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James 2

Audio Version


  • (James 2:1 KJV) My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

Partiality is condemned here. Preferring the rich and affluent is warned against. To God a person's wealth and station in life makes no difference. They are all in need of a savior and all the same in His sight. We are to treat the poor with the same love and compassion as the rich. I will say also that the opposite is true. We are not to despise those that are rich in envy and treat them unkindly either.

In the church this is vital to remember.  We must not give preference to those who pay the most tithes and support the church.  A little child who has nothing to give is just as important as an adult who pays tithes. 

  • (James 2:2 KJV) For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
  • 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
  • 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
  • 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

The poor are more likely to see their need for God than the rich and one that is comfortable in this life. The way of salvation is to recognize the need for salvation. The attitude that we are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing is a worldly attitude. God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Why did Jesus say that it was hard for a rich man to be saved? The rich man, if he trusts in his own social standing, riches and influence will be less likely to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. In spite of what the world is teaching today in the USA on self-esteem, it is really the opposite of what the bible teaches. To be self-confident is really not relying on God. Our confidence should be in Him. Jesus said about children, "Of such is the Kingdom of God." Coming to God as a humble dependent child recognizing the need for salvation is the way to salvation.

  • (James 2:6 KJV) But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
  • 7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

In Jesus' time, the poor received him gladly, the rich were the ones who oppressed and was quick to bring the believers to the judgment seats. They spoke evil of the way of salvation.

  • (James 2:7 KJV) Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
  • 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

Again, the royal law, love they neighbor as thyself. If we can do this, we would not have to worry about being partial.

  • (James 2:9 KJV) But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

Being partial is actually sin.

  • 10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
  • 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
  • 12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

When Jesus died for our sins, He made the way for us to keep the necessary things contained in the law by the law of faith and love.  It is a new and living why whereby we repent of sin, believe in the one who saves us from sin and receive the seal of the Holy Spirit.  It is a life of walking in the spirit that is a lot easier than trying to keep the law of Moses by using our will power.  

Jesus repeated most of the Ten Commandments in the new. We are to still abide by the words of God, "Thou shalt not steal, kill, etc" The difference is that we can now receive the power to overcome through the Holy Spirit. The new birth brings not only forgiveness for past sins but also power to keep us out of future sins. Yet, if we sin we can repent and renew ourselves to God. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

We live under mercy and truth now. This is not a license to sin though. True love of God and faith in Him produces in us a desire not to sin. If we do commit sin, we immediately despise it and repent of it.

  • (James 2:13 KJV) For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Mercy is shown to those who show mercy.

  • (James 2:14 KJV) What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
  • 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
  • 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
  • 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

James does not teach salvation by works here but is saying that true faith will produce the works to follow. If we see someone hungry and have food ourselves and we just lay hands on him and say "Be warmed and filled in the name of Jesus" that is outward religion and it profits nothing. True faith in the Lord will produce the works of compassion, which will feed the hungry.

  • (James 2:18 KJV) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
  • 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

James is saying that even devils have faith yet they have no salvation. We can believe something for a fact yet not let it enter our hearts and bring forth the fruits of salvation, the new birth. True salvation by faith is inward, bringing in the kingdom of God within our spirit. It will produce an inward change, a new life and a new beginning.

(James 2:21 KJV) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

It would seem that James contradicts Paul's writings but I don't think so. I think he is saying the very same as Paul did. True faith produces works of love, a desire not to sin, and a desire to seek the Lord. He gives the example of Abraham. Paul said that Abraham believed God and that counted for righteousness. Faith produced works in Abraham. He obeyed what God told him to do. True faith in God will cause us to try to obey God. If we say we love God and are not interested in seeking Him, reading His word or following Him, how can we say we love Him?

  • (James 2:22 KJV) Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
  • 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
  • 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
  • 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
  • 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Rahab's faith produced action by fearing God and hiding God's people from their enemies. That faith saved her and her household.

James compares faith and works to the body and the spirit. Without the spirit, the body is dead. Faith without the works of faith is dead. I hear lots of people say they believe in God but do their actions show that they do?


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