James Chapter 2: Sin of Partiality, Faith and Works

Nov 5th, 2009 | By | Category: James, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

James Chapter 2:  Sin of Partiality, Faith and Works

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

James 2:2 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;

James 2:3 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:

These “brethren” were Jewish Christians scattered abroad. Hence this epistle, like the Epistle to the Hebrews, was directed primarily to Christian Jews. The Revised Standard reads, “My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.”

Comment: Deuteronomy 1:17 states, “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great.”

Reply: That Scripture pertains to judgment in legal matters and court proceedings, whereas James 2:1-3 applies to the Church, to those in attendance at a meeting. Of course the principle of not having respect of persons would be the same in both cases. The crucial point is how one judges in his mind or heart as he leads the entering person to a seat.

The setting here in the second chapter of James pertains to having respect of persons who are outwardly attired in expensive garments. Regarding them as superior leads to preferential treatment. The Bible shows that the Lord had respect of persons according to character, but not according to matters of judgment, wealth or poverty, or type of clothing.

For example, a historic church in Boston had reserved box seats for the wealthy. And the same practice is followed in synagogues that have paid seats. On high holy days in Israel, one cannot be seated in the synagogue unless money was paid for that purpose.

Comment: That reprehensible practice is followed in this country too. Enormous fees are charged for seats in the synagogue, for the higher the price, the better the seat.

Suppose someone enters an ecclesia meeting who is not a regular attendee, yet he is known and respected by the congregation for being helpful to the brotherhood in various ways. He has given evidence of sincerity of conviction and depth of consecration over the years. To greet such an individual with an above-average welcome would not be wrong, whereas for an unknown person to enter and be granted preferential treatment because of his outward appearance would be wrong.

In regard to honoring a known and respected person, Jesus particularly favored Peter, James, and John. The Apostle Paul said to grant “honour to whom honour” is due (Rom. 13:7). He also said to “obey them that have the rule over you” (Heb. 13:17). Deferential treatment should be based on known facts about the inner man. The inner man manifests his spirituality by outward works over a period of time.

Comment: A person who is poor should keep himself clean and neat.

Reply: To come into an assembly in “goodly apparel” means to have expensive clothing. In other words, the caution is against being deceived by the outward appearance of the rich, but if a person enters in a disheveled condition with lice on his body and clothes that have a foul odor, a distinction should be made. Otherwise, what about the brother the person sits next to?

Comment: According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, the word “vile” means “dirty,” “filthy.” The RSV uses the term “shabby clothing.” The implication seems to be that even if the individual has dirty clothes, he should be treated impartially.

Comment: The advice here in the Epistle of James pertains to a first-time visitor. Obviously, if someone attends the meetings regularly in a filthy condition, he should be told about the importance of cleanliness. Cleanliness is expected for the consecrated.

Comment: We tend to view verses 1-3 from our own circumstances in this country, but in other parts of the world, not everyone has running water. James seems to be saying that no matter what one’s appearance is, if it is due to poverty, we are not to discriminate. We are to look at one’s heart condition and relationship to the Lord.

Reply: The context is discussing a person’s initial appearance: “if there come unto your assembly.” It is not referring to one’s usual attendance with either rich or dirty garments. In the case James was describing, absolutely no distinction was to be made, but later on, when the individual and his background were known, the brethren would be in a little better position to know what a person should and should not do.

Comment: Verse 3 shows that the context applies to one who has a direct responsibility in guiding a person to a seat, as opposed to the individual’s seeking a seat by himself.

Reply: Yes, the context pertains to decision making on the part of one who is acting as usher.

Inferentially, there is a secondary lesson for the congregation. Notice that the one making the decision is like a host, for he has a “footstool.” It is his footstool, and he himself is certainly not sitting on it. We are living in a different society today in this country where we can hardly tell the difference between rich and poor. In olden times, the distinction was more apparent.

James 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

In what sense would showing partiality make the brethren “ judges of evil thoughts”? The verse should read “judges with evil thoughts” or “judges entertaining evil thoughts.” Thus they were entertaining thoughts and drawing conclusions that were evil and wrong from God’s standpoint.

James 2:5 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?

