James 2
Meyer's NT Commentary

Jam 2:2. The genuineness of the article τήν before συναγωγήν (Rec. after A G K א, corr. Tisch.) is, since B C א, pr. omit it (Lachm.), at least doubtful.

Jam 2:3. Instead of the Rec. καὶ ἐπιβλέψητε, after A G א, several vss. Oecumenius, Bede (Lachm.), Tisch. has, after B C K, etc., adopted ἐπιβλέψητε δέ; which reading is the original cannot be determined.

The αὐτῷ of the Rec. (after G K) is already rightly omitted by Griesb.; A B C א, etc., do not have it; it was inserted for the completion of the expression (against Reiche). In the second clause of the verse the Rec., after C** G K א, reads στῆθι ἐκεῖ ἢ κάθου ὧδε; in A C* ὧδε is wanting (Lachm. Tisch.); B reads στῆθι ἢ κάθου ἐκεῖ. The latter reading is recommended by the sharper contrast of στῆθι to the preceding κάθου; but it is also possible that in this lies the reason of its origin; if ἐκεῖ belongs to στῆθι, ὧδε after κάθου could be easily inserted, partly from the preceding κάθου ὧδε καλῶς, partly to introduce the antithesis to ἐκεῖ; but, on the other hand, the original ὧδε might also be omitted as superfluous (on account of the following ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπ.). Nothing can with certainty be decided.

For the addition of μου before τῶν ποδῶν, adopted by Lachm., only A and the Vulg. chiefly speak. Almost all other authorities are against it.

Jam 2:4. According to the Rec. this verse commences with καὶ οὐ διεκρίθητε (thus G K, etc., Tisch. 7); in A B** C א, many min. and vss. καί is wanting (Lachm. Tisch. 2); οὐ is also wanting in the original text of B: the omission of καί may indeed be more easily explained than its insertion, on account of which Reiche and Bouman consider it as genuine; but the most important authorities are against it; the reading in B is to be considered as a correction (Buttmann).

Jam 2:5. τοῦ κόσμου (τούτου) is a reading evidently explanatory (against Reiche, Bouman), instead of τῷ κόσμῳ, whose genuineness is, moreover, attested by A* B C* א; the same also with the reading ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ.

Jam 2:10. Instead of the reading τηρήσειπταίσει, attested almost only by G K, the conjunctives τηρήσῃπταίσῃ are to be read, with Lachm. and Tisch. (against Reiche and Bouman). Jam 2:11. The Rec. εἰ δὲ οὐ μοιχεύσεις, φονεύσεις δέ, found only in K, several min. Theoph., Tisch. and Lachm. read the present μοιχεύεις, φονεύεις; thus A C א; according to Tisch. also B, but according to Buttm. B has μοιχεύεις, φονεύεις. Reiche and Bouman retain the Rec. as the original reading.

Jam 2:13. The Rec. ἀνίλεως (after G, etc.) is, after A B K א, very many min. Oecumenius, to be changed with the certainly entirely unusual form ἀνέλεος (Lachm. Buttm. Tisch.); in the mode of writing this word there is, however, great variation, the forms ἀνήλεος, ἀνίλεος, ἀνείλεος, ἀνήλεως, ἀνήλιος occurring in different MSS. It is surprising that no MS. has the classical form ἀνηλεής or ἀνελεής.

According to the Rec. κατακαυχᾶται is connected with the preceding by καί, which, however, is found only in min.; A, some min. etc., have instead of it, after κατακ. the particle δέ (Lachm. ed. min.), which, however, appears only to have been inserted to avoid the asyndeton. There are many variations of κατακαυχᾶται; A has κατακαυχάσθω; C**: κατακαύχασθε, readings which owe their origin to the difficulty of the thought.

Instead of ἔλεος (after κατακαυχᾶται), Rec., after A B (ed. Mai) א, etc. (Lachm. Tisch. Buttm.), C G K and B (apud Bentley), and many min. have the form ἔλεον, a nominative form which occurs indeed in the classics, but not in the N. T.

Jam 2:14. Instead of the Rec. τί τὸ ὄφελος, attested by A C** G K א, almost all min. Theoph. Oecumenius, Lachm. has adopted τί ὄφελος, after B C. On the distinction, see exposition.

Whether after the Rec. we are to read, with Tisch., λέγῃ τις, or, with Lachm., τις λέγῃ, cannot with certainty be decided; B G K א attest the former, A C the latter reading; yet the latter appears to be a correction.

Jam 2:15. After ἐάν the particle δέ is omitted in B א; since its later insertion is not easy to be explained, the Rec. is to be retained as the correct reading. After λειπόμενοι Lachm. (after A G, etc.) reads ὦσιν, which, however, is a later addition.

Jam 2:16. Also here Lachm., after B C**, has omitted the article τό before ὀφελος.

Jam 2:17. Instead of the Rec. ἔργα ἔχῃ, ἔχῃ ἔργα is to be read, with Griesb. Lachm. Tisch. etc., after almost all authorities.

Jam 2:18. The Rec. ἐκ τῶν ἔργων is attested by too few authorities (G K, some min.) to be considered as genuine; Griesb. has consequently correctly adopted χωρὶς τῶν ἔργ., attested by A B C א, etc. Almost all recent critics and interpreters, also Bouman, retain χωρὶς as the original reading; Reiche and Philippi certainly judge otherwise. With the reading ἐκ falls also the pronoun σου after ἔργων, which Lachm. and Tisch. have correctly omitted; it is wanting in A B א, several min. vss. etc., whilst C G K, etc., have it.

Also after τὴν πίστιν Tisch., after B C א, etc., has rightly omitted the pronoun μου (A G K, Lachm.); it appears to be added in order to bring more prominently forward the contrast to the first τὴν πίστιν σου.

Jam 2:19. The Rec. is ὁ Θεὸς εἷς ἐστι; so G. In the most important MSS., however, εἷς stands first; so in A B C א in favour of this reading is also the line of thought; yet the difference is found that ἐστιν in A א precedes (Lachm.), and in B C follows ὁ Θεός (Tisch.); which reading is the original cannot be decided, yet the former appears to be a correction. B omits before Θεός.

Jam 2:20. Instead of the Rec. νεκρά, after A C** G K א, several min. vss. Theoph. Oecumenius, Lachm. and Tisch. have adopted ἀργή, after B C* etc., which is preferred by Wiesinger, Brückner, Lange; whereas Reiche and Bouman prefer the Rec. It is possible that, in order to avoid the frequent repetition of νεκρά (see Jam 2:17; Jam 2:26), the word ἀργή = ἀεργη, as corresponding to χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων, was substituted; but it is also possible that the reference to that verse occasioned the displacement of ἀργή; it is difficult to arrive at a sure decision.

Jam 2:24. The particle τοίνυν after ὁρᾶτε is already correctly omitted by Griesbach, being wanting in A B C א, etc.

Jam 2:25. Instead of ἀγγέλους, C G, etc., have κατασκόπους, which, however, is evidently borrowed from Hebrews 11:31.

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Jam 2:1. In close connection with the thought contained in chap. Jam 1:27, that true worship consists in the exhibition of compassionate love, James proceeds to reprove a practice of his readers, consisting in a partial respect to the rich and a depreciation of the poor, which formed the most glaring contrast to that love.

After the impressive address ἀδελφοί μου, he first expresses the exhortation with reference to that conduct, that their faith should not be combined with a partial respect of persons. Schneckenburger regards the clause as interrogative, remarking: interrogationis formam sensus gravitas flagitat et contextus (so also Kern); incorrectly, for although the interrogation with μή may not always require a negative answer, yet it is only used when the interrogator, with every inclination, to regard something as true, yet can scarcely believe that it is actually the case; comp. Winer, p. 453 f. [E. T. 641]; Schirlitz, p. 366. This is inadmissible here, as the fact mentioned in what follows, the προσωποληψία of the readers, was undoubtedly true. μὴἔχετε is thus imperative, as Jam 1:16, Jam 3:1.

The plural προσωποληψίαις is used because the author thinks on individual concrete instances in which the general fault manifested itself (Hornejus: multiplex illud malum in vita est); comp. Colossians 3:22; 2 Peter 3:12. For the explanation of προσωποληψία (only here and in Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25), foreign to classical Greek, see Matthew 22:16; Luke 20:21; Galatians 2:6 (see Meyer in loc.); from the O. T. Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17, and other places (the verb προσωποληπτέω, Jam 2:9; the adjective, Acts 10:34). The phrase ἐν προσωποληψίαις ἔχειν τ. πίστιν is not, with Pott, to be explained according to such expressions as ἔχειν τινα ἐν ὀργῇ, ἐν αἰτίαις, ἔχειν ἐν ἐπιγνώσει (Romans 1:28), for James intends not to reproach his readers, that they have a partial faith, or that they convert faith into the object of partiality, but that they hold not themselves in their faith free from προσωποληψία. Also ἔχειν does not stand for κατέχειν, whether in the meaning prohibere or detinere (Grotius: detinere velut captivam et inefficacem); but ἔχειν ἐν expresses the relation of internal connection thus: Have not your faith, so that it is as it were enclosed in προσωποληψίαις, i.e. combined with it. Thus was it with the readers, who in their very religious assemblies made a distinction of persons according to their external relations.

De Wette’s opinion is incorrect, that πίστιν ἔχειν here is to be understood of “the management of the concerns of faith.”

Faith is more exactly described as ἡ πίστις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῆς δόξης]. Most expositors (particularly Schneckenburger, Kern, de Wette, Brückner, Wiesinger) take τοῦ κυρίου as a genitive of object, and make τῆς δόξης, as a second genitive (besides ἡμῶν), dependent on κυρίου; thus: “the faith in our Lord of glory, Jesus Christ.” Neither the appellation of Christ as the Lord of glory (comp. 1 Corinthians 2:8; Psalm 29:3 : ὁ Θεὸς τῆς δόξης), nor the dependence of two genitives (ἡμῶν and τῆς δόξης) on one substantive (κυρίου), see Winer, p. 172 [E. T. 238], has anything against it; yet this construction cannot be held to be correct, because the name Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, which follows τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, so entirely completes the idea that a second genitive can no longer depend on κυρίου; if James had intended such a combination, he would have written either τὴν πίστιν Ἰησ. Χριστοῦ, τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν τῆς δόξης, or τ. π. τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν τῆς δόξης, Ἰησ. Χριστοῦ.[110] It is evidently an entire mistake to construct τῆς δόξης with προσωποληψίαις, whether it be taken as = opinio (Calvin: dum opum vel bonorum opinio nostros oculos perstringit, veritas supprimitur) or = gloria (Heisen: quod honorem attinet). Some expositors make τῆς δόξης depend on Χριστοῦ; thus Laurentius, who explains it the Christus gloriae = gloriosus; so also Bouman; also Lange: “the Messiah exalted in His glory above Judaistic expectations.” Decisive against this construction are—(1) the close connection of Ἰησοῦ and Χριστοῦ, as when those two names are so directly united as here, Χριστοῦ is purely nomen proprium; (2) the N. T. mode of expression does not admit of a more exact statement of being after Χριστοῦ by a genitive dependent on it; also in this case the article τοῦ before Χριστοῦ would not be wanting. In this commentary hitherto (former editions) τῆς δόξης was explained as a genitive of the object dependent on τὴν πίστιν, and τοῦ κυρίου ἡμ. . Χρ. as the genitive of the subject, in the sense: “faith in the glory springing from our Lord Jesus Christ,—founded on Him,” namely, τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι εἰς ἡμᾶς, Romans 8:18. This construction, although grammatically possible, is unmistakably harsh. It seems simpler, with Bengel, to regard τῆς δόξης as in apposition with Ἰησοῦ Χρ.; still the idea δόξης is too indefinite. The passages cited by Bengel, Luke 2:32, Ephesians 1:17, 1 Peter 4:14, Isaiah 40:5, are of another kind, and cannot be adduced in justification of that explanation. Perhaps it is most correct to unite τῆς δόξης as a genitive of quality, not with Χριστοῦ only, but with the whole expression τοῦ κυρ. ἡμ. Ἰησ. Χρ., by which δόξα is indicated as the quality of our Lord Jesus Christ which belongs to Him, the exalted One. Similar expressions are ὁ οἰκονόμος (Luke 16:8), ὁ κριτής (Luke 18:6), τῆς ἀδικίας. At all events, τῆς δόξης is added in order to mark the contrast between the προσωποληψία paid to passing riches and the faith in Jesus Christ.

[110] The genitive, indeed, not unfrequently is separated from the word which governs it; see Php 2:10; Romans 9:21; and Winer, p. 172 [E. T. 238]; but in that case the intervening word is never in apposition with the preceding idea, with which it is completely concluded.

For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
Jam 2:2-3. In these verses the conduct of the readers, which occasioned the exhortation of James (Jam 2:1), is described; hence the confirming γάρ. Both verses together form the protasis, on which Jam 2:4 follows as the apodosis; whilst they in form appear by their connection with δέ (according to the Rec. by και) as co-ordinate sentences, in thought Jam 2:2 is subordinate to Jam 2:3; Jam 2:2 assigning the circumstances under which the conduct described in Jam 2:3 occurred.

Hammond, Homberg, Baumgarten, Michaelis, and Herder assign even Jam 2:4 to the protasis; but incorrectly, as in that case the conjunctive would be required in that verse as in Jam 2:2-3. As regards the matter itself, the fault is not directed against the rulers of the congregation,—the presbyters and deacons (Grotius, Pott, Schulthess, Hottinger),—but, as the address ἀδελφοί μου (Jam 2:1) shows, it is entirely general. It was not the custom in the time of James for the deacons to point out places to those who entered their assemblies (Constit. Apost. ii. 56, 58).

The instance (ἐάν) which James states is, as regards the matter, not a hypothetical assumption, but a fact; and certainly not to be regarded as a solitary instance which only once took place, but as something which often occurred, that even in their religious assemblies the rich were treated with distinction, and the poor with disdain. It is not surprising that James in the description employed the aorist, since he generally uses that tense to represent that which is habitually repeated as a single fact which has taken place; see chap. Jam 1:11; Jam 1:24.

The words εἰς τὴν συναγωγὴν ὑμῶν] show that it is an entrance into the religious assemblies of the congregation that is here spoken of. It cannot be inferred from the usual signification of the word συναγωγή that a Jewish synagogue is here meant (Semler, Schneckenburger, Bouman); opposed to this is ὑμῶν; besides, the Christians would certainly not have the right to show seats to those who entered into such a place of worship; but, on the other hand, by συναγωγή here is not to be understood the religious assembly (de Wette). The whole description, both εἰσέλθῃ and the pointing out of seats, shows that συναγωγή denotes the place where the Christian congregation assembled for worship.[111] That James calls this by the word which was appropriate for Jewish places of worship, cannot be regarded in his mouth as anything surprising. Hammond, Baumgarten, Storr, Herder, and others most arbitrarily understand by συναγωγή the judicial assemblies of the congregation and their elders. According to Lange, the name of the Jewish place of worship is here a symbol “of the religious fellowship of the entire Jewish Christian dispersion;” this opinion is not less unjustifiable than the view connected with it, that “a literal understanding of what follows cannot be thought of.”

