Several weeks ago I posted on the use of “one another” passages in the New Testament. Specifically I noted that the context of Ephesians 5:21 demonstrates that submission is not mutual (as among equals), but exclusive (within God ordained hierarchy).
Here is another “one another” passage that I don’t think should be taken as reciprocal among equals.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.Taken out of context it might appear that this broad statement of confessing sins to one another should be done among equals. However, the context demands that this confession be done by the congregant to elders and that the prayer should done by the elders on behalf of the congregant.
James 5:16 (ESV)
James 5:14-15 are not only the immediate context of verse 16, but verse 16 is the direct inference of 14-15 as shown by the conjunction “therefore.”
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.So what is James saying? And how is verse 16 related to verses 14 and 15?
James 5:14-15 (ESV)
James is saying, “If you are sick, call the elders to pray for you so that you might be healed.” And, “If your sickness was the result of sin, you will be forgiven.”
Verse 16 then is an inferential restatement of the facts stated in verse 14 and 15. Since the prayer of a righteous man is effective, confess your sins to the elders that they might pray for you in order that you might be healed and forgiven.
Lord willing I’ll post about the pitfalls of confession among equals tomorrow.
I took this photo of a semi load of hay burning in Colorado Springs this past year (driver got out safe).