When it comes to Paul and James, we often believe they are at odds with each other.
In one corner is Paul, who stresses salvation by faith and says that, “… all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.”
And, in the other corner is James, who says, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
So, which is it? Are works a part of our salvation or not?
Martin Luther was so frustrated trying to figure this out and reconcile the two men that he thought it was best just to delete the Letter of James from the New Testament.
However, I think Luther got it dead wrong. I believe the two men are very compatible.
The Bottom Line: James and Paul are on the same page, so much so that I argue that James is even borrowing Pauline concepts as he writes his letter.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. (NRSV)
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace. (NET)
Who among you is wise and knowledgeable? Let him display his works by comely conduct in wisdom’s gentleness. But, if you harbor bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast and speak falsely against the truth. This is not the wisdom that descends from above, but is earthly, natural, daemoniacal; For where there are jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every squalid deed. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, reasonable, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, unfeigned. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. (David Bentley Hart)
Who is wise and discerning among you? Such a person should, by their upright behaviour, display their works in the humility of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and contention in your hearts, don’t boast, and tell lies against the truth. This isn’t the wisdom that comes from above. It is earthly, merely human, coming from the world of demons. For where there is jealousy and contention, there you will get unruly behaviour and every kind of evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from above is first holy, then peaceful, gentle, compliant, filled with mercy and good fruits, unbiased, sincere. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (N.T. Wright)
⸀Τίς σοφὸς καὶ ἐπιστήμων ἐν ὑμῖν; δειξάτω ἐκ τῆς καλῆς ἀναστροφῆς τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ἐν πραΰτητι σοφίας. εἰ δὲ ⸆ ζῆλον πικρὸν ἔχετε καὶ ἐριθείαν ἐν ⸂τῇ καρδίᾳ⸃ ὑμῶν, μὴ ⸀κατακαυχᾶσθε ⸄καὶ ψεύδεσθε κατὰ τῆς ἀληθείας⸅. οὐκ ἔστιν ⸉αὕτη ἡ σοφία⸊ ἄνωθεν κατερχομένη ἀλλʼ ἐπίγειος, ψυχική, δαιμονιώδης. ὅπου γὰρ ζῆλος καὶ ⸀ἐριθεία, ἐκεῖ ⸆ ἀκαταστασία καὶ πᾶν φαῦλον πρᾶγμα. ἡ δὲ ἄνωθεν σοφία πρῶτον μὲν ἁγνή ἐστιν, ἔπειτα εἰρηνική, ἐπιεικής, εὐπειθής, μεστὴ ἐλέους ⸀καὶ καρπῶν ⸆ ἀγαθῶν, ἀδιάκριτος, ⸇ ἀνυπόκριτος. καρπὸς δὲ ⸆ δικαιοσύνης ἐν εἰρήνῃ σπείρεται τοῖς ποιοῦσιν εἰρήνην.
What is The Way?
Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.