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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
James 2



Other Authors
Verse 1

My brethren (αδελποι μουadelphoi mou). Transition to a new topic as in James 1:19; James 2:5, James 2:14; James 3:1; James 5:7.

Hold not (μη εχετεmē echete). Present active imperative of εχωechō with negative μηmē exhortation to stop holding or not to have the habit of holding in the fashion condemned.

The faith of our Lord Jesus Christ (την πιστιν του κυριου ημων Ιησου Χριστουtēn pistin tou kuriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou). Clearly objective genitive, not subjective (faith of), but “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” like εχετε πιστιν τεουechete pistin theou (Mark 11:22), “have faith in God.” See the same objective genitive with πιστιςpistis in Acts 3:6; Galatians 2:16; Romans 3:22; Revelation 14:12. Note also the same combination as in James 1:1 “our Lord Jesus Christ” (there on a par with God).

The Lord of Glory (της δοχηςtēs doxēs). Simply “the Glory.” No word for “Lord” (κυριουkuriou) in the Greek text. Της δοχηςTēs doxēs clearly in apposition with του κυριου Ιησου Χριστουtou kuriou Iēsou Christou James thus terms “our Lord Jesus Christ” the Shekinah Glory of God. See Hebrews 9:5 for “the cherubim of Glory.” Other New Testament passages where Jesus is pictured as the Glory are Romans 9:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3. Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philemon 2:5-11.

With respect of persons (εν προσωπολημπσιαιςen prosōpolēmpsiais). A Christian word, like προσωπολημπτηςprosōpolēmptēs (Acts 10:34) and προσωπολημπτειτεprosōpolēmpteite (James 2:9), not in lxx or any previous Greek, but made from προσωπον λαμβανεινprosōpon lambanein (Luke 20:21; Galatians 2:6), which is αa Hebrew idiom for panim nasa, “to lift up the face on a person,” to be favorable and so partial to him. See προσωπολημπσιαprosōpolēmpsia in this sense of partiality (respect of persons) in Romans 2:11; Colossians 3:25; Ephesians 6:9 (nowhere else in N.T.). Do not show partiality.

Verse 2

For (γαρgar). An illustration of the prohibition.

If there come in (εαν εισελτηιean eiselthēi). Condition of third class (supposable case) with εανean and second (ingressive) aorist active subjunctive of εισερχομαιeiserchomai your synagogue (εις συναγωγην υμωνeis sunagōgēn humōn). The common word for the gathering of Jews for worship (Luke 12:11) and particularly for the building where they met (Luke 4:15, Luke 4:20, Luke 4:28, etc.). Here the first is the probable meaning as it clearly is in Hebrews 10:25 (την επισυναγωγην εαυτωνtēn episunagōgēn heautōn), where the longer compound occurs. It may seem a bit odd for a Christian church (εκκλησιαekklēsia) to be termed συναγωγηsunagōgē but James is writing to Jewish Christians and this is another incidental argument for the early date. Epiphanius (Haer. XXX. 18) states that the Ebionites call their church συναγωγηsunagōgē not εκκλησιαekklēsia In the fourth century an inscription has συναγωγηsunagōgē for the meeting-house of certain Christians.

A man with a gold ring (ανηρ χρυσοδακτυλιοςanēr chrusodaktulios). “A gold-fingered man,” “wearing a gold ring.” The word occurs nowhere else, but Lucian has χρυσοχειρchrusocheir (gold-handed) and Epictetus has χρυσους δακτυλιουςchrusous daktulious (golden seal-rings). “Hannibal, after the battle of Cannae, sent as a great trophy to Carthage, three bushels of gold-rings from the fingers of Roman knights slain in battle” (Vincent).

In fine clothing (εν εστητι λαμπραιen esthēti lamprāi). “In bright (brilliant) clothing” as in Matthew 11:8; Luke 23:11; Acts 10:30. In contrast with “vile clothing” (εν ρυπαραι εστητιen ruparāi esthēti), “new glossy clothes and old shabby clothes” (Hort). υπαροςRuparos (late word from ρυποςrupos filth, 1 Peter 3:21) means filthy, dirty. In N.T. only here and Revelation 22:11 (filthy).

Poor man (πτωχοςptōchos). Beggarly mendicant (Matthew 19:21), the opposite of πλουσιοςplousios (rich).

Verse 3

And ye have regard to (επιβλεπσητε δε επιepiblepsēte de epi). First aorist active subjunctive (still with εανean of James 2:2) of επιβλεπωepiblepō followed by repeated preposition επιepi to gaze upon, old compound, in N.T. only here and Luke 1:48; Luke 9:38.

Weareth (πορουνταphorounta). “Wearing,” present active participle of the old frequentative verb πορεωphoreō (from περωpherō), to bear constantly, to wear (Matthew 11:8). Note repeated article τηνtēn (the) with εστηταesthēta pointing to James 2:2.

And say (και ειπητεkai eipēte). Continuing the third-class condition with εανean and second aorist active subjunctive of ειπονeipon thou here in a good place (συ κατου ωδε καλωςsu kathou hōde kalōs). Emphatic position of συsu “Do thou sit here in a good place.” Present middle imperative of κατημαιkathēmai to sit for the literary κατησοkathēso See Matthew 23:6 for the first seats in the synagogue (places of honour).

And ye say to the poor man (και τωι πτωχωι ειπητεkai tōi ptōchōi eipēte). Third class condition with εανean continued as before (ειπητεeipēte). Note article τωιtōi pointing to James 2:2.

Stand thou there (συ στητι εκειsu stēthi ekei). Second aorist (intransitive) active imperative of ιστημιhistēmi to place. Ingressive aorist, Take a stand. ΣυSu emphatic again. The MSS. vary in the position of εκειekei (there).

Or sit under my footstool (η κατου υπο το υποποδιον μουē kathou hupo to hupopodion mou). For this use of υποhupo “down against” or “down beside” see Exodus 19:17 υπο το οροςhupo to oros (“at the foot of the mountain”) and υπο σεhupo se (“at thy feet”) (Deuteronomy 33:3). Conquerors often placed their feet on the necks of the victims (Luke 20:43).

Verse 4

Are ye not divided in your own mind? (ου διεκριτητε εν εαυτοισou diekrithēte en heautois̱). First aorist (gnomic) passive indicative of διακρινωdiakrinō to separate, conclusion of the third-class condition (future) in a rhetorical question in the gnomic aorist (as if past) with ou expecting an affirmative answer. For this idiom (gnomic aorist) in a conclusion of the third-class condition see 1 Corinthians 7:28. “Were ye not divided in (among) yourselves?” Cf. James 1:6; Matthew 21:21.

Judges with evil thoughts (κριται διαλογισμων πονηρωνkritai dialogismōn ponērōn). Descriptive genitive as in James 1:25. ΔιαλογισμοςDialogismos is an old word for reasoning (Romans 1:21). Reasoning is not necessarily evil, but see Matthew 15:19 (πονηροιponēroi) and Mark 7:21 (κακοιkakoi) for evil reasonings, and 1 Timothy 2:8 without an adjective. See James 1:8; James 4:8 for διπσυχοςdipsuchos They are guilty of partiality (a divided mind) as between the two strangers.

Verse 5

Did not God choose? (ουχ ο τεος εχελεχατοouch ho theos exelexato̱). Affirmative answer expected. First aorist middle (indirect, God chose for himself) indicative of εκλεγωeklegō the very form used by Paul three times of God‘s choice in 1 Corinthians 1:27.

As to the world (τωι κοσμωιtōi kosmōi). The ethical dative of interest, as the world looks at it as in Acts 7:20; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 10:4; James 4:4. By the use of the article (the poor) James does not affirm that God chose all the poor, but only that he did choose poor people (Matthew 10:23-26; 1 Corinthians 1:26-28).

Rich in faith (πλουσιους εν πιστειplousious en pistei). Rich because of their faith. As he has shown in James 1:9.

