Amplified: You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
NLT: So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: A man is justified before God by what he does as well as by what he believes. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: You see that by works a man is justified and not by faith alone. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Ye see, then, that out of works is man declared righteous, and not out of faith only;
|YOU SEE THAT A MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS AND NOT BY FAITH ALONE: horate (2PPAI) hoti ex ergon dikaioutai (3SPPI) anthropos: (Jas 2:15, 16, 17, 18,21,22; Psalms 60:12)
John Calvin echoed James when he wrote that…
You see - Plural "you" in contrast to "you see" in the plural in Jas 2:22-note.
James' concluding statement in this verse is his answer to the opening question in James 2:14…
A man is justified by works - Notice that the present tense indicates that this is God's standing practice.
As we have sought to explain in this passage James is not to be understood as teaching that a man is declared righteous as the result of his works, without faith.
Some scholars such as Blackman feel that James' conclusion
It is clear that Blackman and his ilk do not understand the basic premise that God is not a God of confusion and since all Scripture is inspired by one Spirit, no passage of Scripture will contradict another passage, but instead such "apparent contradictions" reflect our failure as finite natural men to fully understand God's supernatural Words. Furthermore, those who hold the erroneous view that James contradicts Paul, have not applied the principles of sound hermeneutics in their analysis of James 2:14-26. As we have sought to demonstrate, when one approaches this "strawy" section with an open mind and applies accepted techniques of interpretation (see Interpretation of Scripture; see also Stephen R Lewis' Hermeneutics - Study of Interpretation of Scriptures), there is clearly no contradiction between Paul and James.
As Plumptre wrote…
Justified (1344)(dikaioo from dike = right, expected behavior or conformity, not according to one’s own standard, but according to an imposed standard with prescribed punishment for nonconformity) (Click for more discussion of dikaioo) means to show or declare the rightness of something or someone.
As used by Paul in Romans (where Romans 14 of 39 NT uses are found) dikaioo had primarily a forensic (legal) use meaning that one is declared righteous, acquitted. It is important to understand that dikaioo is not a process but an act. Justification is what God does when a sinner repents and believes on Christ. God does not "make" a sinner righteous ("make" implies an ongoing process) but declares them righteous at that moment. Justification is a once-for-all event that never needs to be repeated, is never altered and is never revoked nor rescinded. Justification is a change in a man's relation or standing before God which has to do with relations that have been disturbed by sin, and these relations are personal. It is a change from guilt and condemnation to acquittal and acceptance. As already stated justification in the sense just described is by faith alone in Christ alone apart from works.
So how does one reconcile James' "right strawy" statement that a man is justified by works and not by faith? A plain reading of the text seems to clearly contradict the doctrine of justification as taught by Paul. The answer has been previously discussed in part in James 2:21 (see notes), where (1) we see from context that James believed in justification by faith and (2) Paul and James both agreed that works were the fruit of the root of genuine faith and salvation. Now we will look at the third line of evidence that helps us understand that James is not contradicting Paul.
THE MEANING OF DIKAIOO
The meaning of dikaioo depends on the context and depending on which lexicon you consult you will come up with a variety of definitions so please be a Berean and do you own study of this word.
(1) To cause someone to be in a proper or right relation with someone else. This use corresponds to the vitally important truth imputed righteousness and thus means to justify or to declare righteous, which is only accomplished by faith and not by works. Most of the NT uses of dikaioo are by Paul (with only 3 uses in James), so it follows that in order to understand the doctrine of justification one would focus primarily on the writings of Paul and not on these 3 isolated uses of dikaioo by James (as some do who teach that James believed in salvation by faith plus works).
(2) To show to be right or righteous.
James uses dikaioo in this sense - to show to be righteous. And so we see that Abraham's works show that he was righteous. He had been declared righteous by faith in Genesis 15:6, but was shown to be righteous in Genesis 22, which is the point that James is making in the following passages.
