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.

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