October 13, 2009

James 2

Our five week study through the book of James continues by taking a look at chapter 2. (I am using the NRSV)

James 2

Vs 1: once again we see James coming out swinging. Notice that he calls into question the very faith we claim to profess if/when we show favoritism. This is clearly not to be taken lightly.

Vs 3: in the Greek "take notice" = to look on with favor, have regard for
Vs 4: in the Greek "distinctions" = to pass judgment

Vs 12: what does it mean or look like to you to be "judged by the law of liberty?" A couple passages to checkout in regards to the "law of liberty": Luke 4:17-19; John 8:31-32; Romans 8:1-4; Galatians 5:1, 13-15.

Vs 14-26 "Faith and Works": it is often misunderstood that James and Paul are in disagreement about the relationship between faith and works. Some read this passage from James and hear him saying that one is saved through works while others see passages from Paul (ie. Romans 3:27-28; 5:1-2) and read that salvation comes through faith alone. From this point of view it does seem like there is a contradiction between the two but when one takes a closer look one can see that they are actually on the same page just talking to different groups of people at different stages in their faith journeys. Paul is addressing a group of people who are new to the faith whereas James is talking to people who claim to have been believers for some time. Paul is pointing out that no one can earn their salvation by doing good works but that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. James is not denying this fact but rather is challenging those who have been Christians for a while to start living out their faith. He is making the point that if our faith does not change the way we speak and act then it is dead. Paul is talking to "young" Christians about salvation and James is talking to "older" Christians about living out that salvation. James is challenging us to make faith not just an intellectual exercise but a way of life. We are not saved by good works but for good works. The question comes down to who do we trust for our salvation, God (faith) or ourselves (works)?

Vs 20: in the Greek "senseless" = without any basis, without truth or power