Verse 5 is essentially saying that when James wrote this epistle, the great majority of the brotherhood were “the poor of this world.” Today in this country, the brotherhood are primarily of the middle class, which is a relatively new development in the industrial age. The average person is not brought up in poverty and the gutter—at least not from a literal standpoint but perhaps from a moral or mental standpoint. The average person is of average means. In prior ages, the disparity between upper and lower classes was a wide gulf.

Thus far in this chapter, James was advising the Christian to carefully observe his conduct toward others with regard to means and dress. He was cautioning about the inherent dangers that exist. Generally speaking, God has chosen few of the rich (1 Cor. 1:26).

James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

As a class, the rich were viewed disparagingly by James. Chapter 5 is very strong along this line. “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter” (James 5:1-5). James was prejudiced against the rich as a class, but not as regards individuals. As a class, the Lord favors the poor, but individuals are judged as individuals.

James was particularly talking about the last days, but he gave a partial application to his day.

He was inferring not only that the judgment John the Baptist predicted would fall upon the generation of his day but that it was a picture of the judgment to come at the end of this age.

Discontent is growing today. People distrust government and are prejudiced against authoritarian figures. Although the situation is not heated yet, the discontent is starting, and the gap between rich and poor is currently widening in this country. Another factor today is that the rich are not necessarily the educated. We are living in a very unusual time when, for example, a boxer got 30 million dollars for a fight, yet he grumbled that he was underpaid. Other sports figures receive millions of dollars annually.

James 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

As a class in the apostles’ day, the rich in influence and power looked down on those who espoused the cause of Christianity. Subconsciously they viewed the preaching of Christianity as a rebuke. Seeing in the teachings of Christ a tacit rebuke as to their manner of life, they resented the teachings and hence blasphemed both Christianity and the name of Jesus.

Since this epistle was directed primarily to Jewish Christians, the setting was the synagogue.

When the Apostle Paul entered a new area, he started his preaching in the synagogue, and generally speaking, the rulers of the synagogue led the opposition to his doctrine. A notable exception was Crispus. “And he [Paul] departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:7,8).

James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

The “royal law” is to “love thy neighbour as thyself.” The Golden Rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31).

James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

“Convinced” means “convicted.” James said in verse 8 “ye do well” if you fulfill the royal law. He was contrasting love for a neighbor with having respect of persons. What is the difference?

Comment: Love for a neighbor is love for a person in the world, whereas respect of persons comes into an ecclesia, into the midst of the brotherhood, which is a higher level and, therefore, a greater sin in the Lord’s sight.

Reply: Yes, there is a distinction, a contrast, between love for neighbors and love within the ecclesia.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

If one desires to keep the whole law yet offends in one point, he is guilty of all points. How can this be?

Comment: Jesus said that the Law could be summarized as two commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:36-40).

Comment: Without the Day of Atonement, the nation of Israel would not be forgiven at all. They were not really without sin, but observing the Day of Atonement typically cleansed them for the coming year. Only by being under Christ’s robe of righteousness is one truly reckoned as free from sin. Imperfect man cannot keep the perfect Law.

Reply: A person is condemned under the Law whether he has broken one little part or a major part. The nation of Israel was justified only ceremoniously once a year through the Day of Atonement.

Comment: Galatians 3:10,11 reads, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in  the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it isevident: for, The just shall live by faith.”

Reply: Some use the illustration that the Decalogue is like a necklace. If one link is broken, the whole is broken. Therefore, one is condemned by the infraction of even one little link of the Law.

Comment: The Law was a “schoolmaster” to bring the Jews to Christ by making them aware of their sins (Gal. 3:24).

A lesson of verse 10 from a practical standpoint is that since all are condemned under the Law, one should be merciful. James was also saying that as Christians, we should not be highminded toward others. There is great danger in having respect of persons, for doing so is disobeying God’s Law and convicts us, and all of the Ten Commandments except the first four concern our dealings with other persons, our “neighbors.”

James 2:11 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.

The word “kill” should be “murder,” which is different from killing in warfare (see the New International Version). Verse 11 continues the philosophical discussion about whoever breaks one part of the Law is guilty of the whole Law. Stated a little differently, whether a person is guilty of one premeditated murder or six premeditated murders, the penalty should be the same: death.

