Here sits James 2. It seems as if we should have seen James getting ready to hit this point early. So watch out. James is miffed and he is coming out with guns-a-blazing.
Although James calls the people his brothers in verse 1, verse 2 begins to show us that there might be a problem in the life of the community. Earlier, in Chapter 1, we see that the rich and the poor should celebrate their reality found in God. But here, we see an example of the rich not finding the humility a rich man needs to show that he is in Christ.
Verses 2-4 shows us the scenario. It probably isn’t the exact scenario every time, but we get the idea that James is putting out.
Verses 5-11 shows how screwed up things are when we oppose this notion of equality. He uses the old Mosaic law to set the example of how opposing one thing of God is to oppose God all together. To say we love everyone and then to love someone more than the others is not what God teaches us.
Verse 12 needs some explanation. The law that Paul refers to is not the Mosaic law. Early Christianity did not believe that Mosaic law was freedom. If you read Galatians, you see that Mosaic law was to point us to freedom, but cannot take us there. It’s interesting that this says to us that the Ten Commandments are not the end of it all. We as Christians in America tend to demand that they be put on the walls of the Courthouses again. To be honest, the Ten Commandments are easy when compared to the Sermon on the Mount and other New Testament teachings. If the infamous Sermon were put on the walls, we would question much more about our lives than we would with the Ten. The Law should be looked at as the Romans viewpoint that the Law that truly matters is the one that is on our hearts, which could be interpreted as Christ, God speaking directly into our lives, or both.
And Verse 13 comes riding in carrying a banner with big gold letters screaming to everyone who reads…
That word just keeps driving right through to the end of this Chapter. James doesn’t waste any time by saying that faith without actions is like an ocean without a sea. They just don’t exist without the other. Verses 14 to 20 are self explanatory.
No Actions of Mercy,
No Faith to be seen here.
Verses 21-26 seems a bit odd with the rest of the New Testament. Everything is running smoothly until verse 24 says that “we are shown to be right with God by what we do.” It would be easy to say that this is salvation by works, but one must consider carefully how this line actually works. The verse speaks more for the evidence of faith. Salvation is what is making people act, but the actions aren’t described as affecting salvation. They aren’t even shown as things that decide God’s acts on earth.
Our actions are simply God acting in us and us deciding to go with His great big plan.
Just like James says in verse 26,
“Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
Grace and peace to you all.