To me the following passage carries the sentiment of the Old Testament prophets. The first paragraph is something of a condemnation. The next paragraph conveys the plight of the afflicted. And the third paragraph offers comfort to the faithful.
James 5:1 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. 2 Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days.
4 Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.
7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (NRSV)
Though I don’t believe that the Scriptures teach that it is impossible for rich people to be saved, I think anyone would be hard pressed to find the Scriptures to speak in praise of rich people. Off hand, the richest person I can think of (speaking of material or earthly wealth) would be Solomon. He was, I believe, saved by God’s grace, though the Scriptures clearly point out that he had many shortcomings, and much of his shortcoming was due to the temptations from his wealth.
I believe the passage today is referring to the rich (in the first paragraph) as the corporate stock holders and executives. The laborers who mow and harvest (in the second paragraph) are the stock boys, waitresses, bus boys, cashiers, etc. A good bus boy who cleans your table should work with diligence, dignity, and respect for the customers and for those in management positions above him. At the same time, a good bus boy should be treated with the same dignity and respect as the owner. That does not mean he will become as wealthy as the owner, but that the owner should pay him well enough to keep his dignity and respect, and the owner shouldn’t increase his own riches by treating (including paying) his employees as little as possible so that the owner can boast about his profits.
From the earliest times in the Bible, the Lord has observed who has been oppressed and who are the oppressors. People of faith are to rest not in the assurance that this world will treat them fairly, but that there will be a judgment day when all things will be made right.
This post being short, I will add some additional thoughts. I am an advocate of searching the Scriptures deeply to the best of each individual’s ability. Though I believe it is good to go back, as much as is possible, to the original language, I do not believe that it was ever intended for all mankind to become proficient in original languages (at least not in this earthly life, and I don’t wish to speculate about Heavenly language). When the Scriptures speak of speaking in tongues, it refers to having an interpreter. If these people were already proficient in the Hebrew language, then I’m going to suppose that the tongues weren’t in Hebrew. At the first Pentecost, the followers were speaking in languages that each person heard in his own language (note there were people there from various places around the known world, and the Scriptures don’t seem to infer that each one’s own language was Hebrew). When Jesus commanded His Word to be preached, it was to be preached to every nation, people, language and tongue. I believe in studying God’s Word as best as one can in one’s own language, and I believe in the propagation of translations of God’s Word in every language.
I believe seminary students who are going to be pastors and teachers should study original language as much as their curriculum allows. They can certainly use the understanding of this material in spreading God’s Word. I believe that pastors should give congregations certain insights into God’s Message for man based on his study of the original meanings and contexts. I believe that lay people should study God’s Word in their own language and learn from pastors. To what extent lay people have the opportunity to study deeper into those original words, then that is excellent. I do not advocate establishing any congregation on the need for learning any original language. It is great to what extent a pastor is able to guide a willing congregation in that study. However, as God’s Word is to be published to all peoples, nowhere do the Scriptures suggest that people should need to study any original language to hear it, and to the contrary, the Scriptures teach that His Word is to be proclaimed to all in their own tongues.