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Deconstructing James 2:17

James 2:17 (ESV)
“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

Real faith regenerates. If it is not making a dramatic change in one’s self, it is likely defective, or at worst, completely absent and non-existent to begin with. This is the crux of what James is stating.

Initially, Martin Luther was deeply troubled by James’ emphasis on deeds, and considered the epistle to be an “epistle of straw”. His initial conclusion was one many of us make in that he saw a direct contradiction between James and Paul, since Paul was adamant that we are saved by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:28). Luther would later admit that he was wrong in holding such a belief.

While Paul does state clearly that faith alone saves us, he is in agreement with James that saving faith will always manifest itself in loving deeds. He did see them as inextricably linked as he concluded in Galatians 5:6 and in his list of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

What James states can apply to …

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