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1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Commentary for James 2

All professions of faith are vain, if not producing love and justice to others. (1-13) The necessity of good works to prove the sincerity of faith, which otherwise will be of no more advantage than the faith of devils. (14-26)1-13 Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.

14-26 Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ's righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works; while mere assent to any form of doctrine, or mere historical belief of any facts, wholly differs from this saving faith. A bare profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain the whole world, and to lose their souls? Can this faith save him? All things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us, as they tend to forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. This place of Scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes. Men may boast to others, and be conceited of that which they really have not. There is not only to be assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ. True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart. That a justifying faith cannot be without works, is shown from two examples, Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Faith, producing such works, advanced him to peculiar favours. We see then, ver. #24|, how that by works a man is justified, not by a bare opinion or profession, or believing without obeying; but by having such faith as produces good works. And to have to deny his own reason, affections, and interests, is an action fit to try a believer. Observe here, the wonderful power of faith in changing sinners. Rahab's conduct proved her faith to be living, or having power; it showed that she believed with her heart, not merely by an assent of the understanding. Let us then take heed, for the best works, without faith, are dead; they want root and principle. By faith any thing we do is really good; as done in obedience to God, and aiming at his acceptance: the root is as though it were dead, when there is no fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the fruits; and we must see to it that we have both. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it. There is no middle state. Every one must either live God's friend, or God's enemy. Living to God, as it is the consequence of faith, which justifies and will save, obliges us to do nothing against him, but every thing for him and to him.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for James 2

  • Bee Peterson on James 2
    Verse 19 shows that the demons believe in God. All of this knowledge didn't keep them faithful to God so we must go beyond just believing.
  • D W L on James 2
    James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

    26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

    John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
  • Alan on James 2
    Augustine (354-430) first shaped the doctrine of original sin,[7][5] seeing it as based on the New Testament teaching of Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22) and the Old Testament verse of Psalms 51:5.[8][9][10][11][12] Tertullian (c. 155 - c. 240), Cyprian, Ambrose and Ambrosiaster considered that humanity shares in Adam's sin, transmitted by human generation. Augustine said that free will was weakened but not destroyed by original sin.[5] Augustine's formulation of original sin was popular among Protestant reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, who equated original sin with concupiscence (or "hurtful desire"), affirming that it persisted even after baptism and completely destroyed freedom to do good and proposed that original sin involved a loss of free will except to sin.[13]

    My question is. What did the early church (Before Agustine) believe? Clearly, they did not have Augustine's view.

    Also, are we saying Jesus was plan B?
  • Chris - in Reply on James 2
    Page 2.

    Origen (c. 244 AD):

    Every soul that is born into flesh is soiled by the filth of wickedness and sin. And if it should seem necessary to do so, there may be added to the aforementioned considerations [referring to previous Scriptures cited that we all sin] the fact that in the Church, Baptism is given for the remission of sin; and according to the usage of the Church, Baptism is given even to infants. And indeed if there were nothing in infants which required a remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of Baptism would seem superfluous. (Homilies on Leviticus 8:3)

    The Church received from the Apostles the tradition of giving Baptism even to infants. For the Apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of divine mysteries, knew that there is in everyone the innate stains of sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.

    Cyprian of Carthage (c. 250 AD):

    If, in the case of the worst sinners and of those who formerly sinned much against God, when afterwards they believe, the remission of their sins is granted and no one is held back from Baptism and grace, how much more, then, should an infant not be held back, who, having but recently been born, has done no sin [committed no personal sin], except that, born of the flesh according to Adam, he has contracted the contagion of that old Death from his first being born. (Letters 64:5 of Cyprian and his 66 colleagues in Council to Fidus)
  • Alan - in Reply on James 2
    By the time Augustine came on the scene, Western church fathers had departed from the theology of sin of the Eastern Church, with one exception; they still held to the notion of human free will and responsibility. Augustine was quick to pounce on this awkward combination of ideas his western predecessors had left behind; namely, involuntary inherited sinfulness coupled with free choice. In 395 CE he wrote, "We have all become one lump of clay, that is, a lump of sinwe as sinners deserve nothing other than eternal damnation" (74). A few years later, in 397 CE he first "uses the epoc-making phrase, 'original sin' for the first time in the history of Christian thought" (74).
  • Chris - in Reply on James 2
    Alan, I wasn't able to receive all your comments sent under "Satisfaction Theories". You wrote about Anselm & that comment didn't finish off completely, as well as no further comment on Calvin & Aquinas. I'm not sure that I am adequately qualified to comment too deeply on anything you put forward as I haven't studied this matter to any great depth; just having a general understanding of our sin nature, God's View of our corruption, the extent of it & separation from Him, our inability to rectify matters & His involvement to adequately & eternally deal with it so that His punishment no longer bears upon us. I had simply responded to your initial question: "What did the early church (Before Augustine) believe?" I saw that as a general enquiry, hence my response, rather than a question to lead into a more in-depth analysis of the matter. However, thank you for your comments - they have been very interesting thus far.
  • Alan - in Reply on James 2
    Satisfaction Theories

    Satisfaction theories start from the idea that human sin constitutes a grave offense against God, the magnitude of which renders forgiveness and reconciliation morally impossible unless something is done either to satisfy the demands of justice or to compensate God for the wrong done to him. These theories go on to note that human beings are absolutely incapable on their own of compensating God for the wrong they have done to him, and that the only way for them to satisfy the demands of justice is to suffer death and eternal separation from God. Thus, in order to avoid this fate, they are in dire need of help. Christ, through his death (and, on some versions, through his sinless life as well) has provided that help. The different versions of the satisfaction theory are differentiated by their claims about what sort of help the work of Christ has provided. Here we'll discuss three versions: St. Anselm's debt-cancellation theory, the penal substitution theory defended by John Calvin and many others in the reformed tradition, and the penitential substitution theory, attributed to Thomas Aquinas and defended most recently by Eleonore Stump and Richard Swinburne.

    According to Anselm, our sin puts us in a kind of debt toward God. As our creator, God is entitled to our submission and obedience. By sinning, we therefore fail to give God something that we owe him. Thus, we deserve to be punished until we do give God what we owe him. Indeed, on Anselm's view, not only is it just for God to punish us
  • Chris - in Reply on James 2
    Page 1.

    Here are some excerpts from these early Church fathers. Origen & Cyprian seemed to veer off in relation to baptism & infants.

    Irenaeus (c. (late) 100 AD):

    Having become disobedient, [Eve] was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith. But this man [of whom I have been speaking] is Adam, if truth be told, the first-formed man. We, however, are all from him; and as we are from him, we have inherited his title [of sin]. Indeed, through the first Adam, we offended God by not observing His command. Through the second Adam, however, we are reconciled, and are made obedient even unto death. For we were debtors to none other except to Him, whose commandment we transgressed at the beginning. (Against Heresies 3:22:4; 3:23:2; 5:16:3)

    Tertullian (c. 200 AD)

    Finally, in every instance of vexation, contempt, and abhorrence, you pronounce the name of Satan. He it is whom we call the angel of wickedness, the author of every error, the corrupter of the whole world, through whom Man was deceived in the very beginning so that he transgressed the command of God. On account of his transgression Man was given over to death; and the whole human race, which was infected by his seed, was made the transmitter of condemnation. (The Testimony of the Soul 3:2, c. 200 AD).
  • Marie pilgrim on James 2:20
    Hello What Works Should a Woman Bring Fourth? Bringing People To Christ Right?
  • Tim Lay - in Reply on James 2
    We are saved unto a good work, not by good works are we saved!


 

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