Main point summary
Authentic faith is evidenced through good works. Those who have such faith follow the pattern of Abraham, who was called a friend of God.
What good is it, my brothers,
What value is it, my brothers,
if someone says he has faith
If someone says they have faith
o but does not have works?
but [that person] is not active in doing good;
Can that faith save him?
that is, can that type of faith cannot save.
p If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,
When a Christian brother or sister lacks clothing and food,
q and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,”
and one of you says to them "bless you, and stay warm!"
without giving them the things needed for the body,
but does not give them anything for their physical needs
what good 1 is that?
therefore that is of no use.
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead .
Likewise , faith alone, without good works is dead
But someone will say,
But (in response) someone will say (in defence of the one without works)
“You have faith
"You (i.e. the one without works) have faith
and I have works.”
while I have works."
Show me your faith r apart from your works,
But (James now addressing the person who supposedly has faith) you cannot show me your faith by no works
and I will show you my faith s by my works.
whereas , I will show you my faith by my works
t You believe that God is one;
Therefore, I infer that you believe there is one God;
you do well.
therefore , that is a good thing.
Even u the demons believe—
However the demons also believe
and as a result they tremble with fear.
Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless ?
Furthermore, I will show you, foolish person, that faith without works is useless.
v Was not Abraham our father justified by works
Abraham our father was justified by actions
when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
because he presented his son Isaac on the alter.
You see that
That is , you can see that
w faith was active along with his works,
Faith was fuelling his actions
and faith was completed x by his works;
and his actions perfected his faith.
and the Scripture was fulfilled that says,
And as a result the Scripture was fulfilled that says
y “Abraham believed God,
Abraham had faith in God
and it was counted to him as righteousness”—
and so his faith was counted to him as righteousness
and he was called a z friend of God.
that is, he was called a friend of God.
You see that
That is , you can see that
a person is justified by works
a person is made right with God by works
and not by faith alone.
and not by faith on its own.
And in the same way was not also a Rahab the prostitute justified by works
And in the same way Rahab the prostitute was made right with God by works
b when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
by her actions (when she received the messengers and sent them away by a different route).
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead,
Therefore (in conclusion) as the body without the spirit is dead,
so also faith apart from works is dead.
so in the same way faith without actions is dead.
James loves his brothers (as himself, James 2:8) by speaking frankly.
Rhetorical If/Th question has been re-phrased as a statement.
Authentic faith is accompanied by works. A faith without God honoring actions is the faith of demons.
A faith of words, is just words. c.f Romans 10:9
I had great difficulty making sense of the ESV text as translated. Who is the 'someone', and how much of the subsequent text is a part of what they 'say'? \What is meant by the conjunction 'But'when the 'someone' says things that agree with James' argument. In 2:14-17 , James is asserting the need for works. Why would the interlocutor object (i.e. but) that they do have works and someone else has faith? I thought it would be the other way around. The NET notes ' the sense of his words is something like, “Some have faith; others have works; don’t expect everyone to have both. ”' I think that makes sense. That is, the 'someone' is a third person, defending the person who supposedly has faith, by saying 'You have faith, I have works' and so trying to argue 'What makes one better than the other?'.
What is meant by 'works'? James has just explained (James 2:1-13) that the healthy Christian should be generous and merciful. 'Works', therefore, means acts of mercy and generosity.
How does this work? How do works 'complete' faith? Faith gives rise to actions, which demonstrate the faith. The faith is already real, but the actions show it to be real. The same word is used to describe how Jesus' suffering made him 'complete'. See Heb 2:10; Heb 5:9.
(1) Question / Answer (14-17). Is faith without works of any value? Can it save? No, it's of no value, and no, it cannot save. (2) Objection (18-19): You should allow for some people to just have faith. Response: Faith can only be evidenced by works. Faith without good works is like the faith of demons. (3) Explanation from scripture (20-25). To persuade the fool. Abraham and Rahab's faith was evidenced by their actions. Abraham confirmed his faith by living it out, and so became a friend of God. (4) Conclusion (26). Faith without works is a dead faith.