What To Do with the One Who Wanders – James 5:19-20

The final lines of this letter address a Christian who has “wandered from the truth.” Does this mean this brother has completely rejected the Gospel? In English, wandering has the sense of random meandering away from where you are supposed to be, perhaps aimlessness. But the Greek word translated “wander” (πλανάω) can have the connotation of deception. This brother could be misled by another, perhaps even a teacher or elder.

But the verb appears in Matthew 18:12-13, a sheep who wanders away from the sheepfold. It is also used consistently in the Old Testament for the apostasy of the nation of Israel. If the nation are the sheep of God’s pasture, then their persistent sin and rebellion is like a sheep wandering out of the safety of the pasture, putting them in danger from predators.

The truth can refer to doctrine and practice, but it is not specific (i.e., the truth of the Gospel, the truth of Jesus as God, etc.) In a contemporary context, this is more than someone leaving our church and attending another, or shifting from a Calvinist to Arminian view of salvation, or any other doctrine within the larger world of Christianity.

Whatever the truth refers to, it is possible for another to restore the wandering brother to fellowship. James is addressing the responsibility of the one who has not wandered to restore those who have wandered,

If the tensions between Jewish Christians and the wealthy aristocracy are in the background of the letter, then perhaps the “wandering” James has in mind is a return to the synagogue, perhaps even a rejection of Jesus as the messiah. Remember the congregations to which James is writing are small Jewish Christian messianic communities which have not gone very far from the synagogue. It is possible pressure from non-Christians Jews have convinced some to worship in the synagogues and keep their belief in Jesus as Messiah secret.

James is speaking hypothetically, but this kind of defection from the faith was always a possibility for Jewish Christians. The grammar of the passage is a third-class condition. Whatever the case, James does not think any have actually wandered away from the truth, but if that should happen, they can be brought back. James says the one who brings back the wandering sinner “saves his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” Does this refer to the wanderer, or the one who restores the wanderer?

The problem for the modern reader is how we treat those who have serious questions about their faith or how they live out their faith in the world. It is very easy to write-off a person who has wandered from their faith, those who appear to have rejected the core doctrines or now participate in behaviors we “insiders” consider sinful.

Perhaps it is best to return to the first of the commands in this paragraph, “If someone has wandered away, pray for them to be restored to fellowship.” But we ought to pray four our own sensitivity and grace toward those who have wandered in order to win them back.

39 thoughts on “What To Do with the One Who Wanders – James 5:19-20

  1. If the common person were to be considered wandering away from their faith, I always find it hard to ask the question, “Why are you falling from your faith?” Like the example above, James chapter 5 highlights this issue and alludes to the fact that God has a lot of patience. The idea behind wandering is often misunderstood. Right away, from experience, when someone wanders from the faith, other Christians are real hypocritical and making comments on them about them not actually taking the time to dive into their faith, or the comment on them not living it out and this is God’s punishment. Not a lot of people take the time to actually go talk to the person and find out the real reason behind them “wandering”. I admire what James is speaking on, because sometimes going to talk to that person won’t make the matter better; rather we are to pray for them to return to the faith. Like it talks about in 1 Thessalonias, we are to build one another up and offer prayers to those who need it. In my personal life, the idea of praying for someone is the best thing you can do. You may not have the answers in person when talking, but allowing God to work in and through that individual can bring a smile to your face.

    • I like what you said about failing your faith. That is a powerful statement. Reading your post allowed me to think more deeply about the passage written. The wandering that James talks about is not aimless as many think today. I feel that the wondering mentioned is more similar to the Parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15:11-32. The son walked away from the father, but after a period of time he came back. I feel like wandering is like this in a Biblical sense. Wandering is walking away from God, sometimes by the leadership of a false teacher. However, it is possible to come back to Christ before it is too late, just like the son did in the parable.

