James 2Have not the faith, &c.; that is, in your religious observances and duties, do not make distinctions among your Christian brethren on account of differences of worldly station.
Your assembly; the assembly for public worship.
Of evil thoughts; under the influence of evil thoughts.
Rich in faith; to make them rich in faith.
That worthy name; the name of Christ.
The royal law; the first and highest law.
Convinced of the law; convicted by the law.
Offend in one point; that is, deliberately and habitually. By disobeying one command, he shows that he is not governed by the authority of God, and, of course, that whatever apparent obedience he may render to other commands, rests on other grounds than regard for the divine will. He cannot, therefore, be considered as really obeying at all.
So speak; so teach.—The law of liberty; the gospel.
This sentiment is very similar to one expressed by our Savior, Matt. 7:1, 2.—And mercy rejoiceth, &c., the merciful man rejoiceth. The meaning is, that he who has fulfilled the royal law, mentioned in v. 8, is delivered from the fear of retribution. He may go to the judgment rejoicing in his assurance of pardon. In other words, he who is merciful to others shall in the end find mercy himself.
Faith; theoretical belief, a sort of belief which does not influence the conduct, as is shown in v. 17. Paul, when speaking of the spiritual efficacy of faith, means, by the term, heartfelt trust and confidence in God, or in the Savior.
By works; that is, by a working faith,—works which were the fruits and the evidence of his faith. That this is the meaning is clear from the expressions in v. 22 and 23.
Made perfect; shown to be perfect, that is, honest and sincere.
Faith only; mere inert and lifeless belief.
Rahab the harlot. For the account of the circumstances here referred to, see Josh. 2: Her belief in Jehovah, as the true God, (Josh. 2:11,) led to correspondent action. It was therefore a faith showing itself in works.
The spirit; the vital principle.—So faith without works is dead also. See (Rom. 4:) The instructions of Paul and of James on the subject of faith and works are the two opposing walls which guard on each side the narrow way of salvation, and their antagonism has accordingly attracted great attention in every age. Paul, on the one hand, enjoins it upon men not to rely upon any duties which they may have performed in times past, to secure the favor of God. He points them to faith in his mercy. On the other hand, James shows them that it is vain to rely upon faith as a substitute for doing the will of God now. He points them to the path of obedience. In a word, Paul teaches men that they must rely upon faith, for the forgiveness of past sins; James warns them against making it the excuse for the neglect of present duty.
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