Bible Study Christian Character Traits Christian Living Discipleship

James 2:14-26

James continues concerning living the Christian life. What we say must match what we do. What we say has some importance, but if we do not what we say, we are lying to ourselves and others. We become hypocritical liars. Then he gives two examples of what one does proves what they believe.

My translation and notes on James 2:14-26

What We Say Must Match What We Do

14 What does it profit, my brothers, if someone says he has faith and not [corresponding] actions? Can faith save him?

[Faith is proven by our actions. Repentance of hate results in love. Repentance of stealing results in compassion and generosity. See Matthew 7:21 (note ‘doing the Father’s will’), 1 Corinthians 13:2, and 2 Peter 1:5. James gives an example below].

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

16 And one of youp says to them, “Leave in peace, may youp be warm and filled [with food],” yet youp do not give them those things which they need for the body. What good [is it]?

17 So, if faith does not have [corresponding] actions, it is dead by itself.

[What we do in public and private is what we really believe and live by. It is not our words. Just saying the right words do not save and do not indicate if one is saved. 1 John was written to examine our faith. Works do not save. The Ninevites that Jonah preached believed God (Jonah 3:5) just like Abraham and all other believers do. They proved it by what they did. Even the king humbled himself. See Jonah 3:10].

Works Are the Fruit of Faith

18 Someone may say, “Yous have faith, and I have actions. Yous show me yours faith without yours actions, and I will show yous my faith by my actions.”

19 Yous believe that God is one? Yous do well; the demons also believe and shudder.

[As in verse 17, words and beliefs are just that—words and beliefs. What shows our real faith is how we act in public and private. The demons have faith. They know God exists. Their actions though are evil. We believe? Good, so let us live godly lives that match our words].

Two Examples

20 But will yous understand, yous senseless person, that faith without [corresponding] actions is dead?

21 Wasn’t Abraham, our father, justified by [his] actions when he had offered Isaac, his son, on the altar?

22 Do yous see how faith worked together with his actions, and [how] from [these corresponding] actions, faith was made complete?

23 The Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness,” and he was called the Friend of God. [Genesis 15:6]

24 Youp see then how a person is justified by [their] actions and not only by faith.

[Abraham believed and God acknowledged Abraham’s belief. Abraham’s name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Abraham’s actions proved that his words and belief are true. This is true of Rahab as well].

25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab, the harlot, justified by [her] actions when she had received the messengers and sent [them] out another way?

[Barnes (NOTES ON THE BIBLE) writes: It may be observed here, that we are not to suppose that everything in the life and character of this woman is commended. She is commended for her faith, and for the fair expression of it; a faith which, as it induced her to receive the messengers of the true God, and to send them forth in peace, and as it led her to identify herself with the people of God, was also influential, we have every reason to suppose, in inducing her to abandon her former course of life. When we commend the faith of a man who has been a profane swearer, or an adulterer, or a robber, or a drunkard, we do not commend his former life, or give a sanction to it. We commend that which has induced him to abandon his evil course, and to turn to the ways of righteousness. The more evil his former course has been, the more wonderful, and the more worthy of commendation, is that faith by which he is reformed and saved].

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

[Dead faith is all too common. See Revelation 3:1, Romans 8:6, and 1 John 3:14. A quote: To illustrate dead faith, “It is that kind of faith which would lead a man to take a bottle of medicine from his medicine cabinet. Looking at the instructions on it, he says, ‘I’m sure they’re correct. I have all confidence in the source of the medicine. I know who wrote these directions. I believe everything about it. I know this will relieve my headache, if I just take it.’ But he takes the medicine bottle and puts it back on the shelf. He doesn’t lose his headache. It continues on. Yet he can say I believe that medicine. I believe all about that medicine. But still he won’t take it. That’s dead faith—Dr. Harlan Roper, Tape on James, Dallas, Texas and found on Bible org].

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