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James Chapter Two


James 2

The apostle now enters on the subject of those who professed to believe that Jesus was Christ the Lord. Before, in chapter 1, he had spoken of the new nature in connection with God: here the profession of faith in Christ is brought to the same touchstone-the reality of the fruits produced by it in contrast with this world. All these principles-the value of the name of Jesus, the essence of the law as Christ presented it, and the law of liberty-are brought forward to test the reality of their professed faith, or to convince the professor that he did not possess it. Two things are reprobated: having respect to the outward appearance of persons; and the absence of good works as a proof of the sincerity of the profession.

First, then, he blames respect for outward appearance of persons. They profess faith in the Lord Jesus, and yet hold with the spirit of the world! He replies that God has chosen the poor, making them rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. These professors had despised them; these rich men blasphemed the name of Christ and persecuted Christians.

In the second place he appeals to the practical summary of the law, of which Jesus had spoken-the royal law. They broke the law itself in favouring the rich. Now the law did not allow of any infraction whatsoever of its commands, because the authority of the legislator was concerned. In despising the poor, they were assuredly not loving their neighbor as themselves.

In the third place they ought to walk as those whose responsibility was measured by the law of liberty, in which-possessing a nature which tasted and loved that which was of God-they were set free from all that was contrary to Him; so that they could not excuse themselves if they admitted principles which were not those of God Himself. This introduction of the divine nature leads the apostle on to speak of the mercy by which God glorifies Himself. The man who shews no mercy will find himself the object of the judgment which he has loved.

The second part of the chapter is connected with this; for he begins his discourse on works, as proofs of faith, by speaking of this mercy which answers to the nature and character of God, of which, as born of Him, the true christian is made a partaker. The profession of having faith without this life-the existence of which is proved by works-can profit no one. This is plain enough. I say the profession of having faith, because the epistle say it: "If a man say he hath faith." This is the key to this part of the epistle. He says it: where is the proof of it? Works are the proof; and it is in this way that the apostle uses them. A man says he hath faith. It is not a thing that we can see. I say therefore with reason, "Shew it me." This is the evidence of faith which is required for man-it is only by its fruits that we make it evident to men; for the faith itself cannot be seen. But if I produce these fruits, then assuredly I have the root, without which there could not be the fruits. Thus faith does not shew itself to others, nor can I recognise it, without works; but works, the fruit of faith, prove the existence of faith.

That which follows shews that he is speaking of the profession of a doctrine, true perhaps in itself-of certain truths being confessed; for it is a real faith looked at-certainty of knowledge and conviction-which devils have in the unity of the Godhead. They do not doubt it; but there is no link at all between their heart and God by means of a new nature-far indeed from it.

But the apostle confirms this, by the case of men in whom the opposition to the divine nature is not so apparent. Faith, the recognition of the truth with respect to Christ, is dead without works; that is, such a faith as produces none is dead.

We see (ver 16) that the faith of which the apostle speaks is a profession devoid of reality; verse 16 shews that it may be an unfeigned certainty that the thing is true: but the life begotten by the word, so that a relationship is formed between the soul and God, is entirely wanting. Because this takes place through the word, it is faith; being begotten of God we have a new life. This life acts, that is to say, faith acts, according to the relationship with God, by works which flow naturally from it, and which bear testimony to the faith that produced them.

