Demonstrable Christianity via the Law of
Verses 14-26, Good works demonstrate the law of love
Verses 1-13, Partiality is inconsistent with the law of
Verse 1: Orientation to policy
1. My brethren: This is addressed to believers. Remember,
the address occurs 19 times in the letter.
2. Do not hold: The verb is echo in the present active
imperative plus the negative, mā. It indicates the functional
possession and utilization of THE Christian faith -- the faith value system
as that which contains all the standards for right and proper interaction
of the believer with all other life forms in the universe.
CT: My brethren, do not be holding onto The Faith . .
See Topic: The Divine Value System
3. The faith: This is pistis with the definite article,
which as we saw at verse 1:3, is used consistently for the whole body of
Christian doctrine or the Faith (divine) Value System.
Examples in Timothy and Titus: 1Tim. 1:19; 1Tim. 3:9;
1Tim. 3:13; 1Tim. 4:1; 1Tim. 4:6; 1Tim. 5:8; 1Tim. 6:10;
1Tim. 6:12; 1Tim. 6:21; 2Tim. 1:13; 2Tim. 2:18; 2Tim. 3:8;
2Tim. 4:7; Titus 1:1; Titus 1:4; Titus 1:13; Titus 2:2;
In addition, I suggest that the use of the term THE FAITH
in the following places, also refers to the Faith Value System as it is
represented by the established body of divine truth.
Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; Heb. 12:2; 13:7; 1 Peter
5:9; Jude 1:3; Rev. 2:13; 14:12;
The issue here is not the act of "holding onto"
a FUNCTION of faith, but rather the "function" of faith that
holds onto the established system of righteous standards that God has designed
for the human race.
In other words, it is inconsistent for someone to claim
that he holds to (has faith in) the SYSTEM of doctrine revealed by God
through Christ and yet does not practice the primary dynamic of that system,
which is beneficent love.
See Topic: BENEFICENT
4. The faith value system is then specified by associating
it with the person of Jesus Christ; "The faith OF our Lord Jesus Christ."
That is, it is The Faith system that pertains to and revolves around the
character and work of Jesus the Messiah.
5. Of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ: Most English translations
render this as "our glorious Lord," but the Greek does not indicate
the presence of the adjective, "glorious."
A. The word, glorious, is not an adjective, but is a noun
that occurs at the end of the sentence.
B. Of: from the ablative case to indicate source and content.
That is, it is THE FAITH which originated with Christ and is centered around
His character and teaching and work.
C. Our Lord Jesus Christ: The three titles that establish
the divine character and Messianic person of Jesus, son of Joseph.
CHRIST: christos means anointed one and specifically refers
to the Messiah (Hebrew, mishiyach - for anointed one) promised throughout
the Old Testament. It was established throughout the Old Testament that
the Messiah would in fact, be Yahweh come in the flesh.
JESUS: The Greek, iāsous, is simply the form
for the Hebrew, Joshuah (yeshua) which means Yahweh saves. With this personal
name assigned to the Messiah, we see His first advent mission clearly proclaimed.
Matthew 1:21, "And she will bear a Son; and you shall
call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins."
LORD: Kurios means the one in authority. In the Jewish
culture of Christ's time, for one to be called "kurios," in the
right context, was to be proclaimed deity. Thus we see at 1 Cor. 8:6, "yet
for us there is but . . . one Lord, Jesus Christ. . ."
These three deity factors are proclaimed at His birth
by the angel's message to the shepherds. Luke 2:11,
"for today in the city of David there has been born
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
And the resurrection of Jesus is what offers proof that
these three deity factors can indeed, be claimed by Jesus.
Acts 2:36, "Therefore let all the house of Israel
know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ -- this Jesus
whom you crucified."
Acts 17:31, "because He has fixed a day in which
He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed,
having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
D. After the three-fold designation for Jesus, James adds
another title that establishes beyond any doubt that Jesus is to be viewed
as the revealed God of the Old Testament.
1. He uses an appositional genitive of the noun, doxa
+ the definite article, which translates as "The Glory."
2. This is a direct reference to the presence of God who
dwelt in the tabernacle of Israel. That presence is designated theologically
as The Shekinah Glory. See Topic: SHEKINAH
E. The designation of Christ as "The Glory,"
is based on both inherent and assigned glory.
1. Inherent: That which He has by virtue of His very essence.
John 1:1; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15
2. Assigned: That which is "assigned" to Him
by the Father based on his success as the Messiah. John 5:22-23; Isaiah
42:8; Heb. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:21.
3. Compare: John 17:1-5
F. Jesus, as "The Glory" is a reflection of
several titles ascribed to Him.
1. Emmanuel: Mat. 1:23
2. Only begotten God: John 1:18
3. The "I am" of John 8:58-59
4. The first and the Last: Rev. 1:17-18; 22:13 with Is. 48:12
5. The Son of God: John 1:14; 5:17-18
4. In an attitude of: translates the preposition, en,
which should be rendered, "in the sphere of."
5. Personal favoritism: This is the word, prosōpolāmpsia.
It is constructed from the word, prosopon, which means
FACE, and the noun form of lambano, which means to receive. Together, it
means to receive someone based on his appearance and actually refers then
to showing personal favoritism for any reason -- physical appearances or
other things. The illustration that follows gives us an example of favoritism
shown for social reasons.
Verses 2-4, The example of rich vs. poor.
The scenario is quite clear. The assembly of believers
is called the sunagōgā, which is the same word
used for the Jewish synagogue. The reason is because the word means a place
of gathering together in general, and only technically means a synagogue.
The use of this word should not be taken as a reference to the Jewish synagogue
because the early Christians did not frequent these formal structures for
their own worship. It is true that the apostles visited them often on the
sabbath day for evangelistic purposes but not for worship activity (Acts
13:5, 14; 14:1; 17:10, 17; 18:4, 19; 19:8).
Although the noun is used only here in this manner, the
verb is used several times in reference to the gathering of Christians
in their own local assemblies for worship activity (Acts 4:31; 11:26; 14:27;
20:7, 8; 1 Cor. 5:4).
So what we have in view is the worship assembly of Christians,
and apparently two "visitors" come in; ones who are not familiar
to the members. Then, as was often the case (for it seems that James has
in mind a common occurrence for some of the believers addressed) that there
was a distinct act of giving preference to the one who was deemed more
socially acceptable or perhaps (as in the case of the rich vs. the poor)
even of giving preference based on some "perceived" benefit that
might be acquired by catering to the rich.
But to show such favoritism ignores the spiritual needs
of the visitors, confuses the real focus of Christianity, distorts the
doctrine of love, and perpetuates carnality in the person showing favoritism.
In the scenario before us, from the human perspective,
it is easy to be tempted into the wrong attitude and action. We have a
poor man in filthy clothing (ruparos) and a rich man who dressed quite
extravagantly. It would be easy to rationalize spiritual values and imagine
reasons for showing favor to the rich over the poor. One might imagine
ulterior motives for the poor person, who might be looking for a hand-out.