  2. I have a huge heart for the “wondering or lost” when it comes ministering or showing compassion along with the love of Christ. I think of Luke 15:1-7 when Jesus gives the parable of the lost sheep. The shepherd in the parable risked loosing the other ninety-nine sheep in search for the one lost. Through that passage, Jesus teaches us how important all people, especially the ones who wonder, mean to him. Also, in James 4:1-2 it refers to the desires that battle within as the root of cause of strife. Jobes later points our that yielding to the evil desires within spirals into increasing greater into sin. For us, wondering can be avoided by commitment to the law and surrender to Christ (the royal law which is James’s main theme). Prayer as Trent mentioned is something we can do for ourselves and others. When dealing with others, not loosing a heart for them or their soul is vital and will help our heart become more like Jesus’s heart.

  3. I agree that wandering could mean a few different things but not nessisarily someone who has rejected Jesus and the Gospel. That’s basically the unforgivable sin in Mark chapter 3. James is talking about the ones who have lost touch, went a different direction. I believe these people should be on the top of our lists among the unsaved. I believe just as it says in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident in this, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Once God has started a work in someones life, if they ever had an encounter with God and he started to move in their life, He wont stop until that work is completed in that person. Sometimes God needs the ones who have a solid faith to encourage and bring back those people who have wandered, because God isn’t finished with them.

    • I really love what you have to say here, Seth. I think that when God says that He is faithful to carry out what He has started within us–He means that as a promise that we can hold on to, and hold Him to. We should be relentlessly pursuing those who have “lost touch.” Not to say that a total unbeliever isn’t valuable or shouldn’t be ministered to, but because those who are wandering away from God are the ones who are hurting the most. They have known God they have just forgotten who He is temporarily.

    • Seth,
      I really like what you’ve said here! I agree that “wandering” could mean many different things, but in my opinion it does not mean someone has rejected Jesus, I think the word “wandering” means more to stray or to be distracted. I think it is common for people to “wander” or “stray” as Christians, but God uses that to lead us closer to Him. He uses us. For example, I was saved when I was young, but I did not know God until I was fourteen. I knew God, but I did not have a close relationship with Him until I was older. I wandered for years before I rededicated my life to God. I never rejected God, but I wandered and strayed from my purpose, but God knew the plans He had for me and He knew that he was not finished with me, just as you said. So, I really do not think that the word “wandering” means to reject Jesus or the Gospel, I think it means that someone is temporarily distracted by the world, but God will eventually pull them back to Him.

  4. A common example to compare to this is wandering into an “easier” faith. People that have given up certain major doctrines of faith due to not personally agreeing with them or being too hard to bear. This can be incredibly easy to fall into with some with serious addictions, as it can be easier to suggest a “compromise” with God compared to trying to completely turn away from incredibly difficult behaviors. The big problem with this lifestyle is that it ignores the hope that the Lord offers. All God desires is our hearts and that we keep fighting to overcome sin and continuing to follow him. The reward for belief in Christ is eternity with him, and thus we have an everlasting hope as Christians (1 Cor. 15: 54-58). If not even death itself is our enemy anymore, then do we truly have any reason to give up?

  5. This passage does a great job talking about our responsibility to help those who are wandering away. We as fellow Christians do have a responsibility to help those who are wandering off the path, and to show them back to the truth and right ways (Jobes 175). I know for myself personally, when I came to grace I had a difficult time with my faith and started to doubt my calling, and even myself. I was starting to wander off the path and starting to give into temptations and was even letting my grades slip. It took some good friends of mine who are strong Christians to put me back on the right path and remind me of what is really important for me to stop wandering. This passage of scripture is crucial for even strong Christians to have a good grasp of.

    • Sean,

      I was in the same boat as you were with wandering away from my faith. Before coming to Grace I completely neglected my faith. I started to falter in what I believed. But during these past 3 years that I have spent at Grace have been life changing and I have been able to reconnect with my faith. I also made friends that have helped in getting back on the right path. Also, you made a great point in saying that we as Christians have a responsibility to help others who have strayed from their path. Something interesting is that even though people have strayed from their path they can find it again and be redeemed. Job 22:23 states, “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.” This shows that we are always able to come back to God but it’s not something that should be abused. We cannot just simply pick and choose when we want to be with God. Overall, I am glad you got yourself back on the path to God, Sean! It’s awesome to have friends that can help you along the way as well!

