JAMES 2  


 

JAMES

CHAPTER TWO

Demonstrable Christianity via the Law of Love

 

Verses 14-26, Good works demonstrate the law of love

Verses 1-13, Partiality is inconsistent with the law of love.

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; Titus 3:15

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 LOVE

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 for you
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 GLORY

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.

Verse 2

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. 7:1-5).

B. The problem is the standard that is used in that judging (evil motives). John 7:24.

4. With evil reasonings: ponāros and dialogismos.

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 by them.

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 30:8-9a,

"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 MINDEDNESS

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 message.

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 life.
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 of light.
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

V. 6a

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.

V. 6b-7

The rich have a greater potential for rejecting truth and for demonstrating it. James gives us two normal expressions of that rejection.

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 the Messiah.

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" (basileios) priest.

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.

 

Verse 9

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 of God.

That is why we are so often warned against "the fleshly lusts,
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 well.

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 to keep.

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 SABBATH

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

Verse 11

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. 5:21-22).

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 James 1:21.

Verse 12

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 SINS

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 + krino.

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. 12.

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 satisfied.

The satisfaction of divine justice must be viewed from two perspectives.

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 is merciless."

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 (krisis), 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 of Christ.

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.

 

Verse 14

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 means deliver.

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 or sister).

Verse 15

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.

 

V. 16

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 by:

A. Negative speech: James 1:26
B. Positive speech without overt follow-up.

 

Verse 17

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 own.

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) through love."

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 neutralization).

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. 10.

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 God.

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 term, worship-death.

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 death.

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

 

Verse 18

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 of godliness."

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 them.

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 gods.

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 his.

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: Demons

 

Verse 20

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 salvation.

 

Verses 21-24 The Example of Abraham

Verse 21

The act of offering up Isaac was an expression of faith in the character of God concerning the inheritance promised to him and his seed.

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 Abe's birth.

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" (experiential) righteousness.

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 His creatures).

See Topic: EXPERIENTIAL RIGHTEOUSNESS

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 verse 10.

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 works.

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 salvation.

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 22:1-14

 

Verse 22

"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. 5:8.

 

Verse 23

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 with God.

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 command you."

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.

A. Orientation:

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

 

Verse 24

"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.

 

Verse 26

An illustration of the mutual dependence between faith and works.

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 HUMAN SPIRIT

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, Lk) said, "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 earlier.

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İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
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