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James vs. Paul Justification by faith? Justification by works? Or both?

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Presentation on theme: "James vs. Paul Justification by faith? Justification by works? Or both?"— Presentation transcript:

1 James vs. Paul Justification by faith? Justification by works? Or both?

2 James vs. Paul James: “Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith” (James 2:24). Paul: “We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Rom. 3:28)

3 Luther’s View of James Martin Luther condemned the Catholic works of merit and substituted his own system of justification of “faith alone” Luther presented a false dichotomy between faith (passive) and works (active) Luther inserted the word “only” into his translation of Roman 3:28 in A.D.1522 Luther called the book of James “an epistle of straw” and gave the book of James a secondary status and placed it in the “appendix” of his Bible Luther’s teaching of “justification by faith alone” made its way into the Augsburg Confession (1530) and Heidelberg Catechism (1563)

4 Luther’s View of James “James has aimed to refute those who relied on faith without works, and is too weak for his task in mind, understanding, and words, mutilates the Scriptures, and thus directly contradicts Paul and all Scriptures, seeking to accomplish by enforcing the law what the apostles successfully effect by love. Therefore I will not place his Epistle in my Bible among the proper leading books” (Werke, XIV, 148)

5 Luther’s View of James “Many have toiled to reconcile Paul with James … but to no purpose, for they are contrary, ‘Faith justifies;’ ‘Faith does not justify;” I will pledge my life that no one can reconcile those propositions; and if he succeeds he may call me a fool (Colloquia, II, 202)

6 James 2:24 “This verse, then, remains hard, but it is hard because its teaching is uncomfortable. God is concerned with our deeds, and they are related to whether or not we enter the kingdom. It is not hard because there is any conflict between this teaching and Paul’s. The two merely sound contradictory rather than are contradictory. In fact, a lot of apparent contradiction is due to the misunderstanding of Paul found in Luther and perpetuated by those who fail to put Paul into his proper Jewish background …

7 James 2:24 “… The James-Paul issue, then, is partially a misunderstanding of Paul (stemming from the fact that Luther was concerned with earning his salvation through penance and pious deeds rather than with Jewish ritual, thus a reading of Luther into Paul) and partially a problem of reading Paul into James. In reality, the writings of James and Paul demonstrate a relative harmony, combined with differing spheres of ministry and thus differing perspectives…” (Hard Sayings of the Bible, 699)

8 James vs. Paul Explanation #1 – James and Paul contradict one another This explanation is maintained by the skeptics, agnostics, atheists and liberal theologians Answer: James and Paul writing by H.S. inspiration would not contradict each other

9 James vs. Paul Explanation #2 – James wrote his epistle before he had time to fully understand what Paul meant (or, James attacked a misrepresentation of Paul) “One thing, however, is certain, that the man who wrote this passage cannot have read Paul or understood what Paul’s doctrine really meant” (E.F. Scott, The Literature of the New Testament, 215) Answer: James and Paul writing by H.S. inspiration would not misunderstand and misrepresent each other

10 James vs. Paul Explanation #3 – James wrote about faith and how it demonstrates itself before man, and Paul wrote about faith and how it justifies us before God God knew Abraham’s faith was genuine because he saw his heart (Paul); men only knew Abraham’s faith was genuine when they saw his good works (James) Answer: This is an artificial distinction. Abraham’s faith demonstrated to God and all men (Jew and Gentile) how one should be obedient (Rom. 4:12,23-25).

11 James vs. Paul Explanation #4 – James wrote about the faith of the godly saint Abraham (after he believed), and Paul wrote about the faith of an the ungodly sinner Abraham (before he believed) Abraham the sinner came to God by faith only (the beginning of the Christian life); Abraham the saint came to God by faith and works According to some, we are not saved by works, we are saved for works Answer: Abraham believed and obeyed God the moment he left Ur and prior to Genesis 15:6 (Gen. 12:1ff,7-8; 13:4,17-18; 14:18-20; Heb. 11:8)

12 James vs. Paul Explanation #5 – James and Paul used the word “justify” (dikaiosis, dikaioo) differently; James and Paul used the word “faith” (pistis, pisteuo) differently Answer: James and Paul use the word “works” (ergon) differently –Works of merit (Paul) –Works of faith (James)

13 Paul and Faith Paul denounces Jewish works of law keeping (works of merit) in Romans 3-4, not obedience to the gospel (Rom. 3:1,19-20,27-28; 4:2,4-5,6; see 9:11,30-32; 11:6) “Worketh not” does not mean “obeyeth not” (Rom. 4:5; Heb. 11:8) Paul’s contrast is not be between faith and obedience, but between justification by a law of faith (grace) verses justification by a law of works (perfect law keeping, no sin, merit, boasting, debt) - Rom. 3:27

14 Paul and Faith Paul contrasted… –Faith and works [of law] (Rom. 4:4-8) –Faith and circumcision (Rom. 4:9-12) –Faith and law (4:13-17) Paul never contrasted faith and obedience

15 James and Paul Paul preached works in their rightful place just as much as James (Romans 1:5; 2:6- 10; 6:17; 9:9-10; 10:1-8; 15:18; 16:26; 2 Cor. 9:8; Gal. 5:6; Eph. 2:10; 2 Thess. 2:17; 1 Tim. 6:18; Tit. 2:14; 3:8) James preached saving faith in Jesus just as much as Paul (2:1,5) James and Paul were in agreement in Jerusalem (Acts 15:12-18; Gal. 2:9)

16 James and Paul James and Paul were addressing different opponents, different contexts, different “works” James was addressing the Jewish Christian intellectualist (antinomianism, dead orthodoxy) who merely said he believed (like demons) but did not work; did not have an active faith (see “say” in 2:14,16,18) Paul was addressing the Jewish Christian legalist (Pharisaism, self-righteous piety) who desired to earn his salvation by works of the law [of Moses]; works of merit (2:17- 28; 3:1,19)

17 Life of Abraham { life of faith } Call of Abraham 75 years old Gen.12:1-4 Death of Abraham 175 years old Gen.25 Abraham believed God and reckoned** for righteousness 86 years old Gen.15:6; 16:3,16 Quoted by Paul in Rom.4:3, 5,9,22 Gal.3:6 Quoted by James in Jas.2:23 Quoted by Paul in Gal.3:8 Abraham circumcised 99 years old Gen.17:1 13 Years Referred to by Paul in Rom.4:9-12, Abraham offered Isaac 100+ years old? Gen.21:5; 22:1 Referred to by James in Jas.2: Years { The same faith was reckoned for righteousness all through life } Abraham’s faith was obedient (Gen. 12:4; 17:1; 18:19; 21:33; 22:18) same faith ** “Impute” (KJV) is from the Gr. logizomai meaning “to put to one’s account” (Rom. 4:6)


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