Romans Chapter Four Versus James Chapter Two-Can They Be Reconciled?

            There probably aren’t two more diametrically opposed points of view in all the Scriptures about how salvation is obtained than Romans four and James two.  Over the years many theologians have attempted to reconcile these two seemingly opposite methods of salvation.  Martin Luther struggled with this so much that he at one point was ready to throw the book of James right out of the Bible because it did not match up well with Paul’s doctrine of being saved by grace through faith.  Paul writes in Romans four that a man is saved by faith apart from works and he uses Abraham as his example.  James, on the other hand, writes in James chapter two that one is not saved by faith alone.  Works are required to validate faith and James also uses Abraham as his example.  Well, who is right and who is wrong?

2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to rightly divide or handle the word of truth.  As I have written before and have come to believe is the most effective way to understand the Bible, one has to look at a passage of Scripture with a few things in mind.  Who was it written to, by whom and under what set of circumstances or economy.  In other words, was the Scripture written to the Body of Christ under the doctrine of grace?  Or was it written to the Jews under the covenant doctrines?  When we examine the Scriptures  that are in question in this article with a keen eye on these important interpretation techniques, the answer to the question of whether Romans four and James two can be reconciled, I believe, is a resounding yes.

Let’s first look at what Paul wrote in Romans four pertaining to Abraham.  We need not go into the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith as Paul makes it so clear throughout all his epistles that we are not saved by works.  See Ephesians 2:8-9 if this is unclear.  In Romans four Paul makes the case that Abraham was justified by faith by believing God back in Genesis 15:6.  5And He (God) took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them “And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”  6Then he (Abraham, then called Abram) believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:5-6) The next point that Paul makes in Romans is that this “reckoning” or crediting to Abraham was before the covenant of circumcision was given to Abraham by God.  In other words, Abraham didn’t do anything to receive righteousness from God except believe.  In fact, Paul points out in Romans 4:4 that if one tries to work for salvation, then it isn’t a gift.  It is due the worker as a wage for the work performed.  Paul is showing here that one of the revelations given to him is that salvation is a free gift.  Again refer to Ephesians 2:8-9.  8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Paul then goes on to show that Abraham, therefore, is the father of all who believe; both the circumcision believer as he received the covenant of circumcision by God in Genesis 17 and the uncircumcised believer as Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness before he was circumcised himself.

Now let’s examine James chapter two with the same scrutiny we gave Romans.  The first thing that jumps off the page is verse 24 which seems to contradict Romans and Ephesians.  24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” As we read James 2:14-26 we see James putting forth the case that faith has to be followed by works and that no one is saved without them.  Abraham is then used again as evidence that this is the case.  James uses Genesis 22 for his purpose of showing how Abraham’s faith was alive as works accompanied it.  Genesis 22 is the account of Abraham obeying God and taking his “only son” Isaac to be sacrificed to the Lord.  James then quotes Genesis 15:6 as being “fulfilled” as now Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness; after the works of obeying God.  James uses the same Scripture that Paul uses, but to show something totally different.  When I first read this in James I thought that James was pulling a fast one.  He used a Scripture from before Isaac was even born to support his faith-works idea.  This faith-works relationship started with the conditional covenant of circumcision given to Abraham.  Genesis 17:14 makes it perfectly clear that this covenant was conditional.  As we look at the history of the Israelites and their journey with God, we see that they had to follow the law in order to remain in the covenants of God.  This carried right into the Gospels as John the Baptist preached repentance and baptism as a requirement for the Jews.  He was calling the Jews back to God.  16“And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.” (Luke 1:16) We see that it was God’s will that even the Pharisees were brought back to God through baptism.  30But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.” (Luke 7:30) Peter preached the same message in Acts chapter 2 and the only way God would send the Christ back was if the nation of Israel repented and was baptized-works.  Their whole program from the beginning of the nation was a faith-works program.  Their blessings were conditional.  James 2:8-12 clearly shows what “works” James is referring to-the Law of Moses.