From verse 20 to the end he presents a fresh proof of his thesis, founded on the last principle that I have mentioned. Now these proofs have nothing at all to do with the fruits of a kindly nature (for there are such), appertaining to us as creatures-but not to that life which has for its source the word of God, by which He begets us. The fruits of which the apostle speaks, bear testimony by their very character to the faith that produced them. Abraham offered up his son; Rahab received the messengers of Israel, associating herself with the people of God when everything was against them, and separating herself from her own people by faith. All sacrificed for God, all given up for His people before they had gained one victory, and while the world was in full power, such were the fruits of faith. One referred to God; and believed Him in the most absolute way, against all that is in nature of on which nature can count; the other owned God's people, when all was against them; but neither was the fruit of an amiable nature or natural good, such as men call good works. One was a father going to put his son to death, the other a bad woman betraying her country. Certainly the scripture was fulfilled which said that Abraham believed God. How could he have acted as he did, if he had not believed Him? Works put a seal on his faith: and faith without works is but like the body without the soul, and outward form devoid of the life that animates it. Faith acts in the works (without it the works are a nullity, they are not those of the new life), and the works complete the faith which acts in them; for in spite of trial, and in the trial, faith is in activity. Works of law have no part in it. The outward law which exacts, is not a life which produces (apart from this divine nature)s these holy and loving dispositions which, having God and His people for their object, value nothing else.

James, remark, never says that works justify us before God; for God can see the faith without its works. He knows that life is there. It is in exercise with regard to Him, towards Him, by trust in His word, in Himself, by receiving His testimony in spite of everything within and without. This God sees and knows. But when our fellow-creatures are in question, when it must be said "shew me," then faith, life, shews itself in works.

── John DarbySynopsis of James


James 2

Chapter Contents

All professions of faith are vain, if not producing love and justice to others. (1-13) The necessity of good works to prove the sincerity of faith, which otherwise will be of no more advantage than the faith of devils. (14-26)

Commentary on James 2:1-13

(Read James 2:1-13)

Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.

Commentary on James 2:14-26

(Read James 2:14-26)

Those are wrong who put a mere notional belief of the gospel for the whole of evangelical religion, as many now do. No doubt, true faith alone, whereby men have part in Christ's righteousness, atonement, and grace, saves their souls; but it produces holy fruits, and is shown to be real by its effect on their works; while mere assent to any form of doctrine, or mere historical belief of any facts, wholly differs from this saving faith. A bare profession may gain the good opinion of pious people; and it may procure, in some cases, worldly good things; but what profit will it be, for any to gain the whole world, and to lose their souls? Can this faith save him? All things should be accounted profitable or unprofitable to us, as they tend to forward or hinder the salvation of our souls. This place of Scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes. Men may boast to others, and be conceited of that which they really have not. There is not only to be assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ. True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart. That a justifying faith cannot be without works, is shown from two examples, Abraham and Rahab. Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Faith, producing such works, advanced him to peculiar favours. We see then, verse 24, how that by works a man is justified, not by a bare opinion or profession, or believing without obeying; but by having such faith as produces good works. And to have to deny his own reason, affections, and interests, is an action fit to try a believer. Observe here, the wonderful power of faith in changing sinners. Rahab's conduct proved her faith to be living, or having power; it showed that she believed with her heart, not merely by an assent of the understanding. Let us then take heed, for the best works, without faith, are dead; they want root and principle. By faith any thing we do is really good; as done in obedience to God, and aiming at his acceptance: the root is as though it were dead, when there is no fruit. Faith is the root, good works are the fruits; and we must see to it that we have both. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it. There is no middle state. Every one must either live God's friend, or God's enemy. Living to God, as it is the consequence of faith, which justifies and will save, obliges us to do nothing against him, but every thing for him and to him.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on James


James 2

Verse 1

[1] My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

My brethren — The equality of Christians, intimated by this name, is the ground of the admonition. Hold not the faith of our common Lord, the Lord of glory - Of which glory all who believe in him partake.

With respect of persons — That is, honour none merely for being rich; despise none merely for being poor.

Verse 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;

With gold rings — Which were not then so common as now.

Verse 3

[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:

Ye look upon him — With respect.

Verse 4

[4] Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

Ye distinguish not — To which the most respect is due, to the poor or to the rich.

But are become evil-reasoning judges — You reason ill, and so judge wrong: for fine apparel is no proof of worth in him that wears it.

Verse 5

[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?

Hearken — As if he had said, Stay, consider, ye that judge thus. Does not the presumption lie rather in favour of the poor man? Hath not God chosen the poor - That is, are not they whom God hath chosen, generally speaking, poor in this world? who yet are rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom - Consequently, the most honourable of men: and those whom God so highly honours, ought not ye to honour likewise?