James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

Verse 11 was talking about the “Thou shalt nots” of the Law Covenant. Why did James now mention the “law of liberty”? God gave the Law to Israel, but He attached conditions. When the nation consecrated, the people approved the standard of the Law, saying, “All these things we will do” (Exod. 19:8 paraphrase). Of course they did not realize that the Law was much deeper and more serious than their level of understanding. However, even in the interpretation of the strict Law (“thou shalt not do this,” “thou shalt not do that”), the Lord generously introduced mercy and consideration. For example, premeditated murder was not considered the same as accidental manslaughter. James was saying, “If God makes provision for mercy in His own Law, then you, as Christians, should make allowances and consider carefully and thoroughly the circumstances of each case. You are not to jump to arbitrary conclusions without proper reflection.”

The “whole law” (verse 10) is more than just the Decalogue. The ceremonial and the doctrinal aspects with case-by-case histories for use as guidelines help to mollify, or cushion, the severity of the Law. Even though the Israelites got lax about the Law and did not keep it, the Law is very educational because it shows God’s thinking. Therefore, if we fault the Law, we are faulting the One who gave it.

In other words, in verse 12, James was saying that we should put ourselves in the place of the accused. Suppose we were the one against whom the Law was going to be adjudicated, but the  act was not premeditated. We would want the severity of the Law to be allayed because the act was committed under duress and under circumstances where we were not morally in tune with it. A real murderer would deserve the full penalty and severity of the Law, but if there were extenuating circumstances, we would like consideration. If we are merciful to others, the Lord is more apt to be merciful to us. If we are too stringent in our judgment of others and do not exercise the law of liberty, we should not be surprised if the same attitude is exercised against us personally.

James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shown no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

If there are extenuating circumstances, God shows His mercy against full judgment. Even if the Law is broken, certain allowances are made.

Comment: Matthew 7:1,2 reads, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

Reply: Yes, in the examination of others, one should consider himself. However, the Scriptures tell us there are things that we should judge, such as conduct, but we are to “judge not” in a condemnatory sense. In other words, we should not place someone in Second Death but should leave such judgment in the Lord’s hands. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). It is better to leave these matters with the Lord and to clean out the mind. We should judge proper and improper conduct, but we are not to judge where an individual stands with the Lord. The degree of culpability of the one who is doing wrong is up to the Lord. Remember, we were called as sinners, and the Lord was merciful to us, so we are to leave such judgment with Him. We should judge improper conduct that is repetitive and will have a continuing effect if not dealt with.

Although mercy should not override justice except where permitted by Scripture, mercy should desire to rejoice over judgment. Mercy rejoices in the rescue of an individual. Mercy looks for a way of escape and returning, such as with the Prodigal Son, who was in an attitude of repentance, and with the individual in 1 Corinthians 5 who committed gross sin and later learned the lesson.

Comment: The NIV says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” The context gives the thought that in judgment, mercy can make allowance.

Reply: That statement is true as long as mercy is not misconstrued so that it is too libertarian.

Mercy should desire to rejoice over judgment when it does not violate scriptural principles. The great danger today is in being more merciful than God. Both polar positions are wrong, namely, (1) justice without mercy and (2) mercy without justice. The true path is in between the two extremes where neither mercy nor justice is violated. We should be neither more loving than God nor more just than He is. God sets the standard.

We can be more lenient when wrongs are done to us, but we cannot forgive wrongs done to others. A transgression against us personally is one thing, but a transgression against someone else is another matter, for the wrong occurred between the individual and the third party. And if the transgression is against God, we must be very careful that we do not take the wrong side.

Many are jeopardizing their future because they do not realize certain sins are against God. In other words, we should proceed cautiously in these matters.

James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

We must also be careful about our confidence and not boast about our faith lest we represent ourselves above that which we actually are. The one who says he has faith but does not have works probably does not realize that faith must produce some evidence, works of some kind.

Otherwise, the person is speaking in vain and lacks substance.

Comment: The teaching “once in grace, always in grace” promotes overconfidence of eternal security.

James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

James 2:16 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?

