James 3:3: Government of the Tongue, Part 2

Verse 3:[1] Behold, (Ps. 32:9) we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

[But if, ἰδού] Behold (Erasmus, Vatablus, etc.). The Vulgate and certain codices, as Bede testifies, read εἰ δὲ, but if[2] (Erasmus) [just as also Grotius reads it], but erroneously in the place of ἴδε/look[3] (Beza).

[Bits, etc.] By an apt similitude he shows that those things which move great matters are often small. See Psalm 32:9. Hence to bridle is put in the place of to govern, not only among the Poets, but also among the Orators.[4] And the bit of skin attached to the tongue is called χαλινός, a bit (Grotius).

[In order to, etc., πρὸς τὸ πείθεσθαι, etc.] So that they might obey (or, be subject to [Syriac]) us (Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Piscator, thus Castalio, Tremellius, Beza, Arabic): πείθεσθαι, to listen to, שָׁמַע, to hear. Thus we say, …the chariot does not harken to the reins[5] (Grotius).

[And, etc., καὶ—μετάγομεν] And their whole body (with a little iron, according to our will [Estius]) we turn about (Erasmus, Pagnine, Beza, Piscator, etc.). There is trajections in the words, and he says βάλλομεν καὶ μετάγομεν, we put in and we lead about, in the place of, putting in, we lead about, or, we put in and thus we lead about: καὶ/and in the place of καὶ οὕτως, and thus (Piscator).

Behold, etc.: He illustrates the former proposition, that he that can rule his tongue may rule his whole body, by two similitudes: the first, of an unruly horse, which yet, as wanton as he is, being curbed in with a bit, may be easily managed; intimating, that even so, if a man’s tongue be well governed, the rest of the man will be under command.

[1] Greek: ἰδού, τῶν ἵππων τοὺς χαλινοὺς εἰς τὰ στόματα βάλλομεν πρὸς τὸ πείθεσθαι αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν, καὶ ὅλον τὸ σῶμα αὐτῶν μετάγομεν.

[2] Thus Codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus.

[3] In the imperative. Thus the great majority of Byzantine manuscripts.

[4] Tyrranicida 4. Lucian of Samosata (c. 120-c. 180) was a trained rhetorician, particularly skilled in satire.

[5] Virgil’s Georgics 1.

James 2:26: Faith and Works, Part 13

Verse 26:[1] For as the body without the spirit (or, breath[2]) is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

[For as the body (of whatever living thing [Piscator]) without the spirit (נֶפֶשׁ, soul, to the Hebrews denotes life itself [Grotius]: He here calls πνεῦμα/ spirit, either, 1. the bearing or breath [Cajetan in Estius, Gomar], as in 1 Corinthians 14:14, 15, where, to sing with the spirit, that is, with the breath of the mouth, is opposed to to sing with the mind: The sense is that the body that does not breathe is dead [Gomar]: Or, 2. that substance which supplies life to the body, Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59 [Grotius], or the soul [Estius, Piscator], with which present the body breathes [Piscator], which is also often called the spirit, as in Psalm 31:5;[3] Ecclesiastes 12:7;[4] 1 Corinthians 2:11[5] [Estius]) is dead] That is, It does not put forth those acts which are agreeable to the human body (Grotius).

[So also faith (understanding, which is [Beza]) without works is dead] That is, it is useless with respect to justification (Hammond); it is not true and living faith (Junius, similarly Piscator, Cameron); it does not bring it to pass that a man might be reckoned righteous by God, and obtain the spirit of God and eternal life; it does not produce that which it ought to produce, that is, the continuation of Divine favor, and consequently eternal life, which Chrysostom shows in many places [passages produces by Grotius] (Grotius).

The spirit: this may be understood either, according to the marginal reading, of the breath; and then the sense is, that life and breath being inseparable companions, as the want of breath argues want of life in the body, so, lively faith and works being as inseparable, want of works argues want of life in faith: or, according to the reading in the text, spirit, taking it for that substance which animates the body, and is the cause of vital functions in it, which is sometimes called spirit, Psalm 31:5; Ecclesiastes 12:7; 1 Corinthians 2:11; and then the sense is, that as a body is without a soul, so faith is without works, i.e. both are dead. As a body without the soul hath the shape and lineaments of a man, but nothing that may discover life in it; so faith without works may be like true faith, have some resemblance of it, but hath nothing to discover the truth and life of it. So faith; not true faith, for that cannot be dead, but an empty profession of faith, which is rather called faith by way of concession, or because of some likeness it hath to it, than really is so; as a dead body, though called a body, is really but a carcass.

[1] Greek: ὥσπερ γὰρ τὸ σῶμα χωρὶς πνεύματος νεκρόν ἐστιν, οὕτω καὶ ἡ πίστις χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων νεκρά ἐστι.

[2] Greek: πνεύματος.

[3] Psalm 31:5: “Into thine hand I commit my spirit (רוּחִי; τὸ πνεῦμά μου, in the Septuagint): thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”

[4] Ecclesiastes 12:7: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (וְהָרוּחַ; καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα, in the Septuagint) shall return unto God who gave it.”

[5] 1 Corinthians 2:11: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit (τὸ πνεῦμα) of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

James 2:25: Faith and Works, Part 12

Verse 25:[1] Likewise also (Josh. 2:1; Heb. 11:31) was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

[And Rahab] He joins her to Abraham, so that he might show, either, 1. that no one of any condition, nation, or order was ever reckoned among the just and faithful without works (Calvin); or rather, 2. that Faith, when it is conceived, is operative, not only in more mature believers, but also in those newly believing, etc. (Gataker). The example of Abraham ought to have been sufficient for Hebrews converted to Christ, but, because he also writes to foreigners, he joined the example of a foreign woman (Grotius).

This instance of Rahab is joined to that of Abraham, either to show, that none of any condition, degree, or nation, was ever numbered among true believers, without good works; or else to prove, that faith, wherever it is sincere and genuine, is likewise operative and fruitful, not only in older disciples and stronger, such as Abraham was, but even proportionably in those that are weaker, and but newly converted to the faith, which was Rahab’s case.

[The harlot] Really and properly so called (Estius, Menochius, similarly Grotius). זוֹנָה[2] is properly an innkeeper. But female innkeepers were commonly pursuing such a gainful occupation. See what things are said on Hebrews 11:31, ἡ πόρνη, the harlot. That is, She had been such before her conversion. Thus αἱ πόρναι, the harlots, in Matthew 21:31. A former scandalous life did not at all hinder the salvation of such (Grotius).

The harlot; really and properly so, Joshua 2:1; Hebrews 11:31; though possibly she might keep an inn, and that might occasion the spies’ going to her house, not knowing her to be one of so scandalous a life; which yet the Holy Ghost takes special notice of, that by the infamousness of her former conversation, the grace of God in her conversion might be more conspicuous.

[Was she not justified by works] That is, her Righteousness by them was declared, and received increase (Estius). Did she not by works pursue this, that she might receive the reward of righteousness from God? She alone was preserved by the command of God, while all her people were slain;[3] then she was deemed worthy of marriage to a man eminent among his people, Boaz.[4] The faith by which she acknowledged the true god had preceded, Joshua 2:11, which, as far as it was possible in those most degenerate times, was sufficiently understood from the frequent falls of the Hebrews concerning that very thing. But she supposed that works were to be added to this faith (Grotius).

Justified by works; in the same sense as Abraham was, i.e. declared to be righteous, and her sincerity approved in the face of the congregation of Israel, when, upon her hiding the spies, God gave a commandment to save her alive, though the rest of her people were to be destroyed.

