Book of James, Chapter 2, v.15-16

James 2:15-16 – If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Verse 15 begins with James naming the person(s) in question as a “brother” or “sister”. Since James is writing his epistle to the already converted, to Christians, we can confidently presume that he is stating that a fellow believer in Christ is in need (“naked” = without clothing, covering, coat. “destitute of daily food” = hungry, unfed, without sustenance). So, we can say that James is describing a needy brother/sister in Christ.

Verse 16a
begins by saying that if we turn them away “Depart in peace” and ends by saying in 16b that we didn’t give them what they needed, what good (“what doth it profit?”) is our professed faith? If we claim to be Christians, the redeemed children of Holy God, and we refuse to help even those who are like us – who believe in Christ – when they need it, what good are we to the Kingdom? Let’s look again at  the first half of verse 16: “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;”, which is broken into three pieces that work very well for this illustration.


•    “And one of you say unto them” – Any Christian that has been asked for help and responds with…
•    “Depart in peace” – Leave. Go away empty-handed but quietly, without causing problems…
•    “be ye warmed and filled” – May you get what you need…somewhere else, by someone else…

Now take the second half of the verse and break it down.

•    “notwithstanding ye give them not” – Though they have need, and you know it, you do not give…
•    “those things which are needful to the body” – This is really two-fold: (1) “needful to the body” as in things that are needed physically by the physical body. (2) “needful to the body” as in things that are needed by the spiritual body, the body of Christ, things needed by all believers…
•    “what doth it profit?” – What good are you to those people in need? What good are you to the work of the kingdom? What good are you…to the body of Christ?

The definition for ‘destitute’ as used in verse 15 is: Those whose souls have been laid bare. Bare. Without. Their bodies are…without. Their souls are…without. And you, a professing Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, a servant of the Lord, send them on their way in exactly the same state as when you encountered them. So then, what profit has come of your “faith”?

Psalm 102:16-17 says: “When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory. He will regard the prayer of the DESTITUTE, and not despise their prayer.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3, 5:5). The Lord God when He appears in glory, will “regard” their prayers, and not “despise” them.

Do you think that God will not hold to your charge that those prayers which could have been answered by you, His agent on earth, went unheeded until He returned? Is it not our duty, our oblagation of love to Jesus, to do as He told us to do? To follow in His footsteps, walk as He walked, do the work given of the Father? What did Jesus do when He met those in need? He filled their needs. Jesus never brushed someone aside with a W.C. Fields wave of the hand and a snide retort of “Go away kid, ya bother me!” Jesus met peoples needs. Day after day after day. He met their needs when they brought them to Him, and He met their needs by going and seeking them out. He provided to them those things which were needful to them.

At the start of His ministry, when He returned from his 40 day battle with the worm in the wilderness, He went into the temples and synagogues and taught; and then when He got home to Nazareth, He went to temple on the sabbath day to read…

Luke 4:17 – “And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias (Isaiah). And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written,”

And He read from Isaiah, although it reads as slightly paraphrased in Luke…

Luke 4:18 – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”

(In Isaiah 61:1 it reads: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;)

So at the outset, Jesus stated very publicly that He
•    Had the Spirit of the Lord upon Him – He had the power of the Holy Ghost
•    God had anointed him to preach the gospel – He had been called to it
•    To preach to the poor (meek) – Needful people
•    To heal (bind up) the brokenhearted – Needful people
•    To preach deliverance (liberty) to the captives – Needful people
•    To give sight to the blind – Needful people
•    To free the bruised (bound) – Needful people

He concluded the reading by telling them that it was what He was there to do; that on that day, He was letting them know, the scripture as recorded by the prophet Isaiah was now fulfilled (Luke 4:21). Christ continually extolled this mission to His apostles during His ministry on earth, that they should follow in His footsteps, and after His resurrection and ascension they did follow Him…all the way to their deaths they followed Him.

He was the light in the world, they were lamps after him; reflecting Him, just as we have been called to do. We should be going into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature as He did and said to do(Mark 16:15). If we are unwilling to even reflect Jesus among ourselves as James speaks of, how then will the world ever come to know Him? If we will not share our lamp oil with another needy brother or sister in Christ, how can we possibly expect Christianity to be a beacon shining on a hill, drawing the lost to salvation?

Let’s read the two verses we began with again…

James 2:15-16 – If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Meditate on what this text means to you yourself; to your walk with Christ. When you do, adjust it to modern English, or at least, adjust one section to modern English “be ye warmed and filled”. If each and every one of us who claim to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, would prayerfully meditate on these two verses, changing that one simple section to it’s modern equivalent, I truly believe that the church would see a huge transformation within the body; and if the body be transformed, then so could be much of the world. This change in language is really simple, and I’ve found it to be personally very convicting…

King James = “be ye warmed and filled”.
Modern English = “but I will pray for you”.

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