The rich man is here described as ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος ἐν ἐσθῆτι λαμπρᾷ, and the poor man as πτωχὸς ἐν ῥυπαρᾷ ἐσθῆτι, the difference between them being represented to the eye in their clothing.

χρυσοδακτύλιος] a purely ἅπ. λεγ. = χρυσόχειρ (Lucian, in Tim.: πόρφυροι καὶ χρυσόχειρες περιέρχονται; in Nigrin.: τῶν δακτυλίων πλῆθος ἔχων). On λαμπρός, used of clothes, see, on the one hand, Luke 23:11 (comp. with Matthew 27:28), and, on the other hand, Revelation 15:6. Raphelius: nullum certum colorem declarat, sed splendidum, clarum, nitidum sen rubrum seu album sit, seu alius generis. The counterpart of the ἐσθὴς λαμπρά is the ἐσθ. ῥυπαρά of the poor man.

ῥυπαρός] in its proper meaning only here in N. T.; in Zechariah 3:3-4, it is also used of garments. Are Christians or non-Christians meant by these incomers? Most expositors consider them to be Christians only, whether they belonged to the congregation or came there as ξένοι (guests). But the following reasons decide against this view:—1. They are distinguished by James from the brethren addressed, and are not indicated as brethren, which yet, particularly in reference to the poor (Jam 2:5), would readily have suggested itself as a strong confirmation of their fault. 2. In Jam 2:6-7, the rich are evidently opposed to Christians (ὑμῶν, ὑμᾶς, ἐφ ̓ ὑμᾶς), and reprimanded for their conduct towards Christians (not merely toward the poor), which if rich Christians had been guilty of, would certainly have been indicated as an offence against their Christian calling. That those who were not Christians might and did come into the Christian religious assemblies is a well-known fact; see 1 Corinthians 14:22-23. The view of Weiss (Deutsch. Zeitschrift f. christl. Wissensch. etc., 1854, No. 51), that the rich man was not a Christian, but that the poor man was a Christian, is supported by no feature in the description; in that case James would certainly have indicated the dissimilarity of relation; then “must Jam 2:5 ff. bring it forward as the gravest offence, that the brother chosen by God is slighted for the sake of the rich who were not Christians” (Wiesinger[112]).

[111] The word συναγωγή occurs in the N. T. in both meanings; usually it designates the religious place of meeting of the Jews; but that it also denotes the assembly, Acts 13:43 shows; see also Revelation 2:9. In the Apocrypha of the O. T. it has only the last meaning, and, indeed, in a general sense; see Wahl, Clav. Apocryph. συναγωγή.

[112] Lange considers the mode of expression symbolical; by the rich man is meant the Jewish Christian, who, as wearing a gold ring, boasts of his covenant rights; and by the poor man is meant the Gentile Christian. According to Hengstenberg, the meaning is precisely the reverse. Both opinions are unjustified.

And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
Jam 2:3 describes the conduct of the church toward the two incomers. Many ancient expositors understand this as a figurative representation of the preference which was generally given in the congregation to the rich; this is arbitrary. The whole description points rather to something which James has actually in view; but in reprimanding this, he condemns partiality generally, which certainly showed itself in many other ways. By the descriptive words ἐπιβλέψητετὴν λαμπράν, which precede εἴπητε (in reference to the poor there is only εἴπητε), is indicated in a lively manner the admiring look at the external glitter; ἐπιβλέπειν, emphatice sumendum est (Pott); the rich man is characteristically described as ὁ φορῶν τὴν ἐσθ. τ. λαμπράν; the splendid garment is that which attracts the eye, the character of the man is entirely overlooked; φορεῖν, a secondary form of φέρειν, is also in Matthew 11:8 used of garments; by the article before λαμπράν this idea is strengthened as the chief idea.

The contrast is sharply expressed in the different address to the one and to the other; already they are distinguished from one another by σὺσύ, and then κάθου and στῆθει, ὧδε and ἐκεῖ, καλῶς and ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπόδιόν μου, are opposed. The form κάθου (instead of κάθησο) is foreign to classical Greek; see Winer, p. 75 [E. T. 98].

καλῶς refers to comfort (Wiesinger); it is not = honorifice (Wahl); and still less is it to be resolved into “Be so good as” (Storr). A place is pointed out to the rich man, where he can be comfortably seated, whilst to the poor man it is said stand there. The second clause, separated from the first by , is not a special address, but the two clauses form one saying, whilst after a thought is to be supplied, as “If thou wilt rather sit;” by the addition of these words the depreciation of the poor is yet more strongly marked.

ὑπὸ τὸ ὑποπόδιον] means not under, but below my footstool (Wiesinger), by which the floor is pointed out as the fitting place for the poor to sit (Bouman). “The expression involves contempt: as it were under one’s feet. Not on the footstool” (Lange). The word ὑποπόδιον (not unicum, as Wiesinger asserts) belongs only to the later classics. Often in N. T., and also in LXX.

Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Jam 2:4 forms the apodosis to Jam 2:2-3, and rebukes what is blameable in the conduct described. Expositors greatly differ in the explanation of this verse, according as they explain the verb διεκρίθητε, and understand οὐ as a pure negation, or as an interrogative particle. It is best to take διεκρίθητε, in form indeed passive, in meaning as the aorist middle, as in Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:23, Romans 4:20, and to give to the verb here the same meaning which it has constantly in the usage of the N. T.; so that it denotes the doubt, which consists in the assertion of thoughts at variance with faith; see on chap. Jam 1:6. But then the sentence must be taken as interrogative: Did you not then doubt among yourselves? i.e., Have ye not fallen into a contradiction with your faith (Jam 2:1), according to which external glory and riches are nothing, whilst ye by your conduct have attached a value to them? To this question the second is added, to which the preceding οὐ is also to be referred: and became ye not (thus) judges of evil thoughts? This second question indicates the direct consequence of διακρίνεσθαι. James calls them κριταί, because in their conduct they expressed their judgment on the rich and poor. The genitive διαλογισμῶν πονηρῶν is not the genitive of object,[113] but of quality. διαλογισμοί is here, as predominantly in the N. T. in malam partem (see especially Luke 5:21-22), thoughts of doubt ana unbelief; the bad meaning is here heightened by πονηρῶν.

[113] Elsner: iniquas istas cogitationes approbastis; Bengel: judices approbatores, malarum cogitationum i. e. divitum, foris splendentium, sed malis cogitationibus sentientium.

Other explanations are as follow:—

(1) διακρίνεσθαι = separare: then the sentence is interrogative; ἐν ἑαυτοῖς = ἐν ἀλλήλοις (Gebser, Schulthess, Semler, Erasmus Schmid, etc.); the verb being either passive: nonne inter vos ipsos estis discreti ac separati? or middle: nonne vos discernitis inter vos ipsos? “Do you not separate, divide yourselves among yourselves?” (Lange).

(2) διακρίνεσθαι = discrimen facere. (a) The verb active—(α) interrogative: nonne discrimen fecistis apud vos ipsos? (Laurentius, Grotius, Wolf, Hottinger, Knapp). In this explanation ἐν ἐαυτοῖς = ἐν ἀλλήλοις; Schneckenburger, however, explains ἐν ἑαυτοῖς = in animis vestris; but then the meaning: discrimen facere, would pass into an act of the judgment, “statuere.” (β) Negative: “Then partly ye would not have distinguished (according to a sound judgment) among yourselves, and partly also ye would have judged after an evil manner of thinking (thus an error of the understanding and of the heart)” (Grashof).—(b) The verb passive: dupliciter peccatis, primo: inter vos ipsos non estis discriminati h. e. cessat piorum et impiorum differentia (Oeder).

(3) διακρίνεσθαι = judicare. (a) The verb active—(α) interrogative: nonne judicastis, deliberastis ipsi? “Are ye not yourselves persuaded how wrong this is?” (Augusti). (β) Negative: non discrevistis justa dubitatione, considerantia et aestimatione, quid tribuendum esset pauperi potius vel certe non minus, quam diviti (Bengel). Luther combines this rendering with that under James 2 : “And ye do not well consider, but ye become judges, and make an evil distinction.” Here also comes in the explanation of Oecumenius: τὸ διακριτικὸν ὑμῶν διφθείρατε, μηδεμίαν συζήτησιν ποιήσαντες πότερον τιμητέονἀλλʼ οὕτως, ἀδιακρίτως, καὶ ἐν προοωποληψίᾳ τὸν μὲν ἐτιμήσατετὸν δὲ ἠτιμάσατε.—(b) The verb passive—(α) interrogative: Nonne vos in conscientiis dijudicati h. e. convicti estis? Paraeus; so also Bouman: nonne igitur in vestris ipsorum jam judicati estis animis? (β) Negative: et dijudicati inter vos ipsos non estis ut judicastis secundum prava ratiocinia vestra (Heisen). Differently Cajetanus: haec faciendo non estis judicati in vestibus et divitiis et paupertate; laying the chief stress on ἐν ἑαυτοῖς.

(4) διακρίνεσθαι = dubitare, to entertain doubts. (a) Interrogative: et non dubitastis apud vosmet ipsos? et facti estis iniqui judices? “Should you not yourselves have entertained doubts? Should you actually have passed evil-minded judgments?” (Theile). (b) Negative: non dubitastis apud animum, ne subiit quidem haec cogitatio, id factum forte malum esse, certo apud vos statuistis id jure ac bene fieri.

All these explanations are untenable, because they proceed upon a meaning of διακρίνεσθαι foreign to the usage of the N. T. Besides, several require arbitrary completions, and many do not correspond to the context. Brückner, de Wette, and Wiesinger have also here correctly maintained the meaning to doubt. De Wette: “Have you not then become doubtful in your faith?” Wiesinger: “Have you not forsaken the law of faith, which recognises only one true riches?” With the reading of B (omitting οὐ) the thought is the same; the interrogative (οὐ), however, serves for the heightening of the thought, the readers themselves being thereby charged to pronounce the judgment. The καί of the Receptus stands as in Mark 10:26, Luke 10:29, 1 Corinthians 5:2, with the question suddenly introduced. Or, since in the N. T. no other passage is found where καί is placed before a question forming the apodosis of a protasis beginning with ἐάν (on 2 Corinthians 2:2, see Meyer), it is to be explained from the fact that one would make Jam 2:4 a part of the protasis; see above.

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
Jam 2:5. With this verse the proof of the reprehensibleness of the conduct found fault with commences: James showing that the conduct toward the poor is in contradiction with the mercy of God directed to the poor, and that the conduct toward the rich is in contradiction with their conduct toward Christians. The impressive exhortation to attention precedes ἀκούσατε with the address ἀδελφοί μου ἀγαπητοί; see chap. Jam 1:16; Jam 1:19. The proof itself (as in Jam 2:4) is expressed in a lively manner in the form of a question: Has not God chosen those who are the poor of the world (i.e. accounted as such) to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He has promised to them that love Him?

The verb ἐξελέξατο is to be retained in its usual acceptation, in that which it has in 1 Corinthians 1:27. Wiesinger, without sufficient reason, will understand it here as equivalent to “God has so highly honoured the poor;” and Lange incorrectly maintains that “the word here rather signifies calling with reference to ethical good behaviour to the divine revelation.”

The correct reading: τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῷ κόσμῳ, is to be explained in the same manner as the expressions ἀστεῖος τῷ Θεῷ, Acts 7:20, and δυνατὰ τῷ Θεῷ, 2 Corinthians 10:4 (see Meyer on these passages, and Winer, p. 190 [E. T. 265]; Al. Buttmann, p. 156 [E. T. 179]). The world esteems those as poor who possess no visible earthly riches. Wiesinger prefers to explain the dative as the dative of reference, thus “poor in respect of the world;” yet the former explanation, which also Brückner and Lange adopt, in which ὁ Θεός and τῷ κόσμῳ form a sharp contrast, is more appropriate, and more in correspondence with the meaning of the word κόσμος with James. In the Receptus πτωχοὺς τοῦ κόσμου the genitive is to be understood as in the expression τὰ μωρὰ τοῦ κόσμου, etc., 1 Corinthians 1:27; see Meyer in loco.

πλουσίους ἐν πίστει] is not in apposition with τοὺς πτωχοὺς (Luther, Baumgarten, Semler, Hottinger, Gebser, Bouman, Lange, and others),[114] but the completion of ἐξελέξατο, stating to what God has chosen the poor (Beza, Wolf, Morus, Knapp, Storr, Schneckenburger, Kern, Theile, de Wette, Wiesinger, and others); see 2 Corinthians 3:6.

By ἐν πίστει, as in the expression πλούσιος ἐν ἐλέει, Ephesians 2:4 (see 1 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 1 Timothy 6:18), the object is not stated wherein they are rich (Luther: “who are rich in the faith”), but the sphere within which riches is imparted to them; similarly Wiesinger explains it: “rich in their position as believers.” James wished primarily to mark the contrast that the poor are appointed to be rich, namely, so far as they are believers; the context gives the more exact statement of their riches: riches in the possessions of the heavenly kingdom is meant; this the following clause indicates.

Calvin: non qui fidei magnitudine abundant, sed quos Deus variis Spiritus sui donis locupletavit, quae fide percipimus.[115]

The expression ἡ βασιλεία occurs also elsewhere, without the addition of ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ or similar terms, as a designation of the kingdom of God, e.g. Matthew 13:38. No stress rests on the article τῆς (= ἘΚΕΊΝΗς), as the relative Ἧς referred to it. The relative clause serves not for a more definite statement of the idea ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑ, as if by it this βασιλεία was to be distinguished from another, but the statement ἘΞΕΛ.… ΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟΥς Τ. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑς is confirmed, as a kingdom founded on the promise of God.

From the expressions ΚΛΗΡΟΝΌΜΟς and ἘΠΗΓΓΕΊΛΑΤΟ of the relative clause, it is evident that James considered here ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑ as the future perfected kingdom of God, not “the joint participation in the ΥἹΟΘΕΣΊΑ of the Jews” (Lange). On Ἧς ἘΠΗΓΓΕΊΛΑΤΟ Κ.Τ.Λ. see the remark on Jam 1:12. The addition of this clause shows that with James faith and love to God are most closely connected.

James puts ΤΟῪς ΠΤΏΧΟΥς, to whom ΟἹ ΠΛΟΎΣΙΟΙ are opposed, as the object of ἘΞΕΛΈΞΑΤΟ. He accordingly (the article is not to be overlooked) divides men into these two classes, the poor and the rich, and designates, not the latter, but the former, as those whom God has chosen and appointed to be rich in faith,[116] namely, to be heirs of the kingdom; not as if all the poor received the κληρονομία, but his meaning is that those whom God has chosen belong to this class, whereas those belonging to the class of the rich had not been chosen. James did not require to point out the truth of this statement; the Christians, to whom he wrote, were a living testimony of it, for they all belonged to that class; and although some among them were πλούσιοι, yet, on the one hand, what Christ says in Matthew 19:23-26 holds good, and, on the other hand, 1 Corinthians 1:26-28 is to be compared.

With this divine choice the conduct of his readers stood in direct contradiction when they treated a poor man—thus one who belonged to the class of those chosen by God—contemptuously, and that on account of his poverty. What directly follows expresses this contradiction.

