Jam 2.1-26 tells us not to be discriminating in the assembly and that partiality is condemned in the Torah (Lev 19.18); that we should observe the Torah, but not as a system of works righteousness; Torah observance is compatible with faith; an example it; dead faith and real faith is demonstrated by Torah observance, called “works” or mitzvot, meaning the commandments; Abraham and Rahab are used as an example of real faith.; remember, James, or Ya’akov, was called a “tzadik” or “just” even by the Jewish non-believing rulers of the first century, which means his Torah observance was beyond reproach by everyone. The “works” he is referring to in this chapter are the Torah commandments; James is saying that Torah observance is compatible with faith; but these works will not save you, faith in Yeshua does. The concept of “salvation” biblically is national, or delivered from an enemy. It is also personal, and it comes by faith called “emunah” based on knowledge of the Scriptures, ahav meaning love and acting on those Scriptures, and mitzvot which are the commandments themselves. Faith without the commandments (mitzvot) is dead. The Torah is the only source for the commandments. A mitzvah can only be changed by the one who gave the commandments to begin wi, so you can’t change the sabbath to another day, etc. Anyone who is of faith is to be Torah observant. Righteousness comes by faith, not Torah. Torah is a guide to how the righteous walk, act, think, and live. Anything that draws you away from these basic concepts is replacement theology and should be rejected. It’s why he gave the Torah, it is the standard, a guide. Waling in the Torah will not diminish faith and these are the points James will discuss in this chapter.
v 1…My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Yeshua the Messiah with personal favoritism (partiality).
v 2…For if a man comes into your assembly (Greek “sunagogen” or synagogue-Strong’s # 4864) with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
v 3…and you pay attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place (honorable place, near the front as a sign of respect-Matt 23.6; Luke 14.7-11),” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,
v 4…have you not made distinctions among yourselves and, and become judges with evil motives (not guided by just rules; this is wrong by presuming to “judge” strangers in the first place)?
v 5…Listen, my beloved brethren, did not God choose the poor of the world, rich in faith and heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him?
v 6…But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court (judgment seats in persecution)?
v 7…Do they not blaspheme the worthy name by which you have been called?
v 8…If, however, you are fulfilling (giving meaning to) the royal (God is the king who gave the commandments) Law (Torah), according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor (by action) as yourself (Lev 19.18),” you are doing well.
v 9…But if you show partiality, you are committing sin (as defined in the Torah-Rom 3.20; 1 John 3.4) and are convicted by the Law (Torah-seems James did not think it was done away with) as a transgressor (what the Torah does and was designed for).
v 10…For whoever keeps the whole law (meaning to incorporate the things of God into your life, staying true to the tavnit or blueprint God has given for a specific thing to be done, by specific people, at specific times at specific places) and yet stumbles in one point he has become guilty of all (the Torah was seen as one unit, not divided up into different categories).
v 11…For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the Law (Torah)..
v 12…So speak (words) and sao act (actions) as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty (see Jam 1.25 notes-In Jewish thought, the concept of freedom is linked to the Torah-Exo 7.16, 8.1; the people were set free so they could serve God-Eph 2.10; a civilian to a criminal is an enemy because it restrains him and restricts him from expressing his criminal tendencies, but for a good citizen the same laws is an assurance of security, a preserver of freedom).
v 13…For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; and mercy triumphs over judgment (there are two types of judgment, strict or merciful-John 8.3-11; Rom 9.14-16; Matt 18.23-35; Matt 25.31-46).
v 14…What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith (confidence in God by action, made of the right motive of love in action, the knowledge of God in Torah facts, and doing the commandments) but he has no works (Hebrew “mitzvot” or commandments)? Can that faith save him (NO!-faith is action in knowing what the Scriptures say and doing them; rebellion is knowing what the Scriptures say and not doing them)?
v 15…If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
v 16…and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what does it profit them?
v 17…Even so, faith without works (of the Torah/mitzvot) is dead by itself )Greek “nekra” meaning empty).
v 18…But someone may say, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without works (they can’t because “works” or commandments are connected to faith), and I will show you my faith by my works (Torah observance-remember he was known for it; the commandments are “visual aids” to see faith; he acted on what God said to do in the Torah, and the Torah is the only source for works).
v 19…You believe that God is one (that God exists), you do well; the demons also believe and shudder (with fear-a bare, historical belief will not profit anyone).
v 20…But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works (Torah commandments) is useless?
v 21…Was not Abraham our Father justified by works (the evidence he had faith in what God said-Heb 11.1; he obeyed God’s word), when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar (by God’s command)?
v 22…You see that faith was working with his works (they go together, cooperate), and as a result of the works, faith is perfected (complete, finished);
v 23…and the Scripture was fulfilled (given meaning) which says, “And Abraham believed God (what he said); and it was reckoned (imputed) to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend (not “chaver” but “ahav” meaning “love in Isa 41.8 and 2 Chr 20.7) of God (ahav is one of the three elements of biblical faith).
v 24…You see that a man is justified by works (which is faith in acting on what God said and produces works of the Torah, and that faith is what justifies-a believer will have the Torah written on their hearts, desires, intentions and thoughts, along with true faith; works follow true faith) and not by faith alone (without works of Torah).
v 25…And in the same way (likewise) was not Rahab the harlot (some say innkeeper) also justified by works (showing she had true faith), when she received messengers and sent them out by another way?
v 26…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith (confidence/love in God) without works (action in strength) is dead (this concept is alluded to in Lev 7.34 where it says, “For I have taken the breast (alluding to love, affection and faith) of the wave offering and the thigh (alluding to strength, walking, and works; together meaning faith without works is dead) of the heave offering from the sons of Israel from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and I have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons forever”; in Rom 3.28 Paul speaks of justification before God; James speaks of the fruits of it that can be seen by others).