|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 6. - The climax of their sin. Ye have condemned, ye have killed the righteous one. Does this allude to the death of our Lord? At first sight it may well seem so. Compare St. Peter's words in Acts 3:14, "Ye denied the Holy One and the Just (δίκαιον);" St. Stephen's in Acts 7:52, "the coming of the Just One (τοῦ δικαίου);" and St. Paul's in Acts 22:14, "to see the Just One (τὸν δίκαιον)." But this view is dispelled when we remember how throughout this whole passage the ideas and expressions are borrowed from the Old Testament, and when we find that in Isaiah 3:10 (LXX.) the wicked are represented as saying, Δήσωμεν τὸν δίκαιον ὅτι δύσχρηστος ἡμῖν ἐστί ( α passage which lies at the root of the remarkable section in Wisd. 2, "Let us oppress the poor righteous man .... Let us condemn him with a shameful death." It is probable, then, that passages such as these were in St. James's mind, and suggested the words, and thus that there is no direct allusion to the Crucifixion (which, indeed, could scarcely be laid to the charge of his readers), but that the singular τὸν δίκαιον is used to denote the class collectively (cf. Amos 2:6; Amos 5:12). It is a remarkable coincidence, pointed out by most commentators, that he who wrote these verses, himself styled ὁ Δίκαιος by the Jews, suffered death at their hands a very few years afterwards. He doth not resist you. According to the view commonly adopted, St. James simply means to say that the righteous man suffered this evil at their hands without resistance. Another interpretation seems more possible, taking the clause as interrogative, "Does he not resist you?" the subject, implied but not expressed, being God; as if he would say, "Is not God against you? " - that God of whom it has already been said that he resists (ἀντιτάσσεται) the proud (comp. Hosea 1:6, "I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away (LXX., ἀλλ η} ἀντιτασσόμενος ἀντιτάξομαι αὐτοῖς)")
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Ye have condemned and killed the just,.... Meaning not Christ, the Just One, as some have thought; whom the Jewish sanhedrim condemned as guilty of death, and got the sentence passed upon him, and him to be crucified by Pontius Pilate, on the day of slaughter, at the time of the passover, as some connect the last clause of the preceding verse with this; since the apostle is not writing to the Jerusalem Jews, nor to unbelievers, but to professors of religion; though he might say they did it, because their nation did it: but rather this is to be understood of the poor saints, who were just, through the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them, and lived soberly, righteously, and godly, and were harmless and inoffensive in their conversation: who were evil spoken of, censured, and judged, and condemned in a rash and uncharitable manner by their brethren; or were drawn to the judgment seats by the rich, who obtained a judicial process against them, and procured a sentence of condemnation to pass upon them unrighteously; and who killed them, by taking away their good names from them, and by withholding from them their supplies of life, the fruit of their own labour, whereby their lives were embittered and made miserable:
and he doth not resist you; it being neither in his power, nor in his inclination; but takes it patiently, quietly submits, and makes no opposition: or God does not resist you, as yet; he will do it shortly.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. Ye have condemned … the just—The Greek aorist expresses, "Ye are accustomed to condemn … the just." Their condemnation of Christ, "the Just," is foremost in James' mind. But all the innocent blood shed, and to be shed, is included, the Holy Spirit comprehending James himself, called "the Just," who was slain in a tumult. See my Introduction. This gives a peculiar appropriateness to the expression in this verse, the same "as the righteous (just) man" (Jas 5:16). The justice or righteousness of Jesus and His people is what peculiarly provoked the ungodly great men of the world.
he doth not resist you—The very patience of the Just one is abused by the wicked as an incentive to boldness in violent persecution, as if they may do as they please with impunity. God doth "resist the proud" (Jas 4:6); but Jesus as man, "as a sheep is dumb before the shearers, so He opened not His mouth": so His people are meek under persecution. The day will come when God will resist (literally, "set Himself in array against") His foes and theirs.
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