One might imagine genuine motives from the rich person, who would certainly
have nothing to gain by coming into the assembly. But this views it from
the perspective of materialism lust and fails to recognize that both men
could be there in search of spiritual truth. When someone in the church
becomes distracted from the real issues by the "glamour" of the
rich person, he fails to address either man's spiritual needs and totally
misrepresents Christian values. This might very well hinder the spiritual
impact that the church can make on either man if the carnal person's favoritism
is not repudiated by the other members.
Verse 3 describes the nature of the favoritism shown.
You provide a comfortable seat for the rich man and assign the poor man
to the wall or the floor. Now realistically, when a person is truly positive
to the intake of bible truth within the public assembly, the "comfort"
of the seating is not an issue. Consider the multitudes sitting on the
ground or cramped in and around a house in order to listen to Jesus. But
when it comes to showing preference for one person over another, we find
the harsh verdict of verse 4 that the guilty party has evil reasonings.
This attitude of favoritism is expressed by the word, epiblepo, which means
to look upon. In this context, it communicates the idea that is represented
in the NASB as, "pay special attention to." The specific action
of favoritism then, is catering to the physical comforts of the favored
person. This places a pseudo value on such physical comfort and totally
deemphasizes the value of the spiritual food that is being served.
1. You sit here:
A. Here: hode, indicates personal attention is given in
locating a place to sit.
B. Good: kalos, indicates greater comfort.
2. To the poor man:
A. There: ekei, indicates impersonal attention.
B. Or: indicates indifference on the part of the member and basically tells
the poor man to find his own seating.
Verse 4, the verdict.
1. Made distinctions: The verb is diakrino which like
many Greek words has both a positive and a negative usage. Literally, the
word means to evaluate through (verb, krino = evaluate, judge, discern;
preposition, dia = through). In a positive sense, the word means to thoroughly
examine something so that it is clearly and accurately perceived.
In a negative sense, it means to examine through and "beyond"
what is right and proper so that the evaluation is based on human viewpoint
standards, subjectivity and emotions. It is a failure to judge with a righteous
standard as is taught by Jesus at John 7:24.
It is wrong to show such preference for any reason. If
their is any place in this life where true equality should exist, it is
within the local assemblies of Christianity. Perfect equality exists in
the family of God through our positional union in Christ (1 Cor. 12:14-26).
When there is deference shown to anyone for any reason,
this violates that equality and unity. This includes the traditional distinction
that is made between the so-called clergy and laity. The bible makes no
such distinction but places all believers on the same plane. Now of course,
there is a distinction in function within the assembly based on each person's
specific spiritual gift, but that involves only the structure of operation
within the assembly, not the value that one person has over another. The
Bible speaks of the respect that is to be shown to the leadership of the
church (1 Thes. 5:12-13) and the honor to those who lead and teach (1 Tim.
6:17), but this relates only to the function of those leadership gifts.
Beyond that functional authority, every believer stands on level ground
and no one should be elevated above another in such a manner that favoritism
and inequity occurs.
However, in the scenario before us, we are not even dealing
with fellow members of the "local" assembly, but with strangers
who may or may not be believers. If they are believers, they both should
be shown the love that extends to all Christians because of our positional
unity. If they are unbelievers, they both should be pursued with evangelistic
love, seeking their salvation. The motive of the believer should be to
seek the "spiritual" benefit of all men, which is the core expression
of beneficent love. Therefore, his thoughts should be, "What can I
do for both of these people?"
2. And have become: ginomai as an aorist middle indicative
to indicate a change of functional status based on the mental attitude
sin and action.
3. judges: kritās refers to someone who makes
an evaluation and conclusion about a particular person or issue.
A. The problem here is NOT the "function" of
judging, for we are mandated to be discerning as we encounter people (Mat.
B. The problem is the standard that is used in that judging
(evil motives). John 7:24.
4. With evil reasonings: ponāros and
A. Evil: the word ponāros, indicates a very
infectious antagonistic evil that seeks to influence and dominate others.
B. Reasonings: the word dialogismos refers to the rationale
used in the soul to make various judgments and decisions. In this case
the "reasoning" ability of the soul is corrupted by the human
viewpoint standards of darkness embraced by the sin nature.
5. See Topic: JUDGING
and JUDGING: General Principles
Verse 5, The greater volitional potential of the poor
man that James mentions, demonstrates how illogical it is that someone
should snub him and cater to the rich man.
1. Listen: akouo as an aorist active imperative to express
a plea to hear and apply divine viewpoint to this commonly occurring situation.
2. My beloved brethren: even with this unloving expression
from these people, James still ministers to them as fellow believers and
ones for whom he has a great deal of Christian love.
Apply the principle of 2 Thes. 3:15, "And do not
regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."
3. Did not God choose: This is an aorist active indicative
of eklego to indicate the divine policy for providing salvation. It does
not refer to some specific divine act of making one person believe in Christ
and not another.
4. The poor of this world: This does not refer to every
single poor person as being under some specific "calling" from
God. It refers to a condition where someone is deficient of the human resources
that he might use in an attempt to gain some kind of spiritual merit in
contrast with the rich, as ones who think that their human resources can
provide them with some kind of spiritual merit -- whether it be in reference
to salvation or to worship. A person cannot buy salvation nor can one gain
worship acceptance by "buying" an "in" with God. In
the opinion of the world, heredity, wealth or ability has merit toward
finding favor with God, but God's policy rejects all of these human factors
and accepts only the simple expression of trust in the content of the gospel
message. Paul addresses this at 1 Cor. 1:18-31.
God has chosen to save those who do not appeal to human
resources for relationship with God, but who appeal to the divine policy
that rejects all human works and honors only the attitude of total trust
in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
What the policy does is to provide minimum distractions
to the poor for accepting spiritual value. It does not eliminate all distractions
to accepting Christ, because the personal arrogance and stubbornness of
a soul deceived by the sin nature is still a very formidable obstacle.
But if a person is deficient of material resources, it is very unlikely
for him to place spiritual value on them and be significantly distracted
The rich-minded person thinks that the possession of material
resources gives them advantages in all areas of life including the spiritual
realm. But in actuality, it is the poor who have an advantage because they
have no surplus detail distractions to take their eyes of God's grace provision.
Jesus taught about this when he addressed the rich young religious ruler,
as recorded at Mat. 19:23-24.
And Solomon understood this as he records at Proverbs
"Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
Lest I be full and deny you, saying, 'Who is the LORD?'"
However the poor are still susceptible to human viewpoint
distractions to accepting God's policy, as Proverbs 30:9b indicates.
". . .Or lest I be in want and steal,
and profane the name of my God."
The poor can become so bitter that they reject creature
humility and as a result will also reject God's salvation appeal to them.
The answer of course is to become oriented to God's viewpoint
about material things.
See Topic: RICH
5. To be rich in the sphere of faith:
This simply describes the response that God demands for
entrance into eternal life. However, it is only a potential response based
on minimum distractions to recognizing the spiritual value of the gospel
6. And heirs to the kingdom: This is the result of faith.
The faith response to the gospel message (God's invitation to all people)
allows God to accomplish the promised benefits. God says to believe and
you will be saved. That is, you will be given spiritual life by being "born
again" into God's family and made a citizen and heir of the kingdom.
