Part V - Prelude to the Words of the Apostle Paul

It has already shown without the slightest bit of ambiguity that Our Lord and the Apostles Peter, James, John, and Jude taken literally contradict the assertions of Fr. Martin Luther and other sola fideans. The only author left to cover is the Apostle Paul but this case is already settled: there is no sola fide endorsement in Sacred Scripture. This will be amplified later on when discussing Paul’s epistles.

Why should anyone listen to a sixteeth century schismatic Catholic priest who fathered a revolt against the Church of God the magnitude of which had not been seen since the time of Korah (Numbers 16; Jude 1:8-19)??? This is what anyone does who lends credence to the theories of Fr. Martin Luther or by anyone influenced by his movement of rebellion. (Such as John Calvin.) The one credit though that must be given to Fr. Luther is admitting that there was a true contradiction between his interpretation of Romans and the clear words of the Epistle of James. Few if any Protestants will make such an admission today but instead they seek to find ways of reconciling the two that involve in essence ignoring the literal words of James’ Epistle. Here is one example of a Protestant acquaintance making just such an argument:

The faith James is talking about is mere intellectual faith, and involves no works. It is simply "believing in God," Even the demons believe in God, says James. Demons, however, don't trust God. They don't "believe God." That is saving faith, the type of faith Paul talks about in Romans 4, Romans 10, and Eph. 2…Saving faith is apart from works, and justifies before God apart from works. I suppose the gist of what I am saying is that, since Paul says no one is justified before God by works, then James can't be referring to justification before God. [1]
Now it is true that this Protestant acquaintance does not denigrate the Epistle of James as Martin Luther does. However, he also does not reconcile this difficulty much as he may think he does with the above statement. His statement comprises a common Protestant assertion when they try to reconcile the Epistle of James with that of Romans. It is in essence the Pauline Shuffle at work manifesting itself in an attempt to claim that the Epistle of James does not really say what it clearly says but instead that it says something different.

To understand the Epistle of James, it is important to understand first of all that it was a catholic epistle (meaning "universal") and Paul’s Epistle to the Romans was just that: an Epistle to the Romans. I am not trying to claim that the moral message in Romans is that limited mind you; however, the two epistles must harmonize and this Protestant has used a common Protestant attempt to reconcile the two. Before demonstrating the profound errors in his assertions (that James was external or "justification before men" and Paul’s was internal or "justification before God"), we need to consider a couple of key factors that are often overlooked. For starters, we need to consider the kind of  literature that comprises James’ Epistle is in order since it differs in literary genre from that of Romans which is more along the lines of a theological treatise. In discussing the Epistle of James, Catholic evangelist Dr. Art Sippo has noted the following:

James in the NT is classified as "wisdom literature" and has a strong connection to the "Q" material from Matthew (The Sermon on the Mount) and Luke (The Sermon on the Plain) which are replete with moral aphorisms and warnings about the consequences of good and bad conduct. There is also a strong connection to other OT wisdom books including Proverbs, Sirach, Wisdom of Solomon, and Tobit. This is all well documented in the books "The Apocrypha and Pseuepigrapha" by R. H. Charles, "Jesus the Sage" by Ben Witherington III, and in a book called "James and Q" published by Sheffield Press about 7 years ago.

The wisdom literature was NEVER concerned with mere external behavior alone or with proving something ‘before men.’ The whole literary genre was intended to instruct people on how to conduct themselves in the light of the revelation of God to achieve the fulfillment of human life in the plan of God ultimately leading to eternal life. It was the tacit understanding of this literature that the wise man was pious and virtuous while the fool was filled with vice and impiety. Only the wise man was considered righteous before God. The fool was reprobate and lost. In the Jewish religion, the primary concern of the wisdom tradition was soteriological and it was directed towards the changing of hearts and minds to make men righteous before God. The hellenistic dichotomy between internal dispositions (ie faith and hope) and the external acts that flowed from them was unknown to the Hebrew mind. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7, KJV). In short as a piece of wisdom literature, James is exhorting Christians on how to BE saved, not on how to LOOK saved. [2]

