James 5:17
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.

New Living Translation
Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!

English Standard Version
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.

New American Standard Bible
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

King James Bible
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land.

International Standard Version
Elijah was a person just like us, and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and rain never came to the land for three years and six months.

NET Bible
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!

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Elijah was a man subject to suffering like we, and he prayed that it would not rain on the land, and it did not come down for 3 years and six months;

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Elijah was human like us. Yet, when he prayed that it wouldn't rain, no rain fell on the ground for three-and-a-half years.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Elijah was a man subject to passions like unto ours, and he asked in prayer that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

King James 2000 Bible
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months.

American King James Version
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

American Standard Version
Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months.

Darby Bible Translation
Elias was a man of like passions to us, and he prayed with prayer that it should not rain; and it did not rain upon the earth three years and six months;

English Revised Version
Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months.

Webster's Bible Translation
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Weymouth New Testament
Elijah was a man with a nature similar to ours, and he earnestly prayed that there might be no rain: and no rain fell on the land for three years and six months.

World English Bible
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it didn't rain on the earth for three years and six months.

Young's Literal Translation
Elijah was a man like affected as we, and with prayer he did pray -- not to rain, and it did not rain upon the land three years and six months;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

5:12-18 The sin of swearing is condemned; but how many make light of common profane swearing! Such swearing expressly throws contempt upon God's name and authority. This sin brings neither gain, nor pleasure, nor reputation, but is showing enmity to God without occasion and without advantage It shows a man to be an enemy to God, however he pretends to call himself by his name, or sometimes joins in acts of worship. But the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. In a day of affliction nothing is more seasonable than prayer. The spirit is then most humble, and the heart is broken and tender. It is necessary to exercise faith and hope under afflictions; and prayer is the appointed means for obtaining and increasing these graces. Observe, that the saving of the sick is not ascribed to the anointing with oil, but to prayer. In a time of sickness it is not cold and formal prayer that is effectual, but the prayer of faith. The great thing we should beg of God for ourselves and others in the time of sickness is, the pardon of sin. Let nothing be done to encourage any to delay, under the mistaken fancy that a confession, a prayer, a minister's absolution and exhortation, or the sacrament, will set all right at last, where the duties of a godly life have been disregarded. To acknowledge our faults to each other, will tend greatly to peace and brotherly love. And when a righteous person, a true believer, justified in Christ, and by his grace walking before God in holy obedience, presents an effectual fervent prayer, wrought in his heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, raising holy affections and believing expectations and so leading earnestly to plead the promises of God at his mercy-seat, it avails much. The power of prayer is proved from the history of Elijah. In prayer we must not look to the merit of man, but to the grace of God. It is not enough to say a prayer, but we must pray in prayer. Thoughts must be fixed, desires must be firm and ardent, and graces exercised. This instance of the power of prayer, encourages every Christian to be earnest in prayer. God never says to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek my face in vain. Where there may not be so much of miracle in God's answering our prayers, yet there may be as much of grace.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 17, 18. - Illustration of the last statement of ver. 16, from the case of Elijah, "a righteous man" under the old covenant, but one "of like passions with us," and therefore one from whose case it is lawful to argue to our own. Subject to like passions as we are. Ὁμοιοπαθὴς ἡμῖν: simply "of like passions with us;" cf. Acts 14:15, where it is used in just the same way. In the LXX. only in Wisd. 7:3. He prayed earnestly. Προσευχῇ προσηύξατο: a Hebraism, not infrequent in the New Testament (see Luke 22:15; John 3:29; Acts 4:17; Acts 5:28; Acts 23:14), in imitation of the Hebrew dissolute infinitive (cf. Winer, p. 584). For the incident alluded to by St. James, see 1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:1; but note

(1) that we are never told that the famine was in consequence of Elijah's prayer; and

(2) nothing is said of the duration of time (three years and a half) during which it rained not upon the earth. All we read is that "after many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year;" but there is no clear indication from what period this "third year" is dated. With regard to

(1), it may have been St. James's own inference from the narrative, or may have been due to tradition. With regard to

