Timeless truth about suffering & healing. This is one of the most important, abused, and neglected passages in the New Testament. So, let’s walk through it. Immediately we are introduced to someone suffering. He is to pray! If someone is cheerful, he is to sing. If someone is sick, he is to call for the elders of the church to pray over him.
There are several clear truths in this passage I want to address. First, the sick person is to take the initiative to call on the elders of the church. Elders are not instructed to seek out sick people.
Second, the sick person is to call on elders. Every church has elders. They may not have the title of “elder” but they are present. An elder is a spiritually mature man who is recognized by the church as a leader. When there are no “official” elders in a church, then the pastor is to select a handful of men who fit the criteria to participate.
Third, notice they are in the church. This passage assumes that the sick person is a part of a local church. The idea that a believer can be separated from the church is foreign to the New Testament.
Next, we see the elders are to pray over the sick person anointing him with oil. Why oil? Because oil is symbolic of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of God. Finally, the sickness is serious.
But there is more about this passage that we need to address in my next blog post.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:13-16 NASB