In some cases dikaioo refers to Jesus or God Who are demonstrated to be morally right (Divine vindication)…
In summary a brief survey of the different contextual meanings of dikaioo indicates that dikaioo does not always mean to declare righteous but can also mean to show or demonstrate that one is righteous. Clearly, James is using dikaioo in the latter sense in his illustrations of genuine faith in the lives of Abraham the friend of God and Rahab the harlot, for the premise of his entire argument is that while faith is an invisible attribute, it can (and must) be assessed as genuine or not on the basis of the works that come forth from that faith.
Douglas Moo agrees and writes that…
Grudem explains justified by works and not by faith alone…
Faith alone - Hiebert comments that…
Steven Cole has these comments on "faith alone" writing that…
Albert Barnes comments on James 2:24…
First, the discerning reader will avoid confusion if he or she remembers that the primary purposes of Paul and James, while related, are distinct…
As Augustus Toplady explained there is no disagreement between Paul and James for…
To summarize James is not teaching that salvation is by faith plus works but he is teaching that a faith that truly saves really has good works.
THE WORKS OF FAITH - by Andrew Murray - IT has often been supposed that there was opposition betwixt this utterance of James and the doctrine of Paul. It is to be nevertheless acknowledged at once that this is not the case, when one reflects that the works of which Paul speaks are entirely different from those which James intends. Paul always speaks of the works of the law: James has his eye upon the works of faith. The works of the law are those which are done out of the personal power of man, m the direction of fulfilling the law of God in order to merit the favour of God and make himself worthy of it. Of these the word of God says, that man is justified without the works of the law. He can do nothing that is good or meritorious: all that comes from him is impure and deserving of wrath. On the contrary, the works of faith of which James speaks are those which must be done for the confirmation and the perfecting of faith, and thus out of the power which God gives and not to merit anything. They serve to manifest that which faith has received from free grace. They follow upon conversion, while the works of the law can only precede this change. The works of the law will be able to glorify man: the works of faith give God all the honour; for they are done in the acknowledgment of personal unworthiness. Works and faith go together, as being both fruits of grace and tokens of the renewing of the mind; faith as the root of the works, the works as the perfecting of faith.
In this way it can now be clearly understood what the word of God means, when in one passage it says: "To him that worketh not but believeth, his faith is reckoned for righteousness," and then again insists on works. The works which are done apart from faith, as an endeavour to make ourselves worthy of God's favour and thus keep us back from faith, the reception of God's free grace, are not to be done: they are abominable in the eyes of God: "He that worketh not is justified." The works which are done with and in faith, while the soul in the sense of its unworthiness commits itself to the gracious promises of God, just because it hopes or knows that the Lord receives it apart from its merits, and seeks to praise Him for them, are acceptable to God, and must be done, the more the better. And it is of these that it is said that "man is justified by works": they are the manifestation of faith and actual fruit-bearing, and not merely of a faith that continues inactive, and is thus dead.
Let the soul which seeks to come to Jesus in faith thus understand what it is to think of works. As soon as it begins to look upon its works as the ground of merit, as soon as it begins to say in fear, "My works are too small, too trifling, too sinful for me to be received," it must at once remember that "man is justified without works." No sin or ungodliness of which you have been guilty ought to keep you back from the hope of grace. Yet, on the other side, in order that the soul may not perhaps sit down in idle inactivity, in order that it may not go on in sin while it relies upon grace, let it be remembered that as soon as the first beginnings of the desire for grace awake within us -- this, if it is sincere, will necessarily show itself active in the doing of God's will. We shall be able to pray with confidence and in truth, "forgive us our debts," only when at the same time we just as heartily endeavour to say, "as we forgive our debtors"; just as John writes, "Let us not love in word, neither with the tongue but in deed and truth. Hereby shall we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him"; and, "If our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God." (Compare further 1John 3:21, 22, as also Psalm 18:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.) Thus we learn to understand rightly the word, "work for God worketh in you," that is, by faith; and our works become the lovely evidences of His heavenly grace, the foretokens of His everlasting favour. (Andrew Murray. Why Do You Not Believe)
Amplified: So also with Rahab the harlot—was she not shown to be justified (pronounced righteous before God) by [good] deeds when she took in the scouts (spies) and sent them away by a different route? (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
NLT: Rahab the prostitute is another example of this. She was made right with God by her actions—when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Rahab who was a prostitute and a foreigner has been quoted as an example of faith, yet surely it was her action that pleased God, when she welcomed Joshua's reconnoitering party and got them safely back by a different route. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Now, similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also vindicated in that she entertained as guests the messengers and thrust them forth by means of a different way? (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and in like manner also Rahab the harlot--was she not out of works declared righteous, having received the messengers, and by another way having sent forth?