The term, heirs of the kingdom, refers to both their salvation
status as well as the experience of eternal life blessings during this
life. However, the context indicates that the emphasis is on the experience
of eternal life blessings here in this life rather than the possession
of the salvation status.
A. Salvation status:
Titus 3:5-7 - heirs according to the confidence of eternal
Eph. 3:6 - Gentiles are fellow heirs to the promise.|
Gal. 3:29 - heirs according to promise.
B. Christian life blessings:
1 Pet. 3:7 - Joint heirs of the grace of life
1 Peter. 3:9-12 - that you might inherit a blessing.
C. Transitional concepts:
Eph. 4:1 - walk in a manner worthy of the calling with
which you were called.
Eph. 5:8 - You are light in the Lord, walk as children
1 Tim. 6:12 - take hold onto the eternal life to which you were called.
7. Which God has promised: epangellomai as an aorist active
indicative indicates the divine provision that is available to those who
meet the conditions of God's policy.
Verses 2:6-9: Indictment on their partiality
But you have dishonored: This is an aorist active indicative
of atimao which indicates an attitude of indifference and even deprecation
that fails to recognize either the spiritual principles involved or the
greater potential for positive volition in the destitute.
The rich have a greater potential for rejecting truth
and for demonstrating it. James gives us two normal expressions of that
1. Do not the rich oppress you: The verb is katadunasteuo
in a present active indicative to indicate a consistently occurring expression
from the rich. This refers to moral oppression through taking away rights
and freedom. It is explained by the phrase, "drag you into court."
The NASB translation, "personally drag you into court,"
reflects the presence of the intensive personal pronoun, autos, which is
literally rendered, "they THEMSELVES" and indicates the personal
and active involvement of these oppressors with the action performed.
2. The second expression of their rejection of truth is
directed to Jesus. The phrase, "habitually blaspheme" translates
from the present active indicative of blasphāmeo and indicates
a verbal attack on the person and work of the Lord.
3. The FAIR name is better rendered as the HONORABLE name
or even the GOOD name. The adjective is kalos, and indicates a "perceived"
goodness based on what can be observed about the person in view. Thus,
in view of what Jesus has done for us and them, His "name" (or
character) is considered good and honorable, and it is quite illogical
to attack that which has done no harm but quite to the contrary, proffered
the greatest good that the human race could receive.
4. By which you have been called: This is the NASB rendering
and is misleading, because it suggests another mention of the "calling"
or election that is accomplished when one trusts in Christ. However, the
verb used here, epikaleo, has no reference to our "calling,"
but rather speaks of an identification based on someone's name. A better
translation is, "which has been called (or placed) upon you."
It refers to the term Christian (Greek, christianos) which was first used
in derision (Acts 11:26) and later became a common and acceptable term
of identification (Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).
Verse 8: The Law of Love as that which combats partiality.
1. If however: ei mentoi - introduces a situation opposite
to what was just mentioned. Since the partiality of v.6-7 is negative,
then "mentoi" naturally introduces that which is positive and
the only acceptable policy for Christian interaction - the law of love.
2. You are fulfilling: teleo, means to complete, and as
a present active indicative, indicates a consistent application of the
character virtues of love which are found at 1 Cor. 13:4-7.
3. The royal law: basilikos nomos. It is the "law"
that operates for spiritual "royalty." Spiritual royalty are
those who have entered into the family of God through trust in Jesus as
A. Notice "heirs of the KINGDOM (basileia)"
at James 2:5.
B. Rev. 1:6 and 5:10 - believers are made into a KINGDOM
by being removed from
kingdom of darkness and placed into the kingdom of light. Col. 1:13 (Eph.
2:19; Acts 26:18)
C. 1 Pet. 2:9 designates the believer as a "royal"
4. According to the Scriptures: Indicates the source of
this law. The definition, guidelines and standards of the royal law are
found only in God's written word.
5. You shall love your neighbor as yourself: This means
that you seek the "divine viewpoint" benefit of all people in
the same way that you desire the best for yourself. But with the Divine
perspective, we seek to benefit others (our neighbor) in the way that God
thinks is best.
The doctrine of Beneficent Love has already been referenced
in connection with Verse 1:25.
6. You are doing well: present active indicative of poieo
(to do or make) plus the adverb, kalōs (well, honorably), in
this context indicates the successful adherence to the Divine policy for
the Christian here on earth.
1. But if: de + the 1st class condition of "if"
indicates the more natural and prevalent practice that is common to man
in general and certainly not uncommon even to any member of the royal family
That is why we are so often warned against "the fleshly
which wage war against the soul," (1 Pet. 2:11).
2. You show partiality: prosōpolāmpteō
is the verb form of the noun we saw at verse one. Any attitude or action
that treats others in a way inconsistent with what God's word teaches.
There are certain favors shown to some and certain benefits withheld to
others, but this must only be in conjunction with the policy God has laid
down for such practices. For in each of these situations, it is always
for the benefit of the one who receives or is denied. An example is found
at 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15, where the one who "will not work,"
is not allowed to share in the food supplies of the church body. This is
a moral principle that should be applied within any family or society as
3. You are committing sin: the verb, ergadzomai as a present
middle indicative, indicates what is accomplished based on a particular
EFFORT that is put into something. In this case, the "effort"
is the practice of self-centered partiality and the result is a violation
of Divine standards -- SIN (hamartia).
4. and are convicted: The verb, elegcho, indicates a rebuke
or indictment that repudiates the action expressed. This does not refer
to an "inner" conviction that brings any kind of "sorry
unto repentance," but simply to the indictment itself. What a person
does after the
6. As transgressors: parabatās is a violator
of a SPECIFIC point of divine policy, whereas, hamartolos (sinner) is a
general failure and even "condition" of coming short of divine
standards. However, in this case, the "violation" is against
the WHOLE law, even though only one specific point was broken. This is
amplified in verses 10-11.
Verse 10, Violation in one point makes you guilty of all.
Since the ENTIRE law reflects love, any point that is
violated is a rejection of the divine policy for love.
1. Whoever keeps the whole law: NO matter how consistent
one is in following the standards of the MORAL law of God as represented
in the ten commandments, if he violates in one area, he is still guilty
under the whole law. We cannot pick and choose what to keep and what not
However, it is imperative to mention at this juncture,
that there are many things taught in the Old Testament and even in the
Mosaic law, that were clearly given to the nation of Israel ONLY and are
not applicable to the church. Clarification of what regulations are involved
can be found ONLY in the New Testament writings, for there, the apostles
establish the difference between the ceremonial or "ritual" law
and the pure MORAL law, which has no national barriers but is equally applicable
to all mankind. The primary example of these moral laws are found in commandments
#5-10 of the Ten Commandments. The first 3 commandments are also universally
applicable to all mankind, because they are taught prior to the law of
Moses and taught afterwards in the New Testament.
However, the 4th commandment of a RITUAL sabbath observance,
was given to the nation of Israel only and is not extended to the church.
SEE TOPICS: THE
TEN C0MMANDMENTS and The
2. And stumbles in one point: What James has in mind as
he teaches us about accountability to God's policy, is the moral guideline
that is found in the Ten Commandments.