[Receiving, etc., ὑποδεξαμένη, etc.] When she had received (that is, she concealed in her guest room or household, and in hiding places, lest they be able to be discovered; and that with reverence for the one God, whom she had understood to be worshipped by the Hebrews, and whom she understood to be the author of this war with the Hebrews [Grotius]; and on account of her faith in God, which she had conceived in the usual manner, namely, with God teaching her inwardly through human ministry [Estius]) those messengers (sent for this purpose, that they might report what they had seen: He understands κατασκόπους/spies, as it is in Hebrews 11:31,[5] and as certain codices,[6] the Syriac, and the Arabic read here, spies, whom she knew were sent there by enemies: This much on the woman [Grotius]), and by another way (either, than by which they had come [Estius]: or, than by which it was supposed they would go: For she both sent them away through the wall, and showed paths out-of-the-way, lest they be discovered by the men of Jericho: she would not have done all these things, if she had hoped for salvation by bare faith [Grotius]) had sent them out? (Piscator, Beza, etc.), or, had cast them out? (Vatablus). She sent them away unharmed with manifest danger to life and fortune (Menochius, similarly Estius).

When she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way: her receiving them implies likewise her hiding them; both which, together with her sending them forth another way, were acts of love to the people of God, of mercy to the spies, and of great self-denial in respect of her own safety, which she hazarded by thus exposing herself to the fury of the king of Jericho and her countrymen; but all proceeded from her faith in the God of Israel, of whose great works she had heard, and whom she had now taken to be her God, and under whose wings she was now come to trust.

[1] Greek: ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ῥαὰβ ἡ πόρνη οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη, ὑποδεξαμένη τοὺς ἀγγέλους, καὶ ἑτέρᾳ ὁδῷ ἐκβαλοῦσα;

[2] Joshua 2:1b: “And they went, and came into the house of a harlot (זוֹנָה), named Rahab, and lodged there.”

[3] See Joshua 6:17.

[4] Salmon is probably intended. See Matthew 1:5.

[5] Hebrews 11:31: “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies (κατασκόπους) with peace.”

[6] Thus Codex Ephræmi Rescriptus.

James 2:24: Faith and Works, Part 11

Verse 24:[1] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

[Ye see, ὁρᾶτε] See ye[2] (Estius). Ye learn this from the example of that most famous man (Grotius).

Ye see then; an inference either from the instance of Abraham, or from the whole preceding discourse.

[By works a man is justified, and not by faith only, μόνον[3]] That is, μόνης/alone[4] (James Cappel, Grotius). Thus the Adverb μόνον/only is put in the place of the Adjective, as in Matthew 5:47;[5] 21:19;[6] John 13:9;[7] Acts 11:19;[8] Romans 3:20;[9] and elsewhere. The sense: So that he that has already believed might be esteemed by God as just, or, might be treated as completely guiltless and good, or so that he might have God as a friend and patron (for these revert to the same thing); faith is not sufficient, but, if time and occasion be given, good works are also required (Grotius), either actually performed, or in the preparation of the soul (Estius). But Paul concludes the contrary, even from the same example of Abraham, that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law, Romans 3:28. [Hence the famous question arises, In what manner James is to be reconciled with Paul? Response 1: They are not wanting, who cut the knot, for the loosing of which they confess themselves to be unequal.] For this reason some reject this Epistle of James as Apocryphal, but wrongly (Gomar). Response 2: Although the individual members and words of James and Paul be not all interpreted in the same manner, the principal purpose of both is the same, namely, to show that the method of the Divine economy is in the highest degree glorifying to God, and profitable to man, etc. (Grotius). Paul does not exclude all works from the business of justification, as it is evident from Romans 2, the doers of the law are justified (Estius on verse 21). Neither does James maintain that we are justified partly by faith, partly by works, for in this way he would fight with himself. For he says in verse 23 that the Scripture, that is, that Evangelical Scripture, He believed, etc., was fulfilled when Abraham was justified by works. But what then is that consequent, Abraham believed, etc.; Therefore, he was justified by works? Certainly those things do not cohere as a consequenct with an antecedent (Cameron). [Response 3: There is to be a distinction concerning works, which they want to be taken one way in James, and another way in Paul, which neither do they explain in one way:] 1. Paul understands the works of the Law, that is, the perfect and perpetual observation of the Law, which gives rise to debt and merit, and is set over against faith in Christ: But James understands those works that demonstrate faith, and arise from faith; more precisely, through Metalepsis[10] (Vorstius), or Metonymy of the effect (Vorstius, Piscator), in which the producing Cause is signified by the Effect (Piscator on verse 21); by works here he understands faith working (Vorstius, thus Piscator). But this is harsh, and it does not sufficiently agree with verse 22, in which faith and works are distinguished (Gomar). 2. Paul speaks concerning the works of the unregenerate only (certain interpreters in Gataker), or what things precede the faith of Christ, and arise only from the knowledge of the Law (Estius), and concerning Rituals (Grotius); but James speaks concerning the works following faith, and springing from faith, and directed by faith (Estius). To Faith Paul opposes, not the Works that proceed from faith, but those which are able to be offered without faith, or from the native powers of men and human education only; of which sort are all rituals, and also abstinence from evil actions in order to avoid punishment, besides certain other things which are wont to be done out of a pursuit of advantage or honor. The Jews were attributing a great deal to rites; they were only urging those of the prohibiting precepts to which a punishment is applied; they denied that intention, although deliberate, was liable to punishment even before God; but that the omission of the commanding precepts is easily expiated. This was Jewish piety, and they, being puffed up in it, were despising foreigners, although converted to the true God and a holy life. Disputing against this, Paul shows that any works that are not put forth from a soul purified by the faith of eternal life, and raised above the care of temporal things to the love of God and of one’s neighbor, will not please God. Now, compared to such works, the Jewish Ceremonies and that trifling innocence, self-control remaining in the realm of deeds, as Chrysostom says, with regard to the precept of the Law, whether human, or Divine, as far as that is understood in the manner of human Law, are deservedly deemed unworthy (Grotius). [To others this response is not satisfying:] It is sufficiently evident that Paul, no less than James, treats of Works, not only Ceremonial, but also Moral: seeing that he speaks of that Law which makes sin known, Romans 3:20; 7:7, and to which the entire world was obliged, Romans 3:19, etc.; and of works, both before and after faith, whether in a state of nature or of grace, as it is evident from this, that he treats of the works of Abraham and David, even those rendered after conversion and faith, Romans 4. Compare Job 9:15, 21; 10:15; Psalm 143:2; Philippians 3:8 (Gataker). [But concerning these things, let the Reader see more in the Synopsis on Romans 3 and 4. Thus concerning the third way of reconciliation.] Response 4: A distinction is to be made concerning the word faith. Paul speaks of a faith true and living, as it is proven; but James speaks of a faith false, vain, dead, sterile, and idle, which is without works (Beza, Gomar, Laurentius, Gataker); as it is easily proven, inasmuch as James speaks of that faith, which is common to reprobates, and even to Demons, James 2:19, 20 (Beza, Gomar), which is said to be dead, verse 17, which consists in words only, not in substance, verses 15 and 16, which is opposed the efficacious faith of Abraham (Gataker). James detracts from an idle faith what Paul was attributing to a living faith (Justinianus[11] on Romans 4). Response 5: A distintion is to be made concerning the language of justification. [Here let Grotius go before us:] The word δικαιοῦν, to justify, answers to the Hebrew word הַצְדִּיק, as it is evident. Now, verbs in the Hiphil commonly have a twofold signification, sometimes a twofold act, that is, of one doing so that another might do, sometimes something similar, like to declare; just as both הַרְשִׁיעַ signifies to justify not, or to condemn, and הַצְדִּיק signifies to absolve, as in Deuteronomy 25:2;[12] Proverbs 17:15;[13] etc., likewise to treat as such, suppose to praise, as this word is posited in Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29; etc.; just as also נַקֵּה, which is to hold as innocent, the Chaldean translates as to forbear in Exodus 34.[14] Therefore, δικαιοῦσθαι sometimes signifies to be rendered just, sometimes to be loved and treated as just. But, although it is certain that a man is made righteous through faith, then also more righteous through ongoing works; nevertheless, the whole context of this discourse, and especially those things which now follow, require that we take δικαιοῦσθαι here in the latter sense; even indeed in such as way as both Abraham and Rahab are understood to be treated by God, in such a way as those who are just are wont to be treated, not only with God regarding their faith, but also their works proceeding from faith. Whoever, as completely guiltless, is loved by God, is endowed with the Spirit of God, and is made certain in that state of eternal salvation, he is sometimes said δικαιοῦσθαι, to be treated as just, although the very word is found otherwise elsewhere in that primitive and more proper signification, as in Daniel 12:3;[15] Revelation 22:11.[16] That the good pleasure of God in this manner is obtained, not through the natural works of men, but through faith had in the Divine oracles, when it arrives at the intention of obedience; but is preserved through pious deeds: all the Greek and Latin Christians taught (Grotius). Paul treats of the first justification (certain interpreters in Estius and in Gomar), or of the justification of the unjust, by which one is made just from unjust; which arise from grace, through faith alone (certain interpreters in Gomar): James treats of the second justification (certain interpreters in Estius and in Gomar), or of the justification of the just, by which one is made more just by the merit of works (certain interpreters in Gomar). This does not satisfy: 1. This is a false distinction, as it is evident from Romans 3:28; 4:2, 3, 6 (Gomar). 2. Thus they confound justification and sanctification (Gataker). 3. For the first justification the works of faith are required, concerning which James speaks, and for the second justification the works of the Law are useless, concerning which Paul speaks (Estius). [Therefore, others take that term otherwise.] To Paul, to be justified is to be acquitted in judgment, and to be judged righteous before the tribunal of God (Gomar); but to James, it is to be declared righteous (Gomar out of Beza, similarly Cameron), either, 1. before men (Gomar, certain interpreters in Cameron). Which is refuted by the preceding words and the passage from Genesis cited (Grotius). For that work of Abraham, offering his son, was performed with all witnesses removed except Isaac, who was not able to know the mind of his father except by the event (Cameron). Add that Faith, just like anything internal to man, does not appear to other men, and thus it is not able to be said to justify anyone before men (Grotius). Finally, there is no external work that hypocrisy is not able to imitate (Cameron). Or, 2. before God (Gomar, Cameron), to whom Abraham gave proof of his faith. Objection: But God has no need of proof. Response: This is true, but it does not follow from this that men do not give to God proof of themselves. For David thus appeals to God, that God would prove and try him, etc., Psalm 139:23; and Paul says, we labor to approve ourselves to God, 2 Corinthians 5:9 (Cameron). But also God concerning this very deed says, through ἀνθρωποπάθειαν, an anthropopathism, Now I know that thou fearest me, etc.[17] (Gomar). Christ also is said to have been justified in the Spirit, 1 Timothy 3:16, that is, to have given proof of His Divinity, or to have proven Himself to be true God, by the power of the Spirit, by the power of His own Divinity. And thus Christ would have been justified, even if no one acknowledged Him as Christ (Cameron). Thus both God and wisdom are said to be justified, Luke 7:29, 35, that is, declaratively (certain interpreters). [Thus concerning the fifth manner of reconciliation. Response 6: James and Paul are able to be reconciled without difficulty, from the difference of the scope, adversaries, and questions that they are treating:] Paul, contending with those that were boasting of their merits, disputes concerning the method and cause of justification, against its false causes, which they had substituted; and he teaches that we are justified by faith alone (Beza), and that neither the Gentiles nor the Jews are able to attain to true righteousness through moral or legal works; but that the faith of Christ is the sole way to that righteousness, and therefore the whole inclines unto a commendation of faith (Mede[18] on verse 23): But James discourses against those that were boasting of faith while gushing out sins, and were not only abolishing the justification of works, but the very works themselves; and hence, as the controversy was altogether contrary, so he disputes in the contrary order, concerning the effects of justification, namely, works; from which he ascends to the cause, as Paul contrariwise descends from the causes to the effects (Beza), and from which [effects] faith and justification are able to be discerned, verse 18 (Gomar). It is the intention of James to show that faith devoid of works is dead, and to demonstrate at the same time that the faith of Abraham was most laborious (Mede on verse 23). Paul speaks of the forum of righteousness, in which no one is able to be justified by works, Psalm 130:3; 143:2; Romans 4:1, 2: James speaks of the forum of grace, in which Holy men justify themselves by works, Psalm 18:20-23; 26:1-4; Isaiah 38:3 (Gataker). It was not the purpose of James to dispute how we may be justified, but of what sort that faith is by which we are justified (Cameron). The κρινόμενον, or question, before Paul was, whether Abraham was a sinner, or not, and here faith alone upon Christ Himself was justifying; but the question before James was, whether Abraham was a hypocrite, or truly faithful and loving toward God, and here works were justifying him (Gataker), that is, from the false accusation of hypocrisy, and of a mercenary character. Concerning which matter and the various sorts of justification we treated more fully on Romans 8:4 (Dieu) [in which place see either what things were said in the Author, or the excerpts from him in the Synopsis: But these things have been said concerning this most famous question: Now we must proceed in the interpretation of the text].

