|Dr. Couch, I have concluded that James 5:19-20 is about physical death and not eternal separation from God. What do you think?|
ANSWER: Since the Bible clearly teaches the eternal salvation of the child of God, your conclusion is correct. The verses say that by correcting the brother in his sin, you save one from the error of his way, saving a soul from death. You are also correct to notice that "soul" can mean "life," saving a life from death. The Bible speaks several times of one losing his physical life by persisting in sin (1 Cor. 11:27-30).
In James 5:19 the Greek text puts it this way: "One can be caused to stray from the truth." And, we are to "turn back" that one in the right way. The one who strays is "among you," indicating that he is a believer. By so helping a believer, we are "covering a multitude of sins" (Prov. 10:12). Since the book of James is probably the first NT book, many believers were still trying to figure out how to live the Christian walk. This was a struggle.
Thanks for asking.
--Dr. Mal Couch (12/10)