That is why he uses adultery and murder as examples to
illustrate his point in verse 11.
3. He has become guilty of all: There is not a balance
of good and bad involved here. One is either TOTALLY in compliance with
God's viewpoint and policy, or he is totally in violation. One can not
be partially in fellowship with God or partially spiritual. One is either
in fellowship or out of fellowship; one is either spiritual or carnal.
SEE TOPICS: FELLOWSHIP
WITH GOD and FILLING
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The illustration gives us an imaginary scenario of one
who commits adultery and does not commit murder. The implication is that
since he does not commit murder, he is in compliance with the law. But
that is not the case because he violates in another area.
James uses two very serious and clearly OVERT sins to
make his point, but it should not take our eyes of the "so-called"
lesser sins. All we need to do is carry the application into EVERY violation.
The one who steals or is disrespectful to parents is still in violation
of the whole law and just as guilty as the adulterer or murderer.
But there is something even more subtle here. Jesus also
taught on both of these sins and indicated that if a person even thinks
the "lust of the flesh," then he commits adultery (Mat. 5:27-28);
or if one even thinks hatred to his brother, then he commits murder (Mat.
James wants us to realize that if a MENTAL sin is committed,
it is still a violation of God's policy, breaks our fellowship with God,
and places us under the indictment of the law - to be carried out according
to God's plan, wisdom, and timing.
The religious legalist likes to think that his OVERT life
is BETTER than others. He prides himself in "doing" and does
not concentrate on the "thinking" aspect of following God's laws.
This is what Jesus was teaching about at Matthew five and indeed, constantly
throughout His ministry.
If someone thinks that these two "example" sins
are far too grievous to be a problem for him, he should be reminded that
it is what one THINKS that constitutes sin. We are thus exhorted time after
time to recognize and resolve our mental sins before we can experience
true consistency of fellowship with God (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 7:1). Review
Here we have an exhortation for both verbal and overt
integrity because as children of God we are accountable here on earth for
every sin committed.
1. So speak: This is a present active imperative of laleo
to indicate consistent VERBAL integrity. Verbal integrity is speech that
does not violate either the righteousness or love of God.
SEE TOPIC: VERBAL
2. and so act: This is a present active imperative of
poieo to indicate consistent OVERT integrity. Overt integrity is putting
into action the standards of righteousness and love.
3. As those who are certainly to be judged: mello +
A. mello, has a variety of uses, but it seems best to
view it here as that which expresses a "natural" or "unavoidable"
future occurrence. Thus, the adverb, "certainly" is used to express
this "standard" policy for evaluating the child of God.
B. to be judged: krino (present passive infinitive) simply
indicates an evaluation of the believers motives, speech and actions based
on divine standards. It is a procedure that is applied constantly throughout
the believer's life.
Whenever a believer gets out of fellowship, the law of
LOVE (and all the righteous standards that amplify love) indicts and convicts
the believer in an attempt to get him back in fellowship.
C. This indictment and conviction is the preliminary to
divine discipline. If the believer does not respond by confessing the sin
or sins to the Father, then the Father will discipline in His own timing
and wisdom according to the three stages of discipline.
SEE TOPIC: DISCIPLINE:
on the believer
Verse 13, The absolute nature of
Divine righteousness and justice
1. For: gar introduces the basis for the judgment of v.
2. judgment: krisis refers to the administration of divine
justice when His righteous policy is violated.
3. Is merciless: aneleos = having no mercy.
A. Mercy is the expression of God's compassion in actually
DOING something to help man.
B. Compassion is the aspect of God's omniscience and love
that totally understands the condition and needs of His people and seeks
to alleviate them.
C. Loving kindness or grace is that which God actually
provides and MERCY is the personal application to the person in need.
D. In our context, the mercy would be forgiveness for
violating God's standards.
E. However, mercy is not given to people indiscriminately.
There are conditions that must be met in order for God's justice to be
The satisfaction of divine justice must be viewed from
In regard to the penalty of sin, the one who has trusted
in Christ as Savior has received total and permanent forgiveness (Eph.
1:7). However, the experiential acts of sin done in this life after salvation,
still have an adverse affect on our interaction with God. Personal sin
breaks our fellowship with God and unless the sin is confessed to God,
there can be no rapport or participation in His promise of peace, joy and
confidence. Sin, by its very nature indicates the presence of a negative
attitude toward God and unless that attitude is removed, it is impossible
to have fellowship with Him. God requires that the guilty Christian confess
the sin or sins to Him in order to find experiential forgiveness, that
is, the restoration of fellowship with God.
The point of verse 13 is that the Christian is held accountable
for his sins -- his failure to apply the law of love equally to all people.
When the Christian fails, then God's justice must express itself and place
the sinning Christian under the judgment of divine discipline -- "judgment
As long as the believer is involved with sin, God is unable
to bless him.
3. to the one who does not do (show) mercy: the verb,
poieo (to do) as an aorist active participle indicates the past reality
of sin and the future potential for sin. It is speaking in principle. The
principle is, that whether in the past or yet in the future, any failure
to function within the parameters of the law of love, receives both an
indictment and an expression from divine justice.
A. where there is no love activity, there is self-centeredness
and spiritual blindness. 1 John 2:11
B. This is sowing to the sin nature (flesh) and can result
only in reaping distortion and corruption in every area of life. Gal. 6:8
C. But for those who operate on the standards of humility
and love, there is the blessing of character stability and the peace and
joy of the abundant life based on God's mercy. Mat. 5:7, "Happy are
the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."
4. Mercy triumphs over judgment:
Triumphs, is katakauchaomai and means to exalt over something
or to boast in the virtues of something over something else. It was also
used of the victor in a battle boasting over the defeat of his enemies.
In this case, the point is, that something is BETTER than something else.
In this passage, mercy is contrasted with judgment
which refers to the disciplinary judgment from God upon the erring believer.
The expression of mercy, as an application of the law of love in the life
of the believer, is far more favorable to the believer than to be judged
by God for personal sins that express harm to others.
The present middle indicative views this as a universal
spiritual principle that is always functional.
A. The only thing that glorifies God is the promotion
of His virtues.
B. When man expresses the self-centeredness of his sin
nature in thinking, saying or doing harm to others, God is not glorified.
C. This constitutes unrighteousness and must come under
the expression of God's justice.
D. God will judge the believer, either through discipline
here on earth or through rejection of his works at the future reward seat
E. God will receive ultimate glorification no matter how
He administers His justice, either in blessing or judgment.
F. But the believer will not find it pleasurable to come
under divine discipline here on earth nor at the moment of time that his
life's deeds are rejected at the reward seat.
G. The consistent expression of mercy in the life of the
believer benefits the believer and glorifies God by allowing him to bless
the believer through the function of universal spiritual principles related
to "cause and effect" (The law of sowing and reaping, Gal. 6:7-8).
See Topics: JUDGMENT
SEAT OF CHRIST and REWARDS
James 2:14-26 The overt expression of love and mercy is
the evidence of viable Christianity. Functional Christianity revolves around
the knowledge and application of beneficent love as is described at 1 Corinthians
13:4-7 and Romans 12:9-21.
