James 2:20

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a] ?

James 2:20 in Other Translations

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
20 Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
20 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?

James 2:20 Meaning and Commentary

James 2:20

But wilt thou know, O vain man
These are the words of the apostle reassuming the argument, that faith without works is dead, useless, and unprofitable; and the man that boasts of his faith, and has no works to show it, he calls a "vain man", an empty one, sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal; empty vessels make the greatest sound; such are proud boasters, vainly puffed up by their fleshly mind; but are empty of the true knowledge of God, and of the faith of Christ, and of the grace of the Spirit: the Syriac version renders it, "O weak", or "feeble man", as he must needs be, whose faith is dead, and boasts of such a lifeless thing; and the Ethiopic version renders it, "O foolish man", for such an one betrays his ignorance in spiritual things, whatever conceit he has of his knowledge and understanding: the character seems levelled against the Gnostics, who were swelled with a vain opinion of their knowledge, to whom the apostle addresses himself thus. The phrase, "vain man", is a proper interpretation of the word (aqyr) , "Raca", or Reka, used in ( Matthew 5:22 ) , (See Gill on Matthew 5:22), which though not to be said to a man in an angry way, yet may be applied to men of such a character as here described; who were empty of solid good, and yet boasted of their knowledge. "Wilt thou know?" dost thou require proofs,

that faith, without works, is dead?
as in ( James 2:17 ) and that true faith has always works accompanying it, and is shown and known by it? then take the following instances.

James 2:20 In-Context

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?
21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

Cross References 1

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Some early manuscripts "dead"
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.