Wednesday: James and the Law

Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors (James 2:7-9, NKJV).

Image © Providence Collection from

Image © Providence Collection from

There is only one book in the New Testament that is attributed to James. While the author does not stipulate which James he is, it is generally accepted that the letter comes from James, the brother of Jesus. Though perhaps at first skeptical about Jesus’ Messiahship (John 7:5), James eventually rose to an influential leadership position in the New Testament church (Acts 15:13, Gal. 1:19). Again, if Jesus had intended to abrogate the divine law, His own brother certainly would have known.

Read James 2:1-26. What is the basic message of the chapter? Why would James summarize the law as he did in James 2:7-9, only then immediately to say what he said about keeping all the commandments? How do these verses show the link between love and obeying God’s law?

Misunderstanding Paul’s teaching on the law, some argue that James and Paul are opposed to each other regarding the role of the law. The major point of contention is over the place of works in salvation. Paul declares that we are saved by grace through faith apart from works (Eph. 2:8-9), while James emphasizes that faith without works is dead (James 2:26, NKJV). These statements are not contradictory; James is merely expressing in a forceful manner what Paul had said numerous times about grace not nullifying the law. Like Paul in Romans 13:9, James fully understands that the essence of God’s law is love (James 2:8). No one can truly claim to keep God’s commandments if he or she does not demonstrate practical acts of love.



Wednesday: James and the Law — 8 Comments

  1. Love and faith demonstrated in works are the governing principles of Christianity. People know that we are Christians when they see Christ in our conduct. If I can witness with my lifestyle, I think verbal witnessing would be less challenging and more effective.

    • I agree Lorraine. In fact when you look at it, our love for Christ is shown when we keep his law. It is how we act, our works that demonstrate to God our faith in and love for him. People can see that. What Christ says through grace is that, you don't need to stay in sin when you fall, but through him we can get up and walk in his way again. If the law was not there how would we know that are actions, our works are wrong, how would we recognize grace how would we exercise faith in Christ?

  2. It is true that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus not our works, but faith without works is dead ,James 2:26.Grace which is the unmerited favor is Gods' Agape love upon all humanity. If God is love, then we who are His, ought to love our neighbors as ourselves, love does no harm to our fellow men. Our love should be 'infectious' to all. The debt we have is to love our fellow men and that is the fulfillment of the law, Romans 13:8-10.

  3. 'If one is a follower of Christ, he cannot be hard hearted, devoid of sympathy. He cannot be course in his speech. He cannot be full of pomposity and self esteem ...
    The labor of love springs from the works of faith ...
    Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.'
    (Bible commentary volume 6 page 1111)

  4. If Paul and James disagreed on faith and works, would Paul not have written a letter saying to his fellow Christians that James was wrong. I have not seen such a letter and it is not because Paul was intimidated by James because he publicly called Peter out when he was doing wrong.

  5. The law is a transcript of God's character....According to 1 John 4:8,God is love...Ultimately, the demonstration of Love is practically the keeping of God's Commandments....Moreover,the Commandments are summed up in ''Love'' according to Matthew 22:37-40...
    All in all,the works that proceed from our faith in God and make it complete and clear to the world that we truly have received salvation are the works of Love towards God and towards our fellow brothers...He who does not love does not know God,for God is Love and He who says loves Him,the same must walk just as He walked...

  6. There is a definition of grace found in "Christ Object Lessons" Page 271. To learn of Christ means to receive his grace, which is His character.

  7. Lets say there can never be works without faith. So work comes as a result of faith. Imagin if the bible said we are saved by grace through works apart from faith.
    It would have meant that faith comes as a result of works, then we would mean without a position in church you are not a christian.
    Faith - Works-salvation in that order.


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