So, is there any doubt why James wrote that faith required works to support it?  That’s why James looked further into the book of Genesis to support his claim.  The account of Abraham sacrificing Isaac was after the conditional covenant of circumcision was instituted.  I have read authors and heard preachers try to explain away the controversy between Paul and James by saying that Paul was talking about being justified before God and that James was speaking of being justified in front of man to show that a person’s faith was real.  This idea does not stand up to close study though as the example James uses from Genesis 22 was Abraham showing his works to no one but God.   10Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Genesis 22:10-12) There were no other men on the mountain when this occurred.  They had waited at the bottom and had no idea what was going to happen.  Also, in Luke 16:15, Jesus  absolutely prohibits men from justifying themselves before other men.  James, who was a strict Law keeper, clearly would not be condoning something that Jesus taught was wrong.

The reconciliation of Romans four and James two is revealed when the first verse of James chapter one is read.  James is writing to the “twelve tribes (of Israel) who are dispersed abroad.” Paul is writing to saved believers in the Body of Christ.  Further evidence of the separate ministries can be seen co clearly by reading Galatians two, which is Paul’s account of the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.  Paul writes in Galatians 2:8 that Peter and effectually the other eleven were Apostles of the circumcision (Israel) and that Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles.  In Galatians 2:9 Paul tells us that he and the Apostles shook hands and agreed that Paul would go to the Gentiles and that the Apostles would go to Israel.  Why?  Paul had a different message than the twelve.  A reading of Romans four and James two is the epitome of this separating of the two messages.  Paul shows that believers are justified by faith alone, while James’ message followed the Jewish program for being right with God, which included works.  Genesis 15:6 actually does work for both; one on the basis of faith, the other on the basis of faith-works.

Written by Paul D. Pedro of Oakdale, Minnesota.

All Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible.

Emphasis added by the author.

12 Comments

  1. Posted June 1, 2009 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gary,
    I totally agree with your approach to Scripture. The bible cannot ever contradict itself. I would like to add this thought- There is a lapse of about 40 years between Genesis chapter 15 and chapter 22. The fact that Abraham believed 40 years prior to offering up his son on the mount, demonstrates (and further proves your point) without a doubt that Abraham’s salvation was through grace alone a part from works.

    I believe that Romans 4 is coming from God’s point of view (the heart). Believing is something that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Man cannot see into the heart of another man, only God can; therefore it would be impossible for us to have known that he was a believer unless the Lord told us “He believed and it was reckoned to him…”. This is very important considering that Abraham is the “father” of faith.

    James on the other hand, gives an example of Abraham’s life 40 years later, to show faith from man’s point of view. This is brought out in verses 14,15. The point I am trying to make here is, “if a person has genuine faith it will eventually manifest itself by genuine works (action).

    Jesus said that a tree will be know by the fruit it bares… So Abraham was simply demonstrating the faith he already had by his actions. This is the only real way a believer can tell the faith of another, since we cannot see into his heart like God can.

    The clearest point of this is verse 18 – “someone (not God) may well say, ‘you have faith, and I have works (action): show ME your faith without the action (faith cannot be seen by the naked eye apart from actions [works]), and I WILL (not God) SHOW YOU MY faith by MY ACTIONS…

    Thank you for the opportunity to share the word together…
    God bless you for your insight and your love for building up the body of Christ.
    Blessings
    Rev Deb

  2. Paul D. Pedro
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Rev Deb,

    I have heard that explanation before about the James passage and it
    doesn’t hold much water with me. Was there any “man” up on the Mt. Moriah
    to witness Abraham’s faith? No, just the Lord. Furthermore, James is very
    clear that man is NOT justified by faith alone…which contradicts what Paul
    teaches. James does not say the a man’s FAITH is not justified, he says
    that a MAN is not justified by faith alone. Now, we either have to say that
    the Scripture doesn’t mean what it says or there is a contradiction or we
    have to understand that James was writing to Jews and Paul to the Body of
    Christ. I agree that we are saved unto good works-Eph. 2:8-10, but that is
    not at all what James is addressing. The Gospel accounts and the early part
    of Acts are full of the idea that a Jew had to demonstrate his faith with
    action. Repentance, law keeping and water baptism followed all Jews that
    believed. If they didn’t follow through with these works, it was evidence
    that they did not have faith. For the Jew under the law, faith brought a
    sacrifice, faith got water baptized. The book of Hebrews is full of
    examples of people with faith that had to do something. Noah is a prime
    example. Could Noah had just believed that there was to be a flood? No, by
    faith he built an ark. He wasn’t justifying his faith to anyone, his faith
    needed works to go hand in hand for completion. Why? Because all that was
    prescribed by God before the cross was a type or shadow of the reality that
    is in Christ. He is the substance and so now the types and shadows are to
    disappear. James had a very hard time with this as Acts 21 reveals. He is
    still zealous for the law at a time when Paul was trying to wean Jews off of
    the law. For the law only pointed to Christ and now Christ had come and
    fulfilled the law, so the types and shadows were null and void. Paul’s
    message is different than what the Apostles taught and followed! We are now
    justified by what Christ did and not by anything we have done. Again,
    understanding the special message given to Paul is the key to unlocking our
    understanding of the whole of Scripture. Thanks for your replies.

    In Christ

    Paul D. Pedro

  3. Aaron
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry, but I think that the explanation of James and Paul writing to two different audiences is problematic because it tends to reinforce the claim that there indeed is a contradiction in these two passages. I don’t beleive there is. Christian tradition accepts both works as authoritative (inspired Scripture) meaning they both apply with authority over Christians, not one to Jews and the other to Christians, as if they were teaching two different doctrines of salavation. If James applied only to Jews then how can the Christian Church accept both as authoritative to them? Yet Christians do receive both Ephesians and James as canonical, so they equally fall under the principle taught in 2 Tim. 3:16 (“all Scripture is God breathed…” and so on). How can two books be authoritative and contradictory at the same time? Therefore I think the answer lies in showing that they do not contradict.

    To focus solely on James’ closing statement, that “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” only allows for one interpretation of the passage, that’s why one must consider Jame’s full discorse on the subject, and not just the closing statement. James’ opening statement is equally important. His focus is on refuting the individual who claims to have faith but has NO deeds (v1). This individual completely disregards those in need – therefore his faith can’t be real. James shows that saving faith is an expression (James’ demonstration of faith v18), not an intellectual acknowledgement of truth (the demons’ belief – v19). James’ use of the word “faith” in this passage is meant the mere itellectual acknowledgement of truth. Therefore James does not teach that one EARNS salvation through works, he teaches that the presence of works must be there because that demostrates the legitimacy of one’s faith.

    Also important to note is that Paul never teaches that one is justified by faith alone. he teaches that one is justified by GRACE alone (the work of Christ on the cross), through faith (Ephesians 2:7-9). So for James to say a man is not justified by faith (intellectual accent) alone is entirely correct.

  4. Bev O'Day
    Posted August 20, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    dear Paul Pedro,

    as you know i sat under that midacts teaching, with you in minn, i have come to see great error in it, while Paul is our apostle, MIDACTS serverly divides Paul from the bible, they do it in such a way as to make midacts a cult, IF I was you ,I would take time to seriously study their errors, ONE< is that PAUL, was the first in the BODY OF CHRIST< total error, PAUL was not, the OLD TESTAMENT saints were, when Jesus took them captive out of ABRAHAMS bosom into the 3rd heaven, they were the FIRST not paul, as MIDACTS teaches, NO one enters heaven, unless its thru the shed blood of Jesus CHRIST< they claim the old testament Saints, are still in SHEOL, sleeping, which is total error, there is no such thing as soul sleep, they also claim, that david didnt ascend so no one else did, another error, DAVIDS body didnt, but his SPirit and SOUL did, one of the greatest errors, they teach is the CARNAL CHRISTIAN lie, coming out of Scofieldism , there is no such thing as a CARNAL CHRISTIAN, in sin, the carnal person, Paul spoke of was in THEOLOGY, not sin, they claim the man at Corinth, fornicating was a saved man, a TOTAL error, from the pits of hell, that insults Christ to no end, when I became aware of midacts errors I left it, if you were wise, you would do the same.

  5. GaryJ
    Posted August 24, 2009 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Bev, I’m afraid you are really mixed up about what those in the mid-Acts position believe. It really would be in your best interest if you would study and understand a particular position before you attack it. It would also be to your advantage to use Scripture to back up what you state.

    Paul divides the Bible

    Your statement about the mid-Acts position dividing Paul from the Bible does not make sense. Paul actually wrote about 6% of the Bible and at least 25% of the New Testament through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Not only that but Paul very often quotes from the Old Testament. He also made it clear that all Scripture is valuable to study:

    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

    All those I know who believe the Church began in mid-Acts uphold the entirety of Scripture and defend the importance of understanding the whole of what God has revealed to us in Scripture. However, we also understand that God has written some things that do not directly apply to us, For instance, God dealt with Israel in a specific manner with specific rules and regulations and with specific blessings that can not be applied to those of us in the Church, the Body of Christ. For instance, God has promised future blessings to Israel in Jeremiah 31:31—34. We can not apply these promises to us.

    Paul, the first in the Body of Christ

    Paul refers to the body of believers in this age as the Body of Christ. He used this term three times (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 1:24). This term is not used anywhere else in Scripture. Colossians makes it clear that Paul was made a minister of this Body.

    Colossians 1:24—25 24Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,

    Paul was given this revelation of the Mystery by Jesus Christ Who would appear to Paul a number of times to reveal the whole of the Mystery to him.

    Ephesians 3:1—3 1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–2if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;3that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.

    Acts 26:16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;

    The truths of the Mystery and the Gospel of the Grace of God were revealed to Paul directly from Jesus Christ and this new revelation was taught by Paul to the Apostles and Disciples and was revealed to them as true by the Holy Spirit.

    Ephesians 3:3—5 3that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.4By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

    The Old Testament saints were of Israel and therefore were looking forward to their promise of land and blessing with Christ on the throne on earth. Those Kingdom saints in Paradise will be given what was promised to them when Christ comes and takes His rightful position as King at His Second Coming. All dead saints are not in a state of sleep. Scripture clearly states that to be absent from the Body is to be present with the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:8). We also see in Luke 16:19—31 that those who have died are conscience in Hades There may be some mid-Acts people who believe in soul sleep but I believe they would be a very small minority.

    In contrast to Israel, we have a heavenly hope. The only thing you get when you mix the two economies of Kingdom and Grace is confusion. Every person who ever lived or will live can come into God’s presence through Christ’ shed blood.

    Carnal Christian

    Apparently, if I understand what you are saying, A Christian cannot sin. By looking into what the Bible says we should be able to see a Christian can be carnal.

    1 Corinthians 3:1—3 1And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh (carnal), as to infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3for you are still fleshly (carnal). For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

    According to this passage, Paul is addressing fellow Christians (brethren) and at the same time calls them carnal. They are secure in their position in Christ but are at the moment living in a manner that is displeasing to God. We all sin and therefore we are all carnal at certain times in our lives. We take our focus off pleasing Christ and focus on pleasing ourselves. It’s the struggle between the old and new nature that will finally come to an end when we are in heaven. Paul puts it this way:

    Romans 7:14—20 14For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.15For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.16But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

    This in no way affects our salvation. We did nothing to obtain our salvation except believe and we can do nothing to lose our salvation. It’s all taken care of by God through Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

    Ephesians 2:8—9 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    I would urge you to take the time to truly understand our position so you will avoid setting up straw-man arguments in the future. Of course, that would assume you truly are seeking the truth instead of just picking a fight. I believe a true understanding of Paul’s message for today’s Church will clear up many issues in biblical understanding.

  6. Posted January 23, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Response to GaryJ’s post April 22, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Gary! Thanks for your post. I will attempt a reply. I went to Derby Bible Church (Derby, Colorado)where Bob was Pastoring for a number of years. Bob had a pretty major stroke a couple of years ago. Please keep him, and his wife Joan in your prayers.

    I have not read Bob Hill’s book but I understand he has an open view of God and believes man’s free will is why He gave Israel conditional promises. I guess in Bob’s world if God knew what would happen He could make all His promises unconditional.

    I have trouble in man running the show, so to speak. If God is sovereign then He would be all-knowing and all-powerful. To limit God to explain man’s so-called free will then that’s a major assault on the very nature of God.

    ~ Why would God say He repented in Genesis 6:5-8

    “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

    Scripture says He knew us before the foundation of the world.

    Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love.

    ~ True. That is because Christ Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), and when you believe, you become a part of His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). If you believe we were chosen before the world began, that nullifies “whosoever will” in 2 Peter 3:8-9
    “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

    If God were not all-knowing and all-powerful then how could He say that all things will work together for good…?(Romans 8:28)

    ~ Because it’s through our bad (and good) choices that we can quote Romans 8:28 as we keep our eyes focused on Christ Jesus our Lord. Please consider Romans 8:31-39

    “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

    38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Maranatha!
    Jessica

  7. Bev O'Day
    Posted April 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Gary,

    Sorry, but Im not mixed up at all,Midacts, severly divides the Old testament saints from the Body of Christ, u stated correctly, one way to heaven, In heaven, there is no difference, the Old testament saints, are in the One Body, we are in, One Lord,One faith, ONE baptism for ALL. IT doesnt matter, which dispensation, one comes out of, that applies to all.
    Yes there are midacts, who teach soul sleep, I sat under a pastor, who said, David and the Old Testament saints are NOT in heaven, using the verse, David did not ascend into heaven. I showed him that was wrong,but he chose not to hear, yes all of them dont state that, but some do.
    Carnal Christian, a term badly slaughtered by the so called Church today, taking the man at Corinth, the fornicator and making him a carnal Christian, is utter nonsense, that man, was ( CALLED) a brother, the Life application bible, uses the word CLAIMER. The nonsense,I have heard on this, shames the Lord. NO fornicator was saved, that man, was PUT out of a CHURCH, not the BODY for he wasnt in it, PUT out INTO the world, to let the WORLD>> Satan, work him over, till he truly repented, then he would be saved, which the man did later. That Carnal Christian lie, is from Satan, not God. PAUL never said a fornicator was a carnal Christian,that is bad understanding of the text, AND it makes false converts.
    Paul, is the APostle to the Gentiles yes, I understand his writings to the Body of Christ, I dont like any man made labels, such as MIDACTS, just Gods word. So, yes the so called MIDACTS, as well as other so called churches, have error in them. Pauls teachings and doctrines are to us, but I urge people not to fall into so called, SECTS< of any kind, and get TRAPPED into their thinking.
    U wont see me post scripture to you, ANYONE< can take the word, and make it say what they want OR have been taught it says, that means nothing to me. Gods word alone, when read thru the Spirit, WILL wittness, thru the ONE SPIRIT< not mens added thinking.
    As far as I know, Midacts, also teach, the BODY of CHrist, never comes down to earth for eternity, they stay in the heavens above, to rule and reign, at least ( again) that pastor,I spoke of before, did, again, that is severely separating, there will be no heaven above the 3rd heaven is temporary, and when Christ comes to the earth, with ( ALL) the saints, there is no longer need for it. THat pastor, said, the BODY is with CHRIST in the heavens, and Israel, is on the earth. Bad understanding again of text.
    So Gary, while there may be many so called Midacts, people,I perfer to keep people out of SECTS with labels, for the devil comes as a angel of LIGHT to them all.
    Thank you

  8. Posted March 17, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Gary,

    You said:

    I have read authors and heard preachers try to explain away the controversy between Paul and James by saying that Paul was talking about being justified before God and that James was speaking of being justified in front of man to show that a person’s faith was real. This idea does not stand up to close study though as the example James uses from Genesis 22 was Abraham showing his works to no one but God.

    Gary, the incident of which James speaks is recorded in the Scriptures and “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for…instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim.3:16).

    Just because other men were not present does not mean that other men cannot have a knowledge to what happened at that time. These same people who teach justification by faith plus works for others in past dispensations also say that in any dispensation the goal is to be justified by God and NOT by men.

    A Christian is to keep himself holy and to do good works in front of man for the same reason that Israel was to do good works. The Lord Jesus told that nation:

    “Ye are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mt.5:14,16).

    The Lord Jesus Himself recognizes the idea that men can appear “righteous” before other men (Mt.23:28) so this concept is not foreign to the Scriptures.

    Next, if “works” were required for salvation for the Jews who lived under the law then why would the Lord Jesus make it plain that only “faith” was required?:

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (Jn.5:24).

    Paul makes it plain that the blessings for those who lived under the law were by grace through faith:

    “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all” (Ro.4:16).

    Peter certainly understood that the was saved in the same way as were the Gentile believers, saying the following:

    “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:11; NIV().

  9. Markos
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Dear Paul D. Pedro,

    I like your site and the points you make. I have a question though: I think you are basically saying that the Jews’ salvation was faith+works and gentiles is faith only…? But when you mention about James writing to the 12 tribes abroad, wouldn’t the 12 tribes be classified as ‘Israel’ rather than ‘Jews’, which would be the tribe of Judah or House of Judah?

    Also, how do you interpret Romans 3:30 – “…there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.”? I am still trying to understand what that means exactly, but I think it is relevant to this line of study.

    I do think that there are the two gospels but I still need a few things to click into place before I am fully persuaded. In my opinion the mid-acts position makes the most sense out of all the viewpoints I have considered.

    Regards
    -Markos

  10. Markos
    Posted July 18, 2014 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh I think I need to elaborate.

    So I think Jew vs Gentile is not the same as Circumcision Vs Uncircumcision…

    Jew = tribe of Judah, or House of Judah.
    Gentile = non Jew (someone not of the House of Judah – which could either be 10 tribes or the heathen nations depending on the context.)

    Circumcision = the physical Israelites of the flesh (12 tribes)
    Uncircumcision = the heathen nations (gentiles that were not of the 12 tribes)

    So I think that Israel needed works to demonstrate their faith…like baptism…but those who were never under the law (heathen nations/gentiles) were not required to do works. The law was still in effect when the Gospel of the Kingdom was being preached…but when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed it was ‘bye bye’ to any kind of righteousness related to the law…works were not required from anyone. The Book of James was written before AD70 in the time when the old covenant was fading away. It took time to fade out as they began transitioning to the new way God was doing things…they had to get the full revelation that it was no longer about ritual and physical things, but solely about Christ.

    That’s my understanding – I would be interested to hear what anyone thinks of my view.

    Thanks,
    Markos

  11. Posted July 19, 2014 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    The Jews who received the epistle of James were saved in the exact same way as the Gentiles:

    “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (Jas.1:18).

  12. Paul Pedro
    Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Markos,

    I appreciate your comments. I don’t believe that the term “Jew” only refers to the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, because Peter in Acts 2:22 and 36 is talking to the “whole house of Israel”, not just the tribe of Judah and Benjamin or just the other ten tribes. He is speaking to the whole house, the twelve tribes. The letter that James writes confirms this, as he writes to the twelve tribes and doesn’t separate them when he addresses the faith/works issue.

    As to your question about Romans 3:30, man has always been justified through faith, but faith in what?-Faith in what God has said. God told Israel to keep the works of the Law. If a Jew had faith, he would show that faith by the works he did, and as James writes, this completed his faith. These works pointed to the work of redemption that was to be completed by Christ. Since God has now revealed through Paul that Christ accomplished the fulfilling of the Law through the work of redemption, man is no longer under the Law, and this includes the Jew in this dispensation of grace-Romans 11:1-6.

    I hope this helps.

    Paul

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