James 2:14-26...Christian Merit in Salvation

James 2:14-26:
The Necessity of Meritorious Christian Works


I hope in this paper to tackle a much disputed section of scripture, James 2:14-26. It only really began to be disputed in the church in the 16th century. The reason that it became disputed is because the material principle of the Reformation, `Sola Fide', or Salvation by faith alone, was proclaimed by Martin Luther. Until that point all Christians everywhere believed that scripture taught that works were necessary for salvation. When this new doctrine was taught James 2 was one section of scripture that clearly seemed to contradict Luther on justification. I will look at how Luther analyzed James. I will then survey Calvin and a sampling of Protestant and Catholic scholars who exegete James 2:14-26 section by section.


Martin Luther noticed the problems that James posed for his doctrine on justification. There are 50 volumes of books in a series called Luther's Works. Despite the huge amount of exegesis that he did on the bible I could not find a study specifically on James. It is this section on faith and works, the heart of James' epistle that caused Luther problems. He wrote of James: "In a word St. John's Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul's epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter's first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James' epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it." (Preface to the New Testament in Luther's Works, Vol. 35, p. 362).

Luther condemned the epistle of James as deficient in the power and function of faith:

We should throw the epistle of James out of this school [Wittenberg], for it doesn't amount to much. It contains not a syllable about Christ. Not once does it mention Christ, except at the beginning. I maintain that some Jew wrote it who probably heard about Christian people but never encountered any. Since he heard that Christians place great weight on faith in Christ, he thought, 'Wait a moment! I'll oppose them and urge works alone.' This he did. He wrote not a word about the suffering and resurrection of Christ, althought this is what all the apostles preached about. Besides, there is no order or method in the epistle. No he discusses clothing and then he writes about wrath and is constatntly shifting from one to the other. He presents a comparison: 'As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.' O Mary, mother of God!! What a terrible comparison that is!!!! LW, 54, 424-425

Both Protestant and Catholic scholars see that James in this section indeed expands on faith very thoroughly. James shows us works intimately tied in with faith and obedience.

Luther wrote that James erred on justification and Abraham. Luther comments on Genesis 22 that James misreads it. He took umbrage at Jas. 2:21 that Abraham was justified by works:
James argues in his letter (Jas. 2:21) that Abraham was justified on the basis of his works. Because the text says:`Now I see that you are righteous', he wants to conclude from this that previously Abraham was not righteous. . . . .Abraham was righteous by faith before God acknowledged him as such. Therefore James concluded falsely that now at last he was justified after that obedience, for faith and righteousness are known by works as by the fruit. But it does not follow, as James raves: `Hence the fruits justify' just as it does not follow: 'I know a tree by its fruit; therefore the tree becomes good as a result of its fruit. Therefore let our opponents be done with their James, whom they throw up to us so often (Luther 4:134).

It must be noted that Luther did feel that works would follow if one is really a Christian. In fact even though he castigated James he did in one essence state that works should follow. He wrote:
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it a thousand times. This knowledge of and confidence in God's grace makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and with all creatures. And this is the work which the Holy Spirit performs in faith. Because of it, without compulsion, a person is ready and glad to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, out of love and praise to God who has shown him this grace. Thus it is impossible as to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire.2

That is a statement of faith that any Catholic Christian should be able to affirm. This statement agrees with James; nevertheless, Luther does separate what he himself wrote is impossible to separate. He takes umbrage that James so clearly seems to indicate that faith and works can not be separated in regards to justification. Another indication of his vehemence against James:

That epistle of James gives us much trouble, for the papists embrace it alone and leave out all the rest. . . . .Accordingly, if they will not admit my interpretation, then I shall make rubble also of it. I almost feel like throwing Jimmy into the stove, as the priest in Kalenberg did (Luther 34:317).

Such an irreverence for the Word of God would be laughable were it not the fact that he was the founder of a revolution against the church.

In this paper I will examine all of James 2:14-26. I will examine it section by section, present the varying views, and critique these views.

