Lesson Three: James Two
James chapter two is noted as the key passage for two major themes: The Sin of Partiality and Faith Without Works Is Dead.
Do these two topics relate to each other?
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
The early Jewish Christians experienced persecution for having becomes followers of Jesus. How would this have affected them financially?
Is it easier to have faith when you are poor than when you are rich?
What other forms of partiality or discrimination have you experienced or observed?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
What are some results of showing favoritism (verses 4, 6, 9, 13)?
What is the “law” (revisit James 1:25), and what is its purpose?
How do the following verses from the Sermon on the Mount compare with verse 13?
Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Matthew 6:15 – “But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Matthew 7:1-2 - “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
How does Matthew 7:21 (“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”) relate to this section?
The auto spell check in texting often changes love to live. Is there any irony to this?
Are you a doer or a thinker? Are you more likely to act without thinking or think without acting?
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Compare and contrast Abraham and Rahab (Joshua 2).
How do Abraham and Rahab prove James’ point?
Is James’ argument in contrast with Paul in Romans 3:28 (“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law”)?
James does not say that works without faith can save. What does this imply about faith?
If someone were arrested for being a Christian, what questions would you ask to find if they are “guilty”?