James 5:14
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.

King James Bible
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

Darby Bible Translation
Is any sick among you? let him call to [him] the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of [the] Lord;

World English Bible
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord,

Young's Literal Translation
is any infirm among you? let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, having anointed him with oil, in the name of the Lord,

James 5:14 Parallel
Commentary
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders - This was also a Jewish maxim. Rabbi Simeon, in Sepher Hachaiyim, said: "What should a man do who goes to visit the sick? Ans. He who studies to restore the health of the body, should first lay the foundation in the health of the soul. The wise men have said, No healing is equal to that which comes from the word of God and prayer. Rabbi Phineas, the son of Chamma, hath said, 'When sickness or disease enters into a man's family, let him apply to a wise man, who will implore mercy in his behalf.'" See Schoettgen.

St. James very properly sends all such to the elders of the Church, who had power with God through the great Mediator, that they might pray for them.

Anointing him with oil - That St. James neither means any kind of incantation, any kind of miracle, or such extreme unction as the Romish Church prescribes, will be sufficiently evident from these considerations:

1. Be was a holy man, and could prescribe nothing but what was holy.

2. If a miracle was intended, it could have been as well wrought without the oil, as with it.

3. It is not intimated that even this unction is to save the sick man, but the prayer of faith, James 5:15.

4. What is here recommended was to be done as a natural means of restoring health, which, while they used prayer and supplication to God, they were not to neglect.

5. Oil in Judea was celebrated for its sanative qualities; so that they scarcely ever took a journey without carrying oil with them, (see in the case of the Samaritan), with which they anointed their bodies, healed their wounds, bruises, etc.

6. Oil was and in frequently used in the east as a means of cure in very dangerous diseases; and in Egypt it is often used in the cure of the plague. Even in Europe it has been tried with great success in the cure of dropsy. And pure olive oil is excellent for recent wounds and bruises; and I have seen it tried in this way with the best effects.

7. But that it was the custom of the Jews to apply it as a means of healing, and that St. James refers to this custom, is not only evident from the case of the wounded man ministered to by the good Samaritan, Luke 10:34, but from the practice of the Jewish rabbins. In Midrash Koheleth, fol. 73, 1, it is said: "Chanina, son of the brother of the Rabbi Joshua, went to visit his uncle at Capernaum; he was taken ill; and Rabbi Joshua went to him and anointed him with oil, and he was restored." They had, therefore, recourse to this as a natural remedy; and we find that the disciples used it also in this way to heal the sick, not exerting the miraculous power but in cases where natural means were ineffectual. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them; Mark 6:13. On this latter place I have supposed that it might have been done symbolically, in order to prepare the way for a miraculous cure: this is the opinion of many commentators; but I am led, on more mature consideration, to doubt its propriety, yet dare not decide. In short, anointing the sick with oil, in order to their recovery, was a constant practice among the Jews. See Lightfoot and Wetstein on Mark 6:13. And here I am satisfied that it has no other meaning than as a natural means of restoring health; and that St. James desires them to use natural means while looking to God for an especial blessing. And no wise man would direct otherwise.

8. That the anointing recommended here by St. James cannot be such as the Romish Church prescribes, and it is on this passage principally that they found their sacrament of extreme unction, is evident from these considerations:

1. St. James orders the sick person to be anointed in reference to his cure; but they anoint the sick in the agonies of death, when there is no prospect of his recovery; and never administer that sacrament, as it is called, while there is any hope of life.

2. St James orders this anointing for the cure of the body, but they apply it for the cure of the soul; in reference to which use of it St. James gives no directions: and what is said of the forgiveness of sins, in James 5:15, is rather to be referred to faith and prayer, which are often the means of restoring lost health, and preventing premature death, when natural means, the most skillfully used, have been useless.

3. The anointing with oil, if ever used as a means or symbol in working miraculous cures, was only applied in some cases, perhaps very few, if any; but the Romish Church uses it in every case; and makes it necessary to the salvation of every departing soul. Therefore, St. James' unction, and the extreme unction of the Romish Church, are essentially different. See below.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

for.

Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord...

Acts 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders...

Titus 1:5 For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city...

pray.

1 Kings 17:21 And he stretched himself on the child three times, and cried to the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray you...

2 Kings 4:33 He went in therefore, and shut the door on them two, and prayed to the LORD.

2 Kings 5:11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand...

Acts 9:40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes...

Acts 28:8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed...

anointing.

Mark 6:13 And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick...

Library
June the Twenty-Ninth Effectual Prayers
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." --JAMES v. 13-20. Or, as Weymouth translates it, "The heartfelt supplication of a righteous man exerts a mighty influence." Prayer may be empty words, with no more power than those empty shells which have been foisted upon the Turks in their war with the Balkan States. Firing empty shells! That is what many professed prayers really are; they have nothing in them, and they accomplish nothing. They are just forged upon the lips, and
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

"Who Will Rise up with Me against the Wicked?"
Ps. 94:16. 1. In all ages, men who neither feared God nor regarded man have combined together, and formed confederacies, to carry on the works of darkness. And herein they have shown themselves wise in their generation; for by this means they more effectually promoted the kingdom of their father the devil, than otherwise they could I have done. On the other hand, men who did fear God, and desire the happiness of their fellow-creatures, have, in every age, found it needful to join together, in order
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

On the Whole, Since Scripture Places the Principal Part of Worship in the Invocation Of...
On the whole, since Scripture places the principal part of worship in the invocation of God (this being the office of piety which he requires of us in preference to all sacrifices), it is manifest sacrilege to offer prayer to others. Hence it is said in the psalm: "If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god, shall not God search this out?" (Ps. 44:20, 21). Again, since it is only in faith that God desires to be invoked, and he distinctly enjoins us to frame
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith

But Some Seem to be Moved by the Fact...
But some seem to be moved by the fact, that the prayers of saints are often said to have been heard. Why? Because they prayed. "They cried unto thee" (says the Psalmist), "and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded" (Ps. 22:5). Let us also pray after their example, that like them we too may be heard. Those men, on the contrary, absurdly argue that none will be heard but those who have been heard already. How much better does James argue, "Elias was a man subject to like passions
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith

Cross References
Mark 6:13
They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Mark 16:18
they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."

Acts 11:30
This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 28:8
His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.

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