James 2:20

20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?

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 and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.
20 Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?
21 Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.