1. What use is it: ti to ophelos = what the benefit? The
focus is on benefit to self, which is described as a deliverance. The subject
is not getting saved or staying saved, but rather a deliverance from the
temporal judgment which is administrated by God as discipline on the erring
believer; the one who fails to operate on the law of love.
In other words, if there is no overt evidence of Christian
love in the believer's life, does this fulfill the royal law of verse 8
and does it prevent the judgment of verses 12-13a? The answer is no.
2. My brethren: James is still addressing fellow Christians
rather than fellow Jews. At the time of writing, it was primarily a Jewish
audience that received this letter, but the relationship that James is
appealing to is that which is established through the new "spiritual"
birth of verse 1:18.
He is writing to those who "hold the faith of our
Lord Jesus Christ," (verse 2:1).
3. If a man says: The 3rd class condition "if"
clause indicates the potential for this contention (present active subjunctive
of lego) on the part of a believer.
4. That he has faith: the present infinitive (echo = to
have) introduces indirect quotation and states the contention of this believer
as a claim that he has AND functions in "The Faith of the Lord Jesus
Christ" which is the subject stated in verse 2:1. He claims that he
is adhering to the standards of the Christian faith; the body of truth
that is uniquely "Christian," but his LIFE is not showing evidence
of applying the royal law of love.
5. But he has no works: The works in view are those summarized
at verse 1:27.
A. to visit orphans and widows in their distress: This
has always been a primary concern among God's people. Historically it has
always been the weak and helpless of a society that get overlooked, misused
and abused. And it is Christian love which has likewise, always tried to
minimize their pain and discomfort. The primary focus however, must be
kept within this context of Christian society. There is no Christian mandate
for the church to take on the responsibility of the poor and afflicted
of the world or even of one's secular society, but the "church"
most certainly does have the responsibility to care for its own.
B. The second issue for a functional and dynamic religion,
is consistent victory over the darkness influence of the world value system.
True Christianity certainly revolves around the exposure, rebuke and rejection
of darkness viewpoint, but if it is not accompanied by a consistent application
of the law of love, demonstrated overtly to those fellow Christians in
need, then the darkness viewpoint is not truly rejected. It is instead,
embraced and reflected through insensitivity and self-centeredness.
6. Can that faith save him: The word, save, is sodzo and
It is not talking about acquiring or maintaining "salvation,"
but rather a deliverance from the disciplinary judgment of God upon His
children as mentioned in verses 12 and 13.
Verses 15-16, describes the nature of the "works"
that James has in view; material assistance to fellow Christians (brother
1. If a brother or a sister: very clearly, James has in
view a fellow Christian who has a physical need because of some kind of
material deficiency. John looks at it the same way at 1 John 3:17, when
he writes, "whoever . . . beholds his BROTHER in need."
2. Is without clothing and in need of daily food: The
two things that adequately summarize "necessity" details of life;
those things required for the sustaining of physical life (food and covering).
Anything beyond these two are surplus and not to be a concern of Christian
charity. Paul writes, "if we have food and covering, with these we
shall be content," (1 Tim. 6:8). The focus of Jesus in this regard
was on sustenance (food and drink) and covering (Mat. 6:25-34). The obligation
of the Christian applying the law of love in reference to material things,
is to provide his fellow Christian with "needed" food and covering
for the sustaining of physical life and nothing beyond that.
1. And one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be
warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary
for their body:
2. What is the benefit (ti to ophelos): What is the benefit
either to the one who is in need or to yourself as a genuine demonstration
of Christian love?
We have a person who expresses VERBAL concern for the
needy, but takes no physical steps to help them. Examples would be: "Oh
I understand your needs, I will pray for you." Or, "I hope everything
works out ok, I will be thinking of you." Or again, "Don't worry
about it, God will provide for you."
This may show an "appearance" of Christian character,
but it is as empty and useless as the breath that is breathed out when
the words are spoken.
3. We have seen that a non-productive religion is characterized
A. Negative speech: James 1:26
B. Positive speech without overt follow-up.
1. Even so: houtōs + kai indicates "likewise"
or "in the same way."
2. In the same way that it is obvious that no benefit
avails to the one in need, when no one provides physical assistance while
wishing that they might have such assistance -- so likewise, the CLAIM
to possess the values of the Christian faith without putting those values
into practice, does not avail the one who makes such a claim.
3. Faith: THE faith, with the definite article (THE),
refers to the Christian way of life (the "pure" religion of V.
1:27), containing all the standards of God's character and viewpoint as
summarized by the ROYAL law of LOVE.
4. If: IF, as a 3rd class condition indicates the potential
for this sad reality among those who claim THE Christian faith as their
5. It does not have works: The present active subjunctive
of echo describes that potential as being a failure to put into practice
the standards of the Royal Law of Love -- thus making the CLAIM to possess
Christian values an empty claim that is "non-functional," neutralized
and for all intents, DEAD.
6. Is dead: nekros is an adjective that embraces all the
actual and symbolic concepts associated with death. The basic idea with
death is that it involves "neutralization." That is, a condition
of non-function, inactivity and uselessness (whether permanent or temporary).
The "nature" of this "uselessness" is indicated by
the fact that THE faith stands alone without the overt demonstration of
what that faith is supposed to be and do. The believer fails to produce
speech and deeds that bring glory to God by being under the control of
the Holy Spirit and by being in conformity with God's viewpoint and policy.
7. At Galatians 5:6, Paul writes that Christianity is
a way of life characterized by "faith demonstrating itself (working)
If that demonstration of LOVE is absent, then there is
no evidence of the faith that is claimed. This failure does not necessarily
mean that the person is not "saved," but that he has simply failed
to grow and live the way God has intended for His children.
8. An understanding of the Royal Law of Love and the consistency
to put it into practice takes many years of spiritual growth as the believer
learns the many truths about God's character and plan. A new believer,
is not immediately transformed into a "functional," faithful,
"mature" (perfect) example of Christian love. There will be many
days of failure along the path toward spiritual maturity, but these failures
do not mean that the person is not a Christian or that he was never saved
in the first place. It simply means that he has much more growth to undergo
and needs to volitionally put into practice the truths he has learned.
The Bible speaks of SEVEN different kinds of death (or
Death in our language as well as in the languages of the
bible, indicates a neutralization or state of in-operation of the thing
said to be dead. We know this, not from the definition
of the word, but from its use throughout the bible
and in other languages as well. The existence of 7
different types of death in the bible indicates the broad use of the term
as well as the existence of a general idea associated with the word.
Death #1: The first type of death mentioned in the bible
relates to man's fellowship and relationship with God. It has been assigned
the term, spiritual death, since it is the neutralization of one's "spiritual"
relationship with God.
A. Gen. 2:17 indicates that this death results from disobedience
to God. "If you eat . . . you shall surely die." That is, you
will undergo a neutralization of relationship with Me (God).
B. The reality of this death is described at Gen. 3:6-10
as being a separation from God evidenced by soul nakedness and fear, V.