|IN THE SAME WAY, WAS NOT RAHAB THE HARLOT ALSO JUSTIFIED BY WORKS WHEN SHE RECEIVED THE MESSENGERS AND SENT THEM OUT BY ANOTHER WAY?: homoios de kai Raab e porne ouk ex ergon edikaiothe, (3SAPI) hupodexamene (AMPFSN) tous aggelous kai etera odo ekbalousa? (AAPFSN): (Joshua 2:1; Mt 1:5) (Mt 21:31) (18,22) (Josh 2:19, 20, 21; 6:17,22-25; He 11:31)
In the same way (homoios) means Rahab was similar to Abraham in one important aspect, specifically that she like Abraham was shown to be righteous by her actions. Her faith was conspicuous and she demonstrated it by receiving the spies and risking her life to protect them. James saw her actions as proof that she was truly a believer.
Notice again with Rahab, as in his discussion of Abraham, James frames this illustration in the form of a question which serves to draw the reader into his argument and challenges them to consider this additional illustration. The manner in which the question is phrased in Greek implies that the reader must admit that the facts substantiate his argument regarding faith and works.
Rahab the harlot - Since Rahab's immoral past is not minimized, why would James illustrate his point in such a way? In Abraham's case one might reason that good deeds would be those expected from such a one as he was called by God "exalted father". On the other hand, from Rahab the harlot good deeds would hardly be expected. James' juxtaposition of Biblical characters is his way of saying that from the "best" to the "worst" of saved sinners, good deeds are still an expected fruit.
As Thomas Adams said
Robertson remarks on the use of the term harlot in Hebrews 11:31 noting that
The fact that Rahab is in the lineage of the Messiah emphasizes the lovingkindness, grace and power of God to redeem a life from immoral uselessness to immortal usefulness…
In regard to the effect of faith in Rahab's life, Matthew Henry calls us to observe…
Although James does not mention Rahab's faith as it did with Abraham, the writer of Hebrews does provide a record of Rahab's faith recording that…
As the Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said…
James assumes Rahab's faith and emphasized that it was a genuine faith as evidenced by the deeds it produced. In New Testament terms Paul's description would be appropriate of Rahab the harlot who became Rahab the true believer…
Rahab did not just declare "Lord, Lord" but her obedient actions gave evidence of her changed life…
Wiersbe makes a convicting point writing that…
J Vernon McGee writes
Jamieson makes an interesting point writing…
Calvin explains that James…
Here are the 4 NT uses of hupodechomai…
Luke 10:38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
Luke 19:6 And he hurried and came down, and received Him gladly.
Acts 17:7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus."
