possibility of sin to the illness. Such a concept was not unknown in the NT. And it was well known in Judaism. The Perfect Tense ("is he has committed ...") indicates POSSIBILITY, showing that the person has not been forgiven and so is in a state of guilt. The person would do well to follow the rabbinic advice and examine himself. Should sin be the cause, the healing for which the elders pray will not end with the body. There are two promises: one for the body and one for the soul."
The great John Gill points out how Jewish this passage is. He writes: "The Jews have had formerly a great notion of prayer; the power of prayer, they say, is strong; and extol it above all other services. It is better than good works, or than offerings and sacrifice, and particularly the prayer of a righteous man, says Rabbi Eliazar. The prayer of a righteous man is like a shovel; the sense is that the shovel turns the corn on the floor from one corner to the other. Prayer turns holy blessings from God from wrath to mercy."
Verse 15 seems clearly to be connecting prayer and illness together. This is important in understanding the passage.
Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch