Paul And James: The Book Of James

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For centuries it has been debated whether Paul and James contradict each other’s theology. At times, they do seem to make opposing statements. The Book of Galatians affirms over and over that we are justified by faith in Christ alone, not by works of our own. Most evangelical Christians agree to that concept of sola fide. We are faced with an interesting dilemma when James famously says, “faith without works is dead.” Martin Luther, himself, felt that the Book of James should be removed from the canon of scripture because of such statements. When one looks at the context of these verses, we realize that the theology of both books complement rather than contradict each other. Although they both deal with the relationship between faith and…show more content…
First of all, the audience James was writing was almost certainly Jewish. This can be inferred because he addresses the “twelve tribes in dispersion” (1:1). Therefore, controversy over whether to be circumcised would not have been a relevant issue. Also, instead of the theological arguments of Galatians, the Book of James is filled with commands and directions for how to live out their faith in areas such as perseverance, controlling the tongue, caring for widows and orphans, and not showing partiality. This was needed for James’s audience because they did not view works as a necessary result of faith. In 1:22, James tells them, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” They had been exposed to God’s truth, but had misguidedly believed that was enough, instead of letting it affect how they lived their lives. Also, James questions whether a believer without any evidence in the form of works could have ever truly been justified by faith. Demons have knowledge of Christ, but they do not have saving faith (3:19). Abraham is, once again, given as an example of true faith. In Galatians, Paul gives him as an example of someone who was justified by faith because he believed God’s promises. James points out that Abraham’s faith caused him to follow God in deed, even to the point of almost sacrificing his only son. True faith results in…show more content…
One cannot expect to take verses out of context (which we love to do) and understand the separate, yet intertwining theology of these two books. I believe Martin Luther was wrong to wish to remove James’s letter from scripture. Each book has a different message concerning the trigger topics of faith and works, yet they both work together to create a picture of what God’s work in our lives is meant to look like. Putting our faith in Jesus and his sacrifice saves us. When true conversion takes place His Holy Spirit inhabits us and helps us to truly fulfill the law in what was otherwise forever beyond our capabilities. Although in different situations, both Paul and James point to how God accomplishes for us what we cannot do on our
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