To show the connection that Dr. Sippo is speaking about, here are a few of the numerous allusions to the wisdom literature of the OT and the "Q" material from Matthew and Luke. I will also show some allusions to the OT wisdom literature in other parts of the Gospels and also the epistle of James. To make it easier to separate the two, the wisdom literature quotes will be put in bold type. All citations are from the Douay-Rheims Bible except where noted otherwise:
See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to have done to thee by another. (Tobit 4:16)


All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner. (Luke 6:31)

Prayer is good with fasting and alms more than to lay up treasures of gold. (Tobit 12:8)


Therefore when thou dost an alms-deed...(Matthew 6:2)
And when ye pray...(Matthew 6:5)
And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad...Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. (Matthew 6:16)
The fruit discloses the cultivation of a tree; so the expression of a thought discloses the cultivation of a man’s mind. (Sirach 27:6) By their fruits you shall know them. (Matthew 7:16)


Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray. (Sirach 28:2) For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. (Matthew 6:14)

[W]hen he says, "I have found rest, and now I shall enjoy my goods!" he does not know how much time will pass until he leaves them to others and dies. (Sirach 11:19)
And he spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits...And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. Take thy rest: eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee. And whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? (Luke 12:16,19-20)

Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than much with wrongdoing. (Tobit 12:8 RSV)


And the Lord said to him: Now you, Pharisees, make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter: but your inside is full of rapine and iniquity. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make also that which is within? But yet that which remaineth, give alms: and behold, all things are clean unto you. But woe to you, Pharisees, because you tithe mint and rue and every herb and pass over judgment and the charity of God. Now these things you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Luke 11:39-42)
Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. (Wisdom 2:12) 


Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (Matthew 23:27-28)

Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. (John 5:45-46)

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts…(Wisdom 2:14)

But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4) 

Here are a couple of the wisdom literature references from the Epistle of James:

Be swift to hear; and let thy life be sincere; and with patience give answer. (Sirach 5:11 KJV) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: (James 1:19 KJV)
Do not say, "Because of the Lord I left the right way"; for he will not do what he hates. Do not say, "It was he who led me astray"; for he had no need of a sinful man. (Sirach 15:11-12) Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God. For God is not a tempter of evils, and he tempteth no man. (James 1:13)

There is far more to the wisdom literature of the OT then just in the Gospels and James. Here are a few additional examples:

For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fulness of life; (Tobit 12:9 RSV) [B]efore all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins...As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another: as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:8,10) 
For when a potter kneads the soft earth and laboriously molds each vessel for our service, he fashions out of the same clay both the vessels that serve clean uses and those for contrary uses, making all in like manner; but which shall be the use of each of these the worker in clay decides. (Wisdom 15:7)  Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use? (Romans 9:21)


Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. (Sirach 2:1) Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… (2 Timothy 3:12) 

I know you are thinking "why all this emphasis on "wisdom literature???" Well, if you are going to understand the Scriptures you need to be familiar with the different literary types. The very concept of someone being "declared righteous" who was not righteous was unknown to the Hebrew mind. Wisdom literature was very clear and straight forward: the just were just and the wicked were wicked. The rest of the Scripture passages quoted in this section of the essay will be from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. Here are some references from Proverbs:

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD. [3]
This is a blatant contradiction of the Protestant notion of a mere imputed righteousness.
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies; for he is like one who is inwardly reckoning. "Eat and drink!" he says to you; but his heart is not with you. [4]
The false dichotomy between beliefs and actions as espoused by sola fide advocates is refuted by the Book of Proverbs. Here is more that contradicts the notion of merely imputed righteousness:
He who says to the wicked, "You are innocent," will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations; [5]
In short, a mereimputed righteousness as professed by Protestant systematic theology contradicts the very words of Scripture. The wisdom literature knows nothing whatsoever about "forensic" or "legal" means of justification. Our Lord, Peter, James, John, and Jude speak distinctly about our works justifying us. As I noted earlier, this is not works in and of themselves mind you but works performed in right relationship to God. Works in other words which are performed in God. This is the very foundation of Christianity and the foundation of the Hebrew world view: God working through His creation. Since God's actions can never be without merit, when He works through us, the works we perform are meritorious. A few other OT examples and then we will get to addressing the epistles of the Apostle Paul.
7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not slay the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. [6]
How does the Lord's assertion from Exodus square with the notion of imputed righteousness???
9 The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground; for the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 If you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 11 "For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 14 But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. 15 "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, 20 Loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." [7]
Surely the reader can see the connection between the teachings of the Torah and those of Our Lord, the Apostle Peter, the Apostle James, and the Apostles John, and Jude. Here is another example:
6 And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation, and took a spear in his hand 8 And went after the man of Israel into the inner room, and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman, through her body. Thus the plague was stayed from the people of Israel. 9 Nevertheless those that died by the plague were twenty-four thousand. 10 And the LORD said to Moses, 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Therefore say, "Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace; 13 And it shall be to him, and to his descendants after him, the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the people of Israel." [8]
The reward of Phinehas the Levite was based on his execution of the Lord's justice.
15: As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16: for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, 18 To those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. [9]
Psalm 103 teaches that that to keep the Lord's covenant and keeping the commandments is to have everlasting life. As we have seen, Our Lord and the Apostles Peter, James, John, and Jude taught the same thing.
3 Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times...

