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Note on James Chapter 2 by Damon Whitsell

james chapter 2

A foundational and basic error of interpretation lies in thinking that James 2 is the go to place in scripture to clarify what salvation is. CoC’ers that oppose salvation by faith alone seem to think James was teaching differently than Paul and the rest of scripture. But he is not. Paul is the apostle to the gentiles and James was a Jew speaking to Jews. They were speaking to two different audiences and emphasizing two different types of Justification. Paul said Abraham was justified by faith and had nothing to boast about before God. He was showing justification before God. Yet James said “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. (James 2:18). He is speaking about justification before men. And both Paul and James agree and said that Abraham believed God and it was counted or credited to him as righteousness.

To see the two different kind of justifications see (Rom 4:2) “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God”. If Abraham was justified by works, as James at first glance appears to assert he is, he can glory before men but not before God. Romans 3: 19-20 says “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The law makes all men “guilty before God” and “in his sight”, but we can be seen as just to men by observing and keeping the law and doing good works. This has to be the true understanding of James2:24 because the scripture is clear in so many places that we are saved through faith and not by works. James cannot be speaking in contradiction to the rest of scripture.