I just added a new set of electronic books to my Logos software. They are decidedly Protestant but I like to have them as resources. I was very intrigued by the authors treatment of James 2:24 which says, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
I thought many of you would enjoy the comments (and spin) put on this verse. When you are an Evangelical, it is certainly one of the most difficult verses of Scripture to interpret — because it doesn’t say what they want it to say!
The capital letters refer to book titles or reference works. Sorry that it did not copy and paste as well as I had hoped. It did not copy all the Greek words (putting them in ?????) and references correctly, but the point is still made. My comments are in [red] in brackets
2:24 You-see that by deeds a-man is-justified and not by faith only.
LEXICON—a. pres. act. indic. of ?????? (LN 32.11) (BAGD 1.c.?. p. 578): ‘to see’ [AB, Herm, HNTC, NIC; all versions except NAB], ‘to understand’ [BAGD, LN], ‘to perceive’ [Lns; NAB], ‘to be aware’ [WBC]. The verb is plural, addressed to all the readers [EGT, Hb, Herm, NBC, NIC, NIGTC, NTC, TG, TNTC, Tsk, WBC]. [James adds “You see” to add emphasis, to show how important this statement is!]
b. ??? with genitive object: ‘by’. See this word at 2:22.
c. pres. pass. indic. of ????????: ‘to be justified’. See this word at 2:21.
d. ???????: ‘faith’. See this word at 2:17.
QUESTION—What is the form of this verse?
1. It is a statement [AB, Alf, Bg, Herm, HNTC, ICC, Lg, Lns, My, TNTC, Tsk; all versions except NAB]: you see.
2. It is an exhortation [NTC, WBC; NAB]: you should see.
3. It is a rhetorical question [NIC]: do you see?
QUESTION—What is meant by this verse?
It is a general conclusion [EBC, EGT, HNTC, NIGTC] based on Abraham’s example [Alf, Blm, Mit, My, NTC, TNTC, Tsk]. It answers the QUESTION in 2:14 [Hb, ICC]. It means that a person is justified by faith, but not by faith alone [EBC, NIC], at the final judgment [My, NIGTC, TNTC]. [Scripture never says the final judgment is based on our faith; rather, it is based on our deeds or works, e.g., Jn 5:28-29; Mt 25:31-46]. His justification must be demonstrated by appropriate deeds [AB, Alf, Bg, Hb] [so they ARE necessary?]; deeds help to show that a person is justified [Blm, EBC] [Don’t you think “help” is a rather weak word here considering the gravity of the exhortation? James said without them one is not justified! If this was saying faith alone was necessary the author would certainly be much more forceful with his comment]. James argues against a superficial faith which produces no deeds [AB, EBC, HNTC, Lns, NIGTC, WBC]. Paul’s argument was that deeds could not earn justification [AB, EBC, Lns, NIGTC, TNTC, WBC] [Paul says no such thing! Initial justification is only by grace, faith and baptism; but, Paul’s views of “good works” is very different than most Evangelicals. “Works of the Law” are those things that the Jews did, namely circumcision, that set them apart from the nations. Protestants too often confuse “good works” with the Jewish “works of the law”]. James probably wrote earlier than Paul’s epistles [Hb] [Correct]; he had not read Romans [NIGTC] [What does this mean? Had James written his inspired Scripture after Paul had written Romans and Galatians — he would have written it differently? James did not understand the Gospel because he had not had not written his epistle after those of St. Paul? Hum? So implied here is that James had justification confused and really didn’t know how to get saved? When one begins with a wrong Protestant tradition, they certainly end up on the wrong side of Scripture.]
(Greenlee, J. H. (2008). An Exegetical Summary of James (2nd ed.) (107). Dallas, TX: SIL International.)
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