Explore the Intersection of Faith and Works with September’s Free Book

You only have a few days left to snag your free copy of Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell’s excellent commentary on James—plus two other respected commentaries in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (ZECNT) for less than $7.

The commentary’s interaction with the entire book of James is one of many things that makes it stand out. Here’s an example from the commentary’s overview of James 2:14–26, which precedes a section outline, translation notes, and verse-by-verse exegesis, among other helps.

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The second half of Jas 2 continues to unpack the theme of riches and poverty, a point often missed because of the inordinate attention given to the apparent contradiction between vv. 20–26 and Paul’s principle of justification by faith alone. But James’s insistence that faith without works is dead follows as a corollary from the theme of vv. 1–13, further illustrated by the shocking refusal of some so-called Christians to offer even the slightest help to the most destitute in their midst (vv. 14–17).

The two exemplars of James’s principle of works completing or vindicating one’s faith—Abraham and Rahab—contrast with each other in several respects, creating a powerful merismus, a figure of speech “which makes equal the most extreme members of a whole and therefore all the other members who fall in between.” Ralph Martin points out the numerous verbal links between vv. 1–13 and 14–26: “my brothers” and “faith” (vv. 1, 14), a poor person inadequately clothed (vv. 2, 15), “faith” showing itself in “love” or “works” (v. 5 and ten times in vv. 14–26), “you do well” (vv. 8, 19), and the name one of God’s people has been “called” (vv. 7, 23). More immediately linking vv. 12–13 with what follows is the motif of acts of mercy, acts that are lacking in vv. 14–17 but which Rahab and Abraham exhibited on various occasions.

We do not find similar links between 2:14–26 and 3:1–12, because there James has moved on to unpacking his second key theme—wisdom and speech. But we do hear resonances of 2:14–26 elsewhere in the epistle, especially where the theme of rich and poor is prominent. Workless faith resembles the vain religion of 1:26–27. On the one hand, the person claiming to be a believer but displaying no works cannot be saved, just as the rich oppressors will be eternally judged (5:3–4). Those who demonstrate true faith through their good works, on the other hand, will be exalted, at least in the life to come, however humiliating their circumstances in this world may have been (1:9). That Abraham was called God’s friend (2:23) also anticipates the fundamental contrast of 4:4 between friendship with God and friendship with the world.

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This commentary goes back to regular price on October 1, so get it free while you can! And while you’re at it, get the Colossians and Philemon entry as well as 1, 2, and 3 John now for only $7.

This post is excerpted from James by Craig L. Blomberg and Mariam J. Kamell. 

The title of this post is the addition of the editor. The authors’ views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife.