reply to post by graphuto
In my series on James, I necessarily had to tackle this question.
Here's an extract from my comments on the relation between the two;
"In the rest of the chapter, James claims to show that men are “justified by works”.
Yet the two episodes he quotes to illustrate this point are both cited in Hebrews ch11 as examples of Faith
The first episode is Abraham’s obedient response to the command to sacrifice Isaac.
In Hebrews, this is an example of Faith, a because “he considered God was able to raise men even from the dead” (Hebrews ch11 v19).
He had received the promise of descendants through Isaac, and his obedience implied a confidence that the action would not nullify the promise.
For James, the point is that his Faith was “completed” by his works- that is, he did not just believe, but acted on his belief.
The second episode is Rahab of Jericho, assisting the scouts who had been sent out by Joshua.
In Hebrews (ch11 v31) this is another example of Faith.
For James, though, she was “justified by works”, presumably because she did not just believe in the God of Israel but acted on that belief.
He repeats the claim that “Faith without works” is dead (v26), and adds the very suggestive analogy that “works” animates Faith in the same
way that the human spirit animates the body.
Perhaps the point is that the presence of life reveals itself by movement.
How can the same two episodes be examples of “Faith” in Hebrews, and examples of “works” in James?
I think we come back to the point that Faith hinges upon trust.
But “trust” is another quality which needs to be done
, not merely said
The man who walks across a bridge is showing a much more genuine trust than the man who says “I
believe that bridge will hold my weight”, and stays where he is.
These two episodes are examples of “trustful action”.
But Hebrews gives them a label (“Faith”) putting emphasis on the fact that “trust
While the label used in James gives the emphasis that “trust is acting
“Works” is the action
of trust, by which Faith is made real and “complete”.
Nevertheless, both writers are making the same point- that genuine trust involves walking across that bridge.
In the middle of his discussion on Abraham’s obedience, James claims (v23) that it fulfilled the scriptural declaration;
“Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Genesis ch15 v6).
Paul is using the same verse, of course, for his own teaching on Faith and works found in Romans and Galatians.
It’s noteworthy, and notorious, that Paul and James make opposite-sounding statements about this verse.
Paul relies upon it for his claim that Abraham was justified by his Faith.
Yet James is using the same verse as part of his argument that men are justified by their works
However, we mustn’t allow this verbal contradiction to prevent us noticing the extent of their agreement.
They both agree on the importance of that verse.
They both appreciate the significance of the fact that Abraham believed in
the promise God made him.
In short, they agree on the starting-point
of Abraham’s righteousness...
I believe that Paul and James are really talking about the same thing, a full commitment of active trust in God.
Paul calls this “justified by Faith”, for fear that works will be made a substitute for Faith.
While James calls it “justified by works”, for fear that works will be left out altogether."
On the question of what it means to be "saved", we can't separate this from the New Testament understanding of "judgement".
Being "saved" is the opposite of and alternative to being "condemned".
For example, 1 Corinthians ch1 v8
1 Thessalonians ch1 v10
Philippians ch1 v10
edit on 29-3-2014 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)