Verse 6

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

Do not the rich often oppress you — By open violence; often drag you - Under colour of law.

Verse 7

[7] Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

Do not they blaspheme that worthy name — Of God and of Christ. The apostle speaks chiefly of rich heathens: but are Christians, so called, a whit behind them?

Verse 8

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

If ye fulfil the royal law — The supreme law of the great King which is love; and that to every man, poor as well as rich, ye do well. Leviticus 19:18.

Verse 9

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

Being convicted — By that very law. Exodus 23:3.

Verse 10

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

Whosoever keepeth the whole law, except in one point, he is guilty of all - Is as liable to condemnation as if he had offended in every point.

Verse 11

[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.

For it is the same authority which establishes every commandment.

Verse 12

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

So speak and act — In all things.

As they that shall be judged — Without respect of persons.

By the law of liberty — The gospel; the law of universal love, which alone is perfect freedom. For their transgressions of this, both in word and deed, the wicked shall be condemned; and according to their works, done in obedience to this, the righteous will be rewarded.

Verse 13

[13] For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Judgment without mercy shall be to him — In that day.

Who hath showed no mercy — To his poor brethren. But the mercy of God to believers, answering to that which they have shown, will then glory over judgment.

Verse 14

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

From James 1:22, the apostle has been enforcing Christian practice. He now applies to those who neglect this, under the pretence of faith. St. Paul had taught that "a man is justified by faith without the works of the law." This some began already to wrest to their own destruction. Wherefore St. James, purposely repeating ( James 2:21,23,25) the same phrases, testimonies, and examples, which St. Paul had used, Romans 4:3, Hebrews 11:17,31, refutes not the doctrine of St. Paul, but the error of those who abused it. There is, therefore, no contradiction between the apostles: they both delivered the truth of God, but in a different manner, as having to do with different kinds of men. On another occasion St. James himself pleaded the cause of faith, Acts 15:13-21; and St. Paul himself strenuously pleads for works, particularly in his latter epistles. This verse is a summary of what follows. What profiteth it? is enlarged on, James 2:15-17; though a man say, James 2:18,19 can that faith save him? James 2:20. It is not, though he have faith; but, though he say he have faith. Here, therefore, true, living faith is meant: but in other parts of the argument the apostle speaks of a dead, imaginary faith. He does not, therefore, teach that true faith can, but that it cannot, subsist without works: nor does he oppose faith to works; but that empty name of faith, to real faith working by love. Can that faith "which is without works" save him? No more than it can profit his neighbour.

Verse 17

[17] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

So likewise that faith which hath not works is a mere dead, empty notion; of no more profit to him that hath it, than the bidding the naked be clothed is to him.

Verse 18

[18] Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

But one — Who judges better.

Will say — To such a vain talker. Show me, if thou canst, thy faith without thy works.

Verse 19

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

Thou believest there is one God — I allow this: but this proves only that thou hast the same faith with the devils. Nay, they not only believe, but tremble - At the dreadful expectation of eternal torments. So far is that faith from either justifying or saving them that have it.

Verse 20

[20] But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

But art than willing to know — Indeed thou art not: thou wouldest fain be ignorant of it.

O empty man — Empty of all goodness. That the faith which is without works is dead - And so is not properly faith, as a dead carcase is not a man.

Verse 21

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

Was not Abraham justified by works — St. Paul says he was justified by faith, Romans 4:2, etc.: yet St. James does not contradict him; for he does not speak of the same justification. St. Paul speaks of that which Abraham received many years before Isaac was born, Genesis 15:6. St. James, of that which he did not receive till he had offered up Isaac on the altar. He was justified, therefore, in St. Paul's sense, (that is, accounted righteous,) by faith, antecedent to his works. He was justified in St. James's sense, (that is, made righteous,) by works, consequent to his faith. So that St. James's justification by works is the fruit of St Paul's justification by faith.

