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James 2

Prejudice and the Law of Love

2:1 My brothers and sisters, 1  do not show prejudice 2  if you possess faith 3  in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 4  2:2 For if someone 5  comes into your assembly 6  wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes, 2:3 do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say, 7  “You sit here in a good place,” 8  and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”? 9  2:4 If so, have you not made distinctions 10  among yourselves and become judges with evil motives? 11  2:5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! 12  Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? 2:6 But you have dishonored the poor! 13  Are not the rich oppressing you and dragging you into the courts? 2:7 Do they not blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to? 14  2:8 But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, 15 You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” 16  you are doing well. 2:9 But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators. 17  2:10 For the one who obeys the whole law but fails 18  in one point has become guilty of all of it. 19  2:11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” 20  also said, “Do not murder.” 21  Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law. 2:12 Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom. 22  2:13 For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over 23  judgment.

Faith and Works Together

2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, 24  if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith 25  save him? 26  2:15 If a brother or sister 27  is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, 2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, 28  what good is it? 2:17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” 29  Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by 30  my works. 2:19 You believe that God is one; well and good. 31  Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear. 32 

2:20 But would you like evidence, 33  you empty fellow, 34  that faith without works is useless? 35  2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 2:22 You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” 36  and he was called God’s friend. 37  2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 2:25 And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.

2 tn Or “partiality.”

3 tn Grk “do not have faith with personal prejudice,” with emphasis on the last phrase.

4 tn Grk “our Lord Jesus Christ of glory.” Here δόξης (doxhs) has been translated as an attributive genitive.

5 tn The word for “man” or “individual” here is ἀνήρ (anhr), which often means “male” or “man (as opposed to woman).” But as BDAG 79 s.v. 2 says, “equivalent to τὶς someone.”

6 tn Grk “synagogue.” Usually συναγωγή refers to Jewish places of worship (e.g., Matt 4:23, Mark 1:21, Luke 4:15, John 6:59). The word can be used generally to refer to a place of assembly, and here it refers specifically to a Christian assembly (BDAG 963 s.v. 2.b.).

7 tn Grk “and you pay attention…and say,” continuing the “if” clauses from v. 2. In the Greek text, vv. 2-4 form one long sentence.

8 tn Or “sit here, please.”

9 tn Grk “sit under my footstool.” The words “on the floor” have been supplied in the translation to clarify for the modern reader the undesirability of this seating arrangement (so also TEV, NIV, CEV, NLT). Another option followed by a number of translations is to replace “under my footstool” with “at my feet” (NAB, NIV, NRSV).

10 tn Grk “have you not made distinctions” (as the conclusion to the series of “if” clauses in vv. 2-3).

11 tn Grk “judges of evil reasonings.”

12 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.

13 tn This is singular: “the poor person,” perhaps referring to the hypothetical one described in vv. 2-3.

14 tn Grk “that was invoked over you,” referring to their baptism in which they confessed their faith in Christ and were pronounced to be his own. To have the Lord’s name “named over them” is OT imagery for the Lord’s ownership of his people (cf. 2 Chr 7:14; Amos 9:12; Isa 63:19; Jer 14:9; 15:16; Dan 9:19; Acts 15:17).

15 tn Grk “according to the scripture.”

16 sn A quotation from Lev 19:18 (also quoted in Matt 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14).

17 tn Or “transgressors.”

18 tn Or “stumbles.”

19 tn Grk “guilty of all.”

20 sn A quotation from Exod 20:14 and Deut 5:18.

21 sn A quotation from Exod 20:13 and Deut 5:17.

22 tn Grk “a law of freedom.”

23 tn Grk “boasts against, exults over,” in victory.

24 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.

25 tn Grk “the faith,” referring to the kind of faith just described: faith without works. The article here is anaphoric, referring to the previous mention of the noun πίστις (pisti") in the verse. See ExSyn 219.

26 sn The form of the question in Greek expects a negative answer.

27 tn It is important to note that the words ἀδελφός (adelfos) and ἀδελφή (adelfh) both occur in the Greek text at this point, confirming that the author intended to refer to both men and women. See the note on “someone” in 2:2.

28 tn Grk “what is necessary for the body.”

29 tn There is considerable doubt about where the words of the “someone” end and where James’ reply begins. Some see the quotation running to the end of v. 18; others to the end of v. 19. But most punctuate as shown above. The “someone” is then an objector, and the sense of his words is something like, “Some have faith; others have works; don’t expect everyone to have both.” James’ reply is that faith cannot exist or be seen without works.

30 tn Or “from.”

31 tn Grk “you do well.”

32 tn Grk “believe and tremble.” The words “with fear” are implied.

33 tn Grk “do you want to know.”

34 tn Grk “O empty man.” Here the singular vocative ἄνθρωπε (anqrwpe, “man”) means “person” or even “fellow.” Cf. BDAG 82 s.v. ἄνθρωπος 8 which views this as an instance of rhetorical address in a letter; the pejorative sense is also discussed under the previous heading (7).

35 tc Most witnesses, including several important ones (א A C2 P Ψ 33 Ï sy bo), have νεκρά (nekra, “dead”) here, while Ì74 reads κενή (kenh, “empty”). Both variants are most likely secondary, derived from ἀργή (argh, “useless”). The reading of the majority is probably an assimilation to the statements in vv. 17 and 26, while Ì74’s reading picks up on κενέ (kene) earlier in the verse. The external evidence (B C* 323 945 1739 sa) for ἀργή is sufficient for authenticity; coupled with the strong internal evidence for the reading (if νεκρά were original, how would ἀργή have arisen here and not in vv. 17 or 26?), it is strongly preferred.

36 sn A quotation from Gen 15:6.

37 sn An allusion to 2 Chr 20:7; Isa 41:8; 51:2; Dan 3:35 (LXX), in which Abraham is called God’s “beloved.”

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