New International Version
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
King James Bible
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Darby Bible Translation
What [is] the profit, my brethren, if any one say he have faith, but have not works? can faith save him?
World English Bible
What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?
Young's Literal Translation
What is the profit, my brethren, if faith, any one may speak of having, and works he may not have? is that faith able to save him?
James 2:14 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
What doth it profit - though a man say he hath faith - We now come to a part of this epistle which has appeared to some eminent men to contradict other portions of the Divine records. In short, it has been thought that James teaches the doctrine of justification by the merit of good works, while Paul asserts this to be insufficient, and that man is justified by faith. Luther, supposing that James did actually teach the doctrine of justification by works, which his good sense showed him to be absolutely insufficient for salvation, was led to condemn the epistle in toto, as a production unauthenticated by the Holy Spirit, and consequently worthy of no regard; he therefore termed it epistola straminea, a chaffy epistle, an epistle of straw, fit only to be burnt. Learned men have spent much time in striving to reconcile these two writers, and to show that St. Paul and St. James perfectly accord; one teaching the pure doctrine, the other guarding men against the abuse of it. Mr. Wesley sums the whole up in the following words, with his usual accuracy and precision: "From James 1:22 the apostle has been enforcing Christian practice. He now applies to those who neglect this under the pretense of faith. St. Paul had taught that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law. This some already began to wrest to their own destruction. Wherefore St. James, purposely repeating, James 1:21, James 1:23, James 1:25, the same phrases, testimonies, and examples which St. Paul had used, Romans 4:3; Hebrews 11:17, Hebrews 11:31, refutes not the doctrine of St. Paul, but the error of those who abused it. There is therefore no contradiction between the apostles; they both delivered the truth of God, but in a different manner, as having to do with different kinds of men. This verse is a summary of what follows: What profiteth it, is enlarged on, James 2:15-17; though a man say, James 2:18, James 2:19; can that faith save him? James 2:20. It is not though he have faith, but though he say, I have faith. Here therefore true living faith is meant. But in other parts of the argument the apostle speaks of a dead imaginary faith. He does not therefore teach that true faith can, but that it cannot, subsist without works. Nor does he oppose faith to works, but that empty name of faith to real faith working by love. Can that faith which is without works save him? No more than it can profit his neighbor." - Explanatory notes.
That St James quotes the same scriptures, and uses the same phrases, testimonies, and examples which St. Paul has done, is fully evident; but it does not follow that he wrote after St. Paul. It is possible that one had seen the epistle of the other; but if so, it is strange that neither of them should quote the other. That St. Paul might write to correct the abuses of St. James' doctrine is as possible as that James wrote to prevent St. Paul's doctrine from being abused; for there were Antinomians in the Church in the time of St. James, as there were Pharisaic persons in it at the time of St. Paul. I am inclined to think that James is the elder writer, and rather suppose that neither of them had ever seen the other's epistle. Allowing them both to be inspired, God could teach each what was necessary for the benefit of the Church, without their having any knowledge of each other. See the preface to this epistle.
As the Jews in general were very strenuous in maintaining the necessity of good works or righteousness in order to justification, wholly neglecting the doctrine of faith, it is not to be wondered at that those who were converted, and saw the absolute necessity of faith in order to their justification, should have gone into the contrary extreme.
Can faith save him? - That is, his profession of faith; for it is not said that he has faith, but that he says, I have faith. St. James probably refers to that faith which simply took in the being and unity of God. See on James 2:19, James 2:24, James 2:25.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."--James 2:17. WHATEVER the statement of James may be, it could never have been his intention to contradict the gospel. It could never be possible that the Holy Spirit would say one thing in one place, and another in another. Statements of Paul and of James must be reconciled, and if they were not, I would be prepared sooner to throw overboard the statement of James than that of Paul. Luther did so, I think, most unjustifiably. If you ask …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 60: 1914
The Middle Colonies: the Jerseys, Delaware, and Pennsylvania --The Quaker Colonization --Georgia.
Whether Justice and Mercy are Present in all God's Works
Whether Fear is an Effect of Faith
John answered, "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
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