[114] If πλουσίους is taken as in apposition, then here riches in faith forms the reason of the choice; but by this the keenness of the thought contained in the oxymorum is entirely blunted: it is also arbitrary to separate the two ideas πλουσίους and κληρονόμους united by καί.

[115] Kern: ἐν πίστει indicates that it is faith itself which makes the Christian inwardly rich.

[116] It is to be observed that ἐξελέξατο does not here refer only to πλουσίους, as if πίστις were to be considered as the condition on which the πτωχοί were chosen to be rich, but to the combined expression πλουσίους ἐν πίστει, so that also πίστις is to be considered as an effect of the divine choice. The same view lies at the foundation of what Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:30 (see Meyer in loco) and elsewhere often expresses.

But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Jam 2:6. ὑμεῖς δέ] contrast to Θεός.

ἠτιμάσατε] contrast to ἐξελέξατο. The aorist is used with reference to the case stated in Jam 2:2-3, which is certainly of a general character (Wiesinger).[117]

ΤῸΝ ΠΤΩΧΌΝ, not = pauperem illum, but, to be understood generally, the poor man as such. That we are here specially to think on the Christian poor, is an incorrect supposition.

With οὐχ οἱ πλούσιοι] James turns to the rich as the class opposed to the poor, in order to point out from another side than he had already done the reprehensibleness of the conduct denounced. Already from this opposition it is intimated that not the Christian rich, but the rich generally—not exactly only “the rich Gentiles or the Romans” (Hengstenberg)—are meant. This is also evident from what is said of them, and by which their conduct is designated as hostile to Christians (ὙΜῶΝ) who belong to the poor.[118] ΚΑΤΑΔΥΝΑΣΤΕΎΕΙΝ] only here and in Acts 10:38, frequently in the LXX. and Apocrypha (see particularly Wis 2:20), means “to use power against any to his hurt.” Related ideas are κατακυριεύειν and ΚΑΤΕΞΟΥΣΙΆΖΕΙΝ, Matthew 20:25. This exercise of power against the Christians might take place in various ways; what follows: ΚΑῚ ΑὐΤΟῚ ἝΛΚΟΥΣΙΝ ὙΜᾶς ΕἸς ΚΡΙΤΉΡΙΑ, mentions one chief mode.

ΚΑῚ ΑὐΤΟΊ] emphatically put first—even they (Theile).

ἕλκειν] indicates the violence of the conduct (so in the classics). The courts of judgment (ΚΡΙΤΉΡΙΑ, as in 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 6:4) may be both Gentile and Jewish; certainly not Christian. It is arbitrary, and not corresponding to the expression ἝΛΚΕΙΝ, to think here on a process quibus pauperes propter debita in judiciis vexabant (Hornejus; also de Wette and others).

Since James so strongly contrasts αὐτοί and ὙΜᾶς, the former cannot possibly be regarded as a part of the latter.

[117] According to Lange, the aorist is used to point to “the historical fact in which Judaizing Jewish Christians have already taken part with the Jews, namely, the dishonouring of the Gentile Christians.”

[118] If James had the Christian rich in view, he certainly would not have omitted to point to the contrast between their conduct to the poor and their Christian calling.

Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
Jam 2:7. The description of the conduct of the rich is still continued; they not only do violence to Christians, but they even revile the holy name of Christ. Do they not (even) blaspheme that fair name which has been called upon you? The pronoun αὐτοί is put here as in Jam 2:6; incorrectly Theile = hi potissimum.

The expression τὸ ὄνομα ἐπικαλεῖται ἐπί τινα] is borrowed from the O. T., where it often occurs, and in the sense that one becomes the property of him whose name is called upon him; particularly it is said of Israel that the name of God was called upon them; see Deuteronomy 28:10 (where instead of ἐπί the dative is put); 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 14:9; Jeremiah 15:16; Amos 9:12; see also Genesis 48:16; Isaiah 4:1. Accordingly, by the name which is called upon Christians is not meant the Christian name (Hensler: nomen fratrum et sororum), also not the name πτωχοί, but the name of Him only to whom they as Christians belong—the name of Christ (de Wette, Wiesinger, Bouman, Lange, and others); from which, however, it does not follow (as Wiesinger correctly observes) that James here alludes to the name Χριστιανοί.

By the addition of the attribute καλόν the shamefulness of βλασφημεῖν is still more strongly marked.

In support of the hypothesis that the rich are Christians, many expositors (also Brückner and Wiesinger) here arbitrarily explain βλασφημεῖν of indirect blasphemy, i.e. of such as takes place not by words, but by works; but βλασφημεῖν is never thus used in the Holy Scriptures; not one of the passages which Wiesinger cites proves that for which he adduces them; βλασφημεῖν always denotes blasphemy by word.[119]

This word also proves that the rich who are not Christians are here meant (thus also Lange, who, however, will understand particularly the Judaists); which is also evident, because James otherwise would rather have written τὸ ἐπικληθὲν ἐφʼ αὐτούς instead of τὸ ἐπικλ. ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς.

By the thought in this verse James indicates that Christians, by showing partiality to the rich, not only acted foolishly, but were guilty of a violation of the respect due to the name of Christ.

[119] Were it here asserted that the blaspheming of the name of God or of Christ was occasioned by the wicked works of Jews or Christians, this would be indicated not by the active verb, but by the passive with διά; see Romans 2:24; Titus 2:5; 2 Peter 2:2; Isaiah 52:5. Moreover, even then blasphemy (namely, of the Gentiles) could only be expressed by words.

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
Jam 2:8-9. With these verses James meets the attempt which his readers might perhaps make to justify their conduct toward the rich with the law of love; whilst he, granting to them that the fulfilment of that law is something excellent, designates προσωποληπτεῖν directly as a transgression of the law. This explanation, which among ancient expositors, particularly Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, Laurentius, Hornejus, and among the moderns Hottinger, Theile, Wiesinger have recognised as the correct one, is justified both by the particle μέντοι and by the phrase καλῶς ποιεῖτε.

μέντοι has in the N. T., where besides the Gospel of John it only elsewhere occurs in 2 Timothy 2:19 and Judges 1:8, always the meaning yet, nevertheless; but this meaning is not here suitable, as Jam 2:8 contains no contrast to what goes before.[120] It is therefore to be retained in its original classical meaning, assuredly, certainly, and points out that James grants something to his readers, having, however, in view the contrast which he expresses in the following εἰ δὲ κ.τ.λ.[121] This is also indicated by the expression καλῶς ποιεῖτε (see Jam 2:19), which is evidently too feeble for an earnest enforcement of the law of love. Wiesinger correctly observes that the hypothetical dilemma carries in itself unmistakably an ironical character.[122] James calls the law ἀγαπήσεις κ.τ.λ., which is cited from Leviticus 19:18, νόμον βασιλικόν, because it is the most excellent of all laws, ceterarum legum quasi regina (Knapp; so also Theile, Wiesinger, de Wette, Bouman, and others), inasmuch as all other laws are contained in it; see Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14 (1 Timothy 1:5; Matthew 22:39). It is far-fetched to explain the attribute βασιλικόν, because it was given by God the great King (Raphelius, Wetstein, Wolf, Baumgarten), or by Christ (Grotius), or because it applies to kings (Michaelis), or quia reges facit (Thomas; Lange combines all these explanations); also Calvin’s remark is to be rejected as too artificial: regia lex dicitur, ut via regia, plana scilicet, recta et aequabilis, qui sinuosis diverticulis vel ambagibus tacite opponitur.

νόμος is here (see also Jam 2:9), as in Jeremiah 31:33 (Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 10:16), used of a single commandment, instead of ἐντολή (which Lange wrongly denies). The expression τελεῖν νόμον is found only here and in Romans 2:27; it is a stronger expression than τηρεῖν νόμον (Jam 2:10).

κατὰ τὴν γραφήν] is not to be combined with βασιλικόν, nor is the mode of τελεῖν thereby stated, but it is the simple formula of citation.

[120] Brückner finds the contrast in love being the reverse of partiality; but μέντοι does not simply express the opposite, but the adversative meaning of the particle in the N. T. is of this nature, that it only occurs when the sharp contrast to an “although” is to be filled up or expressed; it is arbitrary to explain it as equivalent to “on the contrary.”

[121] Some interpreters explain μέντοι here, contrary to linguistic usage, as equivalent to igitur.

[122] When de Wette, against this explanation, says: “How could those blamed appeal to this law for their partiality?” it is to be observed that they seek thereby to justify only their conduct to the rich, by which certainly they leave their conduct to the poor unjustified.

But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
Jam 2:9 is in sharp contrast to Jam 2:8, calling the conduct of his readers, in opposition to their pretext, by its true name, and designating it directly as sin. The verb προσωποληπτεῖν is a complete ἅπ. λεγ.; James uses this word with reference to the exhortation in Jam 2:1. On ἁμαρτίαν ἐργάζεσθαι, see Matthew 7:23; Acts 10:35; Hebrews 11:33. Theile: gravius fere est quam ἁμαρτίαν ποιεῖν, ἁμαρτάνειν. For the sake of heightening this judgment, James adds the participial sentence ἐλεγχόμενοι κ.τ.λ.: being convicted by the law as transgressors. If the προσωποληπτοῦντες appealed to a law, it is precisely the law by which they are convinced as transgressors, so that they are without excuse. By ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου is meant not a single commandment, neither the above-mentioned law of love, nor specially a commandment forbidding respect of persons, as Deuteronomy 16:19 (Lange), but the law generally; so also παραβάται is general: not as transgressors of one commandment, but of the law generally.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Jam 2:10. Confirmation of the last expressed thought: For whosoever kept the whole law, and yet sinned in one (commandment), he is guilty of all (commandments). The conjunctives τηρήσῃ, πταίσῃ, certified by authorities, are not to be considered as an error of the scribe (as Winer, 5th ed. p. 356, was inclined to assume); but the particle ἄν is here, as frequently in the N. T. contrary to classical usage in hypothetical sentences, omitted when ὅστις stands, because “the universality was already sufficiently indicated by the pronoun (Buttmann, p. 197 [E. T. 229]).[123] ἀνθρώπῳ is not, with Schulthess, to be supplied to ἘΝ ἙΝΊ, but ΝΌΜῼ, with Theile, de Wette, Wiesinger, Lange, and others, “from the preceding collective idea ΝΌΜΟς.” The following ΠΆΝΤΩΝ forbids us, with Schneckenburger and Kern, to understand ἙΝΊ as neuter. It is in entire conformity with the character of the thought as a general sentence to take ἙΝΊ quite generally, and not, with Theophylact, Oecumenius (ΤΟῦΤΟ ΠΕΡῚ ἈΓΆΠΗς ΕἼΡΗΚΕ), Schol. Matthaei, p. 188 (ἐν ἑνὶ πταίσειν ἐστὶ, τὸ μὴ τελείαν ἔχειν ἀγάπην), and some recent critics (Semler: in hanc unam et primam), to refer it to a definite commandment, particularly to that of love.[124] By this general sentence James seeks to confirm the thought that respect of persons includes in itself the transgression of the whole law, although it appears to be directed only against a single commandment.

The word ΠΤΑΊΕΙΝ is found in the N. T. only in a figurative sense; the construction with ἘΝ is only in this place; in chap. Jam 3:2 the reference of ἘΝ is different. By ΓΈΓΟΝΕΝ ΠΆΝΤΩΝ (sc. νόμων) ἜΝΟΧΟς, James declares the transgressor of one commandment to be guilty of the transgression of all.

ἔνοχος] is here, as in 1 Corinthians 11:27, used with the genitive of the thing against which one sins, in the guilt of which one is thus involved.[125] The same thought is also found in the Rabbinical writings, e.g. Cod. Talm. Schabbath, fol. lxx. 2; R. Johanan: Quodsi faciat omnia, unum vero omittat, omnium est singulorum reus; see Wolf.[126]

[123] Winer, p. 275 [E. T. 386], explains the omission of ἄν, because in the writer’s conception the case is altogether definite; but then the future indicative would be put; also the case here stated, namely, that one may transgress one commandment and yet keep the whole law, is a case which cannot be imagined.

[124] Still more arbitrarily, Grotius, Morus, Stolz, and Jaspar limit the general expressions ἑνί and πάντων to such commandment, to the transgression of which the punishment of death is assigned.

[125] The punishment with ἔνοχος is usually in the genitive, with Matthew 26:66, Mark 3:29; Mark 14:46; yet also in the dative, Matthew 5:21. In classical language, the thing against which one sins is with ἔνοχος only in the dative, whilst the crime itself of which the man is guilty, as well as the punishment which he has to suffer, is added in the genitive.

[126] Köster (Stud. u. Krit. 1862, 1) to this passage cites the corresponding expression of Livy (Hist. xxxiv. 3) referring to the lawgiver: unam tollendo legem ceterae infirmantur.

For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
Jam 2:11. The truth of the above thought is founded on the fact that all commandments proceed from one lawgiver.

ὁ γὰρ εἰπών· μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, εἶπεν καί· μὴ φονεύσῃς] Baumgarten finds the reason why James adduces these two commandments, μὴ μοιχεύσῃς and μὴ φονεύσῃς, in this, because “the transgression of these two was punished with death;” Wiesinger, on the other hand, because μοιχεύειν was never laid to the charge of the readers, whereas μὴ φονεύσῃς had the command of love as its essence;” and Lange, because “to the Israelite the prohibition of adultery was likewise the prohibition of apostasy to heathenism, and the prohibition of murder was likewise that of uncharitableness towards our neighbour.” But the reason is rather because these two commandments are the first of those which refer to our duties to our neighbour (thus Brückner). That μὴ μοιχεύσῃς precedes the other has its reason in ancient tradition: see on both points Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9 (see Meyer in loc.); Philo, de decal. xii. 24, 32. With the words that follow: εἰ δὲ οὐ μοιχεύεις κ.τ.λ., James draws the inference from the preceding. The negative οὐ after εἰ with the indicative is not surprising in the N. T. usage, the less so as here only a part of the conditional sentence is denied; see Winer, p. 423 ff. [E. T. 601]; Al. Buttmann, p. 296 ff. [E. T. 346 f.[127]]. With the apodosis γέγονας παραβάτης νόμου James refers to Jam 2:9; consequently not ἔνοχος, as in Jam 2:10, but παραβάτης is put.

The reason of the judgment here expressed is contained in ὁ εἰπώνεἶπε καί. Since the law is the expression of the will of Him who gave it, the transgression of a single portion is disobedience to the one will, and consequently a transgression of the whole law. Bengel: unus est, qui totam legem tulit; cujus voluntatem qui una in re violant, totam violant. James might indeed have confirmed the idea by the internal connection of all commands, and by pointing out that the transgression of one commandment reveals a want which makes the fulfilment of the other commandments impossible;[128] but as he does not do so, these considerations are not to be arbitrarily introduced into his words.

[127] According to Buttmann, the negative οὐ here, even according to classic usage, is the more necessary, “when to the negative predicate another, still in the protasis, is immediately so appended with an adversative particle that the entire emphasis falls upon this second part” [E. T. 346]. It is indeed said in Thuc. i. 32: εἰ μὴ μετἀ κακίας, δόξης δὲ μᾶλλον ἁμαρτίᾳἐναντία τολμῶμεν; but here the relation is different, as the contrast δόξης κ.τ.λ. could be left out without injury to the thought, which is evidently not the case with James.