How that by works; works of new obedience. A man is justified; declared to be righteous, or approved as such, and acquitted from the guilt of hypocrisy. And not by faith only; not by a mere profession of faith, or a bare assent to the truth, without the fruit of good works. Question: How doth this general conclusion follow from the particular case of Abraham? Answer: Abraham’s faith and justification, both before God and the world, are set forth as the exemplars of ours, to which the faith and justification of all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, is to be conformed, Romans 4:11, 12, 23, 24. Question: Doth not James here contradict Paul’s doctrine in the matter of justification, Romans 4? Answer: The contradiction is but seeming, not real, as will appear, if four things be considered: 1. The occasion of these apostles’ writing, and their scope in it. Having to do with different sorts of persons, they had likewise different designs. As Christ speaks one way when he dealt with proud Pharisees, whom he would humble; another way, when with humble hearers, whom he would encourage; and Paul carried it one way when among weak brethren, in condescension to whose infirmities he circumcised Timothy, Acts 16:2, 3; and another, when he was among false brethren, and men of contention, who opposed Christian liberty, seeking to bring believers into bondage, and then would not suffer Titus to be circumcised, Galatians 2:3-5. So in the present affair. Paul’s business lay with false apostles and Judaizing Christians, such as did, in the matter of justification, either substitute a self-righteousness instead of God’s grace, or set it up in conjunction with it; and therefore his scope is (especially in his Epistles to the Romans and Galatians) to show the true cause and manner of justification, and vindicate the freeness of grace in it, by the exclusion of man’s works, of what kind soever; to which purpose he propounds the examples of Abraham and David, in their justification, Romans 4. Whereas James having to do with carnal professors, and such as abused the doctrine of grace to encourage themselves in sin, and thought it sufficient that they had faith, (such as it was,) though they did not live like believers, resting in an empty profession, with the neglect of holiness; his design plainly is, to show the effects and fruits of justification, viz. holiness and good works; thereby to check the vanity and folly of them who did thus divorce faith from a holy life, (which God hath joined to it,) and fancied themselves safe in the profession of the one, without any respect to, or care of, the other, as appears in this chapter, James 2:14, 17, 26. And because they might bear themselves high in this false confidence by the example of Abraham, their father according to the flesh, and whom Paul had set forth, Romans 4, as justified by faith, without the concurrence of works to his justification; James makes use of the same example of Abraham, as one eminent for holiness as well as faith, and who made his faith famous by the highest act of obedience that ever a saint did, to show, that faith and holiness ought not to be separated; Abraham’s faith being so highly commended, especially as productive of it. To the same purpose he makes use of the instance of Rahab, who, though a young saint, and newly come to the knowledge of God, yet showed the truth of her faith by so considerable an exercise of her love and mercy to God’s people, as her receiving the spies in peace was. This therefore helps not a little to reconcile the difference between these two apostles. Paul deals with those that magnified works too much, as if they were justified by them, and slighted faith and grace; and therefore, though he frequently shows the usefulness of faith and good works unto salvation, and presseth men every where to the practice of them, yet he proves that they have no interest in the justification of a sinner before God’s tribunal, which he asserts to be wholly and solely of grace, and by faith. But James, in dealing with loose Christians, who magnified faith, and slighted good works, not only as having no influence on justification, but as not necessary at all to salvation; he takes upon him to maintain good works, not as necessary to justification, but as the effects, signs, and evidences of it, and such as without which their faith was vain, and themselves in an unjustified state. 2. Paul and James take faith in different senses: Paul speaks of a true, lively faith, which purifies the heart, and worketh by love, Galatians 5:6. Whereas James speaks of a profession, or presumption of faith, barren, and destitute of good fruits, such a faith as is dead, James 2:17, such as the devils may have, James 2:19, which is but historical, and consists only in a belief of God’s being, not a consent to his offer, or relying on his promises. What contradiction then is there here between these two apostles, if Paul assert justification to be by faith, viz. a lively, working faith; and James deny it to be by faith, viz. an idle, inactive, barren faith, and which hath only the name, but not the nature of that grace, and is rather the image of faith than faith itself? 3. But because James not only denies justification to the faith he speaks of, but ascribes it to works in this verse; therefore it is to be considered, that justification is taken one way by him, and another by Paul. Paul takes it for the absolution and acceptation of a sinner at God’s bar, by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, which is the primary and proper notion of justification. But James takes it for the manifestation and declaration of that justification; and the word is taken in the like sense in other scriptures: Luke 7:29, the people justified God, i.e. owned and declared his righteousness by confession of their sins, and submission to John’s baptism; and Luke 7:35, Wisdom is justified, i.e. declared to be just and right; Romans 3:4, justified in thy sayings, i.e. acknowledged and declared to be true in thy word.  And what is Christ’s being justified in the Spirit, 1 Timothy 3:16, but his being declared to be the Son of God? Romans 1:4. And that James takes justification in this sense, appears: (1.) By the history of Abraham here mentioned: he was (as hath been said) justified by faith long before his offering up his son, Genesis 15, but here is said to be justified, i.e. declared and proved to be so, by this testimony which he gave to the truth of his faith, and consequently to his justification by it; and the Lord therefore tells him, Genesis 22:12, Now I know that thou fearest God, etc.; q.d. By this obedience thou hast abundantly showed the sincerity of thy graces. (2.) Because if James doth not here speak of Abraham’s being justified declaratively, how can it be true which he speaks, James 2:23, that the Scripture was fulfilled (in his sacrificing his son) which saith, He believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness? For if James intends justification in the proper sense, how was Abraham’s being justified by works a fulfilling of the Scripture, which asserts him to be justified by faith? Here therefore again there is no contradiction between these apostles. For it is true, that Abraham was justified, i.e. accepted of God, and absolved from guilt, by faith only; and it is as true, that he was justified, i.e. manifested and declared to be a believer, and a justified person, by his works. 4. Lastly, we may distinguish of the person that is said to be justified; either he is a sinner, in the state of nature; or a believer, in a state of grace; whence ariseth the twofold justification here mentioned. The justification of a sinner, in the remission of his sins through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, and acquitting him from the condemnation of the law, is the justification properly so called, and which Paul speaks so much of; and this is by faith only. The justification of a believer, is his absolution from condemnation by the gospel, and the charge of infidelity, or hypocrisy, and is no other than that declarative justification James speaks of, or an asserting and clearing up the truth and reality of the former justification, which is done by good works, as the signs and fruits of the faith, by which that former is obtained: and this is but improperly called justification. The former is an absolution from the general charge of sin, this from the special charge of hypocrisy, or infidelity. A sinner’s great fear (when first awakened to a sense of his sin and misery) is of a holy law, and a righteous Judge ready to condemn him for the violation of that law; and so his first business is to look to Christ by faith for righteousness, and remission of sin. But when he is justified by that righteousness, men may charge him with hypocrisy or unbelief, and so may the devil and conscience too, when faith is weak, or a temptation strong; and therefore his next work is to clear himself of this imputation, and to evidence the truth and reality of his faith and justification in God’s sight, which must be done by producing his obedience and good works, as the indications of his faith; and hereby he proves that he hath indeed closed with the promise of the gospel, and so is clear of the charge of not believing it, which was false; as well as (by consequence) is justified from the charge of sin against the law, which was true. To conclude, therefore, here is no opposition between Paul and James. Paul speaks of Abraham’s being justified as a sinner, and properly, and so by faith only; James speaks of his being justified as a believer, improperly, and so by works; by which not his person was justified, but rather his faith declared to be justifying: nor he constituted righteous, but approved as righteous. In a word, what God hath joined must not be divided, and what he hath divided must not be joined. He hath separated faith and works in the business of justification, and therefore we must not join them in it, as Paul disputes; and he hath joined them in the lives of justified persons, and there we must not separate them, as James teaches. Paul assures us they have not a co-efficiency in justification itself; and James assures us they may, and ought to have, a coexistence in them that are justified. If the reader desire further satisfaction yet, let him consult Turretine “Concerning the Concord of Paul and James”,[19] where he may find much more to the same purpose as hath been here said.