Verse 22

[22] Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

Thou seest that faith — For by faith Abraham offered him, Hebrews 11:17.

Wrought together with his works — Therefore faith has one energy and operation; works, another: and the energy and operation of faith are before works, and together with them. Works do not give life to faith, but faith begets works, and then is perfected by them.

And by works was faith made perfect — Here St. James fixes the sense wherein he uses the word justified; so that no shadow of contradiction remains between his assertion and St. Paul's. Abraham returned from that sacrifice perfected in faith, and far higher in the favour of God. Faith hath not its being from works, (for it is before them,) but its perfection. That vigour of faith which begets works is then excited and increased thereby, as the natural heat of the body begets motion, whereby itself is then excited and increased. See 1 John 3:22.

Verse 23

[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.

And the scripture — Which was afterwards written. Was hereby eminently fulfilled, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness - This was twice fulfilled, - when Abraham first believed, and when he offered up Isaac. St. Paul speaks of the former fulfilling; St. James, of the latter.

And he was called the Friend of God — Both by his posterity, 2 Chronicles 20:7; and by God himself, Isaiah 41:8 so pleasing to God were the works be wrought in faith. Genesis 15:6

Verse 24

[24] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Ye see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only — St. Paul, on the other band, declares, "A man is justified by faith," and not by works, Romans 3:28. And yet there is no contradiction between the apostles: because, 1. They do not speak of the same faith: St. Paul speaking of living faith; St. James here, of dead faith. 2. They do not speak of the same works: St. Paul speaking of works antecedent to faith; St. James, of works subsequent to it.

Verse 25

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

After Abraham, the father of the Jews, the apostle cites Rahab, a woman, and a sinner of the gentiles; to show, that in every nation and sex true faith produces works, and is perfected by them; that is, by the grace of God working in the believer, while he is showing his faith by his works.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on James


James 2:10

The honor code for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is as follows: “A cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate anyone who does.”

This honor code is so stringent that even one violation at any time during the four years of study, including even the day before graduation, requires automatic expulsion of the guilty party.


James 2:10

Assume that a ship is anchored art port with an anchor that has 613 links in its chain, representing the 613 commands in the Mosaic Law. If only one link breaks, the ship will be set adrift, so the 612 links that did hold count for nothing if just one is broken.

Or consider your situation if you had fallen over the edge of a very high cliff and were clinging to a chain for dear life. How many links of that chain must break before you would plummet to your death?

The Mosaic Law is the same, according to James 2:10. If you fail in one point, you might as well have blown it all—you’re dead either way.


