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Bible Commentaries

Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected Books of the Bible
James 2

 

 

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Introduction

JUSTIFIED BY WORKING FAITH

-- JAMES TWO --

James chapter two pictures the sin of respecting persons. Showing partiality in our treatment of others is sinful. God does not show partiality in dealing with man and neither should we. "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Acts 10:34-35) In the world favoritism is often show because of wealth, position, education or race. It cannot be so among God"s people.

God"s Royal Law requires that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well." (James 2:8) If you fulfil God"s Royal Law you do well, but if you show partiality, then you practice sin.

James showed that saving faith is active faith. There can be no true religion when man does not obey the Law of God. He proved that if a man should obey every part of the law but one, because of that one he is guilty of violating the law as a whole. (James 2:10) God is the authority of every point of the Law. Those who disrespect even one point, disrespect God.

All will face God in judgment. We will be judged, impartially, by the principles of God"s will. On the judgment day we will know for certain that faith cannot save a man unless there are also works. There is a kind of faith that even the devils have. This sort of faith cannot save a man.

Abraham and Rahab are cited as examples of those having saving faith. They were saved by the proper carrying out or fulfillment of their faith. A dead body without a soul cannot claim to be a living man, and neither can a dead faith, a faith without works, claim to be a saving faith.


Verses 1-7

God hates discrimination -- James 2:1-7 : The Christian religion will not allow a person to practice discrimination. Discrimination is an example of inconsistency between faith and action. In the things of God all are equal, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. The gospel causes all to stand upon the same terms of advantage before the Almighty. Holiness will lead to esteem both for one in rags or riches. It is unholy to show partiality. Discrimination is opposed to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who show partiality set themselves up as judges. James said that "evil thoughts" caused them to pass such judgment. Discrimination makes a person a judge of evil and terrible thoughts. The action of discriminating against certain ones who come into our assemblies shows that worldliness is still in the heart of these brethren. They are still acting in the evil spirit of the unregenerated world. We must remember that discrimination will be severely punished by God on the day of Judgment.


Verses 8-13

God has a Royal Law -- James 2:8-13 : Discrimination is contrary to the Royal Law which saves man from sin. James reminded Christians that God has a "Royal Law." James used the expression "royal law," "law of liberty" and several other similar expressions to refer to the law of Christ. James wrote, "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well." (James 2:8)

Those who fail to have proper regard for others sin against God. Even Christians who willfully violate the commandments of Christ are transgressors. They have broken God"s law. Those who show no mercy will receive no mercy. Christians must have concern and love for others. We must treat other people like we want to be treated.

James instructed Christians to govern their lives and conduct themselves daily by the law of Christ. "So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." (James 2:12) Christ is our king. We must allow Him to rule our life. He is our prophet. As our prophet we must allow Him to teach us. As our priest, Jesus sacrificed and intercedes for us. We should appreciate the fact that "we are under the law to Christ."


Verses 14-18

God states the message clearly -- James 2:14-18 : The heart of the message of the book of James is "Faith in Action." James teaches that faith without works is barren or dead. Saving faith demands works. Paul affirms that we are saved by faith. James declared that we are justified "by works." This is no contradiction. This simply mean that we are justified by both faith and works. It is a sin to teach that men are justified (saved) either "by faith alone," or "by works alone."

The man who has faith will properly reflect his faith by his works. Fruitless faith is vain! "Faith alone" is not a doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. James wrote, "even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." (James 2:17) We must prove the truthfulness of our faith by the fruits of our works!


Verses 19-26

God illustrated saving faith -- James 2:19-26 : The demons prove that a faith that does not reflect itself in works cannot save. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19) The demons believed, but were they saved? No! The faith of the demons did not produce good works, or a holy life. There was a faith, but this shows that the mere existence of faith is not all that is necessary to save mankind.

Abraham"s faith led him to offer his son Isaac as God had commanded. His actions proved the fact that he was a true believer in God. When Abraham offered His son, Isaac, God said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." (Genesis 22:12)

Rahab also demonstrated her faith by receiving and protecting God"s spies. James wrote, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?" (James 2:25) Her case demonstrates that obedient faith will save even the worst of humanity. In Rahab we see the wonderful power of obedient faith in transforming and changing sinners.

Let us learn that the man of faith must properly reflect his faith by his works. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:26) Faith is the root, good works are the fruits. We must see to it that we have a working faith. We must not think that either, without the other, will justify and save us. The doctrine of salvation at the moment of faith, without obedience, is not a Biblical teaching.

The Christian religion stands or falls on the doctrine of Christ as the Son of God. (John 6:69) Those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God gladly repent and are baptized. (Acts 2:38) Those with "the love of God in them" serve Him faithfully. They realize that a profession of faith without obedience is loathsome to God.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on James 2:4". "Charles Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/box/james-2.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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