[1] Greek: ὁρᾶτε τοίνυν ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος, καὶ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον.

[2] In the imperative mood.

[3] Here, the neuter is used adverbially.

[4] The adjectival form, answering to πίστεως/faith.

[5] Matthew 5:47: “And if ye salute your brethren only (τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον), what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?”

[6] Matthew 21:19a: “And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only (εἰ μὴ φύλλα μόνον), and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.”

[7] John 13:9: “Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only (μὴ τοὺς πόδας μου μόνον), but also my hands and my head.”

[8] Acts 11:19: “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only (εἰ μὴ μόνον Ἰουδαίοις).”

[9] Romans 3:29: “Is he the God of the Jews only (ἢ Ἰουδαίων ὁ Θεὸς μόνον)? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also…”

[10] That is, the union of two or more tropes by a single word.

[11] Benedetto Justiniani (1550-1622) was an Italian Jesuit scholar. He wrote In Omnes Beati Pauli Epistolas Explantiones and In Omnes Catholicas Epistolas Explanationes.

[12] Deuteronomy 25:2: “And it shall be, if the wicked man (הָרָשָׁע) be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault (רִשְׁעָתוֹ), by a certain number.”

[13] Proverbs 17:15: “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just (מַצְדִּ֣יק רָ֭שָׁע וּמַרְשִׁ֣יעַ צַדִּ֑יק), even they both are abomination to the Lord.”

[14] Exodus 34:7: “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear (וְנַקֵּה֙ לֹ֣א יְנַקֶּ֔ה; לָא מְזַכֵי, in the Chaldean) the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

[15] Daniel 12:3: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν δικαίων τῶν πολλῶν ὡς οἱ ἀστέρες εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας καὶ ἔτι, and some of the many righteous as the stars for ever and ever).”

[16] Revelation 22:11: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still (καὶ ὁ δίκαιος δικαιωθήτω ἔτι): and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

[17] Genesis 22:12.

[18] Although most remembered for his work on John’s Apocalypse, The Key of the Revelation, and his escatological views, Joseph Mede (1586-1638) treats texts spanning the entire Bible in his Works. Mede was first a student, and then a fellow, tutor, and Reader of Greek, at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

[19] De Satisfaction Christi Disputationes, “De Concordia Iacobi et Pauli”.

James 2:23: Faith and Works, Part 10

Verse 23:[1] And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6) Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called (2 Chron. 20:7; Is. 41:8) the Friend of God.

[And, etc., καὶ ἐπληρώθη, etc.] And (or, and so [Beza, Piscator, etc.]) was fulfilled the Scripture, saying, Abraham believed, etc. (Estius). But this had been said of Abraham previously, namely, in Genesis 15:6 (Grotius, similarly Beza, Estius), and thence Paul gathers the contrary, Romans 4 (Menochius, similarly Beza). Response: It is customary for the Hebrews to say, This is מתקיים, that is, ἐπληρώθη, or it was confirmed, when something, similar to a matter narrated elsewhere, happens. The faith of Abraham often appeared, in Genesis 15, again in Genesis 17; but it never shined more evidently than at the time of the offering of Isaac; when he so esteemed the power and constancy of God that he believed that his son, upon whom all the other magnificent promises were hanging, was able to be restored to him even from death, Hebrews 11:17-19 (Grotius). He says that this was fulfilled at this time, because it was then declared that faith alone is not sufficient for the righteousness of man, but also requires the works of other virtues (Estius). Others: The proof of the Scripture was then fulfilled, when that illustrious mark of his extolled faith, Genesis 15:6, was displayed, Genesis 22 (James Cappel). This is said by way of, 1. manifestation (Gataker, thus Beza): that is to say, Only then was it revealed and known (Piscator, Vorstius, thus Beza, Gataker), how truly that had been written (Beza), and that Abraham had been endowed with a true and living faith (Vorstius, thus Piscator), and hence was justified by God (Piscator). 2. Reiteration, performance, operation, that is to say, At that time Abraham did that which he had previously done; that is, he believed God again, and that against hope, as it is said in Romans 4:18 (Gataker). To be fulfilled is here used, in the place of, to show more impressively its complement/fulfillment (Junius). Those words, Abraham believed, etc., are able to be applied to all the eminent acts of his faith (Gataker out of Bellarmine[2]).

[And, etc., καὶ ἐλογίσθη, etc.] The language of חָשַׁב, to account or impute, in the place of which the Greeks use λογίζειν, is frequently selected when a certain thing or man is considered as if it were in a different mode than it is, whether that be by law, or by injury. Thus, when one eminent work is taken for many, that is said to be reputed for righteousness, as in Psalm 106:31.[3] Thus ἡ ἀκροβυστία, uncircumcision, that is, the state of the uncircumcised pious man, is said εἰς περιτομὴν λογίζεσθαι, to be counted for circumcision, Romans 2:26, that is, to be worth just as much as the state of the circumcised man. Justin, wisdom shall be reckoned to the ignorant man seeking wisdom,[4] that is, inquiry shall be taken for wisdom. Similar things are found in Theophilus of Antioch,[5] Tertullian,[6] and Chrysostom.[7] Therefore, that something is reckoned to someone for righteousness, means the same thing as he that has it is reckoned as if he were completely righteous and had not ever sinned, as Justin testifies in his Dialogue with Trypho. The Greeks also express the same by ἀποδέχεσθαι, to accept, as God ἀποδέχεται/accepts repentance in the place of virtue. Now, James, while he was commending Works, wisely mingled also the illustrious titles of Faith, lest he should appear to bring it down more than what is right, showing that the Works themselves are to be set down to the credit of faith, the more so the more illustrious the Works. See Philo[8] and Chrysostom[9] [and their words, and the words of the rest, in Grotius]. The sense, therefore: That Faith is reckoned by God for an eminent thing: things of which sort are wont to be called by the name of righteousness (Grotius).

And the Scripture was fulfilled; this illustrious instance of Abraham’s obedience did so clearly evidence the sincerity of his faith, that it did most plainly appear, that what the Scripture said of him, it spoke most truly, viz. that he did indeed believe God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. Things are said to be fulfilled when they are most clearly manifested. As those words, Psalm 2:7, This day have I begotten thee, are said to be fulfilled at Christ’s resurrection, Acts 13:32, 33; not that he was then first begotten of the Father, but that he was then in a glorious manner declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead, Romans 1:4. So here Abraham’s offering up his son being the evident discovery of his faith, it did by that appear, that the Scripture report of him was true, that he believed God, etc.: he did believe before, and his faith was imputed to him before, but it was never so fully made known, as by this so high an act of obedience. It was imputed unto him for righteousness; viz. as apprehending Christ in the promise. Faith is said to be imputed for righteousness, Romans 4:3-6, as being the instrument or means of applying Christ’s righteousness, by which elsewhere we are said to be justified, Romans 3:24, 25; 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9.

[And (namely, because he had offered his son, as it is said in Genesis 22:16 [Grotius, similarly Estius]: After he rendered to Faith its own, he returns to declare the value of Works [Grotius]) he was called the friend of God] Where? Response 1: Not in that passage of Genesis, but elsewhere, 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; Judith 8:26[10] (Menochius out of Estius). Response 2: This is not to be referred to the opinion of men (for no witness had been present for that so highly praise act of Abraham offering his son, as the Sacred history teaches us), but to the thing itself, by a Hebrew expression, in which to be called is put in the place of to be, as in Isaiah 1:26; 48:8; 62:4; Jeremiah 33:16; Ezekiel 48:35: thus it is the same thing to be made and to be called the sons of God, by a comparison of John 1:12 and 1 John 3:1. Now, this appellation pertains to those things which we have in Genesis 22:16 and following, in which God enters into a sworn covenant with Abraham, which he had not previously done, as Kings are wont to do with friends (which at what cost was to be done, see Hebrews 6:13 and following), and thus He receives him into a higher degree of friendship (Grotius). Such things are read in Genesis 12; 15; 17 [and in Genesis 22], from which this is safely gathered (Vorstius, similarly Piscator). For this frienships is sufficiently indicated by God’s blessing and covenant (Vorstius), by so many familiar appearances and conversations, and especially that in Genesis 12:3, for friends have common friends and enemies (Piscator).

And he was called the Friend of God; either he was the friend of God; to be called, sometimes times implies as much as to be, Isaiah 48:8; or properly, he was called, 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; and that not only on the account of God’s frequent appearances to him, conversing with him, revealing secrets to him, Genesis 18:17, 18; John 15:15, and entering into covenant with him; but especially his renewing the covenant with him upon the sacrificing of his son, and confirming it by oath, and thereby, as it were, admitting him into a nearer degree of friendship, Genesis 22:16, etc.

[1] Greek:  καὶ ἐπληρώθη ἡ γραφὴ ἡ λέγουσα, Ἐπίστευσε δὲ Ἀβραὰμ τῷ Θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην, καὶ φίλος Θεοῦ ἐκλήθη.

[2] Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) entered the Order of the Jesuits in his late teens.  He became one of the great theologians of his era, a Cardinal, and, after his death, a Doctor of the Church.

[3] Psalm 106:31:  “And that was counted (וַתֵּחָשֶׁב; καὶ ἐλογίσθη, in the Septuagint) unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.”

[4] Epistola ad Zenam  Traditionally assigned to Justin Martyr, this epistle appears to be the work of a later hand.

[5] Theophilus (died c. 183) was Bishop of Antioch.  His only remaining writing is his Ad Autolycum, in which he presents an apology for the Christian religion and a polemic against paganism.  Ad Autolycum is the earliest extant Christian writing to use the word Trinity.

[6] Apologetico de Ludis Gentium.

[7] On 1 Corinthians 2.

[8] Who is the Heir of Divine Things?

[9] On Romans 4.

[10] Judith 8:26:  “Remember what things he did to Abraham (with the Vulgate adding, quomodo pater noster Abraham tentatus est, et per multas tribulationes probatus, Dei amicus effectus est), and how he tried Isaac, and what happened to Jacob in Mesopotamia of Syria, when he kept the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother.”