JAMES 2:14-17

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, `Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, it has no works is dead.*

John Calvin

As the reformers did not cast from scripture James as they did the deuterocanonical books, they realized that if they were going to keep it in their canon they had to interpret James. John Calvin did a multivolume commentary on the scriptures which included James.

Calvin as well as Luther wrote that scripture can not contradict scripture and that the Roman Catholic understanding of Jas. 2 can not be correct because it contradicts his understanding of Paul (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6).3** He starts from that premise before he dissects James. Calvin notes that v. 14 does not start, "If a man has faith", but "If a man says he has faith.." "Plainly he implies that there are hypocrites who make an empty boast of the word, when they have no real claim on it."4 Calvin writes that James is disputing with those who do not really have faith to speak of. These peoples' faith are lifeless as it is empty of good works.5

Protestant 1 - James = Faith Alone

Here I will look at those Protestant scholars who I noticed agreed in essence with Calvin that James does not conflict with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone (Sola Fide). John MaCarthur is a radio preacher and author who believes that Catholics are not Christians ostensibly because we believe that both Paul and James say works are necessary for salvation.*** He agrees with Calvin that the person under discussion in these verses has no real faith as his faith shows no expression in deeds;6 however, in contrast to Calvin, he does not only admit, but strongly defends the point that the question in v. 14 relates to salvation: "Faith in this context must carry the full soteriological significance. James is speaking of eternal salvation. He opposes the notion that faith can be a passive, fruitless, intellectual exercise and still save."7 MaCarthur admits that James is speaking of eternal salvation, and yet he retains belief in salvation by faith alone. He thus contradicts himself in his own words.

R.A. Martin likewise stresses that the person in this section just proclaims faith but does not really have it. This person has no real concern for the person ill-clad or lacking food. The faith that James attacks is an understanding of "faith" that sees it merely as a pious sentiment or an intellectual acceptance of doctrine.8

Alex Motyer agrees with Calvin that James is contrasting in this section a living faith and a dead faith; nevertheless he disagrees with Calvin's idea that the person mentioned in vv. 14-16 is someone who merely believes in God like the demons do:

Imagine a person who professes faith. We must not emphasize the verb `says' as though from the outset to cast doubt on the testimony. As far as that goes, we may and must assume that the unnamed person offers an impeccable account of placing faith in Christ. But the observer can add to the spoken testimony something that the speaker left unsaid. "Works, however, he does not have." There is a claim to faith unsupported by any concrete evidence in the life of the man concerned.9

Protestant 2 - James = Faith Plus Works

A majority of Protestant writers that I surveyed admitted that the very first question in v. 14 on whether faith can save apart from works has to do with salvation. They write that faith plus works according to James are the basis for justification. This includes: Thorwald Lorenzen who writes "His question is not whether works apart from faith can save, but whether faith apart from works can. The answer is no. . . .The perspective is soteriological (how can I stand before God), not merely ethical (how must I act in the world)"10; Sophie Laws writes the answer is no as it lacks the deeds of mercy and reminisces of the separation of goats and sheep for eternal life based on whether acts of mercy exist (Matt. 25:31-46);11 Martin Dibelius notes that v. 14 deals with justification before God.12

In opposition to Calvin but agreeing with Motyer, Laws writes that the person in vv. 15-16 does actually have a real faith:

James does not portray the person as callous. He is the man who says he has faith. Go in peace is a semitic idiom. He expresses hope (Mark 5:54) when he says be warmed and be filled. Confronted with a case of need, he commits it with prayer to God, who clothes the naked and feeds the hungry (Gen. 3:21; 1 Sam. 2:5; Ps. 108:51; Luke 1:53) and he sends away this fellow believer with expressions of confidence. To James, such a response is totally useless. The man is presumed to have the means to supply the needs of the body. He believes that God would wish such need to be relieved, yet he himself does not himself act in accordance with that belief.13

Laws shows us that the Calvin caricature of the person who says he has faith could only be arrived at to buttress his position on faith alone for justification.

Dibelius states that the illustration of a man who does not provide help (vv. 15-16) is not an example of faith without works (vv. 14, 17) but an analogy of the two. The common point to which both relate is barrenness. As well-wishing without help is in vain, so faith without works is vain.14


Catholic scholar Otto Knoch notes that James makes explicit that orthodoxy of belief and convictions do not enable a man to achieve salvation. He writes that one can draw conclusions just by v. 14 that faith by its very nature impels a man to put it into practice to live by it. Faith is directed towards deeds as surely as the seed is directed towards fruit.15 Thomas Leahy notes that within James (Jas. 1:3, 6; 2:1, 5; 5:15) works encompasses the obedient implementation of God's revealed will in every aspect of life while faith is the free acceptance of God's saving revelation.16

Knoch writes that vv. 15-16 is an example of faith not working; however, I agree with Leahy that it is rather an incisive analogy,17 as Dibelius claimed. Faith and works are as intertwined as if one really cares about people who need help, they will help them. In v. 17 he writes so, meaning just like. . . .Then James closes v. 17 to bring home the point of the analogy: In order to be availed of salvation, one must have a living faith.18 If one does not have works, you are eternally dead.

JAMES 2:18-19:

18 But someone will say, You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe - and shudder.

John Calvin

Calvin argues that here James talks about a live faith that

is active will be demonstrated to others. Fruits will inevitably be born from living faith. Verse 19 shows conclusively to Calvin (You believe that God is one) that the whole discussion is not on the subject of faith, but on an uninformed opinion of God.19 Calvin writes that James means that if you believe in the same way that demons believe, then is it no wonder that you will not be justified.
20 Faith rests upon the assurance of God's mercy. However, nowhere in the text does James limit his description of faith to the assurance of God's mercy.

Protestant 1 James = Faith Alone

Even the most ardent teachers of Sola Fide admit that James teaches here that faith and works can not be separated. Ralph Martin writes that James shows us here that real faith is not just intellectual assent to a proposition about God (the demons have that), but rather trust in God. Martin writes that James "does not speak of works being separate from faith."21 Motyer notes that James points to faith with no results as demonic. Results prove the living reality of faith.22 MaCarthur writes that "a man who claims to be a believer, yet has no works to demonstrate the reality of his faith, will find that such faith does not justify him, for it is not real."23 These people hold to sola fide, but their admissions here in effect show sola fide to be false. Real faith must have works to avail one of salvation.

Protestant 2 - James = Faith Plus Works

James goes into a diatribe style of writing with an imaginary objector. The prior scholars stress that when James writes show me your faith (v. 18) it means that the rest of the section in regards to works is only demonstrating faith, not the cause of justification (despite vv. 20-24). Faith is one thing and works demonstrate it; however the principals of faith and works can not be separate. As Adamson writes: "When James writes "I will show you my faith by what I

do", he is not divorcing, but marrying principle and practice in Christian life. Faith alone can not save. . ."24

Calvin quotes v. 19 to state that if you believe like the demons do, no wonder you will not be saved; however, James does not state this. The statement of belief is loosely translated the Shema (Deut. 6:4) but is not mere intellectual assent that demons have. James indicates the necessary outcome of faith, which is works, and the impossibility of faith existing alone.25


Catholic scholars agree that James shows us the inseparability of faith and works. The objector tries hard to differentiate between faith and works. As Laws had previously written, there is no need to presume the ill-intent of the objector. As Paul had written (cf., 1:Cor 12) the objector is saying "you have one spiritual gift I have another, Praise God!" James writes that works are not a special gift, but a requirement of saving faith. This reaffirms the answer to the question of v. 14.

The demons show us in v. 19 that they have orthodox belief (Matt. 8:29; Luke 4:34). Calvin wrongly equates that James' main point is not to believe like the devil. James writes that belief alone will not avail you of salvation. Knoch writes that "the Christian who believes has every opportunity to work out his salvation."26 Demons do not produce works, believers do, and thus can be saved.

