James 2

Prejudice and the Law of Love

1My brothers and sisters,
Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.
do not show prejudice
Or “partiality.”
if you possess faith
Grk “do not have faith with personal prejudice,” with emphasis on the last phrase.
in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
Grk “our Lord Jesus Christ of glory.” Here δόξης (doxēs) has been translated as an attributive genitive.
2For if someone
The word for “man” or “individual” here is ἀνήρ (anēr), which often means “male” or “man (as opposed to woman).” But as BDAG 79 s.v. 2 says, “equivalent to τὶς someone.”
comes into your assembly
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.).
wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes,
3do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say,
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.
“You sit here in a good place,”
Or “sit here, please.”
and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”?
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).
4If so, have you not made distinctions
Grk “have you not made distinctions” (as the conclusion to the series of “if” clauses in vv. 2–3).
among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?
Grk “judges of evil reasonings.”
5Listen, my dear brothers and sisters!
Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.
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?
6But you have dishonored the poor!
This is singular: “the poor person,” perhaps referring to the hypothetical one described in vv. 2–3.
Are not the rich oppressing you and dragging you into the courts?
7Do they not blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to?
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).
8But if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture,
Grk “according to the scripture.”
You shall love your neighbor as yourself ,”
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).
you are doing well.
9But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as violators.
Or “transgressors.”
10For the one who obeys the whole law but fails
Or “stumbles.”
in one point has become guilty of all of it.
Grk “guilty of all.”
11For he who said, “ Do not commit adultery ,”
A quotation from Exod 20:14 and Deut 5:18.
also said, “ Do not murder .”
A quotation from Exod 20:13 and Deut 5:17.
Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.
12Speak and act as those who will be judged by a law that gives freedom.
Grk “a law of freedom.”
13For judgment is merciless for the one who has shown no mercy. But mercy triumphs over
Grk “boasts against, exults over,” in victory.

Faith and Works Together

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:2.
if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith
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 (pistis) in the verse. See ExSyn 219.
save him?
The form of the question in Greek expects a negative answer.
15If a brother or sister
It is important to note that the words ἀδελφός (adelfos) and ἀδελφή (adelfē) 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.
is poorly clothed and lacks daily food,
16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs,
Grk “what is necessary for the body.”
what good is it?
17So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. 18But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.”
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.
Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by
Or “from.”
my works.
19You believe that God is one; well and good.
Grk “you do well.”
Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear.
Grk “believe and tremble.” The words “with fear” are implied.

20 But would you like evidence,
Grk “do you want to know.”
you empty fellow,
Grk “O empty man.” Here the singular vocative ἄνθρωπε (anqrōpe, “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).
that faith without works is useless?
Most witnesses, including several important ones (א A C2 P Ψ 33 Maj. sy bo), have νεκρά (nekra, “dead”) here, while Ƥ74 reads κενή (kenē, “empty”). Both variants are most likely secondary, derived from ἀργή (argē, “useless”). The reading of the majority is probably an assimilation to the statements in vv. 17 and 26, while Ƥ74’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.
21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “ Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness ,”
A quotation from Gen 15:6.
and he was called God’s friend.
An allusion to 2 Chr 20:7; Isa 41:8; 51:2; Dan 3:35 (LXX), in which Abraham is called God’s “beloved.”
24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

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