SUMMARY.--Respect of Persons. The Royal Law. He Who Keeps the Law Must Offend in Nothing. Faith not a Living Faith if Alone. Its Life Must Be Shown by its Fruits. It is Perfected by Obedience. The Lesson of Abraham's Faith.
19. Thou believest that there is one God. That is very well, but can that alone save you? Even the demons believe that also. See Matt. 8:29 . Evil spirits confessed Christ, but this confession of faith did not save them.
20-24. But wilt thou know, etc. "I will show by proof that the faith that justifies produces works by the case of Abraham, the great father of the faithful." Faith without works is dead. It has no power to make alive unless it has power over the life. 21. Was not Abraham our father. The father of the Jewish race; also the father of all his children by faith. See Gal. 3:7-9 . Justified by works. By a faith which showed itself in works. This is the argument of James, that faith is of no avail unless accompanied by works. Of this all Abraham's life was a demonstration. He was told when in Mesopotamia to go forth into the land God would show him, and "he went forth, not knowing whither;" an act of faith ( Heb. 11:8 ); "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise" ( Heb. 11:9 ). Each of these acts of faith secured Divine approval, but the supremest trial was when he offered Isaac. See notes on Heb. 11:17. This victory of faith was followed by crowning approval and glorious promises. 22. Seest thou how faith wrought. Abraham's faith was a working faith. By works was faith made perfect. The element of works is essential to make it complete. Without works it is an imperfect, "a dead faith." It must have energy to avail. Abraham's faith "wrought." 23. And the scripture was fulfilled. The scripture quoted is Gen. 15:6 . The case of the offering of Isaac was a complete outward demonstration that Abraham believed God, as the Scripture said. "He was called the friend of God." Honored as no other mortal had been. See Isaiah 41:8 Isaiah 41:2 and 2 Chron. 20:7 . The Mohammedans still call Abraham El Khalil, "The Friend." 24. Ye see then, etc. The case of Abraham proves that the justifying faith is a working faith.
25, 26. Rahab the harlot. See notes on Heb. 11:31. This is one of the long roll of examples of faith shown by works given by Paul. 26. For as the body without the spirit. The body is a lifeless, dead thing, without the spirit. So lifeless is faith it shows an energy in works.
NOTE.--Some have thought, among these Luther, that Paul and James were not in agreement on the subject of faith. Those who thus conclude mistake both these inspired men of God. Paul shows that works without faith will not justify, and hence lays the emphasis on faith; James shows that faith without works will not justify, and lays the emphasis on works. Neither teaches that faith alone, or works alone will justify. Paul, indeed, shows that faith alone is worthless ( 1 Cor. 13:2 ), and in Hebrews, chapter 11 , he emphasizes works as the demonstration of faith. The two writers are in agreement, and all seeming disagreement is due to the fact that they are seeking to correct different errors, and hence look at the matter from different points of view.