Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16 KJV
Reading this quickly or for the first time, it would appear that you would need to confess your faults to one another before you may be healed. Confessing your faults is of course always a good thing to do and something one should do to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. However, this is not what the text says. Another teaching states that it means that you need to simply confess or tell the person praying for you what the problem is so that they will know what to pray for. Again, this may be correct in effectuating accurately targeted healing but this too is not what the text says.
If we take a closer look at the verse, we see that there are actually two instructions here separated by the Greek word “kai” which is translated as “and”. According to Strong’s sometimes this word is “copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force” which is true if it is meant to be conjunctive and usually within the same thought. Here, though, it actually separates the two thoughts within the same run on sentence. They are therefore not dependent on each other to be able to operate on a stand alone basis and should each be considered separately.
Keep in mind that the original New Testament texts were written in uncials which are all capital Greek letters and completely without punctuation. They were literally written as one long run on sentence. The translators were the ones who added the punctuation to the text. They were the ones who decided where they believed one sentence ended and the next one started, where one paragraph ended and the next one began and where a comma, colon, semi-colon or hyphen should be placed. Obviously, they were also the ones who added numbers to the verses so they could easily be referenced and retrieved.
Here in this instance we actually have two separated thoughts or instructions from the apostle James that break down as follows:
- Confess your faults one to another, and,
- Pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
The encouraged practice here of confessing your faults or trespasses or sins or offenses to one another is with the direct purpose of seeking forgiveness from the one trespassed against and not for the purpose of seeking or effectuating bodily healing. Unless one wants to read into this the restoration and ‘healing’ of the relationship between the two parties, there really is no reference at all to bodily healing. That is why many translations include the word “Therefore” at the beginning of the verse to try to connect it with the last part of the prior verse which also deals with the forgiveness of sins.
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Jam 5:15
It is easy to see how translators could have jumped to this conclusion since they appear to fit together so nicely. However the majority of manuscripts do not support this apparent editor’s license. The proof here is that these two verses are specifically directed at two separate and distinct audiences. In James 5:15 it is the Lord who shall forgive whereas in James 5:16 the forgiveness is to be sought from the individual trespassed against. Therefore the word “therefore” does not apply here. Nice try but no cigar.
With the above established, let’s take a look at the second part of the first sentence of James 5:16:
…pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
To translate this literally it would look something like this:
…be ye wishing/praying over/for the sake of one another which is how you may be being healed.
This now sheds a whole new light on the verse which is really meant as a direct teaching and instruction to new Christians on how to pray for one another in order to effectuate healing. First of all it established the fact that we need to and should pray for one another for healing. But it does not just stop there. O no, it goes much further than that. Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?
The book of James was a letter written to brand new believers and even today is considered to be a great primary book to start new believers in their study of the word. As such James is providing explicit instructions on how to behave and how to act as new believers in Christ. Here in these verses James is spelling out exactly how to seek and receive forgiveness and healing.
The word translated “pray” in this verse is from the Greek word “euchomai” which literally means “pray, will or wish” and differs from the word “pray” in James 5:13:
Is any among you afflicted? let him pray.
The word translated “pray” in the above verse is from the Greek word “proseuchomai” which literally means “to pray to God, i. e. supplicate, worship”. By adding “pros”, which according to Strong’s means “a preposition of direction; forward to, i. e. toward”, in front of “euchomai” the prayer now takes on direction in the sense of praying to the Father.
This is also confirmed by Paul in his letter in 2 Corinthians 13:7 which starts with “Now I pray to God…” which uses the same two Greek words in reverse order, first “euchomai” and then “pros” to indicate praying to God.
From this we must conclude that the meaning of the word “pray” or “euchomai” in our main verse in James 5:16 is not directed towards God because it does not have the preposition “pros” or “towards” in front of it. Well then, pray tell, who is the intended recipient of this “prayer” then? Let’s continue and find out.
Next, the word translated “for” in this verse is the Greek word “huper” from the word “hyper” which literally means “over”, not “for”. So now when we combine these two concepts we understand then that we are to “pray, will or wish” “over” one another. In other words we are not to ask God to do something here but instead we are the ones who are supposed to do something to bring about this healing of the other believer. We are literally to “will” the healing of the other. Keep that thought and let’s look at the next piece of the puzzle.
The word translated “that” is the Greek word “hopōs” which according to Strong’s literally means “what (- ever) how, i.e. in the manner that”. Like scratching the black strip off of a redemption card revealing the hidden code beneath, suddenly we can now see that the text is instructing us that this is the manner or method of how we are to effectuate healing by praying, willing and wishing over one another. In other words, we are not to pray to God to ask or beg for him to heal the other believer but instead, just like Jesus, we are to “will” it ourselves and effectuate it in the name of Jesus, through faith in His name, by the power of the Holy Spirit within us, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. – Romans 8:11
This perfectly lines up with Mark 16:18
…they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Combine these two verses and now you can see that if the same Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you and quickens, makes alive and heals your mortal body, then what do you believe this same Spirit will do when you lay hands on another mortal body? This is the same Holy Spirit that Jesus was baptized with before He could do any of His miraculous works at all. We are expected to effectuate the same works that Jesus did by the same Spirit that He effectuated His works by. This is why He is our perfect example for us to walk just like He did. As a matter of fact, He expects it of us:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. John 14:12
It is the same thing the apostles said they were already doing to confirm the word when they prayed in the upper room for all boldness to speak His word.
`And now, Lord, look upon their threatenings, and grant to Thy servants with all freedom to speak Thy word, in the stretching forth of Thy hand, for healing, and signs, and wonders, to come to pass through the name of Thy holy child Jesus.’ – Acts 4:29-30 YLT
Is it starting to come into focus? Let’s proceed a bit further…
The last part of James 5:16 says:
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Literally translated it would look something like this:
Much is being strong/is availing petition of just one in acting/operating.
If we continue the thought we established above, then this verse perfectly adds to the prior verse by explaining who can bring about this healing and how. The Wuest translation seems to come closest to the actual meaning of the text:
A prayer of a righteous person is able to do much as it operates.
Even closer to the original meaning would be:
The prayer of a righteous one operating is strong and avails much.
Add to this the fact that God has already healed us through Jesus’ price He paid at the whipping post as stated in Isaiah 53:4-5, Matthew 8:16-17 and 1 Peter 2:24. He has provided Jesus to be our healing. It is useless to ask God to do something He has already done, namely healing. It is furthermore pointless to ask God to do something He has instructed us to do as noted above. It is now His design for us as His ministers to administer healing to one another and primarily to unbelievers as a sign.
Putting it all together, the text is not telling us to pray to God for one another so that God will heal you but rather it is instructing us to be the ones to effectuate and to bring about each other’s healing as follows [paraphrased, supplemented and amplified]:
…pray [ will, command and speak to the problem, issue, sickness, disease, infirmity] for and over one another [by way of laying on of hands and casting out the demon(s) by your word telling it/them specifically what you want it/them to do. i.e. go, leave, be gone and do not return, etc.] which is [the manner and method of] how you may be healed [have recovery and be made whole]. The [petition of] prayer [by way of speaking directly to the problem and commanding the demonic spirit to leave and the body to be healed in Jesus name] of a [holy, just and] righteous one [a believer who walks in righteousness and who is] operating [in Holy Spirit “dynamis” power and Jesus’ “exousia” authority] is [mighty and powerfully] strong [and has the force to overpower the enemy and destroy all the works of the devil] and avails much [in that it accomplishes that to which they apply the word of God to and sent it out for and it does not return unto them void].
Now go out and do it.
Franciscus M. Dartee
Grow in Faith | Walk in Power
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