b. Christian faith expressed in Christian acts (2:14–26)

14 What good is it, my brothers, if somebody says he has faith, but produces no works? Is faith enough to save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothes or in want of daily food,

16 and one of you says to them: “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what their body needs, what good is it?

17 So, too, faith without works is by itself dead.

18 Indeed one will say: “You claim to have faith, and I have works. Let me see your faith without your works, and through my works I will let you see my faith.”

19 You believe that there is one God. Good. The devils also believe, and shudder.

20 But will you accept the truth, vain fellow, that faith without works is sterile?

21 Was not our father Abraham justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

22 Do you see that faith shared in his works and by his works faith was consummated?

23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham put his faith in God, and it was reckoned to his credit for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.

24 Do you see that a man is justified by works and not by mere faith?

25 Similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, for receiving the messengers and sending them out another way?

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

14 What good is it …? 140  still heard apparently today (shū ilfaida) in Jerusalem, 141  and common in some earlier Greek but not in the Bible (Job 15:3; 1 Cor. 15:32), is quite Socratic (Platonic) in this application of the test of “good.” The meaning is clear. To paraphrase: “What is the use of a man claiming 142  to ‘have faith’ in our Lord Jesus Christ (2:1) if it is without works? Can this kind of faith save him?” Save, clearly not “unreflective” (Blackman), has the full soteriological sense to be expected in an argument for the soteriological significance of works in faith, and the soteriological examples of Abraham and Rahab. 143  The aorist 144  signifies “achieve salvation for him,” not merely “promote it.”

In the first question faith is personal and partial, as when a man says, “I have money”; the second faith, which has the article of previous reference, 145  is generic, as in “Faith can remove mountains,” “that kind of faith”; so Bede, “that faith which you say you have.” 146  The Greek interrogative 147  expects the answer “no” to the question: “Is faith enough to save him?” This latter kind of faith is impotent, unable to save, without works and ipso facto without worth. Such works, like feeding and clothing the poor as described by James (1:25, 27; 2:8), are “works of love” (Liebeswerke) similar to rabbinic gemiluth ḥasadim, 148  but essentially different from the ceremonial mitswôt attacked by Paul. 149  Whereas “Paul’s contrast was a novel one, viz., between the works of an old and abandoned system and the faith of a newly adopted one, James is led to draw the more usual contrast between the faith and works which are both deemed necessary under the same system” (Ropes, p. 205). “Works of love” are one of the three pillars upon which the world, i.e., the social order, rests, 150  and are associated, and even identified, with the Shechinah itself: “How great is the virtue of charity? If a man gives only one coin to a poor brother, he becomes worthy to receive the face of the Shechinah.” 151  Similarly, “the Shechinah is charity.” 152  Significantly James also associates the Shechinah with “good works” (2:1ff.).

15 A simple analogy illustrates the issue. Suppose a fellow Christian, brother or sister, possibly husband and wife (but see 1:27, “widows”), is found, perhaps even in church (2:2f.), in rags and starving. Literally “naked” (nudus), e.g., Gen. 2:25; 3:7, the Greek word 153  usually indicates a lack of clothing (see Job 22:6; Isa. 20:2, 3; 58:7; 2 Macc. 11:12), sometimes a total lack (Mark 14:52), but other times “without an outer garment” (John 21:7; see Matt. 25:36). The meaning of daily, 154  only here in the NT, not in the LXX, and occasionally in Classical Greek, 155  is difficult to determine, depending on whether it is taken as “that which is on day,” or “that which has day upon it.” Instead of daily food, we could translate “the day’s supply of food.” 156  The choice of a less usual verb for “is” 157  (without clothes) may be a delicate and intentional touch, suggesting continuity with a previous state, not merely a temporary condition—“a backward look to an antecedent condition which has been protracted into the present,” 158  although this sense was lost in later Greek. 159  That such poverty and neglect could occur apparently in the Christian Church is hard to believe, but is clearly documented in Christian literature. 160  Apparently the Jews had a similar problem in the matter of feeding the poor in the synagogue. 160a 

16 Instead of caring for the poor—to do this is to “walk after the Shechinah” 161  —this “Christian” contents himself with mere words, a curt, colloquial “Good luck to you,” literally “Go in peace.” 162  The idea, as Moule correctly observes, 163  is not a progressive entering into peace, but departure in a state of peace. “Keep warm and eat well”—the form of the original 164  is important: imperative, not indicative (Plumptre), passive not middle, 165  present rather than aorist. This failure of Christian love was not accidental, but sustained and deliberate. The irony is unmistakable. To warm is frequent in the OT, especially of warm clothes, e.g., Hos. 7:7; in the NT see Mark 14:54; John 18:18, 25. 166  To eat well is a vulgarism, literally “gorge oneself,” like a ravenous beast, especially of cattle, 167  as in early Greek. 168  “Go in peace,” 169  addressed to beggars, may still be heard today in the streets of Jerusalem, 170  and it has the same effect. It signals the end of the encounter. The speaker does nothing and goes off, leaving the beggar still cold and hungry, with the law of love unfulfilled.

The rabbis advised those unable to provide relief at least to speak words of comfort: “My soul goes out to you because I have nothing to give you.” 171  Apparently this “Christian” seems to be well able to provide relief: his ability is not in question, only his faith. He is in the same class as those condemned by Christ in the Parable of the Last Judgment (Matt. 25:41ff.). This parable, like the Lord’s Prayer (“daily bread”: compare what their body needs, and v. 15), seems to have deeply influenced James. This scene gives us a glimpse into the Church’s earliest efforts to implement the social teaching of Jesus. For example, the Church at Jerusalem adapted the Jewish system of poor relief, and cared for the poor, notably the widows, at its daily services. 172  In such a setting it is not hard to imagine some bureaucratic church official dismissing this deserving case with a smug cliché: “Go in peace.” “The sight of distress is unpleasant to these dainty Christians. They bustle out the wretched-looking brother or sister with seeming kindness and what sounds like an order for immediate relief, but without taking any step to carry out the order” (Mayor). These “dainty” Christians are full of words but empty of works. 173  But words in themselves without clothes and food are worthless: hence the reiterated, unanswerable question: “What good is it?” (v. 14).

17 See vv. 20 and 26. This verse is just a vivid way of stating that without works faith is no faith at all any more than a corpse is a man. Having form, this faith lacks force—“outwardly inoperative, because inwardly dead.”

By itself does not qualify dead (RV) but faith: so KJV “faith alone,” or better RSV “faith by itself,” 174  taking the phrase 175  as equivalent to per se. Faith, therefore, is considered “not merely in relation to other things, not merely in its utility … but in its own very and inherent nature” (Hort).

Note the vicious circle: Faith that produces no works is dead; and dead faith cannot produce works.

18 One may put it like this (by way of challenge that the challenger knows cannot be met): “You claim to have faith: I have works. I can prove my faith by my works. But I defy you to prove to me the existence of your faith without works: for, of course, you cannot do it.”

i. The Greek 176  for Indeed is adversative, “Nay” when following an expressed or implied assertion that is not itself an expressed or implied negative, “Yea” when following an expressed or implied negative. Here it is “Yea” after the cumulative implied negatives. 177 

ii. One is conceived as a supporter of James’s view at least on this point, and most probably as a fellow Christian Jew rather than as a latter-day Aristotle or Rabbi.

iii. You is addressed by this one to the prevaricator of v. 14.

iv. I is the one of v. 18, the supporter of James’s view.

In effect, James says here: You claim to have “faith” and I claim to have “works,” actions, behavior. I can prove the existence and quality of my “faith” by my “works” (actions and behavior), but I defy you to prove (to me or any of the rest of mankind) the existence and/or quality of your “faith.” For I do not believe that without “works” (actions and behavior) you can possibly have any genuine “faith.”

James, we must remember, is contemplating a normal man, not, for example, a helpless paralytic, whose faith, if any, is perceptible only to God.

Here (2:14–26) “faith” is used sometimes to mean mere intellectual belief in God’s existence, a faith which even the devils share (v. 19), a dead (vv. 17, 20, 26), useless and fruitless (vv. 14, 16) faith; and sometimes it has the ordinary Christian meaning of faith as the activity of a believer seeking to obey God. So also Paul, 1 Cor. 13.

“I have works,” or “I have faith,” does not here mean, “I have only works,” or “have only faith,” nor “I have mainly” works or faith. James, like all Christians, believes that Christian works can proceed only from Christian faith and that (except in stricken health) Christian faith cannot fail to produce Christian works: in the activity of Christian belief there can be no distinguishing bias between “faith” and “works.” 178 

19 The words You believe are not, we think, here addressed to anyone specifically identified in James’s mind; and not, we think, a question (Westcott, Hort, von Soden, Nestlé, and others); but, like “Well done,” ahsant, a familiar Palestinian phrase, ironically affirmative (Mayor, Ropes, Oesterley, and others). 179  The verbal construction “to believe that God exists” 180  instead of “to trust God” 181  emphasizes intellectual acceptance, indicating that faith here is the fides qua creditur of orthodox Judaism. 182 

This ability to assert belief in the existence and uniqueness of God was one—not the sole—indispensable requirement of the Jewish religion; 183  and it did not excuse, much less justify, repudiation of conduct conformable with that faith: on the contrary, the rabbis insisted that the shemaʿ, the pious Jew’s daily confession of faith (Deut. 6:4, here quoted by James), was an express acceptance of the yoke of the kingdom (or Kingship) of God, 184  an act embracing, as they said: (1) that acceptance, and (2) commitment to the commandments (mitswôt: Deut. 11:13–21) and (3) to the study of the Torah. Indeed, the Shechinah was said to stand in the synagogue when the Jew entered to read the Shemaʿ. 185  A midrash on Mic. 6:3 designates qeriʾ at Shemaʿ as a divine edict, and tells how it should be read; 186  another stresses the need for awe: “terror and fear and with trembling and with trepidation.” 187  Unfortunately the necessary and salutary emphasis on ritual too often led, as perhaps with us, to its perversion, that is, to insincere ritualism, as if you could guarantee your ultimate salvation merely by reading a passage of the Bible every day and attending worship every Sunday and other day of obligation. The pious Jew even attached merit to the way the Shemaʿ was said: “Whosoever prolongs the utterance of the word One 188  shall have his days and years prolonged unto him.” 189 

The idea of demonic terror 190  before the holiness of Yahweh (mysterium tremendum et fascinans) was familiar in Jewish apocryphal literature; 191  and so was the belief that the Shemaʿ, credal recitations, and the charms of magic names and prayers gave protection from the demons. 192  Originally the numinous shudder 193  means “to bristle up,” with an allusion perhaps to particular OT demons, “hairy ones” or śeʿirim (Isa. 13:21; 34:14); but Jewish demonology is a vast subject and beyond our scope here.

Against Dibelius, E. Peterson contends that the order of B 194  may well be that of the apotropaic formula, not that of the Christian Kerygma. 195  He also thinks (although we are not sure why) that the “terror” theme, familiar in Judaism but especially associated with that of diaspora syncretism which blended the One God with Aiōn, may be a pointer to this sort of background. On the other hand, W. L. Knox notes that the theme is inscribed on a certain amulet but ignored by Strack-Billerbeck; he thinks that this may indicate Hellenistic—possibly even universalistic (Oesterley)?—affinities, or “it may be due to the disappearance of the kerygmatic form of exorcism from orthodox Judaism in the face of Christian competition.” 196  While it is possible that James is merely using a stock Orphic phrase for casual illustration, 197  more likely the Shemaʿ may well have been an integral article in the creed of the Jerusalem Church, synonymous even with “taking the yoke of the kingdom.” 198 

The point James is now driving home is that a Christian creed without corresponding Christian conduct will save neither devil nor man. So William Tyndale, comparing James and Paul: “The devil hath no promise therefore he is excluded from Paul’s faith. The devil believeth that Christ died, but not that he died for his sins.” 199 

20 This brusque type of address, “Don’t you realize …?” 200  is frequent in the Greek moralists, especially in the diatribe. The adjective kenos (vain fellow) 201  means “empty,” “hollow,” “defective.” This fits the present context, where there is no hint of a contrast: e.g., “You are not a demon, but a human being.” The object condemned is not vanity, arrogance, or even doctrine, Pauline or Gnostic (Hilgenfeld, Weinel, Schammberger), but rather insincerity. This emptyhead’s “faith” is sham. Faith lives by works; without works faith is sterile—not “dead,” as in vv. 17, 26 202  ; but literally “workless,” “not at work” 203  (Matt. 20:3): so “idle,” “inactive,” “ineffective,” “untilled,” “fallow,” “unproductive”—clearly a play on the coming “works,” “work together,” v. 22. See Milton On His Blindness:

And that one talent which ’tis death to hide

Lodged with me useless.

Much more than a mere “quibbler” (NEB), the man who professes faith but does not exercise it is a “fool” (Living Bible); but while, as in later Jewish literature, 204  such foolishness may be partly intellectual, the prime stress here is ethical. “He who believes in the existence of God,” writes John Baillie, “but who lives as if God were not, has fallen much further from God than he who has difficulty in believing in God’s existence yet lives in such a way as often to put believers to shame.… The real unbeliever is not he whose life witnesses to a belief that he thinks he does not possess, but rather he whose life proves that he does not really believe what he thinks he believes.” 204a  To have faith, and knowingly not to use it, is a sin (Jas. 4:17); so Hillel: “An empty man cannot be a sin-fearing man, nor can an ignorant person be pious.” 205 

21 We offer this alternative translation to clarify the meaning: “Was not our father, Abraham, shown to be in the right by works, when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?”

“Søren Kierkegaard sank down at the thought of Mount Moriah. None was so great as Abraham. Who can understand him?” 206 

James’s choice of Abraham was likely prompted by his opponent (2:19), who would be well aware of the Jewish traditions concerning this supreme type and the true hero of faith. 207  “Our father” has been taken as possible, but not conclusive, proof of the Epistle’s Jewish-Christian origin. Paul, for example, extends the phrase to those who were children of Abraham, not by physical but by spiritual descent; and this later became a prime article of Jewish-Christian catechisms. 208  The alternative (but less well-attested) reading “your father” could better point to a Jewish-Christian origin.

The sacrifice of Isaac 209  was regarded as Abraham’s greatest trial of faith, in which he glorified the divine name, and to some extent it was the Jewish equivalent of the labors of Hercules. 210  In rabbinic thought Abraham is reckoned righteous on account of works of merit. 211  Though important, his “faith” is itself actually a kind of meritorious “work,” to be equated with monotheistic belief and faithfulness to the Torah. 212  This is the kind of “faith” and “works” which James seems to be combatting. The “binding of Isaac” shows that Abraham’s faith, in this instance, is as unquestioning, untheological, and unsophisticated as the trust of a little child; hence his readiness to sacrifice Isaac. “When Abraham,” declared the rabbis, “without any questioning obeyed God’s order to sacrifice his son, he was inspired by his love to God.” 213  This is why Abraham was justified. The Greek verb dikaioō means “to declare righteous” or (passive) “to be in the right relationship,” and while the forensic and moral are both present in James, the latter dominates. The works by which Abraham, according to James, is justified are not “works of law” (mitswôt) but what the rabbis called “works of loving-kindness” (Liebeswerke); his readiness to sacrifice Isaac was proof of his faith and revealed the basic relationship of obedience. His justification therefore was based on merit, not of law but of love. 214 

22 James next shows that faith, instead of being merely one particular work in Abraham’s justification, is indissolubly linked to works, neither being unduly stressed at the expense of the other. 215  The clear deduction from the previous verse is that faith and works are indivisible. “Abraham’s works were the product and expression of his faith,” writes Cranfield (p. 12), “and they were also its completion—in the sense that without them it would not have been real faith.” That faith and works seem to be “two magnitudes” (Dibelius, p. 167) in our Epistle is true only in the sense that there was a kind of “faith”—so-called and known to the “emptyhead” of v. 20—that had no works, a dead, fruitless tree (Mayor). They are one or two in the same way as a tree may be regarded as one or two (see, somewhat similarly, v. 26). Body and spirit are one and two just as one happens to consider them. Body without “spirit” is body in the sense of corpse (or corpus), but not alive. Body as seen in action is vivified only by “spirit.” 216 

Clearly then—taking the sentence as a definite statement rather than (with KJV and RV mg.) as a question, though the sense is not affected 217  —“faith” shared in or cooperated with (or in) his works. 218  The EVV “wrought with” is not really satisfactory as it fails to emphasize the idea of cooperation, for this idea of a partner, not instrument, is vital for bringing out the real force of the passage: namely, that the writer is not pleading “for faith plus works … but for faith at work” (Hort). The force of the imperfect tense of “cooperated” (shared in), rather than the present, 219  stresses the continuous nature of this cooperation: “was continually cooperating.”

And by his works faith was consummated, that is, was realized, made perfect, or expressed itself, fulfilled itself. This does not mean either (a) that a faith previously defective was made perfect by works as a kind of addition from without (for the works themselves were inspired by faith, and faith cooperated in them), or (b) that a faith already perfect is revealed by its works. The force of the statement seems to be that faith is fulfilled, strengthened, and matured by exercise. Faith then operates in conjunction with works, and not otherwise.

23 Abraham’s action is now said to “fulfil” the text in Gen. 15:6: “And Abraham trusted God, and it was reckoned to him as equivalent to righteousness.” The LXX wording should be compared with the Massoretic Text. 220  Essentially James follows the LXX. The important word “reckon” 221  is often used as a terminus technicus in the LXX to express one thing as being equivalent to or having the same force and weight as another. Consider the following comments: “The habit of belief in Yahweh He reckoned to Abraham as ‘righteousness.’ ” 222  “That is transferred to the subject in question, and imputed to him, which in and for itself does not belong to him; … something is imputed to the person per substitutionem. The object in question [here, Abraham’s faith] supplies the place of that for which it answers; it is substituted for it.” 223 

We have already noted the essential unity of James and Paul (2:21). This is not to deny differences of emphasis, even of intent and interpretation. Whereas Paul employs the example of Abraham to demolish the notion of salvation by merit, James uses him to illustrate the futility of a dead faith. There is also, as Dibelius shows (p. 168, n. 1), a difference of interpretation: Gen. 15:6:




Abraham believed God

and this belief was counted to him as a work “for righteousness.”



Abraham believed God

and this belief was reckoned to him “for righteousness” instead of works.



Abraham believed God

and his faith and works were counted to him “for righteousness.”

James is more traditional than Paul in his treatment of Gen. 15:6: Paul isolates it from Gen. 22:1ff., whereas James combines them in regular Jewish fashion. 224 

The sacrificing of Isaac, recounted in Jas. 2:21, is the acid test of Abraham’s faith and completely fulfils Gen. 15:6 both in relation to Abraham, who promises to believe, and to God, who promises to accept Abraham and his posterity. It is significant that the order James follows—Gen. 15:6 quoted in Jas. 2:23 precedes the events of Jas. 2:21—is not purely chronological. For James, as Martyn says, “true faith is always a beginning which looks beyond itself,” and is related to “works” as “promise” to “fulfilment.” 225  The Talmudic root qwm (in the Piel) indicates that this “fulfilment” is not an isolated “prophecy” (Mayor, Ropes), but rather, as A. Guillaume suggests, “an establishing by obedience to the spirit as much as to the letter.” 226  In the sense, therefore, that it established and interpreted Gen. 15:6, the event was a “fulfilment,” i.e., a divine suprahistoric (überhistorisch) verdict delivered on Abraham’s entire life (see Dibelius, p. 153).

As “a co-partner with the Holy One,” 227  Abraham is reckoned “to be righteous” because of his faith; such righteousness is to be construed neither in the narrow classical nor purely Pauline sense, but rather “in the right Covenant relationship.” 228  In the LXX the meaning of the verb dikaioō is not “to make righteous,” but “to declare righteous” (Deut. 25:1; 1 K. 8:32; Sir. 13:22; 42:2), while in Exod. 23:7 it means “acquit.” So it has a judicial or forensic meaning which might not even go beyond observing the law. The same use is found in the NT (e.g., Matt. 12:37; Luke 7:29; Rom. 2:13). Here in the Epistle of James, Abraham is declared to be righteous, i.e., in a right relationship, because his faith led him to cooperate with God: this cooperation meant that he was even willing to sacrifice Isaac. Apparently Paul’s problem, viz., the admission of Gentiles and justification of “sinners,” has not yet arisen. The key to James’s idea of justification appears to be the covenant relationship, a relationship which for Abraham at least ripened into friendship, for he was called “the friend of God”; and this title was indeed, in the full sense of the word, a verdict (ein Spruch) of justification. 229 

24 The author turns again to the Christian brotherhood, leaving the “vain man” (v. 14) aside. 230  He affirms that both faith and works are necessary for justification, faith alone (emphatic adverbial “only,” with KJV, against RV; see “by itself,” v. 17) being useless without works! Though neither ignored nor belittled, faith is regarded as complementing works, with which it must be combined (see 2 Esdras 13:23). The contrast is between faith minus works, and works minus faith—not between faith and works. For the Jews faith itself was a work, 231  and James preserves the distinction between them. But he does not teach justification by works: contrast 2 Baruch on “salvation by works” (51:3, 7; 67:6).

The Covenant, as the trial of Abraham showed, involves not only a necessary, initial act of faith, but also its continuous, confirmatory expression (Ropes, p. 218), i.e., each man has his Recht and Pflicht. Nor is this position—without perhaps the deeper Pauline insights—“false” (falsum: Luther) to Paul’s position. We may say that Abraham was justified by faith (Paul) in that he trusted God and obeyed his voice in respect of his son Isaac; he may be said to be justified by works (James) because his trust and obedience led him to take Isaac—that is, to do something. John Calvin summarizes well this relationship between faith and works: “Faith alone justifies, but the faith which justifies is not alone.” 231a 

25 We offer this alternative translation to clarify the meaning: “In the same way, too, was not even Rahab, the prostitute, shown to be righteous by what she did, when she cared for the messengers and sent them forth by a different route?”

For his next, and very different, example of vital faith James selects Rahab. The contrast is deliberate and provocative, carefully designed for maximum effect: compare Philo’s mention, in parallel fashion, of Tamar after speaking of Abraham. 232  Any attempt to soften the contrast by suggesting, for example, that she was an innkeeper and not a prostitute should be rejected. 233  Bereft of all the obvious advantages of Abraham, the father of the faithful, this typical heathen Gentile (Canaanite) woman (not man) proselyte, once prostitute, by her conduct and example offered even more compelling proof that faith expresses itself in works. Her faith is assumed but not elaborated, in a way that affords comparison with Hebrews and Clement. 234  The point James effectively makes is that by itself her “faith,” like Abraham’s, was worthless apart from deeds, for both were necessary; so Cassiodorus: “Cases that are recognized as leading toward justification on a basis of works (expressive of faith), not on a basis of (absolutely unworking and unpracticed) belief” (Dibelius, p. 157, n. 1). Whereas Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son, Rahab helped the “messengers” escape 235  after apparently giving them hospitality (Heb. 11:31; 1 Clem. 12:1). Rahab’s faith was consummated and vindicated by her deeds: so she was shown to be righteous. According to Jewish tradition, she risked everything because she repented, and believed in the true God of Israel of whose mighty deeds she had heard; and in pleading for forgiveness, she cited her treatment of the messengers, and was declared righteous. 236  Rahab’s “justification” was the sparing of her life when the town fell (Josh. 6:17, 23). It could be argued that Rahab was self-serving in that she regarded only the safety of herself and her family; but while there is no need to approve all the moral implications of Rahab’s act (done in admittedly difficult and extenuating circumstances), the modern critic of James ought to allow a different biblical view of history: Paul was ready to admit that many who did not know the Torah acted in accordance with its dictates. This may well explain why James chose this example of works to justify Rahab. In any case she presents a striking contrast to formal religion (though Judaism curiously regarded her as a forerunner of the later proselytes), whether practiced by monotheists or others. Her “moral standard was faulty.” Yet sarcasm may lurk in James’s words, for he calls the two men not “spies” but messengers (see Ropes).

By his choice of Abraham and Rahab, therefore, James shows not only that the acid test of faith is works but also that this principle has universal application, embracing both patriarch and prostitute. Of necessity, too, such proof will always be clear and convincing; witness, for example, the simple eloquence of a Salvationist servant lass: “My missus says she believes I am saved because I sweep beneath the mats, and I didn’t before!” 237  The indisputable point is that true faith operates in, cooperates with, and is vindicated by works. Like Abraham, Rahab was justified through faith and works—and not by faith alone.

26 In his usual circling fashion James by analogy 238  reiterates and clinches his basic thesis, “faith without works is dead” (v. 17). The omission of “for,” inserted by some manuscripts and most versions, is correct and in keeping with James’s brusque style.

Faith is compared to the body, works to the spirit—an apparent inversion which has caused some to question the soundness of the text (so Spitta). The exact details of any comparison should not be pressed. In this case the comparison may well be his opponent’s, and its elements should be carefully considered in context. Thus faith is used in the non-Pauline, especially Jewish sense of a body or corpus of opinion; “body” represents the Hebraic monistic (rather than Greek “body-tomb” dualistic) view of the total, essential person (see 1 Cor. 15); that is, “the body is the soul in its outward form”; 239  and the primary effect of “spirit” or “breath,” like OT ruaḥ, is life, and this makes the body a living soul (nephesh) from which it departs at death (see Mayor). The tertium comparationis, therefore, is the essential deadness of both “body” and “faith” apart from the vital principle of “works,” which is equivalent to the spirit.



 140 τί τὸ ὄφελος;

 141 Bishop, Apostles of Palestine, p. 185.

 142 λέγῃ.

 143 See also the Introduction, “Faith and Works,” pp. 35ff.

 144 σῶσαι.

 145 ἡ πίστις—see Moule, p. 111.

 146 Fides illa quam vos habere dicitis.

 147 μή.

 148 Cohen, op. cit., pp. 224ff.; SB IV, pp. 559ff.

 149 Schechter, Rabbinic Theology, p. 214. On the three (Greek, Jewish, and Christian) types of “good works,” especially with his caveat on the General Epistles, see W. C. van Unnik, “The Teaching of Good Works in I Peter,” NTS 1 (1954–55), pp. 984ff.

 150 Aboth i.2.

 151 Yalquṭ on Ps. 17; b. Baba Bathra 10a.

 152 R. Samuel b. Mai on Cant. 3:10.

 153 γυμνός.

 154 ἐφημέριος (Doric and Aeolic ἐπάμερος). LS 9 (1940), p. 606.

 155 E.g., Diodorus iii.32; Dion. Hal. viii.41.5. See Mayor, ad loc.; F. Field, Notes on the Translation of the NT (1899), pp. 236f.; H. Fränkel, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 77 (1946), pp. 131ff.

 156 On the possible Aramaic behind “daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:11; Luke 11:3), see F. H. Chase, The Lord’s Prayer in the Early Church (1891), p. 48. Cf. also B. M. Metzger, “How Many Times does epiousios occur outside the Lord’s Prayer?” in Historical and Literary Studies (1968), pp. 64ff.; W. Mundle, s.v. “Bread,” New International Dictionary of NT Theology, ed. L. Coenen, C. Brown, et al., I (1975).

 157 ὑπάρχω for εἰμί.

 158 See M. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the NT I (1887), p. 743.

 159 MM, s.v. ὑπάρχω for the papyri; Bl.-D, §§ 114f.

 160 E.g., Gospel according to the Hebrews, in M. R. James, Apocryphal NT, p. 6.

 160a See Jewish Encyclopaedia (1901), 3, pp. 667ff., “Charity” (W. Nowack), especially noting the charity box (kuppah) and bowl (tamhoi), which provided food and money for the poor.

 161 b. Soṭah 15a.

 162 ὑπάγετε ἐν εἴρηνῃ. The form with εἰς, sometimes futurive (cf. Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50; 8:48), was probably influenced by the LXX: cf. lekhu leshālôm, e.g., Judg. 18:6 and often; Luke 2:29 Nunc Dimittis; so pax vobiscum (J. H. Moulton, A Grammar of NT Greek II [1919], p. 463; SB I, p. 138).

 163 Idiom Book, pp. 70ff.

 164 θερμαίνεσθε καὶ χορτάζεσθε.

 165 Ropes, ad loc., notes correctly that the middle “warm and feed yourselves” would need the reflexive pronoun.

 166 For secular use, see Galen de Vir Med. Simpl. ii, cited by Wettstein, which differentiates between that which warms and that which merely wards off the cold; also Plutarch Quaest. Conviv. vi.6.

 167 χορτάζω, cf. χόρτος.

 168 E.g., Plato Republic IX, p. 286, and particularly the comic poets; cf. LS, s.v. χορτάζω.

 169 rūh maʾ-as-salami.

 170 Bishop, op. cit., p. 185.

 171 Lev. R. xxxiv.15; Cohen, op. cit., p. 224.

 172 See J. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (E.T. 1969), pp. 130ff.

 173 “In the magnificent cathedral, the Honorable and Right Reverend … High Court Preacher … steps forth, the favorite of the fashionable world. He appears before a chosen company and preaches with emotion on a text chosen by himself: ‘God has chosen the base things of the world, and the things that are despised’—and nobody laughs” (S. Kierkegaard; translation adapted from Kierkegaard’s Attack Upon “Christendom” 1854–1855, trans. and ed. W. Lowrie [1944], p. 181).

 174 ff. sola; Vulg. in semetipsa.

 175 καθʼ ἑαυτήν.

 176 ἀλλʼ.

 177 τί τὸ ὄφελος …; μὴ δύναται …; (v. 14), τί τὸ ὄφελος …; (v. 16), νεκρά ἐστιν … (v. 17).

 178 See further Excursus F, pp. 135ff.

 179 See Bishop, op. cit., p. 186.

 180 πιστεύειν ὅτι.