James 2:22: Faith and Works, Part 9

Verse 22:[1] Seest thou (or, thou seest[2]) (Heb. 11:17) how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

[Faith, etc., ἡ πίστις συνήργει, etc.] Faith wrought with (or, was for a help to [Erasmus, thus Tremellius out of the Syriac, Castalio], was an attendant to [Illyricus, Pagnine, thus Beza, Piscator]) works (Vulgate, Montanus, etc.), that is, it was active, not idle (Estius, thus Menochius), not dead (Estius); it was efficacious through works (Cameron, similarly Beza, Piscator). Together both Faith and Works concur to hold fast and to reveal the benevolence of God, or a state of grace before God; Faith from the beginning of this state to its consummation; Works, as following Faith, necessary to preserve that state at the present time and occasion. The language of συνήργει, wrought together, teaches that Faith and the Works of faith are able not incorrectly to be called the Cause, as of justification, so of salvation, not indeed the primary Cause, which is the good pleasure of God, Ephesians 2:4; Titus 3:4; but the Conditions, which are called causes without which not, or causes in a class of their own (Grotius). Indeed, justification is not the only operation of faith, but also the purification of the heart, Acts 15:9, which is sanctification (Dieu). Then, if James had meant this, that Faith wrought with works unto justification, as the Papists maintain, he would rather have said, Works wrought with faith, than Faith wrought with works (Cameron, similarly Dieu). The sense is, therefore, that they had from faith its works, so that they might be, and work, and, in a manner of speaking then, justify (Dieu). Faith enlarged his spirit, or, incited it to good works. He declares the nature of true faith in this member and the following (Vorstius). He shows that true faith not only puts itself forth in believing, as the hypcrites were maintaining, with whom James had to do; but also in working (Cameron).

Seest thou how faith wrought with his works? He doth not say, works wrought with his faith, as he should have said, if he had intended their concurrence in justification; but faith wrought with his works, i.e. his faith was not idle, but effectual in producing good works, it being the office and business of faith to respect Christ for sanctification, as well as righteousness, Acts 26:18.

[And by works faith was consummated (or, perfected [Erasmus, Pagnine, Tremellius, Piscator, etc.]), ἐτελειώθη] Unto its end it was conducted (Beza). It put forth its proper force, as it is here taken actively, just as in 2 Corinthians 12:9.[3] See also 1 John 4:17[4] (James Cappel). The sense: Through works was this accomplished, lest Faith should be deprived of the hoped for outcome. A thing is perfected when it brings forth its designed effect. Faith is not able to attain this ἄνευ συναιτίων, without concurrent causes. Faith is perfected through love, says Tertullian (Grotius). Works perfect faith, just as enjoyment perfects an act, Aristotle’s Nicomachian Ethics 10:4, or as graceful charm perfects the age of blooming, not efficiently and formally; but as a concomitant accident, or appendix and end of perfection, presupposing an inward perfection of the action, or of faith, and following upon it. Therefore, to whatever extent good works project Faith’s life, force, and sincerity, and to the extent that they illustrate and adorn it, they are rightly called the perfection of Faith (Dieu). Perfection is twofold, 1. Absolute, or of degrees, as in James 1:25; 1 Corinthians 13:10; Ephesians 4:13. 2. Inchoate, or of parts, just as are called perfection, both, 1. sincerity, as in Psalm 18:32, and, 2. proper development, as in 1 Corinthians 2:6; 14:20; Hebrews 5:14; 6:1. Now, works perfect faith, 1. by way of operation and consummation, when through works faith comes to maturity; as a tree is perfected when it grows in such a way that it bears fruit, Numbers 17:8: and sin is perfected, James 1:15, when it has passed into habit (Gataker). Works are the complements, that is, the proper and mature fruit, of Faith (Junius). Only then is faith made complete, after it has brought forth good fruit. It is not made more certain and robust, the more of good works it brings forth (Vorstius). Good actions are after the likeness daughters cherishing their mother; and the good habit, from which they proceed, they confirm and perfect (James Cappel). 2. Metonymically (Gomar), or declaratively (Gataker out of Piscator, thus Gomar, Beza), because they declare faith to be perfect and sincere (Gomar, similarly Piscator, Cameron); just as the virtue, or power, of Christ is said to be perfect in infirmities, 2 Corinthians 12:9; because then it exerts itself maximally, and shows how great it is (Cameron). The nature of the matter extorts this exposition. For faith is the cause, works the effects. Now, a cause is not perfect by its effect, but is declared to be perfect; as good fruits do not make, but indicate, a good tree (Gomar, similarly Beza).

And by works was faith made perfect; either, 1. Faith by producing good works is itself encouraged, heightened, improved; and so not made perfect by any communication of the perfection of works to it, but by being stirred up and exercised as to the internal strength and power of it. Or rather, 2. Faith is made perfect by works declaratively, inasmuch as works evidence and manifest the perfection and strength of faith. Faith is the cause, and works are the effects; but the cause is not perfected by the effect, only its perfection is demonstrated by it, as good fruit doth not make a tree good, but show that it is so. See 2 Corinthians 12:9.

[1] Greek:  βλέπεις ὅτι ἡ πίστις συνήργει τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἔργων ἡ πίστις ἐτελειώθη;

[2] Greek:  βλέπεις.

[3] 2 Corinthians 12:9a:  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:  for my strength is made perfect (τελειοῦται) in weakness.”

[4] 1 John 4:17:  “Herein is our love made perfect (τετελείωται), that we may have boldness in the day of judgment:  because as he is, so are we in this world.”

James 2:21: Faith and Works, Part 8

Verse 21:[1] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, (Gen. 22:9, 12) when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

[Abraham our faither] Father, either, 1. of the Jews (Estius, thus Grotius), according to the flesh (Grotius): or, 2. of all believers, for whom he is pattern and a kind of prototype of justification (Estius); father of faith and righteousnss (Menochius).

Was not Abraham our father; not only the father of us as Jews, (for to them he wrote,) and according to the flesh, but as believers, and according to the promise; so all believers are called Abraham’s children, Romans 4:11; Galatians 3:7.

[Was he not justified by works] That is to say, But if that faith of Abraham, already made known in Genesis 15:6, was indeed profitable, but not alone; why should others promise to themselves more from their inoperative faith? Abraham, if he had believed faith to be sufficient to conciliate and retain the favor of God for himself, would have refrained from so grievous a work, concerning which this Writer now will speak (Grotius).

Justified by works; found or declared to be justified, not only before God, but in the face of the world; and his faith (by which he had been justified above thirty years before in the sight of God) now approved as a true, lively, justifying faith, by this proof he gave of it, upon God’s trying him in the offering up his son, Genesis 22:9, 12, Now I know that thou fearest God, etc. Abraham did fear God, and believe him before, and was justified before in the sight of God; but by the working of his faith in so eminent an act of obedience, the sincerity of all his graces, and so of his faith, was manifested and made known, and so his faith itself justified, as his person was before, and he obtained this ample testimony from the mouth of God himself. So that Abraham’s justification here was not the absolution of a sinner, but the solemn approbation of a believer; not a justifying him as ungodly, but commending him for his godliness. He was by his works justified as a righteous person, but not made righteous, or constituted in a justified state, by his works. The design of the apostle is not to show how sinners are justified in God’s court, but only what kind of faith it is whereby they are justified, viz. such a one as purifies the heart, Acts 15:9, and looks to Christ, not only as made righteousness, but sanctification to them, 1 Corinthians 1:30; and consequently not only rests on him for justification, but stirs them up to yield obedience to him.