30 Then Phinehas stood up and interposed, and the plague was stayed. 31 And that has been reckoned to him as righteousness from generation to generation for ever. [10]

Phinaeas according to Psalm 106 was reckoned righteousness on the basis of his zeal for justice. This is congruent with what we have gone over already but is alien to the notion of imputed righteousness. (For Phinaeas' was reckoned righteous based on his conduct.)
24 Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation. 25 There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. 26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. 28 And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. 30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. 31 Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD. [11]
If there was no reason to "make up the hedge", then the Lord's requirement to offset the execution of His justice would be pointless. Yet as we have seen, the Lord and His Apostles conditioned everlasting life on keeping the commandments. The requirement above is consistent with the notion of justification by charity. It is not however consistent with sola fide. Nor for that matter is what the Lord says to the prophet Amos:
7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, 8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: 9 That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress. 10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. 11 Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. 13 Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. 15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. [12]
Indeed nowhere in the OT either in the Law, or the Prophets, or in the Wisdom literature (Proverbs, Sirach, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon, and Tobit) is anyone declared righteous who is anything but righteous. Yet the Protestant sola fide and imputed righteousness teachings are just that: declaring someone righteous who is not. And in seeking to pass off this abomination under the mantle of Holy Writ, it involves explaining away the Gospels, the Epistles of Peter and John, the Epistles of James and Jude, and the Old Testament only to prop up such a teaching on an interpretation of the Apostle Paul's epistles to the Romans and the Galatians.

Remember, the Apostle Peter noted that Paul was also speaking to in his epistles about the same matters that Peter was referring to in his epistle. In other words, there were those who were misinterpreting the Apostle Paul's Epistle to the Romans along with his other Epistles and the other Scriptures. What theme could possibly be the one most misrepresented in the Epistles of Paul??? Probably the theme of Justification by Faith. Fr. Martin Luther was a textbook case of one who was "unstable" and as it will be demonstrated in examining the Apostle Paul's epistles, he was profoundly ignorant as well. St. Paul was of a like mind with Our Lord and the other Apostles that we are justified by works and not by faith alone. With that in mind, and in continuity with all the Scriptural witnesses that have preceded him, let us now interpret the Apostle properly starting with the Epistle to the Romans.


[1] "AC": a Southern Baptist: Comments posted to a message board back in May of 2000

[2] Dr. Art Sippo: From his writing "Justified By Works and Not By Faith Alone" (c. 2000)

[3] Proverbs 17:15

[4] Proverbs 23:6-7

[5] Proverbs 24:24

[6] Exodus 23:7

[7] Deuteronomy 30:9-20

[8] Numbers 25:6-13

[9] Psalm 103:17-18

[10] Psalm 106:3,30

[11] Ezekiel 22:24-31

[12] Amos 5:7-15

Other Notes:

The citation from Dr. Art Sippo was taken from "Justified By Works and Not Faith Alone" and located at the following link:

The citation from Fr. Martin Luther was obtained from an extract "Luther's Preface to James and Jude" compiled by 'Matt1618' and located at the following link:

The Scripture citations unless otherwise noted were taken from an online Douay-Rheims Bible that is similar in many ways to the online Douay-Rheims Bible located at the following link:

The Scripture citations from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible were obtained at the following link:
©2003, 2000, "Justification by Faith Working in Love", written by I. Shawn McElhinney. 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.

To All Visitors, Grace of Christ to you!

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