James 2:25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
Sent off (1544) (ekballo from ek = out + ballo = cast) is literally to cast out. Some NT context indicate a somewhat violent driving out (eg, Mt 21:12, Mk 9:15, John 2:15)
Hiebert explains that in the present context ekballo…
indicates energetic action but not violence. She acted with urgency and personal concern for their safety. Her inventiveness to insure their safety is evident in the fact that she sent them forth "in a different direction", not through her door but her window, not back to their camp but to the mountains (Josh 2:15, 16). Her works were entirely different than those of Abraham, but both alike prove that a living faith is a working faith. (Ibid)
She received the messengers and sent them out by another way - This summarizes the deeds of Rahab the harlot as described in more detail in Joshua 2…
Cole emphasizes that…
Because of her good deeds Rahab the harlot was spared in Joshua 6…
Jesus made it clear that God does not look at what we have been or done but what we can be when we are justified by faith, a faith like Rahab's that shows itself to be genuine by the deeds it produces…
Amplified: For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
NLT: Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Yes, faith without action is as dead as a body without a soul. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: For even as the body apart from breath is dead, so also the aforementioned faith apart from works is dead. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: for as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also the faith apart from the works is dead.
|FOR JUST AS THE BODY WITHOUT THE SPIRIT IS DEAD: hosper gar to soma choris pneumatos nekron estin, (3SPAI): (Job 34:14,15; Psalms 104:29; 146:4; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 2:22; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59,60) (Jas 1:14,17,20)
For (gar) ties this truth with the two illustrations previously given.
Just as (hosper) means similar to the previous illustrations. A body without the spirit is dead and does not move, act, live, or work because it is empty, totally useless and worthless just like a faith without works.
Hiebert observes that…
SO ALSO FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD: houtos kai e pistis choris ergon nekra estin. (3SPAI):
So (houtos) means in this way. Just as the human body which lacks the spirit is considered dead, in precisely the same way as faith without works is considered dead, lifeless.
James is saying that faith that one professes to possess is actually dead, lifeless and useless, without fruit or deeds. We had might as well place this faith in a coffin and bury it in the cemetery. That is a tragic picture of a faith without works!
James is not saying that works be added to faith, but that one possess the right kind of faith as evidenced by a faith that works.
Hiebert comments that…
After reading this section perhaps you have questions about the genuineness of your faith. If so then consider assessing your life with the following 3 questions adopted from Dr Grudem's text on Systematic Theology…
Warren Wiersbe ends this very important teaching by James on how to know one has genuine faith with the following excellent summary and practical application…
Search me, O Lord, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps 139:23, 24).
Harry Ironside writes that…
I particularly like J C Ryle's straightforward challenge to all who make a claim to possessing a saving faith in Christ…
Dear Reader, how are you living? What is the testimony of your life, not just your lips? Do not be deceived by those who would say that all you must do to be saved is simply believe in Christ (a statement with which I would fully concur!), but then add that it makes not one whit of difference how you live the rest of your days on earth (a lie with which James 2:14-26 strongly disagrees). The tragedy is that there are some even in so-called evangelical circles under who are teaching this aberrant deadly doctrine and leading people astray.
As J Vernon McGee says…
Steven Cole summarizes James 2:14-26 writing that…
Faith That Works - Mary is a senior citizen with many health problems. She is also a widow with a home to keep up. No use expecting Mary to do much in the church or community anymore, right? Wrong! In spite of her limitations, her faith continues to work.
Although Mary and her late husband had no children, they had a ministry to other people's children. Now alone, she coordinates a new ministry in her church for women who might be considering abortion.
Mary writes, "If we are preaching against abortion, we should offer pregnant women our help. Within 2 days I've had four volunteers to help me. Now we must meet to set up a plan of action."
A plan of action--how typical of a working faith! How different from people who see a desperate need and moan, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" but are unwilling to be that somebody!
In James 2 we read that Abraham obediently offered his son Isaac on the altar. This act is cited as a work that proved the reality of his faith (Jas 1:21, 22, 23).
Mary, like Abraham, has a faith that works. Our needy world could use many more like them. How can you put your faith into action today? — Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Faith is the power that prompts us to go
Jailed To Free Others - The missionary had been in jail for more than 2 weeks. He was stuck behind bars in a Kosovo prison because he had tried to tell others about Jesus Christ.