Which he promised (ης επεγγειλατοhēs epeggeilato). Genitive of the accusative relative ηνhēn attracted to the case of the antecedent βασιλειαςbasileias (the Messianic kingdom), the same verb and idea already in James 1:12 (επηγγειλατοepēggeilato). Cf. the beatitude of Jesus in Matthew 5:3 for the poor in spirit.

Verse 6

But ye have dishonoured the poor man (υμεις δε ητιμασατε τον πτωχονhumeis de ētimasate ton ptōchon). First aorist active indicative of ατιμαζωatimazō old verb from ατιμοςatimos dishonoured (Matthew 13:57). In the act of partiality pictured in James 2:3.

Oppress you (καταδυναστευουσιν υμωνkatadunasteuousin humōn). Not very common compound (καταδυναστευωkatadunasteuō present active indicative, from καταkata and δυναστηςdunastēs potentate, Luke 1:52), used of the devil in Acts 10:38 (only other N.T. example). Examples in papyri of harsh treatment by men in authority. Already poor Christians are feeling pressure from rich Jews as overlords.

Drag you (ελκουσιν υμαςhelkousin humas). Old and vigorous word for violent treatment, as of Paul in Acts 16:19; Acts 21:30. Cf. such violence in Luke 12:58; Acts 8:3.

Before the judgment-seats (εις κριτηριαeis kritēria). “To courts of justice” as in 1 Corinthians 6:2, 1 Corinthians 6:4 (only other N.T. examples). Common in the papyri in this sense. From κρινωkrinō to judge, κριτηςkritēs (judge), place where judgment is given.

Verse 7

Blaspheme (βλασπημουσινblasphēmousin). Present active indicative of common verb βλασπημεωblasphēmeō (from βλασπημοςblasphēmos speaking evil, βλαχblax or βλαπτωblaptō and πημηphēmē), as in Luke 22:65.

The honourable name (το καλον ονομαto kalon onoma). “The beautiful name.”

By the which ye were called (το επικλητεν επ υμαςto epiklēthen eph' humās). “The one called upon you” (first aorist passive articular participle of επικαλεωepikaleō to put a name upon, to give a surname to, as Acts 10:18). What name is that? Almost certainly the name of Christ as we see it in Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:14, 1 Peter 4:16. It was blasphemy to speak against Christ as some Jews and Gentiles were doing (Acts 13:45; Acts 18:6; Acts 26:11; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Timothy 1:13). Cf. Acts 15:17.

Verse 8

Howbeit (μεντοιmentoi). Probably not adversative here, but simply confirmatory, “if now,” “if indeed,” “if really.” Common in Xenophon in this sense. See the contrast (δεde) in James 2:9.

If ye fulfil (ει τελειτεei teleite). Condition of first class, assumed as true with ειei and present active indicative of τελεωteleō old verb, to bring to completion, occurring in Romans 2:27 also with νομοςnomos (law). Jesus used πληροωplēroō in Matthew 4:17. James has τηρεωtēreō in James 2:10.

The royal law (νομον βασιλικονnomon basilikon). Old adjective for royal, regal (from βασιλευςbasileus king), as of an officer (John 4:46). But why applied to νομοςnomos The Romans had a phrase, lex regia, which came from the king when they had kings. The absence of the article is common with νομοςnomos (James 4:11). It can mean a law fit to guide a king, or such as a king would choose, or even the king of laws. Jesus had said that on the law of love hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40), and he had given the Golden Rule as the substance of the Law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12). This is probably the royal law which is violated by partiality (James 2:3). It is in accord with the Scripture quoted here (Leviticus 19:18) and ratified by Jesus (Luke 10:28).

Verse 9

But if ye have respect of persons (ει δε προσωπολημπτειτεei de prosōpolēmpteite). Condition of first class by contrast with that in James 2:8. For this verb (present active indicative), formed from προσωπον λαμβανωprosōpon lambanō here alone in the N.T., see in James 2:1. A direct reference to the partiality there pictured.