[128] Augustine, in his Epistle to Jerome on this passage (Opera Hieronym., Francf. iv. p. 154 ff.), says: Unde fiet omnium reus, si in uno offendat, qui totam legem servaverit? An forte quia plenitudo legis charitas est, qua Deus proximusque diligitur, in quibus praeceptis charitatis tota lex pendet et prophetae, merito fit reus omnium, qui contra illam fecit, in qua pendent omnia? Nemo autem peccat, nisi adversus illam faciendo.—Ticinus thus well expresses the unity of the law: lex tota est quasi una vestis, quae tota violatur, si vel unam ex ea partem demus; quasi harmonia, quae tota corrumpitur, si vel unica vox dissonet; and Gataker: quasi catena aurea, quae tota rupta est, si unicum nexum abrumpas. What Gunkel says is indeed correct: “The solidarity consists in this, that God has given with the equal obligation the one as well as the other commandment;” but the point of equal obligation is not here brought forward by James.

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Jam 2:12. To what has hitherto been said the general exhortation is annexed: So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. A new section does not here begin, as Wetstein, Semler, and others assume; but with this and the following verse the course of thought commenced at Jam 2:1 is concluded; not until Jam 2:14 does the thought take a new turn. The connection with what has gone before is to be thus explained, that Jam 2:13 evidently points to the respect of persons with regard to the poor, and refers to chap. Jam 1:27.

οὕτως] “is not to be referred to what precedes, but to the following ὡς, thus: so as is necessary for those who,” etc.; thus in former editions. But by this explanation the thought is too abruptly introduced; therefore it would be more correct to refer οὕτως to what precedes (οὕτως, i.e. according to the rule stated in Jam 2:10 f., Brückner), and to take ὡς not as an explication, but as “a confirmation” (Lange).

James takes up not only the doing (ποιεῖτε), but also the speaking (λαλεῖτε), to which not only the conduct of his readers, specified in Jam 2:2 ff., but their sinful volubility of tongue generally led; see Jam 1:19, Jam 3:1-12. The repetition of οὕτω serves for the heightening of the thought; διά here is the same as in Romans 2:12; see also John 12:48; John 5:45 : correctly Wiesinger: “the law is a means because a measure;” incorrectly Kern: vi ac jure leges. The νόμος ἐλευθερίας is also here not the gospel, as the publication of the grace of God, or the Christian religion (Semler, Pott, Gebser), also not specially the νόμος βασιλικός mentioned in Jam 2:7 as a single command, but it is the same as is mentioned in chap. Jam 1:25.[129] The demand which James here expresses is that Christians as such, who shall be judged by the νόμος ἐλευθερίας, must regulate by it the whole course of their lives. From what has directly gone before, one might infer that James wishes particularly to warn against the pretext combated in Jam 2:10, but Jam 2:13 shows that he has rather in view the want of compassionate love, forming the heart and pulse of the νόμος ἐλευθερίας, which was renounced by his readers in their ἀτιμάζειν τὸν πτωχόν (Jam 2:6).

[129] Kern: “James, by the expression διὰ ν. ἐλ., reminds them that the νόμος for Christians is indeed according to form a new one, being converted into a willing impulse, but that it does not on this account cease, according to its nature, to be the rule of moral action, and thus also of judgment.”

For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
Jam 2:13 refers back to chap. Jam 1:27, and concludes the section, appending to διὰ νὸμου ἐλ. κρίνεσθαι a closer definition: for the judgment is unmerciful against those who exercise no mercy; mercy rejoices against judgment.

That which in the judgment passes sentence on Christians, who shall be judged διὰ νόμου ἐλευθερίας, is thus mercy. Against the unmerciful the judgment will be unmerciful. On the form ἀνέλεος, see critical notes; in Romans 1:31 it is ἀνελεήμων; thus also in LXX. Proverbs 5:9; Proverbs 11:17. Luther incorrectly translates it: “it will pass an unmerciful judgment;” ἀνέλεος is not an attribute, but a predicate.

Many expositors incorrectly explain ἔλεος = ἀγάπη; the former is a species of the latter, although James puts the chief stress upon it; see chap. Jam 1:27.

The concluding sentence is subjoined ἀσυνδέτως; see chap. Jam 3:2, Jam 4:12. “Asyndeton dicti pondus auget.” In the verb κατακαυχᾶται (only here and in chap. Jam 3:14 and Romans 11:18), κατα, on which the genitive κρίσεως depends, expresses the opposite tendency. Κρίσις according to its nature threatens to condemn the sinner (thus the believing Christian does not cease to be a sinner), but mercy has the joyful confidence (καυχᾶται) that it will overcome the threatening power of judgment.[130]

By a conversion of the abstract idea ἜΛΕΟς into the concrete, “the merciful man,” the peculiar impress is taken from the expression, and a lax interpretation is introduced. On the sentiment, see Matthew 5:7; Proverbs 17:5; Tob 4:7-11. Several expositors (Calvin, Cappellus, Wolf, Laurentius, Baumgarten, Bengel) incorrectly supply the genitive ΘΕΟῦ to ἜΛΕΟς, by which a thought is introduced entirely foreign to the context.

[130] The explanation of Wiesinger, that James intends to say “that mercy has nothing to fear, rather that she confounds the terrors of the judgment by her confidence with which she is assured of grace beforehand, and glories in it,” is not entirely suitable, inasmuch as an objective idea (κρίσις) is thus converted into a subjective (the terrors of the judgment).

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Jam 2:14. After James, proceeding from the exhortation to receive the word (τὸνλόγον τὸν δυνάμενον σῶσαι τὰς ψυχάς) in meekness, had enforced the necessity not only to be hearers but also doers of the same, and with reference to the respect of persons practised by the readers had designated the exercise of compassionate love as true θρησκεία, he now, in close connection with the preceding, opposes the opinion that πίστις which has no works (χωρὶς ἔργων) can save (σῶσαι). The section from Jam 2:14 to Jam 2:26 treats of this; for the correct understanding of which it is to be held fast that James considers πίστις as the necessary ground of σωτηρία, which is evident from chap. Jam 1:18-21, but of course that πίστις which is not without works. In combating the above delusion, James adopts his characteristic mode of first stating in clear and well-defined language the fundamental thought on which all the rest depends, and he does so by the introduction of brief interrogative sentences which reject that false opinion. He commences with the words τί τὸ ὄφελος.; see Jam 2:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:32. The article is not superfluous: What is the use which arises from it, if, etc.; without the article (according to B and C) it means: What kind of use is it = what use is it? thus frequently with the classics. With regard to the construction with ἐάν, see Matthew 16:26; 1 Corinthians 13:3. The following words: ἐὰν πίστιν λέγῃ τις ἔχειν, show that James had in view one who trusts for σωτηρία, because he has faith, although works are wanting to him. Many expositors place the emphasis on λέγῃ, as if it was thereby indicated that this assertion was a mere pretext, the person introduced as speaking not in reality possessing faith. Gataker: emphasis hic est in voce dicendi; intelligit istos fidem quidem jactare, non tamen habere; similarly Vorstius, Piscator, Wolf, Baumgarten, Pott, Gebser, Hottinger, Kern, Wiesinger, Stier, Lange, Philippi (Glaubensl. I. p. 298 ff.); also de Wette translates λέγῃ by “pretends.” This is incorrect, for the sequel does not give the lie to this λέγειν, but, on the contrary, it is granted that the man may have faith without having works. Besides, it is self-evident that James did not require to say that a faith, which one has not, cannot save him. That it is not simply said ἐὰν πίστιν τις ἔχη, is explained from James’ lively mode of representation, by which he introduces his opponent as appealing to his πίστις.[131] It is also incorrect to emphasize the want of the article before ΠΊΣΤΙΝ (Schneckenburger: recte articulo caret = to have faith, quum revera non habeat ΤῊΝ ΠΊΣΤΙΝ, Jam 2:1; ita omissio articuli jam quodammodo scriptoris judicium est). The article is here wanting, as is often the case in the N. T. where the word expresses something definite in itself (thus Brückner), particularly when it is to be brought forward according to its quality. Also ΠΊΣΤΙΝ must not be precisely explained as = nuda notitia, nor hardly = nuda professio; for those whom James combats could not possibly think that they by their faith possessed only the so-called theoretical faith, but rather they considered it the whole and complete faith. Also this faith was not defective in point of confidence, which Lange should not have denied, for they thought to be saved thereby; although this was not true confidence, but an empty reliance on Christ;[132] they indeed believed, but they did not receive Christ in themselves as a principle of a new life; the object of their faith remained to them purely external, and thus they wanted those works which spring from living faith.[133]

ἜΡΓΑ ΔῈ ΜῊ ἜΧῌ] ἜΡΓΑ is here indeed entirely general, but according to the context those works are meant which are proofs of living faith, by which the νόμος ἐλευθερίας is fulfilled on the ground of ΠΊΣΤΙς.

After ἜΧῌ a simple comma (Gebser) is not to be put, but a note of interrogation; the verse contains two questions, the second interrogative sentence ΜῊ ΔΎΝΑΤΑΙ Κ.Τ.Λ. confirming the judgment contained in the first, that it profits nothing to have faith without works. Some expositors incorrectly put a special emphasis on the article before ΠΊΣΤΙς (Bede: fides illa, quam vos habere dicitis; or, that faith which has no works; so also Lange). The article here has not vim pronominis demonstrativi, but is used because there is a resumption of the previous idea (πίστις); see chap. Jam 1:3 and Jam 4:15. It is also incorrect to supply out of what goes before the more precise definition of faith: quae non habetur revera sed dicitur tantummodo et jactatur (Theile), or to supply ΜΌΝΗ (Pott), or to understand by ΠΊΣΤΙς here bare notitia. Recourse has been had to these explanations, because it was thought that James otherwise denied to faith its saving-power, which is not to be assumed. But the force of ΑὐΤΌΝ has been overlooked. If this pronoun be taken into consideration, it is evident that James does not affirm generally that faith cannot save, but that it cannot save him whose faith, on which he trusts, is destitute of works; for αὐτόν refers back to the subject ΤΙς, that is, to the person whom James has introduced as speaking

ΣῶΣΑΙ] as in Jam 1:21, is used here of the attainment of future salvation; the expression is explained from the fact that eternal condemnation belongs to sinful man as such, and thus requires a deliverance in order to be saved. The idea σωτηρία generally signifies in the N. T. the future salvation; see besides other passages, particularly 1 Thessalonians 5:8, where σωτηρία is designated as the object of ἘΛΠΊς. Certainly the present state of salvation of Christians may also be called ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ, but it is evident from the connection with what precedes that James has not that in view, but the complete salvation (against Lange).

[131] λέγῃ is the more appropriate, as a faith without works, as James indicates in ver. 18, is something which cannot be proved, of which he who possesses it can only give information by λέγειν.

[132] It was otherwise with them than with those Christians who indeed considered the teaching of the gospel as true, and did not doubt to be saved, but who rested their hopes not on Christ as the object of faith, but on their supposed righteousness, i.e. on their good works; for James entirely denies good works to them, and never indicates that they appealed to their supposed good conduct.

[133] For the view here rejected an appeal is incorrectly made to ver. 19, as those thought to have in their faith the guarantee of their σωτηρία, whilst their faith only produced φρίσσειν to the demons.

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
Jam 2:15-16. James illustrates the idea that faith is dependent for its proof on works, otherwise if these are wanting it is dead and profits nothing, by an example of compassion, which also, if without the corresponding works, is dead and can profit nothing. The representation of this similitude has the same form as the description of the case mentioned in Jam 2:2-3 : first, the statement of the circumstances, and then of the conduct. The particle δέ (Lachmann, Tischendorf) is not merely transitional (metabasis, Wiesinger), but is to be explained from the fact that in this verse the argument against the opponent brought forward commences (Schneckenburger, de Wette).

Those requiring help are by the name ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφή characterized as members of the Christian community, in order to bring out more strongly the obligation to active assistance.

By the words γυμνοὶτροφῆς their destitute condition is described. There is no need to interpret γυμνός by male vestitus (Laurentius, Wolf, Baumgarten, Gebser, Hottinger, Schneckenburger, de Wette, Theile, Wiesinger); it is rather nudus, naked, but is certainly also so used when there is no absolute nakedness, but when the clothing can hardly be considered as clothing. On λειπόμενοι, see chap. Jam 1:4-5.

ἐφήμερος] in the N. T. ἅπ. λεγ., is neither = diurnus (Morus: quod in unum diem sufficit) nor = hodiernus (Hottinger); but ἡ ἐφήμερος τροφή is = ἡ καθʼ ἡμέραν ἀναγκαῖα τροφή (Pott, Gebser, Schneckenburger, Wiesinger).

And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Jam 2:16 describes the conduct towards those requiring help.

τις ἐξ ὑμῶν] is to be taken generally, and is not, with Grotius, to be limited to those qui fidem creditis sufficere ad salutem.

The address: ὑπάγετε ἐν εἰρήνῃ] expresses a friendly wish at departure; similar to πορεύεσθε ἐν εἰρήνῃ, Acts 16:36; Jdg 18:6. ὑπάγειν εἰς εἰρήνην (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50, and other places) is somewhat different, where εἰρήνη and ὑπάγειν are not yet conceived as united.

With θερμαίνεσθε with reference to γυμνοί, warming by clothing is specially to be thought of (see Job 31:30; Haggai 1:6); but it is inaccurate to explain the verb itself as equivalent to vestiri (Laurentius, Baumgarten, Pott, Bengel, Gebser, Hottinger, Theile).

θερμαίνεσθε and χορτάζεσθε are not imperatives of the passive, and to be taken in an optative sense (Hottinger: utinam aliquis beneficens vobis vestimenta largiatur; similarly Grotius, Morus, Theile), but imperatives of the middle: Warm yourselves, satisfy yourselves; only thus does the contrast appear pointed and definite; that they are not properly to be considered as commanding, but as exhorting, is of itself evident. The plural μὴ δῶτε δέ is explained from ἐξ ὑμῶν; τὰ ἐπιδήδεια (ἅπ. λεγ.) = τὰ ἀναγκαῖα (Gloss.: τὰ πρὸς τροφὴν ἁρμόδια; Suidas: ἀφορμαὶ εἰς τὸν βίον; see Herod. ii. 174; Thuc. ii. 23; Cicero, Off. i. 8: necessaria vitae praesidia); the things necessary for the support of the body, namely, clothing and food. The question τί τὸ ὄφελος; brings forward that such a sympathy which is χωρὶς ἔργων profits nothing, has no efficacy; to this neither egentibus (Hottinger) nor dicentibus (Gomar, Baumgarten, Semler) is to be supplied.

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Jam 2:17. Application of the similitude. The verse forms one sentence, of which ἡ πίστις is the subject and νεκρὰ ἐστίν is the predicate; neither after πίστις (Pott) nor after ἔργα (Michaelis) is a colon to be put. After ἔχῃ the idea continually (Baumgarten) is not to be supplied. πίστις has here the same meaning as in Jam 2:14.

