Grace to You

macarthurcommentaries.com

Here is the most misunderstood and disputed portion of this passage. At first glance it appears to be teaching that sick believers can expect physical healing through the prayers of the elders. But such an interpretation is out of harmony with the context. And as noted in the previous point, the suffering James has in view is evil treatment, not physical illness.

It is true that, apart from the present verse, astheneo is translated sick eighteen times in the New Testament (e.g., Matt. 10:8; 25:36, 39; Mark 6:56; Luke 4:40; John 4:46; Acts 9:37). But it is also used fourteen times to refer to emotional or spiritual weakness (Acts 20:35; Rom. 4:19; 8:3; 14:1--2; 1 Cor. 8:11--12; 2 Cor. 11:21, 29; 12:10; 13:3--4, 9). Significantly, in all but three (Phil. 2:26--27; 2 Tim. 4:20) of astheneo's appearances in the epistles it does not refer to physical sickness. Paul's use of astheneo in 2 Corinthians 12:10 is especially noteworthy, since it there describes weakness produced by the sufferings of life—in a similar context as its usage in the present verse....

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Grace to You

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John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry... gty.org

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