It profits nothing to the individual who overlooks the opportunity to help. Notice, “if a brother or sister” (and not a drunk in the street, for example) is in real need, words alone are not enough. His or her needs should be observed and actual help given. Moreover, an expression of “you must have done something wrong” toward a brother or sister going through a trial can further discourage and depress that individual. How unkind!

Comment: 1 John 3:17,18 reads, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue [only]; but in deed and in truth.”

Comment: And two other Scriptures are applicable. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen. 4:9). We might reason, “I do not normally see someone who is naked and destitute,” but there are needs among the brotherhood. An example of the attitude of saying, “Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,” could be where we see a need and just say, “I will pray for you,” but do not help.

Reply: This responsibility is doubled when the need or want is parochial. In other words, we should not make helping others our mission in life (such as going to Africa, India, the slums, etc.); we are not to have a social gospel. If, however, we have some of the wherewithal to assist an individual in need, we should do so—and such action would be a proof of our faith. Proper faith exercises proper works.

Comment: If we extend the lesson beyond the physical needs of a brother or sister to spiritual needs, which are even more important, we could say, “I do not have the financial means to help, but I will send a letter of comfort or make a phone call.”

Reply: In other words, back there James was talking about purely physical needs, but since today in the United States, we live in a society where the poorest ones are rich compared with some in other nations, we can extrapolate the lessons and principles and apply them along spiritual lines. Opportunities for applying the spirit of good works still exist.

Comment: If we personally cannot help someone but realize the need is desperate, we could always make the comment to others, “I think so-and-so’s situation is pretty bad. There is not much food on the table.” If the need is genuine, the Lord will then see to it that others assist; He will put the need on their hearts and minds.

Reply: Stated succinctly, we should want to be solicitous regarding the welfare of the brethren.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

The Apostle Paul said we are justified by faith and not works, whereas James emphasized that works are a proof of faith, that faith without works is dead. A simple equation can be used:

Faith + works = a living faith.

Faith – works = a dead faith.

Comment: In the Parable of the Talents, the individual who hid his one talent is an illustration of the dead faith that is described here.

Comment: Matthew 7:20 says, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Some reason that when a person does not manifest fruits, he or she may not be consecrated, even though such a profession was made. Such reasoning contradicts our Lord’s statement that some would be grafted in yet bear no fruit and, consequently, be cut off. Here, too, according to James, the fact that one does not have works does not prove he did not have faith, but it would be a dead faith.

Reply: Yes, it would be a dead faith, or certainly not the kind of faith God is looking for.

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

One may say, “I have faith,” and another may say, “I have works,” but both are needed. Either one separate, or apart, from the other is null and void.

James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Notice, a person does well to believe “that there is one God.” This statement refutes the Trinity. Comment: The fallen angels had faith without works.

Reply: The New Testament contains some instances of this lack of proper works, as follows: 1. Legion said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not” (Mark 5:7).

2. A possessed damsel followed Paul, crying, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:17).

3. An evil spirit said to the seven sons of Sceva, a chief priest, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:14,15).

James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

James used a hypothetical confrontation to get his point across, but no doubt he (and we) did meet people who zeroed in on the importance of faith and not works, and vice versa.

Comment: Even though some are sincere and do works, it is like raising a red flag for us to mention works coupled with faith. They cannot see that although faith saves a man and not works, the two are inseparable. Can we be saved without works? No, but the works do not save us.

Comment: Matthew 7:22,23 reads, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not … in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I [Jesus] profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Abraham is an illustration of the importance of works. This statement bears consideration.

Abraham was justified by “works” (plural). Two particular instances stand out: (1) when he left Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 15:7) and (2) when he offered up Isaac (Gen. 22:9,10). Usually we think of “works” as witness activities, for example, but the “works” of Abraham were obedience. An obedient faith creates outward deeds that are manifest to others of the same faith. Faith, obedience, and works are all interconnected and related, but faith is the start—faith must precede the works; faith begets the works. Also, the statement “the just shall live by faith” shows that faith pertains not just to the beginning of our Christian walk when we consecrate but throughout our Christian life (Rom. 1:17). Faith is necessary to the end of our course. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).

