Christian vs. Christian: Hebrews 10:24-25 Part VII

This week I am continuing with my series of posts on Christian behavior toward other Christians (please read my introductory post for why I am posting on this topic).

This week I have reconstructed what I think is Robert Dean’s seventeenth point in his Doctrine of One Another. It is difficult to tell because he skipped a number at one time and I’m not sure he ever got back in order again. Fortunately it isn’t the numbers that are important but the doctrine:

17. Therefore, confess your sins to one another [allēlōn] and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayer of the righteous is very powerful. (James 5:16)

Rather than pull Dr. Dean’s exegesis from his study on Hebrews (see his transcript for Hebrews Lesson 169) I have decided to provide excerpts from his study of the book of James.

The one thing to keep in mind here is that in my previous posts on the Doctrine of One Another we keep receiving commands to be patient with each other and to seek to build each other up. This passage in no different from the others we have looked at in that regard.

I also want to point out that the sick, as in spiritually sick, believers discussed James 5 might not be very likeable people. You all may have that firmly in mind but I have to keep reminding myself. I am required to help other believers even if I do not like them!

From Dr. Dean’s transcript for James Lesson 87:

James 5:13 NASB “Is anyone among you suffering? {Then} he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. [14] Is anyone among you sick? …” But we have to look at these questions in context. The context is patience and endurance. What happens usually is that people take this passage at first glance, according to the English, and say this must be teaching something about healing and physical sickness. The problem is that the context doesn’t suggest that at all. Where does physical illness have to do with the subject of the epistle? Someone might say that sickness is a form of adversity. Right, but we are summing up the epistle, not introducing news subjects at this point. We have to look at the literary structure of the epistle.

The previous paragraph really doesn’t deal directly with my topic but I think it is important to make the point that this section of James 5 is not dealing exclusively with believers who are physically sick. Rather it this is speaking of believers who are going through some form of suffering which may or may not be physical. Pastor Dean continues:

“Is anyone among you suffering? “ This is the Greek word KAKOPATHEO [Strong’s G770] which means to suffer physical pain, hardship and distress, to go through intense suffering. We saw this word in verse 10: “As an example, brethren, of suffering.” So this tells us when we come to verse 13 that James is writing still in the same vein that he has been talking in the previous three verses, he is not going off into some new subject. The principle is that the context is still patient endurance in the midst of adversity, so we have to interpret whatever phrases we come to by letting the context determine our interpretation. The next word we have to investigate is the word for cheerful, EUTHUMEO [Strong’s G2114]. By looking at the English, talking about cheerful or joyful, it might be that we would expect a Greek word related to CHARA, “joy.” But it is not what we find. What we find is a word that means to be or to become encouraged, and hence cheerful. Cheerful is a secondary meaning to the word, it is not the primary core meaning of this word. It means to be encouraged, to take courage, to become encouraged. In other words, to be strengthened in your soul.

Dr. Dean continues to establish that this passage is not speaking about physical illness:

So this word has a range of meanings, its core meaning is weak and we have to determine from the context whether it means to be physically weak or spiritually weak. James 5:15 NASB “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick.” The English uses the word “sick” in v. 15 and “sick” in v. 14. However, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are two different words in the Greek. It is the second word in v. 15 [Strong’s G2577] that is a more precise word and that helps us understand what ASTHENEO means in v. 14. We are talking about the same person. The restoration of the one who is sick, if that word doesn’t mean physically sick, then  the word back in v. 14 doesn’t mean physically sick. It is the Greek word KAMNO which means basically to be weary or exhausted. It classical Greek it did means sick or ill or even dead, but it is not used anywhere in the Greek New Testament to mean physically ill or dead.

The following paragraph is the core of what I have been looking for in this lesson. As “one another” and fellow members of the body of Christ, we are to help each other out. In this case James is telling believers that if any one of them is exhausted through trials and suffering that we are to pray so that they are encouraged and strengthened. Sometimes believers are suspicious when other believers hit a rough time in their life. It is easy to think that God must be punishing them for something. That may very well not be the case and we need to pray for each other.

James 5:15 “and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick [weary].” So now we have a new translation here that is a little more accurate: [13] “Is anyone among you facing adversity? Let him pray. Is anyone encouraged [strengthened]? Let him sing praises. [14] Is anyone among you weary [weak spiritually]? {Then} he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; [15] and the prayer offered in faith will strengthen the one who is weary, and the Lord will lift him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”

Here Dr. Dean expands upon what prayer for each other can do. I find this to be very encouraging because I know that there are believers praying for me and I can be confident that their prayers are having a positive effect.

The last word that we will look at is the word for “heal” in v. 16: NASB “Therefore, 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.” This is the Greek word IAOMAI [Strong’s G2390]. Its core meaning is to recover. It can refer to any kind of recovery, even though most of the time it is used of physical recovery from illness. It is used in a couple of passages fro spiritual recovery. John 12:40 NASB “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” There IAOMAI is used not of healing diseases but of recovery from the spiritual problem of spiritual death and salvation [Ed.: He is speaking of the John 12:40 passage here]. So the verb SOZO, EGEIRO and IAOMAI all emphasize recovery, and this is the recovery solution for the believer who has failed facing spiritual testing [Ed.: He has now switched back to James 5 here].

In his transcript Pastor Dean goes on to discuss what anointing means in this passage. It is not what most people think of when they read the word. Rather than take us down that road I think I will leave that for another day.

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