C. Is. 59:1-2 relates the principle of separation from
rapport and fellowship with God because of sin.
D. Eph. 2:1 communicates the reality of "dead in
trespasses and sin."
And at verse 5, dead in transgressions.
E. Col. 2:13 says dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision
of your flesh. This new term (uncircumcision) refers to the presence of
the sin nature as the evidence and expression of this neutralization before
F. Ps. 51:5 indicates that the condition of sinfulness
began at physical birth.
G. Ungodly is a term used to describe the sinful condition
of the human race from the standpoint of capacity to worship God (asebās-unworshipping).
The word indicates no inclination or capacity to worship God. Thus, the
H. Spiritual death is not a biblical term although it
is used for the unbeliever. But it implies the actual death of the spirit
which the bible does not teach (James 2:26;
Death #2: Physical death. This is when the soul and spirit
leave the physical body, making the body inoperative, and resulting in
the physical neutralization of the person.
A. Gen. 3:19
B. Ec. 12:6-7
C. James 2:26a
Death #3: The Second death. This is the perpetuation of
"worship-death" into eternity in the lake of fire. Rev. 20:11-15
A. Jn. 5:28-29, a resurrection of judgment
B. Rev. 14:10-11
Death #4: Positional death. This is an identification
with Christ's death through union with him from the point of salvation.
A. Rom. 6:2-11 - died to sin
B. Col. 2:20 - died to the world system (kosmos)
C. Gal. 2:20 - crucified with Christ
Death #5: Fellowship death. This is the neutralization
of the believer's experience of blessings as a child of God. That is, since
the believer breaks his experiential FELLOWSHIP with God through personal
sin, he is "shut off" from experiencing the temporal blessings
available to a functional child of God.
A. The control of the sin nature: Rom. 8:4-8, 13
B. Eph. 5:8-18 - walking in darkness
C. 1 Jn. 3:14 - he who does not love, abides in death
D. James 1:13-15 - sin produces death
E. 1 Tim. 5:6 - a widow out of fellowship (dead while she lives)
F. Illustrated in the parable of the prodigal Son: Luke 15:24, 32
Death #6: Operational death. This is when there is no
production of divine good in the believer's life because of fellowship
James 2:14-26b, faith without works is . . .
A. Verse 17 - dead (nekros)
B. Verse 20 - useless (argos) ineffective
Death #7: Reproductive death. This is the inability to
produce physical offspring. Romans 4:17-21; Heb. 11:12
1. But: alla indicates a strong contrast to what has just
been stated. In our context, we have the CLAIM that someone "has THE
faith," (verse 14). So in contrast and contradiction to that, someone
"may say" can you prove to me that you have THE faith when you
fail to LIVE the faith?
2. May say: future active indicative of lego (eipon) indicates
the certainty of someone making the following contention -- that without
"works" there is no evidence of one's Christianity. Now of course,
this is true. But lack of evidence is not an indication that one is not
saved; it is an indication that one is a non-functional failure at doing
what God wants His children to do.
Jesus said, "by their fruits you will know them,"
(Mat. 7:15-27). Jesus is talking about teachers and specifically, false
teachers who try to deceive the sheep by self-serving doctrines and policies.
The "fruit" refers to the content of the message as well as the
character manifested by the teacher. Granted, people cannot be "perfect"
as we understand the concept of perfection in our language. However, it
is to be expected that the one who purports to either speak for God, or
at least teach what God has revealed, be a person of integrity with a consistent
moral and spiritual character expression. In addition, the content of the
message must be in accordance with the doctrines of the New Covenant as
revealed to the apostles and taught to the church as it is preserved for
us in the 27 books of the New Testament. Paul writes at 1 Tim. 6:3 that,
our standard for Divine truth is found in the "sound words, those
of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the doctrine according to the standard
These two terms refer respectively to what Jesus taught
and what was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
Paul taught that we are to "appear as lights in the
world," (Philip. 2:15) and that "we are ambassadors for Christ,"
(2 Cor. 5:20). He further taught that we are to do what "is proper
among saints," (Eph. 5:3) and to "walk as children of light,"
(Eph. 5:8). This is just as Jesus Himself taught: "Let your light
shine before men so that they may see your good works and give glory to
your Father who is in heaven," (Mat. 5:16) and that men do not put
a lamp "under a barrel, but on a lampstand so that it gives light
to all who are in the house," (Mat. 5:15). The message of Christianity
is one of love, salvation, peace and joy -- but if one's life does not
manifest the characteristics of that message, not only has that message
become barren in the life of the failure, but the light of the message
is prevented from extending outward to others.
Faith without works is DEAD, James writes, and the onus
should be upon each believer to live the life dictated by the Royal Law
of Love or, at the least, not lay claim to membership in the Royal Family.
That is, do not proclaim yourself as a Christian.
The contention being made by many is that it is enough
that I am saved, in the family of God and have as my destiny, life in the
presence of God for all eternity. I don't need to do a whole bunch of good
deeds. The point that James is making, along with the other apostles in
their writings, is that although the Christian is secure in his status
as a child of God, he is left here on earth by God for a specific reason
and that reason is to be a light bearer. If one fails to grow up in The
Faith and reflect it outwardly in his life, he will live an unfulfilled
life -- experiencing more sorrow than joy; more inner chaos than peace;
and more doubt and instability than inner confidence.
Verse 19 argues that a "belief" in God is not
enough to vindicate the reality of the Christian faith that one claims
to possess. For, after all, the fallen angels all believe in God and they
tremble under the indictment that is placed upon them.
1. You believe: The verb, pisteuo, is used to indicate
the genuine acceptance of God as the only God and the sovereign of the
universe. The translation can grammatically be rendered as either, "That
God is one," or "that there is one God." The "confession"
is essentially the same in either case and recognizes the foundational
principle behind Christian dogma; the existence of one God. Although this
in and of itself does not save a person from the penalty of sin, it is
still an integral part of Christianity, for there is certainly no need
to seek a deliverance from the justice of a God who is not recognized as
being in existence. The issue in this passage is that, one's adherence
to this foundational belief without the follow through of Christian love,
is useless in the wider scope of God's plan, which is to reach out to others.
Indeed, even the fallen angels (the demons) confess to
this actual existence of God, knowing "first hand" of his existence
and the severity of His justice. But they did not resolve (at that time
of decision prior to man's creation) to submit to God's viewpoint and authority,
and thus, they tremble in fear (phrisso) of the future administration of
that justice as it will deliver them to the lake of fire for all eternity.
The point is, that even their acceptance of God does not benefit themselves
or anyone else. So it is with Christians who hold to, not only an acceptance
of God's existence, but also a genuine trust in God's salvation provision
through Christ -- if they do not LIVE that Christianity, it holds no benefit
for themselves (here on earth) and certainly no benefit for those around
2. Demons: The Greek word is daimonion.
A. Demon is a functional title that describes the fallen
angels who sided with Satan in his rebellion against God.
1. In the secular world, the words, daimōn
and daimonion, were used of any spirit good or bad. Thus, of deities and
2. In the Biblical revelation, demons are Satan's angels
whose only purpose in life is to fulfill their own creature-centered, distorted
lust patterns and promote the cause of Satan in the universe.