JAMES 2:20-24

20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar.
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and by works faith was made complete. 23 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"' and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

John Calvin

Calvin attacks the Catholic interpretation of James because he sees Paul differently:

It is a fallacy that James puts part of justification in works. If you would make James agree with the rest of Scripture and with himself, you must understand the word "justify" in another sense than Paul takes it. For we are said by Paul to be justified when the memory of our unrighteousness has been wiped out and we are accounted righteous. If James had taken that view, it would have been preposterous for him to quote Moses' statement: "Abraham believed God" (Gen. 15:6; Jas 2:23). . . .It is absurd that an effect precedes its cause, and Moses testifies falsely in that place that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness.27

Calvin writes that James is only stressing that good works are invariably tied to faith:

When he states that Abraham was justified by works his words are in confirmation of the justification. . . .James means that the man who professes himself to be faithful should demonstrate the truth of his fidelity by works.28

This admission by Calvin that good works are inevitably tied to faith reveals yet again the falsity of faith alone being sufficient for salvation. Calvin feels that when James writes in v. 22 that `works make faith perfect' he only shows that works were evidence of faith's true quality. Works are thus merely a demonstration of faith. However, the context in Genesis 22 does not show us Abraham offering up his son Isaac as a demonstration to anyone besides God. He is only justifying himself before God. In fact, Jesus in Matthew's gospel shows us that demonstrating before people is what God condemns (Matthew 6:1-6, 23:5-7). That is exactly what the Pharisees did.

Calvin argues alto that it is not the perfecting of his faith, but shows his integrity by the action where Abraham revealed the remarkable fruit of his loyalty. He writes that when James says that one is not justified by faith alone, the faith that does not justify is a bare and empty awareness of God.29

Protestant 1 - James = Faith Alone

Protestant scholar commentary on v. 20 in a sense shows agreement with the Catholic Church that James shows that faith without works is barren. MaCarthur notes that James "labels the objector foolish, meaning empty, defective: The man is hollow because he lacks a living faith; his claim that he believes is fraudulent; his faith is a sham".30 Ralph Martin writes that the tern "foolish man" not only shows a deficient understanding, but moral error and sin. He notes that both vv. 17 and 20 show faith without works as dead and ineffectual for salvation.31 Such admission by people who believe in sola fide undercuts sola fide.

The Protestant scholars already noted have admitted the necessity of works. The previous sections in James build up to this pivotal statement of faith. Those who believe sola fide is consistent with James teaching believe that this refers exclusively back to verse 18, which says "Show me your faith. . ." According to them this section is solely a demonstration of works, not a cause of justification. As noted already though, Abraham did not make this demonstration of offering his son Isaac before anybody besides God. He journey three days with two people. Then he sent the two people away from himself so he could be alone with Isaac. The only one who commends Abraham is God, who renews his covenant with Abraham, based on his obedience. These facts demonstrate again that here Abraham is being justified before God.

Motyer sees faith and works as distinctive realities. Faith is the primary concern of this section according to him. In v. 17 it is faith which possesses works. In v. 22 he claims faith is the dominant partner in its colleague-relationship with works. "We must say, therefore, not `faith and works', but faith productive of works."32

MaCarthur deals with this section by stating that James really does not mean justification by works (although just read vv. 21-24) by quoting Paul (Rom. 3:28; Eph. 2:8-9), and refers to (Jas. 1:17-18) the gifts being given from God.33 In my mind just stating that this is a gift of God does not deal with the reality of works being God's gift and intricately tied in with justification through the example of Abraham's work of offering his only son.

Ralph Martin admits that "Had there been no works, Abraham would not have been justified"; however he claims that this does not contradict sola fide because "the absence of works would have shown that he had no real faith".34 R.A. Martin writes that the way in which James writes that Abraham was justified by works is that it is produced by faith, and when he writes that he is not justified by faith alone he means not by that lip-service, non productive faith which is really no faith at all.35 These admissions show that works are needed for salvation despite them saying that they believe in salvation by faith alone.

