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Steven Ow Kam Toi 1

Introduction to NT

Assignment 4:
Q: Describe what James means by “faith” in James 2:14-16, using his own words?

1. The Context
• In the preceding passages, James talks about the sin of partiality (James
2:1-13), and in the passages that follow, James talks about taming the
tongue (James 3:1-12).
• In both the preceding and following passages, James is dealing with
practical Christian living.
• In context of the preceding and following passages, we would expect James
to talk about the practical operation of faith in James 2:14-26.

2. Faith
2.1. Profess by mouth.
• In verse 14: ‘if someone says he has faith’, could mean a person
‘professing by mouth’ and claiming to have ‘faith’ hypothetically.
James 2:14 does not say the person actually has faith. ‘Can such
‘professed faith’ save him?
• Here James indicated that a faith that is professed by mouth only but
have no works or fruits, this is not the faith that can save.

2.2. Believe
• In verses 19: ‘You believe that God is one: you do well. Even the
demons believe – and shudders!”, James is describing a faith that has
to do with head knowledge. For such faith, James said: “Do you want
to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is
useless?” (James 2:20).
• Believing is not saving faith. To a ‘believing’ person who says “You
have faith and I have works” (James 2:18), James response is: “Show
me your faith apart from your works, and I show you my faith by
works”.

2.3. Justifying Faith


• In verses 21-26, James showed that Abraham and Rahab were
justified by works along side with faith.
• In verse 21, Abraham is justified by works when he offered up Issac.
James described this as: “You see that faith was active along with his
works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was
fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him
as righteousness (Gen 15:16)’”. In Gen 15:6, Issac was not born yet.
• James, in verse 24 said: “You see that a person is justified by works
and not by faith alone”. Here James is saying, a person is justified by
faith but not by faith alone. Faith has a flip side of the coin: works.
Steven Ow Kam Toi 2

3. Summary
• James is not talking about justification by works but rather justification by
faith and works.
• Justifying faith is persevering faith as in the case of Abraham. Abraham
believed and was justified, persevered and completed by works (the act of
offering up Issac).
• Therefore saving faith is justifying faith confirmed and attested by works.