3. And of course, in line with this is the attempt to
discredit and neutralize the viewpoint and policy of God.
B. As creature category, "angel," they exist
in spirit form and are basically immaterial in "physical" structure.
The term "spirit" is used of these creatures
to indicate that aspect of their being.
1. Indicates an immaterial type creation.
2. It has a physical appearance and even substance, but has abilities of
movement and function unimpaired by that physical substance as man is by
3. Being immaterial, they will usually be invisible to
human perception, but can manifest themselves in a variety of ways.
4. One such way is through possession of a physical entity,
such as man, in which case the personality and character of the demon or
demons involved are manifested in the host. The term, "unclean spirit"
is used when demon possession is in view.
5. Another way is through "ectoplasm." Demons
have the ability to manipulate the chemicals of the physical world so as
to form visible images and shapes in order to further their deceptive schemes.
6. Apparently they can no longer appear as men like the
elect angels can do (cf. Gen. 18:1-5; 19:1-2; Heb. 13:2) since such a thing
is not recorded in scripture.
(See Topic: Angelic Infiltration)
C. As promoters of Satan's 5 paragraph darkness manifesto,
they are involved in a variety of activities in order to discredit the
Light System and undermine God's plan of using the human race as light
bearers to resolve the angelic conflict.
D. For a more detailed analysis of demons see Topic:
1. But are you willing: The word, "but" is de
and indicates a mild adversative or transition. In this case, since James
has stated the principle that "faith without works is useless,"
he NOW addresses the contender and exhorts him to recognize the reality
of the principle. Accordingly, it is better to render the Greek "de"
as NOW, to indicate a personal challenge to those who are in opposition
to what he is teaching.
2. Are you willing: The word, thelo, as a present active
indicative appeals to the volitional responsibility of the readers and
challenges them to accept his teaching.
3. You foolish fellow: Literally, this says, "O foolish
person." The word, anthropos (man, mankind) is used generically to
indicate a person rather than a man. James' "hypothetical" discussion
is with a "man" but in principle it applies to any person who
makes the false claim that James is refuting.
4. The word, foolish, is kenos and means empty. The "foolish"
idea comes from the concept that this person is empty of truth, wisdom
and reason. The principle that James is teaching, is not only THE truth,
but it is also reasonable -- just as reasonable as recognizing that the
human body without the human spirit is physically dead.
This is not the same word used by Jesus at Mat. 5:22,
when he spoke against calling someone, "you fool," (moros). However,
even if it were the same (and the meanings are certainly related), what
Jesus is teaching about, is having an attitude of anger and disdain toward
someone and addressing them in this manner as an expression of your attitude.
It is not referring to assigning the title of "fool" to someone
based on the manifestation of their erroneous moral and/or spiritual value
systems. Jesus himself did this (Mat. 23:17), as did Paul, (2 Timothy 2:23),
but never with an attitude of emotional anger and disdain.
5. To recognize: The word, ginosko, as an aorist active
infinitive indicates the mental acknowledgement of the truth being taught.
The present tense with the aorist is dramatic to request an immediate change
of mind that now becomes part of that person's doctrinal value system.
6. That faith without works: This is the focus, as explained
earlier. It is the idea that one can lay claim to a trust in "The
Faith" (The system of Christian truth) and not be "required"
by the very nature of that system, to live it outwardly toward others.
By "required," once again, I do not mean that it is necessary
in order to secure or preserve one's salvation status in the family of
God. But it is required in order for that faith system to benefit self
and others within the realm of this earthly life.
7. Is useless: The Greek word, argos, has several uses
(idle, lazy, unemployed), but they all ultimately communicate the idea
of being useless. The Faith belief system that one claims is useless if
it does not produce what is right and proper according to God's standards.
The word, useless, parallels the word benefit at verse
16 and the word dead at verses 17 and 26. The issue is the FUNCTION of
faith in your life AFTER salvation, not the expression of faith that ACCOMPLISHES
Verses 21-24 The Example of Abraham
The act of offering up Isaac was an expression of faith
in the character of God concerning the inheritance promised to him and
It is not relevant to his salvation. Abraham was saved
in Ur of the Chaldees, in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran (Acts 7:2-3).
This is based on the premise that God would not call a person and give
him the Messianic promises unless that person had already become a believer.
In this case, Abe had learned of the promise of salvation through the evangelistic
efforts of Shem or Shem's offspring. Shem lived another 150 years after
1. Abraham our father: This refers to the physical lineage
of the Jews traced back to Abraham. It is true that all Christians become
the children of Abraham by faith, but this "spiritual" relationship
is not what James has in mind, since he is writing to Jewish believers.
2. Justified: The verb, dikaioo, occurs in the aorist
passive indicative to remind us of the historical reality of Abraham's
consistency. Abe was not always faithful to the standards of the Divine
value system, but this incident is impressively unique as he must make
what is, humanly speaking, a very difficult and "final" decision.
The word means, on one hand, to MAKE righteous or to be viewed as righteous.
On the other hand, it means to be righteous or demonstrate righteousness.
The passive voice receives the action of the verb so we see that Abe was
either MADE righteous or viewed as righteous by someone else.
It is imperative at this point to understand the difference
between "salvation" (positional) righteousness and "functional"
Salvation righteousness, or imputation and justification,
is when God places His very own righteousness upon the believer and now
views that believer as perfectly righteous in His eyes for all eternity.
See Topic: JUSTIFICATION
Functional righteousness is when the believer reflects
in his earthly life, God's righteousness (what is right and proper for
See Topic: EXPERIENTIAL
Salvation righteousness is accomplished by faith alone
without any reference to works of any kind (Rom. 4:28; 5:1; Gal. 2:21).
Experiential righteousness is demonstrated by works, for
without works that are "right and proper" in God's eyes, (that
is, right and proper for the treatment of other beings within God's creation)
there is no glorification of His character and plan. The Christian continues
to live by faith after salvation (Col. 2:6), but the object of faith is
no longer the "Gospel" message of salvation, but the "good
news" of victory over the presence and effects of sin in our earthly
life. That is, all the Divine resources (promises and principles) that
help us defeat the self-centeredness and ungodliness of the sin nature
which still resides in our physical body.
Works indicate that such a victory is a reality in our
life. Works vindicate the "faith" way of life. Without works,
there is no evidence that a person is a believer and no spiritual impact
in his life.
Paul teaches the relevance of works in the Christian life
at Eph. 2:8-10.
After establishing the FACT of our salvation "by
grace through faith," and without the incorporation of works in verses
8-9, Paul then shows us where works fit into the Christian experience at
For we are His workmanship: That is we are created by
HIS work without any reference to our own works.
Created in Christ Jesus: This indicates the completed
work of our
salvation in union with Christ from a positional standpoint.
FOR good works: This indicates the purpose for remaining
here on earth.
We are left here in order to bring glory to the character and plan of God
through reflecting His righteousness by consistent performance of good
Which God prepared beforehand: Part of the plan from eternity
past was that good works should have a place in our Christian life. Notice,
this is the design for "living" the Christian life, not for GAINING
That we should walk in them: That is be consistent in
doing that which reflects God's righteousness -- what is right and proper
for His creatures.
