Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Nature of Saving Faith: James 2:14ff Pt. 2

The format of this will be to first answer questions concerning the last post, then to present the text, and then to refute Antonio da Rosa’s handling of this passage.

From Antonio’s comment:

I didn’t quite see how anything I said in my post was proven false by you in this post of yours. You beg the question and apply circular logic. You used your translation of the article in 2:14 as a proof that the translation is correct. You appealed to popularity rather than demonstrating by the grammar and syntax that your translation was correct. And you imported your theology into the text so as to warrant your translation.

1. I don’t quite see how anything I said in my post was proven false by you in this comment of yours.

2. How do you know that your translation is correct apart from your own translation? You commit the very act of which you accuse me.

3. I appealed to authority, not popularity. When that many translation committees render a text contrary to your personal translation, odds are you’re not close. You may be willing to take your little blog and set it up against centuries of scholars and scores of translational committees, but that is simply foolish.

4. “You imported your theology into the text so as to warrant your translation” simply begs the question. It assumes the conclusion. Isn’t that the very thing that we are trying to figure out in these dialogues?

You did not answer the fact that the article shows up with “faith” many times after in the same passage and the same context where it is not natural to translate it as an adjective or a far demonstrative pronoun. Nor answer to the fact that the article in that culture and language was a extremely common and much used occurrence in front of abstract nouns, nor answer to the fact that James indeed knew the Greek words for “that”, “such”, “that kind”, yet chose not to employ them. The original readers of the epistle would not assume nor react to the article the way you dogmatically have.

I had written, “Antonio brushes off the definite article based upon how it is handled in the other verses. It may very well be true that the article with πιστις is anaphoric in these verses. However, the antecedent must be examined based upon its own immediate context.”

1. How are you actually replying to me here? None of these questions say anything by way of reply to me.

2. I stated that the further we go into the passage, the more our translation concerning v. 14 will be affirmed. Slow down there, cowboy. It will be shown why the definite article, in its own context, should be translated the way it is in v. 14.

3. The reader should note that Antonio’s rejection of the definite article is a dogmatic one. He may appeal to its usage elsewhere in the text, but he gives no exegetical support for why it should be left untranslated here in v. 14.

Coming from Todd’s comment:

This faith schematic you present seems to bring up all sorts of problematic questions in my mind with what I’ve come to know about our Holy Spirit. Is He in and out of you all day long as you may hastily or carelessly act outside of His prescriptions? I don’t see how your proposition could work any differently than just that, that is, that the Holy Spirit is coming and going almost continuously with these “works of faith” that the Reformed have put forward. Not tenable in their entirety to me.

Such a paragraph demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the Reformed position. Where have Reformed writers stated that the Holy Spirit is “in and out” of the believer? It was the Reformers, rather, who affirmed that the faith of the elect does not fade. This statement also disregards everything I stated in my last post concerning the nature of faith. Faith, and the Holy Spirit for that matter, do not come and go based upon works. Works simply demonstrate faith. Steve Hays has written about the nature of saving faith here.

We will now look back at the text of James 2:14ff.

James 2 14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16and 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? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We see that James repeats “what good is that?” in v. 16, showing that this is one unit. Verses 15-16 illustrate James’ statement in v. 14. In the described situation, the statement alone is not “good enough.” We could say, “Go and peace, be warmed and filled,” but that has no profit unless we actually give the warmth and food to the brother in need. Compare these two:

What gain is it if someone claims to have faith but does not have works?

What gain is it if someone offers help in words but does not act upon it?

Verses 15-16 offer a direct parallel of v. 14. We know very well that Antonio does not like the word “claims” (even though “says to have faith” hardly makes sense in the English language). This is because Antonio’s take on this passage is that this is not merely an issue of the confession (i.e., declaration) of faith, but faith itself. Verses 15-16, however, have us reject Antonio’s interpretation, and affirm our original statement that this concerns profession rather than possession. This also begins to further affirm our translation of v. 14 because v.14 compares a faith in words alone with a faith that is demonstrated in deeds, just as v. 15 compares a help in words alone with a help that is demonstrated in deeds. The terms “Be warmed!” and “Be filled!” are ones that require action in order to be meaningful. Without the actions, they are meaningless words, dead words.

Verse 17 states with “So also” that just as the words “Be warmed” and “Be filled” are meaningless if they do not possess the required action, faith that is not demonstrated in deeds is equally dead. In fact, the NEB translates this as “So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is in itself a lifeless thing.” The reverse of this is that faith, if it is demonstrated in action, is indeed a living thing and can indeed save. The distinction, once again, is not between faith and works, but between dead faith and living faith. The original question was, “Can such faith save him?” Dead faith cannot save. Living faith can save. Deedless faith is dead faith. Faith that can be demonstrated in deeds is living faith. Since the answer to the rhetorical question is “no,” we know that James is talking about dead faith. Dead faith cannot save. This, once again, affirms our translation of “such faith” or “that faith.” The text as a whole continues to compare faith in words with faith demonstrated in action, faith that is living with faith that is dead. The “faith” that does not have deeds to demonstrate it in v. 14 is dead faith. This is why James asks, “Can that faith save him?” This is what we call having an exegetical basis for an interpretation. Antonio’s assertions concerning v. 14 are not exegetical assertions, but dogmatic ones.

Jam 2:18 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.

There are different opinions regarding the translation of this verse in light of punctuation (i.e., how much should be included in the quotation, if this is a question or an objection, etc.). I do not believe that it would be necessary to get into that here. What we must note from this verse, however, is the phrase “Show me.” Show me involves a demonstration. This is in the realm of human knowledge, because it is a human who is asking the question. In other words, one cannot demonstrate their faith by internal means. Rather, the demonstration involves external, observable effects. Unlike the Sandemanian theory of faith, this demonstration does not merely involve the claim of the existence of the internal reality of faith. The demonstration necessitates external evidence. How can I know that an apple tree is an apple tree apart from the fact that it produces apples? I certainly cannot see its root that is underground. In the same sense, faith is an issue of “Show me,” which is demonstrated in external, observable effects. If Antonio’s attempt at exegesis ignores this challenge to demonstrate outwardly what exists inwardly, his interpretation of the entire passage will fail.

Jam 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!

This person is orthodox! He isn’t pagan. He, unlike the popular polytheism of the day, affirms that there is one God. This is “well and good.” The person’s faith is not condemned because it affirms some type of heresy. Rather, this faith is condemned for its abnormality in lacking the deeds to demonstrate it. So you can speak the right words, but if your faith is not demonstrated in deeds, it is dead faith. The contrast, again, is between a faith in words alone and a faith that can be demonstrated in deeds. A faith that is not demonstrated in deeds is no more salvific than an orthodox recognition of truth, something even the demons possess. The exegetical evidence is stacking high against Antonio’s position.

Before we go any further in the text, I’d like us to look at Antonio’s claims concerning the word “save” in v. 14, for therein lies the majority of his argument:

It is the knee-jerk reaction of 21st century readers of the Bible to import into the word “salvation” (Greek = “soteria”) and its cognates the meaning “salvation from hell” each time he reads it in the New Testament. Yet the word merely means “deliverance”. It is up to the context to decide what kind of deliverance is being referred to.

…What does this say about the Greek reader of the New Testament? That he obviously would not consider the meaning “salvation from hell” for the Greek words “soteria” and “sozo” (salvation and save, respecively) as the first, knee-jerk option when he read it. In the New Testament, there is an obvious emphasis on the spiritual and eternal salvation, yet in all of the occurences of the words sozo and soteria, only around 50% of the time do the contexts indicate that they have a meaning of “salvation from hell”.

…Did anyone have any trouble seeing the parallels?

The intimation I gave should be apparent to all:

Sin causes physical death


Righteous action saves the life, extends the life, preserves the life

Following the commands of God, being a doer of the Word (can I say yet: adding works to your faith?) will save a person from the deadly consequences of sin. James is talking about saving the life by obedience!

For the sake of length, I only quoted pieces of his articles. I simply wanted the reader to be aware of what is being stated. For further reading, you can check out the context of these quotes here and here.

Besides in 2:14, James uses σωσαι (sōzō G4982) 4 times:

1:21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

5:15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

5:20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The only one of these that even hints at referring to the type of salvation that Antonio is asserting is 5:15, but this is later clarified in v. 20. The first instance (1:21) refers to the Word, which is able to save your souls. Obviously, a soul cannot die a physical death and does not need physical salvation. It needs spiritual salvation from the condemnation of its sin. The second (4:12) refers to God as the “lawgiver and judge” who is able to save and destroy. This is in the context of judging the law vs. doing the law, hardly an issue of being saved from physical death. The third occurrence (5:15) is shady if it is taken out of context. This is referring to the “prayer of the righteous man,” which is involved in saving a soul from death in v. 20. So from the beginning, Antonio’s argument looks as if it is about to crumble.

Keeping Antonio’s argument in mind, let’s turn back to the text. Let’s not forget that the subject matter of the text is the nature of faith, not what is involved in being saved from physical death. As far as I could tell, Antonio, in his series on James, has not gone past v. 14 (he may still be working on it, because the last post was Dec. 14th). It is very easy to assert things concerning the definite article or the use of the word “save,” but these are simply assertions if they do not play out into the rest of the text. I have shown that my interpretation of v. 14 makes sense out of v.15-26, and will continue to do so.

James 2 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23and 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. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And 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? 26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James starts off with a play-on-words, more literally, “Do you want evidence that faith without works does not work?” Then James asks the rhetorical question, “Was not Abraham our father shown to be righteous when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” Again, the context of this passage is the demonstration of faith, the “Show me.” James follows this up with “You see that…” Abraham’s faith can be seen. His righteousness is displayed in his deeds. Is Abraham’s faith the same faith as that faith which is “dead”? The faith that lacks the component of deeds that gives it vitality and life? No! Abraham’s faith is a different kind of faith. It is saving faith. Thus our interpretation of v. 14 is once again affirmed. Abraham’s deeds made his faith complete (v. 22). Apart from deeds, faith is incomplete faith.

It is here in the text where Antonio’s eisegetical assertions concerning the word “save” in v. 14 crumble. How will Antonio fit these verses into his interpretation? James is quoting the same text that Paul does in Romans 4: Abraham believed God, and because of this belief, the righteousness of Christ was credited to him as his very own righteousness. Immediately following this, he says that faith without works is dead and that a man is justified by works and not by faith. That’s the crux of the passage. This is what explains James’ concern in 2:14. The example of Abraham is not an example of a Christian enduring trial and persecution, as is the backdrop of Antonio’s argument concerning his definition of “save.” It is an example of a person believing God, and later obeying God and being declared righteous by God. Abraham’s obedience demonstrated what had already been forensically declared of him. The faith that Abraham possessed in Genesis 15:6 was saving faith, saving him from the eternal condemnation of his sin. This is James’ point in chapter 2. He tells us that the nature of saving faith looks like Abraham: it can be demonstrated in deeds. What is so unclear about this for Antonio? Why is this objectionable? Why is it reprehensible to Antonio that saving faith, according to James, is alive because it is verifiable in works?

Antonio may again and again assert what he believes James’ pastoral concern is in these passages, but what does that tell us about the text and about Abraham? It makes no sense of it.

Evan May.


  1. I just started reading your post, haven't finished it yet, but wanted to make a comment. Will probably comment more.

    I do not reject the article. Translate it as "the" and leave the interpretation to the reader.

    You can't though, can you. Because when you translate it as "the" there remains no modifier to "faith" that makes it something less than faith, something sub-standard.

    So now, therefore, since I have advocated a literal translation, therefore precluding your argument toward me that I should answer, why not answer my replies to you? You have not even considered any of my arguments.

    You only say that your interpretation bears out your interpretive translation.

    And yes, ladies and gentlemen, his translation is interpretive.

    And appeal to authority all you want, Evan. The Romanists did as well to Martin Luther, but it did not prevent him from proclaiming the truth. Your pleas and appeals to them are worthless, for they too have clearly translated interpretively.

    Leave the article translated as "the" and let the reader decide.

    It is disingenuous to translate it "such" or "that kind", for the reader assumes that there is direct literal correspondence, when in fact there is none.


  2. Antonio:

    Here is your problem: you read with the metality of responding. Read first; then respond.

  3. Evan writes:
    The only one of these that even hints at referring to the type of salvation that Antonio is asserting is 5:15, but this is later clarified in v. 20. The first instance (1:21) refers to the Word, which is able to save your souls. Obviously, a soul cannot die a physical death and does not need physical salvation.
    "Save a soul" never means "salvation from hell". It remains for scholars of historical theology to discern how this phrase ever became connected with the idea of deliverance from hell. It is never used that way in the Bible, ans such an idea would have been foreign to any Jewish reader of the New Testament.

    This phrase is found 11 times in the LXX, and in EACH CASE is has the notion of preserving one's PHYSICAL LIFE:

    Gen 19:17; 32:30; 1 Ki 19:11; 1 Sam 19:11; Jud 10:15; Job 33:28; Ps 30:7; 71:13; 108:31; Jer 31:6; 1 Macc 9:9

    BAGD standard lexicon gives "earthly life" as an entry for psuche, and Moulton and Milligan give entry as "life" and provides intances in the papyrii that show it is used in the same phrase "save a soul" meaning "save the life".

    Psuche IS life that needs to be saved!

    Also James uses an instance of sozo that you do not reference:

    James 5:15
    15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

    The prayer of the elders WILL SAVE (sozo) the sick, in other words, will preserve their physical lives from sickness.


  4. Antonio:

    1. Does a “soul” have a physical body?

    2. My argument lies in the examples of Abraham and Rahab, the “proof that faith without works is useless.” I have shown that the example of Abraham involves saving, justifying faith. Paul quotes the same passage in Romans 4 concerning justification by faith alone. Abraham possessed faith that saves, and yes, in the eternal sense. Therefore, James uses it as an example, knowing that Abraham’s faith is recognized as saving faith, and James expounds upon the nature of saving faith.

    3. How does your interpretation handle the example of Abraham?

  5. Antonio:

    Also James uses an instance of sozo that you really consider:

    James 5:15
    15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

    Are you reading what you are responding to? I gave that example. It is even quoted above in your quote of me.


    From Gene Bridges:

    BAGD standard lexicon gives "earthly life" as an entry for psuche, and Moulton and Milligan give entry as "life" and provides intances in the papyrii that show it is used in the same phrase "save a soul" meaning "save the life".

    Uh-huh. What does it list for the other entries in James above? Let's play with the concept of "physical death" for a bit here and assume, for argument's sake, that Antonio is correct. What was the Jewish belief between the connection of physical and spiritual life and sin? Antonio has assumed, without benefit of argument, something that Jewish theology of that century may or may not have affirmed. In Jewish theology, what is said to happen to a sinner who dies in sin? Do you see where I'm going with this?

    Let's take 4:12 above. Do you recognize anything that may be a paraphrase of something Jesus said like there being only one Judge and fear him because men can only kill the body but God can kill the soul and body in hell, like, maybe Matt. 10:28?

  6. On Evan Mays blog he writes:

    Your argument is, well, ridiculous. Certainly the Bible speaks of people saving their lives (Deut. 4:42). No one is disputing that. The normative use of the word, however, especially in reference to the soul is saving the sould from hell.

    Pro 23:14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.

    However, that is not our concern. Our concern is James 2:14-26. Please justify your definition of “save” in light of the passage as a whole. Is not James talking about faith that saves in the eternal sense? Is he not giving Abraham’s faith, the faith which Paul points out as justifying Abraham, and compares it with false faith? Isn’t the evidence of Abraham telling us that Abraham’s faith, which was able to save him (not from physical death but eternal death) is true saving faith as compared to faith that cannot be verified in deads? Please deal with the exegetical evidence.

  7. To which I respond:
    You are grasping at straws, Mr. Evan! Wow!

    Sheol is the grave!

    Do you suppose that striking a child with a rod will save him from hell? Has that now become another condition that the Traditionalist must put on the sinner for salvation? I’ll make sure I beat my children tonight rather than give them the gospel so that I can assure their entry into heaven and save them from hell! You are batty!

    Sheol is the grave.

    This text means that if you discipline your child now with the rod, you will save him from courses of action in his life that could cause physical death, could cause him to rest 6 feet under.

    Man, are you grasping!

    This is great! Cause my software didn’t find this reference because the “saving” doesn’t use the Greek word “sozo” for save but the Greek word “ruomai”! Thank you! I will add this verse to all the other instances which conclusively show that “save the soul” means save the physical life!

    Awesome! Thanks for the lead, as i am constructing my next post on James 2:14ff right now (will probably be done in an hour or so).

    Your straw grasping is starting, to me anyway, to sound legendary! What lengths you will go to prove your interpretation!

    The normative use is saving the soul from hell?

    There is not even ONE reference that you can come up with that has “save a soul” as a reference of salvation from hell. Is prov 23:14 all that you got?

    I already listed the only 11 references that use “sozo” with “psuche” as “save a soul” and they ALL mean deliverance from physical death.



  8. Antonio:

    You are correct concerning Sheol and that was my careless mistake.

    However, that does not allow you to dismiss what has been said. How do you make sense of the example of Abraham?

  9. And in this post, you chose to neglect a huge argument that I had provided and didn’t even print it for your viewers (for the evidence is very strong!)

    In a word study of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) we find that the Greek word “soteria” and its cognate “sozo” (save) in their contexts, where they are found about 363 times, means “deliverance from temporal calamaties” – such as circumstances that cause death, enemies, troubles; both individually and nationally - in the greatest majority of the times they are found, upwards of 98% of occurences. Only a relatively few passages have spiritual contexts to the salvation being discussed. Yet even in the instances that the terms “save” and “salvation” carry a sense of spiritual salvation in these minimally few OT passages, there is no explicit instance where the term appears solely with a spiritual nuance. In a study Rene Lopez of Dallas Seminary did of each occurrence of the words, he could not find even one instance where the words in their contexts had a justification-salvation-only meaning.

    What does this say about the Greek reader of the New Testament? That he obviously would not consider the meaning “salvation from hell” for the Greek words “soteria” and “sozo” (salvation and save, respecively) as the first, knee-jerk option when he read it


  10. The normative use is saving the soul from hell?

    There is not even ONE reference that you can come up with that has “save a soul” as a reference of salvation from hell. Is prov 23:14 all that you got?

    I already listed the only 11 references that use “sozo” with “psuche” as “save a soul” and they ALL mean deliverance from physical death.



  11. Evan, you are sweating, and demanding!

    i will get to Abraham when I am there in my exposition of him.

    Suffice it for now, that you are the straw grasper.

    No Jewish person, to whom, actually, James had adressed his letter to, would have understood “save a soul” in the sense of salvation from hell, or had a knee-jerk reaction to “sozo” meaning “salvation from hell”.


    They would have understood the phrase as “deliverance from physical death” and the verb as “temporal deliverance”.

    Either James was not Jewish and did not know how to employ the Greek language using the common vernacular and idiom of the day, or he was purposefully negligent and careless concerning his use of wording and syntax.


  12. An exegetical basis?

    Sir, I have been doing so from the very beginning! I have 7 posts concerning James 2:14ff and am now working on my 8th. ANd I have been slow and deliberate in order to make my points. I will get to Abraham, as if that is a problem, for his inclusion in the text actually supports my position.

    And it is YOU sir who hasn’t answered to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary of your intpretal assertions. “Save a soul” in the LXX overwhelmingly discredits your assertions, as they are never used in a sense of “salvation from hell”, never! “sozo” as a verb upwards of 98% of 363 occurences NEVER means “salvation from hell” and the rest of the occurences, although spiritual in nature, cannot find even one instance where the words in their contexts had a justification-salvation-only meaning.

    Where does this leave your interpretation that has been eisegetical from the beginning? Rather than see the obvious Proverbial Wisdom employed by James, you would rather import into his Epistle a concern that he most definitly did not regard.

    You have dismissed all this data as irelevant.

    Whenever linguistic evidence of this sort is ignored, faulty interpretation is almost inevitable.


  13. Antonio:

    Context determines meaning. Sozo can be used to refer to physical salvation, or spiritual salvation:

    Mathew 1:21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

    Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

    No matter how many times you assert about the "normative" meaning of sozo (and you have not, by the way, told me what the normative meaning of sozo is in the New Testament), it does not account for it's conjunction with pisteuo, it does not show that it carries the preponderance of the evidence, it does not account for James' use of Abraham, and it is the direct opposite of the conclusions of centuries of exegetes.

    Needless to say, your interpretation is dogmatic, not exegetical.

  14. ...Oh, and let's not forget the obvious. In none of these comments have you responded to my actual exegesis of the text.

  15. Sir, If you had read any of my comments with understanding in light of what I also have said in my posts (that you have somewhat quoted) you would know that I said that near 50% of the time sozo was used in the N.T. that it had a significance of eternal salvation.

    The O.T. record is already in the commentary here.

    The fact of the matter, Evan, is that "sozo" with "psuche" never means "salvation from hell" in the whole of the Bible.

    The LXX contains that construction and not a single time it is used does it mean "salvation from hell"! The New Testament uses it as well and none of the times in the N.T. does the construction mean "salvation from hell".

    James 1:21 and 5:20 use the same construction and it means deliverance from physical death like EVERY other instance in the Bible.

    In the context of James, the N.T. and the Bible as a whole, not a single reference that uses sozo with psuche means "deliverance from hell". NONE. You can bemoan that fact all you want.

    James' use of sozo and psuche mean deliverance from physical death.

    James' use of sozo when not used with conjunction with psuche has the same reference.

    He is consistent.

    His concern is pastoral, using the proverbial wisdom of the O.T:

    Righteousness will save the life and sin will cut it short.

    And not answer to your exegesis, man, I did not find a single thing in your warped explanation that was worthy to hang my hat on!

    You did not even genuinely deal with my arguements in my 7 posts. You skipped, tiptoed, evaded, and misrepresented much of what I said in them.

    Go figure, your theology, pride, and reputation are on the line.


    I am a minority position, granted.

    Yet your rhetoric wouldn't persuade anyone who hasn't already pledged to your position.

    From the prelimary to your actual take on 2:14, you haven't given anything substantial, nor dealt with any of my arguments nor linguistical data.

    This is telling, Evan.

    I wish you would feel the weight of evidence that is impartially there for my position. But you are so engrained in yours that instead of rational exposition and translation, you have considered your theology itself a proof of your interpretation.


  16. A couple of observations:

    i)If Antonio is saying that in OT usage, deliverance from Sheol only means deliverance from the grave, and never deliverance from hell, he's behind on the standard scholarship. Read: P. Johnston: Shades of Sheol (IVP 2002).

    Evan's interpretation comports with the two standard Evangelical commentaries by Davids and Moo, neither of whom is a Calvinist. I believe that Moo is a Lutheran with a premil eschatology while Davids is Anabaptist.

    And Antonio has yet to interact with the argumentation presented by Moo and Davids. Has he ever bothered to read the standard exegetical literature on the subject? Or does he get all his information spoon-fed to him from Zane Hodges & Co?

  17. Steve,

    Do you suppose that striking a child with a rod will save him from hell? Has that now become another condition that the Traditionalist must put on the sinner for salvation? I’ll make sure I beat my children tonight rather than give them the gospel so that I can assure their entry into heaven and save them from hell!

    Steve, don't put words into my mouth. We are discussing Proverbs 23:14. Are you going to put yourself in the position of saying that it means deliverance from hell here?

    And that Evan comports to popularity, I don't believe makes his argument or interpretation correct.


  18. Yes, Antonio, discipline and corporal punishment are, indeed, factors which will contribute to keeping a child from going spiritually astray.

    It's a false dichotomy to set this in opposition to teaching them the gospel. Spiritual incentives and disincentives still figure in the walk of faith.

    Also, I don't know if you're consciously or unconsciously dishonest. This is not an issue of "popularity."

    What I explicitly pointed out was your failure to "interact" with standard scholarship and the exegetical "arguments" marshaled therein.

    I know it's hard for you to accurately represent the opposing side, but just for the sake of argument you might like to try it out sometime as an intellectual exercise.

  19. Antonio:

    Stop spamming the comments section with the same old junk.

    Come back when you can account for sozo’s conjunction with pisteuo, when you can show that it carries the preponderance of the evidence, when you can account for James’ use of Abraham, and when you can explain why we should accept you even though this is the direct opposite of the conclusions of centuries of exegetes.

    Until then, your comments are spam.

  20. Perhaps it would be helpful to produce some of the theologians of old and some definitions of various words. I noted something that Antonio said in reference to the word psuche in that when sozo and psuche are put together that it is always talking about physical death. I'd like to cite a definition of the word from Thayer's definition (strong says much the same thing, but Thayer goes into more detail):

    Thayer Definition:
    1) breath
    1a) the breath of life
    1a1) the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing
    1a1a) of animals
    1a1b) of men
    1b) life
    1c) that in which there is life
    1c1) a living being, a living soul
    2) the soul
    2a) the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)
    2b) the (human) soul in so far as it is constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life
    2c) the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body)

    OK, not a single one of those definitions has any reference to the physical body. Does this mean that it can't EVER mean that? Probably not, but the context determines it, to see whether or not a metaphorical rendering is appropriate. A Bible professor of mine once told me that if a word is used 17 times in Scripture, and 16 times it means definition "A" but the context for that 17th time indicates that it should be taken differently, then it must be taken that way. The context, immediate first BEFORE larger contexts (chapter, book, author, testament, whole Bible) dictates it mainly. This can be an argument against Antonio's rendering of James 5:20, but let's apply this context rule to the verse in chapter two.

    James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him?

    According to the definitions given for the Greek word for "save" it can mean salvation in a physical OR a spiritual sense. Therefore, the context of course must determine the meaning. So then, what is the context for verses 14 and following? What is the plain reading of the text?

    We have the word "faith" used a few times here. What is "faith" Let's get another definition:
    Thayer says, in part (kinda long to post it all): 1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

    Let's also grab part of Strong's definition:
    Strong says, "persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: - assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity."

    So then, it would seem that the very fact this word is present puts what we're talking about into a spiritual context, which would ascribe that meaning to the word sozo. In other words, we're talking about Spiritual salvation. James is saying that if someone's faith is not accompanied by works (though these works do not PRODUCE saving faith; they are the natural outflow of it, which is consistent with Ephesians 2:8-10), then there is not truly saving faith. Christ then has not truly changed a person if there are not works in accordance with the new nature in Christ. This position is affirmed, as Evan said, by numerous theologians of old and modern ones to boot.

    Dr. John Gill (who comments on the KJV which does NOT have the article that was aforementioned and disputed): "Can faith save him? such a faith as this, a faith without works, an historical one, a mere profession of faith, which lies only in words, and has no deeds, to show the truth and genuineness of it."

    Matthew Henry: "In this latter part of the chapter, the apostle shows the error of those who rested in a bare profession of the Christian faith, as if that would save them, while the temper of their minds and the tenour of their lives were altogether disagreeable to that holy religion which they professed. . . . .James speaks of works done in obedience to the gospel, and as the proper and necessary effects and fruits of sound believing in Christ Jesus."

    Jameison, Fausset, and Brown: "Whether James individually designed it or not, the Holy Spirit by him combats not Paul, but those who abuse Paul's doctrine. The teaching of both alike is inspired, and is therefore to be received without wresting of words; but each has a different class to deal with; Paul, self-justiciaries; James, Antinomian advocates of a mere notional faith. Paul urged as strongly as James the need of works as evidences of faith, especially in the later Epistles, when many were abusing the doctrine of faith (Tit_2:14; Tit_3:8)."

    Geneva Bible Translation Notes: "The fifth place which follows very well with the former treatise, concerning a true and living faith. The proposition of the place is this: Faith which does not bring forth works is not that faith by means of which we are justified, but an false image of that faith, or else this: they who do not show the effects of faith are not justified by faith."

    John Wesley: "From Jam_1:22, the apostle has been enforcing Christian practice. He now applies to those who neglect this, under the pretence of faith . . . It is not, though he have faith; but, though he say he have faith. Here, therefore, true, living faith is meant: but in other parts of the argument the apostle speaks of a dead, imaginary faith. He does not, therefore, teach that true faith can, but that it cannot, subsist without works: nor does he oppose faith to works; but that empty name of faith, to real faith working by love. Can that faith "which is without works" save him? No more than it can profit his neighbour."

    AT Robertson's Word Pictures: "But have not works (erga de mē echēi). Third-class condition continued, “but keeps on not having (mē and present active subjunctive echēi) works.” It is the spurious claim to faith that James here condemns."

    The People's New Testament: "Professions are nothing unless their fruit is deeds. Even faith is of no avail unless it demonstrates its life by works. . . .Faith that has no power to bring one to obedience and to sway the life is as worthless as good wishes which end in words. . . .It cannot stand alone and be of any avail. Only when it shows its power in works is it of the slightest value. . . . One may claim works, another faith. They must go hand in hand. One cannot show faith without works. The life lived is the proof of the faith held. If a man lives in obedience to Christ that is proof that he has faith in Christ."

    John Darby: "Faith, the recognition of the truth with respect to Christ, is dead without works; that is , such a faith as produces none is dead."