From the fact that James calls faith dead if it has not works, it is evident that by these works is not meant something which must be added to faith, but something which grows out of faith; the ἔργα here treated of are works of faith, in which are the germs of faith. νεκρά is here not to be explained by operibus destituta, but = inanima, equivalent to a dead body;[134] correctly, de Wette: “dead, that is, without the power of life; thus not primarily to be referred to its effects, but to be understood as its internal nature;” however, James thus designates a faith without works to prove that it οὐ δύναται σῶσαι and ΟὐΔῈΝ ὨΦΕΛΕῖΤΑΙ.

The more precise statement ΚΑΘʼ ἙΑΥΤΉΝ has been variously understood. Grotius considers it as simply pleonastic; some critics separate it from ΝΕΚΡΆ and take ΚΑΤΆ = against (Möller = ΚΑΘʼ ἙΑΥΤῆς, i.e. sibimet ipsi repugnat; Augusti: contra semet ipsam); others unite it with πίστις (Knapp = fides sola; Baumgarten: “in so far as faith is alone”). But ΚΑΘʼ ἙΑΥΤῆς belongs evidently, as its position shows, to ΝΕΚΡΆ (de Wette, Schneckenburger, Wiesinger, Lange). It is thus emphatically stated that a faith without works is not only dead in reference to something else, but dead in reference to itself. It serves for the intensification of the idea ΝΕΚΡΆ, yet not so that by it the existence of a ΠΊΣΤΙς without works was denied (against Schneckenburger).

[134] The comparison of faith without works to a dead body is found among the old interpreters in such a manner that it formed a controversy between Catholic and Protestant interpreters; whilst Lorinus says: mortnum corpus verum corpus est, nt sine operibus et charitate fides, Laurentius remarks: sicut homo mortuus non est verus homo, ita nee fides mortua vera fides.

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.
Jam 2:18. The words ἀλλʼ ἐρεῖ τις, with which this verse begins, apparently introduces an objection, as in 1 Corinthians 15:35; by which under τις a certain one is to be considered as an opponent of the thought above expressed, who with σύ addresses James, and by κἀγώ denotes himself. But against this explanation the sentiment itself is opposed; for as James reproaches those, against whom he argues, that they have indeed faith but not works, he could not possibly put into the mouth of his opponent, that the same had works, but he (James) had faith. The opinion of Pott, that σὺκἀγώ = ἄλλος καὶ ἄλλος, cannot be justified (so also Bouman: hic … ille). By that explanation it would require to be said: σὺ ἔργα ἔχεις, κἀγὼ πίστιν ἔχω, namely, in the sense: If thou place all stress on works, I am not the less entitled to place all stress on faith. Kern attempts to remove the difficulty by taking the first sentence: σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις, as a hypothetical protasis, and the second, on the other hand, κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω, as the apodosis, and explains it: “If thou hast faith, so have I also works, because, as thou sayest, faith and works cannot be separated.” But to this explanation is opposed not only the fact that James has not in what has gone before properly expressed the inseparableness of faith and works, but has only presupposed it; but also that the opponent should appeal to works, whilst James considers him as a person who has no works.[135] With these difficulties it is not to be wondered at that almost all expositors have decided for the view that ἈΛΛʼ ἘΡΕῖ ΤΙς is not here to be taken as the form of an objection, and that by ΤΙς not an opponent of James is meant, but a “vir sapiens et intelligens,” to whom James assigns the part of carrying on the argument in his stead against his opponent. Wiesinger: “ἀλλʼ ἐρεῖ τις cannot here be possibly taken, as in 1 Corinthians 15:35, Romans 9:19, as an objection, for, as ΣῪ ΠΊΣΤΙΝ ἜΧΕΙς already shows, the person introduced as speaking is on the side of James, and like him combats faith without works.” Accordingly, with ΣΎ the same opponent is addressed whom James had hitherto in view, and with ΚἈΓΏ the person called ΤΙς designates himself as agreeing with James. But against this explanation there are many objections. 1. It cannot be denied that the words ἈΛΛʼ ἘΡΕῖ ΤΙς have most decidedly the character of an objection. 2. If they are not so understood, then ἈΛΛʼ is not only an interruption, but inexplicable; Hottinger, indeed, maintains: ἈΛΛΆ hic non adversativum esse per se patet; but who will agree with him in this? De Wette assumes that by ἈΛΛΆ here is expressed not primarily the contrast with what immediately precedes, but with the error already combated. Wiesinger has, however, correctly rejected this opinion, which is the less to be justified “as the error has not yet been per se expressed.” ἀλλά must at all events be referred to what directly precedes. According to Schneckenburger, it refers ad negationem, quam notitio ΝΕΚΡΌς involvit, quasi dictum foret: ista fides non est fides, sed dicat aliquis; but that πίστις, if it has not works, is not ΠΊΣΤΙς at all, is so little the opinion of James that he ascribes a ΠΙΣΤΕΎΕΙΝ to the devils (Jam 2:19); ΝΕΚΡΆ is here arbitrarily explained as = nulla, and not less arbitrarily is it observed on ΠΊΣΤΙΝ ἜΧΕΙς: “interlocutor ad hominis errorcm descendens fidem, quam profitetur, eum habere sumit,” since James does not the least indicate that the words σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις are to be understood in the sense: “I will even assume that thou hast faith.” The opinion of several critics, that ἈΛΛΆ is here (= quin etiam) “a correction of the preceding judgment, heightening it” (Wiesinger), and indicates “that the opinion that a faith without works is dead is here surpassed” (Gunkel), is of no avail, as the opinion contained in this verse on faith without works is evidently not, as Brückner falsely thinks, stronger than that which is expressed in Jam 2:17 with ΝΕΚΡΆ ἘΣΤΙΝ.[136] Accordingly, all attempts at the explanation of ἀλλά do not attain their object.[137] 3. With this explanation it is entirely uncertain how far the speech of τις extends, and where James again resumes; and accordingly the greatest uncertainty here occurs among expositors. 4. Lastly, it cannot be perceived why James should express his own opinion in the person of another who is designated by the entirely indefinite term τις. Wiesinger and most expositors do not touch on this point at all. Baumgarten thinks that James speaks here in the words of a stranger, in order the better and the more freely to convey the notion of erroneousness in severer terms. But this is a pure fiction; that James did not shun from expressing himself freely and strongly the whole Epistle is a proof.[138] These objections are too important to permit us in spite of them to rest on the above explanation. But, on the other hand, the difficulties which arise if ἈΛΛʼ ἘΡΕῖ ΤΙς is taken as a form of objection appear to be invincible. They are only so, however, when it is assumed that the person introduced with ΣΎ as speaking means James, and with ΚἈΓΏ himself. But this assumption is by no means necessary. Since James introduces ΤΙς as speaking, so both words ΣΎ and ΚἈΓΏ can be understood as well from the standpoint of James as from that of the speaker; that is to say, that with ΣΎ the opponent with whom James argues, and against whom he asserts that πίστις without works is dead, is meant, and with ἘΓΏ James himself. The meaning, then, is as follows: But some might say in answer to what I have just stated, defending thee,[139] thou (who hast not the works) hast faith, and I, on the other hand (who affirm that faith without works is dead), have works;[140] my one-sided insisting on works is no more right than thy one-sided insisting on faith. By this explanation, which has nothing linguistically against it, not only is the nature of ἀλλʼ ἐρεῖ τις preserved, but it expresses a thought entirely suited to the context, whilst the following words give the answer by which this objection is decidedly repelled. This answer is in form not directed to the person introduced as speaking, but to the opponent with whom only James has properly to do, and whom he in his lively style can now the more directly address, as the objection made was the expression of his soul. The meaning of this answer is as follows: Hast thou actually, as that person says, faith, and if this is to be of use it must manifest itself, but this without works is impossible; thou canst not even show thy faith without works; as for myself, who have works, these are a proof that faith is not wanting, for without faith I could do no works. On δεῖξον, Schneckenburger correctly remarks: vide ne verbo tribuas significationem exhibendi et manifestandi (per vitam), sed retine primam et simplicem comprobari quasi ante judicem.

τὴν πίστιν σου is said because the opponent ascribed faith to himself (Jam 2:14); thus “the faith which thou sayest thou hast” (Wiesinger).

With the reading of the Rec. ἐκ τ. ἔργων (instead of χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων) the words are to be taken as ironical (so also Lange), as the supposition is that works are wanting to him.

With these words not faith generally, but living faith which saves is denied to the opponent; if the same is not proved by works, it is dead.

In what James says of himself, ἔργα are the works which proceed from faith, as these could not otherwise authenticate it. It is to be observed that in the first clause τὴν πίστιν, and in the second ἐκ τῶν ἔργων, stand first, because these ideas are the points on which the whole turns.

[135] The explanation of Knapp, that the first words are interrogative: tune quia ipse fide cares, propterea eam contemnis? and to which the answer is then given: immo vero plus habeo, quam quantum tu et habes et postulas, fidem videlicet cum factis conjunctam, is correctly relinquished by himself, as it is too artificial to be considered as correct.

[136] Wiesinger observes: The person introduced as speaking not only confirms what was said before, but goes beyond it; not only that such a faith is dead, but that it cannot even prove its existence without works: it is nothing. But with these last words Wiesinger inserts a thought into the words which they by no means contain, the same thought which, according to Schneckenburger, is contained in νεκρά ἐστι.

[137] The pointing ἀλλʼ, ἐρεῖ τις, σὺ κ.τ.λ. (Schulthess, Gebser, Rauch) does in no way remove the difficulty, and has also this against it, that the closely-united formula ἀλλʼ ἐρεῖ τις is thus disunited.

[138] Lange thinks to remove the difficulty by ascribing to the words “a grand prophetical character,” whilst by τις is meant “the Gentile-Christian world,” which has proved “by its works of faith that it has had the true faith, whereas Ebionism, with its want of consistency in Christian works of love, has proved that its orthodoxy was not a living faith.” But, apart from the arbitrariness of this interpretation, ἀλλά is by it referred not to the preceding declaration, but falsely to the erroneous opinion of τις (ver. 14).

[139] The view of Stier, that by the speaker a Pharisaical Jew is to be understood, who takes occasion from the inoperative faith of Christians to mock the Christian faith in general, has been rightly rejected by Wiesinger. If James had meant by τις a Jew, he would have called him such.

[140] This is a form of expression which frequently occurs. Thus, if one speaks with Charles, and says to him: Henry says thou hast found the book which I have lost. Brückner, indeed, thinks that this example is not appropriate, but he does not give his reasons for saying so. Lange calls the explanation here given artificial, but he does not say in what its artificial character consists. The objections which Lange brings against it are founded on his having read erroneously defending himself instead of defending thee.

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Jam 2:19. James shows, in the faith of demons, with whom it produces trembling, how little faith without works effects salvation. With σὺ πιστεύεις, which is not, with Lachmann and Tischendorf, to be taken as a question, it is granted to the opponent that he possesses faith. From the fact that what is specifically Christian is not named as the object of faith, it is not to be inferred, with Calvin, that in this entire section not the Christian faith (de fide) is spoken of, but only de vulgari Dei notitia. Expositors correctly assume that this one article of faith is only adduced as an example. The selection of precisely this article on the unity of God is not to be explained because “the Jewish Christians were particularly proud of it, so that it kept them back from fully surrendering themselves to the Christian faith” (Lange), but because it distinguished revealed religion from all heathenism. However much the position of the individual words vary (see critical notes), yet the unity of God appears in all as the chief idea; comp. particularly, Deuteronomy 6:4; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 45:6; Matthew 23:9; Mark 12:29; Mark 12:32; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 8:6; and, in this Epistle, chap. Jam 4:12. In Hermas, I. 2, mand. 1, it is said: πρῶτον πάντων πίστευσον, ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν ὁ Θεός.

De Wette, with whom Philippi coincides, thinks that by the construction with ὅτι the faith which the opponent has is characterized as merely theoretical; but it is, on the other hand, to be observed, that a construction with εἰς or ἐν here, where the unity of God is to be adduced, could hardly have been used (so also Brückner).

James grants, by the words καλῶς ποιεῖς, that this faith is something in itself entirely good (see Jam 2:8). Several expositors, as Calvin, Semler, Hottinger, Schneckenburger, Theile, Wiesinger, Bouman, find in the expression a trace of irony, which others, as Laurentius, Baumgarten, Grotius, Pott, Gebser, de Wette, deny. Though not in the statement by itself, yet in the whole expression there is something ironical (Lange, Brückner), which, in the combination of πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν (as Wieseler remarks), rises to sarcasm. This sarcasm is, moreover, to be recognised in demons being placed in opposition to the opponent.

καί before τὰ δαιμόνια is not to be explained by ἀλλὰ καί (Pott), or atqui (Theile); by the insertion of a contrary reference the peculiar severity of the expression is only weakened. That James, in his reference to the unity of God, mentions the demons, is in accordance with the view that the heathen divinities are demons; comp. LXX. Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 95:5; Psalm 105:37; 1 Corinthians 10:20; and Meyer in loco: As these are the occasion of polytheism, so they are hostilely opposed to the one God; but, in their usurped lordship over the heathen world, they tremble before the one God, who will again rescue the world and judge them. It is wholly arbitrary to take τὰ δαιμόνια = daemoniaci (Wetstein), or to think on the demons in the possessed (Semler, Gebser, Schneckenburger). Pott incorrectly paraphrases the καί between πιστεύουσιν and φρίσσουσι by καὶ ὅμως; the simple copulative meaning of the word need not here be altered. φρίσσειν, an ἅπ. λεγ., is used particularly of the hair standing on end (Job 4:15), and is therefore a stronger expression than δεδοικέναι and τρέμειν.

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Jam 2:20 introduces the following proof from Scripture, that faith without works is dead, and accordingly cannot have δικαιοῦσθαι as its consequence. The question θέλεις δὲ γνῶναι, expresses the confident assurance of victory over the opponent; the address ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ, deep indignation at him. Κενός does not here indicate intellectual defect (Baumgarten = stupid, incapable of thinking; Pott = short-sighted), but the want of true intrinsic worth, in opposition to the imaginary wealth which the opponent fancies he possesses in his dead faith. The word is only here used in the N. T. of persons. The , placed first, which is frequently used in reproof,—see Matthew 17:17; Luke 24:25; Romans 9:20 (Winer, p. 165 [E. T. 228]),—intensifies the censure. The thought is essentially the same whether νεκρά or ἀργή is read.

ἀργός] equivalent to idle, vain, that which profits and effects nothing,[141] is also used of a capital sum which lies idle, and therefore bears no interest, thus is a dead capital. Not because ἀργή “deserves the preference with a view to the sense” (Wiesinger), but only because it is difficult to consider it as a gloss, is it to be considered—against the authorities which testify for νεκρά (see critical note)—as the original reading.

As χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων stands here instead of ἐὰν μὴ ἔργα ἔχῃ (Jam 2:17), the article is not to be supplied before χωρίς (against Beza, Baumgarten, and others).

