Approaching the conclusion of his letter, the writer addressed a terrible indictment and solemn warning to the rich. He showed the failure of possessions, and how they may become the curse of life.
Selfish life which results in oppression of the poor and consequent robbery of God is known by God. The teaching reveals remarkably the divine passion for justice.
To those who suffer, the writer addressed words full of tender comfort. He called them to patience. All that was said at the beginning of the letter concerning the value of trial in the life is taken for granted. Remembering that God is working through all these processes toward bringing the fruit to maturity and ripeness, it is necessary that His people have patience.
The final paragraph of the epistle contains advice and instructions for differing experiences and needs. “Is any .. . suffering?” “Is any . . . cheerful?” “Is any . . . sickly.” Those who are in suffering are charged to pray. Those who are in circumstances of good cheer are to express themselves in praise to God. In dealing with sickness it is most important to remember that here sickness is connected with sin; the raising of the sick is united with forgiveness of sin. The particular cases of sickness were those which were evidently the result of wrongdoing.
In such cases the elders were to be called to act. The use of oil is in itself the indication for such necessity. Any other interpretation would make it a matter of superstition. The Christian man, however, will never depend on natural means alone. While recognizing the place and importance of means, the divine action is also recognized as the ultimate in all healing. The value of this exercise of confession and forgiveness is emphasized by the words with which the epistle closes.