Chapter 2. Faith and Actions

Fine Clothes
Shabby Clothes

I. Don't Value the rich over the Poor

  1. Show Favoritism
  2. Keep the Law in Love
  3. Mercy Triumphs

II. Faith without Action Is Dead

  1. Deeds without Faith
  2. Faith without Deeds
  3. Faith Contradicts Actions

III. Testimony of Faith and Actions Working Together

  1. Abraham
  2. Rehab the Prostitute
  3. Faith Complements Actions

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Chapter Two General Review
1) To consider the sin and danger of showing personal favoritism
2) To note the folly of faith without works, how that faith without
   works is a dead faith
In this chapter we first find a call to hold the faith of Jesus Christ
without partiality.  Evidently some were displaying favoritism toward
the rich in their assemblies, while despising the poor. Showing respect
of persons made one a judge with evil thoughts, and James provides
several reasons why such prejudice was unbecoming of those who believe
in Jesus and worthy of condemnation (1-13).
James then addresses the relationship between faith and works,
especially the folly of professing faith when unaccompanied by works.
Using several examples to make his point, including those of Abraham
the friend of God and Rahab the harlot, James declares three times that
faith without works is dead (14-26).
      1. The faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, is not
         to be held with partiality
      2. A case in point:  showing preference with seating arrangements
         in the assembly
      1. It makes one a judge with evil thoughts
      2. Has not God chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of
         the kingdom?
      3. Have not the rich oppressed and blasphemed you?
      4. Does not the royal law call upon us to love our neighbor?
      5. Partiality will convict us as transgressors, even if we 
         stumble in only one point
      6. We shall be judged by the law of liberty, in which judgment
         without mercy is given to those who show no mercy
      1. What profit is there in faith without works?
         a. Can such faith save one?
         b. Is there any profit to tell a naked and destitute person to
            be warm and filled, and not give them what they need?
         c. Thus faith by itself, without works, is dead
      2. Faith is shown by one's works
         a. It is not enough to claim to have faith
         b. The devils believe in God, and tremble
      1. As exemplified by Abraham, the friend of God
         a. Who was justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on
            the altar
         b. His faith was working with his works, and by them perfected
            his faith
         c. By his works the Scripture was fulfilled that declared him
            faithful and righteous
      2. As exemplified by Rahab, the harlot
         a. Who was justified by works when she hid the spies
         b. Thus faith without works is dead, just as the body without
            the spirit is dead
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - True religion does not show partiality (1-13)
   - True religion shows faith through works (14-26)
2) With what is one not to hold the faith of our Lord Jesus? (1)
   - Partiality, or respect of persons (i.e., prejudice)
3) What example does James use to illustrate his point? (2-3)
   - Showing preference to a rich man over a poor man in the assembly
4) Of what is one guilty when they show partiality? (4)
   - Becoming a judge with evil thoughts
5) Why should one not show prejudice against the poor? (5)
   - God has chosen them to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
     which He has promised to those who love Him
6) What had the rich been doing against those to whom James wrote this
   epistle? (6-7)
   - Oppressing them and dragging them into the courts
   - Blaspheming the noble name by which they were called
7) What would be well for them to do? (8)
   - To fulfill the royal law:  "You shall love your neighbor as 
8) What is the consequence of showing partiality? (9)
   - Committing sin and being convicted by the law as transgressors
9) Of what is one guilty if they stumble in just one point of the law?
   - Guilty of all; a transgressor of the law
10) How then should they speak and act? Why? (12-13)
   - As those who will judged by the law of liberty
   - Judgment is without mercy to one who shows no mercy, and mercy
     triumphs over judgment
11) What question does James address next? (14)
   - What does it profit if one says he has faith, but does not have
12) What example is given to illustrate the futility of faith without
    works? (15-16)
   - Telling a naked and hungry person to be warmed and filled, but
     then do nothing to help
13) What is the condition of faith by itself, without works? (17)
   - It is dead
14) How does James challenge the person who only has faith? (18)
   - Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by
15) What example does James use next to show the futility of faith 
    only? (19)
   - That of demons, who believe in God
16) How was Abraham justified? When? (21)
   - By works
   - When he offered Isaac his son on the altar
17) What was the relation between Abraham's faith and works? (22)
   - Faith was working together with his works
   - By works his faith was made perfect
18) What two things were the result of Abraham's works? (23)
   - The Scriptures were fulfilled which said he believed God and it
     was accounted to him for righteousness
   - He was called the friend of God
19) What point did the example of Abraham illustrate? (24)
   - A man is justified by works, and not by faith only
20) What final example does James appeal to? (25)
   - Rahab the harlot, who was justified when she hid the two spies
21) What is James' conclusion regarding faith and works? (26)
   - As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is
     dead also
The Sin Of Partiality (2:1-13)
1. In the first century, A.D., polarized conditions governed society;
   people were either rich or poor, slaves or free, Jew or Gentile,
   Greek or barbarian
2. However, part of the good news of the gospel was that in Christ
   Jesus social barriers lost much of their strength
   a. As Paul wrote to the Galatians:  "There is neither Jew nor Greek,
      there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female:
      for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Ga 3:28)
   b. Again, in writing to the Colossians:  "Where there is neither
      Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian,
      Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.
      (Co 3:11)
3. But it took a while for this truth to sink into the hearts of those
   who were Christians; even the apostle Peter had to be told this
   truth through a vision and then a special outpouring of the Holy
   Spirit - cf. Ac 10:34-35
4. From the second chapter of the epistle of James, it is apparent that
   showing partiality was still being practiced and its sinfulness
   needed to be pointed out
5. Because "The Sin Of Partiality" is still prevalent in some forms
   today, let's examine Ja 2:1-13 and consider what James has to say
   on this subject
[Consider, first of all, exactly what is...]
      1. We know from other scriptures that Jewish Christians often
         showed partiality in regards to the Gentiles
      2. But in this epistle, the problem was one of showing partiality
         between the rich and poor - Ja 2:2-4
      1. By showing partiality between rich and poor
         a. For example, giving preferential treatment to visitors at
            our assemblies based upon their apparel
         b. Or showing hospitality towards our rich friends, while
            ignoring those who are poor (sometimes, it is the poor who
            despise the rich)
      2. By showing partiality between people of different races (again,
         this can easily go both ways)
      3. Even by showing partiality between friends and visitors to our
[Sadly, the sin of partiality (i.e., being biased, prejudiced, racist)
is probably just as prevalent if not more so than it was in the days
when James wrote his epistle!
This makes the words of James very relevant and worth our consideration.
Let's therefore notice...]
      1. It is possible that this point was being implied by James in
         using his appellation of Jesus to introduce the subject
      2. What does OUR partiality have to do with the LORD OF GLORY?
         a. As Christians, we profess to be Christ's disciples, or
            followers, whose goal is to imitate Him - Lk 6:40
         b. As such, our actions are likely to be considered by others
            as a reflection of what Christ teaches
         c. If we show partiality as Christians, we leave the impression
            that Jesus Himself is partial (prejudiced, biased, racist)
      3. Therefore, if we are not careful, the glory of the Lord can be
         tainted by OUR partiality!
      1. God has always hated unjust judges
      2. Jesus Himself warned about:
         a. The dangers of judging - Mt 7:1
         b. The need to make righteous judgment - Jn 7:24
      3. If we judge against the poor due to our prejudice against them,
         we will find ourselves fighting against God! - Ps 109:31
      1. Both then and today God has chosen to honor the poor
         a. The gospel was proclaimed to the poor - Lk 7:22
         b. The majority of those who responded were from among the poor
            - 1 Co 1:26-29
      2. Both then and today God has chosen to honor ALL men - Ac 10:
         a. Therefore, when we show partiality because of a person's
         b. Or because they are a stranger we do not know...
         ...then we despise those whom God has honored by His offering
            to them salvation through the gospel!
      3. Do we want to face God on the Day of Judgment guilty of such
         a crime?
      1. The rich were doing this to the Christians in James' day
      2. Who are the ones most likely to oppress Christians today if it
         ever came down to "push and shove"?
         a. Those who have the resources to do so
         b. And most likely that would be the "majority" and the 
   E. WE BREAK "THE ROYAL LAW" (2:8-11)
      1. Which is "You shall love your neighbor as your self"
      2. This is one of the most fundamental laws that God has ever
         a. As proclaimed by Christ - Mt 22:36-40
         b. As taught by Paul - Ro 13:8-10
      3. And, as emphasized by James, by breaking one law, we become
         guilty of ALL the Law!
         a. I.e., to show partiality is to make one as guilty as if they
            committed adultery or murder!
         b. This illustrates just how terrible any sin is!
      1. This refers to the law of Christ, or the gospel
         a. A law that has set us free from the bondage of sin through
            the mercy shown in Christ - cf. Jn 8:31-36
         b. And a law that sets us free from man-made restrictions 
            - cf. Co 2:20-22
      2. But if we:
         a. Apply man-made restrictions upon others (like showing
         b. Do not show mercy toward others
         ...then NO MERCY will be shown toward us! - cf. Mt 6:14-15
1. In view of all these things, we can understand why James would say:
   "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, [the
   Lord] of glory, with respect of persons." (Ja 2:1)
2. We can also better understand Peter's reasoning why he had to accept
   the Gentiles:
   "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as [he did] unto us,
   who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could
   withstand God?" (Ac 11:17)
3. And we are more likely to heed the prayer and admonition of KPaul:
   5  Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be
   likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6  That ye
   may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify God, even the Father of
   our Lord Jesus Christ. 7  Wherefore receive ye one another, as
   Christ also received us to the glory of God. (Romans 15)
Brethren, we serve A GLORIOUS LORD, we serve to do things to His glory;
may we NEVER allow the sin of partiality, bias, prejudice, or racism to
taint that wonderful glory in any way!
[And a concluding word for the NON-Christian:
   1) Notice that in our text James speaks of:
      a) The terribleness of even one sin (2:10)
      b) The fact of judgment (2:12)
   2) Won't you accept the mercy God offers to you in the gospel of His
      Son Jesus Christ?
      a) Remember, God is not a partial judge - cf. Ro 2:4-11
      b) Why should He show mercy to you when you despise His mercy
         just as much as the vilest sinner?
Accept His mercy in obedience to the gospel today!]


Three Kinds Of Faith (2:14-26)
1. Faith is certainly an essential element in the Christian life:
   a. Without faith, it is impossible to please God - He 11:6
   b. The Christian is saved by faith - Ep 2:8
   c. The Christian is to walk (live) by faith - 2 Co 5:7
   d. Whatever we do apart from faith is described as sin - Ro 14:23
2. It is important to realize, however, that there are different kinds
   of faith, but only one that is truly "saving faith"
3. In James 2:14-26, we find James discussing the different kinds of
   faith, with an emphasis upon that faith which works to the saving of
   the soul
[Beginning with verses 14-17, we notice the first kind of faith.  We
might call this kind of faith...]
I. DEAD FAITH (14-17)
      1. Substitutes words for deeds (consider James' example)
         a. People with this kind of faith:
            1) Know the correct vocabulary for prayer and sound doctrine
            2) Can even quote the right verses from the Bible
         b. But their "walk" does not measure up to their "talk"!
      2. Is only an INTELLECTUAL faith
         a. In one's mind, he or she knows the doctrine of salvation
         b. But they have never really submitted themselves to God and
            trusted in Jesus for salvation
         c. They know the right "words", but they do not back up their
            words with their "works"!
      1. NO!  Three times in this passage, James emphasizes that "faith
         without works is dead" - Ja 2:17,20,26
      2. Any declaration of faith that does not result in a changed life
         and good works is a false declaration:  A DEAD FAITH!
      3. Dead faith is counterfeit faith and lulls the person into a
         false confidence of eternal life
      1. We do, if our WALK does not measure up to our TALK!
      2. We do, if our WORKS do not measure up to our WORDS!
[We need to beware of mere intellectual faith.  As Warren Wiersbe said,
   "No man can come to Christ by faith and remain the same, anymore than
   he came into contact with a 220-volt wire and remain the same."
   (compare this to 1 Jn 5:12)
The next kind of faith is found discussed in verses 18-19...]
      1. They believe in God (no atheists or agnostics here!)
      2. They even believe in the deity of Christ - cf. Mk 3:11-12
      3. They also believe in the existence of a place of condemnation
         - cf. Lk 8:31
      4. And they believe Jesus will be the Judge! - Mt 8:28-29
      1. We saw that the man with "dead faith" was "touched only in his
      2. The demons are "touched also in their emotions" (note that they
         "believe and tremble")
      3. This is one step above a "dead faith" - it involves both
      1. NO!  A person can be enlightened in his mind and even stirred
         in his heart and still be lost forever!
      2. True saving faith involves something more, something that can
         be seen and recognized:  a changed life! (cf. Ja 2:18)
      3. Being a Christian involves trusting Christ and living for 
         a. You first RECEIVE the life...
         b. Then you REVEAL the life!
      1. We do, if we just BELIEVE the right things and FEEL the right
      2. We do, if our service to God does not go beyond...
         a. Intellectually adhering to the right doctrines
         b. Emotional experiences while attending services
[Thus, James has introduced us to two kinds of faith that can NEVER 
save:  DEAD faith (involving the intellect alone), and DEMONIC faith 
(involving the intellect and the emotions, but stopping there).
He closes this section by describing in verses 20-26 the only kind of
faith that can save...]
      1. We know from other passages that such faith is based upon the
         Word of God - cf. Ro 10:17
      2. Dynamic faith involves the WHOLE MAN
         a. DEAD faith touches only the intellect
         b. DEMONIC faith involves both the mind and the emotions
         c. DYNAMIC faith involves the intellect, the emotions, AND the
