Connect Blog James 2:14-26
Authorship … While the Book itself offers no evidence of authorship, the early church fathers accepted James, the half-brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3) and leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; Galatians 2:9), as the author of the book that bears his name.
James did not initially believe in Jesus as the Messiah (John 7:2-10). He became a believer after witnessing the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:7). He was present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14).
Date … Most believe the Book of James to be among, if not the earliest, of the Epistles (45-55 A.D.)
Recipients … probably Jewish believers who had fled their homeland because of religious and government persecution.
Josephus, a Jewish historian, mentioned the martyrdom of James around 62 A.D.
This section of Scripture encourages the kind of faith that is verifiable. Legitimate faith is evidenced, not by what I say, but by what I do. What you believe is demonstrated by what you do.
Please note that this passage does not teach a works salvation, but a salvation that works.
“Intellectual faith without deeds is an empty claim. Intellectual faith consists of giving assent or mental agreement to a series of propositions or doctrinal truths about Christianity. An individual can claim to have right beliefs about God, Jesus, and salvation but still lack real Christianity. Works, not intellectual statements, are the only acceptable demonstration of you claim to have faith” Holman New Testament Commentary.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?”
Two questions which expect a negative answer (no). One is saved by faith, however, the faith that saves is always accompanied by demonstration.
“If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?”
A preposterous/nonsensical parable/illustration. Who would ever believe there is profit in the declaration apart from the demonstration?
“In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.”
Faith absent accompanying deeds is void of profit.
“But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.”
Faith and works do not exist in isolation. Faith cannot be proven by one’s words, but rather by one’s actions.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.”
Intellectual assent to the person of God or creed about God does not make one saved. Absent commitment there is no real relationship with God. Demons give mental assent to the reality of Jesus Christ but are unredeemed.
“Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?”
“True faith shows itself in visible deeds, not merely by agreeing with a creed” (Holman New Testament Commentary).
Two Examples of True Faith:
“Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. 23 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.”
Abraham proved his faith by what he did.
Abraham’s example proves that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
“without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
“And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route?”
In the story of Rahab (the invasion of Jericho), she spoke of her belief in God to the two spies; however, it was not until she acted on what she believed that we see faith demonstrated.
An example from life - “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
Saying alone is never enough; believing apart from commitment is a false faith … it is empty, useless.