Aug. 18, 2020

What Does James 5:5-6 Mean?

What Does James 5:5-6 Mean?

"You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you." (James 5:5-6 NIV)
Hey! Welcome to today's Bible Study Podcast. We've been studying the book of James verse-by-verse.
We’ve been exploring the history of how the wealthy landowners took advantage of the day laborers by not paying them their daily wages. If you haven’t been able to join us in the past few episodes, I encourage you to go back and listen to Monday and Tuesday’s episodes. It will help the remainder of this week's teachings make so much more sense. 


  • What gruesome picture James' paints of what will happen to the cruel landowners on the Day of Judgment
  • Why would the day laborers have to sell their family members?
  • How were the innocent Christians being murdered?

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

We’ve been studying in James chapter 5 when James confronts evil wealthy landowners who thought they got away with corruption by not paying their day laborers, and James tells them they haven’t gotten away with anything because God hears the cries of his children.

And then James says in James 5:5 “You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.”

James is saying that they’ve lived their life in soft extravagance.  Everything they do is to make a life easier for themselves here on earth, while they have day laborers who are literally having to sell their family members to pay for a debt they wouldn’t have if the wealthy landowner had been honest and paid them what they were owed.

 And James says you’re fattening yourself up for the day of slaughter. The Greek word here for “fattened” gives the idea of cattle being fattened for slaughter. It’s like James is saying your gorging yourselves even on the day you will be slaughtered.

And as gruesome as it may sound it’s like James is saying, “You who are living for yourselves and storing up wealth for yourself here on earth. You who insist on only thinking of yourself while the rest of the world needs your help, beware because God’s slaughter knife is ready for you on the day of judgment. It’s possible that James is remembering Jeremiah 12:3 here when Jeremiah asks God to take the wicked away like sheep to be slaughtered. And he knows that if these evil rich landowners are Jewish, they would know that reference as well.

He continues with one more line here in James 5 verse 6, You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.”

Without a way to pay off their debts, the day laborers were dying of starvation, while the rich were indulging themselves with rich food and a luxurious lifestyle. 

So, you’re simple Truth for today: The Bible is not just a book you read, but it also reads you. Can you look at these last 6 verses we’ve studied and say that you’re not attached to things of this earth – like money, or social status, or the desire for more “stuff”? What are you doing with the resources God’s given you? I’ll be the first to admit that I need to work on this area. What about you?

If you’ve enjoyed digging deeper and understanding more of James’ letter, please subscribe and share this podcast with others.

I’m Julie Carruth and I’ll see you again tomorrow.