Ye commit sin (αμαρτιαν εργαζεστεhamartian ergazesthe). “Ye work a sin.” A serious charge, apparently, for what was regarded as a trifling fault. See Matthew 7:23, οι εργαζομενοι την ανομιανhoi ergazomenoi tēn anomian (ye that work iniquity), an apparent reminiscence of the words of Jesus there (from Psalm 6:8).

Being convicted (ελεγχομενοιelegchomenoi). Present passive participle of ελεγχωelegchō to convict by proof of guilt (John 3:20; John 8:9, John 8:46; 1 Corinthians 14:24).

As transgressors (ως παραβαταιhōs parabatai). For this word from παραβαινωparabainō to step across, to transgress, see Galatians 2:18; Romans 2:25, Romans 2:27. See this very sin of partiality condemned in Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 16:19. To the law and to the testimony.

Verse 10

Whosoever shall keep (οστις τηρησηιhostis tērēsēi). Indefinite relative clause with οστιςhostis and aorist active subjunctive of τηρεωtēreō old verb, to guard (from τηροςtēros guarding), as in Matthew 27:36, without ανan (though often used, but only one example of modal εανανean=ανan in James, viz., James 4:4). This modal εανan (πταισηι δε εν ενιean) merely interprets the sentence as either more indefinite or more definite (Robertson, Grammar, p. 957f.).

And yet stumble in one point (πταιωptaisēi de en heni). First aorist active subjunctive also of γεγονενptaiō old verb, to trip, as in James 3:2; Romans 11:11. “It is incipient falling” (Hort).

He is become (γινομαιgegonen). Second perfect indicative of παντων ενοχοςginomai “he has become” by that one stumble.

Guilty of all (ενοχοςpantōn enochos). Genitive of the crime with ενεχωenochos old adjective from ολον τον νομονenechō (to hold on or in), held in, as in Mark 3:29. This is law. To be a lawbreaker one does not have to violate all the laws, but he must keep all the law (holon ton nomon) to be a law-abiding citizen, even laws that one does not like. See Matthew 5:18. for this same principle. There is Talmudic parallel: “If a man do all, but omit one, he is guilty for all and each.” This is a pertinent principle also for those who try to save themselves. But James is urging obedience to all God‘s laws.

Verse 11

He that said (ο ειπωνho eipōn) - said also (ειπεν καιeipen kai). The unity of the law lies in the Lawgiver who spoke both prohibitions (μηmē and the aorist active subjunctive in each one, μοιχευσηισ πονευσηιςmoicheusēisουphoneusēis). The order here is that of B in Exod 20 (Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9), but not in Matthew 5:21, Matthew 5:27 (with ει δε ου μοιχευεισ πονευεις δεou and future indicative).

Now if thou dost not commit adultery, but killest (ουei de ou moicheueisμηphoneueis de). Condition of first class with δεou (not ει μηmē) because of the contrast with ουde whereas παραβατης νομουei mē would mean “unless,” a different idea. So ou in James 1:23.

A transgressor of the law (parabatēs nomou) as in James 2:9. Murder springs out of anger (Matthew 5:21-26). People free from fleshly sins have often “made their condemnation of fleshly sins an excuse for indulgence towards spiritual sins” (Hort).

Verse 12

So speak ye, and so do (ουτως λαλειτε και ουτως ποιειτεhoutōs laleite kai houtōs poieite). Present active imperatives as a habit. For the combination see James 1:19-21 contrasted with James 1:22-25, and James 1:26 with James 1:27.

By a law of liberty (δια νομου ελευτεριαςdia nomou eleutherias). The law pictured in James 1:25, but law, after all, not individual caprice of “personal liberty.” See Romans 2:12 for this same use of διαdia with κρινωkrinō in the sense of accompaniment as in Romans 2:27; Romans 4:11; Romans 14:20. “Under the law of liberty.”

Verse 13

Without mercy (ανελεοςaneleos). Found here only save a doubtful papyrus example (ανελεωςaneleōs) for the vernacular ανιλεωςanileōs and the Attic ανηλεηςanēleēs For this principle of requital see Matthew 5:7; Matthew 6:14; Matthew 7:1.; Matthew 18:33.

Glorieth against (κατακαυχαταιkatakauchātai). Present middle indicative of the old compound verb κατακαυχαομαιkatakauchaomai to exult over (down), in N.T. only here, James 3:14; Romans 11:18. Only mercy can triumph over justice with God and men. “Mercy is clothed with the divine glory and stands by the throne of God” (Chrysostom). See Romans 8:31-39; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7.

Verse 14

What doth it profit? (τι οπελοσti ophelos̱). Rhetorical question, almost of impatience. Old word from οπελλωophellō to increase, in N.T. only here, James 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:32. “Τι οπελοςTi ophelos was a common expression in the vivacious style of a moral diatribe” (Ropes).

If a man say (εαν λεγηι τιςean legēi tis). Condition of third class with εανean and the present active subjunctive of λεγωlegō “if one keep on saying.”

He hath faith (πιστιν εχεινpistin echein). Infinitive in indirect assertion after λεγηιlegēi have not works (εργα δε μη εχηιerga de mē echēi). Third-class condition continued, “but keeps on not having (μηmē and present active subjunctive εχηιechēi) works.” It is the spurious claim to faith that James here condemns.

Can that faith save him? (μη δυναται η πιστις σωσαι αυτονmē dunatai hē pistis sōsai autoṉ). Negative answer expected (μηmē). Effective aorist active infinitive σωσαιsōsai (from σωζωsōzō). The article ηhē here is almost demonstrative in force as it is in origin, referring to the claim of faith without works just made.

Verse 15

If a brother or sister be naked (εαν αδελπος η αδελπη γυμνοι υπαρχωσινean adelphos ē adelphē gumnoi huparchōsin). Condition again of third class (supposable case) with εανean and present active subjunctive of υπαρχωhuparchō to exist, in the plural though η (or) is used and not καιkai (and). Hence γυμνοιgumnoi is masculine plural in the predicate nominative. It does not here mean absolutely naked, but without sufficient clothing as in Matthew 25:36.; John 21:7; Acts 19:16.

In lack of daily food (λειπομενοι της επημερου τροπηςleipomenoi tēs ephēmerou trophēs). Present passive participle of λειπωleipō and ablative case τροπηςtrophēs like λειπεται σοπιαςleipetai sophias (James 1:5). The old adjective επημεροςephēmeros (ο επι ημεραν ωνho epi hēmeran ōn that which is for a day) occurs here only in the N.T., though επημεριαephēmeria (daily routine) is found in Luke 1:5, Luke 1:8. This phrase occurs in Diodorus, but not in lxx.

Verse 16

And one of you say unto them (ειπηι δε τις αυτοις εχ υμωνeipēi de tis autois ex humōn). Third-class condition again continued from James 2:15 with second aorist active subjunctive ειπηιeipēi in peace (υπαγετε εν ειρηνηιhupagete en eirēnēi). Present active imperative of υπαγωhupagō Common Jewish farewell (Judges 18:6; 1 Samuel 1:17; 1 Samuel 20:42; 2 Samuel 15:9). Used by Jesus (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50).

Be ye warmed and filled (τερμαινεστε και χορταζεστεthermainesthe kai chortazesthe). Present imperative either middle (direct) or passive. We have τερμαινομαιthermainomai as a direct middle in John 18:18 (were warming themselves) and that makes good sense here: “Warm yourselves.” ΧορταζωChortazō was originally used for pasturing cattle, but came to be used of men also as here. “Feed yourselves” (if middle, as is likely). Instead of warm clothes and satisfying food they get only empty words to look out for themselves.

And yet ye give not (μη δωτε δεmē dōte de). Third-class condition with δεde (and yet) and μηmē and the second aorist active subjunctive of διδωμιdidōmi to give, cold deeds with warm words.

The things needful to the body (τα επιτηδεια του σωματοςta epitēdeia tou sōmatos). “The necessities of the body” (the necessaries of life). Old adjective from adverb επιτηδεςepitēdes (enough), only here in N.T.

What doth it profit? (τι οπελοσti ophelos̱). As in James 2:14 and here the conclusion (apodosis) of the long condition begun in James 2:15.

