Study Sheet #17. James 2: 20-26 Real Faith Examples

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Bible Study on the Epistle of James; Prepared by Kirby Williams

Study Sheet #17. James 2:20-26 - Real Faith Examples.
Memory verse: James 2:26 "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead." -ESV

1. In verse 20, James asks his opponents a rhetorical question (he is not waiting for an answer), based on his arguments in the previous verses.

a. What is the question?

b. Where does James intend to find this evidence?

c. Would you say the tone of his question is conciliatory or confrontational?

d. Why do you think he takes this tone?
2. In verse 21, how can James refer to Abraham as "our father", when he is writing to a church with both Jewish and Gentile members? Read Rom. 11:15-21 to help you with your answer.

3. Recount why James' statement in vs. 21 is not inconsistent with Paul's statement in Romans 4:1-3.

4. Read Genesis 22:1-19 for the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. It seems to me this is a story about Abraham's obedience. Why do you think that James uses this as an example of faith? Read Heb. 11:17-19 to help you with your answer.

5. Verse 22 states that faith "is active along with" or "works with" or "cooperates with" works, and also that works "complete" faith.

a. How was Abraham's faith active along with his works in the story of Isaac?
b. How did Abraham's works "complete" his faith in the story of Isaac?
c. Give an example of how faith is active with your works.

d. Give an example of how your works complete your faith.

e. What "work" is the ultimate "completion" of our faith in a Theological (soteriological) sense?

6. Verse 23 quotes Gen 15:6, stating that Abraham's faith was "reckoned to him as righteousness". Why is this statement so centrally important to the concept of salvation and justification in Christianity? Read Acts 16:31 and Rom. 5:1, 17 to help you with your answer.

7. Carefully compare verse 24 to Romans 3:28.
Rom. 3:28 For we hold that one...

James 2:24 You see that a person...

Rom. 3:28 is justified... by faith

James 2:24 is justified... by works

Rom. 3:28 ...apart from works of the law.

James 2:24 ...and not by faith alone.

a. According to Paul, how is a person justified?

b. According to James, how is a person justified?

c. How is Paul using the word "justified"?

d. How is James using the word "justified"?
e. What word does James add at the end of his statement that helps us understand this distinction? Explain.

8. Read Joshua 2:1-21 to refresh the story of Rahab in your mind.

a. What "work" of Rahab is James referring to?

b. How was this "work" a manifestation of faith?

c. Why do you think James included Rahab, of all people, as a second example of his argument that faith without works is dead (Abraham being the first)?
9. In your mind, develop a graphic image of James' statement in verse 26 that the "body apart from the spirit is dead" (Luke 8:49-56, 1Samuel 25:37-38).

a. Can a body actually be alive, when the spirit is absent? Read Luke 8:49-56, 1Samuel 25:37-38 to help you with your answer.

b. With this graphic image in your mind, how might this relate to a Christian who is professing faith but is not manifesting that faith through works?
c. What is the best way to correct this situation in others? Use James 2:18 in your answer.
i. By demonizing them for not demonstrating works.

ii. By ignoring them and hoping they will change.

iii. By showing them our faith through our works.

**All quotations are taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.

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