James was saying that those who have the faith God is looking for will respond accordingly and obey. Consider the time in which James wrote his epistle. Being a different type of society, it lacked certain complications that we have today. For instance, to espouse Christ back there caused one to be immediately marked, whereas today conditions are different in much of the world. As a result, many mistakenly follow a social gospel; for example, Martin Luther King preached that love for God produces humanitarian deeds. The works that are generated tend to be of the Christian himself and not of God. In other words, the works are according to what Christians imagine they should be doing and not according to what God’s Word teaches. There was a black and white demarcation in the apostles’ day, whereas our complex society has gray areas in which works are interpreted along many lines, such as giving food to the poor and building hospitals in Africa. Another area of misguided Christian works is getting involved with and/or trying to influence government. It is permissible to pray for those in authority that we may lead a peaceful life in doing God’s will, but we are not to enter politics (1 Tim. 2:1,2). The Church should not be a friend of the world (James 4:4). One who is not sufficiently familiar with the teachings of the Bible can be deceived into thinking he is doing God’s will. The motive may be right, but the works can be a deception.

James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

“Seest thou how … by works was faith made complete.” The completion of faith was manifested by the obedience of Abraham.

Comment: The NIV reads, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” And Hebrews 11:6 states, “Without faith it is impossible to please him [God].”

Abraham’s leaving Ur of the Chaldees is common to all of the sincerely consecrated. They have all taken that one first wonderful, definite step of consecration and entered the race course.

Abraham’s offering up Isaac was such a supreme sacrifice that he is pictured as the father of the faithful (Gal. 3:7). He was the example, and we are children of Abraham if we develop to that act of faith, that is, if we step out into the unknown in obedience to God when we are given a crucial test. The offering up of Isaac showed Abraham’s sealing, or the crystallization, of his character.

Comment: In the Dark Ages and in times past, children were sometimes killed in front of their parents, but it was a much stronger step for Abraham to be asked to kill Isaac himself.

James 2:23 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.

Being a “Friend of God” was the highest relationship available at that time because justification through the blood of Christ is needed for sonship, not just a belief in a coming Messiah.

Comment: The statement “Abraham believed God” is significant, for it refers back to the confirming of the Abrahamic Covenant. More than just knowledge, his believing was based on action (obedience) plus knowledge.

Reply: Depth of belief produces obedience, and obedience produces works.

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

The word “only” is very important in the debate between justification by faith and/or works: “not by faith only.”

James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

Rahab said the Hebrew spies went out in a particular direction, when in reality they went the opposite way. The fact that the lineage of Jesus can be traced through Rahab shows she was approved of God.

Comment: Rahab’s very lie was the proof of her faith.

Reply: Yes, for there were some modifying factors. Today, with the philosophy of love being espoused even by the world, almost every case is considered a modifying factor. For example, one who has committed murder may be excused because he was abused by his parents, is very poor, is mentally unsound, etc. The reasoning is unbalanced. Unless a person has a tumor on his brain that can be surgically removed or there is some other circumstance that clearly made him not morally responsible, the deed (not the individual) should be judged. In other words, capital punishment is taught in the Scriptures.

Comment: It is interesting that Rahab did not have much knowledge. She was not an Israelite and hence lacked the background and teaching of the Scriptures. She had simply heard reports of how God had protected the Israelites, yet she said to the spies: “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Josh. 2:9-11).

Reply: The implication is that subsequent to that experience, she was no longer Rahab “the  harlot.” That term describes her previous condition, just as Mary Magdalene was filled with seven spirits, or demons, prior to her becoming a follower of Jesus (Mark 16:9). And Jesus knew about the background of the Samaritan woman, who had had five husbands (John 4:18).

Rahab’s act was like the giant step that begins one on the path of justification. The one of the lineage of Judah who subsequently married her had to take her past into consideration.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

This statement is like the climax to the reasoning James was presenting. The “spirit” is the breath of life (Greek pneuma). “As the body without the breath of life is dead, so faith without works is dead.” Pneuma means “wind,” “breath,” as opposed to psuche, which means “soul.” In the King James Version, the word translated “spirit” sometimes means “soul” (psuche), but not here. Psuche and pneuma are two different words with two different meanings. In the Old Testament, there are more complications in understanding the soul versus the spirit.


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