|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-6 Public troubles are most grievous to those who live in pleasure, and are secure and sensual, though all ranks suffer deeply at such times. All idolized treasures will soon perish, except as they will rise up in judgment against their possessors. Take heed of defrauding and oppressing; and avoid the very appearance of it. God does not forbid us to use lawful pleasures; but to live in pleasure, especially sinful pleasure, is a provoking sin. Is it no harm for people to unfit themselves for minding the concerns of their souls, by indulging bodily appetites? The just may be condemned and killed; but when such suffer by oppressors, this is marked by God. Above all their other crimes, the Jews had condemned and crucified that Just One who had come among them, even Jesus Christ the righteous.
Verse 2. - Description of the miseries that are coming upon them. The perfects (σέσηπε... γέγονεν) are probably to be explained as "prophetic," in accordance with a common Hebrew idiom (see Driver on the 'Tenses of the Hebrew Verb,' § 14; and cf. Winer, 'Grammar of New Testament Greek,' p. 342: "The perfect does not stand for a present or future, but the case indicated by the apostle in ταλαιπωρίαις ὑμῶν ταῖς εηπερχομέναις is viewed as already present, and consequently the σήπειν of the riches as already completed"). For an instance of the prophetic perfect, used as here after ὀλούζείν, see Isaiah 23:1, 14," Howl.... for your stronghold has been wasted." The miseries coming upon the rich are thus announced to be the destruction of everything in virtue of which they were styled rich. Their costly garments, in a great store of which the wealth of an Eastern largely consists, should become moth-eaten. Their gold and silver should be rusted. Bengel notes on this passage: "Scripta haec suut paucis annis ante obsidionem Hierosolymorum;" and certainly the best commentary upon it is to be found in the terrible account given by Josephus of the sufferings and miseries which came upon the Jews during the war and siege of Jerusalem. The Jewish historian has become the unconscious witness to the fulfillment of the prophecies of our Lord and his apostle. Σέσηπεν: only here in the New Testament; in the LXX., Job 16:7. Σητόβρωτα is also an ἄπαξ λεγόμενον in the New Testament; in LXX. used also of garments in Job 13:28.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Your riches are corrupted,.... Either through disuse of them; and so the phrase is expressive of their tenaciousness, withholding that from themselves and others which is meet, and which is keeping riches for the owners thereof, to their hurt; or these are corrupted, and are corruptible things, fading and perishing, and will stand in no stead in the day of wrath, and therefore it is great weakness to put any trust and confidence in them:
and your garments are moth eaten; being neither wore by themselves, nor put upon the backs of others, as they should, but laid up in wardrobes, or in chests and coffers, and so became the repast of moths, and now good for nothing.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
5:2 The riches of the ancients consisted much in large stores of corn, and of costly apparel.
James 5:2 Parallel Commentaries
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