Verse 17

If it have not works (εαν μη εχηι εργαean mē echēi erga). Another condition of the third class with εανean and μηmē and the present active subjunctive of εχωechō “if it keep on not having works.”

In itself (κατ εαυτηνkath' heautēn). In and of itself (according to itself), inwardly and outwardly dead (νεκραnekra). Same idiom in Acts 28:16; Romans 14:22. It is a dead faith.

Verse 18

Yea, a man will say (αλλ ερει τιςall' erei tis). Future active of ειπονeipon But αλλall' here is almost certainly adversative (But some one will say), not confirmatory. James introduces an imaginary objector who speaks one sentence: “Thou hast faith and I have works” (Συ πιστιν εχεις καγω εργα εχωSu pistin echeis kagō erga echō). Then James answers this objector. The objector can be regarded as asking a short question: “Hast thou faith?” In that case James replies: “I have works also.”

Show me thy faith apart from thy works (δειχον μοι την πιστιν σου χωρις των εργωνdeixon moi tēn pistin sou chōris tōn ergōn). This is the reply of James to the objector. First aorist active imperative of δεικνυμιdeiknumi tense of urgency. The point lies in χωριςchōris which means not “without,” but “apart from,” as in Hebrews 11:6 (with the ablative case), “the works that properly belong to it and should characterise it” (Hort). James challenges the objector to do this.

And I by my works will shew thee my faith (καγω σοι δειχω εκ των εργων μου την πιστινkagō soi deixō ek tōn ergōn mou tēn pistin). It is not faith or works, but proof of real faith (live faith vs. dead faith). The mere profession of faith with no works or profession of faith shown to be alive by works. This is the alternative clearly stated. Note πιστινpistin (faith) in both cases. James is not here discussing “works” (ceremonial works) as a means of salvation as Paul in Gal 3; Rom 4, but works as proof of faith.

Verse 19

Thou believest that God is one (συ πιστευεις οτι εις τεος εστινsu pisteueis hoti heis theos estin). James goes on with his reply and takes up mere creed apart from works, belief that God exists (there is one God), a fundamental doctrine, but that is not belief or trust in God. It may be mere creed.

Thou doest well (καλως ποιειςkalōs poieis). That is good as far as it goes, which is not far.

The demons also believe (και τα δαιμονια πιστευουσινkai ta daimonia pisteuousin). They go that far (the same verb πιστευωpisteuō). They never doubt the fact of God‘s existence.

And shudder (και πρισσουσινkai phrissousin). Present active indicative of πρισσωphrissō old onomatopoetic verb to bristle up, to shudder, only here in N.T. Like Latin horreo (horror, standing of the hair on end with terror). The demons do more than believe a fact. They shudder at it.

Verse 20

But wilt thou know? (τελεις δε γνωναιtheleis de gnōnai̇). “But dost thou wish to know?” Ingressive aorist active infinitive of γινοσκωginoskō (come to know). James here introduces a new argument like Romans 13:3.

O vain man (ω αντρωπε κενεō anthrōpe kene). Goes on with the singular objector and demolishes him. For “empty” (deficient) Paul uses απρωνaphrōn (fool) in 1 Corinthians 15:36 and just αντρωπεanthrōpe in Romans 2:1; Romans 9:20.

Barren (αργεarge). See 2 Peter 1:8 (not idle nor unfruitful) and Matthew 12:36, but Hort urges “inactive” as the idea here, like money with no interest and land with no crops.

Verse 21

Justified by works (εχ εργων εδικαιωτηex ergōn edikaiōthē). First aorist passive indicative of δικαιοωdikaioō (see Galatians and Romans for this verb, to declare righteous, to set right) in a question with ουκouk expecting an affirmative answer. This is the phrase that is often held to be flatly opposed to Paul‘s statement in Romans 4:1-5, where Paul pointedly says that it was the faith of Abraham (Romans 4:9) that was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness, not his works. But Paul is talking about the faith of Abraham before his circumcision (Romans 4:10) as the basis of his being set right with God, which faith is symbolized in the circumcision. James makes plain his meaning also.