            1) The MIND understands the truth
            2) The HEART desires and rejoices in the truth
            3) The WILL acts upon the truth
      3. True, saving faith, then, LEADS TO ACTION
         a. It is not intellectual contemplation
         b. It is not emotionalism
         c. It is that which leads to obedience in doing good works
      1. You could not find two more different persons!
         a. Abraham was the father of the Jews; Rahab was a Gentile!
         b. Abraham was a godly man; Rahab had been a sinful woman, a
         c. Abraham was the friend of God; Rahab had belonged to the
            enemies of God!
      2. What did they have in common?  Both exercised saving faith in
         a. Abraham demonstrated his saving faith by his works - 20-24
         b. Rahab demonstrated her saving faith by her works - 25-26
      3. We learn from this passage that:
         a. Faith without works is a DEAD faith - 20,26
         b. That "faith only" (the only time this phrase is found in the
            Scriptures) cannot justify one - 24
         c. That PERFECT faith necessitates works - 22
1. It is important that each professing Christian examine his or her own
   heart and life, and make sure that they possess true saving faith,
   which is a dynamic faith
2. Satan is the great deceiver; one of his devices is imitation
   a. If he can convince a person that counterfeit faith is true
   b. ...then he has that person in his power!
3. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves as we examine our faith:
   Was there a time when I honestly realized I was a sinner and admitted
   this to myself and to God?
   Was there a time when my heart stirred me to flee from the wrath to
   come?  Have I ever been seriously worked up over my sins?
   Do I truly understand the gospel, that Christ died for MY sins and
   then rose again?  Do I understand and confess that I cannot save
   Did I sincerely repent of my sins, making the decision to turn from
   them?  Do I now hate sin and fear God?  Or do I secretly love sin
   and want to enjoy it?
   Have I trusted Christ and Him alone for my salvation by responding
   to the commands He has given?  Have I confessed my faith in Christ
   and then been baptized for the remission of my sins as He and His
   apostles commanded?
   Has there been a change in my life?  Do I maintain good works, or
   are my good works occasional and weak?  Do I seek to grow in the
   things of the Lord?  Can others tell that I have been with Jesus?
   Do I have a desire to share Christ with others?  Or am I ashamed
   of Him?
   Do I enjoy the fellowship of God's people?  Is worship a delight to
   Am I ready for the Lord's return?  Or will I be ashamed when He
   comes for me?
4. To be sure, not every Christian has the same degree of faith; those
   who have had more time to grow should be stronger in faith
5. But for the most part, the spiritual inventory can assist a person
   in determining his or her true standing before God
May our prayer be similar to that of the Psalmist's:
             "Search me, O God, and know my heart;
                try me and know my anxieties;
             "And see if there is any wicked way in me,
                and lead me in the way everlasting."
                                              -- Psalms 139:23-24
Note:  Much of the material for this outline was adapted heavily
from The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 2, by Warren W. Wiersbe,
pages 353-357.

--《Executable Outlines


Faith and actions

Fine clothes

Shabby clothes


I.  Don’t value the rich over the poor

1.    Show favoritism

2.    Keep the law in love

3.    Mercy triumphs

II.Faith without action is dead

1.    Deeds without faith

2.    Faith without deeds

3.    Faith contradicts actions

III.       Testimony of faith and actions working together

1.    Abraham

2.    Rehab the prostitute

3.    Faith complements actions

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament