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James

Chapter 2

Commentary by Tom Brown

1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.

don't show favoritism. We believe in Jesus, yet He grew up in a poor village, and was in a province that was despised by the Jewish hierarchy. So to show favoritism for the rich and well-connected is contrary to faith in Jesus.

2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.

 

3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"

show special attention. Churches have given special seats to the rich that have donated much money to the church. Today, some churches sell special seating. This is all contrary to the way Christ has called us to live.

4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

 

judges with evil thoughts? It is tempting to judge favorably based on their fame, connected and money.

 

5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith. This is still the case. By and large, those in poverty come easily to Christ.

inherit the kingdom. If you have the kingdom, then  you have all that you need for life. Seek first His kingdom and everything else will be given to you as well.

6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?

dragging you into court? I have only been sued once--by the mayor of El Paso. All because I held him accountable for throwing out the votes of the citizens. It was not a poor man but a politically powerful, well-connected man with financial means.

7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

 

 

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.

royal law. Law given by our King and upheld by us that are considered royalty.

you are doing right. You never need to worry about whether you are doing right or wrong if you treat others the way you want to be treated.

9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

you sin. You always do wrong when you show favoritism.

10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

guilty of breaking all of it. The Ten Commandments were written to two tablets, so if one of the commandment was broken, the entire tablet broke.

11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

 

You cannot pick and choose which command you want to keep and which one you can discard. This could also be a reference to the woman caught in adultery (see John 8); and the people wanted to stone her (murder), so which is worse, adultery or murder?

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,

Speak and act. Conduct is in both word and deed. We can hurt others by our words in the same way we can hurt them by our actions.

13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

 

Mercy triumphs over judgment. A judge who shows mercy overrules any judgments for the convict. God will show you no mercy if you do not show mercy to others.

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

claims to have faith. He doesn't necessarily have faith; he only claims to have it.

Can such faith save him? Rhetorical question. True faith is sincere commitment to Christ. There is a false faith in which people join the Christian religion for selfish or ignoble reasons.

15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

 

16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

what good is it? Sometimes people need for the words, they need action.

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

 

The nature of true faith always produces action. If you believe in someone's word, then you act like it. Same with God.

18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."

 

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

 

19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.

 

Even the demons believe that. Demon have no trouble believing in God's existence. They even express fear of God. Yet, they live evil.

20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?

 

21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

considered righteous. Consideration is visible. God sees the heart. In the heart God sees us righteous. Yet people cannot see the heart; they only can "consider" the evidence.

22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

faith and his actions were working together. It is not that faith works separate from works. They go hand in hand. It is not faith plus works that saves; it is faith through works that saves.

23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.

Credited. Our righteousness is credit based on the payment of Christ on the cross.

God's friend. The word friend is a covenant term.

24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

 

not by faith alone. The Protestant reformation is built on contradicting this passage. True faith is never without corresponding action. Again, faith "alone" is meant to describe lonely faith. Faith has a permanent companion--action.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?

considered righteous. See verse 21

what she did. Rahab both believed in the God of the Hebrews, and she even mentioned that others in Jericho also feared their God. But only Rahab did something about her faith.

26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

 

faith without deeds is dead. There is nothing so still as those that are dead. And there is nothing so unproductive as the dead. The word "dead" is to emphasize the utter useless of faith without deeds.

 

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