[141] It is inaccurate to take ἀργός as equivalent to ἄκαρπος (Frank: unproductive); as this indicates the condition, that, on the contrary, the conduct of the subject. They are united together not as identical, but only as related ideas, in 2 Peter 1:8.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Jam 2:21. The testimony to which James first appeals is what happened to Abraham. The reference to Abraham is completely explained from his historical importance, and which is also indicated by ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν.

ἡμῶν] because both James and his readers belonged to the nation of Israel sprung from Abraham. By the question with οὐ the thought is characterized as such to which all—thus all the opponents—must assent: Was not Abraham our father justified by works? The participial sentence which follows declares what works procured for him justification: when he offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

The reference to the doctrine of the Apostle Paul, and especially to his declaration in Romans 4:1 ff., has misled expositors into many arbitrary explanations of this verse, and particularly of the word ἐδικαιώθη. In order to have a sure foundation for interpretation, two things are to be examined,—(1) the context, and (2) the linguistic usage. (1) As regards the context, the question treated in this whole section is, How the Christian is saved;[142] comp. the question in Jam 2:14 : μὴ δύναται ἡ πίστις σῶσαι αὐτόν; and the connection of that section with the preceding, where the discourse is about the divine judgment (Jam 2:12 : κρίνεσθαι; Jam 2:13 : ἡ κρίσις). As James appeals to Abraham for his assertion that faith without works cannot save, it is evident that by ἐδικαιώθη he cannot mean something which happened to Abraham from himself, but only something which happened to him from God; so that the meaning cannot be, “Abraham justified himself by his works,” but only that “God justified him on the ground of his works.”[143] (2) As regards the linguistic usage, δικαιοῦν corresponds to the Hebrew הַצְדִּיק, which, as a judicial term, has the meaning: to declare one צַדִּיק by an acquittal from guilt, and is opposed to הַרְשִׁיעַ (LXX.: καταγινώσκειν, καταδικάζειν) = to declare one רָשָׁע by a sentence of condemnation; comp. Exodus 23:7; Deuteronomy 25:1; 1 Kings 8:32; 2 Chronicles 6:23; Proverbs 17:15; Isaiah 5:23; Isaiah 50:8; Isaiah 53:11; in the Apocrypha, comp. Sir 10:29; Sir 13:22; Sir 23:11; Sir 34:5; Sir 42:2. δικαιοῦν has also the same meaning in the N. T., where, especially (besides the passages treating of the Pauline doctrine of justification), Matthew 12:37, Romans 2:13, Luke 18:14 are to be compared. This judicial meaning of the word is here to be retained. It is true, as δικαιοῦν (similarly the English word “to justify”) occurs not only in the judicial sense, but, also more generally, as also הַצְדִּיק, in the sense “set forth as righteous”[144] (comp. Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29; Romans 3:4; 1 Timothy 3:16), the passage has been explained: “Abraham has been proved righteous,” or, “has proved himself righteous” (so already Calvin, and, in recent times, Philippi). But this explanation is unsuitable, since, according to this view, justification did not happen to Abraham from God (as must be conceived according to the context), but from his works; thus it was Abraham who justified himself by his works, i.e. proved himself to be righteous.[145] If we hold fast to the judicial meaning, then it is to be observed that, in the conception of the word, neither anything about the disposition of him who is the object of the declaration of righteousness, nor about the ground of justification (whether it rests in the judge or in the conduct of him who is justified), is indicated. For this reason the explanation of Wiesinger: a Deo justus agnitus, is incorrect, as the idea of a ratifying recognition of the already existing condition is not contained in the word. As little is it to be vindicated when Hofmann thinks that δικαιοῦσθαι here imports: “to become a δίκαιος, inasmuch as he then answered to the will of God relating to him;” for, on the one hand, by this a meaning (namely, being made a righteous person) is ascribed to the word which it has not; and, on the other hand, no one can make himself a righteous person by his works, but only can prove himself to be such.[146] James says nothing else than that Abraham was declared righteous (by God) ἐξ ἔργων. By ἐξ ἔργων the reason is specified, on Abraham’s part, on account of which a declaration of righteousness was granted to him. By these works are to be understood not all the works which Abraham has done, nor his whole pious life, but, as the clause ἀνενέγκας Ἰσαὰκ κ.τ.λ. shows, the actual offering of his son Isaac on the altar. The plural ἐξ ἔργων is used because the category, at first entirely general, is specified which here comes into consideration. It may appear surprising that James here should emphasize precisely that offering as the reason of the declaration of righteousness, since in the O. T. narrative (Genesis 22.) a δικαιοῦσθαι of Abraham is not mentioned. What James has in view is not “the judgment of God there; Genesis 22:12 comp. with Jam 2:16 ff.” (Wiesinger); for in these words, which, moreover, only serve as an introduction to the declaration which follows, nothing is addressed to Abraham, but only it is testified of him that God in his action has recognised his fear of God. Not in this, but only in what God addresses to him on account of it, because He has recognised him as a God-fearing man, can James have found the declaration of Abraham’s righteousness. This is the bestowal of the promise (Jam 2:16-18) by which it is expressly said, “because thou hast done this thing” (Jam 2:16), and “because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Jam 2:18); by which is definitely brought forward that the promise was granted on account of his obedience—that is, on account of his works. What importance, with regard to the promise, the obedience of Abraham had in the eyes of God is clearly brought out from Genesis 26:5, where God ratifies this same promise with Isaac in these words: “Because that Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws;” and not less is it to be observed when it is said in Sir 44:20 : ὃς συνετήρησεν νόμον ὑψίστουκαὶ ἐν πειρασμῷ εὑρέθη πιστός· διὰ τοῦτο ἐν ὅρκῳ ἔστησεν αὐτῷ κ.τ.λ. It is true that the same promise was made to Abraham at an earlier period, and that before he had done anything (Genesis 12:2-3); but the difference is, that after the offering of his son it was imparted to him as an inalienable blessing on account of this action, and that at the close of his theocratic historical life. In this James could rightly recognise a formal declaration of Abraham’s righteousness on the part of God.

On the construction ἐδικαιώθη ἐκ, comp. Matthew 12:37 : ἐκ τῶν λόγων σου δικαιωθήσῃ, where the λόγοι are reckoned as that on the ground of which acquittal (or condemnation) takes place.

The words: ἀνενέγκαςἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον] are not, with Luther, to be translated: “when he had sacrificed his son upon the altar;” for ἀναφέρειν joined with ἐπί, with the accusative, is not to sacrifice, but to bring as a sacrifice to the altar (comp. 1 Peter 2:24); it is therefore incorrect to supply the idea will (Estius: cum obtulisset = offere voluisset). Hottinger falsely explains ἐπὶ τ. θυσ. = before the altar. To the name Ἰσαάκ is emphatically added τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ; comp. Genesis 22:16.

[142] Philippi erroneously maintains that the question here treated, is to prove that faith has to manifest itself by works if it is to be regarded as true faith. But James designates the faith of his opponents as νεκρά, not merely because it has no works, but because it cannot effect the σωτηρία which they expected from it.

[143] Correctly, Wiesinger: “In ἐδικαιώθη the passive sense is decidedly to be retained, and, indeed, a Deo …; not of the human judgment is the discourse here and in ver. 23, but of the divine; as it treats of the proposition in ver. 14, that only an active faith can save.” This is the more to be maintained, as the thought, that faith has to justify itself before men as living, is so void of importance that James could not lay such stress upon it.

[144] This is the prevailing meaning of הַצְדִּיק, which is differently modified according to the different circumstances to which it is referred. It is chiefly used of a judicial sentence, whether of God or of a human judge, by which one is declared צַדִּיק; yet it also occurs in another reference, namely, of every agency which causes one to appear as righteous, whether that agency is exercised by the person in question or by others. The N. T. δικαιοῦν corresponds to this usage. Strictly taken, it is accordingly not correct to translate δικαιοῦν by “proved to be righteous,” or “approved to be righteous,” as the ideas proving and approving, according to their proper and strict meaning, are not contained in it. Comp., however, the excellent treatment of the word in Cremer’s dictionary.

[145] Philippi explains the words: Abraham was justified before men by works, as a justified man before God by faith. But here there are evidently introduced into the idea δικαιοῦσθαι a series of more precise statements which are not contained in it. The explanation of Brückner is simpler, who considers ἑδικαιώθη to indicate: “that moral righteousness which displays itself on the ground of the activity of faith;” but also this interpretation is not to be considered correct for the reasons above stated. The unsuitableness of this and similar interpretations is particularly evident from ver. 24. It is also to be observed, that in these explanations the passive is converted into the middle voice. In the O. T., it is true, the hithpael of צָדַק is translated in the LXX. by the preterite passive of δικαιοῦν (see Genesis 44:16); but in the N. T. the passive of this verb never occurs in this meaning; the middle import is here rather expressed by the active with the reflex pronoun; comp. Luke 10:29; Luke 16:15.

[146] The following explanations are also incorrect: “he was loved as a righteous man” (Grotius); “he was made a partaker of the favour of God and of all the blessings springing from it” (Theile); “his justification was ratified by man” (Baumgarten). The translation: “he was pardoned” (Pott), is inaccurate, because the idea of pardon always supposes a crime, which δικαιοῦν does not. Also the explanation of Lange is arbitrary: δικαιοῦν, in the N. T. deeper sense, denotes that “God declares righteousness in the theocratical forum before the theocratical congregation conceived as permanent;” for how can the precise statement be contained in the simple verbal idea, before whom the declaration of righteousness was made?

Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
Jam 2:22. The direct inference from the preceding. Since the necessity of faith to the attainment of salvation was not contested by those with whom James disputed, but only the necessity of works; and since James (Jam 2:21) had adduced the example of Abraham to prove that only a faith which is not ἀργή and χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων profits: in this verse it can only be intended to represent how important to Abraham were his works, but not how important to him was his faith. This thought is thus clearly and evidently expressed in the second hemistich: καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἔργων κ.τ.λ. On the other hand, the first hemistich: ὅτι ἡ πίστις συνήργει τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ, has been generally understood by expositors as if the necessity of faith was intended to be brought forward. In this meaning Bengel says: duo commata, quorum in priore, si illud, fides, in altero opcribus cum accentu pronunciaveris, sententia liquido percipitur, qua exprimitur, quid utravis pars alteri conferat. According to this, James would have expressed in the first hemistich, that faith was not wanting to Abraham, that rather it was this from which his works sprung, that accordingly Abraham was justified ἐξ ἔργων, because they were works of faith. The same explanation is given by Erasmus, Tremellus, Beza, Baumgarten, Gebser, Pott, Kern, and others; also by Hofmann and Wiesinger. But the context is against it, as this thought does not follow as a consequence from Jam 2:21. Those expositors have accordingly understood the passage more correctly who find in the words in question the meaning that the πίστις of Abraham was not dead but operative; Estius: operosa fuit, non otiosa, non mortua (so Calvin, Laurentius, Hornejus, and others), although their interpretation is inaccurate in particulars.

συνήργει] If συνεργεῖν is taken in its strictly literal sense: “to be a συνεργός, to labour or to work along with” (1 Corinthians 16:16; 2 Corinthians 6:1), and is translated: “faith wrought with his works,” the idea of James (according to the usage of the word συνεργεῖν in this meaning) would be, that whilst works wrought, faith participated in their work.[147] But this thought does not correspond with the context, and is, moreover, not in itself to be vindicated, since faith and works are not two principles working along with one another.

Kern, with whom de Wette coincides, takes τοῖς ἔργοις as the dative of reference, and explains it: “faith wrought to his works, i.e. was the operative principle for the production of works.” This gives, indeed, a suitable enough thought, but linguistic usage is against the explanation; besides, it is not the case that “συν has only a vague reference, or, to speak more correctly, no reference at all” (Hofmann). On this account other interpreters, as Hofmann, Wiesinger, Brückner, also Philippi, correctly take συνεργεῖν here in the meaning of: to help (Romans 8:28; 1Ma 12:1). The support which faith gave to works is to be found in this, that as it operates to their production, so also to their accomplishment in correspondence with the will of God.[148] By this explanation a special emphasis is placed on the expression συνήργει, it being thereby brought prominently forward that the faith of Abraham was not ἀργός (-εργός), but exercised an activity, namely, the activity mentioned as helpful to works. Against Lange’s explanation: “faith manifested itself operatively at one with the works,” besides not being linguistically justified, Brückner rightly remarks that here the discourse is not concerning a co-operation of these two points.

The second hemistich is not in antithesis with the first, but constitutes its complement; whilst the faith of Abraham aided his works, faith itself received by works its completion.

ἐτελειώθη] is by many interpreters understood as declarative; Gomarus: fides est causa, opera effectus; causa autem non perficitur a suo effectu, sed perfecta declaratur, ut fructus boni arborem bonam non efficiunt, sed indicant. The same explanation is adopted by Calvin, Laurentius, Baumgarten, Gebser, Bengel, Philippi,[149] and others. Also Wiesinger indicates the same meaning with the remark: “faith could not be proved complete if it were not already so in itself, for the complete work presupposes the complete faith;” but τελειοῦσθαι does not signify to be proved, but to be completed.[150] Certainly the meaning of James cannot be, that faith hitherto incomplete was completed by works, as something which was externally added to faith, since faith is the impulse to the works; but as little is it his meaning, that faith is already complete (τέλειος) before works, and is by works only proved or demonstrated to be so; but faith and works are in his view so closely connected, that faith only when it produces works or by works (ἐξ ἔργων) becomes ever more completely that which it should be according to its nature and destination, and in so far only by works attains to its completion; for as the power of love grows and is completed by the practice of works of love, so does faith grow and is completed by the practice of works in which it manifests itself.[151] Thus was Abraham’s faith only completed when he stood the severest test, and brought his son as an offering upon the altar.[152]

[147] In the first edition of this commentary it is said: “Faith was the συνεργός of his works—that is, it operated not by itself, but with his works. James will here make prominent that with Abraham both were combined, the emphasis, however, according to the context, being placed on τοῖς ἔργοις.” This explanation, which has found favour with von Oettingen and Rauch, is, however, not tenable, as, on the one hand, linguistic usage is against it, and, on the other hand, it was not insisted on by James that the faith of Abraham wrought not alone, but that it was no inactive (inoperative) faith.

[148] The explanation of Hofmann (with whom Wiesinger and Brückner coincide): “that his action would not have been what is represented in an act of willing obedience, unless faith had assisted to its performance,” has this against it, that the principal thought would not thereby be expressed, but must be added. Philippi correctly: Abraham’s faith was no inert faith, but was helpful to his works, namely, to their production and accomplishment, i.e. it assisted him to the performance of good works.

[149] Philippi incorrectly appeals for this meaning to 1 John 2:5, and to ἔσεσθε in Luke 6:35.

[150] Also Hofmann’s explanation: “The τελείωσις of his faith consisted not in this, that it attained from incompleteness to completeness, but in this, that by the action, in which it proved itself, it attained to its complete formation—to its historical accomplishment,” cannot be reckoned as appropriate, because τελειοῦσθαι never means “to be completely formed,” if by this expression a becoming complete is not intended. Lange agrees with the above remark, only he introduces something strange when he says: “Abraham by his faith-offering attained typically and ideally the τελείωσις, which the Jewish Christians were to attain by the full proof of Christian brotherly love out of faith, and which with them all Israel was to attain.”

