Ye have condemned and killed the just - ̀ ́ ton dikaion - "the just one," or "the just man" - for the word used is in the singular number. This may either refer to the condemnation and crucifixion of Christ - meaning that their conduct towards his people had been similar to the treatment of the Saviour, and was in fact a condemnation and crucifixion of him afresh; or, that by their rejection of him in order to live in sin, they in fact condemned him and his religion; or, that they had condemned and killed the just man - meaning that they had persecuted those who were Christians; or, that by their harsh treatment of others in withholding what was due to them, they had deprived them of the means of subsistence, and had, as it were, killed the righteous. Probably the true meaning is, that it was one of their characteristics that they had been guilty of wrong towards good men. Whether it refers, however, to any particular act of violence, or to such a course as would wear out their lives by a system of oppression, injustice, and fraud, cannot now be determined.
And he doth not resist you - Some have supposed that this refers to God, meaning that he did not oppose them; that is, that he bore with them patiently while they did it. Others suppose that it should be read a question - "and doth he not resist you?" meaning that God would oppose them, and punish them for their acts of oppression and wrong. But probably the true reference is to the "just man" whom they condemned and killed; meaning that they were so powerful that all attempts to resist them would be vain, and that the injured and oppressed could do nothing but submit patiently to their acts of injustice and violence. The sense may be either that they could not oppose them - the rich men being so powerful, and they who were oppressed so feeble; or that they bore their wrongs with meekness, and did not attempt it. The sins, therefore, condemned in these verses James 5:1-6, and for which it is said the divine vengeance would come upon those referred to, are these four:
(1)That of hoarding up money when it was unnecessary for their real support and comfort, and when they might do so much good with it, (compare Matthew 6:19;)
(2)That of keeping back the wages which was due to those who cultivated their fields; that is, keeping back what would be a fair compensation for their toil - applicable alike to hired men and to slaves;
(3)That of giving themselves up to a life of ease, luxury, and sensual; indulgence; and,
(4)That of wronging and oppressing good and just men - men, perhaps in humble life, who were unable to vindicate their rights, and who had none to undertake their cause; men who were too feeble to offer successful resistance, or who were restrained by their principles from attempting it.
It is needless to say that there are multitudes of such persons now on the earth, and that they have the same reason to dread the divine vengeance which the same class had in the time of the apostle James.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing James 5:6:
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