Protestant 2 - James = Faith Plus Works

Lorenzen writes that when James mentions the fruit being barren (v. 20) it must be seen in light of vv. 14 and 17 in relation to justification before God.36 A majority of Protestant scholars that I surveyed actually admit that within James the Catholic view of justification is correct.**** The material principle of the reformation, sola fide, can not be reconciled with the apostle James.

Dibelius writes that James was influenced by Jewish exegesis. As Christianity proceeded from the Jewish scripture and tradition that is to be expected. Dibelius analysis of how a man is justified according to James in vv. 20-24 affirms Catholic soteriology:

Abraham is not considered a justified "sinner", but a righteous man who is recognized and rewarded by God. Matthathias (1 Macc. 2:52) says of Abraham "was he not found faithful when tested, and righteousness was reckoned to him.
" In other words, God found him faithful and as a reward "attributed righteousness" to him. The thought of Jas. 2:21 is that since Abraham "offered his son upon the altar he was approved by God and a righteous man by virtue of his deeds.37. . . .When it say that he was reckoned righteous (v. 23), there must be an allusion to his works. Only then is the author justified in appealing to this text. Only then does the third part of the saying follow naturally. Abraham owes his position of honor as friend of God to his faith and works.38

In commenting on this section Lorenzen also sees James referring to Sirach (Jas. 2:21-23; cf. Sir. 44:19-21). James is indeed discussing faith but works are decisive because they alone help faith to achieve its eschatological goal.39

Calvin and the prior scholars made much (In order to maintain

sola fide) of the works of Abraham being only a demonstration of faith; however, Laws notes that James makes no such distinctions as consequence, demonstration or confirmation in relation to faith and works: for James faith and works go together as a necessary unit. James writes in v. 22 that faith cooperates with works, and by works faith was made complete.40 When Abraham offered his son Isaac, he was not declaring or showing his faith to anyone but God.


John Lodge took an in depth look at this pivotal section of James and the faith of Abraham, and specifically 2:22. Here I can only briefly summarize some points. Lodge shows us the chiastic patterns:
v. 20 Do you want to know faith (a) - works (b)
v. 21 Abraham (c)
v. 22 faith (d) - works (e)
v. 22 works (e') - faith (d')
v. 23 Abraham (c')
v. 24 You see works (b') - faith(a')41

Lodge writes that James used grammar specifically chiastic to show the relation of faith and works. He shows that this chiastic literary unit begins at v.20 with a question and v. 24 with the answer "not by faith alone" bearing the burden of the whole. Chiastic poetry has the dominant ideas at the beginning (v. 20) and end (v. 24) and middle (v. 22). Abraham shows that one is not saved by faith alone.

At center is 2:22 where it says "faith was active along with his works, and by works faith was made complete." Lodge argues that the grammar is deliberately chiastic to show inseparability of faith and works. The poetic pattern puts the key words together and knits the whole passage from end to beginning.42 He argues that the grammar in this verse does not have two subjects acting upon one another, but faith acts and receives its wholeness or completion thru works.43 V. 23 ties Gen. 15:6 back to "faith was perfected by works" through chiasmus. It joins scripture back to faith (perfected/fulfilled) by works, and its emphasis is unambiguously on faith.44

Lodge summarizes the relationship of faith and works in 2:20-24:The scope of Jas. 2:20-24, reinforced at every point by the literary structure, is to understand faith primarily: how it acts (to the advantage of works), how it is perfected (through works), and how it is not "apart from" or "in addition to" works. When faith is acting it is "together with" works.45

JAMES 2:25-26:

25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way.
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

John Calvin

Calvin comments that Rahab does not show justification by works. He argues that good works are required of righteousness, and Rahab shows that, but good works do not confer righteousness.46 He does not venture to comment on James' analogy of body and spirit with faith and works and his conclusion that faith apart from works is dead. Calvin thus denies the clear force of James words.

Protestant 1 - James = Faith Alone

The life of Rahab is a good example of how God can redeem all who through God's grace seek him. Motyer's contrasts shows us some of the depth of James' demonstration of God's grace:

Abraham is a major bible figure; Rahab a minor participant. Abraham the father of the faithful; Rahab a foreigner. Abraham the respected; Rahab the disreputable. Abraham a man; Rahab a woman. As is so often, the contrast is intended to alert us to the fact that a fully comprehensive statement is being made - as it were covering the situation all the way from Abraham to Rahab and back again.47

Rahab is a perfect example of hospitality. James does not mention her declaration of faith (Josh. 2:9-11) but it is already assumed. Rahab came over from the paganism of Jericho to the camp of Israel (Josh. 6:23). R.A. Martin writes that Rahab's example is only a demonstration of faith. In the analogy of the body he uses it to prove that it is only a demonstration. Breath according to him is a only a proof of faith. He gives an expanded translation of v. 26 to bring out this parallelism: "For as the body apart from breath (the evidence of life) is dead, faith apart from works (the evidence of faith) is dead."48 Ralph Martin sees v. 26 as being a conclusion to the whole section. He grants a significant premise:

James refuses to grant the possibility that faith and deeds can be torn apart and treated as individual entities. For him the only faith worth the name is the faith that is expressed in deeds, just as deeds take on their meaning as the fruit of the faith that is both salvific and sound.49

Despite writing eloquently on how James shows the inseparability of faith and works for salvation, Martin then writes "In summary faith alone saves - but saving faith is never alone; it completes itself in deeds."50 He in effect separates what he agreed could not be separated. Those statements are contradictory and irreconcilable.

Protestant 2 - James = Faith Plus Works

Why does James use Rahab as an example? Although the emphasis is on how what she did justified her, James by no means underplays her faith. He presupposes his readers know about her faith (Josh. 2:9-13); nevertheless, the reason that James mentions this is to highlight the importance of works and justification. A reading of Joshua 2 shows that if she did not provide safety for the messengers, she would not have survived (Josh. 2:14-20). Roy Ward ties the example of Rahab to the parable (Jas. 2:15-16). She is one who showed hospitality, an act of mercy.51

In v. 26 James brings a concluding verdict to the whole section. He shows the impossibility of separating in any way faith and works. He makes a stark comparison of faith and works with body and spirit. Dibelius notes:

The separation of the two does not produce a type of release for the spirit but results in a dead corpse. The principle is clear: a faith (body) that is not supported by works (spirit) is lifeless. As breath enables a body to live, likewise works produces a living faith.52


Knoch writes that James' use of Rahab is an example of God's unfathomable love for sinners, the love which Jesus later revealed so powerfully in his dealing with publicans, harlots, and outcasts.53 Rahab indeed risked her life, family, and possessions for her newfound faith in God. As Leahy notes, "Her fellow citizens also had a kind of faith; but she alone acted on her belief and was so justified--was found pleasing before God and saved (Josh. 6:22-25)."54

The Catholic commentators on v. 26 is similar to Dibelius. Knoch notes that the point of comparison (between faith without works, and body without spirit) in both cases is death. "Faith which is not lived, which leaves no mark on a persons behavior, is useless for salvation."55


Luther, Calvin, MaCarthur, and others refer to Paul to refute the concept that sola fide is wrong; however we have seen through the eyes of all types of scholars that James teaches us that justification before God must include works. Luther denies that James should be part of the bible.(Now, James was in his Bible, but as noted in his preface to James, he declared it not to be part of the true canon. The Deuterocanonical books were also in his Bible, but the existence of those books in the Bible does not mean that he considered them Scripture. In fact in his preface to James he specifically spells out why he does not considre James Scripture, even if it was in his Bible. See the link here which has the preface to James and Jude: http://www.freeyellow.com/members3/matt1618/preface.html). Calvin and other sola fide scholars start off with the sola fide premise based on their interpretation of Paul in Romans and Galatians. That is then imposed on James. I agree with Lorenzen who writes how proper exegesis of James should be conducted:

Most people appear to read our text through Pauline glasses. On such a reading, it merely becomes an illustration of faith working through love (Gal. 5:6), that works belongs to the consequences of faith. But is that what the text really says? We should try to be discerning exegetes by being servants of the text, not master over it.56

When James is studied through James' eyes we see a powerful call to not have a theoretical faith. Even through many Protestant scholar's eyes we see works as not only a demonstration of, but inseparable from faith. We have seen that faith only acts and receives it wholeness through works. James reinforces in various ways that works are necessary for justification, even if it is God who gives us the necessary grace to be obedient.

