Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
You have condemned, and you have murdered the righteous one; he does not resist you. (James 5:6)
The rich have condemned and have murdered the righteous one. James’s word for condemn is a legal term, which means to bring an accusation against another. The righteous man the rich were putting to death was the Christians; they refused to pay, though he [the Christians compositely] does not resist you. They were murdering innocent Christians in that they were causing great devastation in the lives of the believers by not giving them their pay. Let’s be honest here. This means the mistreatment of anyone by defrauding them out of their rightful wages, Christians or not. James had already mentioned earlier in his letter that the rich were dragging them into the courts. The rich would have had the ability with their finances to try to condemn the Christians. The rich were coming against Christians that were not even resisting them in the first place and had no ground for their behavior against them. The fact that these poor Christians did not retaliate against these landowners could be due to the application of the Lord’s commands in Matthew 5:38-39.
At times, the life of the righteous one’s may have appeared to be in vain because they walked a life of one difficulty after another, while the rich were just getting richer. (Psalm 73) However, this just was not the case, nor is it today. Yes, for a time, the rich who attained their wealth through dishonest gain seem to have it all. In addition, until the poor Christian can come to appreciate that drawing near to God was in his best interests, the potential of envy setting in is possible. It can get to the point where the worshiper begins to doubt the value of worshiping God. However, if he would ponder for a moment, he would realize that devotion to God is the only way to eternal happiness instead of immediate gratification. He will come to realize that God hates evil far more than he ever could, and in due time, the wicked will be punished. In fact, the life of suffering that this righteous one had to go through will serve as a witness against the evil one.
Persecution of Disciples Predicted
Mark 13:9-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings [and the wealthy] for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.
More in-depth Insights
You have condemned, and you have murdered the righteous one. The Greek adjective (δίκαιος dikaios) rendered righteous one is in the singular number. In the above, we took it as a reference to the Christians in a composite sense. This reference is arrived at by the condemnation and crucifixion of Christ, which means their abusing God’s chosen people had been comparable to the mistreatment of the Savior. In other words, they have condemned and crucified him afresh. They are again crucifying the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified? Thus, by their denial of Jesus Christ so that they can live a life of sin, they, in fact, condemned him and his people; that they had condemned and murdered the righteous one, meaning that they had persecuted those who were Christians. Blomberg and Kamell write, “The ones James confronts are the rich landowners who have defrauded their workers in order to gain more wealth for themselves. Therefore, “the righteous one” (τὸν δίκαιον) must be a generic singular for any righteous person who is thus defrauded.” Their mistreatment of others by withholding what was due to them, or unjustly taking them to court to take what was theirs, meaning that they deprived them and their families of the necessities of life, and as it was murdering the righteous. This covers the mistreatment of God’s people, be it by violence, other forms of oppression, injustice, or fraud. Blomberg and Kamell write, “The murder here most likely is judicial, whereby the wealthy landowners take smaller, poorer indebted farmers to court, stripping them of their land and thus of their source of income, and then hiring them back again to work their former property as sharecroppers. With dirt-poor wages, unpaid debts might then lead their new landlords to throw them into debtors’ prison, where they could rot for the rest of their lives. In the Jewish world, to deprive a person of their support was the same as murdering them (see Sir 34:21–22).”
And he does not resist you. Some have supposed that “he” is a reference to God. However, the context alone would set this aside. Douglas J. Moo analyzes this, “The focus would then be on the nonresistance of the poor, afflicted righteous (cf. Matt. 5:39; Rom. 12:14), who refuse, or are unable, to oppose the power and influence of the rich. Nevertheless, the rather “lame” conclusion that such an interpretation brings to the paragraph has led to alternate suggestions for the interpretation of this sentence. Two are worth mentioning. Each takes these final words as a question. The former takes the implied subject of the verb to be ‘the righteous one,’ the “opposition” of the righteous consisting in his plea for vindication and judgment before God (cf. Rev. 6:9–11). The latter assumes the implied subject to be God: ‘Does God not resist you?’ or, with reference to the future judgment, ‘Will not God resist you’ But the context forbids us from assuming ‘God’ to be the subject, since he has not been mentioned since 4:15. Turning the clause into a question makes more sense, but we would have expected a future tense if James had in view the cries of the righteous for vindication. On the whole, then, the usual view is best: James, ‘on a note of majestic pathos,’ concludes the paragraph by reminding us that the righteous are helpless victims of the stratagems of the rich and powerful.”
So, “he” is a reference to the righteous one whom they [the wealthy] condemned and murdered. In other words, they, the wealthy ones, were so powerful that the poor could never resist them. The poor, injured, and oppressed had not real abilities to do anything when underpaid for their labor or if taken to court so the wealthy could confiscate their property. The weak ones of society could not oppose the wealthy, powerful ones, so they simply did not resist, for it was futile. Judgment was coming upon (1) the wealthy hoarding their money unnecessarily instead of helping the needy. (2) Condemned are those refusing to pay the laborer what he deserved, what was due to him. (3) Judged guilty are those living a life of excessive comfort, indulgence, extravagance, pampering, and sensual pleasure. (4) Accountable are those wronging and oppressing the righteous one, that is, good and just men of little means, who have no way of defending themselves, vindicating themselves, seeing the futility, so they humbly resist any effort to do so. The apostle Paul’s words ring true here too. “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – Hebrews 10: 30-31.
 Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell, James, vol. 16, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 224–225.
 IBID., 225.
 See esp. Johnson, 305. L. A. Schökel supports this interpretation by appealing to the literary structure of this part of the letter. He sees 5:6 as an inclusio relating to 4:6, where God is the subject (“James 5, 2 [sic] and 4, 6,” Bib 54  74).
 Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 219–220.
Leave a Reply