 181 πιστεύειν with the dative.

 182 See C. H. Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, p. 66; SB III, pp. 189f.; A. Meyer, pp. 123ff. Likewise “there is a world of difference between learning to repeat ‘God is an omnipotent being’ and learning to address oneself straight to God saying: ‘Thou art my rock’ ” (cited from Régine Pernoud, Heloise and Abelard, by William Barclay, A Spiritual Autobiography [1975], p. 35).

 183 See T. W. Manson, The Teaching of Jesus (21935), p. 192; M. Kadushin, Worship and Ethics (1964), p. 86, The Rabbinic Mind, pp. 57ff., 348ff.

 184 malkut shamayim; Deut. R. vi.4; SB I, pp. 177ff.

 185 J. Abelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature, p. 123.

 186 Lev. R. xxvi.6.

 187 Seder Eliyyahu Rabba, p. 46; M. Kadushin, Worship and Ethics, pp. 83ff.

 188 Heb. ʾeḥād.

 189 b. Ber. 13b.

 190 φρίσσω.

 191 E.g., 1 Enoch 13:3; 69:1, 14; see A. Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East (E.T. 1927), p. 260.

 192 Oesterley; J. Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition (1939), p. 156.

 193 Lat. horreo; compare Heb. śāʿar.

 194 εἷς θεός (instead of εἷς ἐστιν θεός).

 195 ΕΙΣ ΘΕΟΣ (1926), p. 295, n. 3.

 196 “Jewish Liturgical Exorcism,” HTR 31 (1938), p. 194, n. 25.

 197 Moffatt; E. Langton, Essentials of Demonology (1949), pp. 198ff.

 198 See Sifre Deut. 32:29.

 199 The Obedience of a Christian Man (n.d.), ch. XII: “The Duty of Kings.”

 200 γνῶναι, punctiliar aorist conveying asperity.

 201 Rarely of men, it is here close to, if not the same as, NT raca (Matt. 5:22; Mayor, Knowling; contra Oesterley), OT rēq (e.g., Judg. 9:4; 11:3; 2 Sam. 6:20), and esp. Aram. rēqā, “empty,” of persons “fool”; see T. W. Manson, The Sayings of Jesus (1949), p. 156. The Peshitta translates “weak” (Syr. ḥalāshā), Vulg. inanis, the Corbey ms. vacue. Cf. ἄφρων, 1 Cor. 15:36. With the vocative κενέ compare μωρέ, ὦ ταλαίπωρε, stulte, miser. See MM, s.v.; but also Mitton, p. 111; Epictetus ii.19.8. cited by Hort ad loc. See R. Bultmann, Der Stil der Paulinischen Predigt (1910), p. 14; Ropes, p. 14; also vv. 14, 19, 22.

 202 Here also TR, with A C K L P Boh. Syr. Eth.

 203 ἀργή, contracted from ἀ-εργής (perhaps by confusion with ἀργός, “shining”).

 204 G. Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua (1929), pp. 76f.

 204a Our Knowledge of God (1939), pp. 65, 66.

 205 Aboth ii.56; Aboth de-Rabbi Nathan version II, xxxiii.36b; also Midrash on Ps. 87:2. On the present verse see Augustine De diversis quaestionibus 76; Enchiridion 117 (J. P. Migne, ed., Patrologia Latina XL, 87, 286).

 206 W. Vischer, The Witness of the OT to Christ I (E.T. 1949), p. 20, referring to Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling (1843, E.T. 1941).

 207 See W. Eichrodt, Theology of the OT I, pp. 49, 56ff.; SB III, pp. 186ff.; Dibelius, pp. 157ff.; Meyer, pp. 135ff., for Philonic and rabbinic references.

 208 Gal. 3:7ff.; Rom. 4:11f., 16; Justin Dial. 134; Clem. Rom. 31:2.

 209 ʿaqedat Yitsḥaq, lit. the “binding of Isaac.”

 210 See Gen. 22; Pirqe Aboth v.3; 1 Macc. 2:52; b. Sanh. 9b; Tanḥuma Wayyera, in answer to Ps. 8:5; H. J. Schoeps, “The Sacrifice of Isaac in Paul’s Theology,” JBL 65 (1946), pp. 385ff.; M. E. Andrews, “Peirasmos: A Study in Form Criticism,” ATR 24 (1942), p. 235; A. C. Swindell, “Abraham and Isaac: An Essay in Biblical Appropriation,” ExT 87/2 (1975), pp. 50–53.

 211 SB III, pp. 186–201.

 212 Midr. Tehillim lxviii.17; Meyer, p. 133.

 213 See A. Buechler, Studies in Sin and Atonement (1928), pp. 126ff., with references.

 214 See also the Introduction, “Faith and Works,” pp. 34ff.

 215 Ropes; SB III, pp. 186ff.

 216 James is actually using συνήργει as such, and as the Greeks used ἐνεργεῖ (ται): the συν- element explains the reference to “friend” in v. 26, while the remaining -ήργει is a play on ἀργή (v. 20).