[151] Luther (in his introduction to First Peter, published by Irmischer, vol. lxx. p. 223 f.) says of the fruits of faith: “Although they belong to our neighbour, that he may be profited thereby, yet the fruit is not external—faith becomes stronger thereby. It is an entirely different strength than that of the body, for this decays and is consumed; but this spiritual strength, the more one uses and exercises it, the stronger it becomes; it decays when one does not exercise it.” See also the appropriate remarks of Hengstenberg (Evang. Kirchenz. 1866, p. 1124 ff.).

[152] When it is objected against this explanation, that faith must already have been perfect in order to produce the perfect work, it is to be observed, that it is in the nature of living faith always to be becoming stronger, in and with the production of works, and thus to perfect itself in its nature more and more. Brückner, indeed, grants that the practice of works has a strengthening reflex efficacy on faith, but observes that by this cannot be meant that faith was not before already sufficient to justify Abraham. But to this it is to be observed, that James does not derive the justification (meant by him) of Abraham from his faith preceding works, but from his faith made perfect by works.

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Jam 2:23. Since what was said of Abraham in the preceding appears to conflict with the Scripture, Genesis 15:6, James was obliged to solve this apparent contradiction, therefore he adds to what he has said: and (thus) the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “But Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness; and he was called a friend of God.” Most expositors (also von Oettingen) explain πληροῦν by comprobare, confirmed, and find here the thought expressed, that by Abraham being justified ἐξ ἔργων, the scripture: “that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness,” received its confirmation. But in this explanation of the word πληροῦν there is an arbitrary weakening of the idea. πληροῦν signifies neither in the N. T. nor in classical usage: “to confirm,” but always “to fulfil” (see Cremer); with regard to a saying, the realization of the thought expressed in it by an action following is indicated by πληροῦν, whether that saying be in the form of a prediction or not. This meaning of the verb is also here to be recognised, and indeed so much the more as James uses the formula with which not only in the N. T. but also in the O. T. (1 Kings 2:27; 2 Chronicles 36:22; 1Ma 2:55) generally the fulfilment of a proper prediction, and always the real proof of an earlier spoken thought, is expressed.

The scripture which was fulfilled is Genesis 15:6, where it is said not only that Abraham believed Jehovah, but that He (Jehovah) reckoned it to him for righteousness. James (as also Paul in Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; see also 1Ma 2:52) cites the passage according to the LXX., where the passive ἐλογίσθη is used instead of the active יַהְשְׁבֶהָ; whilst he only deviates from the Greek text in this, that he (as also Paul in Romans 4:3) uses ἐπίστευσεν δέ instead of καὶ ἐπίστευσεν; it is to be observed that in the corresponding passage, Psalm 106:31, the passive וַתֵּחָשֶׁב is also in the Hebrew.

Instead of the expression used in these passages, the form: תִּהְיֶה לְךָ צְרָקָה לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה, is also found in the O. T. Deuteronomy 24:13; Deuteronomy 6:25 (where the LXX. incorrectly translate צְרָקָה by ἐλεημοσύνη). The contrary of this is indicated by the expression: תֵּחָשֶׁב לוֹ קְלָלָה, Proverbs 27:14.

All these expressions import a judgment which God pronounces to Himself on a definite conduct of man, by which He either reckons it for righteousness or for a curse; with Abraham it was his faith on account of which God declared him a righteous person.

But in what does James see the fulfilment of this scripture, that testifies this judgment of God on believing Abraham? Evidently in what he had already said, namely, that Abraham ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη, and which he indicates by what follows: καὶ φίλος Θεοῦ ἐκλήθη; for these words—since they belong not to the scripture—are co-ordinate not with καὶ ἐλογίσθη, but with καὶ ἐπληρώθη κ.τ.λ. It is true God regarded Abraham as His φίλος (φίλος Θεοῦ is not, as Hofmann and Philippi think, God’s friend, who loved God, but God’s friend whom God loved[153]) the instant he reckoned his faith to him for righteousness; but he was called so at a later period, namely, only at the time that he was declared righteous by God on account of his works. The expressions ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην and ἘΔΙΚΑΙΏΘΗ are not regarded by James as equivalent, but according to his representation the former was imparted to Abraham purely on account of his faith (ἐπίστευσεν), but the latter only when his faith was completed by works, thus on account of his works (ἐξ ἔργων), so that thereby that scripture was fulfilled. It is true this scripture is abstractly no promise; but as it notifies facts which point to later actions in which they received their full accomplishment, James might consider it as a word of promise which was fulfilled by the occurrence of these later actions.[154]

The appellation of Abraham as a ΦΊΛΟς ΘΕΟῦ is not indeed found in the LXX.; but in 2 Chronicles 20:7, Jehoshaphat calls him in his prayer אֹֽהַבְךָ (LXX.: Ὁ ἨΓΑΠΗΜΈΝΟς ΣΟΥ), and in Isaiah 41:8 God Himself calls him אֹֽהֲבִי (LXX.: ὋΝ ἨΓΆΠΗΣΑ); comp. also Ges. Asar. v. 11: διὰ Ἀβραὰμ τὸν ἠγαπημένον ὑπὸ σοῦ; also it was not unusual for the Jews to call him φίλος Θεοῦ; to Genesis 18:17, the LXX. have added to ἀπὸ Ἀβραάμ the words τοῦ παιδός μου, for which Philo puts τοῦ φίλου μου. It is evident from what has preceded that we cannot, with Grotius, Hornejus, Pott, and others, explain ἐκλήθη = factus est, fuit.

[153] Lange comprehends both; but at all events, according to the context, the reference given above is to be recognised as the prevailing one.

[154] Namely: the faith with which Abraham received the promise of God points to the later obedience, and the divine reckoning of his faith for righteousness points to the declaration of righteousness imparted to him by God at a later period after proof of his obedience.


When de Wette explains πληροῦν by realized, this is so far inappropriate, as πληροῦν does not directly refer to the fact itself, but to the saying of scripture, and as neither of πιστεύειν of Abraham, nor of ἑλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικ., can it be said that it “was something not yet wholly real, but the full realization of which occurred only at a later period.” For although both point to a later period, yet there was in them something which had actually taken place, as Lange correctly adduces. Hofmann also gave an incorrect reference to the word, explaining it: “In the offering of Isaac it was proved that God had rightly estimated the faith of Abraham when He counted it for righteousness;” for, on the one hand, there was no need of a proof that God had rightly estimated something, of which there is no indication in James, and, on the other hand, πληροῦν has not the meaning of confirming or proving.[155] In opposition to the explanation of Philippi: “the scriptural expression concerning Abraham’s justification by faith was, because His justification by faith is in itself a thing invisible as it were, an unfulfilled prophecy, until it became visible through proof by works,” it is, apart, from the unjustifiable insertion of “as it were,” to be observed that Abraham’s act of obedience, happening at a later period, confirmed indeed his faith (thus that ἐπίστευσεν τῷ Θεῷ), but not the righteousness adjudged to him on account of his faith (that ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικ.), and accordingly ἐπληρώθη would be suitable only for the first half of the scriptural expression. It is peculiar that, according to the explanation of Philippi, the same meaning: “to be proved,” is in essence ascribed to the three words

δικαιοῦσθαι, τελειοῦσθαι, πληροῦσθαι.

[155] Also in Brückner’s explanation: “Both the fact that Abraham believed God, and that this faith was reckoned to him by God for righteousness, was confirmed and proved in the offering of Isaac, leading to this that Abraham ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη,” the idea τληροῦν receives not its right meaning. Lange has here in essentials adopted the correct meaning.

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Jam 2:24. An inference universally valid from the adduced example of Abraham: “Ye see that by works a man is justified (declared righteous), and not by faith alone,”

ὁρᾶτε] is not imperative (Erasmus, Grotius), but indicative; Griesbach, Schott, Schulthess incorrectly understand the sentence as a question, which it is as little as in Jam 2:22.

ἐξ ἔργων] is emphatically placed first, because the chief stress is upon it.

δικαιοῦται] has the same meaning as in Jam 2:21. James thus infers from the foregoing that the declaration of man’s righteousness proceeds ἐξ ἔργων, and, with special reference to his opponents, he adds: οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον.[156] The chief emphasis is on μόνον; for as little as James in Jam 2:14 has not said that faith cannot save (σῶσαι), so little will he here say that a man is not justified ἐκ πίστεως (rather πίστις is to him the presupposition, without which the attainment of salvation cannot be conceived, as without it the ἔργα, ἐξ ὧν δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος are impossible); but that the faith, which justifies, must not be χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων. μόνον is therefore not to be united with οὐκ (Theile: appositionis lege explenda est oratio: non solum fide, sed etiam operibus … nempe cum fide conjungendis), but with πίστεως (Theophylact, Grotius, Knapp, Hottinger, Wiesinger, and others); comp. 1 Corinthians 12:31; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 1:23; Php 1:26. The declaration of righteousness, which James intends, is not that by which the believer on account of his faith receives the forgiveness of his sins, but, as is evident from the connection of the whole section, that which occurs to the believer, who has proved his living faith by his works, at the judgment (ἐν τῇ κρίσει, ἐν τῷ κρίνεσθαι), and by which he receives σωτηρία (Jam 2:14). When James, in reference to this, appeals to what happened to Abraham, there is nothing unsuitable, for why should not that which God has done in a definite instance be regarded as a type and testimony of what He shall do at the future judgment? Moreover, this is completely appropriate, since to Abraham, by the address to him after the offering of Isaac, the promise which was before made to his faith, was rendered unchangeably firm at the close of his theocratic life. The present δικαιοῦται is explained, because the thought was to be expressed as a universal sentence.[157]

[156] Philippi, according to his explanation of ἐδικαιώθη, ver. 21, must find here the thought expressed, that “faith alone without works cannot prove a man before men to be a believer, and justified by faith;” but this thought is in fact so self-evident, that James would not have thought it necessary to state it as a consequence from the history of Abraham. The idea opposed to ἐξ ἔργων should not be ἐκ πίστεως, but must be ἐκ λόγων (comp. λέγῃ, ver. 14); moreover, the simple δικαιοῦται ἄνερωπος cannot possibly denote: “a man is justified as a believer whom God, on account of his faith, has justified.”

[157] See remarks by the author in the April number of the Erlang. Zeitschrift für Protest. Frank, in his reply (in the same, p. 220), combating the reference of δικαιοῦται to the final judgment, says: “If there was in the life of Abraham a justification by works, which may be considered as the type and testimony of the final acquittal, so there occurs also in the life of Christians such acts of justification by works, that they may also be regarded as a testimony and type of their future justification before the judgment-seat of God.” To this it is to be replied, that such an act of justification is here treated of by which the accounting of his faith for righteousness already imparted to the believer comes to its termination, as was here the case with Abraham. But this act, as concerns Christian believers, occurs not in their earthly life, but only at the judgment. Philippi also incorrectly says that the reference to the judgment is not indicated, since it is sufficiently indicated by the whole context; see remarks on ver. 14.

Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
Jam 2:25. To the example of Abraham, that of Rahab is added: But was not in like manner Rahab the harlot justified by works? The form of the sentence is the same as in Jam 2:21.

ὁμοίως δὲ καί] does not signify “even so” (as Frommann explains it in the Stud. u. Krit. 1833, p. 97), but by ὁμοίως the similarity of what Rahab became a partaker with what happened to Abraham is brought forward, whilst by δέ the diversity of the relation is indicated. This diversity is noted by the addition ἡ πόρνη. Rahab, namely, was a πόρνη; nevertheless, on account of the works which she did (namely, her works of faith), she was declared righteous. Thus, by the addition of this example, the truth that a man is justified ἐξ ἔργων is yet further confirmed.[158] The article is not, as some expositors think, demonstrative illa; and πορνή means neither mulier cibaria vendens, nor caupona vel hospita (Lyranus, Grotius), nor idololatra (Rosenmüller).

ὙΠΟΔΕΞΑΜΈΝΗ ΤΟῪς ἈΓΓΈΛΟΥς Κ.Τ.Λ.] This participial sentence mentions the ἜΡΓΑ, on account of which Rahab was justified. The correctness of the assertion, that Rahab was justified on account of her works, consists in this: that, according to the narrative contained in Joshua 2, 6, life was on account of them granted to her, she was formally delivered from that punishment which befell Jericho; see Joshua 6:24. Thus James could with right appeal for the truth of what was said in Jam 2:24 to this fact, since also the future declaration of righteousness will be an acquittal from punishment.

In Hebrews 11:31 the deliverance of Rahab is ascribed to her ΠΊΣΤΙς, but so that her action is likewise mentioned as the demonstration of it. Theile explains ὙΠΟΔΕΞΑΜΈΝΗ = clam excepit; but Wiesinger correctly observes: “The secondary meaning clam is not contained in the word, but in the circumstances;” see Luke 10:38; Luke 19:6; Acts 17:7. In the Epistle to the Hebrews the simple verb δεξαμένη is used, and the ἌΓΓΕΛΟΙ[159] are there more exactly designated as ΚΑΤΆΣΚΟΠΟΙ. ἘΚΒΆΛΛΕΙΝ is not simply cmittcre (Schneckenburger), but has the secondary meaning of force = thrust out; comp. Luke 8:54; John 2:15; Acts 9:40. It denotes the pressing haste with which she urged the messengers to go out of the house. ἑτέρᾳ ὁδῷ] i.e. by another way than from that by which they entered the house, namely, διὰ τῆς θυρίδος, Joshua 2:15. For the local dative, see Winer, p. 196 [E. T. 273].

[158] Bede assigns as a reason why Rahab is here adduced as an example: ne quis objiceret Abrahamum ejusque fidem excelsiorem esse, quam et quivis christianus imitatione eam adsequi possit. Grotius thinks: Abrahami exemplum Hebraeis ad Christum conversis sufficere debebat, sed quia etiam alienigenis scribit, adjunxit exemplum feminae extrancae (similarly Hofmann); and Schneckenburger observes: novum additur exemplum e sexu muliebri sumtum. All these meanings are, however, arbitrary, as there is no indication of them in the words before us. This holds also good against Lange, according to whose opinion Rahab is here to be considered “as a representative of the Gentile Christians in their works of faith.”

[159] Lange strangely supposes that James has chosen this expression “in allusion to the fact that the Gentiles of his time were ready to receive the messengers of the gospel.”