Other missionaries tried to negotiate for his freedom, but day after day they were turned down. Eventually they received the good news that their friend would soon be released, so they went to the jail to tell him.
The missionaries discovered that their friend had been witnessing to his fellow inmates, and when they told him that he was about to be let out of jail, he said, "No, not yet. Give me another week. I need more time to share the gospel with these people."
What does it take for a person to be so burdened for others that he is willing to stay locked up so he can continue to proclaim the gospel? First, it takes an unwavering faith that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven (John 14:6; Hebrews 11:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and that life without Him leads to a hopeless future. Second, it takes a faith that God is in control and that He can be trusted with our lives when we are not in control at all (Pr 3:5-6; He 11:32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40). And third, it takes a faith that results in action—not just thoughts and words (Jas 2:26).
Do we have that kind of faith? —Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Parking Lot Christianity - Long lines of cars were filling up the huge parking lot of a church where I was attending a conference. As I parked, I noticed the word Love on a lightpost in one section. In another area, I saw the word Faithfulness. The next day I pulled into a different lot at the same church and saw Patience on another sign. Like numbers in a mall parking lot, these words help people find their cars.
No doubt these signs served another purpose. After each session, some people were in a hurry to get home-- even cutting others off to get out of the lot. Patience wore thin and tempers flared. How appropriate those signs are! I thought. It's amazing how quickly the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ can disappear in a parking lot!
Martin Luther told of reading the Scriptures and praying until his heart was filled with love for his fellowman. But how quickly that love disappeared when a person with offensive body odor sat down beside him!
The testing of our faith may not come through severe oppression or heavy burdens. It's more likely to occur in a checkout line, on the expressway, or in a parking lot. That's where we'll know whether we've really become serious about our faith in Christ. — David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
PRACTICAL CHRISTIANITY - Our Daily Walk by F B Meyer - JAMES IS described as "the Lord's brother" in Gal 1:19. He was surnamed "the Just," and was much respected beyond the limits of the Christian Church for his saintly life. While St. Paul deals specially with doctrine, James is concerned with practice; Paul expounds the wonderful significance of Christ's death and resurrection; James expounds the teaching of our Lord, especially in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul insists on faith as the means of justification before God; James lays stress on the works to which faith must lead.
It seems likely that James had seen Paul's Epistles, for he uses so many of the same phrases and examples, and probably set himself to combat those who abused the teaching of the great Apostle. There were plenty in his time who believed about Christ, and prided themselves in the orthodoxy and accuracy of their creed; and James maintains that this is not sufficient to save the soul.
As far as orthodoxy goes, no creed can be more absolutely orthodox than that held by evil spirits. Repeatedly, during our Lord's life, they acknowledged that He was the Holy One of God, but their belief had no effect on their character; it only filled them with fear and dread James 2:19).
"Faith without works is dead." It is good to test ourselves. We must see to it that our heart is pure and our way absolutely transparent. In our dealings with those around us, we must always seek to realize our highest conceptions of love and duty. Even when our efforts of goodwill and affection are not reciprocated, we must never lower the high standard of our action, but always keep before us the conception of our Saviour's life in the Home at Nazareth. Be merciless to yourself, but always merciful to others, always bearing the burdens of those around you, always moderating your pace to the weak and weary, as Greatheart did for the pilgrims. Even Rahab was justified by a faith which wrought itself out in beautiful and unselfish action (James 2:25; He 11:31). Remember our Lord's words in Mt 7:20, 21.
PRAYER - Help us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to add to our faith, brotherly kindness, and pardon the unkind word or impatient gesture; the hard and selfish deed, the failure to give kindly help where we had the opportunity. Enable us so to live that we may daily do something to lessen the tide of human sorrow and need, and add to the sum of human happiness. AMEN. (F. B. Meyer. Our Daily Walk)