 217 RV, RSV that with reference to the fact is to be preferred to KJV emphasis on method, “how.”

 218 συνήργει (Vulg. cooperabatur impf.). Common in Classical Greek, συνεργεῖν is found in the LXX only in 1 Esdras 7:2; 1 Macc. 12:1 (but see Test. Iss. 3 and Test. Gad 4), and in the NT at Mark 16:20; Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 16:16; 2 Cor. 6:1.

 219 So some mss. and Schlatter, due possibly to a desire to conform with the opening you see.

 220 A (א B missing) reads καὶ ἐπίστευσεν Ἀβραὰμ τῷ θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην (LXX), containing (against the MT) Ἀβραὰμ and the passive ἐλογίσθη, to avoid the name of God (even by implication), for the active Hebrew with lo (“to him”). Apart from the opening ἐπίστευσεν δέ, James follows the LXX version. See Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Clem. Rom. 10:6; Justin Dial. 91; Philo On the Change of Names 33; for the same phrase, see 1 Macc. 2:52; also for Phinehas, Ps. 105(106):31.

 221 λογίζομαι.

 222 BDB, s.v. ḥashab.

 223 H. Cremer, Biblico-Theological Lexicon of NT Greek (E.T. 41895), s.v. λογίζομαι. See also Deut. 24:13; 6:25; Prov. 27:14; Isa. 40:17; Wisd. 3:17; 9:6; SB III, pp. 199ff.; TDNT IV, s.v. λογίζομαι (H. W. Heidland), pp. 287ff.

 224 See Ps. 106:30, 31 (Phinehas) and W. R. Farmer, “The Patriarch Phinehas—A Note on ‘it was reckoned to him as Righteousness,’ ” ATR 34 (1952), pp. 26ff.

 225 J. L. Martyn, Notes for Use in Studying the Letter of James (1962), p. 10.

 226 In his discussion of leqayyem mah she-neʾemar (“to make to stand that which is said”). “The Midrash in the Gospels,” ExT 37 (1925–26), p. 394.

 227 b. Shab. 10a; Mekilta on Exod. 18:14.

 228 Rechtspflichts-Verhältnis. On the Hebrew idea of tsedeq as relationship (Verhältnisbegriff), see TDNT II, s.v. δικαιοσύνη (G. Schrenk), p. 195; C. H. Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks, p. 45.

 229 On “friend of God” see TDNT I, s.v. Ἀβραάμ (J. Jeremias), p. 8; SB III, p. 755.

 230 Elsewhere in the NT ὁρᾶτε—contrast βλέπεις, v. 22—is used in the imperative and has the significance “beware, see to it”; but here it means “fully understand.” In the popular speech ὁράω was gradually being displaced by βλέπω and θεωρέω; but the suggestion that the process had become complete by the end of the 1st century A.D. is disproved by the papyri.

 231 SB III, pp. 187ff.

 231a See W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Principles of Theology (1963), p. 61; also John Baillie, Invitation to Pilgrimage, pp. 66ff.

 232 On Nobility 6; see Matt. 1:5.

 233 See, e.g., Rashi, Targ. Jon. to Josh. 2:1. G. Kittel says in his footnote to the German translation of Num. R. iii.2: “Rahab is a kind of saint for later Judaism,” and he cites Heb. 11:31; Jas. 2:25; 1 Clem. 12:1; also Matt. 1:5. According to the rabbis she was a woman of surpassing beauty, whose name inspired lust (b. Meg. 15a; b. Taʿan. 56), and who, having had the chance of approaching God, was debarred through unworthiness (Num. R. iii.2); but she was also said to have been converted through the report of the miracles (Exod. R. xxvii.4; compare Josh. 2:9–11), married to Joshua, and welcomed into a Jewish family (Midr. Ruth, ed. Wünsche, pp. 14ff.). She became ancestress to eight prophets (b. Meg. 14b and c), perhaps but not probably even of the Messiah, and was visited by the Holy Spirit (Sifre Deut. 1:24 [par. 22, 69b]); see SB I, pp. 20ff.; Montefiore and Loewe, Rabbinic Anthology, p. 563. A modern archeological argument for regarding her as one who provided lodging for alien visitors is presented by D. J. Wiseman, “Rahab of Jericho,” Tyndale House Bulletin 14 (June 1964), pp. 8–11.

 234 As suggested by, e.g., B. W. Bacon in JBL 19 (1900), pp. 12ff.

 235 “Sent forth” (ἐκβαλοῦσα) is used here, not pejoratively (compare John 9:34), but simply to emphasize the difficulties of escape, e.g., the different route, possibly by “a window instead of by a door”; compare Josh. 2:5 (Mayor).

 236 Eccl. R. v. 1; Pes. R. 167b; S. Schechter, Rabbinic Theology, p. 26; JE X, s.v. “Rahab” (M. Seligsohn), p. 309; see also her own words, Josh. 2:9–11.

 237 W. Clark, The Soldier’s Armoury (July–December 1972), p. 11.

 238 ὥσπερ, used not for exact similarity but as ὡς, which is not found in James.

 239 See J. Pedersen, Israel I–II (1926), pp. 170ff.; for the Greek view, see E. Käsemann, Leib und Leib Christi (1933), pp. 23–59.