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Jam 2:26 is added as a reason (γάρ), primarily indeed, to what directly goes before (ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη), but thereby likewise to the universal sentiment contained in Jam 2:24. James here repeats the same judgment which he has already expressed (Jam 2:17) on πίστις χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων; yet heightens it by the comparison with σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος: for as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος] By σῶμα is to be understood the human body, and by πνεῦμα the vital principle animating it, by which it lives; whether James has contemplated πνεῦμα definitely as the intellectual spirit of man (as “the principle of the morally-determined and God-derived life peculiar to man”), or generally as the breath of life proceeding from God (see Genesis 6:17, LXX.: πᾶσα σὰρξ ἐν ᾖ ἐστὶ πνεῦμα ζωῆς; Revelation 11:11; Revelation 13:15), remains uncertain. With the body without the spirit, which is νεκρός, James compares (οὕτως is not “the sign of assurance = even so certainly,” Baumgarten) faith without works (the article τῶν denotes works as those which belong to πίστις, its corresponding works), which is also νεκρός. This comparison appears so far incongruous, as the relation of ἔργα to πίστις does not correspond with that of πνεῦμα to the σῶμα, since ἔργα are the fruit, and not the source of πίστις.[160] Therefore some interpreters have by ἔργα understood not works themselves, but love (Theile), or “the innermost life of faith in its outwardly operative and visible manifestation” (Frank); but such an exchange of ideas is not to be justified. Already some of the older expositors, as Gomar, Piscator, Laurentius, Wolf, and others, and recently Philippi (Theile is undecided), explain ΠΝΕῦΜΑ = breath. This, however, is even linguistically objectionable, as ΠΝΕῦΜΑ in the N. T. occurs in the meaning of breath proceeding out of the mouth only in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, a passage in accordance with the O. T.; but also in sense this explanation is not justified, for although “the breath is the proof of the existence of life in the body” (Philippi), yet the ideas breath and works have too great disparity between them to be parallelized with each other. It is more natural, with de Wette, Kern, Hofmann, Wiesinger, and Weiss, to assume that James intends not to compare the single members with each other (ΣῶΜΑ with ΠΊΣΤΙς, and ΠΝΕῦΜΑ with ἜΡΓΟΙς), but to make prominent that a faith which is ΧΩΡῚς ΤῶΝ ἜΡΓΩΝ, is thereby proved to be like to the body, in which the πνεῦμα, the source of life, is wanting—which is thus only a dead body. With this sentence, in which the idea expressed in Jam 2:17 is strongly confirmed, James closes this section, as from this it is self-evident that faith without works cannot effect justification for man, and consequently not ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ, and therefore profits nothing (Jam 2:14).

[160] Lange denies the apparent incongruity, because “the spirit also, in virtue of its actuality, effects the higher visibility of the body!”

1. The doctrine of James in this section is according to expression in opposition with that of the Apostle Paul (James: ἐξ ἔργων δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος καὶ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον; Paul, Galatians 2:16 : οὖ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως; James asks: Ἀβραὰμ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαίωθη; Paul, in Romans 4:2, says: εἰ Ἀβραὰμ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη, ἐχεῖκαύχημα, ἀλλʼ οὐ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν). It is asked whether also the sentiment of the one contradicts that of the other. Until the time of Luther, the conviction prevailed that the two agreed in thought. This is maintained in recent times by Neander, Thiersch, Hofmann, Wiesinger, Lange, Hengstenberg, Philippi, and others. Luther, on the contrary, was of opinion that the doctrine of James decidedly contradicted that of Paul; and the same view has been expressed in recent times by de Wette, Kern, Baur, Schwegler, and others, also Ranch. There is a middle view, that there is indeed a diversity of doctrine between Paul and James, but that this does not exclude a higher unity; thus Schmid, Weizsäcker (Renter’s Repert. Oct. 1855), Lechler, and others.

Already Theophylact, Oecumenius, Bede have, for the sake of harmonizing the difference, asserted that the ἔργα of James are different from those of which Paul speaks; Paul intends opera legis (Oecumenius: τὰ κατὰ νόμον σαββατισμῶν καὶ περιτομῆς καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν ἁγνισμῶν); James, on the contrary, opera fidei (Oecumenius: ἔργα τὰ πίστιν βιβαιοῦιτα). This is indeed true. Paul has to do with Judaizing opponents who maintained the necessity of circumcision, and consequently of all legal works; but James, with such Christians who trusted to simple πίστις, and thought that this would secure their salvation, although destitute of corresponding works. Paul had thus to prove that ἔργα τοῦ νόμου were not necessary; James, that ἔργα τῆς πίστεως were necessary. Nevertheless, this recognition of the different relations does not suffice to an actual harmonizing of the difference; for it has with truth been maintained that, according to the doctrinal system of Paul, a justifying efficacy is denied not only to works of law, but also to works of faith, since these last do not precede, but follow justification.

Accordingly a different meaning of the term πίστις has been adopted, and it has been maintained that by πίστις χωρὶς ἔργων James understands only bare speculation (Oecumenius: ἡ ἀπλῆ συγκατάθεσις), the frigida et nuda notitia, or indeed even the falsa professio fidei. This is certainly not entirely suitable, though Paul does not know by name a πίστις νεκρά. But although it were correct, yet the recognition of this distinction does not suffice to reconcile the difference; for Wieseler is decidedly right when, against Schmid, Olshausen, Neander, and others, he remarks, that it is one thing to say, To be justified by faith which is proved by works, and another thing, To be justified by works in which faith is proved. Already by Calvin, Calovius, Gerhard, and others, and in recent times particularly by Hofmann, Wiesinger, Brückner, Lange, Philippi, and others, the wished-for reconciliation has been attempted to be brought about, by ascribing a different meaning to the word δικαιοῦσθαι in James from what it has in Paul; that James speaks not de actu, but de statu justificationis. But either thereby a meaning is assigned to the word which it never has, or there results from it in James an idea inappropriate to the connection; see exposition of the verses in question. Hengstenberg (Brief des Jakobus in the Evang. Kirchenz. 1866, No. 91–94) correctly maintains that δικαιοῦσθαι has with Paul and James the same meaning; but when he attempts to prove the agreement of the two modes of expression by the supposition that, as there are different stages of faith, so there are different stages of justification, and that James speaks of a more perfect justification than Paul in the passages in question, this cannot be admitted, since it contradicts the nature of divine justification to conceive it as advancing from an imperfect to a more and more perfect stage. Even the justification at the last judgment is in itself not more perfect than that by which God in this life absolves the believer from his sins; the distinction consisting only in this, that by the former he obtains salvation as a present blessing, and that in all its fulness, which by the latter was conferred on him as a blessing yet future.[161]

[161] It is incorrect when Hengstenberg says: “If by faith is understood genuine living faith, and by works genuine works proceeding from faith, justification by faith and justification by works can be taught without contradiction;” since the justification of which Paul speaks is the reason and not the consequence of works of faith: on which account even Riggenbach (“On Justification,” etc., in the Stud. u. Krit. 1868, Part II.) has not been able to approve of this assertion of Hengstenberg. It is also no less incorrect when Hengstenberg, in spite of ἐξ ἔργωνοὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον, ver. 24, thinks that “in James also faith alone is represented as justifying,” since James does not give the name of justification to God’s act of grace which is effectual in man only through faith.

The exposition given in the above pages has shown that the idea of the word δικαιοῦσθαι with James is none other than what it is with Paul, but that by it James has in view the justification that places believers at the last judgment in the full enjoyment of salvation, whereas Paul denotes by it the justification that puts believers already in this world in a gracious relation toward God. Only on this supposition does James say what he designs to say; for if δικαιοῦσθαι (so also σώζειν, Jam 2:14) refers to the judgment of God still in the future for believers, the proof that it has ἔργα for its essential condition effectually hits the opponent who thought to be able to obtain σωτηρία by an inoperative faith.

That the doctrine of James so understood is in agreement with that of Paul follows from the following remarks:—(1) James here evidently says nothing against the Pauline doctrine of justification, since his ἐξ ἔργων does not refer to being placed in a new relation to God, of which there is no mention. The inquiry, by what this is conditioned, is not discussed by James in his Epistle at all; yet it is to be observed that to him the foundation of the Christian life is πίστις, and that he designates the new birth (chap. Jam 1:18) as a work of God, which only takes place through the will of God, and indeed so that God implants the word of truth in man. That James in this asserts something which is not in contradiction, but in agreement with Paul’s doctrine of justification, requires no proof. (2) The doctrine of Paul concerning the future judgment of believers does not conflict with what James says of δικαιοῦσθαι, although he does not use that expression in reference to it (except in Romans 2:13). It is to be observed, that Paul very definitely distinguishes the justifying act of God, by which the forgiveness of sins is adjudged to the believer for the sake of Christ, from the judicial act of God by which σωτηρία will either be adjudged or denied to the justified. Justification (so called by Paul) is conditioned on the part of man only by πίστις; the future σωτηρία will only be adjudged to him in whom πίστις has proved itself to be a working principle. As, on the one hand, it is incorrect to affirm that, according to Paul, he only is justified by πίστις with whom it does not remain inactive; so, on the other hand, it is incorrect to think that according to him no reference is taken of ἔργα in the judgment of God.[162] Wiesinger, in proof that Paul denies the justifying (the word taken in his sense) efficacy of an inoperative faith, adduces the passages, Romans 8:4; Romans 8:13; Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 6:7-11; 1 Corinthians 6:13; Galatians 5:6; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:8-10; Colossians 1:10; Titus 2:14; but it is, on the contrary, to be observed that in none of these passages (except Ephesians 2:8, in the words ἐστε σεσωσμένοι διὰ τῆς πίστεως) is the discourse of being justified (ΔΙΚΑΙΟῦΣΘΑΙ, in the sense of Paul). All these passages, however, prove that Paul makes the attainment of ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ, or the future inheritance of the kingdom of God, conditioned on the ἔργοις of the justified. It is to be observed that in Galatians 5:6, ΠΊΣΤΙς ΔΙʼ ἈΓΆΠΗς ἘΝΕΡΓΟΥΜΈΝΗ does not (as is almost universally assumed) refer to ΔΙΚΑΙΟῦΣΘΑΙ, but to ἈΠΕΚΔΈΧΕΣΘΑΙ ἘΛΠΊΔΑ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗς, thus to the hope of those who are σεσωσμένοι διὰ τῆς πίστεως. Further, in 1 Corinthians 6:11, the Christians, to whom Paul says ἈΠΕΛΟΎΣΑΣΘΕ, ἩΓΙΆΣΘΗΤΕ, ἘΔΙΚΑΙΏΘΗΤΕ,[163] are exhorted to consider that the ἄδικοι shall not inherit the βασιλεία Θεοῦ; also, in Galatians 5:25, it is indicated that the ζῆν πνεύματι, which is peculiar to believers, must also be a στοιχεῖν πνεύματι; and lastly, Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:10 says expressly that we all (that is, Christians who as such are δικαιωθέντες) must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, ἵνα κομίσηται ἕκαστος τὰ διὰ τοῦ σώματος πρὸς ἃ ἔπραξεν, εἴτε ἀγαθόν, εἴτε κακόν. From these passages, which might be greatly multiplied, it is not to be denied that Paul, as he definitely excludes every co-operation of human works in justification,[164] so he no less definitely represents the future salvation as conditioned by the practice of ἔργα τῆς πίστεως (see Hengstenberg, Evangel. Kirchenztg. 1866, p. 1119 ff.).[165] But if this is the case, then in reference to this point there occurs a difference between Paul and James, not in thought, but only in expression; namely, Paul denotes by the word δικαιοῦν that declaration of righteousness or acquittal by God, by which the believer is placed in a new filial relation to God; whilst James means that declaration of righteousness or acquittal by God, by which he who is born again as a child of God receives the σωτηρία imparted at the judgment; but with both δικαιοῦν means “to declare righteous,” “to acquit,” but not “to prove one righteous,” or “to convert him into a righteous man.” So also, in what both say concerning Abraham, there is no difference in sentiment; the only difference is that ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην and ἐδικαιώθη are considered by James as two points, whilst Paul considers the second to be equivalent to the first.

[162] By this it is not intended to be denied that Paul often combines the two acts as one act of divine salvation, and also that he frequently refers the final salvation (not less than justification) purely to the grace of God. The problem is rather this, that, on the one hand, the final salvation is represented as a pure act of God’s grace, but, on the other hand, the final judgment is as definitely represented as an act carried into effect κατὰ τὰ ἔργα; as by Paul, so in the Scriptures generally. The solution of this problem, however, belongs not to our present subject.

[163] By ἡγιάσθητε and ἐδικαιώθητε a change of man’s disposition is not in itself designated, but the change of his relation to God effected by God. Meyer in loco incorrectly gives to the word δικαιοῦσθαι a meaning (namely, “to be made righteous”) which it has elsewhere neither with Paul nor in any other passage of the N. T.

[164] Even with the recognition of this undeniable fact, Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith is not always understood in strict precision. This is particularly the case when it is said, that according to Paul faith justifies, so far as it is a principle of new life, whereas it is rather the case that, according to him, faith is a principle of new life, because it justifies. Only when this is misunderstood can it be said, on the supposition that Paul and James understand by δικαιοῦν the same divine act, that between them there is no fundamental, but only an unessential contrast. See remarks of the author in the Erl. Zeitschr. April number, 1862, p. 214 f., where among other things it is said: “The reason of justification is not the ethical nature of faith, but solely and entirely the merit of Christ or Christ Himself with whom faith, that is, faith in Christ, places us in connection. We are not justified for the sake of faith, but through faith (διὰ τῆς πίστεως) for the sake of Christ: thus it holds good for the justification which is by faith alone, that every reference to works is entirely excluded.”

[165] The objection of Philippi, that the declaration of righteousness in the judgment takes place not ἐκ τῶν ἔργων, but only κατὰ τὰ ἔργα, is contradicted by the word of Christ, Matthew 12:37.

2. If from what has been said it follows that the doctrine of James is not in contradiction with that of Paul, then every reason for the opinion that James wrote his Epistle with reference to Paul falls to the ground. The employment of the same expressions by both is indeed surprising, but it is to be observed that these expressions have their origin neither in Paul nor in James, but already occur in the O. T. Paul uses the expressions δικαιοῦσθαι, δικαιοσύνη, δικαίωσις, chiefly in a relation foreign to the O. T., to which, however, he was led by the words ἐλογίσθη εἰς δικαιοσύνην. James, on the contrary, uses them not in the application peculiar to Paul, but in the manner in which they are used in the O. T. Also the reference to Abraham by James is not to be explained on the ground that Paul confirms his doctrine of justification by what happened to Abraham; for, since James designed to appeal for his assertion to an O. T. type, it was entirely natural that his glance should first fall on Abraham; also the distinction is to be observed that James used Abraham only as an example, whereas Paul, as Schleiermacher correctly observes, “referred to him his entire peculiar system of doctrine, whilst he would trace back to him the special covenant of the people with God.”

From all this it follows that James neither designed an attack upon the Pauline doctrine itself, for in this case he would have been obliged to demonstrate the necessity of ἔργα νόμου, nor also an attack upon a misunderstanding of it, for then he would have been obliged to show that his readers could only regard themselves as δικαιωθέντες, when their faith was to them an impulse to the practice of good works;[166] rather the Pauline doctrine was unknown to him, since otherwise he would necessarily have conformed to Paul’s mode of representation. By this likewise the opinion is confirmed, that the composition of the Epistle belongs not to the later, but to the earlier apostolic times; see on this Sec. 4 of the Introduction, and the treatise of Weiss mentioned above; also his bibl. Theol. p. 124 f.

[166] How the deductions of James are to be directed against a misunderstanding of the Pauline doctrine, if δικαιοῦσθαι has with him the meaning of “to be proved,” is in fact not to be understood, so much the less as the justifying power of faith assuredly does not depend on its being proved by works before men.

Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer's NT Commentary

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