Bible Q&A: Please Explain James 5:15.

Please explain James 5:15. In what way will the prayer of faith save the sick? How does this forgive him of other sins if they don’t ask for forgiveness and were baptized for the remission of sin?

“Prayer” (James 5:15) comes from the Greek term euche, which means “vow,” not “prayer.”  Euche is found only two other times in the New Testament, and is translated “vow” both times (Acts 18:18; 21:23).  The Greek term commonly translated “prayer” is proseuche; a derivative of this word is used in James 5:14 to refer to the prayer of the elders over the sick man.  However, James 5:15 is actually saying that the VOW of faith will save the sick person and his sins, if he has committed any, will be forgiven.

This changes the entire meaning of the passage.  Rather than understandably assuming from reading “PRAYER of faith” in James 5:15 that James is talking about the prayer of the elders over the sick man (James 5:14), we must understand that verse 15 is actually talking about a VOW of faith.   Who is making this vow of faith that promises definite forgiveness of sins (“he WILL be forgiven” )?

The only type of vow that undoubtedly produces forgiveness is a vow of repentance made by a Christian (1 John 1:9; 2 Cor. 7:9-11).  Thus, the person making this vow in James 5:15 is the sick Christian talked about in the context.  He’s basically making a vow of faith to God, which biblically means that he would be acknowledging his sins and repenting of them, which produces definite forgiveness.

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