In that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar (ανενεγκας Ισαακ τον υιον αυτου επι το τυσιαστηριονanenegkas Isaak ton huion autou epi to thusiastērion). They use the same words, but they are talking of different acts. James points to the offering (ανενεγκαςanenegkas second aorist - with first aorist ending - active participle of αναπερωanapherō) of Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:16.) as proof of the faith that Abraham already had. Paul discusses Abraham‘s faith as the basis of his justification, that and not his circumcision. There is no contradiction at all between James and Paul. Neither is answering the other. Paul may or may not have seen the Epistle of James, who stood by him loyally in the Conference in Jerusalem (Acts 15; Gal 2).

Verse 22

Thou seest (βλεπειςblepeis). Obvious enough with any eyes to see. This may be a question, seest thou?

Wrought with (συνηργειsunērgei). Imperfect active of συνεργεωsunergeō old verb for which see Romans 8:28. Followed by associative-instrumental case εργοιςergois Faith cooperated with the deed of offering up Isaac.

Was made perfect (ετελειωτηeteleiōthē). First aorist passive indicative of τελειοωteleioō to carry to the end, to complete like love in 1 John 4:18. See James 1:4 for τελειον εργονteleion ergon f0).

Verse 23

Was fulfilled (επληρωτηeplērōthē). First aorist passive indicative of πληροωplēroō the usual verb for fulfilling Scripture. So James quotes Genesis 15:6 as proving his point in James 2:21 that Abraham had works with his faith, the very same passage that Paul quotes in Romans 4:3 to show that Abraham‘s faith preceded his circumcision and was the basis of his justification. And both James and Paul are right, each to illustrate a different point.

And he was called the friend of God (και πιλος τεου εκλητηkai philos theou eklēthē). First aorist passive indicative of καληοkalēo Not a part of the Scripture quoted. Philo calls Abraham the friend of God and see Jubilees 19:9; 30:20. The Arabs today speak of Abraham as God‘s friend. It was evidently a common description before James used it, as in Isaiah 41:8; 2 Chronicles 20:7.

Verse 24

Ye see (ορατεhorāte). Present indicative active of οραωhoraō Now he uses the plural again as in James 2:14.

Is justified (δικαιουταιdikaioutai). Present passive indicative of δικαιοωdikaioō here not “is made righteous,” but “is shown to be righteous.” James is discussing the proof of faith, not the initial act of being set right with God (Paul‘s idea in Romans 4:1-10).

And not only by faith (και ουκ εκ πιστεως μονονkai ouk ek pisteōs monon). This phrase clears up the meaning of James. Faith (live faith) is what we must all have (James 2:18), only it must shew itself also in deeds as Abraham‘s did.

Verse 25

Rahab the harlot (ααβ η πορνηRaab hē pornē). Her vicious life she left behind, but the name clung to her always. For our purposes the argument of James may seem stronger without the example of Rahab (Josh 2:1-21; Joshua 6:17; Joshua 6:22-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31). It is even said in Jewish Midrash that Rahab married Joshua and became an ancestor of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

In that she received (υποδεχαμενηhupodexamenē). First aorist middle participle of υποδεχομαιhupodechomai to welcome.

The messengers (τους αγγελουςtous aggelous). Original meaning of αγγελοςaggelos (Matthew 11:10). In Hebrews 11:31 we have κατασκοπουςkataskopous (spies, scouts).

Sent out (εκβαλουσαekbalousa). Second aorist active participle of εκβαλλωekballō to hurl out.

Another way (ετεραι οδωιheterāi hodōi). “By another way” (instrumental case), by a window instead of a door (Joshua 2:15.).

Verse 26

Apart from the spirit (χωρις πνευματοςchōris pneumatos). “Apart from breath” (the breath of life). It is not easy to tell when one is dead, but the absence of a sign of breath on a glass before the mouth and nose is proof of death. Startling picture of dead faith in our churches and church members with only a name to live (Revelation 3:2).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on James 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 6th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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