James chapter 2

Christians should not dishonor poor people. They should accompany their faith with good works. Otherwise their faith is dead. [UPDATED]

 


 

CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT DISHONOR POOR PEOPLE

 

VERSE 1. My brothers, don’t hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with partiality.

with partiality. This is a perpetual problem in the Christian community. We show partiality to wealthy people and celebrities. And by doing so, we dishonor poor people.

 

VERSE 2. For if a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in,

 

VERSE 3. and you pay special attention to him who wears the fine clothing and say, “Sit here in a good place;” and you tell the poor man, “Stand there,” or “Sit by my footstool”

 

VERSE 4. haven’t you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

 

VERSE 5. Listen, my beloved brothers. Didn’t God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him?

God choose those who are poor. God favors the poor. This truth is lost on prosperity ministers. They claim that that poverty is a sign that you do NOT have God’s favor.

 

VERSE 6. But you have dishonored the poor man. Don’t the rich oppress you, and personally drag you before the courts?

 

VERSE 7. Don’t they blaspheme the honorable name by which you are called?

 

VERSE 8. However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.

 

VERSE 9. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors.

 

VERSE 10. For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.

 

VERSE 11. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

 

VERSE 12. So speak and so do, as men who are to be judged by a law of freedom.

 

VERSE 13. For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Joseph the husband of Mary exhibits this marvelous biblical principle of mercy triumphing over judgment:

Matthew 1:19. Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly.

 

FAITH WITHOUT GOOD WORKS IS DEAD

 

VERSE 14. What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter of James and from the entire Bible.

faith. Many Evangelical Christians have a singleminded focus on faith. They are rightly concerned that people need to come into a faith-relationship with Jesus Christ.

But historically, many of those Christians are weak when it comes to the doing good works.

works. Conversely, many liturgical Christians are very focused on good works. They are rightly concerned that people put their faith into practice.

But historically, many liturgical Christians are weak when it comes to initial conversion and faith-life.

Why not combine the best of both worlds? Why not have a strong faith-life, as well as a strong involvement in good works?

We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the New Testament calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »

 

VERSE 15. And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food,

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter of James and from the entire Bible.

 

VERSE 16. and one of you tells them, “Go in peace. Be warmed and filled;” yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it?

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter of James and from the entire Bible.

Go in peace. Be warmed and filled. We knew two homeless men who visited a Baptist church during the winter. The Baptists listened to the homeless men talk about their plight, but did not offer assistance.

Finally, when the homeless men left, one of the Baptists said this:

Keep warm, guys. And try to get something to eat!

 

VERSE 17. Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.

NIV translation: In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter of James and from the entire Bible.

faith, if it has no works, is dead. Is your faith alive? Or dead?

dead. The Greek word is νεκρά (“nekra”). It means dead, lifeless.

We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the New Testament calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »

 

VERSE 18. Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the New Testament calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »

 

VERSE 19. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter of James and from the entire Bible.

believe that God is one. The LORD is one. He is God alone. He is the one God and Father of all. Beside him there is no other God. There is none like him. Read more »

The demons also believe. Monotheism is not enough. Even the demons believe in the One God.

The distinctive aspect of Christian faith is that it is centered on Jesus Christ. Christian evangelism needs to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.

When one is centered on “God,” that is called “theocentric.” When one is centered on Jesus Christ, that is called “Christocentric.”

 

VERSE 20. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead?

 

VERSE 21. Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?

 

VERSE 22. You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected.

 

VERSE 23. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

 

VERSE 24. You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith.

NIV translation. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter of James and from the entire Bible.

by works, a man is justified. In the context of the rest of the New Testament, this phrase is puzzling. The rest of the New Testament talks about being justified by faith. But this verse says we are justified by works.

not only by faith. This is the only place where the Bible says “by faith alone.” It says we are NOT saved by faith alone.

We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the New Testament calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »

 

VERSE 25. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, in that she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

 

VERSE 26. For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.

We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the New Testament calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »

 


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JAMES

CHAPTERS: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05

RESOURCES: Summary, Outline, Memorize

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


 

Author: Todd Van Natta

I was given a great gift. It is to be passionate about Jesus Christ and the Bible and the spiritual life. I am a Christian believer. I believe in Jesus Christ. I’m in love with Jesus! I believe the Bible. I love the Bible. For decades, I've been reading it cover-to-cover, again and again and again. I’ve memorized a whole lot of Bible verses. Most of all, I want the Bible to help us fall more deeply in love with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, with other people, and with ourselves. And I've been reading the great writings from the entire Christian heritage for decades. At Explore the Faith, I share what I have discovered.

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