    • I really liked how this entire blog touched base on those specific steps God wants us to take if we are starting to struggle to start away from any faith as well Sean. Reading through your post, it made me think of a verse that with how you described it, makes it easily comparable. It says in Matthew 7:13-14 NIV it says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”. I have seen this plenty of times in the past with working with kids over the last few years since I’ve been doing so. This can be used in general for pretty much anything and anyone, but still regardless, it is imperative that we as Christians need to help out those that are more in need of it.

  6. Recently in my Apologetics class, we watched a video of a man who wandered away from his faith. He went to Moody Bible Institute to find the answer to, literally, one question. He never found his answer and turned away from God. While watching this video, all I could think is, I do not like this man, I do not think I could ever like this man. After really listening to the blasphemy that this man was saying, it really hit me. God still loves this guy. God is still pursuing him. Then I thought if we do not love on him, who will? That is what is James is talking about, in my opinion, as Christians are supposed to help bring the people back who have wandered away. “Come near me to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded,” (James 4:8). Once we washed our hands and purified our hearts it should be natural to want to help our brothers and sisters in need. As Jobes has made an emphasis on James talking about apostasy, it is obviously important to him. He does not want his brothers and sisters in Christ to keep wandering away from God. They need to see and know the truth about God’s love!

  7. I think that Taylor brings up an interesting point to consider in her above comment. She called them brothers and sisters. How do we treat our biological brothers and sisters when they struggle? I don’t think I would abandon my biological brother or sister, why would I abandon my brother and sister in Christ? During times when believers are being lead astray is when we need to be showing them the love of Christ even more. This is our duty as fellow believers. (Jobes, p175) This is an issue my brother is facing now. A long time faithful Christian, but the flaws in the modern church have made him question his own faith. I hope that his church family and his fellow Christian friends would love him now more than ever.

  8. This is an awesome post and after reading through some of the comments from others they have some powerful stories. I like the last statement made in the post, “but we ought to pray four our own sensitivity and grace toward those who have wandered in order to win them back”. I think it is extremely easy to let those who wander continue to wander and never make and effort to help. However, when someone who has wandered and finally approaches you and has questions i would want to have all the poise and heartfelt insight as possible. I had a friend who completely gave up on his faith after family issues. He pushed and pushed my family and me away because he was jealous of our family home. One day, he finally came to my whole family crying and basically saying he needs to get right with God again. That he needs to not feel empty anymore. Long story short he ended up getting baptized and had his amazing story be shown to the whole church during a service. I am positive that if it wasn’t for the continual amount of prayer from my family and myself for him he may never have made that choice. Colossians 3:12 states, “therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. Without praying for those qualities winning back my friend may not of happened that early or may have not happened at all.

  9. When I was a younger Christian this deceptive wandering was something that I would have fallen for. I believe that this deception and loss of salvation is speaking to someone who is complacent. This Christian is okay with living in their sin, and not showing any remorse or observing how they act from a Biblical standpoint. In other words they are deceived and they do not care to examine how they act anymore. We will all be called to God’s judgment seat one day. The fact is that it is God’s judgement seat. We as Christians’ have no power to judge, and in this statement we should realize that just because a brother or sister is deceived does not mean that we can judge them for how they had been living their life. I think the story of the prodigal son relates to this passage in the same way that the son is welcomed home we should welcome our brother or sister who was lost and deceived home.

  10. There’s some really good post. It seems like this post hits home for everyone. Everybody has a time where they wander outside their faith. It’s normal for us to believe that we can survive through life without depending on our faith. It’s easier for us to give up and do things on our own. But what people fail to realize at times, is if we try and fail, we can always depend on God to be there to pick us up. But if we disregard our faith then once we fall again, we won’t have anyone there to pick us up. I know personally, I have never been a vocal person that said anything that bothered me. I was the type person to brush things off and keep things inside. But over time, it can get exhausted holding things in. But the time that I have spent here at Grace has helped me to be more opened and get things off my chest if something is bothering me. This is one of many reasons why you create friendships, to have people by your side to hear your problems and help you find solutions. Proverbs 23:26 states: “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways”. Without fully opening my heart to others and God, I would still be a closed book with bitter feelings towards the world.

  11. I think that Jame’s topic and concept of wandering is not a new one and it still can be an issue with belivers in the church today. I think that every Christian goes through a period of wandering or doubt in their life, and it is other fellow believers’ job to help them get back on the right track and encourage them. I think that believers going through doubt is not something that is really openly talked about in the church. I think that people are afraid of what others will think of them and they try to work through it themselves. I like when you say, “The problem for the modern reader is how we treat those who have serious questions about their faith or how they live out their faith in the world. It is very easy to write-off a person who has wandered from their faith,… (Long, 2018, para. 7). We need to be more open and supportive of those who have wandered and have doubts. We need to pray not only for them, but also for ourselves so that we may have a heart for that individual and the wisdom for what to say.

  12. I appreciate how in the post you addressed the difficulty for the modern reader. It can be easy to fee feel bad for those who are wanders. It can be a challenge to reach out or find a way to lead them to Jesus. Jobes explains that this is in fact our job. Then why can it be such a challenge? I understand that many people go into the profession of ministry with the passion for spreading God’s word and reducing the ones who are wandering. From my experience when someone who not a believer is approached, they want nothing to do with Christians. They do not want to be persuaded or informed about believing in God. they want to be left alone. I really like how you said that “we ought to pray for our own sensitivity and grace toward those have wandered in order to win them back.” This stuck out to me the most. In order for Christians to help those who have wandered we must first ask God for wisdom on how to do this. James tells us to ask God for wisdom for He is generous and does not hold this against us. (James 1:5). I also believe setting an example is one of the best ways to speak to people without talking. They will know we are Christians by our love. This could not be truer. It is important to pray for those who have wandered, but it is also important to pray that God grants us wisdom and clarification on how to help the lost.

  13. There are times that I look at people driving buy or just walking around and wonder if they are saved, are they walking away from their faith. It truly breaks my heart to think about this. there is no way for me to talk to them all. I really feel like your last statement is the best. “But we ought to pray four our own sensitivity and grace toward those who have wandered in order to win them back.” because how many times have I overlooked someone walking away? Luke 15:1-7 reminds me that God brings us back. he is always wanting us and fighting for us. Even though we are proud and sinful. But we should be reaching out and trying to fight for those who are walking away from the faith. We need to show God’s love and God’s hand in their life. We need to pray for the ones who get lost and walk away from the faith. But also pray for the others to stand up and talk to the ones who walk away.

  14. “James is addressing the responsibility of the one who has not wandered to restore those who have wandered” (Long, 2018). As believers, we are easily tempted to first judge those who have wandered. This meaning that they wander from doctrine or practice. It is not just about making a mistake or disobeying God. As believers, we see those on the outside and can be easy to judge their words or actions. James is commenting here on our responsibility as believers to help restore those who are wandering. It is easy to laugh and talk behind their back, but that is not what we are called to do. Even if we do decide to help restore their faith we can be insensitive and judge in the midst of the trials. James tells us that it saves his soul and covers sins. I think this refers to both. The restores help the other person and the other person is stronger because of it. I think it’s important to realize that the opportunity to help. Like most Americans, we shy away from this because it seems to have no benefits to them. This is not true, however, there are many things we learn from others, and sometimes we learn those things unconsciously, but it impacts our lives. Regardless of our benefits, we are still called to do so regardless of our benefits. This is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly.

  15. I believe that we as a church have judged those who have fallen away from the faith. Yet, God would leave the 99 just to catch the one who wandered off. There must be something or someone that caused people who had faith, to not have faith anymore. Christians are so quick to judge, not pay attention or listen to what the other person has to say and just spit scripture at them. I know because although I have not fallen from the faith, I have gone through hard times and that is what I get… scripture, I am not saying that that is wrong but I do not think that that is how things should be done, or how we should go about it. Because we are not any better than those who strayed. We believe because we are called to have a relationship with God, not to get to heaven, getting to heaven is a gift, not the reason we believe.

  16. An interesting point of clarity that Long (2018) makes in the original post is the difference between translation and understanding of wander from Greek,having a connotation of deception, to English as “random meandering”. My interpretation of these differences is that someone can be deceived into leaving the fellowship which makes it not entirely their fault, compared to someone who is ignorant to their wandering but is still in control of the steps taken to stray from the truth. If someone is deceived into wandering from the truth, who is at fault and what are the consequences for that action? When reading James 5:19-20, my first instinct is to think that this passage supports the Arminian viewpoint of the ability to fall from salvation, because verse 20 (ESV) says, “…let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wanderings will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”. A question raised in this passage and answered in the original post is: is a man capable of restoring or bringing back another man who fallen from salvation or the truth? I think perhaps the restoring work necessary is enacted by fellow believers through the power of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the wanderer who has to receive it. “Whatever the truth refers to, it is possible for another to restore the wandering brother to fellowship” (Long, 2018).

  17. As Christians, it seems as though, from my perspective, that when we encounter a wanderer in our own lives we seem to have a very careless attitude toward them. It is a very nonchalant/fend-for-yourself attitude when someone leaves the faith or is led astray. This passage in James tries to address this area. There are two things that are very interesting in this passage. The first thing that is interesting is that the wanderer (who might be misled) has the ability to return to the “truth” (James 5:19). There are many passages in the Bible that talk about not being able to come back after losing salvation. One, in particular, is Hebrews 6:4-6. James argues to bring the wanderer back. The second thing that is interesting about this passage is that we do not know who the latter portion is addressed to. Is verse 20 addressed to the one who is bringing the wanderer back? Or is it addressed to the wanderer? My suggestion would be that it is addressed to the wanderer. The soul that typically needs to be saved from death is the one who does not know the truth. In this case, it would be the wanderer. This would also make sense because the wanderer is the one who is possibly committing a lot of sins unknowingly. These sins need to be covered. The charge is to bring back those who have wandered and this probably refers to the one who is led back to Judaism. Like you stated, there were a lot of people who were being led back to the synagogues and back to their old faith. James is writing to bring these people back to what is the truth. This is the reality for Christians today. Christians wander back into the habits of their old life. They wander back into lies that they held before they knew the truth. This is the wandering we need to prevent. Whether it’s uncomfortable or not, it is necessary.

  18. God only knows the heart of man an as humans we cannot truly know someone’s heart. All we know is what we see as evidenced in others’ lives. We all know those people who get saved and then from all outward appearance they walk away from their faith. It breaks my heart that people could be so on fire for God and then fall so far away from God. Luke 15 talks about how God always brings us back to him no matter how far we wander. So why do some people never come back to God after leaving? What it all comes down to is freewill. God wants us to choose him daily every single day. It is a choice that we have to make to love God whole heartedly.

  19. I agree that a brother who falls away from the faith can be brought back. It says in James 5:20, “…whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” I believe here that it means the person who is being brought back will have his soul saved from death and that his sinful actions will be covered. I think the multitude of sins that James is referring to is the falling away from faith. In regards to what we should do to confront a situation like falling away from faith, I think that your point about prayer is spot on. The best thing that we can do when a brother falls away is to pray. It even says in James 5:17 that Elijah prayed for no rain for three and a half years and that God answered his prayers. I believe this is a good example of the power of prayer, and that it is the first thing we should do when dealing with a situation like this. Another thing I would suggest is to come to an understanding of our belief in Salvation. Many of us believe that once you are saved, you’re always saved. This should give us hope for the people who have fallen away from God. We also believe that if someone ends up falling away from faith and actually ending up not saved, then that person didn’t really have a solid belief in the Lord in the first place. We should encourage those struggling in their beliefs to seek God and pray, and if someone falls away from faith we should pray, and then have hope that if they truly had the holy spirit in them, then they are still saved.

  20. This post reminded me about the “prodigal son,” in Luke 15:11-32. Short version, the son wander away from his family and home and left off into the material world with his inheritance. After everything was gone and his friends left him, he was left to survived by working as a poor person. Then, he remember his home and father, and how his servants eat well. He came home with the mentality of servant and survival. When his father saw him he honored the return of his son with new clothes, shoes, and a ring. This is a great example in how we treat our dear brothers and sisters who wander away from the faith, or the church, with love and grace as Dr. Long states on the blog. We should not only pray for them, but also pray for our sensitivity and the compassion to love others.

  21. In Mark 3, talks about the unforgiveable sin and its blasphemy. James talks about one who has lost touch, went a different direction. The ones who have believed Christ and later failed in their journey and fell short from the glory of God. They wonder away from the grace. Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV). When one gets saved, God has starts a good work in them, even when they fall short from the grace, God is still working in them. A wonderer can mean one who is lost, one who has lost the truth or journey. We are called to love serve the wanderers. Treating them as part of the body of Christ, The way we treat them may be used as a great tool of evangelism to them through actions.

  22. I believe what you say is true about wandering away from the truth means more than just walking away from a church, it could possibly mean that they are wandering away from Christianity. I don’t believe this mean that they can’t come back, or won’t be accepted back. I think that it may not be considered right for someone to just walk away, but I do believe that it is possible for someone to walk back into their faith. One example I can think of is someone who is critically ill, they may walk away from their faith, because they just can’t seem to understand why Jesus would put them through it. But, if they are healed or live longer than expected, then they could walk back into their faith because it could possibly be God reminding them that he is in charge and reminding them how powerful he really is. One thing God values our freedom. Just like in the story of Adam and Eve he gave them the choice to eat the forbidden fruit. In the Bible it states many times that God wants us to come to him freely. It only makes sense that he give us our freedom to leave of stay. In Galatians 5:13 is states, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love”. I take this as God saying we are free, so be servants of God’s word but, if you decide to leave, that is on your own terms.

  23. James believes if one does wander, they can come back. Only God saves and redeems and can cover sin, but Christians can be agents of God’s forgiveness (Osborne, 2399). I think the saving from death and covering of a multitude of sins (5:20) refers to the wanderer; the one who helps restore them and bring them back is an agent to God’s forgiveness in the covering of sins and saving of death.

    There has been so much talk lately about Christians deconstructing. It seems to be the new thing. For whatever reason and to whatever degree that someone decides to “deconstruct” their faith, clearly this person has doubts and questions and is struggling. That does not mean that we leave them alone to figure it out or to drop them as a brother or sister because they could then cause you to stumble, quite the opposite actually. I completely agree with what you said about going back to one of the first commandments to pray for those who have wondered to be restored, as well as to pray for our own sensitivity toward that person and to not let our pride get in the way. I think we also need to return to the Royal Law of loving your neighbor as yourself. “Faith that saves is faith that motivates deeds of love for neighbor…such as turning others back to the truth”, (Jobes, 175). Part of loving someone means choosing to fight for and with them in the hard times. When a fellow brother or sister in Christ wanders from the truth, in any form of the word, it is our job to love them through it, pray with and for them, and genuinely try to understand their heart, thoughts and questions. I have seen it a lot with relationships in my own life as well as big names in Christian culture; believers who have grown up in the church start to wonder and question if what they have believed and been taught their entire lives is even true. Sometimes wandering away and seeking new or different answers can be really beneficial and strengthening for someone’s faith journey.

    Osborne, Grant. “James” pages 2387-99 in the ESV Study Bible. Wheaton. Crossway, 2008.

  24. James 5:19-20 states that, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” This is more of a message towards the one who saves the wanderer than the wanderer themselves. It is not the redeemer’s place to judge, only to love others as they love themselves (Lev 19:18). On this matter, Jobes states, “to love one’s neighbor, which in turn flows from the principle of love from God… this is the royal law of Christian ethics and morality” (Jobes 195). As a Christian, one is called by the Scripture to help others in need. Thus, Christians do not qualify as innocent bystanders. This ‘help’ can be done through prayer, for God listens to the prayers of a believer (Jn 9:31; 1 Pet. 3:12) and acts according to his will (1 Jn. 5:14). Thus, one should not alienate the wanderer, but draw close to them and pray for them. For the wanderer once believed, so there is a strong chance they will return to the faith. Regardless, it is not up to the believer to judge in this matter, only love on the wanderer and non-believer. James shows the value of the law, but does not show it in a discriminatory matter, he reiterates that the law is based in love (Jobes 195).
    Jobes, Karen H. Letters to the Church. Grand Rapids, MI; Zondervan. 2011.

  25. i have known plenty of people, both strangers and friends, that have wandered from the faith. most of the time i would like to ask why and just have a conversation with them. sometimes, they get violent, mostly verbal, about it and want nothing to do with it or even talk about it. those that i have talked about all had a similar root that caused them to turn away. that root was what they thought about Christians and basing them to what the Bible says. they were either mistreated, abused in some manner, did not have a solid mentor, or something along those lines. some of those people are now a part of a different religion or part if a group that will accept them for who they feel like becoming. that’s why once young Christians leave their little Christian bubbles, they are not prepared to handle with the struggles of the real world. they cannot handle the persecution of being a Christian, so they walk away and join something that is more comfortable. some of those people even came here at GCU and they were good Christian people. now they are a part of the LGBTQ+ or different religion like Buddhist or, to the extreme side of things, Atheists. either we are doing something wrong in treating people within Christian communities or they had presuppositions about what they were getting into, and Christianity failed their expectations. most of the time it’s the first thing that we are failing at. we need to do better as the Body of Christ

  26. When I think of the word wander, I think of a young child getting lost in the grocery store because they saw something they liked and wandered away from their family. However, when James refers to those who have “wandered from the truth” there is more to it than just being lost from the truth. “The Greek word translated ‘wander’ can have the connotation of deception. This brother could be misled by another, perhaps even a teacher or elder” (Long). Long). Those who have “wandered from the truth” were deceived or mislead by someone that resulted in them being lost from the truth. Whatever James means by the truth, he makes the theological point that they can be brought back. In fact, he command it. “If one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back” (James 5:19). As someone who grew up in the church and have seen several people my age “wander” and appear to not currently be living their life for the Lord, it is so easy to sit, not do anything, and be judgmental. Faith is evidential through one’s actions, but we cannot know for sure where someone is at in their faith by looking at their life that is portrayed on social media. The only ones who know are them and the Lord. Even if our perception of where that person is at in their faith is correct it does not give us the right to be judgmental. Instead, we are called to listen to James’ teaching and “bring that person back.”

  27. I thought that this post was very interesting as we are supposed to help our brothers and sisters in Christ and we are able to help them. I have a heart for the wandering because I know what it feels like to feel out of place. So this passage in James is a really beautiful reminder that even if you wander, it is possible to come back and that those in the community of the Body of Christ should be helping you and encouraging those who wander. I don’t think that wandering means rejecting Christ as Jobes has described that as apostasy. I would like to think that the wandering here refers to doubting but not actually renouncing your faith. Every Christian has doubts, but not every Christian rejects Christ after those doubts. There is a big difference between apostasy and wandering. Once again apostasy is the public renouncement of your faith and a complete separation from it. Wandering is not rejecting your faith but possibly doubting it and having questions. I think when it comes down to the question of what to do with someone who wanders is to support them and help walk them through these doubts but to encourage them that it is okay to doubt and that they still have their salvation. I think that the idea of a Christian having doubts is very stigmatized and yet many Christians go through it in silence because they are afraid of voicing their concerns and doubts.

  28. In the modern context the wanderer may also be interpreted as one who has become stagnant in their faith or spiritually distant from God. Depending on how you understand salvation, a state of spiritual stagnancy could suggest a loss of salvation. In such a case, an individual may be unaware of the distance that has grown between them and God. It is more likely, however, that the one who wanders away does so by ignoring the spiritual truths they are called to live by. This willful ignorance is a difficult state to be in, as one who is willfully ignorant may not be easily persuaded to change without first seeing the need for it. In pursuing these people, we help “save their soul from death” and keep them from engaging in “a multitude of sins”.

  29. I found it very intriguing that the word “wander” in Greek actually means leading someone astray in a deceptional way, rather than just being lost in a grocery store as a young kid. Therefore, James gives strong warnings against allowing a brother in Christ to “wander” from the truth of the gospel. Because the word “wander” deals with deception, it is important to be careful to not allow yourself or a brother to be swayed and tricked into something else besides the gospel truth like apostasy. Because sin and the lure of wickedness is great, we should guard ourselves from being like sheep (Matthew 18:12-13) who follow and stray blindly. We should also be careful to surround ourselves with righteous believers who “is a guide to his neighbor” when “the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26) to try to bring you back to “save your soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

  30. The thing to look at and to make people wonder is why that person falling is falling or wandering away from their faith. Other Christians are so quick to judge or to misinterpret what may be going on in that person’s lives. What we should be doing is bringing them back to God and still loving them even though the situation that they are in. It is so easy to jump to conclusions and never know the real reasoning. I think as Christians it is important to know why your fellow believer is drifting away from God and to be quick to guide them back. Even if you do not know what happened to them, it is important to just pray for them. Pray that they find their way back to God and His way. “The problem for the modern reader is how we treat those who have serious questions about their faith or how they live out their faith in the world.” (Long, 2018) Christianity can be hard, but hard things are worth it. People go through hardships in their life and it takes true friends/Christians to bring them back to it. I think that every single person has wandered away from something whether it be their faith, their family, their friends, or even their jobs. This is such a difficult topic to talk about, but it is an important one to discuss and to make believers aware of. We must remember to love and to pray because that is what God would want us to do ultimately.

  31. The one who brings back the wandering sinner “saves his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” This is referring in my opinion to both the wanderer and the one who restores the wanderer. More specifically to the one who is restoring the wanderer. However, it is also referring to the one who needs saving because it is depicting what happens to them once they are found. We as believers cannot look away from those who have wandered like is often done. We need to welcome them back with open arms and love on them and accept them and guide them along on their journeys. A word used in James 5:19-20 is epistrepho which means “turn to” (752). This is specific to the wanderer because it is speaking on turning to the ways of the world. So many people daily turn from God in their actions and make new ways of living. We as believers need to first pray for the wanderers to be restored and healed. We also need to pray daily for our own sensitivity towards those who have wandered. This is so that we do not judge them or push them further from God. What we consider evil compared to others cannot be how we look at others, it can only be what the Lord considers evil. Along the way we cannot at all push believers further from God at all, we can only be an aid to them coming back to God.

  32. The story of the wandering one, the one who wandered off from faith, is a concept and story that should resonate with every believer. It’s an instantly relatable story- no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, we can all relate to being at a point in our lives where we have been wandering from God- whether it was being caught up in, or just having been far away from faith in general- we can all relate to this story in some way. I love how James goes into detail about this in chapter five. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15- this story is one of my favorites in the entire Bible- it is the embodiment of God’s grace. It is easily one of the most moving stories in scripture for me personally because no matter what’ve we done or how far we’ve wandered, we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and will always welcome us home. We are the sheep and He is the shepherd. I also love how in verse twenty that this phrase “turn back” is mentioned- that’s all we have to do when we’ve wandered to God, we have to turn back to Him, and He will be there waiting.

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