Aug. 31, 2020

What Does James 5:16 Mean? Part 1

What Does James 5:16 Mean? Part 1


James 5:16 (NIV): 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

In today's Bible Podcast, James teaches us that we're to do more than just pray for our healing when we're sick. What can we learn from an ancient Jewish belief that could be the answer for our healing?  


We continue with our study of prayer and healing in James Chapter 5. 

James has been teaching us that when we are really sick (like your feet have been kicked out from under you kind of sick) that we are to call the elders of the church to come and pray over us. 

But James tells us that there's more than just prayer going on with the Elders during this time. 

How often do you do what James tells us to do in James 5:16? Could this be the answer for your healing?

In today’s 2-minute Bible Study, you will discover:

  • Why does God ask us to confess our sins to the elders when sick?
  • What did the ancient Jews believe caused people to become sick and might be preventing us from being healed?
  • What does the confession of sins with others do for us when we are sick?


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James 5:15 – If we have enough faith will God heal us?


James 5:16 – Why does James tell us to confess our sins to one another?


James 5:16 – A look at one of the most quoted verses on prayer and how it can be interpreted 2 different ways


James 5:17-18 – How does James say that you are like Elijah the prophet?


James 5:19-20 - What do we do when a believer leaves the faith.


Hey, welcome to The Simple Truth. I’m Julie Carruth.

We’ve been digging deeper into some incredibly challenging verses about prayer and healing. In the previous episodes, James said that if you’re sick to call for the elders to pray over you.  The elders were the ones who had primary leadership and oversight of a church. We pick back up in Verse 15 which says, “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven."

Did you catch that? “If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” Now, remember we’re still talking about healing here. So, part of that time with the elders praying for you if you were the sick would include confessing your sins. But why? 

Well, the first part of Verse 16 tells us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” 

So, verse 15 applied to the sick person with the elders. Verse 16 applies to the entire Church body. 

William Barclay’s Commentary says that there was a basic idea in Jewish religion that most sickness was due to sin. They believed if there was sickness, then you must’ve sinned. Therefore, if you wanted to be healed, you must be forgiven. You might recall the story in Mark chapter 2 when the paralyzed man is lowered through the roof by his friends, and before he is even healed, Jesus says, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” 

The Jews believed that you must confess your sins to God because only God can forgive your sins BUT they also believed you needed to confess your sins to others, especially to the person you sinned against. 

So, your Simple Truth for today: Could the answer for your healing be the confession of your sins? Examine your life and see if there is anything that you need to ask God's forgiveness for, and then repent and turn back to God. Share your struggle with sin with those close to you and pray for one another so that you may be healed. 

Join us again tomorrow as we examine one of the most quoted verses about prayer from the Bible in James 5:16 “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

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I’m Julie Carruth. And I’ll see you again soon.