James gives us a powerful and explicit explanation of true faith. He describes to us what is saving faith. There is no question that he wants us to demonstrate our faith before the world, but his primary purpose is to show us how faith and works put us in a right relationship with God. He uses analogies, examples, and then Old Testament figures to show us that faith and works can not be separated in any way at all. He shows us through Abraham, the father of faith, that obedience is necessary for salvation. Justification is shown through these examples to be a lifetime process, not merely a one time event. Abraham seemed to have no hope at all of having a first-born son. He is given a son and an impossible demand is placed on him to offer his only son. He believed that God would provide and God was faithful. James also shows us how even a harlot woman can be changed to someone who would risk life, possessions, and all for God. James also clearly shows us that the material principle of the Reformation, sola fide is false.

2. Adamson, 292
3. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans
John McNeil (Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc, 1990) 814.
4. John Calvin, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, vol. 3 trans. A. W. Morrison ed. David W. Torrance (Grand Rapids: Wm.
B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972) 282.
5. John Calvin Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, 283-284.
6. John MaCarthur, "Faith according to the Apostle James" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 32 (1990): 17.
7. MaCarthur, 24.
8. R.A. Martin, James, I-II Peter, Jude, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1982) 31.
9. J.A. Motyer, The Message of James: the Tests of Faith (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1985) 108.
10. Lorenzen Thorwald, "Faith without works does not count before God: James 2:14-26" Expository Times, 39 (1978): 231.
11. Sophie Laws, A Commentary on the Epistle of James, (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988) 119.
12. Martin Dibelius, A Commentary on the Epistle of James (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1976) 149.
13. Laws, 121.
14. Dibelius, 152.
15. Otto Knoch, F.J. Schierse, New Testament for Spiritual Reading, ed. John McKenzie, vol. 21 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969) 183.
16. Thomas W. Leahy, "The Epistle of James", The Jerome Biblical Inventory, ed. Raymond Brown (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968) 373.
17. Leahy, 373.
18. Leahy, 373.
19. Calvin, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, 284.
20. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 815 21.
Ralph Martin, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 48 (Waco: Word Books, 1988) 81.
22. Motyer, 113.
23. Macarthur, 20.
24. James Adamson, James, the Man and his Message (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989) 307.
25. Law, 128.
26. Knoch, 187.
27. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 816.
28. Calvin, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, 285.
29. Calvin, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, 286.
30. MaCarthur, 28.
31. Ralph Martin, 90.
32. Motyer, 109.
33. MaCarthur, 23, 26.
34. Ralph Martin, 96.
35. R. A. Martin, 32.
36. Lorenzen, 232.
37. Dibelius, 162.
38. Dibelius, 165.
39. Lorenzen, 232.
40. Laws, 137.
41. John G. Lodge, "James and Paul at cross-purposes: Jas 2:22," Biblica 62.2 1981: 203.
42. Lodge, 204.
43. Lodge, 200.
44. Lodge, 202.
45. Lodge, 204.
46. Calvin, Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, 287.
47. Motyer, 115-116.
48. R.A. Martin, 36.
49. Ralph Martin, 99.
50. Ralph Martin, 101.
51. Roy Bowen Ward, "Works of Abraham: James 2:14-26," Harvard Theological Review 61 (1990): 284.
52. Dibelius, 98.
53. Knoch, 189.
54. Leahy, 374.
55. Knoch, 190.
56. Lorenzen, 231.

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

Page created by: Matt1618.
Send email with questions or comments on this writing to Matt1618 matt16182@yahoo.com


Return to Salvation Page


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page

1997 James2...by Matt1618. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Last modified September 25, 2002.