(2), the very same time is mentioned by our Lord in his allusion to the same incident (Luke 4:25), "the heaven was shut up three years and six months." And as the same period is said to be given in the Yalkut Shimeoni on 1 Kings 16, it was probably the time handed down by tradition, being taken by the Jews as a symbol of times of tribulation (cf. Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 11:2).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are,.... The apostle gives an instance of earnest and fervent prayer, and of the efficacy of it in Elias; who is the same with the prophet Elijah, or Elijah the Tishbite; who, by the Septuagint in Malachi 4:5 is called Elias, as here, and elsewhere, in the New Testament: of him James says, that he was a "man", contrary to the notion of some of the Jewish writers, who affirm, that Elijah was not born of a father and mother, but was an angel, who was clothed with the four elements of the world (e); but he was not only born, but born in sin, as others are, and was by nature no better than others; and he himself confesses that he was no better than his fathers, 1 Kings 19:4. And the apostle further observes; concerning him, that be was "subject to like passions as we are"; both in body and soul; he was subject to hunger and weariness, and was fed by ravens, and by the widow of Zarephath, and by an angel; and he was subject to reproach, affliction, and persecution, being charged by Ahab as a troubler of Israel, and persecuted by Jezebel, who sought his life; he was a mortal man, and liable to death, and requested to die, and must have died, had it not been for the wonderful power of God, which translated him, that he should not see death; and he was not free from sinful passions, as impatience, fear, and unbelief, 1 Kings 17:20. And he prayed earnestly; or prayed in prayer; an Hebraism: it is said (f) of one, that , "he prayed his prayer"; and of others, that , "they prayed prayers"; though the phrase here seems to design something more than bare praying; a praying, not merely externally, or formally, and with the lip only, but with the Spirit, and with the understanding, and with the heart engaged in it, with inwrought prayer. The prophet prayed with much earnestness, with great vehemence and intenseness of Spirit, as this Hebraism denotes; his prayer was fervent, and it was constant, and importunate, and was continued till he had an answer: he may be thought to have prayed each of the seven times he sent his servant to look out for a sign of rain, 1 Kings 18:43, he first prayed,

that it might not rain; this is not recorded in express words, but may be gathered from 1 Kings 17:1 where he says, "as the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew, nor rain, these years, but according to my word"; so the passage is understood by the Jewish interpreters: the phrase, "before whom I stand", is paraphrased by one of them (g) thus; before whom I am used to stand, "in prayer"; and it is a common saying with the Jews, there is no standing ever mentioned, but prayer is intended; See Gill on Matthew 6:5 And the other phrase, "according to my word", is, by another (h), interpreted to this sense, that the rain should not descend naturally, according to the custom of the world, but it should descend when Elijah , "prayed for it", and so it was:

and it rained not on the earth: on the land of Israel, which is only meant; it rained in other parts of the world, for the drought in those times was not universal: and this was,

by the space of three years and six months; which exactly agrees with the words of Christ, Luke 4:25 and this was in judgment upon the land of Israel, for the idolatry it was filled with in the times of Ahab: and this instance of prayer is mentioned, not with a view that it should be imitated; we are not to pray for judgments, unless we have a divine order for it, as Elijah had; but to show the efficacy of prayer made according to the will of God.

(e) Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1. & Imre Binah in ib. (f) Ib. in Exod. fol. 4. 2. & in Numb. fol. 79. 2.((g) R. David, Kimchi in loc. (h) Vid. Laniado in loc.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

17. Elias … like passions as we—therefore it cannot be said that he was so raised above us as to afford no example applicable to common mortals like ourselves.

prayed earnestly—literally, "prayed with prayer": Hebraism for prayed intensely. Compare Lu 22:15, "With desire I have desired," that is, earnestly desired. Alford is wrong in saying, Elias' prayer that it might not rain "is not even hinted at in the Old Testament history." In 1Ki 17:1 it is plainly implied, "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." His prophecy of the fact was according to a divine intimation given to him in answer to prayer. In jealousy for God's honor (1Ki 19:10), and being of one mind with God in his abhorrence of apostasy, he prayed that the national idolatry should be punished with a national judgment, drought; and on Israel's profession of repentance he prayed for the removal of the visitation, as is implied in 1Ki 18:39-42; compare Lu 4:25.

three years, &c.—Compare 1Ki 18:1, "The third year," namely, from Elijah's going to Zarephath; the prophecy (Jas 5:1) was probably about five or six months previously.

James 5:17 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Prayer of Faith
16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
Cross References
1 Kings 17:1
Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."

1 Kings 18:1
After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land."

Luke 4:25
I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.

Acts 14:15
"Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them.
Treasury of Scripture

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

Elias.

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said …

Elijah. subject.

Acts 10:26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

Acts 14:15 And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like …

and he.

Romans 11:2 God has not cast away his people which he foreknew. Know you not …

Revelation 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of …

earnestly. or, in prayer. and it rained not.

Luke 4:25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days …

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