    Albert Barnes: "[James] doubtless had in his eye those who abused the doctrine of justification by faith, by holding that good works are unnecessary to salvation, provided they maintain an orthodox belief. As this abuse probably existed in the time of the apostles, and as the Holy Ghost saw that there would be danger that in later times the great and glorious doctrine of justification by faith would be thus abused, it was important that the error should be rebuked, and that the doctrine should be distinctly laid down that good works are necessary to salvation. The apostle, therefore, in the question before us, implicitly asserts that faith would not “profit” at all unless accompanied with a holy life, and this doctrine he proceeds to illustrate in the following verses, See the analysis of this chapter; and Introduction, Section 5, (2). In order to a proper interpretation of this passage, it should be observed that the stand-point from which the apostle views this subject is not before a man is converted, inquiring in what way he may be justified before God, or on what ground his sins may be forgiven; but it is after a man is converted, showing that that faith can have no value which is not followed by good works; that is, that it is not real faith, and that good works are necessary if a man would have evidence that he is justified. Thus understood, all that James says is in entire accordance with what is taught elsewhere in the New Testament.
    Can faith save him? - It is implied in this question that faith cannot save him, for very often the most emphatic way of making an affirmation is by asking a question. The meaning here is, that that faith which does not produce good works, or which would not produce holy living if fairly acted out, will save no man, for it is not genuine faith."

    Donald W. Burdick (from the Expositor's Bible Commentary): "14 James first states his proposition interrogatively. The two questions posed in this verse actually declare that faith not accompanied by good deeds is of no saving value whatsoever. The questions set up the hypothetical case of a person who "claims to have" genuine saving faith. Notice that James does not say that the person actually has faith. The question "Can such faith save him?" is so structured in the Greek text (using the negative particle me interrogatively) that it expects a negative answer. The word "such" is the translation for the Greek article that appears before pistis, "faith." James is asking, "This faith can't save him, can it?" The article refers to the faith described in the preceding question—faith not accompanied by deeds. Faith without works cannot save; it takes faith that proves itself in the deeds it produces. James is not speaking of deeds performed to earn merit before God (as Paul uses the term in Rom 3:20). Genuine faith is a concomitant of regeneration and therefore affects the believer's behavior. Faith that does not issue in regenerate actions is superficial and spurious."

    There is total agreement here as you can see. Not all of these authors are Reformed for sure (most notably, Wesley was not). However, there is univeral agreement that we are talking about salvific faith, and that the works addressed are those things which ought to flow from a genuine, saving faith.

    Honestly, Antonio, I am not really interested in your interpretation of the passage, nor am I interested in reading it. I'm not trying to be rude; it is just that the plain meaning of the text, with the context, means what each of these authors has said it does. The only reason I can think of for you striving so hard (what is it, seven posts now?) to try to get this text to say something else is because of your views. You are trying to make the text say something it does not so that you can maintain your belief rather than having your belief be adjusted by a clear exegesis of the text.

    May God grant understanding.


    David Hewitt

  21. Here’s Hodges on v 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar:

    James selects the most prestigious name in Jewish history, the patriarch Abraham. He selects also his most honored act of obedience to God, the offering of his own son Isaac. Since in Christian circles it was well known that Abraham was justified by faith, James now adds a highly original touch. He was also justified by works! If James subject matter is kept clearly in mind, we will not fall into the trap of pitting him against the apostle Paul. In no way does James wish to deny that Abraham, or anyone else, could be justified by faith alone. He merely wishes to insist that there is also another justification, and it is by works..

    Of course, there is no such thing as a single justification by faith plus works. Nothing James says here suggests that idea. Rather , there are two kinds of justification. (see v 24) . Somewhat surprisingly, to most people, the apostle Paul agrees with this. Writing at what was no doubt a late time than James, Paul states in Rom. 4:2 , For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something of which to boast, but not before God. The form of this statement in Greek does not deny the truth of the point under construction. The phrase, but not before God, strongly suggests that Paul can conceive of a sense in which people are justified by works. But, he insists, that is not the way people are justified before God. That is, it does not establish their legal standing before Him.


    I don’t know for sure what your reaction is but I hope it is that you agree with some of Hodges’ interpretation of v 21, maybe quite a bit of it.

    At least I know you agree with his last sentence!