For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:26
Or, as the Contemporary English Version puts it:
Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead!
Wonderful, challenging verse. As I was pondering it, I went to my trusty online Bible commentaries. Find them here. There are several different ones on that website, and I generally peruse through all of them, except the Matthew Henry. Generally, for me, he is a bit much for me to handle. However, I went to him lastly, and BAM. All the way at the bottom, he explained this verse SO beautifully. In fact, this is the end of my babble. I’ll let him say the rest… because he explains these verses wonderfully. It may be a little hard to understand (he’s a bit old-ish). But it’s worth the decoding and rereading! I promise! …in fact, I added some translations! & comments 🙂
And now, upon the whole matter, the apostle draws this conclusion, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, v. 26. These words are read differently; some reading them, As the body without the breath is dead, so is faith without works: and then they show that works are the companions of faith, as breathing is of life. Others read them, As the body without the soul is dead, so faith without works is dead also: and then they show that as the body has no action, nor beauty, but becomes a loathsome carcass, when the soul is gone, so a bare profession without works is useless, yea, loathsome and offensive. Let us then take head of running into extremes in this case. For, (1.) The best works, without faith, are dead; they want (lack) their root and principle. It is by faith that any thing we do is really good, as done with an eye to God (love that phrase!), in obedience to him, and so as to aim principally at his acceptance (this phrase too! as I am constantly aware of how much I want other peoples approval-when I only need God’s!). (2.) The most plausible profession of faith, without works, is dead: as the root is dead when it produces nothing green, nothing of fruit (think: stump…it’s only good for sitting upon, eh?). Faith is the root, good works are the fruits, and we must see to it that we have both (for what good is a tree if it is just a tree…trees that have value have leaves, flowers, fruit, and so if our faith is to be of any value–that is, when the world looks at our fruit they see the root from which it came, they see Christ: our ultimate aim-for Christ to be seen within us). We must not think that either, without the other, will justify and save us. This is the grace of God wherein we stand, and we should stand to it (our lives should point to it–see last input).
Well, so much for not babbling! 😉 I hope you’ll forgive my two cents…or three dimes.