[Offering, etc., ἀνενέγκας, etc.] When he had offered (that is, he had willed to offer [Estius], had prepared himself to offer [Estius, similarly Menochius], and it was not due to him that he did not offer him [Menochius, Grotius]: This preparation, in which nothing was wanting except the deadly blow, brings it to pass that he obtains from God the praise as of a thing accomplished, Genesis 22:12: Compare Hebrews 11:17 [Grotius]: As far as it pertains to the performance of the heart, he sacrificed him [Grotius out of Salvian]) Isaac his son (that is, his only son of his dearest wife, begotten in their old age [Grotius]) upon the altar? (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator). With significance does he add this from Genesis 22:9, that is to say, unto certain, as he believes, death, which was wont to follow sacrificial victims thus being place upon the altar, and being bound to it (according to custom, concerning which see Virgil concerning Sinon,[2] and Ovid’s[3] From the Black Sea[4] 2) (Grotius).

When he had offered Isaac his son; viz. in his firm purpose and resolution, and was about to do it actually, had not God hindered him. It was no fault in Abraham that it was not actually done, and therefore it was counted to him as if it had been really done, Genesis 22:12; Hebrews 11:17. Upon the altar; this shows the settled purpose of Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, when he proceeded so far as to bind him, and lay him upon the altar; for that argues, that he expected and intended nothing but his death, which generally was wont to follow in sacrifices when once laid upon the altar.

[1] Greek:  Ἀβραὰμ ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη, ἀνενέγκας Ἰσαὰκ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον;

[2] Æneid 2.  In Virgil’s account of the Trojan War, Sinon is a cunning Greek spy, responsible for convincing the Trojans to take the giant wooden horse into their city.  As part of his deception of the Trojans, he tells them that Odysseus had intended to sacrifice him, but he narrowly escaped.

[3] Ovid (43 BC-17 AD) was a Roman poet.

[4] Epistulæ ex Ponto.

James 2:20: Faith and Works, Part 7

Verse 20:[1] But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

[Wilt, etc., θέλεις δὲ γνῶναι, ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ] But wilt hou know (now the Apostle speaks [Estius], that is to say, Dost thou wish this to be taught to thee also by examples from the Old Testament [Grotius]: that is to say, If thou art desing to know, come and lend thy ear, I shall instruct thee: Compare John 13:12; Romans 13:3 [Piscator]), O vain man (Beza, Piscator, thus the Arabic, etc.), or, feeble (the Syriac in Grotius), that is, with respect to judgment, ריקא/Raca, which word was discussed in Matthew 5:22. Christ prohibits the wrath that rushes forth in such words, not the words themselves, when they are used by teachers to correct their disciples; and much less when not particular men are being thus branded, but certain sorts of men. This appears in Matthew 23:17, 19; Luke 24:25; Galatians 3:1, 3. Vain, that is, who leadest thyself on with vain hope (Grotius), who boastest a vain or empty faith (Piscator, Menochius, Vorstius). He calls the man vain, either because he boasts of what he has not, or because he has not grace’s solidity, stability, or efficacy (Gataker).

But wilt thou know? Either this question is in order to teaching, as John 13:12; Romans 13:3; and then the sense is: If thou hast a mind to know, I shall instruct thee: or, it is a teaching by way of question, as more emphatical and pressing; and then it is as if he had said, Know, O vain man. O vain man; an allusion to an empty vessel, which sounds more than one that is full. The carnal professor to whom he speaks is vain, because empty of true faith and good works, though full of noise and boasting. Objection. Doth not the apostle sin against Christ’s command, Matthew 5:22? Answer: 1. He speaks not of any particular man, but to all in general, of such a sort, viz. who boasted of their faith, and yet did not evidence it by their works. 2. It is not spoken in rash anger, or by way of contempt, but by way of correction and just reproof; see the like spoken by Christ himself, Matthew 23:17, 19; Luke 24:25; and by Paul, Galatians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 15:36.

[Faith without works (that is, idle [Estius]: That χωρὶς ἔργων, without works, depends, either, 1. upon the word πίστις/faith, Faith which is without works, so that there is an Ellipsis of the article ἡ,[2] which sort is found in Matthew 5:21;[3] John 5:36;[4] etc. [Beza]: or, 2. upon those words, νεκρά ἐστιν, is dead [Piscator], with these words understood, ἐὰν ᾖ, if it be [Piscator, thus Grotius], that is, if it have not works: The sense is the same in either case [Piscator]) is dead?] That is, It is without action and motion (Estius): It is not able to produce that for which thou hopest (Grotius): it avails not for the salvation of men (Vorstius).

That faith without works is dead; a defective speech, faith without works, for that faith which is without works, or, faith, if it be without works. He doth not say, faith is dead without works, lest it should be thought that works were the cause of the life of faith; but faith without works is dead, as verses 17, 26; implying, that works are the effects and signs of the life of faith.

[1] Greek:  θέλεις δὲ γνῶναι, ὦ ἄνθρωπε κενέ, ὅτι ἡ πίστις χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων νεκρά ἐστιν;

[2] That is, ἡ πίστις (with the article ἡ here elided) χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων.

[3] Matthew 5:21:  “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment (ὃς δ᾽ ἂν φονεύσῃ, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει)…”

[4] John 5:36a:  “But I have greater witness than that of John (ἐγὼ δὲ ἔχω τὴν μαρτυρίαν μείζω τοῦ Ἰωάννου)…”

James 2:19: Faith and Works, Part 6

Verse 19:[1] Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: (Matt. 8:29; Mark 1:24; 5:7; Luke 4:34; Acts 16:17; 19:15) the devils also believe, and tremble.

[Thou believest that there is one God] That is, that there is a God, and that He is one (Grotius, thus Estius), not many (Estius, Piscator), Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 6:4 (Grotius). This he takes as an example (Estius, Grotius), because it is first among things to be believed (Grotius, similarly Estius), in the Apostolic Creed (Estius); and by which the Jews were distinguished from Atheists, and from the Greeks (Grotius), or Pagans (Estius), upon which also the mission and authority of Christ depends, and all faith in Christ. For Christ has authority from that one and true God, John 14:1; 17:3 (Grotius). Now, concerning the other articles of the faith, the judgment is the same (Estius).

Thou believest that there is one God; thou givest thy assent to this truth, that there is one God. This may likewise imply other articles of the creed, to which the like assent may be given.

[Thou doest well] That is to say, This is good (Grotius), because what you believe is true (Piscator), and this act is good in its kind (Estius). But this is not sufficient for salvation (Grotius), as you falsely suppose (Piscator).

[The demons also, etc., καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια—φρίσσουσι] That knowledge is not so sufficient that it is common to thee with the depraved Spirits (Grotius, similarly James Cappel). But also the demons (ערים, both to the Rabbis and to the Seventy in Isaiah 13:21[2] [Grotius], or, evil spirits [Grotius], understanding this[3] [Piscator, thus Beza], or, the same [Grotius], namely, that God is one [Beza], and so also the other articles of our creed, as it appears from Matthew 8; Mark 5; Acts 16; 19 [Estius]) believe (by Faith, either supernatural, as Durandus,[4] Lombard,[5] and Salmasius think; and demonstrable, as Lapide,[6] Just., etc.; or natural [Tirinus], not by a faith infused divinely, but from the subtlety of nature; convinced, not voluntarily, but by compulsion, and by the evidence of things, and by true miracles [Estius]: which faith, nevertheless, profits them nothing except unto greater torment [Tirinus]), but they nevertheless shudder (Piscator, similarly Beza), or, and they tremble (Grotius out of the Syriac and Arabic, thus the Vulgate). By Metonymy that word signifies enormous fear, and is translated in the Glossa, horresco, to dread. Thence φρικτῶς/horribly, in Wisdom of Solomon 6:5;[7] and φρικτὸν/horrible, שַׁעֲרוּרִיָּה, in Jeremiah 5:30;[8] 18:13;[9] 23:14;[10] and φρικῶδες, a thing that causes horror, in Hosea 6:10.[11] The sense: Not only do they have no hope of salvation, but also on account of their depravity they expect more grievous torments with fear. See Matthew 8:29; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 20:10 (Grotius). They fear and flee from Him (Grotius, Estius), whom they expect as a most resolute and severe judge (Estius), the avenger of their wickedness, 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6 (Grotius), whose majesty, power, severity, they not only believe in, but also actually experience and feel (Menochius). Thus also you ought to fear this same God if you imitate the deeds of the Devil (Grotius).

Thou doest well; either this kind of faith hath its goodness, though it be not saving; or ironically, q.d. A great matter thou dost, when thou goest almost as high as the devils. The devils also believe; yield the like assent to the same truth. And tremble: the word signifies extreme fear and horror, viz. such as the thoughts of their Judge strike into them. This shows the faith the apostle speaks of in this place, not to be the faith of God’s elect, which begets in believers a holy confidence in God, and frees them from slavish fears; whereas the faith here spoken of, if it have any effect upon men, it is but to fill them with horror.

[1] Greek:  σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς εἷς ἐστί·  καλῶς ποιεῖς·  καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσι, καὶ φρίσσουσι.

[2] Isaiah 13:21:  “But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs (וּשְׂעִירִים; καὶ δαιμόνια, in the Septuagint) shall dance there.”

[3] That is, the demons also believe this.

[4] Durandus of Saint-Pourçain (c. 1275-c. 1332) was a French Dominican philosopher and theologian.  He lectured and wrote commentaries on Lombard’s Sentences.  In some matters, he differed from the great Dominican theologian, Thomas Aquinas, and became known as the Doctor Resolutissimus for his firm adherence to his novel positions.

[5] Peter Lombard (c. 1096-c. 1164), although of relatively humble birth, became a renowned theologian in Paris.  His Four Books of Sentences served as a standard theological text at medieval universities.

[6] Cornelius à Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish Jesuit scholar.  His talents were employed in the professorship of Hebrew at Louvain, then at Rome.  He wrote commentaries covering the entire Roman Catholic canon, excepting only Job and the Psalms, developing the four-fold sense of Scripture, while emphasizing the literal.  His knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and the commentators that preceded him is remarkable.

[7] Wisdom of Solomon 6:5:  “Horribly (φρικτῶς) and speedily shall he come upon you:  for a sharp judgment shall be to them that be in high places.”

[8] Jeremiah 5:30:  “A wonderful and horrible (וְשַׁעֲרוּרָה; καὶ φρικτὰ, in the Septuagint) thing is committed in the land…”

[9] Jeremiah 18:13:  “Therefore thus saith the Lord; Ask ye now among the heathen, who hath heard such things:  the virgin of Israel hath done a very horrible (שַׁעֲרֻרִת; φρικτά, in the Septuagint) thing.”

[10] Jeremiah 23:14a:  “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing (שַׁעֲרוּרָה; φρικτά, in the Septuagint):  they commit adultery, and walk in lies…”

[11] Hosea 6:10:  “I have seen an horrible thing (שַׁעֲרִירִיָּה; φρικώδη, in the Septuagint) in the house of Israel:  there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.”

James 2:18: Faith and Works, Part 5

Verse 18:[1] Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works (some copies read, by thy works[2]), (Jam. 3:13) and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

[But one will say] That is, a pious man may with good reason say to such a man boasting of his faith devoid of works (Grotius). That is to say, Indeed, even thus shall it be allowed to anyone to blunt thine arrogance (Beza).

A man; any true believer. May say; to any such boasting hypocrite.

[Thou hast faith] And thou boastest much of it (Grotius). It is Irony (Beza), or, a Concession (Beza, Piscator): that is to say, so it is that thou sayest that thou hast faith (Piscator).

[I have works] But I, passing over my faith in silence, give myself to pious deeds (Grotius).

[Show me thy faith without thy works, ἐκ τῶν ἔργων σου] This is received Scripture (Beza). Thus all present Greek Codices read, with one exception, which the other follows (Cappel). But this begets a sense quite cold and barren, unless we understand ἀλλὰ/but in the place of οὖν/therefore (Beza). [Others thin otherwise.] This reading agrees more closely with the mind of the Apostle (Vorstius). The sense: Act the part, if thou speakest truly, that thou hast faith; show it to me from its proper effects, namely, good works (Piscator), that I might discern that thou hast faith (Vorstius): except thou do this, it will appear that thou falsely professest faith (Piscator). He [the pious man, as above] adds: Faith, since it is situated in the soul, is easily boasted of by anyone: and so men in a human manner are not able to be certain concerning the faith of another, unless pious deeds, the best indications of faith, testify to it (Grotius). Others read (Vorstius), and that rightly (Castalio, similarly Beza, Grotius), χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων, without works. Thus a great many manuscripts, and that best manuscript, of which I make use (Grotius), and the Greek edition of Colinæus[3] (Beza), and the Latin, the Syriac, and the Arabic (Grotius, Beza). Thus the expression is ironic (Estius). That is to say, by what argument will you demonstrate that you have faith? If faith is an altogether hidden thing (Menochius), and latent in the soul, which is not able to be shown to men except by works (Etius)? The sense: Show your faith in words as much as you like: for deeds are not present. And see what value pious men are going to place on it, and thence gather what God is going to do (Grotius).

[And I will show to thee my faith from my works] That is to say, and lest you be able to complain that I set forth to thee an unjust condition, see how I accept it, and I will likewise show my faith by my works (Piscator). That second person is posited in the place of whatever man; that is to say, I, not bandying my faith, am whole in this, that by piety of life I show myself to be a Christian, to God, to my own conscience, and to others; and I, giving constant attention to modesty, patience, and love, will easily persuade anyone, even if silent, that true faith is present in me. In the end, what is the use of words? let us be regarded in our doing. He says this, therefore, that all the Pious will prefer my faith demonstrated by deeds before thy faith boasted of with words. How much more so God (Grotius)?

Thou hast faith; thou pretendest to have faith, or admit thou hast faith; and an historical faith he might have, as verse 19. And I have works: I do not boast of my faith; or, to say nothing of my faith, yet works I do profess to have. Show me thy faith without thy works: there are two readings of these words, but in both the sense agrees with the rest of the apostle’s discourse. If we take the marginal reading, show me thy faith by thy works, the sense is, evidence the faith thou pretendest to by thy works, as the fruits of it; let thy actions vouch for thy profession. But if we take the reading in the text, without thy works, it is a kind of ironical expression; q.d. Make it appear by convincing arguments that thou hast true faith, when yet thou wantest works, the only argument of the truth of it. Understand here, but this thou canst not. And I will show thee my faith by my works; I will easily prove my faith to be true and genuine, by those good works it brings forth in me. Demonstrate the cause to me without the effect, if thou canst; but I will easily demonstrate the cause by the effect, and prove the root of faith to be in me, by my bringing forth that fruit which is proper to it. It cannot hence be inferred, that wherever such works are, as men count and call good, there must needs be faith: the apostle’s meaning only is, that wherever true faith is, there good works will certainly be.

[1] Greek:  ἀλλ᾽ ἐρεῖ τις, Σὺ πίστιν ἔχεις, κἀγὼ ἔργα ἔχω·  δεῖξόν μοι τὴν πίστιν σου χωρὶς τῶν ἔργων σου, κἀγὼ δείξω σοι ἐκ τῶν ἔργων μου τὴν πίστιν μου.

[2] Greek:  ἐκ τῶν ἔργων σου.  Thus a great many Byzantine manuscripts.

[3] Simon Colinæus’ edition was published in 1534.  It is in the Textus Receptus family, and include some variant readings.