3. Justified by works: The "work" of trusting
God in the test was a demonstration of his faith in God's promise. It was
a demonstration of "faith-rest" in Christian experience and was
not a salvation issue.
At Romans 4:1-17, Paul discusses Abe's salvation-justification
and totally excludes works as having any bearing whatever. James and Paul
are not in conflict. At Rom. 4:18-22, Paul tells how Abe's initial "saving"
faith was extended beyond the moment of time that he was saved, into and
throughout his Christian life as he continued to trust in the character
and plan of God in times of crisis. There, Paul mentions Abe's test of
faith that is recorded at Gen. 17, where the issue is whether or not God
can accomplish successful procreation with Abe and Sarah. Abe's expression
of faith in this situation did not save him nor did it "perpetuate"
his salvation. But it did DEMONSTRATE the reality of his relationship with
God since he was functioning as a victorious believer. When we get to James,
he does the same thing, but uses a different test in Abe's life to demonstrate
his faithfulness to God.
4. When he offered up Isaac his son on the altar:
At this point in Abe's life, Isaac is a old enough to
walk by himself and carry a load of wood for the offering. The exact age
is not important, but we can figure around ten years old for the purpose
of measuring the progress of time. Abe is 100 years old when Isaac is born,
and he is about 110 at the time of this incident. Abe was saved while he
was still in Ur. When he left Ur, he dwelled in Haran until his father
died, but we do not know how long he dwelled in Haran. However, he left
there when he was 75, so without any other information, we know that Abe
had been saved AT LEAST 35 years when the Isaac-test occurred.
For details see Commentary: Genesis
"You see that faith was working with his works, and
as a result of his works, faith was completed."
James is not talking about "saving" faith, but
a way of life after salvation that "brings to completion" that
faith, or manifests what is to be expected from one who has trusted in
Christ. Paul talks about "that which is proper among saints,"
at Eph. 5:3, and about "walking AS children of light" at Eph.
1. And the scripture was fulfilled: The word, plāroo,
indicates a vindication of a statement. Abe's faith in the Messianic promise
was accounted to him as righteousness in regard to his salvation relationship
with God. Abe's continued faith expression throughout his life was viewed
as righteousness in God's sight in regard to his experiential relationship
2. The quote is from Gen. 15:6, "And Abraham believed
in God and it was calculated to him as righteousness." This refers
to an expression of faith that predated the Isaac offering by many years.
The proclamation of Abraham as being righteous recognizes the perpetuation
of his "saving faith" into his Christian experience, not only
after Abe believed God's promise about his descendants (Gen. 15:1-6), but
all throughout his life when he trusted in God's character and promises.
The times that Abe failed to believe God are not mentioned because they
do not vindicate his status as a child of God. Nor do those failures remove
him from the family of God and reverse his salvation status. The focus
is on success, not failure. It is on "living" the Christian life,
not on getting or staying saved.
3. And he was called the friend of God: This refers to
the fellowship capacity that Abe developed through his consistent application
of God's character and word to his every day situations.
Jesus talked about being His friends through obedience
to His word.
John 15:14, "you are my friends if you do what I
This of course, requires knowledge of what Jesus has commanded,
and in principle, it requires knowledge of God's word. The capacity to
be a friend of God comes from KNOWING about Him -- His character and viewpoint.
The reality of being a friend of God is through USING that knowledge --
living in conformity to His righteousness.
If one fails to learn and conform to God's standards,
then he functions as a "friend of the world" (James 4:4) instead
of a friend of God -- and in fact, he becomes an enemy of God.
1. recognize the character of the kosmos.
a. The system: 1 John 5:19
b. The point of contact with the system: 1 John 2:15-16
2. Recognize the source of deliverance: John 17:12-23
B. Requires choices in growth:
1 Thes. 5:20-22; Heb. 3:7, 12-15; 4:1-2, 9-12, 14-16
C. Requires choices in application:
Mat 6:24; 2 Cor. 6:11-18; 2 Cor. 7:1
"You see that a man is justified (demonstrated as
righteous) by works and not by faith alone."
Faith vindicates us before God. Works vindicate us before
man. Faith accomplishes our salvation and is the "way" we live
after salvation. Works demonstrates our salvation to others. The reason
this is an issue is because we are left here on earth to be an ambassador
for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) -- a light bearer of God's righteousness to those
who are still in slavery to sin and the authority of the devil (Phil. 2:15).
Verse 25 The Example of Rahab
Rahab's demonstration of righteousness was through the
function of faith AFTER she had accepted Yahweh as her God. She trusted
in Him, knowing a little bit about His plan and making a value decision
based on those facts. She was NOT justified by lying later, for lying always
was and always will be a sin, but she was justified PRIOR TO the lie when
she made the decision to help the spies. Her deficiency in growth hindered
her consistent expression of faith, and the lie was simply a human viewpoint
attempt to "assist" God in that which He needed no assistance.
Later, she would be taught to deal with personal sins
and failures in application of truth to every area of her life. She was
victorious when she made the decision to help the spies but she sinned
when she failed to extend her faith just a little bit further.
An illustration of the mutual dependence between faith
The human spirit is the entity of life and personality
that resides within the physical body. It is the "dynamic" (the
personality) of the human creature since it reflects the essence of the
soul as a visible manifestation in the life. When the spirit leaves, not
only does physical death occur, but the "dynamic" of the human
creature is gone as well. In the same way, works are the "dynamic"
of faith. If there are no works, then there is no reflection of faith;
faith is unseen, having no visible manifestation or substance in the life.
James provides us with an important theological point
in this verse. He establishes the fact that man in general possesses a
human spirit and that the presence of that spirit is necessary for the
physical life of the body. For a detailed development of the doctrine of
the human spirit,
See topic: The
Many claim that the word spirit, refers to BREATH, because
it occurs without the definite article. This is a common use in the Septuagint,
but is not found elsewhere in the New Testament as breath. If it is interpreted
as breath, the force of the illustration remains intact, but the theological
point of the indwelling presence of a human spirit cannot be insisted upon.
In support of this rendering is the absence of the definite article; as
it literally reads, "as the body without spirit is dead." However,
the theology is not in danger for it is clearly seen elsewhere that the
human spirit is an entity that leaves the body at physical death.
At Luke 23:46, Jesus did not commit into the hands of
the Father, His BREATH (spirit), but His human spirit. The harmony of the
synoptics should be rendered as follows:
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice (Mt, Mk,
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Lk)." And he released
His spirit (Mt), and breathed out (Mk; Lk).
At Acts 7:59, Stephen did not say, "receive my BREATH,"
but "receive my spirit."
Furthermore, the definite article does not need to be
present for it to refer to the human spirit. It occurs elsewhere without
the article and clearly refers to the human spirit (2 Cor. 7:1, 34).
The conclusion is that, since the word pneuma does not
occur elsewhere in the New Testament as BREATH, and the spirit ENTITY does
occur, it is best to view this as a reference to the human spirit as explained
GO TO CHAPTER THREE